Background checks could help prevent gun violence

Gun violence in America is out of control. One in three people in the U.S. knows someone who has been shot, and nearly one in four American teens has witnessed a shooting.

Every day, 33 Americans are murdered with guns, and 140 are treated for gun assaults in an emergency room.

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Many of these shootings occur because felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill are still able to purchase guns without a simple background check. Right now in most states, these people can walk into a gun show, or flea market — or even log on to the Internet — and buy weapons from unlicensed sellers, no questions asked.

A shocking 40 percent of gun transactions, including online sales and purchases at gun shows, do not require a background check. And while legislation to require background checks on all gun sales is ignored by Congress, dozens of Americans continue to die every day as a result of gun violence.

A simple but effective background check can stop dangerous people from buying guns. In fact, Brady background checks through licensed gun dealers have already stopped more than 2 million criminals and domestic abusers from getting guns.

The vast majority of Americans agree that Congress should pass legislation to require a simple background check on all gun sales. If our leaders are not willing to represent the united voice of their constituents, then we will hold them accountable at election time. 

From Portia Hunt, Washington, D.C.

Bill gets rid of the IRS and special interest influence

America, with its democratic system, rules of law and open market economy, has produced the best living situation in the history of civilization. However, our dreams have been curtailed the last 25 years as the rising cost of doing business in this country has reduced the ability of the average household to find employment that allows the same standard of living as the last two generations have enjoyed. 

There is a way to stop our slide and regain levels of employment so that we and future generations benefit. There is a bill in Congress, H.R. 25, the Fair Tax Bill, that abolishes taxes on income and payroll taxes and replaces them with a consumption tax on new goods and services. In addition, there is a prebate system that un-taxes purchases by all Americans up to federally calculated levels. The poor pay less and big spenders would likely pay more. Passage of the bill would result in the return of offshore money, more than $14 trillion, to be invested in the U.S. Full employment would return, as would high-paying jobs. The only losers are the Internal Revenue Service, which eventually is defunded, and the special interests groups that have helped create the income tax mess we use today. I doubt many tears will be shed.

From Anthony Gasbarro, Fairhope, Alaska

Public transportation is a wise investment

July 2013 marks the 49th anniversary of federal government support for public transportation. The success of public transportation can be traced back to one of the late President Lyndon Johnson’s greatest accomplishments, which continues benefitting many Americans today. On July 9, 1964, he signed the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 into law. Subsequently, this has resulted in the investment over time of several hundred billion dollars into public transportation.  

Millions of Americans today on a daily basis utilize various public transportation alternatives. They include local and express bus, ferry, jitney, light rail, subway and commuter rail services. All of these systems use less fuel and move far more people than conventional single occupancy vehicles. Most of these systems are funded with your tax dollars thanks to President Johnson. 

The ability to travel from home to the workplace or to school, and for shopping, entertainment, medical needs and more is a factor when moving to a new neighborhood. Economically successful communities are not 100 percent dependent on automobiles as the sole means of mobility. Seniors, students, low- and middle-income people need these transportation alternatives. Investment in public transportation today contributes to economic growth, employment and a stronger economy. Dollar for dollar, it is one of the best investments we can make.

From Larry Penne, Great Neck, N.Y.