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Guns and violence

EDITOR: I beg to differ from Michael Morrissey’s assertion that American society is more violent than England and Australia (“A violent society,” Letters, March 23). I grew up in a very small town in England in the 1960s, and there was plenty of violence and cruelty.

Notwithstanding the fact that violent crime in the U.S. has almost halved in the past 30 years, the latest government figures show that the rate of violent crime in the U.K. is actually double that of the U.S. This may be due to how violent crime is defined and reported, but from my own observations, and a little knowledge of history, the idea that the British are somehow less violent than Americans is laughable.

However, one fact is undeniable. The murder rate in the U.S. is five times that of the U.K., and the highest of any Western democracy. Why? The U.S. has no more violent or crazy people than other countries. What it does have is vastly more guns, with few effective controls on their availability. Though the overwhelming majority of gun owners in the U.S. are responsible and law abiding, unfortunately, here in the U.S. any moron can get a gun. So of course they do.

M.L. JONES

Santa Rosa

Living by a pot farm

EDITOR: I object to the photograph used of grower Natasha Khallouf, who leases the property next door to me (“Rural neighbors balk as pot farms crop up,” Sunday). There are no buildings, nor does she live there. The photo implies the house and barn in the background are where she lives. That’s very alarming as they are my house and barn. I don’t want to be mistakenly considered a grower. My house and trees help conceal her site from the public road. The failure to mention that she doesn’t live here jeopardizes my family’s safety and transfers some of her security risks to us.

It’s misleading to call this neighborhood “farmland.” It used to be, but small parcels have been carved out for residences. Nonconforming properties retain their diverse agriculture zoning, but the owners are often otherwise employed. Homes surrounding Khallouf’s site are on two to 12 acres and don’t produce crops. Her site also borders several parcels zoned RR or AR. Neither allow commercial marijuana growing, yet neighbors will be exposed.

Diverse agriculture involve different permitting processes. For certain sizes, permitting is “ministerial,” eliminating prior notice, public hearings and remedies, thus effectively preventing rural unincorporated areas from voicing legitimate concerns about pot farms.

CINDY SCHELLENBERG

Penngrove

Mutz for sheriff

EDITOR: Tom Anderson got two things right in his Sunday Close to Home essay (“The most important decision in this election: The vote for sheriff”): The vote for sheriff is the most important local decision in the June election, and Mark Essick is well-positioned to perpetuate the current policies and practices of that department. But is that what’s best for Sonoma County?

Since the last (uncontested) election for this office four years ago, we have seen more complaints of violent misconduct by deputies (always found to be justified); a surge in allegations of mistreatment within the county jail; mixed messages about the department’s cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation efforts and a general stonewalling on implementation of the most meaningful recommendations from the Andy Lopez task force.

I, for one, want to see local law enforcement exhibit a more open and forward-looking approach to policing the overall community. That’s why I’ll be voting for John Mutz.

BRUCE ROBINSON

Forestville

Leaning too-far left

EDITOR: If the Press Democrat had any competition, I wouldn’t be writing this. But I’m sick and tired of our only daily newspaper printing left-wing editorials, almost none of which offer any proof of what they espouse.

I’m not left- or right-wing. I support some liberal causes and some conservative causes. I vote for the person, not the party. I believe that most residents of Sonoma County are just like me on the political spectrum. I have met some righties and lefties, but one of the things I like about Sonoma County as opposed to Marin, San Francisco, etc. is the level-headedness of its residents.

Take Tuesday’s editorial (“The risk of believing these things will make America great”): It slammed tax cuts and environmental regulations and claimed that the U.S. will be deporting 11 million people.

Truth: Nobody knows what impact the tax cuts will have on the debt. Even if the cited $1 trillion over 10 years turns out to be correct, the number is peanuts. Barack Obama added $9 trillion over eight years.

Truth: Nobody knows the impact of environmental regulation. In any event, states can set their own standards as California has done.

Truth: The U.S. will never deport 11 million people. Anyone who thinks that will happen is deranged.

Come on, let’s see some balance instead of one-sided, unsupported guff.

MICHAEL BURWEN

Petaluma

Insurers’ tactics

EDITOR: Patrick Caskey has it almost right (“Insurance claims,” Letters, Tuesday). He missed the opportunity to define fraud. The fraud is being perpetrated by insurance companies stalling to make good on their commitments in hopes of frustrating victims of the fires and persuading them to settle for much less compensation than they had been paying for.

Think about it. You go to a car dealer and pay for a brand new car, and they give you a used one worth 75 percent less. Would you accept this? That is what the insurance companies are trying to do. Where is the customer protection?

The insurers doing this need to be held accountable and face serious consequences for this. Shame on them.

IRENE DURHAM

Sebastopol

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