Letters to the editor Wednesday

Bringing people together through live music

 

We are writing to express our admiration and appreciation for the people of Savannah during Sunday’s annual Picnic in the Park, specifically, our respect and gratitude toward the musicians of the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra. Soon after the orchestra took center stage, the rain came, and knowing the threat of water and humidity to their valuable instruments, the musicians chose to continue to perform. The intense dedication of our musicians and year-long collaborative planning for last Sunday’s Picnic in the Park were extensive.

The Savannah Philharmonic Corporation takes their responsibility for this annual tradition very seriously. We know how important it is to the people of Savannah and the City of Savannah’s Department of Cultural Affairs, who – along with all our generous sponsors – provide the funding to make this live orchestral music concert accessible to our entire community. We value this opportunity.

In these challenging times for our nation there is a need for unity, and live music brings people together. Despite the weather forecast, we had another record-breaking crowd come out to enjoy Picnic in the Park. The committed audience stayed as the orchestra took two breaks in the program to avoid the worst of the rainfall, and we’re so grateful for their perseverance.

We appreciate the participation of Dr. Ann Levett who spoke about the importance of our Orchestra Lab partnership with Savannah Chatham County Public School System and to introduce performing students with Savannah Classical Academy, Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts and the Savannah High School Band. We are so grateful for the support of the 3rd Infantry Division, led by Lt. Col. Ken Dwyer, who joined us with his family for the entire event. Use of the live cannons for Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture was triumphant, and because of the insistence of the orchestra’s woodwinds and brass sections to return to the stage, despite rain, the playing of the patriotic Stars and Stripes Forever was one of the crowning moments of the evening.

This year’s Hollywood-inspired theme was “Light, Cameras, MUSIC!” and our stalwart musicians made sure that, despite the elements, the show certainly did go on.

TERRI O’NEIL

Executive Director

PETER SHANNON

Artistic Director and Conductor

Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus

Savannah

 

Time to take away AK-47s and other lethal guns

The news in the paper has been appalling. Hundreds of young people wounded, dozens killed while watching a concert.

Yet as the mass murders continue to mount, we continue to hear the familiar refrain from the NRA and their Republican supporters — “The best defense against bad guys with guns is good guys with guns.”

Well, we have 300 million guns floating around America. How many mass shootings have been stopped by civilians packing?

The answer is that of the 62 mass shootings over the last 30 years none have been stopped by an armed civilian. Not one.

And these days, as mass murders can be committed by folks with semi-automatic, and now bump-stock automatic weapons, the odds of a civilian armed with a concealed weapon taking down a shooter with an AK-47 are unimaginable.

The idea that background checks alone are a panacea is wishful-thinking. Though 60 percent of mass murderers have been found to be mentally unstable (surprise, surprise) that diagnosis is often after the fact. Steven Paddock passed numerous background checks. Not all people who are crazy are easily identifiable.

The result is 80 percent of guns in mass murders are currently purchased legally.

Tragically, it may well be that we cannot stop, but simply reduce the mass carnage. To me, the most powerful first step is to reinstate the ban on all automatic and semi-automatic weapons. This law was passed by Congress in 1994 but allowed to lapse in 2004. How? Ask the NRA.

Can anyone give me a reason why any citizen should have possession of an AK-47? These are not weapons meant to kill animals; they were created to kill people.

Gun ownership is a very complex issue in America. I don’t quite understand why it is, why so many people feel the need to keep themselves armed to the teeth, but that’s what our country has turned into.

So perhaps there’s no way to take millions of guns away from people. But at least let’s take the most lethal ones away, the ones that no good guy with a gun can combat. In the wake of this latest act of mass murder, Congress reinstating the ban on semi-automatic weapons seems a not very difficult, and logical first step.

Can it work? It has in Australia. In 1996, in the aftermath of a mass shooting that killed 35, the government enacted a gun law that banned semi-automatic weapons and provided for their buybacks along with stringent background checks. In the 18 years prior to the ban, there had been 13 mass shootings. Since the ban, there have been none. Can we achieve that? I sincerely doubt it. But in memory of America’s 997 innocent victims of this insanity, we must try.

DAVID ALTSCHILLER

Savannah

 

Lawmakers have sold out to the NRA

I got an email from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson with the subject: Standing with Las Vegas. He went on to say that he is supporting review of regulations regarding the sale of devices that can turn a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic one.

With all due respect, these measures are just insufficient to address this monumental problem. Reviewing regulations sounds like more “paralysis by analysis.” What really needs reviewing is how and why the NRA went from being primarily a gun safety organization representing responsible gun enthusiasts, to an all-powerful lobby representing the nut contingent, which seems to have a choke hold on Congress. All three of our Washington lawmakers (Senators Isakson and David Perdue and Representative Buddy Carter) have accepted substantial contributions from the NRA, which suggests that the NRA’s values are their values. I believe the NRA has distorted the Second Amendment and made this country a much more dangerous place in doing so. We must all ask, who is profiting from robbing us of the fundamental right to safety?

The difference between a homicidal maniac with mental illness and everyone else with mental illness, is easy access, both legal and illegal, to military-grade firearms whose sole purpose is to kill a lot of people in seconds. No civilian needs access to that kind of weapon. I implore our congressmen to do what they can to ban them.

SOO YACKER FRISCHER

Savannah

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Tue, 10/17/2017 - 8:37am

Letters to the editor Tuesday