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This page contains letters written into various publication's letters to the editor or mail call sections.  Entries are order from most recent to oldest.

Concealed Carry is a constitutional right that increases the safety of all Americans.
Submitter:  James Read Howard, Member TAC
Date:  4/23/09
Published: The Batt:

For some, it's hard to imagine that in every movie theater, there are people carrying concealed weapons. If you've ever seen me at the movies, you probably didn't know I was carrying a loaded pistol, and you probably didn't know others were doing the same. If you've ever seen me around town and I wasn't in a bar or on my way to or from campus, I was carrying a handgun.

I'm a concealed handgun license holder, one of more than 300,000 in Texas. I'm also a college student, so I spend the majority of my time unarmed because I'm on campus. The law and University policy prohibit me from carrying a weapon in class, sbut that may change. House Bill 1893 has passed through the Public Safety Committee and is moving to the U.S. House for a vote.

The committee agreed that adult students, faculty and staff who have been issued a Concealed Handgun License by the state of Texas should be able to protect themselves in campus settings just like they are able to do almost anywhere else. The Brady Bunch are up in arms over the issue, but they haven't a leg to stand on. The arguments I always hear against allowing concealed carry on campus invariably include "College students aren't mature enough," "The college environment is plagued with alcohol use, high tensions and rampant emotional turmoil," and the misguided "This will only complicate the situation for responding police." As a 22-year-old college student, I must be too immature, too emotional and too out of control to handle a firearm, but Texas doesn't think so. To get issued my CHL, I had to:

1. Be 21 years old

2. Have no criminal history

3. Not be under a protective order

4. Not be chemically dependent

5. Be of sound mind

6. Not be delinquent in paying fines, fees, child support or student loans

7. Be eligible to purchase a handgun by completing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System check

8. Complete required training

Though the editorial board of The Battalion has claimed "Restrictions [...] can easily be dodged and/or finagled to meet certain individual circumstances," such statements have no basis in fact. The Texas CHL system is a model for other states and has made converts of many an opponent. It took six months of waiting and a lot of paperwork to get my license and, as a U.S. Marine, you'd think it would be easy for me to "finagle" my way out of some of the requirements.

We're not talking about kids fresh out of high school totin' their pistol belts to class; we're talking about responsible, licensed adults more than 21 years of age. Have I mentioned that in Texas, a person with a CHL is 5.7 times less likely to commit a violent crime and 13.5 times less likely to commit a nonviolent crime than the average Texan? Not only are permit holders qualified - they're model citizens.

The law prohibits license holders from carrying under the influence of drugs or alcohol everywhere else, so why should campus be any different? Why are opponents of concealed carry on campus so convinced that a well-trained, levelheaded individual will suddenly become an emotionally-driven psychopath when he steps into the classroom?

Similar "blood will run in the streets" scenarios were imagined in opposition to the original passage of the Texas CHL law in 1995. These dramatic scenarios didn't play out in real life. The year after Texas started issuing CHLs, Texas murder rates fell 50 percent faster than the national average. The rape rate fell 93 percent faster that year, and it fell 500 percent faster the next year. The same irrational fears are being espoused today, and if concealed carry on campus passes, I'm confident we will see similar results: a reduction in crime and proof that these fears were unfounded.

To the argument regarding complications for law enforcement: the Northern Illinois University shooting saw a police response time (by some accounts) of under 30 seconds. An incredible feat, and I commend them for it, but in those 30 seconds, the gunman killed five students, injured 17 more and shot himself. It takes less than a second for me to draw, aim and fire my pistol, and when seconds count, the police truly are only minutes away.

Smoking ban or too much government?
Submitter:  James Read Howard, Member TAC
Date:  1/30/09
In response to:  Ban is a step in the right direction.  The Batt
Published: No

The anti-tobacco propaganda campaign that's cost so many people that little bit of happiness has come home to College Station.

Thursday, January 22 2009, the College Station City Council, by a 6-0 unanimous vote, banned smoking in all public places. College Station penal code requires that the ordinance go into effect 10 days after passing, so as of February 1st 2009, there will be no more smoking in any public place as defined in the ordinance to include bars.

Proponent's of the ban have cited health issues and nuisance as cause. Perhaps it is annoying to walk out of a restaurant and pass by a lit cigarette, but if you actually believe that little breath will mean the end of you, you haven't the knowledge nor the intelligence to dictate the lifestyle of anyone else.

Yesterday I heard this excuse from a proponent: "I'm pro, I hate coming home from the bars smelling like smoke."

Simple solution: don't go to bars that allow people to smoke.

Unfortunately people with these excuses have a selfish, twisted sense of logic that makes eliminating their small annoyances more important than the freedom of everyone else, and don't try to argue that their problems could be solved by a slight change in their own behavior. We must all accommodate them. If you absolutely cannot abstain from a trip to the bars on Saturday night, then you might have to put up with a little second-hand smoke. I don't smoke, I go to bars, I breathe. The smoke is understood. The beauty of our free society is that you don't have to go to those bars. The free market thrives on the fact that you can choose where you want to have your fun. If you can't find a place that's suitable you can start one and, according to proponents of the ban, your business will thrive regardless.

What person that you know frequents the beach and comes home complaining about the sand stuck to their feet? Not the same, you say? Why? Because you can't control the beach, but it's easy to put chains on people through rule of law?

The beach is inherently sandy, bars are inherently smoky. Stop going to the beach!

Maybe it's not about the bars. Maybe there are just too many self righteous people in the population and in our governments that think they know what's best for us. You know the ones. Under the guise of helping the children or for the public health they seek to control any behavior that might put an individual at risk. If we need so badly to eliminate smoking why don't we eliminate other risky behaviors like skydiving, bungee jumping, or dirt biking? How about alchohol? Oh right we tried that one. Prohibition wasn't a proud chapter in our history if memory serves me well.

Before you say "but second hand smoke kills!" let me interject with a few quick facts. All the info you probably know about second hand smoke comes second hand from a 1993 EPA report. The report is a complete fraud, used abnormal and dishonest methods in analysis, and has since been discredited by the US Congressional Research Service(1), the International Agency on Research on Cancer branch of the World Health Organization(2), and even the American Cancer Society(3), who found that after 39 years for spouses of smokers "the tabular results not only--and absolutely -- showed no lung cancer risk whatsoever but actually showed a slightly lower risk than expected"(3). So I think we can justifiably put that myth to rest.

Like so many other things in this modern world the true driving forces behind banning smoking are power and greed. Tobacco litigation attorney's can earn more than $15,000 per hour. In 1998 the tobacco companies settled to pay 46 states a total of 246 BILLION dollars, with a capital B, over the next twenty five years. The CDC recommends Texas alone spend over 200 million a year in anti-smoking related programs. How could we ever keep this money flowing if all the groups involved were to admit that it isn't as bad as they initially thought.

The state legislature is considering a similar ban that would also include bars. Call your state senators and representatives. For Brazos Valley that's Sen. Steve Ogden and Rep. Steve Brown. Let them know how you feel about your individual liberties.

Fortunately the People will eventually have recourse. At least in a locale as small as College Station we know exactly who to hold accountable. As of this moment I couldn't care less how much these people may have helped this community in the past. When elected officials can't help but put shackles on the people they're supposed to be SERVING, then it's time for new management. Six council members voted to pass this ordinance. Six council members should be voted out when their time comes.

James Howard
ENTC MMET - 2009

(1)Environmental Tobacco Smoke And Lung Cancer Risk," CRS, Nov. 14, 1995
(2)"Multicenter Case-Control Study Of Exposure To Environmental Tobacco Smoke And Lung Cancer In Europe," Bofetta Et Al, Journal Of The NCI, Vol 90, NO.19, October 7, 1998
(3)Environmental Tobacco Smoke And Tobacco-Related Mortality In A Prospective Study Of Californians, 1960-98," Enstrom & Kabat, BMJ 5/17/03


The American Dream
Submitter:  Tony Listi, TAC Chairman
Date:  1/21/09
In response to:  "Editorial, United we stand, divided we fall"  The Batt
Published: No

Regarding the editorial article on Jan. 21, the American Dream is based on liberty, including the freedom to reap what one sows in the marketplace rather than have the fruits of one's labor taken and given to the less productive. It is based on the recognition that virtue, especially charity, comes from a willing heart, not from a coerced taxpayer.

Obama's race was a major, though not the only, factor in his winning the election. Black Americans wanted a president "of color." Many white Americans wanted expiation for the false shame of white guilt, for the original sin of being born white. That is a fact, not scapegoating.

The Right passed judgment already in the voting booth by not voting for him because we know that socialism never works. Did you vote for him not knowing what his policies would do to our country? If so, that is an irresponsible use of your vote.

So do you want conservatives to shut up and "stand together" with liberals or do you want us to "debate heartily"? You can't have it both ways.

Obama Article Attacks TAC
Submitter:  Tony Listi, TAC Chairman
Date:  1/21/09
In response to:  "So It Begins"  The Batt
Published: No

If the staff of the Battalion wish to bash TAC, then they should at least do it in the opinion section instead of the news section. Any publication of high integrity knows the difference between the sections and keeps them separate. At the very least, the Battalion should have contacted TAC for a statement to provide our own perspective for the news article to have been fair and balanced.

If Chelsea Lankes is unable or unwilling to acknowledge the economic metaphor of the "nest egg" which over-arched the TAC Anti-Obama Carnival, then her work is either sloppy or dishonest. We put up a picture of Barack Obama and the first thing we thought of was "socialist," but the first thing our critics thought of was "black man." Now, with that in mind, you tell me who is the "ignorant vulgar group" that can't think outside of the categories of race! There was plenty of civil debate that occurred because of the carnival for those who were willing to engage in it rather than mindless race-baiting.

(For those on the Battalion staff who would like to take a step back and hear some rational argument:
Look Beyond Thrown Eggs:
Say It with Symbolism:
The TAC Carnival and the Limits of Civility:


Give Bombs a Chance: William Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist that deserves no support whatsoever
Submitter: Tony Listi
Date: December 2008
In response to: "Standing with Bill Ayers"  The Batt
Published:  No

Professor Slattery in the College of Education and Human Development recently wrote a guest column in this newspaper in support of William Ayers, but he did not give the public a full and accurate view of who Ayers really was and continues to be. It would be disturbing that anyone with all the facts would support someone like Ayers. I took a course with Professor Atkins in the History Department on the history of terrorism and extremism, in which William Ayers was featured prominently in the history of American leftist terrorism and extremism.

William Ayers was the leader of the far-left terrorist group called the Weather Underground in the late 1960s and early 70s. The Weather Underground bombed the New York City Police Headquarters, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the Pentagon, among other targets. One bomb, outfitted with nails to do maximum human damage, was intended to be detonated at a dance event at Fort Dix and kill servicemen and their dates. The bomb accidentally went off and killed three of Ayers’ comrades instead. Another bomb intended for the Detroit Police Officers’ Association had fence staples in it to achieve the desired shrapnel effect.

In total, the Weather Underground was responsible for 30 bombings , resulting in massive property damage and numerous injuries and deaths.

When asked what the Weather Underground was all about, Ayers said, “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at." In 1974, the top leaders of the Weather Underground, including Ayers, wrote a book entitled Prairie Fire. In it they write, “We are a guerilla organization. We are communist women and men….”

According to Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Weather Underground, William Ayers and his terrorist gang seriously contemplated the deaths of 25 million Americans, which was the number of people they estimated would not submit to their Marxist revolution. In the 1982 documentary “No Place to Hide,” Grathwohl also tells how the Weather Underground expected other communist countries to divide up and occupy sections of the United States. 

With all these facts in mind, how can anyone believe that Ayers was just another hippie or “anti-war activist” rather than a vicious domestic terrorist? He did not want to give peace a chance; he wanted to give bombs a chance. Even Barack Obama has said that Ayers and the Weather Underground “engaged in despicable acts.”

The only reason William Ayers is in academia today instead of a prison cell is because of a legal technicality and the dominance of the political Left in many colleges and universities across the country. “Guilty as hell, and free as a bird. It's a great country,” said Ayers after being set free because of an illegal wiretap.

Many have tried to dismiss William Ayers’ terrorist past is irrelevant. They claim that he has changed or been rehabilitated. They are wrong.

Ayers has no regrets about his past violence. On September 11, 2001, he told the New York Times, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” This past November, Ayers told National Public Radio, “If I had something specific to think about apologizing for, I might.” But he could not think of a single thing.

Most strikingly, Ayers has not ruled out the use of violence in the future. In his latest book, Fugitive Days (2001), he reflects on whether or not he might use bombs against the U.S. in the future: “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.”

Even if one were to set aside his violent terrorism during the Vietnam War era, William Ayers is still a danger to American society.  After dodging the justice he deserved, he halted his campaign of violence and destruction, deciding that transforming the American education system into a platform for radicalism and future communist revolution would be an effective way to advance his leftist agenda. Most likely, he also did not want to chance the legal system again.

Do you ever wonder where all those student hippies, rioters, and extremists went after the Vietnam War ended? Many of them ended up in the media and academia. William Ayers is no exception, who is now a university professor in the field of education. But what exactly does “education” mean to a radical like Ayers?

In Fugitive Days, Ayers writes about the Weather Underground’s activities: “Terrorists intimidate, while we aimed only to educate.” Is violent bombing and revolution the kind of “education” that we should be teaching American schoolchildren? In 2006, Ayers traveled to Venezuela and praised the leftist dictator Hugo Chavez, saying “We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution.”

In 1995, William Ayers helped found the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), of which one of the primary objectives was to improve certain “social and psychological outcomes” in Chicago elementary schools. It was also supposed to support “curricular and instructional innovation.”

What kind of educational “outcomes” and “innovation” would you expect from someone who is a self-described “radical, Leftist, small ‘c’ communist”?  In another of Ayers’ books, Teaching Toward Freedom (2004), he describes his educational philosophy as to “teach against oppression,” which is merely a euphemism for teaching against traditional Texan and American values and institutions such as the family, the free market, individual liberty and responsibility, and limited, constitutional government.

The Texas Aggie Conservatives merely wish to inform the A&M and Bryan-College Station community on the facts about William Ayers. That is the reason why we posted fliers around campus about Ayers and A&M faculty who signed a public online petition in support of him.  If it was the other way around and conservative professors had signed a public petition in support of an unrepentant bomber of abortion clinics, wouldn’t the A&M and surrounding community have a right to know that and request an explanation?

Talk of “McCarthyism” and the “politics of fear” is merely a rhetorical ruse to avoid the facts about who Ayers really is and a real substantive discussion about whether he and his radicalism is worthy of any support. Now that you know the facts, I encourage you to do your own research and voice your own opinion to the A&M administration and faculty.

Professor Slattery, will you join TAC and Barack Obama (a rare agreement) in condemning Ayers’ past actions as illegal and despicable?