Interpreting the 2nd Amendment

I've smiled as several readers have interpreted the "true" meaning of the Second Amendment.

One writer stated the Second Amendment was drafted to provide citizens with arms only in "common defense" situations against foreign enemies. Read the history on the amendment; it also pertains to "domestic" enemies.

Another writer said, "Ditch the M-16s and high-capacity magazines." California has had, for some time, some of the most stringent gun-control laws: no automatic weapons, no high-capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds) and background checks with a waiting period to purchase a firearm.

Instead of declaring war on those illegally possessing a firearm, politicians continue to go after law-abiding citizens. They believe outlawing everything -- from BB guns to Nerf shooters -- will keep everyone safe.

The problem is those who don't obey laws don't care about those laws. Check Chicago or Washington, D.C.'s crime statistics, where it is virtually impossible for a law-abiding citizen to possess a firearm.

To those interpreting the Second Amendment for the rest of us: What's your explanation for what our forefathers meant when they wrote, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?"

Gabby Talkington

Richmond

Colleges getting dumbed down

The abysmal pass rate (to avoid taking remedial or "bonehead English") at Contra Costa community colleges, recently highlighted in a column by Tom Barnidge, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Recent studies, reported in books such as "Academically Adrift," by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, found that 36 percent of college students made no measurable improvement in their ability to think and analyze critically after getting a bachelor's degree.

This can't be blamed on poorly prepared entering students -- the tests measured improvement after four years. It's more likely attributable to some combination of insufficient emphasis on these important skills and unwarranted self-confidence (possibly created by the excesses of the self-esteem movement) on the part of the entering students.

As trite as it sounds, learning is a lifetime activity, and our community colleges are supposed to be helping students gain the skills needed to make a meaningful contribution in the workforce or to go on to university.

To the extent they are tied up with remedial activities, colleges are getting dumbed-down.

Harold Mantle

Lafayette

NRA has revealed itself as a fraud

Recent information has convinced me the National Rifle Association is a fraud. The organization's hierarchy is dedicated to the growth and enrichment of the gun industry.

The millions of dollars the NRA receives from the gun industry makes the two inseparably linked to the proliferation of guns and ammunition. This collaboration reveals the NRA's defense of the Second Amendment is little more than a very sick subterfuge.

Those who believe the amendment's wording is inviolate are unduly influenced by the NRA's ubiquitous propaganda. Laws already exist that "infringe" on the "right" of some Americans to own a gun. So the issue here isn't whether applicable legislation can be adopted but to what reasonable degree.

I fail to see any constitutional justification for high-capacity magazines, rapid-fire weapons and high-velocity bullets. Also, legally mandated personal background checks should be required for all gun purchases.

I support all of the above limitations that may be included in President Obama's proposals, and at least some other reasonable changes that haven't been considered here.

Ronald Entwistle

San Pablo

$5.6M should be used for important things

Bay Bridge bash costing $5.6 million for one day?

Tolls are supposed to be used for bridge maintenance and seismic upgrades. Where does the MTC get the idea tolls can be used for a huge party?

Usually, when there's a large expenditure the board needs to vote on additional (unbudgeted) expenses. Did this occur?

If there's $5.6 million in excess, maybe we have paid too much in tolls. How about some toll-free days to celebrate the new bridge? Or, at the very least, those funds could do something important for the common good -- maybe for Oakland's understaffed police department, or helping the unemployed find work, or helping the thousands who are homeless and the children who are hungry.

This is ridiculous. This is a bridge, nothing more.

Leslie Wilson

Walnut Creek