02-22-2018 Letters and Commentary

A disappointed citizen Dear Editor, As a retired school counselor of thirty years I am sad and angry to experience another school massacre. I wish and hope some senator or representative is willing to stand up on the floor of congress and ask for a vote right now on one or all of the gun bill issues that are just sitting there waiting for a vote to become law. Rick Rasmussen, Watervliet

Upton has repeatedly voted against gun violence prevention measures Dear Editor, Congressman Fred Upton voted to repeal President Obama’s Executive Order blocking gun purchases by mentally ill individuals who were found to be too impaired to manage their Social Security Disability benefits. Upton voted against a bill that required background checks on individuals buying guns at gun shows. This bill also required organizers of gun shows to obtain a registration so they could process background checks on those who purchase guns at their shows. Upton voted against a bill to re-instate the ban on the purchase of semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines. Since the expiration of this ban, the use of these weapons in mass shootings has greatly increased. Upton and his fellow Congressional Republicans are so afraid of the National Rifle Association that they block every effort to enact any form of gun violence prevention legislation. As a result, nothing is done to stem the epidemic of gun violence in our country. The United States has many times more gun violence than any other developed nation. The reason is clear – each of those nations has much stricter gun violence prevention laws. One example: After a mass shooting in Australia in 1996 the government instituted a variety of gun violence prevention measures, including the banning of automatic and semi-automatic weapons as well as new licensing requirements and the introduction of a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases. Since that time there have been no mass shootings in Australia and the overall rate of gun homicides and suicides has been dramatically reduced. There are many steps that Congressional Republicans could take to prevent gun violence – expanding and strengthening background checks, requiring a longer waiting period for gun purchases to enable more thorough background checks, eliminating the loophole that allows dangerous people to purchase guns at gun shows, eliminating the sale of devices that can allow semi-automatic weapons to function as automatic weapons (“Bump Stocks”), reducing or eliminating the purchase of extra-large ammunition magazines, and limiting or banning the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles and pistols. The time for gun violence prevention legislation is now! Fred Upton and his fellow Congressional Republicans have refused to take action. We the people need to replace them with individuals who will. Lives are depending on it! Larry Feldman, Lakeside

Celebrate Red Cross Month by giving blood in March During Red Cross Month in March, the American Red Cross encourages eligible donors to join in its lifesaving mission by giving blood. Since 1943, every U.S. president has designated March as Red Cross Month to recognize how the Red Cross helps people across the country and around the world. Red Cross Month is a celebration of supporters, who are the face of the Red Cross in their communities and bring hope to people facing emergencies. The Red Cross depends on blood donor heroes across the nation to collect enough blood to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals nationwide. Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are needed to help those who rely on blood products. Make an appointment to become a hero to patients in need by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). An upcoming blood donation opportunity in Berrien County is Wednesday, Mar. 14, 11:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. at American Red Cross, 3838 Niles Road in St. Joseph.

Learn to live well with heart failure Lakeland Health will offer “Living Well with Heart Failure,” a free class for community members about congestive heart failure (CHF), a chronic condition characterized by the heart’s inability to meet the blood flow needs of the body. The program will take place on Tuesday, March 6, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. in Classroom B at Lakeland Hospital, located at 400 Medical Park Drive in Watervliet. Participants will learn to identify common causes and symptoms of heart failure, as well as new daily routines that can dramatically improve one’s quality of life. Preregistration for the class is required; call (269) 556-2808 or (866) 260-7544. Visit www.lakelandhealth.org or find Lakeland Health on Facebook or Twitter for more classes and events.

United Way teams up with Berrien & Cass County Great Start Collaborative for March Reading Month drive United Way of Southwest Michigan presents the ‘Spring Into Reading’ book drive coming this March 2018 in celebration of National Reading Month. In partnership with Berrien County Great Start Collaborative and Cass County Great Start Collaborative, United Way of Southwest Michigan seeks to collect 5,000 new and gently used books during the month of March. This parent led book drive will collect books to be distributed through home visiting programs in Berrien and Cass counties, area Great Start programs, and ‘reading treasure chests’ placed in Cass County agencies. In addition it will provide book racks at area food pantries for children and add a ‘Read Up’ component to summer ‘Meet up, Eat Up’ sites in Berrien and Cass counties. ‘Meet Up, Eat Up’ sites are part of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) from the USDA that ensures low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Studies show that exposing children to books at a young age, and having books to read at home, is one of the best ways to develop children’s literacy skills. This book drive will get books in the hands of kids who may not have had access before and open a whole new world of words to them. “One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is the love of reading. Encouraging an interest in books at a young age is a proven way to develop a child’s reading comprehension and inspire the self confidence they need to do well in school,” says Anna Murphy, president of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “Reading at home in their free time is vital to developing the early love of books a child needs to succeed in school, and in life.” For more information call Julee Laurent at 269-932-3566 or by email julee.laurent@uwsm.org. Book drive boxes will be set up throughout businesses and organizations in Berrien and Cass counties from March 1 to March 22. For a complete list of book drive drop locations, visit www.uwsm.org /bookdrive. Special thanks to UPS, our logistics partner for the ‘Spring into Reading’ book drive.