A recent Arizona Republic story, "Fighting fire with fire: Guns in education," extolled the benefits of target shooting for JROTC cadets. However, that story left out some context: The Phoenix temple mass murder was committed by JROTC cadets; where there aren't restrictions, guns and small arms are flooding civilian societies, killing more people than all the world's tanks, missiles, bombs and fighter planes. Of course, that probably doesn't raise any concern in the increasingly violent and materialistic U.S., which also happens to be the only democracy to oppose both the land-mine and children-in-combat treaties.

If Monty Roberts, author of The Man Who Listens to Horses, can "learn to be gentle" with people, as well as with horses, then I believe that, together with proper restrictions, there is a better hope for humankind than Graham's solution. I have managed apartments and house rentals close to 19th Avenue and Camelback since 1972. Though I have been in a few threatening situations, I have "learned to be gentle" and have not succumbed to the temptation to get a gun.

Roland James

I'm rarely impressed with New Times, but Barry Graham's article debating the "gun issue" was fabulous. My only contention with the information regards the Brady Bill, which at first glance does seem to be, as you write, "a good thing." However, criminals do not purchase weapons from vendors that administer the required background check. They most likely steal or obtain from an illegal source, hence the term "criminal."

M. Flesher
via Internet

Thanks for a realistic piece on guns. When I moved to Arizona 22 years ago, I sold all of my guns. Three years ago I obtained a concealed permit and now own two handguns. I feel I need to protect myself from idiots who have no respect for life.

The fact is that I hate owning a gun or even handling one. The reality is that I need one for my own security.

Steve Cohan
via Internet

Garbage In, Garbage Out
I just wanted to take a moment to say how much I enjoy the writing of Bill Blake. His columns are, for my money, easily the best thing New Times publishes. I always look forward to hearing the sordid tales of the "Trashman." He has the kind of flair for the gonzo that you don't often see here in Phoenix. You should consider yourselves lucky to have such a talent.

C.D. Connelly

Joe Star Sheriff
I read with interest your article regarding our illustrious sheriff ("High Goon," Barry Graham, July 16). While I am for locking up all of the "bad guys," I am appalled at what seems to be an abnormally high number (77 percent) of people locked up who have not been convicted of any crime but who are awaiting trial.

This does not seem to be a problem created by the sheriff, unless catching too many "bad guys" is a problem. It does speak to the efficiency of our judicial system, and how quickly it is able to give these people their day in court, regardless of whether they are able to produce bail. I would like to think the American way still allows for the "innocent until proven guilty," and treatment in the jails should be provided accordingly.

Name withheld by request

I appreciated Barry Graham's latest tirade on Joe Arpaio, which was for all intents and purposes identical to the ones I make on a daily basis. However, I think it should be pointed out that Arpaio is not the corruption that is destroying Arizona, he is only the stench rising from the putrescent corpse of what calls itself the justice system.

For example, as Graham points out, most of the inmates of the county jail are not incarcerated for any crime; they are merely being held because they could not make bail. I want to say for balance's sake that the constitutional guarantee of reasonable bail was not excised from the Bill of Rights by Arpaio's hand. It was the work of "tough" judges all the way up the system to William Rehnquist.

And Arpaio had nothing to do with perverting the right to counsel, such that it now means that every accused, poverty-stricken person has two prosecutors. There's the official one from the prosecutor's office and the other one from the so-called public defender's office. The job of the public defender is not to defend the "client," but to negotiate plea-bargains on the state's behalf. The two publicly paid lawyers play good cop/bad cop to extort guilty pleas out of nearly everyone who is arrested. And thus, the system trashes two more rights that we treasure: the right against self-incrimination and the right to a trial.

When the government violates the rights of those with enough money to hire real counsel, it must often pay substantial penalties and restitution to its victims. The amount of these payouts is often sealed from the public, leaving reporters like Graham to guess how much Arpaio and similar malfeasants have wasted. The public, after all, is being punished for the vice of voting for corruption, but it is systematically denied the knowledge of the cost of its folly. Arpaio did not originate this custom.

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