Opinion | ‘A Country That Values Guns More Than Children’

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To the Editor:

Re “Mass Shootings and Our Depraved Political Stagnation,” by Charles M. Blow (column, nytimes.com, March 25):

It started out a school day like any other. Early morning bells, sleepy teens, earbuds in and eyes half open shuffling down the hall. We as the teachers had been briefed earlier in the morning that there would be an active shooter drill at some point during the day.

Each time we engaged in another drill, I was transported back to one afternoon when they were still a novelty. As I was weaving my way through the talking points, one always made me uncomfortable. It read, “The school is a safe place to be.” That afternoon a wide-eyed eighth grader looked at me and asked, “But what if it isn’t?”

I looked him in the eyes and said: “You’re right. I can’t guarantee the school is going to be a safe haven. But I can promise that if an active shooter were to stride into the library, I will be here with you.”

So now these drills have become commonplace — well, not exactly commonplace but at least less jarring. Our principal had told the staff that we would receive an email as soon as the drill began announcing the active shooter’s location in the building.

The drill commenced — lights switched off, the kids corralled in a central room, shades pulled and doors locked. We were ready to shelter in place, or to fight, or to run, depending on the situation. I checked email on my phone and the fictitious shooter was in my library.

I felt panicky. I knew it was a drill that we had rehearsed, but my heart jumped to my throat. I led the kids into the back hall onto the stairway and told them to get out of the building as fast and as quietly as they could!

I was trembling. I knew it was a drill, they knew it was a drill, but it had all felt all too real. I couldn’t help but think that one day that nightmare could become reality, since we live in a country that values guns more than children.

Christina Dorr
Mount Gilead, Ohio
The writer is a retired school librarian.

Imperiled Homes on the Outer Banks as Sea Levels Rise

To the Editor:

Re “Tiny Town Asks: Who Pays to Fight Rising Sea?” (front page, March 15):

Barrier islands, such as the one on which Avon, N.C., resides on the Outer Banks, are historically one of the most hazardous of coastal environments in which to live. People who choose to build on the oceanfront of a barrier island are knowingly risking the repeated damage or destruction of their homes by severe winter storms and hurricanes.

Tax dollars should not be wasted on temporary fixes like sand replenishment that nationwide have been shown to be ineffective after a few years, often less than one.

The article notes the alarming rate at which beaches are shrinking along the Outer Banks. There is a misconception expressed by one of the homeowners that protecting their homes also protects the beach. Not true. The beaches are reduced in volume because of waves reflecting off seawalls, sandbags and other structures. Without these features in place, a beach does not disappear; it rebuilds and, with rising sea levels, simply shifts upward and landward over time.

Over the coming decades the problem will only get worse and more frequent with climate change inducing more and stronger storms and hurricanes. Now is the time to set the proper precedent and retreat from the shore by not allowing repairs or reconstruction of homes after they are severely damaged or destroyed.

Martin Ross
The writer is professor emeritus of geology at Northeastern University.

To the Editor:

I first noticed the beach houses on the Outer Banks when I flew over them as an Air Force Reserve pilot in the late 1970s. Even then I could foresee the peril of building or buying a house in such a fragile, hurricane-prone environment. And, of course, this was well before climate change was a hot-button topic.

Now, 40-plus years later, as beach erosion has made the peril both more obvious and more ominous, Ben Cahoon, the mayor of Nags Head, cites only two expensive options: replenishing the beach every few years or buying out the beachfront homes. But there is a third option: caveat emptor.

Neal Snyder
Columbus, Ohio

Amazon Workers, ‘Stand Strong’

To the Editor:

Re “How Amazon Crushes Unions” (Sunday Business, March 21):

As a union member and an Amazon Prime subscriber, I’ve been following with interest the union organization efforts of Amazon employees in Bessemer, Ala. Reading about how Amazon employees were intimidated for their participation in union organization efforts is sad but unsurprising.

The spouse of a former employee is quoted as saying: “The customers don’t care about unions. They don’t care about the workers. They just want their packages.” Not this Amazon customer! I’d happily get my packages two or three days later so that my fellow citizens might enjoy healthier working conditions.

Amazon employees at Bessemer, the country is watching you. Stand strong. Solidarity!

Mitchell Goins
The writer is a member of Local 1600, Cook County College Teachers Union.

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