NRA lawsuit demonstrates its insecurity and paranoia

Governor Scott signed a gun safety bill into law. The NRA filed a lawsuit.

The law will make people safer. It increases the long-gun purchase age to 21 from 18 and adds a three-day waiting period. It bans bump stocks. And the law will allow select school employees to carry weapons.

What could be wrong? People age 21 will still buy guns and rifles. The market for guns will expand as educators start to purchase them. Plus, Florida did not outlaw the purchase of people-killing assault rifles.

But the NRA wants complete and total control over all guns. It believes that all people — young, old, sane, mentally challenged — should have the right to have guns. Even after the Supreme Court confirmed the sanctity of the Second Amendment, the NRA demonstrates insecurity and paranoia.

At what point can the NRA feel secure enough to look at the people-killing situation in this country with some degree of sanity and concern? When will the lives of students have more importance than the sale of guns? Doesn’t the NRA have enough to do, with safety and training and promoting new products?

Florida has made a move. Let’s hope other states follow.

Jeffrey Weisman, Sarasota

Don't support tax dollars for school arts programs

Supporters of the Sarasota County school tax tell us to vote “Yes” in the referendum to provide funding for the district’s art programs. “The most important reason to renew the funding is to ensure continued financial support for the district’s nationally recognized arts program,” says a Herald-Tribune column by Larry Thompson, president of the Ringling College of Art and Design (March 9, “A clear choice on school tax ballot”).

I might vote “Yes” for the tax had the money instead been for enabling students to improve their reading, speaking and writing.

But for the arts? Is that what our young people need while they can’t write a decent business letter or balance a checkbook?

Never mind tax dollars for the arts. Schools should teach academics first. I like my tax dollars to produce more engineers, not painters and sculptors.

Nick Catsakis, Nokomis

Extra school tax essential to economic development

The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation board of directors is joining with other leadership organizations concerned about Manatee County’s future in supporting the 1-mill tax for Manatee County public schools. We believe this initiative is essential to the success of economic development efforts in Manatee County.

A strong educational system is vital to economic development. Good schools are a key factor as businesses decide where to locate or expand. Employers need well-educated and trained workers. Employees you seek to recruit and retain consider schools when deciding where to locate their families.

Our schools need additional resources to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers to train a skilled workforce. Manatee County’s public schools are experiencing a shortage of 300 teachers, and we remain at a competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining qualified teachers. The average wage for teachers in Manatee County is $45,800, compared with $54,500 in Sarasota County.

Manatee County has been graded a “B” district, while Sarasota County is an “A” district. If our school system’s reputation continues to lag behind that of other communities, so will our ability to attract high-impact companies to diversify our economy.

The citizens’ oversight committee to be established as part of this initiative will provide greater accountability in applying the additional funds where they are intended. Information about the referendum and how the money would be spent is available at

We encourage Manatee County voters to carefully consider the facts on this important matter and vote “yes” on March 20.

Sharon Hillstrom, President and CEO; Kirk Boylston, Chair, Bradenton Area EDC

Religious groups in politics should have to pay taxes

I support the religious right and evangelicals in their quest to exercise their rights of free speech. However, since they have become politically active entities, why are they not taxed on their income (contributions) and on their real estate and property holdings like the rest of us?

I struggle with that question in a world where we are adversely affected by the same politics these religious institutions are espousing and financially supporting.

Since these groups want to be politically active, then "we the people" need to impose the same taxes on them that we impose on ourselves. Obviously, if they choose to be nonpolitical, then they should continue to have preferential tax treatment.

I realize the church supporters might disagree with me, but only those committed to their own political monologue would feel the pain of paying taxes, while those separating church and state would be exempt.

Lynn Johnston, Sarasota