Readers Speak

Be smart

Dear Editor,

The school is having a walk out on Mar. 14 in Erie.

Do you think that’s wise, announcing the walk out. There could be someone out there with a gun. Be smart. Don’t announce it too the public. Keep it hush hush.


Peggy Confer,


In response

Dear Editor,

I just had to respond a recent Letter to the Editor that states that the NRA spent $419 million on the 2016 Presidential campaign and that the NRA spent over $70 million to help Trump.

Per the New York Times article on 2/4/18, “The True Source of NRA Clout: Mobilization not Donations” in 2016 the NRA spent $1.1 million in direct contributions out of a total of $1.7 billion. They spent $33 million on campaign ads for the presidential race and another $22 million for other races, for a total of $55 million, far cry from the claimed $419 million. Unions spent $110 million from Jan 2015 to Aug 2016 supporting the anti gun Democrats.

Per the Center for Responsible Politics, of the top 25 political contributors during the 1989 to 2014 period, 14 were labor unions. The top contributor was ACT Blue, a PAC for democrats. The NRA did not make the list.

The NRA had 5.1 million members in 2017, up from 4 million in 2013, and nearly 3 million in the early 90’s. The NRA sends surveys to its members yearly with a list of issues and asks each member to rank those issues in order of importance. The number one issue recently has been concealed carry reciprocity. Think of all the Pennsylvanians who live near the state border and travel across state lines for work, business, or shopping. PA is surrounded on 3 sides by the gun hostile states of NY, NJ, and MD. A properly licensed PA resident if carrying a firearm on a trip to Jamestown will be charged with a felony. Imagine being stopped in NY and being told your PA driver’s license is not accepted and you are a criminal. And driving is considered a privilege not a constitutional right. Imagine that you have freedom of assembly in PA but are told you don’t in NY state. Imagine having freedom of speech in PA but not in New Jersey. Consistency of a constitutional right is what concealed carry reciprocity is all about. If abortion is considered a constitutional right (though it’s not in the Constitution) and must be recognized in all states, then why shouldn’t a properly licensed person bearing a firearm be recognized in another state? Oh, and automobiles and truck are deadly weapon too.

Advocacy groups work to benefit all persons who have affinity with that group not just paying members. The Heart Association advocates for all people who may be affected not just those who pay in. The same is true about the NRA.

Per the Pew research Center, about 75 million adults are gun owners and another 27 million live with someone who owns a gun. That’s 102 million adults. Furthermore, 52% of non-gun owning adults could see themselves owning one in the future, per Pew Research. Also per Pew, 75% of gun owners saw it as essential to their personal sense of freedom.

The letter referenced a 2014 Pew study. I could only find one statistic he mentioned on the Pew website from 2014. However, there is a 2017 Pew Study that addresses both the public’s perceptions about gun lawns and then NRA members. That study finds:

¯ 44% of US adults say the NRA has too much influence over gun legislation

¯ 40% say it has the right amount

¯ 15% say it has too little.

So a majority of adults 55% are supportive of the NRA position.

The study also polled NRA members only.

¯ 63% of NRA member are satisfied with the amount of influence over gun laws

¯ 28% say it has too little influence

So 91% of NRA members are behind the NRA position.

During the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton is on tape saying, “If I could confiscate them all, I would.” Is it any wonder then that gun owners feel threatened and under siege and forced to take hard line positions? A recent article in The Federalist by Mike Morrison said it well. “If you want gun control, stop calling the NRA a terrorist organization…the implication is that 5 million plus members are terrorists…by turning normal American NRA members into some kind of demonic monster to be defeated, histrionic gun-controllers calcify opposition against any kind of even moderate reform.”

The NRA is an advocacy group, as is the Heart Association or the Cancer Society or the American Medical Association.

I have a final question for the anti gun people. You are peacefully attending church one morning. A crazed gunman hurts into church and starts firing. Police response time is 5 minutes in town, maybe 20 minutes out of town. Church A has no one who is armed. Church B has at least one attendee who is armed and trained. Which church do you want your family to be in?

Richard Dalessandro,


250 years ago

Dear Editor,

I will keep this short and to the point. When I watched the live news coverage of the tragedy in Florida a couple of weeks ago, I felt sick. For a couple of days the response was normal — anger, sadness, a desire for change. Then, it changed. Somehow, someway, the victims have somehow become gun owners. How ridiculous.

Let me make clear that I myself am a gun owner. I am a gun owner because I’m a hunter. I am, in no way shape or form, a victim here. The victims are the families of those killed and injured and that (and the countless other) senseless attacks. Yet, anywhere you look, you will see gun owners who try to act like they are being persecuted for some reason. Just in this newspaper’s Readers Speak section, you can find gun owners writing to God knows who asking for pity. It’s sickening, dumb, ignorant. Ask yourself this, do you think the families of the real victims care at all about your opinion on an amendment that was made 250 years ago?

Change is needed.


Gerald B. Hall,


Mental health

Dear Editor,

I see tons of stories in media outlets of all types that portray people with mental illnesses as dangerous or something to be feared. I would really like to see more stories that show some of the positive things that people with mental illnesses do, not only for themselves, but for their communities.

After the Sandy Hook school shooting, I was in one of the local grocery stores simply to buy food and was approached by another customer. The other customer asked me a question I frequently get, “What kind of service dog is that?” My Standard response is “She is a Psychiatric Service Dog trained to assist me with panic attacks and medication reminders.” On this occasion though, I was only able to say, “She is a Psychiatric”, and at this point the customer turned and ran for towards the exit.

I would like to note some important details to consider as you form an opinion of me.

I do not own a firearm;

I have no interest in owning a firearm;

I do sometimes carry a small folding pocket knife, only use to open boxes for Diapers and Such, a ministry I founded at Trinity Memorial to collect and distribute diapers, wipes, feminine hygiene items, and other related items to those in financial crisis in Warren County. The ministry is donor supported, and benefits people in financial crisis in Warren County.

Back to the customer that ran from me. I didn’t approach her, she approached me. I didn’t initiate the conversation, she initiated it. Yet, when I said the dog was a Psychiatric Service Dog, I became someone to be feared. I was simply trying to buy food, but yet to her I was now a threat because of the word “psychiatric.” When I tell this story in response to something said regarding mental illness, the only response given is, “Oh, I didn’t mean you”. I simply want people to get to know me before they jump to the conclusion that I’m dangerous. I’m sure that I’m not the only person with a mental illness in Warren County, who feels this way, but I rarely hear people talking about the good that people in the mental health community are doing, most would prefer assume that I and others like me are violent. I heard one estimate indicating that less than 5% of all mass shootings in the past 50 years (a mass shooting defined as a shooting with 4 or more victims) were committed by people with mental illnesses. This means that approx. 95% of those mass shootings were committed by people without a mental illness. Keep in mind that when someone claims that ‘people with mental illnesses are the cause of mass shootings’. I am targeted by that statement regardless of how anyone tries to spin it, simply because I am a person with a mental illness.

At any rate, I’m tired of being demonized and would REALLY be grateful if perhaps everyone took time to get to know me and others like me, as people who want to be treated with the same dignity and respect that anyone else wants and expects. I’m stepping out on a limb, but if you have questions about people with mental illnesses with regards to violent crime, Beacon Light, Family Services, or the Department of Human Services would be good resources to tap into. Facts build up, empower, and encourage positive growth.

Peace, be with you!

Jenn Campbell,

Founder of Diapers and Such, and a church historian

at Trinity Memorial Church of Warren

No news?

Dear Editor,

With all the news and discussions on “Mass Shootings” and “Gun Control,” I thought it rewarding to see on the evening news a report where a mass shooting was halted before it could happen. I haven’t seen anything in the local newspaper or on the national news about it and then it hit me like a ton of bricks; “This type of news no longer sells papers nor spurs the interest of the general public.” There were no dead bodies or sobbing mothers so no interviews to see how they felt. We are a very sick society when all we care about is being entertained with a “Blood and Guts” result. So where and when did this moment take place? It was March 2nd and it happened in Corry, Pennsylvania. How it came about was simple: Some male students heard another say he was going to enter the Corry High School and shoot the hell out of a bunch of students. It was to happen on Monday, March 5th but the authorities were called and they took action. No Shooting, No blood and Guts, No Tears and, unfortunately, NO NEWS.

Richard Lowe,


There is one

Dear Editor,

The conclusion expressed in the last paragraph of Walter Williams’ column of Wednesday, March 7, Times Observer, has been repeated thousands of times in numerous publications and uncounted times within minds of millions of people, but have you seen one basic solution offered or tried? I personally believe there is one if you can get anyone to listen, but time is running out! History is claiming our generation.


Charles S. Merroth,


Voting machines

Dear Editor,

I agree with the Commissioners that it is time to retire our fault-prone voting machines [March 6 article, “New voting machines on the way”].

The question is, will Director of Elections Lisa Rivett simply choose another DRE (direct-recording electronic) system (i.e., voting machines) — even though all available electronic voting systems have been proven to be susceptible to hacks, manipulation, and system-wide failure as well as individual machine and card failure?

Or will she chose to go the way of other leading democracies and states (the ones that are concerned about secure elections, anyway), and dump– literally in most cases — their machines in favor of paper ballots? They are choosing that because voter-verified paper ballots, not machine receipts at end-of-day, really are the only option for a recountable, verifiable election. As you may recall, a recount in Pennsylvania was attempted in 2016, but due to our electronic voting machines, it was determined that a recount was actually impossible in any meaningful sense. Why would that be acceptable, ever? Now that we have seen the stark failure of these machines to be truly accountable, could it be responsible to buy new DREs going forward?

Rivett would be a hero to forgo the $1-1.5 million in county taxes she is looking to spend on the shiny new machines — and she could deliver the ‘gold standard’ paper-ballot vote with the same enlightened choice.

Remember the term “voter-verified paper ballots”: that is the key to truly auditable, responsible elections.


Thomas Paquette,


Water discharge

Dear Editor,

It has always been my understanding that the Kinzua Dam was a flood control dam.

Why is there so much water being released from the dam now, only to make a catastrophic flood on the Ohio River worse? Even a couple of inches on the crest of the Ohio would make a big difference in damage to some people.

Bob Silzle,


In response

Dear Editor,

The letter to the reader speaks, “When will we stop it,” by James Schmader on 2/28/18 is the longest letter I have ever seen in the Reader Speaks. It was a very good letter. I’m glad you printed it all, I am in agreement with everything he said. A copy should be sent to our great president Trump, our legislators and also the NRA. Also send them a copy of the reader speaks 3/1/18 by Don Scott. Are his numbers from the 2014 Pew Research Center correct? I also agree with all of what he wrote. Except I do believe in concealed carry. It does stop a lot of crimes and protects a lot of people. Remember what Wayne La Pierre said “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. I have no problem with better background checking or a reasonable waiting period. Good guys have nothing to hide. It’s mostly the bad guys that don’t want it. A truly honest, respectable, law abiding citizen should feel the same and even welcome a background check. I am a strong supporter of our 2nd amendment and also the NRA. I am a lifetime member. I carry. I believe the NRA would have much more support if they would fight for most of us members want: They should take a survey. They could put a questionnaire in their monthly members magazine to see how us members feel about… Banning assault rifles, background checks, waiting period, minimum age, teachers voluntary carry, the death penalty. They could ask dozens of questions. Then for a better response from us they should enclose a paid addressed envelope in the magazine. They should then report results and respond accordingly.

I doubt if all these shootings of students, cops and innocent people can be totally stopped. But we can stop a lot or most of it if you would send letters to President Trump, our legislators and the NRA. Please put your two cents in.

Ron Simones,


P.S. Trump is doing an exceptional job.


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