Letters to the Editor for Oct. 24, 2011

By Baker City Herald Readers October 24, 2011 08:50 pm

Gun-free zones don’t protect students
To the editor:
At the Oct. 18 School Board meeting, I was dismayed by the attitude of the District’s legal advisor and a few others toward those who have gone through the extensive background check and training to legally carry a concealed firearm.
The majority of the School Board members understand that an armed maniac can be stopped by an armed citizen or teacher, and I applaud them for their common sense. They have decided to investigate the issue further instead of making an uninformed or ill-advised decision. The police do an outstanding job, but they can’t be everywhere. Law-abiding citizens, including teachers and school staff, should be able to protect children, if they take the steps to do so. Even the belief that someone in the building might be armed has a deterrent effect. A “Gun Free Zone” gives criminals an unnecessary advantage and endangers children.
Later I was reading an article on the “gun buyback programs” that ask people to sell their guns and only rely on the police. The writer asked what would happen if they went a step further and asked people to sell their fire extinguishers and only rely on the Fire Department. Would people think this was a “reasonable option,” or would they call this a callous disregard for the safety of the community?
Limiting the options to fight a fire is ridiculous and even criminal. When the Baker High School burned in 1989, a sprinkler system might have made a big difference. In the end, the Fire Department, with the aid of large construction equipment, tore into the building to reach the fire and the fire destroyed much of the building because of wasted time. 
When seconds count, firefighters and police are just minutes away.  Someone on the scene with a fire extinguisher, a fire hose or a firearm can be the difference between life and death.
In a fire, there is a good chance to evacuate the students. With a deranged person with a gun, bomb or knife, that option might not be available.
Jim Thomas
Baker City

Is climate change bill too high?
To the editor:
For the past couple of months, a debate has been going on in the letters to the editor sections of our local newspapers. On one side, there are those who believe the theory that human-caused global warming, unless checked, “threatens human existence on Earth,” while I believe the studies which show that in the past, mankind actually thrived during the times when the world was a warmer place than it is today.
This debate may seem academic to you, Gentle Reader, but the theory of catastrophic global warming has already had a profound impact upon your wallet and your life. Billions of your tax dollars have been spent subsidizing wind farms, solar panels and biofuels. But electricity from these “renewable resources” is four times more expensive than that from conventional power plants. That more costly electricity appears on your monthly power bill. Adding ethanol to gasoline increases the cost of your motor fuel but reduces your gas mileage.
The theory of catastrophic global warming gives the federal government an excuse to micromanage your lives, dictating such things as what kind of a light bulb to use in your lamps, what size car you’ll drive, what fuel to put in it, and so on.
But wait! There’s more! In 2009, the Waxman Markey Bill was introduced in Congress. This bill would authorize the federal government to severely limit the amount of carbon dioxide produced in this country. President Obama, who supported the bill, admitted that it would cause the cost of energy to increase significantly. Our last three recessions were triggered by sharp increases in the price of petroleum. Waxman Markey would have the same unfortunate effect on our economy.
The theory of catastrophic global warming says that this economic pain is necessary to avoid the disastrous effects of global warming. Yet climatologists estimate that Waxman Markey would reduce global temperatures in 2050 by only 0.1º!
And the expenses go on.
So, you high-priced climate change alarmists, answer me this: if global warming threatens human existence on Earth, why do historians call the warmest periods in human history climactic “optimums?”
Pete Sundin
Baker City

Our goal is simple: Safe schools
To the editor:
The first issue in schools is safety. Some information from the Center for Disease Control from 1999 to 2007: There were 27,270 deaths by firearm to persons 19 or less for all reasons; 1,515 deaths that are deemed unintentional; 7,765 in that same group deemed suicide. In the last 37 years in about 100,000 schools and colleges there have been 109 armed incidents killing 206 persons; that is 109 incidents in about 3.7 million school years. Armed incidents are very rare in any one locality but widely reported.
Chaos Theory in simple terms: “In any system, the more parts there are, the more parts can fail.” When applied to student safety and guns, more guns mean more ways for a gun incident. This is the formula used by insurance. Reasonable people will draw their own conclusions.
Our advisors are: PACE risk management, the state school boards association and the district counsel. They all give the same advice.
Second issue, then, and their advice; follow the law, choose the option that is the safest. The federal Gun-Free Zone Act is law of the land, challenged in court and found to be constitutional at the national level. Oregon statute 166.170 defines the right for gun-control by the Oregon Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Assembly wrote statute 166.370 that defines weapons carried in a public building as a Class C Felony and provides exceptions to restrictions on legal carry in public buildings. The exceptions are persons performing their legally defined duties, persons with concealed carry permits and persons given special permission by a responsible authority. Finally, statute 339.315 implements, in Oregon, the Gun-Free Zone Act.
Medford School District made a rule that employees, contractors and volunteers could not bring guns to school, a safety issue. In 2009 the Oregon courts found the Medford School District rule is constitutional and the concealed carry permit exception can be removed for employees, contractors and volunteers in Oregon public schools; making schools statistically safer. The Oregon University System case does not involve an employee and does not apply.
The district follows the local, state and federal laws. The documents printed in the media are for board deliberations, not for distribution. The actual rule in use can be acquired on request. The cited laws and court cases define the current status of our district administrative rules and the legal reasons for them.
We seek safe schools.
Walt Wegener
Baker Schools Superintendent