Withhold judgment

on A.C. police shooting

In 46 years as a law enforcement officer, I have been involved in many dangerous and stressful situations, including shootings. I have delivered the message to the families of several law enforcement officers that their loved one had been killed in the line of duty. I believe I am qualified to give my opinion about the recent shooting of an armed individual by an Atlantic City police officer.

Each time law enforcement officers go to work, each time they leave their homes while off duty and each time they attend a funeral of a public safety officer, they must think about all the "what ifs" that could happen. Many officers try to shield their families from the dangers and stresses they face every day. They took an oath to serve and protect, and that means 24 hours a day, every day.

While I only know what I have read in the newspaper and on some social networking sites about the recent shooting, I feel certain the officer did not go to work that day thinking his life would be turned around so quickly.

He will now face questions about every aspect of his life, some by people who do not understand what it is like to be faced with a life-threatening situation in which you have to make a split-second decision. I appreciate the importance of a review of the facts. I also appreciate the importance of supporting the involved officer during this review.

I suggest everyone show their support for all law enforcement officers and that they not pass judgment about this incident based on perhaps biased and unconfirmed reports and comments.

FRANK MAZZONE

President

N.J. State Retired Police

and Firemen's Association

Mays Landing

A.C. should be proud

of fire, police, public works

Regarding the Dec. 13 story, "Vote of no confidence in Atlantic City Fire Department's leaders cast":

You must be joking! The firefighters-union vote of "no confidence" in the chief and deputy chief astounds me.

As a resident, I could not be prouder of Atlantic City's response to Sandy and its aftermath. The Fire Department fought a fire as the storm raged. Chief Dennis Brooks and Deputy Chief Vincent Granese waded in knee-deep water to check on a disabled resident in my neighborhood at 8 p.m. during the second high tide and 70 mph winds.

To publicly try to embarrass or humiliate your boss because you didn't like your job or the vehicle you were assigned is childish at best. The day after the storm, an army of trash trucks arrived in our neighborhood and returned time and again until trash was cleaned up. The Police Department was outstanding, asking people if they needed anything, keeping us safe in the darkness and working many long hours.

Atlantic City has plenty of problems, but the Police Department, Fire Department and Public Works Department did an astounding job during and after Sandy and should be congratulated.

JOHN W. GOODWIN

Atlantic City

We are all responsible

for controlling guns

Once again the blood of martyred innocents cries out from a tragically sacrificial, instant altar - this time at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. How many more unjustly unfinished lives must Americans heartbreakingly endure due to lax gun laws and even weaker enforcement?

It is now hellaciously easy for criminals and crazies to obtain deadly weapons, which arbitrarily and indiscriminately slaughter our unsuspecting children and grandchildren. Effective yet fair federal gun control is an idea whose time has long since come.

We have been taught that in a true democracy some are guilty but all are responsible. I fervently hope that Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., will vote in Congress to spurn the blood money of the reactionary National Rifle Association in favor of upholding his constituents' most fundamental right - life itself.

RABBI GORDON GELLER

Temple Emeth Shalom

Margate

Arming schoolteachers

is no solution to violence

Regarding the Dec. 19 letter, "Time has come to arm teachers":

The writer suggests that the only way to end school violence is to arm the teachers. What an unthinkable message this would send to our youth.

The proposal fails to address a basic contradiction: If a teacher's weapon were kept secured from schoolchildren, it would not be available for use when a gunman enters the classroom. On the other hand, if it were loaded and available, then it would be possible for a pupil to get it and possibly injure or kill another pupil or teacher. How many children are killed each year by guns that are found in private homes?

Consider what happened in Newtown. An intruder wielding a powerful assault weapon burst into a classroom and opened fire. Anyone not similarly armed would have suffered the same fate as an unarmed teacher.

Perhaps having armed security personnel may be a partial solution. Certainly much consideration should be given to security devices and procedures that would keep potential shooters out of schools as well as other public buildings.

I am eager to see what solutions Vice President Joe Biden's commission proposes. In the meantime, we can hope that the National Rifle Association will take a leadership role in promoting more responsible gun ownership and the reduction or outright banning of assault weapon ownership.

BILL CRIMBRING

Margate

Acts of deranged few

should not limit rights

Regarding the recent shootings at a Connecticut elementary school and other recent acts of violence:

We should not forget that all these horrendous killings have been committed by only a small handful of deranged individuals within a population of 315 million people. Yes, these crimes are sensational and devastating, but they should not infringe on our constitutional right to bear arms to defend ourselves.

As our country and world become more populated and complex, such incidents will no doubt increase. The proverbial 5 percent of any population or group will always be outside the mainstream of law or normal behavior. A legally armed society needs the rights to defend itself from these minority outlaws and deranged individuals.

It is the individual and his or her intent for violence that creates harm, not the tools used to carry out the act. For example, in China, knives and poison in the hands of only three or four people murdered close to 40 children last year. In Atlantic City recently, a deranged woman stabbed to death two innocent victims with a knife. If not for the presence of a police officer, more might have been injured.

The emphasis should be on identifying and treating those anti-social and mentally ill people, including institutionalizing them if necessary. Unfortunately, the reality is that we can never stop criminal and aberrant behavior, but reducing it should be the priority and goal. Common sense and not emotional reactions should prevail.

GILES G. FOX

Estell Manor

Our children grow up

in a no-man's land

There is always a lot of talk about the need to take back our streets to commence a campaign against violence. As an educator for 54 years, I think we should first worry about taking back our own homes.

We have too many children who live in no-man's land situations within their own homes. Many must fend for themselves as there is little or no semblance of order, discipline or respect. Something as simple as a time and a place for meals has disappeared.

The kitchen refrigerator has become the nerve center and message center for family members who come and go like ships in the night.

Teens have become adept at deception, hiding pot, booze and pornography in places never visited by parents.

Teenage girls who engage in premarital sex don't get pregnant in the back seat of their boyfriend's car today, but often in the comfort of their pink bedroom while parents are on vacation or in the recreation room sipping a martini or smoking a joint.

Frequently, we grandparents are asked for video games as gifts on special occasions. Only recently have I become aware of the violence and carnage portrayed in many of these games. Teens are learning how to shoot and kill with Green Beret sniper accuracy.

Playing these video games repeatedly suggests to them that death has no finality to it as they continue to shoot at life-like images whom they may have assassinated the previous day.

SAM ALFONSI

Diamond Beach