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Most guns are owned for recreation

Re: "Guns can kill" (June 21). Yes, guns can kill. Not only that, but they facilitate other bad stuff, too. Approximately 40,000 gun-related crimes occur in the United States annually.

Luckily, they also discourage crimes.

According to criminologist Gary Kleck, firearms prevent or interrupt about 400,000 acts of violence a year. These incidents aren't newsworthy and usually aren't even reported to the police. Just displaying the weapon often causes the thief, mugger, rapist, or manic lover to desist.

Some crime stoppers can't even report the incident, as they themselves would face arrest. Many New York cab drivers, truckers, or pizza delivery people pack heat and inhibit muggings, but can't tell authorities.

I know several people in San Francisco who carry without the benefit of a permit. Concealed carry licenses are essentially impossible for non-elite to get.

Professor Kleck also estimates that private citizens kill three times as many criminals as police. Makes sense. There are 80 million gun owners, and usually the police aren't present when the violence is initiated.

What a boon for taxpayers!

Dr. John Lott, a research economist, concludes the most cost-effective crime reduction option is armed citizens.

But enough about that. Most Americans own guns, not for killing, self-defense, or hunting, but simply for recreation.

Betcha didn't know shooting sports attract the third largest number of participating nations of any sport in the Olympics.

Bill Alarid

Santa Maria




Shark jumping and bad names

Well, I was all set to write you guys and let you know that I think the whole "55 Fiction" (June 28) thing has pretty much jumped the shark as a passe and largely unread annual feature, but then I came across "Pussy Whipped."

Now, if you think you got some angry letters about the Boo Boo's article a few weeks ago, I can't wait to see what happens with this. Were you duped? Is this a joke? The story does come in under 55 words, I'll grant you that, but jeez, I do believe this is still, to some degree, a family newspaper. So, a 54-word story about infanto-maternal incestuous sex makes the final cut? Hmmm.

Just as I was beginning to question myself for being overly prudish, I noted the author's name: Thrust Longwood. Thrust Longwood?! Ha, now I get it! Either this poor fella was teased relentlessly in junior high, or ol' "Thrust" has put one over on the New Times' editors and is having himself a real good laugh right about now. "Thrust Longwood." Funny. Like in haha.

Jim Mallon

San Luis Obispo

Ed. note: We regret that this particular story caused offense to a number of our readers. A panel of five judges chose this year's winners based on their own subjective responses to the 1,000 or so contest entries that New Times and our sister paper, the Sun received. Entries that received a majority of the judges' approvals were included in the 55 Fiction issue. In the future, our selection process will be more thoughtful and consistent with the spirit of the contest. We value the moral judgments and frankness of our readership.




Racism is subtle, but it exists

I have lived here since I was a teenager after high school. There was a time when the old families that were here actually seemed to base friendships on a person's character ("Let's talk about race," June 21).

A lot of the children of the families I know have moved elsewhere to be able to afford a home for their families and children, which is/was sad for me.

I have been here well over 20 years and have definitely noticed that the "new crop" of residents want to recreate their racially pure environments that they left to be here in a more open setting. I have been asked several times "How did you end up moving here?" "Did you just move here?" "Whose horse are you riding/caring for?" (as though I couldn't buy my own). "How did you ever buy your home?"

There is total racism here, and it's getting worse.

Sometimes I am actually paranoid or concerned that I will draw unnecessary attention to myself, just because I am not blond, blue-eyed, etc.

The tactics are much more subtle, and harder to put a finger on.

It is bad, especially if you think you are on an equal playing field. I have a BS from Cal Poly and I still get treated like I know little or nothing at all in the workplace. If someone white, with less experience and "better connected" shows up on the scene, they are treated like an expert in whatever they claim to know about. Amazing!

M.J. Long

San Luis Obispo




Public access television is available to everyone

Sour grapes is an expression I use for those of us who don't get our own way ("Cable access fight could lead to funding cuts," June 28). Then we realize we have to grow up, think of others, and share.

Public Access Television Channel 2 is available to everyone in the community, not just a few who need to control the actions of others and are for some reason unable to cooperate and "try" the democratic way.

Anyone who has an idea they would like to share with the public can use the public airways by following some simple rules and procedures. Come to a monthly meeting, which is listed at the main office of Charter Communications at 270 Bridge St. in San Luis Obispo. Introduce yourself. Present your idea or ideas to the membership and then to the board of directors. Learn how to use the camera equipment and studio. Classes are available in camera use and editing if you use a camcorder. Help is available.

Everything in life is not handed to us. We need to apply ourselves to move ahead. Attend a meeting meet some of the producers find out what you need to do to become a producer. Then join Public Access TV, Inc.

I've been on a continuous learning curve since 2002 when I first became interested in filming local history. I am still excited about filming and editing, and I appreciate the value of having a local television channel available to me. You can do it too! Channel 2 is your station.

Joan Sullivan

Baywood Park




Local television can improve

Anyone who's even briefly clicked through our cable public access channel knows that the Bearces have unduly dominated the schedule with their own unintentional adaptations of MTV's Jackass for years ("Cable access fight could lead to funding cuts," 6/28).

I have no involvement in the dispute roiling public access, but I've always found it strange that some worthy programming can be found in obscure parts of the channel's schedule, while prime time is often dominated by Bearce productions, such as the umpteenth re-run of a scintillating circa-1982 Ron Bearce interview with Warren Baker's store-bought smile, or a cringe-making repartee with poor Leon Panetta, our former congressman, who must have regretted being buttonholed by Mr. Bearce within the first millisecond of the interview. I was tempted to complain, but one does not berate children for indulging a dream, no matter how terrible the results.

Even Bruce Townsend of the infamous "The Truth Ministries" public access broadcasts provides some comic relief to those of us who don't find Jerry Falwell very funny any more since Satan took him home, but after enduring several frames of the Bearces' programs, I've yet to see them do anything other than indulge their own vanity.

So I thank New Times for the refreshing burst of schadenfreude that accompanied reading of efforts to oust the Bearces. Now if we can just augment broadcasts of local government meetings with appropriate color commentary (and some post-1972-quality graphics) and banish KSBY's Excessive Make-up News Team to MSNBC daytime where they belong, local television would improve immeasurably.

Bill Persinger

San Luis Obispo




Viewshed sounds absurd

Try this at home:

1) Walk out your front door and into the street.

2) Turn around and look at your house.

If you can see daylight behind your house then it "silhouettes." According to some, if it silhouettes, you should sink your home into the ground, paint it the color of grass, and plant bushes in front of it so other people in the street do not have to see your home.

That's what the Cayucos fringe proposed viewshed ordinance is about.

Yes. It sounds absurd to me, too.

Smith Held





Help with a global issue

Housing affordability is a worldwide issue. For several years I've had the good fortune of volunteering with Esperanza (, which partners with locals in Tijuana, Baja California. We build solid concrete block/rebar homes.

I'm organizing an Aug. 19-24 building trip. I invite others to join me and other county residents. No experience is necessary. There are tasks for all ages.

Such trips are always fun, educational, and rewarding.

The cost is $350, with most of it being tax- deductible. This amount covers Esperanza overhead (site supervisors, seed money for materials) and room and board.

We stay in a nice dorm with showers. We cook most of our own meals. Please view the Esperanza website for more details about this great organization. For details about the August adventure, please call me at 541-0185.

Jim Hoffman

San Luis Obispo




Don't you trust us?

It's about time to end the ridiculous practice of requiring formal, docent-led hikes as the only way to view or enjoy a public resource: the Port San Luis Lighthouse.

I see through your recent article ("A push for more access," June 28) that some are fighting this under the guise that the "natural resources between the gate and the lighthouse are precious and irreplaceable."

Well, so what? Are we, the public, who are willing to hike a rugged 3.7-mile trail in order to enjoy this resource, just a bunch of bungling morons who will plunder, pillage, litter, rip out plants, shoot birds, and no doubt drive our 4WD Hummers over the trail by the thousands?

Are we, as a group, so stupid and uncaring that we need babysitters to lead us, probably (if they have their way) over some simulated-wood don't-touch-anything boardwalk, so we can look at the pretty lighthouse and be educated about wood rats and other things the docents deem important? We might (heavens!) actually walk on the ... on the ... trail! And with no one to watch us, who knows what things we'll blatantly and uncaringly destroy while we pillage our way to the lighthouse.

It appears that the docents and officials either think too highly of themselves, or too little of the rest of us, or both. How about giving us a choice, and maybe a little credit? Hint: Don't worry, even though there are "thousands" of people in Avila, they won't be all swarming to this trail, making it into another summertime Half-Dome hike fiasco.

Or perhaps you should just fence the whole thing off with razor wire, and only allow the nice docents and public officials access to this precious resource. The rest of us are too uncaring and uneducated to properly enjoy it, and we might even walk on the (horrors!) trail, and get non-docent-approved human footprints on it.

Gary Robertshaw


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