Pictures of sweet smiles on the little faces of 6- and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School so reminded me of former little ones I taught. They are the reason I feel compelled to write this.

I have an appeal to parents, families and teachers who own firearms. I would suggest that you consider forming a new gun ownership organization for sane, responsible citizens.

It is not for me to tell others what to do, and I have lived in Oregon long enough to respect the independent spirit of Oregonians. But perhaps conscientious NRA members could look into financial ties between the NRA and weapon manufacturers. Despite their claims to the contrary, industry executives are on the NRA board and according to Bloomberg News, $71 million was given in 2011 alone.

There is a huge conflict of interest there. They use patriotic platitudes to disguise their lucrative relationship. The Second Amendment of the Constitution clearly states a "well-regulated" militia. A GOP pollster in 2012 found that 74 percent of NRA members supported background checks for all gun purchases. Perhaps the 74 percent could burn their NRA membership cards and create an organization that is not led by a fringe of elites who care more for corporate profits than for the safety of your children. — Joyce A. Woods, Ashland

As an educator, I am concerned about the call for teaching creationism in school. Our forefathers intentionally created a separation of church and state so that religion could never be used to oppress citizens.

Evolution, which is based in science, has a rightful place in schools. Religion does not. If parents want to teach their children about creation, they may do so in their homes or churches. But to bring creationism into schools would suggest that it is of higher value than the creation myths of other faiths, creating an atmosphere of religious oppression.

Creationists want me to teach my students that some bearded white man on a cloud used magic words to create life out of nothingness in seven days? From a non-Christian perspective, this sounds more like Santa Claus than science. More importantly, there is no evidence to prove this myth. Proof abounds, however, that evolution is a real process: Just look at how the beak of the finch adapted in one generation to a changing food source.

So, what should we teach in schools? Scientific theory, developed through observable evidence over thousands of years, or stories written by ancient, sexist men? I'll take the former. — Gretta DesCamp, Talent

As reported in the Trib, the state of Oregon is getting ready to dump pollutants in the form of 20,000 pounds of dead fish into the Rogue River from several shallow water tributary streams. Several questions are unanswered. Does the polluting agency have a permit to dump solid waste? Any person who dumps pollutants into any stream without a permit is in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Studies have shown that the dumping of processed fish remains into streams lowers the oxygen content of the water, which is a far cry from adding nutrients as the agency claims. Dumping could be catastrophic to both human and aquatic health. Salmonella is fatal to wildlife and pets and can be transmitted to humans.

Has there been an Environmental Impact Statement? This is nothing more than an attempt to use the Rogue River for a government dead fish dump in an attempt to save a buck. Rogue Valley residents should be outraged and screaming their heads off. — Chuck Michel, Bonanza

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