No beach fees

EDITOR: The Press Democrat ran a front-page article on a proposed $8 fee to be charged at 15 designated state beaches in Sonoma County ("County defends opposing state beach fees," Monday). State parks says it needs this revenue for budget purposes. The county opposes these new day-use fees.

Instead of praise for our county planners, the article is a one-sided challenge to the county's position — i.e., how can the county justify opposing these fees.

These beaches are a phenomenal blessing. They are a wonder of nature. Visiting the ocean and being in its presence is a powerfully uplifting experience.

People might argue as to whether the ocean beaches "belong" to the public, but they certainly don't belong to a California government agency.

For a whole variety of reasons our county should be encouraging greater, not restricted, access to our public beaches. In these tough economic times particularly, it is an outrage to limit public access based on a huge $8 fee for every visit to the ocean.

We all pay taxes to support state parks, and that is well and good. But don't tax us again with an outrageous plan like this just because a wiser alternative has not yet been found.



Don't give up

EDITOR: There is a danger that we will (again) become desensitized to the gun debate ("Obama vows quick action on guns," Dec. 20). We who are outraged by the Sandy Hook massacre need to train our focus (while we're still feeling anything) on influential lawmakers who stand in the way of change: Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman who says he has "no interest in any sort of gun-control legislation," and Rep. Howard Coble, R-NC, who said, "I think it's more of a mental health problem than a gun problem right now."

We need to call out legislators for positions such as these, to tell them over and over again that mental illness plus free access to assault weapons is a volatile mix. Yes, as a nation we need to improve mental health care, but guns are also very much part of the equation. We need to spread this message far and wide and this time not let a few well-placed NRA puppets thwart change.


Santa Rosa

Other rights

EDITOR: I'm thinking the alcohol lobby needs to take a cue from the National Rifle Association. They need to seize upon the whole "pursuit of happiness" bit in the Declaration of Independence and hold it up as an unquestionable right of all to have as much alcohol as they want. The declaration is an original document, not some amendment.

First, of course, would be elimination of the 21-year waiting period to buy booze, an obvious infringing on our rights. And we would need to amend drinking and driving laws because unless you are in an actual accident you haven't harmed anyone. In fact, if other drivers could see that you were drinking while driving, they would probably be a lot more cautious.

If we had all our preamble rights, no one would be entirely sure who was carrying a concealed belly full, and everyone would be much more cautious no matter who they were dealing with. And it stands to reason that if we were all more cautious, we would all be safer doesn't it? After all, alcohol doesn't kill people, people using alcohol and doing stupid things kills people. Support your preamble rights.



Warning sirens

EDITOR: The National Rifle Association official's remark that a bad man with a gun can only be stopped by a good man with a gun was wrong. That's not what stopped Adam Lanza. It was the idea of a cop with a gun, which was evoked by the sound of sirens.

Let's put a siren in every school. When trouble starts, the staff could activate the siren and a compact disc to be played over the public address system. The CD can simulate approaching police cars, the screech of tires, car doors slamming, boots hitting the sidewalks and demands that the shooter drop his weapon. It might distract him from his goal of shooting as many children as possible.

The siren also would alert police officers in the area and people in the neighborhood. The police officers could arrive quickly, and the shooter might kill himself sooner rather than later, perhaps saving several young lives.

All to the good, but I'm a little concerned about all the mothers, grandmothers and stay-at-home dads running toward the school with their butcher knives and shovels.