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<b>A dangerous toy</b>

EDITOR: The people who should take blame for the tragic and unnecessary killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez are the manufacturers of these play guns and the parents who purchase them for their children. There is nothing beneficial, creative, playful or loving about teaching a child how to hold, point and shoot a lethal weapon, especially one known for killing many human beings all at once.

A child's mind is open to learning whatever he or she is shown, so why do some parents give their kids an object that mimics a lethal weapon? There are so many other options for giving children toys, tools, ideas and entertainments to enrich their lives.

These fake guns are simply not toys, as sadly shown here. Neither making, selling nor buying them does anything to promote a peaceful, intelligent, creative and loving community.

LOIS STOPPLE

Forestville

<b>Charter consequences</b>

EDITOR: A recent Close to Home column spoke of the Sebastopol Charter School's possible new location and how students would no longer be able to walk there ("Health, the planet and the location of a charter school," Oct. 16). It made me think of other examples of charter schools whose administrators obviously weren't thinking of the health of students or the planet.

Faced with declining enrollment, the Oak Grove School District made its schools, Oak Grove and Willowside, charters and, therefore, open to any student from any district to attend. The fact that bus service would be eliminated by law for students who live in the district didn't matter. Environmental nightmares at both schools due to hundreds of cars descending twice daily — not a factor.

These are rural schools, impossible for most to walk to or ride bikes to. Our kids have a right to ride the bus to school. Shame on the Oak Grove School District. Tell the very nice, but unnecessary, Superintendent Kevin Harrigan.

MAGGIE MAC NAB

Santa Rosa

<b>One-sided coverage</b>

EDITOR: Predictably, after the shooting of the 13-year-old boy, The Press Democrat ran yet another anti-gun screed and filled the letters to the editor with anti-civil rights letters and, of course, has kept the story front and top the whole time.

I'm sure The Press Democrat prides itself on journalistic integrity and evenhanded, balanced reporting. Yet when it comes to firearms, the editors seem to think there is only one side. How about giving the same treatment to the dozens, if not hundreds, of defensive gun uses that the happen every day in the United States? For a month, put a dozen or so on the front page every day. So, how about it? Do you have any integrity? Or are you just shills for the anti-civil rights lobby?

You could start with the wheelchair-bound jeweler in Alcoa, Tenn. who used a gun to stop two thugs. And the guy in Reading, Pa. who confronted two thugs he saw robbing a friend's store. Or aren't those newsworthy enough for you?

JOE LOVELL

Santa Rosa

<b>A police problem</b>

EDITOR: Law enforcement officials quoted in The Press Democrat say that the deputy who shot 13-year-old Andy Lopez was probably acting in accordance with the police training he had received.

This is crucial the point: If the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office does not acknowledge that it has a serious problem — that too many innocent people have been shot or otherwise brutalized by the police, that communities the office has pledged to serve are more afraid of the police than of the criminals they are supposed to catch and that the content of law enforcement training programs must radically change — then the Sheriff's Office is essentially saying that some lives are expendable.

Andy Lopez, his family and the many others who have been hurt by police violence deserve better than this.

ANNA MOLLOW

Santa Rosa

<b>A fitting name</b>

EDITOR: While there are more important issues than the name of the Washington, D.C. football team, perhaps when the team finally changes its name, it should call itself the Washington Gridlocks.

JEAN M. DAVIS

Forestville