You say: let­ters to the ed­i­tor

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEWPOINTS - Sab­rina Barton Austin Ge­orge Ru­bin ma­gooman@com­po­ Tega Cay, S.C. Mike Mca­nally Pres­i­dent, Cen­tral Texas Chap­ter Brady Cam­paign to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence Austin Eli­jah Bar­rish Austin Karen Rankin Austin con­tact us Elaine Shel­ton Austin Steve Tay­lor S

Gun laws? Sim­ple

Re: Dec. 15 com­men­tary, “Se­ri­ous talk about guns trag­i­cally long over­due.”

One day af­ter the Sandy Hook shoot­ings, Ken Her­man de­clared it’s “sim­ple.” Ci­ti­zens who are “law-abid­ing” should have ac­cess to guns; “nuts” and “crim­i­nals” should not. But hu­man be­ings are the op­po­site of sim­ple. We are com­plex. We fall into and out of rage, de­spair, panic, men­tal ill­ness, and (in some cases) crim­i­nal be­hav­ior, for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons. Guns, legally and il­le­gally ob­tained, of­fer a quick so­lu­tion to a per­son who loses con­trol. In 2008 the U.S., which has the loos­est gun laws in the devel­oped world, suf­fered 12,000 gun-re­lated homi­cides. Ja­pan, which has the strictest gun laws, lost 11 ci­ti­zens that way. Sim­ple.

Dodg­ing bul­lets

Re: Dec. ar­ti­cle, “Un­speak­able pain, but no an­swers.”

Is it our right to be slaugh­tered? It seems so — ab­sent any at­tempt to con­trol even mil­i­tary-grade weapons, all we can do is revel in our rights, mourn the dead, and hope we’re not next. It’s a big coun­try, so the odds are in our fa­vor.

It’s what the Found­ing Fa­thers in­tended, right?

Don’t fear NRA

Re: Dec. 15 ar­ti­cle, “Our hearts are bro­ken to­day.”

The Brady Cam­paign to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence ex­tends its heart­felt con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies and friends of all the vic­tims of the Con­necti­cut shoot­ings. The me­dia and our lead­ers ex­press their hor­ror that such a tragedy could hap­pen again. What do we ex­pect? Politi­cians know what to do but will not for fear of the NRA. Why fear them? They are im­po­tent in elec­tions.

The NRA’s ad on TV says they are wait­ing for the facts to come out be­fore they com­ment. Really? I don’t think so. I think it is ob­vi­ous the NRA wants to wait to see just how much they will have to push back this time against the pub­lic re­ac­tion. The NRA stands in the way. Ask the NRA why they stand in the way. The an­swer they will not give is “gun prof­its.” The an­swer they al­ways give is the Sec­ond Amend­ment. Con­tact the White House.

Her­man wrong

Re: Dec. 15 com­men­tary, “Se­ri­ous talk about guns trag­i­cally long over­due.”

On Satur­day, fol­low­ing the shoot­ing in Con­necti­cut, Ken Her­man wrote an ar­ti­cle re­it­er­at­ing a po­si­tion he took in his col­umn on Fri­day — that the “sim­ple” so­lu­tion to gun con­trol is to keep li­censes out of the hands of the men­tally ill. But the men­tally ill aren’t iden­ti­fied un­til their ill­ness causes them to com­mit a crime. When we visit the shooter’s child­hood, we hear of a quiet, in­tro­verted soul in high school — on the honor roll, pushed by a strict mother. Adam Lanza was thought of as an or­di­nary, anony­mous per­son be­fore this crime, which may have been a cat­a­lyst for his ac­tions. His mother, to whom the guns were legally reg­is­tered, was a law-abid­ing cit­i­zen. Be­fore Her­man leapt to reprise his po­si­tion on gun con­trol, he should have found out where the guns came from. Per­haps then he would have hes­i­tated be­fore draw­ing a quick line be­tween the “ci­ti­zens” and the “nuts,” and call­ing it a wellpoliti­cized day.

Mus­kets only

Let’s do as our Found­ing Fa­thers in­tended with the Sec­ond Amend­ment and al­low ev­ery house­hold to have a mus­ket. No as­sault ri­fles, no semi­au­to­matic hand­guns, only mus­kets.

As­sault-weapons ban

Re: Dec. 15 com­men­tary, “Se­ri­ous talk about guns trag­i­cally long over­due.”

I com­pletely agree with Ken Her­man’s stance on gun con­trol. I sup­port the Sec­ond Amend­ment for peo­ple who are not men­tally ill or crim­i­nals to own guns as long as ev­ery gun pur­chaser un­der­goes a thor­ough back­ground check. What is in­com­pre­hen­si­ble to me is why the fed­eral as­sault-weapons ban was ever re­scinded.

The only per­sons who have any right to have th­ese weapons should be law en­force­ment per­son­nel and the mil­i­tary. How many more in­no­cent lives must be lost be­fore the law is re­in­stated and strin­gently en­forced?

Gag­gle of twelves

Re: Dec. 12 ar­ti­cle, “Time to cel­e­brate 12/12/12.”

In 12 words: en­joy­able story by writer whose name has ... 12 let­ters.

Down with cedars

Re: Dec. 17 let­ter to the ed­i­tor, “Per­sonal prop­erty rights.”

There has been one ob­vi­ous water con­ser­va­tion ef­fort that has been known about for decades, but noth­ing has ever been pro­posed to en­act it. Texas A&M has said that ma­ture cedar trees drink 30 gal­lons of water a day, while oak trees only need 20. Our species of cedar tree is not na­tive to Texas and is a trash tree good for noth­ing ex­cept bad al­ler­gies and wood chips.

So­lu­tion: En­cour­age landown­ers to elim­i­nate as many cedar trees as pos­si­ble off their prop­erty. Yes, some are ben­e­fi­cial, but there are mil­lions that can be cut down and never missed ... and in the process will con­serve Texas’ pre­cious water. By elim­i­nat­ing the cedar more na­tive grasses will prop­a­gate, fur­ther con­serv­ing water. So sim­ple, rel­a­tively easy, no tax­payer funded grand projects, and ef­fec­tive. The Austin Amer­i­can-States­man en­cour­ages email and faxes from read­ers. Please in­clude a full name, ad­dress and day­time and evening phone num­bers.We edit let­ters for brevity, gram­mar, style and clar­ity. Edited let­ters ad­dress a sin­gle idea and do not ex­ceed 150 words.Anony­mous let­ters will not be pub­lished. Let­ters be­come prop­erty of the Austin Amer­i­canS­tates­man. Send emails to let­ters@ states­ Mail to: Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor, P.O. Box 670,Austin,TX 78767. Elec­tric

power. Who would think to put that on their Christ­mas wish list? Some peo­ple in Texas’ Rio Grande Val­ley would. Although the val­ley is bustling with an ex­pand­ing econ­omy and above-av­er­age job growth, this 28-county area of South Texas har­bors more than 2,300 un­in­cor­po­rated neigh­bor­hoods (colo­nias) where more than 500,000 peo­ple live, some in con­di­tions that ri­val de­vel­op­ing and third-world coun­tries. What you and I take for granted — ba­sic water ser­vices and ac­cess to elec­tric­ity — is a dream for some of th­ese res­i­dents. In our sen­tinel en­ergy state, that’s hard to be­lieve. And had 10 grad­u­ate stu­dents from Texas A&M, Texas Tech and the Univer­sity of Texas not trav­eled to South Texas to see it for them­selves, they wouldn’t have be­lieved it ei­ther.

That’s why Power Across Texas, a non­profit whose mis­sion is to be a learn­ing cen­ter for Texas en­ergy is­sues, has en­gaged grad­u­ate stu­dents from schools of busi­ness, pol­icy, law and en­gi­neer­ing from our three lead­ing Texas univer­si­ties to not only as­sess the sit­u­a­tion in th­ese im­pov­er­ished neigh­bor­hoods, but to help make a dif­fer­ence. Th­ese fu­ture lead­ers have been tasked with a daunt­ing chal­lenge: to find new busi­ness models, pol­icy work-arounds and en­ergy tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions that can en­able res­i­dents in colo­nias to gain ac­cess to power with­out con­tin­ued de­pen­dence on phi­lan­thropy or government. The goal is to think of new ways to at­tract pri­vate cap­i­tal that is in­ter­ested in im­pact­ing peo­ple’s lives first, and gain­ing mon­e­tary re­turns sec­ond.

The grad­u­ate stu­dent teams are not alone in ad­dress­ing this com­plex prob­lem. As part of the so­lu­tion, they are work­ing with Magic Val­ley Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive, Elec­tric Trans­mis­sion of Texas, Amer­i­can Elec­tric Power, Lin­coln Re­new­able En­ergy and SunEdi­son, each of which has stepped up to be not only schol­ar­ship spon­sors for th­ese stu­dents, but also ex­pe­ri­enced men­tors. To­gether, the stu­dents, their fac­ulty su­per­vi­sors, and the power coops and com­pa­nies are work­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.

Texas en­ergy re­sources are abun­dant, yet pock­ets of fam­i­lies in the colo­nias suf­fer the con­se­quences from hav­ing lit­tle or no ac­cess to power and elec­tric­ity, among other ba­sic ser­vices. In early Novem­ber, the stu­dents spoke to colo­nia res­i­dents who ei­ther didn’t have elec­tric­ity in their home or had suf­fered years with un­re­li­able and un­eco­nomic propane gas tanks. The stu­dents were vis­i­bly struck to see how lack of re­li­able, af­ford­able en­ergy can stymie eco­nomic devel­op­ment, sup­press op­por­tu­ni­ties for ed­u­ca­tion ex­cel­lence, im­pair health and dampen in­di­vid­ual hu­man dig­nity.

Although the colo­nias are not unique, they cer­tainly pro­vide a rep­re­sen­ta­tive uni­verse for new and in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions that en­sure fel­low Tex­ans can ben­e­fit from “a clean, ro­bust and re­li­able en­ergy sup­ply.” Un­der the aus­pices of Sen. Ed­die Lu­cio’s of­fice and the Texas sec­re­tary of state, this Power Across Texas ini­tia­tive is sure to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of both colo­nia res­i­dents and the grad­u­ate stu­dents work­ing on the project.

The chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion in the colo­nias pro­vides a unique op­por­tu­nity to de­velop for­ward-think­ing tech­nol­ogy de­signs, fi­nan­cial models and pol­icy changes to bring elec­tric­ity to all of Texas. The grad­u­ate stu­dent teams from our three flag­ship univer­si­ties con­vene in Fe­bru­ary to com­pete for schol­ar­ship awards but more im­por­tantly to show­case how pri­vate sec­tor can change com­mu­ni­ties while also earn­ing more than a con­ces­sion­ary re­turn. That’s where money and mean­ing col­lide. And that’s a gift that keeps on giv­ing.

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