U.S. black history often connected to gun rights
As we celebrate Black History Month, we should remember that disarming blacks is an old project. The thought of armed slaves terrified colonial planters.
In 1857, the Supreme Court denied Dred Scott citizenship partly to deny him a gun. After the Civil War, Democrats passed the Black Codes to keep the recently freed slaves from owning guns. (It is tough to lynch a man holding a gun.)
In response, Republicans passed the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing blacks the individual right of self defense.
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The National Rifle Association once endorsed gun restrictions for certain people. Martin Luther King, Jr. was denied a gun permit in 1956 after his house was firebombed. Urban riots and the affordable "Saturday-night special" pistol led to the Gun Control Act of 1968.
It was the openly carrying Black Panthers of the 1960s, not the NRA, who clarified our current understanding of the individual's right to bear arms.
After Washington D.C. banned handguns in the 1970s, black-on-black homicide rates rose. After the Republican-majority Supreme Court reversed the ban in 2008, black-on-black homicide rates fell. Self-defense has saved many black lives over the years. We just never hear about it.
President Barack Obama is the greatest firearm salesman in history, but panic buying is causing scarcity and higher prices for guns and ammunition. Gov. Andrew Cuomo just passed more gun laws for New York. Through higher prices and gun restrictions, the Democrats remain hard at work disarming those who can least afford to be disarmed.
Cameron S. Schaeffer
Not adding up
Every year, about 2,800 children and teens get killed by a person with assistance of a firearm. The majority of those killed are blacks killed by another black with a cheap pistol. For years, the media focus was on cheap pistols called "Saturday-night specials." Military-style assault rifles are rarely used in crime because they are hard to conceal and cost much more than the money to be gained from a typical robbery.
But now that a lunatic used several pistols to kill 20 white children (while leaving his mother's AR-15 in the trunk of her car) we have suddenly discovered a national assault-rifle problem. I thought we were supposed to be math-literate non-racists.
I am disappointed, but not surprised, to see a pairing of the Chan Lowe anti-National Rifle Association cartoon and a letter mischaracterizing the nature of the association's Eddie Eagle program.
The purpose of Eddie Eagle is gun safety by getting this very basic message to children: "If you see a gun, STOP! Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult."
Time for women priests
Following the surprising announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, both Catholics and non-Catholics are wondering about his successor. Many of us hope that successor will seriously consider what none of his predecessors could bring themselves to do: to open ordination to the other half of the human race.
The pedophilia scandal, among others, is due to a serious distortion: If one believes that it was God who created the human race, then it is apparent that there is no wholeness in the church, or in any walk of life, if only one half of human creation is represented. It is as if the church has been trying for two millennia to operate with only half of its soul.
When men can think less of clinging to power and privilege and more of admitting to their ranks the spirituality of women, the church will be on the road to the healing it so desperately needs.
I am a lifelong Catholic, but I would like to quote a T-shirt I saw in an Episcopalian gift shop: "Male and female. He created them; male and female we ordain them."
The current Catholic Church scandal involving Roger Mohony (I can't bring myself to distinguish him with the title of cardinal) in Los Angeles is an example of the church putting itself at odds with God's will or nature's will, if you like.
It seems fairly obvious that the problem stems from celibacy, first written into law for all priests in the 12th century. Is it not a God-given trait for man to have sexual urges? And do we see the ongoing coverup because of men, not God, distorting a God-given trait?
The Catholic Church has had a hugely positive impact on billions of people and some horrific impact on others. The negative can be addressed and changed, but only when the house is totally cleaned. And celibacy should become one's voluntary pact with God.
One parting thought: Our sweet, precious innocent children should always be our top priority. No institution is above reproach when children are violated.
Ways to spare Medicare
In his Jan. 27 column "For Democrats, unity and its pitfalls," Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times correctly identifies Medicare spending as the single biggest fiscal problem facing the country.
However, at the end of the column, he simply limits himself to saying Medicare must be "reformed," a euphemism for cutting health-care services for seniors.
This is a common tactic, to act as if cutting spending is the only way, but there are other options.
Patent-law reform, using government purchasing power and allowing more imports can lower the cost of medicine dramatically. Reforming visa laws can allow more health-care practitioners in the country, lowering physician costs.
These are free-market ways to lower costs through competition. Non free-market reforms can include borrowing ideas from other developed countries, all of which deliver better health care much cheaper.
None of the above are likely to happen because of the power of the business community.
They want Medicare to be cut, not business profits to go down, so they relentlessly push the message that cutting Medicare spending is the only way.
Will affect a few officers
I have followed with interest the latest developments concerning allowing women into combat roles traditionally relegated to men. As a retired airborne infantry soldier who spent his entire career in the infantry, my perspective is born of personal experience.
What seems to be missing in every opinion I've seen in the Herald-Leader about this issue is that 99.9 percent of this change will affect officers only. I have noticed exceedingly few examples of enlisted female soldiers clamoring for combat positions. Officers, by and large, do not share the same physical hardships as enlisted soldiers, even in combat zones. This is especially true for senior officers.
This is borne out by statistics that show how heavily skewed combat casualties are towards enlisted soldiers. Just as with male officers, this translates into female officers being somewhat less exposed to physical danger than their female enlisted counterparts would be. Furthermore, it is officers, more than enlisted soldiers, who seek combat assignments for promotion opportunities.
So before anyone, especially citizens who have never served, wants to thump their chest about the cause of equal opportunities for women, they should face a simple truth. The issue of women in combat roles is a shell game designed almost entirely to advance the careers of a select few female officers. It's as simple as that.
Could hurt national security
How will allowing women in combat units improve our national security? Do we have shortfalls in recruiting for combat units? Recruiting and retention figures of the all-volunteer Army do not reflect any shortfalls. All services have been able to tighten standards and maintain the force levels authorized by Congress.
Do women bring to combat critical skill sets not provided by men? Technical specialties largely reside in combat-support and combat-service support units. But those that exist in combat units are adequately filled by men.
How will the services address basic training standards and both genders living for prolonged periods of time in close proximity and under less than ideal conditions? There are differences in the physical makeup and capabilities of men and women. This probably is not politically correct, but it is a fact of life. There are women who can outperform men and men who can not physically keep up with women; but this is not the norm.
Therefore, if we lower the standards to a point to be attainable by most women, haven't we lowered the overall standards of the Army?
The counter argument has been made that this action will allow women to rise to the highest levels of leadership within the armed forces.
There are currently 57 women who have attained general-officer rank out of 230 positions authorized; five well deserved earning three and four stars.
If this action reflects a politically correct approach to everyone being equal, are we doing it at the expense of our national security?