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Freedom to speak
As a college junior I had the opportunity to study in Valencia, Spain. This was during the 1971-72 school year. It was quite a respite from the protests of Kent State (my freshman year) and I was looking forward to a sunny, uneventful nine months. What I got was a political education.
Francisco Franco was still in power. There was no freedom of the press; the small church (non-Catholic) that I attended could not advertise its existence in the papers or by any sign on the church grounds. Divorce was prohibited by the state and one had to be very careful about the trajectory of any conversation, especially in public.
I was quite happy to return to the U.S., where I literally kissed the ground when I arrived. The protections of our Constitution have shielded us from over-arching domination by those who would manipulate us.
Imagine my horror last week when I learned that our own Rep. Doug Lamborn had proposed a bill that would require that any protester who opposed hydraulic fracturing pay a fee of $5,000 for the right of free speech (Denver Post, Dec. 7, tiny.cc/LambornProtest). This effort by Mr. Lamborn should be a portent to us all that our freedoms are under attack. We cannot sit idly by and do nothing.
How interesting that people who claim to be such patriots are afraid of the First Amendment. Is one amendment any more sacred than the rest? Does my ability to inform my friends and acquaintances about the dangers of fracking trump any other rights afforded us by the Constitution? Should we eliminate one amendment because the oil and gas industry wants to gag the people who are truly informed?
And just one more question: Who is donating to Doug's campaign coffers? Encana? Chesapeake Energy? It surely will not be me.
— Elaine Doudna
Letter writer Elaine Brush ("Piece of fraud," Letters, Dec. 4) calls the Second Amendment right of individuals to own guns a "fraud," citing former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger. Did Justice Burger say that in a Supreme Court opinion? A law review article? An academic speech? No, he said it in a short article in Parade magazine, that glossy cross between People magazine and USA Today you can find in your Sunday paper.
As for what the Supreme Court has actually ruled, the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to own firearms for lawful purposes (District of Columbia v. Heller). When it comes to my constitutional rights, I'll rely on the Supreme Court, not some slick Sunday supplement.
— Tom Neven
Editor's note: Burger also shared his "fraud" remarks on PBS' MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. A self-described "gun man," he still believed the "right to bear arms" belonged to the states with their "well regulated militia[s]," — not to individuals, the view promoted by the NRA.
The "Piece of fraud" being perpetrated on the people is coming from Elaine Brush's letter to the editor. The fact is the murder rate has been cut in half since the 1980s. Since then, tens of millions of guns, including so-called assault rifles, have been bought by the public.
In fact, in the '80s, assault rifles were all but unheard of. In this same period of time the amount of people carrying concealed guns went through the roof. The decrease in the murder rate was accomplished by putting criminals in jail for longer periods of time, something the NRA supported.
As to Justice Warren Burger saying the Second Amendment was a "fraud," the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 (the Heller decision) that the Second Amendment was an individual right. Two years later, in the McDonald v. Chicago case, they ruled it to be a fundamental right which puts it on the same level as the First Amendment.
I guess the way Elaine Brush and Justice Burger think, the First Amendment would be the "First" biggest fraud.
— Ron Coleman
No magic wand
In reply to Elaine Brush's letter: I do not understand how people can make a statement without doing complete research on a subject.
Example: Who commits these crimes that we want to stop? Criminals, gang warfare, family disputes, the mentally ill. Not a one of the major crimes were committed by an NRA member or we would of heard about it loud and clear.
Now let's investigate the NRA. It consists of law-abiding citizens that like to hunt or do sporting events. They educate their family on the proper use of firearms. They lock up their weapons. They protect the forest and wildlife. They are mostly honest citizens who love this country.
I am not an NRA member. I did hunt when I was younger and my children were taught how to handle guns, although none of them ever went hunting. I had them taught by the NRA.
The one school incident was done by children who got their guns from home. Another school incident was done by a single child who was set on killing a lot of people. We don't know if he is mentally sick or just a bad seed. Still no NRA connection.
We have people who will always do harm to others, because we are dealing with human beings. But taking weapons away from honest citizens who have the U.S. Constitution in their favor will not solve the problem.
I wish there was some magic wand that could stop it, but we will still be killing people by cars and family disputes, gangs that kill for fun, cultures that kill for revenge, etc. But taking weapons away from the NRA and other law-abiding citizens will not stop the killing; it will only make it so we can't protect ourselves because there aren't enough police to do it.
— Rodney E. Hammond
Figure it out
Let's be very clear: Watering city parks and trees to keep them alive is not optional. It's something we all expect.
And yet, as the 2014 city budget discussion becomes increasingly political, adequate water for our parks is very much at risk.
The mayor would like Colorado Springs Utilities to find the $1.13 million to keep parks watered at current levels. CSU staff has said repeatedly that using the "water surplus" afforded by water sales to neighboring communities is legal and their preferred option. Another option — continue the "conservation rate" through 2014. Neither of those solutions increase water rates for water customers.
Some members of City Council are uncomfortable with those choices. Some would rather tap into the increase proposed for police and use general fund reserves.
We need a long-term solution. Colorado Springs pays more to water its parks than almost every other city along the Front Range. If Council and the mayor can't compromise and find a solution, one of two things will happen. The Council may override the mayor's veto, but he can refuse to spend the money. Prospect and Quail Lakes could be left high and dry and some neighborhood parks could be cut out — perhaps yours.
Or parks could be forced to cut badly needed capital projects like new bathrooms in the City Auditorium or exterior restoration for the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum in order to pay for water.
Let's not go backward. There's more money in the general fund than there's been in years and it's time the Parks Department received its fair share. If CSU is offering a way to reduce costs, let's follow the example of other communities with municipally owned utilities and adopt it.
Dead turf and dying trees do not attract new business or tourists.
Residents deserve better.
— Susan Davies
Executive director, Trails and Open Space Coalition
Welcome to Colorado
As a cannabis activist who helped re-legalize cannabis (marijuana) for sick citizens over a decade ago, I welcome citizens from other states who move here ("Coming to Colorado," CannaBiz, Dec. 4) to have legal access to the relatively safe God-given plant.
Cannabis has been documented for over 5,000 years medically without a single death; that's safety on a biblical scale. Sick citizens should not have to abandon their place of residence to seek comfort from suffering.
— Stan White
In "1A, one year later" (News, Dec. 4), we referenced a past interview with El Paso County sheriff candidate Bill Elder. That interview happened in November 2012, not November 2013. We regret the error.