EDITOR: “People at the Peace and Justice Center were dismayed by young children holding automatic weapons,” Eszter Freeman wrote (“The wrong lesson,” Letters, Friday). What is the right age to expose children to weapons used by our SWAT police? Shouldn't kids see, feel and understand the destruction that these weapons can do from qualified police personnel only?
Further, I don't think the kid held the automatic weapon long enough to “become comfortable with it.” But one day that young lad may be asked, or volunteer, to pick up one of these weapons and defend his country.
Many families countrywide still see a need to learn about weaponry at an early age. Where would men in our police force, the SEALs, Rangers or Green Beret be without prior gun knowledge?
It would be nice to “replace violence and war through active nonviolence.” But we can see how well that is now working in Libya and Syria. We took a nonviolent attitude with Manuel Noriega in Panama, and he wouldn't listen. Neither did Hitler, Tojo or Osama bin Laden.
HAROLD R. KING
EDITOR: Santa Rosa Mayor Ernesto Olivares, as you may remember, is a former police officer and is protecting his own (“Mayor defends SWAT display,” Friday). If an ordinary citizen who had lawfully registered a semi-automatic assault weapon allowed someone under the age of 18 to handle it without the child's parents giving written permission, the gun owner could be charged with a felony under California law.
Why then can a police officer get away with letting a person under the age of 18 handle a weapon that is capable of either fully automatic fire or semi-automatic fire without such parental release?
In a similar vein, several years ago the police in Santa Rosa cited Food, Not Bombs for serving hot food to the homeless in a park yet refused to cite the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy program when it did the same thing without the required permits to insure the safety of prepared food. Double standards all around.