Sounding off: Gun violence is killing and traumatizing our kids – TribLIVE


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I’ve already lost my brother to gun violence. I refuse to lose my son, too, amid a surge of shootings that are killing, injuring and traumatizing our youth at a scale I’ve never seen.

A few weeks ago, my 14-year-old son and his friends were pulling up to the Haunted Hills Hayride in North Versailles when they heard gunshots. We later learned this was the fatal shooting of his Central Catholic High School classmate and the critical injury of a Penn Hills High School student. When my son got home, he was so traumatized and could not speak. The incident forced a decision to ban fans from attending the Penn Hills-Woodland Hills football game, impacting one of my son’s favorite outlets — football.

As a mother, it’s my job to protect my children. But I can’t lock them up in the house and deprive them of a life, just to prevent them from getting shot.

A recent study showed that exposure to gun violence is linked to higher rates of mental health emergency department visits by children. Our kids are literally afraid for their lives. We risk losing an entire generation to this violence.

To reverse this trend, we need to pass a state law requiring that lost and stolen firearms be reported to police, which has been shown to reduce the number of illegal guns that fuel so much youth violence. We also need to invest in teaching conflict resolution skills to our young people, so they don’t turn to guns to resolve every disagreement.

Valen Tasser, Penn Hills

Confederate flag glorifies traitors

Deanna Betras disagrees with Norwin School District leaders’ decision to ask students to change Confederate flag clothing during a “’Merica Monday” celebration (“Norwin resident seeks racial sensitivity, diversity training for school staff after students wore Confederate flag clothing”). Ms. Betras, here is a brief American history lesson for you.

There are no statues for American “heroes” Robert Rogers, who fought against the Continental Army during the American Revolution, or Benedict Arnold, who led the charge that won the battle of Saratoga, which turned the tide of the war, but then turned his coat and led British raids along the coast of Virginia. They were traitors.

During our Civil War, the Confederate States of America attacked the people and the government of the Union; the Confederates bore arms against their native land and, according to the U.S. Constitution, this was treason. They were traitors.

Norwin students were supposed to wear red, white and blue to show support for the United States, according to the article. Get it? Our United States.

Betras complains that “The Confederate flag is offensive to some. The BLM (Black Lives Matter) banner is offensive to some.” So what? Where is there the vaguest comparison?

The Confederate flag is not a political symbol. It is a racist, hateful, divisive, ignorant ensign used to glorify traitors, slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and white supremacy.

Betras insists it is not the school district’s job “to determine what constitutes an offensive political position.” This is probably the lamest, most bigoted, disloyal statement I have ever heard. There is no excuse for this nonsense.

Jim Harger, New Kensington

Battling over race at Gateway

The Gateway School District’s racial achievement gap is in every school building and has been just about every year for at least 16 years. Bottom of the barrel in Allegheny County.

To change this, five of nine school board members voted this spring to hire an equity director. Another board member worked against the effort to reduce the racial achievement gap, saying it was an evil conspiracy to indoctrinate students with Marxism.

Monroeville Citizens for God and Country joined the effort. They gathered white families and told them an equity director would lead to their children being indoctrinated. Some of those parents believed that conspiracy notion and came to board meetings to testify that there is no racial divide and to yell at those who disagreed.

They went through the emails and paperwork of board members to discredit those who favored an equity director. They attempted to discredit a local church that had supported a volunteer tutoring program. A better use of their time would have been reading about the causes of the gap and how to reduce it, instead of reading board emails.

Gateway can become a great school district, but not if board members and local faith-based groups try to scare white parents by telling them that efforts to improve academic outcomes for Black children are evil, un-American and Marxist. Greatness can only come if all board members insist on ending the racial achievement gap and work with the administration to enhance the education of all children, irrespective of race.

Ray Firth, Monroeville

Taxpayers deserve accountability

I read the article “Pa. lawmakers spend millions of tax dollars on private lawyers but often don’t reveal why” with sadness and frustration. It appears the system is set up to encourage corruption. Effective government must have transparency and accountability. We must challenge the practice of redacting. Pennsylvania voters deserve to know how and why their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Spending $750 per hour on lawyer fees is outrageous. These same lawmakers refuse to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, but are willing to spend 100 times that amount for their own lawyers. To add insult to injury, that $750 per hour was spent on a frivolous lawsuit that never should have been brought in the first place. There should be strict guidelines on when and why legislatures hire lawyers, and how much of the taxpayers’ money they spend.

Not only did Mike Turzai, past Republican speaker, spend excessively on lawyer fees, but he is also guilty of the revolving door scam. He gave the fracking industry a sweetheart deal, then quit the government and took a lucrative job with the industry.

We must demand that our legislators promote and support bills to correct the corrosive influence of pay to play, revolving doors and secrecy.

Julia Bojalad, North Huntingdon

Pelosi understands her role as protector

Regarding David Scandrol’s letter “Has Pelosi read Constitution?”: Nancy Pelosi has read the Constitution and fully understands her role as speaker of the House in protecting our republic. “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime”? I’ll show you a man with over 65 years of deception, failed businesses, lying, cheating, selfishness and absolutely no qualifications to be considered for the highest office in the land.

I disagree with Scandrol. Pelosi is not a threat to democracy. However, the former guy has been, is and always will be in question. In my opinion, he must not be eligible to run for office again based on his apparent failed attempt to lead an insurrection as he refused to accept a peaceful transfer of power. The 2020 election was not rigged; there was no evidence it was rigged. Even the U.S. Supreme Court validated the election.

New evidence continues to support why a complete investigation of the Jan. 6 riots is necessary and why the committee’s request for information must be honored. If that means the person or persons responsible can no longer run for public office in the future, then she has done her job protecting the Constitution and our republic. She is not withholding evidence. All elected federal officials, military officers and police are sworn to an oath of office to protect and defend against all enemies both foreign and domestic. No man is above the law!

Pelosi has read the Constitution!

Michael A. Rapp, Mars

Democrats are killing comedy

Kliph Nesteroff’s commentary “Cancel culture has always been a problem for comedy” is, ironically, laughable. To equate the almost universal lockdown of any joke that doesn’t pass leftist muster with comedians of the past not being able to swear is ludicrous. Liberal hero Dave Chappelle got away with it. Name another.

Big-name comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock won’t even perform at colleges because of political correctness and cancel culture. When has that ever happened? Political humor is worse. I can’t think of one biting joke aimed at a Democratic politician since Dennis Miller finally gave up.

Whether it’s humor or opinion, today’s Democratic Party leads the charge in stifling dissent of any kind. Diversity in all but thought.

Thomas Wagner, Murrysville

Democrats don’t understand concept of melting pot

President Biden and the Democrats have our Founding Fathers spinning in their graves. This new crew does not seem to understand America’s historic melting pot strength. Opening our borders waters down our melting pot. Our common language (English) lets us cross state lines without the need of an interpreter for spoken and written messages. English should be official throughout the 50 states, not just expected.

We are a nation of laws. The lack of security at the border is a weakness and a national security risk. This crew, in their haste, is ignoring the health of these illegals and putting our health and security at risk. This foolishness will have long-term consequences.

Illegals pick up roots instead of fighting what they need to change in their own countries and wander here in hordes. The rest of the world does not have it as good as we do, and we can’t accommodate all of them no matter how bad they have it. This is where having laws that are followed sorts things out.

Wake up, America.

George Biskup, Penn Township, Westmoreland County

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