As a parent, I’m happy that both of my sons have graduated from both high school and college, because the threat of continuing gun violence, especially towards young people, seems to loom ever larger in this country.
I can’t imagine how the families of the murdered students and staff at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland are feeling. I don’t want to imagine it. But, I also can’t hide my head in the sand and pray that it somehow all goes away.
Children shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to school. Schools shouldn’t have to have metal detectors and beefed-up security, but they do.
I’ve never been a gun owner and the few times I’ve shot a gun of any kind, I could feel the death — whether accidental or intended — in my hands…and wanted no part of it.
Even so, I’ve also always had an open mind about both hunting and the need some people I have been close to have felt to have a gun (or guns) in their home in order to feel safe.
The one thing I could never understand was why anyone would own a military-style automatic weapon, other than maybe as a keepsake of someone’s time in the military. If you hunters out there are using AR-15s or AK-47s or even bump stocks to shoot deer, wild boar or even gators, I’m guessing that’s against the rules. But, if it’s not, shouldn’t it be? Even though these weapons can get off multiple shots in seconds, are they really the weapon of choice for home protection? Aren’t they, when legally kept, supposed to be unloaded and locked up when not in use and therefore harder to load and fire quickly at an intruder?
But, I certainly agree that the guns themselves are not the problem. People are. I therefore think that, in addition to trying to ban these types of weapons, anyone who wants to buy one should have to be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional before they can do so. I also think that the penalties for not only using, but possessing, these types of weapons would also need to be tougher.
And finally, I honestly think that in order to get the most people to be willing to give up these guns of mass destruction, they should be paid to give them back. Pennies on the dollar, but it’s better than having them confiscated or having to illegally hide them if they ever are banned. Even if our government had to buy back every military-style weapon and bump stock in this country, wouldn’t the monetary cost alone, much less the cost in human life and suffering be less than what we’ve seen in mass shooting after mass shooting?
I honestly believe that if anyone is going to finally bring about change with regards to guns in this country, those surviving students and families from Parkland have the best chance of finally getting it done. I truly hope they succeed because, sadly, we never know whose children (or parents or siblings) could be next.
Check Out Our Taste 2018 Preview Section!
At our press time on March 2, it was still three weeks out before the Taste of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel was set to return to the (surprisingly) warm and friendly confines of Florida Hospital Center Ice (FHCI) and I know it’s going to be bigger and better than last year.
The Taste, presented by the Rotary Club of New Tampa, in conjunction with the North Tampa Bay (formerly the Greater Wesley Chapel) Chamber of Commerce, will return to FHCI on Sunday, March 25, noon-4 p.m., or two weeks and two days after you received this issue in your mailbox.
As the restaurant coordinator for the event both years, I will say that we had a few (5 or 6) more restaurants secured with paperwork at the same time last year, but close to half of the 32 confirmed eateries and beverage providers we hdid have at our press time this year are newcomers to the event — and most of those that participated last year who don’t appear in our Taste preview section on pages 38-41 said they were going to return, we just hadn’t received their paperwork by Mar. 2. Since those pages were laid out for the issue, in fact, we have had two more providers — the Zephyrhills Brewing Co. and The Main Ingredient Catering Co. — send in their paperwork as I was writing the final page of our latest Wesley Chapel edition.
In short, I will be stunned if we don’t at least match last year’s 46 food and beverage providers and I won’t be surprised at all if the number ends up at 50 or more.
In fact, there are at least 40 additional restaurants that have expressed serious interest in being at the Taste, so keep visiting TasteofNewTampa.org every day to see what new culinary delights are expected to be added to an already impressive roster.
Please note that this year’s “People’s Choice” winners will have to keep selling tickets past 3 p.m., because the total weight of each food/beverage vendors’ tickets will…um…carry a lot of weight.
The New Tampa Players will return with new performances and guitar afficionado Shaun Hopper (right) will be the day’s entertainment headliner, known for his “fingerstyle” and percussive technique.
I give big kudos to FHCI owners Gordie Zimmermann and George Mitchell for being so happy to welcome the Taste back to the largest skating complex south of New York state, with an amazing floor covering one of the complex’s 17,000-sq.-ft., NHL-sized rinks. Gametime indoor temp? Right around 72 degrees (F.). Seriously.
I also congratulate New Tampa Rotary president Karen Frashier, her awesome team of “JCs” — James Carner and Jason Contino — who already have brought in more sponsors and sponsorship dollars for the event this year than last, logistics guru Matt Palmer, our beer & wine license expert (and Private Chef) Peter Gambacorta, entertainment chair Bob Thompson, volunteer coordinator Dr. Colin Beach, marketing whiz Craig Miller, the always-helpful Lesley Zajac and Debby Amon, and new Taste committee member Nikki Smith, who has made sure that any food that isn’t sold during the event this year will be donated to local food banks immediately following the Taste.
For more info about the 2018 Taste, including how to pre-buy tickets or volunteer, visit TasteofNewTampa.org. And, check out our Taste Preview Section on pages 38-41 in our latest issue and look for exclusive WCNT-tv Taste preview segments on Facebook, too.