<b>Council silenced</b>

EDITOR: A headline in Tuesday's paper said: "Santa Rosa City Council told to stay mum on shooting." Who is it that can tell any American citizen to "stay mum" on any subject? Especially our City Council members who we elect to be our voices?


Santa Rosa

<b>Expecting more</b>

EDITOR: Even if Andy Lopez heard the warning, why would he think it was meant for him? He was not doing anything wrong; he had a toy gun. His reaction was typical of an innocent person, turning to see what was going on. Turn suddenly; your arm tends to rise somewhat. This might have seemed like he was raising the gun.

Some years ago, after speaking to a summer student, I was crossing the parking lot at Petaluma High when a police car zoomed past me. Shortly, I heard, "Freeze! Get your hands up." Did I? No, I turned to see what was happening. Nor did the police shoot anyone, although they were responding to a drive-by shooting. Rather, they told the few of us in the parking lot to go inside while they apprehended the boys. No shots fired.

Now, it too often seems that lethal force is the first response. Andy hardly had a chance to react. The deputy shot him seven times, possibly even shooting while the boy was on the ground. Why? Panic? Reflex? I appreciate the hazards of the job and that we ask a great deal of our officers, but given their training and authority, we expect them to deal appropriately with dangerous situations.



<b>Pointing guns</b>

EDITOR: Yes, I played with cap guns and BB guns as a kid. But first my dad taught me, "Never, ever point a gun at anyone unless you intend to shoot them."

When I was a teen, my family and I target practiced with real guns. But first my mom taught me, "Never, ever point a gun at anyone unless you want to get shot."

Law enforcement firearms training years ago taught me, "If someone is moving to point a gun at you, you'd better shoot them first."

Sounds to me like the deputy paid attention to training. Seems to me Andy Lopez missed out on some important lessons.

With guns available, if parents aren't teaching gun safety to their kids, maybe our schools need to do it.

I've pushed aside toddler-finger-guns to the astonished approval of their parents. Never, ever point any kind of gun at me. Unless . . .



<b>Wrong priorities</b>

EDITOR: In Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna," a man wonders whether it's him or them who's really insane.

That thought struck me when I read the accomplishments of the three Assembly members and two senators who represent Sonoma County in Sacramento.

Our county's roads are in crisis, but our legislators have not noticed. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission just reported that 65 percent of Sonoma County roads are in either poor or failed condition. They are deteriorating to gravel and dirt before our eyes.

What more important issues have garnered the attention of our local state legislators during the past nine months? I can now fill my growler at any microbrewery, sign up for more online classes at a CSU campus and consider donating to yet another worthy cause on my state income tax return. Sunset dates for certain programs have been extended.

This is micro-ball. When will our legislators address the problem most of us encounter every time we leave our driveways?


Santa Rosa

<b>Why Obamacare matters</b>

EDITOR: Steve Spriggs' article in last Sunday's Forum section ("Obamacare, on a personal level") should be required reading for all Republicans and especially tea party loyalists, as well as for all those who advocate repealing the Affordable Care Act. This thoughtful piece illustrates the importance of health insurance for all, at all ages, even those young folks in perfect health. No one is immune to unexpected injury or sudden onset of chronic illness that will render them uninsurable under the pre-Obamacare insurance-based system.

As a practicing physician in this community for 30 years, I have seen many patients whose lives, health, families, fortunes and futures were severely impaired as a consequence of this antiquated health care system. The Affordable Care Act is a crucial step in bringing us up to 21st century standards of medical care and the sense of personal security that follows.


Santa Rosa