Self-protection a God-given right

The Times has printed many letters regarding the firearms issue. I believe that none have addressed the core issue.

I believe the right to self-protection is a God-given, natural right, not a privilege to be granted by the ruling class. The statist, collectivist mentality leads to the concept that individuals should be sacrificed for the "greater good."

I have written and called the offices of the elected politicians who (mis)represent me. Thus far, I have not received an answer to my question: Why is the type of firearm used by Adam Lanza at Newtown, Conn., an inappropriate and ineffective self-defense weapon? Also, where is it written that intruders will always be singular?

Has Vice President Joe Biden directed the people who defend him to use only double-barrel shotguns, as per his recommendation for those not of the ruling class?

Edward Zawatson

Concord

Assault weapons ban should be reinstated

To add to the gun discussion, the National Rifle Association appears to be a well-organized and efficient organization.

While there probably are individuals from a variety of occupations on the NRA Board of Directors, the question is, how many of the board members gain all or part of their incomes from the sale or manufacture of guns and ammunition? Are they owners or stockholders in such companies?

Answers to these questions may explain why NRA opposes child trigger locks, background checks for every potential gun owner (including sales at gun shows) and the prohibition of assault weapons.

Assault weapons were prohibited for a period until it expired in 1999, and this did not create a problem. Why not reinstate the law? It is unnecessary for our law enforcement officers to be confronted by assault weapons.

Lastly, while my relatives shot rabbits and squirrels for food on their farm, they did not require assault weapons to do so.

Ruth Vurek

Orinda

Dumping payroll cap would fix problem

As a retiree, about half of my income comes from Social Security, a program that even Republicans value. But I am concerned that the government is looking for ways to reduce benefits, and I just don't think this is necessary.

Why is there a cap on the amount of income subject to the 6.2 percent payroll tax that funds Social Security benefits? About 5 percent of working Americans make more than $113,700 a year but pay no tax on this additional income.

Simply by eliminating the payroll tax earnings cap -- and thus ending this regressive exemption for the top 5 percent of earners -- would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, solve the financial crisis facing Social Security.

So why don't we talk about raising or eliminating the cap -- a measure that has strong popular, though not elite, support?

Karen Engel

Oakland

Big Oil gets another corporate handout

The August explosion at Chevron Richmond proved refinery safety and community health are concerns requiring serious solutions.

Assembly Bill 26 isn't a solution but another corporate handout. California's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund was meant to help communities facing health and economic threats from climate change. AB 26 would use it to allow profit-rich oil companies to outsource jobs.

There's no evidence the contracted workers would be more skilled than those they replace, and there's nothing in AB 26 that would make anyone safer. Nor would the bill curb pollution -- California refineries would emit more carbon dioxide per barrel processed than any other U.S. refining region.

AB 26 also defies public opinion: Californians overwhelmingly supported environmental protections when they rejected Proposition 23 in 2010.

The bill also institutes a dangerous, short-sighted "blame the worker" approach to safety instead of focusing on root causes. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board found, in part, that the Richmond fire resulted from Chevron ignoring six recommendations over 10 years to replace and monitor a corroded pipe.

Sadly, AB 26 would make it easier for oil companies to ignore real issues and make us all less safe as a result.

The Committee on Appropriations plans to consider AB 26 on May 24. Tell them to reject it: apro.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff.

Miya Yoshitani

Bill Gallegos

Robert LaVenture

Yoshitani is with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network based in Oakland; Gallegos is with Communities for a Better Environment based in Oakland; LaVenture is the western director of United Steelworkers.