No guns for kids

NY Assembly Bill A1530 would lower the hunting age for children from 16 to 14 years old to kill bears and deer. It must be soundly defeated. It is inappropriate for the State of New York to entice youths with a candy store variety of weapons to enter the arena of “big game” season in which hunters experience the highest number of fatalities. Children will be caught in the crosshairs of such hunting “accidents.”

The original justification for the bill portrays it as a remedy for youths who have been excluded from Olympic target competitions. However, the bill’s author, Assemblyman Richard Smith, who has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to lower the hunting age via other bills, is apparently unperturbed by the string of shootings by children with hunting weapons in schools.

In the late l990s, there were 13 separate incidents in which 27 victims were killed (including a pregnant teacher) and 50 were wounded. Just recently, minutes away from the state capitol in Albany, where this bill’s fate will be decided, a student at Columbia High School used a hunting gun purchased by his mom to shoot squirrels to hunt people instead. It could easily have been another Columbine. Let’s hope that the only thing that misfires now is Smith’s irresponsible bill.

Mary MaxNew York NY


A beautiful and important story about the life of Hattie Lumpkin (PWW 7/10-16)! Thank you very much.

John StanfordSan Antonio TX

Don’t blame everything on the CIA

While the CIA has committed numerous crimes since its inception in 1947, it shouldn’t be made the scapegoat for Bush’s foreign policy. Its primary problem has always been, not its intelligence-gathering techniques, but its real mission, which CIA defector Philip Agee once described as acting as the “secret police” of imperialism. It is clear that Bush was going to war in Iraq regardless of objections raised at home and abroad. The CIA’s assignment was to find “evidence” to justify the attack. The best way to “reform” the CIA is to get rid of both the Bush administration and an imperialist foreign policy. If we did the latter after doing the former, we wouldn’t have any need for the CIA.

Norman MarkowitzNew Brunswick NJ

Danger of dictatorship

Some people in the Bush administration want the power to cancel elections if there is a terrorist attack on or near Election Day. They should never get that power. If a precinct is attacked before the polls are closed and the votes counted, the affected voters could vote somewhere else the next day.

Our country held elections during the Civil War, Depression, World War II, and the Vietnam War. Postponing or canceling elections is something that is done in dictatorships, not the United States. What will the neo-conservatives suggest next? Maybe martial law can be declared, and habeas corpus suspended.

Chuck MannGreensboro NC

Kids lose out in Texas

A private firm, Clarendon National Insurance Co., bilked the state of Texas over $20 million for administering the CHIP program (Children’s Health Insurance Program). The Health and Human Services commissioner did not properly manage the contract or didn’t care. Last year legislators cut $525 million from the CHIP program, causing more than 169,000 children to be dropped from the program and another 20,000 will drop next year.

VWSan Antonio TX

Safe state?

Re letter by Don Sloan (PWW 7/17-23): We don’t elect our president by popular vote but by 51-state, winner-take-all Electoral College contests.

In New York, Al Gore beat George Bush by 25 points in 2000. In 2004, Kerry is so far ahead of Bush in New York that neither national COPE or the Kerry campaign, or any other liberal organization, will spend any money on Kerry in New York.

So what will a vote for Kerry in New York represent? Is there any ambiguity in Kerry’s positions on Iraq, Israel, Cuba, Venezuela, health care, no child left behind or his now announced support for the doctrine of preemptive attack? Should Kerry win won’t he have the right to take Sloan’s vote as an endorsement of his clearly stated positions?

In New York, as in other “safe” states, Sloan could vote his conscience and still get the outcome he apparently wants but may live to regret.

Walter TillowNew York NY

No safe state

My friend lives in what is considered a “safe state” for Kerry, and so she told me she’s considering voting for Nader or Cobb to register a progressive vote this fall. But I had to ask her this: If Gore hadn’t won the popular vote in 2000, from “safe states” and battleground states alike, would anyone have paid much attention to the theft of votes by Bush in Florida? After thinking about it, she told me, “Yeah, you have a good point.” The popular vote is a powerful political voice. In what will be a very vicious, dirty fight by the ultra-right, the bigger the popular vote for Kerry the better! There are no “safe states” in this race.

Renee WeismanDetroit MI