An overwhelming perception by Americans is that our Congress has become so dysfunctional that it is unable to effectively address the many serious problems facing our nation. This is due to career politicians who fear alienating enough constituents to endanger their re-election. If mandatory term limits were instituted, future congressional members might be more inclined to make the hard choices needed to solve our nation's ills. Fortunately, our Constitution provides for a pathway to amendments that are not subject to congressional approval.
Article V of the Constitution provides that states can initiate amendments. When two-thirds of the state legislatures seek a Constitutional Convention, Congress must call for one. States can send delegates who advocate mandatory term limits for Congress. If the amendment is approved by the convention, three-fourths of the states, not the Congress, must ratify it to amend the Constitution.
Citizens frustrated with a Congress that often fails to address our country's needs can collectively initiate change. Tennesseans can ask state senators and representatives to sponsor and support a resolution calling for a Constitutional Convention. Other states might follow the lead of the Tennessee Legislature if enough of us are successful with our petition.
GLENN WILLIAMS, Maryville, Tenn.
This country is finally getting tired of these moronic gun runners and the NRA whining about losing their gun rights. What about the rights of these innocent young children who were slaughtered by this mad man.
Do they not have the right to go to school and be safe?
We should all be safe in our churches, movie theaters, malls, etc., from these military-type weapons.
No one is talking about taking legal hunting rifles or a pistol from a home that is for safety reasons.
Perhaps these people who insist on having these weapons of mass destruction could join the military and really enjoy themselves while serving their country.
JIM McDANIEL, Hixson
Here's a short note to members of the U.S. Congress representing both parties. You've asked for our money, kissed our babies and presented yourselves to the voters as smart, lobby-proof, innovative problem-solvers. You've told us that you were the best choice to conduct our business and solve our nation's problems. Nobody who has watched the approach you're using for this "fiscal cliff" problem, or the "debt ceiling" problem just a few months back, could possibly feel good right now about the vote they may have cast for a congressional candidate.
You're exhibiting the same behavior that a high school student uses when he or she tries to do a two-month-long term paper or project on the very last night. What parent or teacher would put up with that irresponsibility? But you get paid large sums of money to do the same thing. Thank goodness most of our students don't follow your dishonest example.
You're a bunch of cowardly idiots. We're a bunch of idiots for letting you go back to Washington every election cycle and take our money for doing nothing ... again.
ALLEN M. BROOKS, Ooltewah
We are hearing a lot about gun control, full-time resource officers for every school, arming teachers, etc. How about a few common-sense things:
(1) One entrance to the building when children are present. Entrance to be staffed with receptionist; door required to be electronically released; bullet-proof glass.
(2) Panic buttons in the building in all hallways every 30 feet; at least two in every classroom. Buttons to be engineered so cannot accidentally set off. Some placed high and some low for children. Alarm goes to 911 dispatch. Alarm sets off loud exterior alarms.
(3) Four school officials who are usually on duty equipped with two-way radios direct to 911 dispatch.
(4) Random police patrols when children are on playgrounds.
I am against arming staff. Staff should be trained to protect the children. We should examine procedures for evacuation which they probably already have. The safest thing is to hide and let professionals handle the emergency.
DAN CHESANOW, Athens, Tenn.
Many letters to the editor concerning guns express two schools of thoughts. One was if we didn't have guns someone would use another weapon to attack someone. The other was guns don't kill people, it's people using them who do.
It's true another weapon may be used but that isn't the issue. The issue is an unstable person having an assault weapon which nobody in this country should have in the first place. The victims didn't have a chance.
The second thought - guns don't kill, people do. If the assault weapon hadn't been in the house in the first place, there wouldn't have been a tragedy in Connecticut. The real issue is banning assault guns. They're not needed for sport or protection.
When you purchase guns, always keep in mind they can be taken away from you and used against you or turned on innocent people. Guns left carelessly in homes have gotten in the hands of children and cost them their lives.
The right to bear arms isn't the issue. The issue is having assault guns that are far too powerful and shouldn't be in the hands of anyone unless you're in the military.
HAZEL STEEL, Cleveland, Tenn.
Times Free Press reporter Barry Courter demonstrated a lack of judgment in his Dec. 13 Lifestyle article, "Piping Hot." Mr. Courter interviewed a young woman who had recently taken up pipe smoking. The tone of the article was generally positive concerning this form of tobacco use, including a sidebar describing the delicious attributes of various pipe tobaccos, the location of the Pipe Club meeting, and even suggesting pipe smoking as an alternative to cigarettes. In fairness, he did include one paragraph concerning the health risks of tobacco use.
The photographs accompanying the article portrayed the sophistication and glamor of her "new social thing."
Although tobacco use has declined in the overall U.S. population, use among high school and college-age people remains stubbornly high, especially among young women. The next time Mr. Courter writes an article glamorizing tobacco use, he might wish to consider if he would welcome the use of a known carcinogen by his own children.
GAY MOORE, Ooltewah
As an elderly American I have suffered the leadership of 12 presidents over a period of 72 years, and I have never, even with Nixon's and Bush I and II's shenanigans, experienced more disgust than to watch President Obama stand there and fain sorrow, with tears (almost) for our slain children in Connecticut while at the same time his drones are vaporizing hundreds of Afghan children ... over 320 drone strikes every four days, 2,000 innocent women and children killed. (Bush II only had time to fire 46 in his last year.)
Drones are satanic! Do Obama's tears include the deaths of other children of our world? He promised to end our criminal wars four years ago. I feel like a duped fool voting for him, twice. There's something sickly about our government. They carry out their own agendas, not the will of the people. They are exposing themselves as madmen, with no conscience.
Beware, children of the world.
Does he only grieve the murder of our children?
My country tears of thee.
ROBERT LEE BROWN, Missionary Ridge