Americans have been played on gun issue

Re: "Boost for background checks: Senators compromise," April 10

For five years, Americans have been told thatPresident Obama was gonna knock on their doors and take away their guns, and during those five years, gun manufacturers have enjoyed record profits.

How does it feel to be played for suckers?

Jack Donner


Thatcher stood up to Soviet missile threat

Re: "R.I.P. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher," Editorial, April 9

I want to clarify your comment that Margaret Thatcher's "decision to put tactical nuclear weapons in Britain ... in 1982 prompted the Soviets to call her the Iron Lady." As I recall, this was a decision to target ground-launched, mobile intermediate-range missiles with nuclear warheads against Warsaw Pact countries in response to similar missiles that were being supplied by Russia.

The only new event was the fact that these were missiles. For several years, England hosted tactical fighter aircraft that were loaded with nuclear weapons.

I know because I frequently spent time locked up on 15-minute nuclear alert at RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters air bases in East Anglia while stationed with a U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom fighter squadron from 1975 to 1978. My fighter wing had nine F-4 aircraft constantly on nuclear alert, with air crews within running distance of their planes. I even spent two Christmas days on nuclear alert because I was a bachelor.

In 1978 the F-4 aircraft in my fighter wing were all transferred to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and replaced with A-10 Warthog tank busters.

Margaret Thatcher got elected a couple of years after I left England, but I was very interested in her progress. Everyone knew that the English economy and infrastructure was a mess. In 1974, the coal miners struck for six months and production by British industry was only part-time.

We used to joke that "England was 100 years behind the times, but working like hell three days a week to catch up."

Philip Sagstetter


Government should stay out of marriage

Opposition to destroying the definition of traditional marriage is not just based on the Bible, but also adherence to the constitutional limits on government power.

Much has been said about morality during the current debate about "gay marriage." Opponents claim the moral high ground largely for religious reasons, while proponents of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples also claim to be acting morally as they seek to stop a discriminatory practice.

Since morality is subjective, and each person defines it differently based upon their own core beliefs (or lack thereof), where do we go from here? Whose morality trumps whose?

The one constant -- which every elected official takes a sworn oath to uphold and defend -- is the Constitution, whose purpose is to limit the federal government in order to guarantee our most basic rights.

Government's job is not to "preserve" traditions and institutions that have made America great, not even one as fundamentally important as marriage. It is to remove obstacles to individual liberty (with government itself being the largest obstacle of all). This means that government does not get to make judgment calls on what is "fair," or side with one group's definition of morality over another. Government is to stick to those very few duties with which it is tasked -- basically to protect us from force and fraud -- and otherwise stay out of our lives.

These strict limitations on government mean that it has no constitutional authority whatsoever to redefine a fundamental pillar of society such as marriage. But they also mean that it is not to pass laws to further bestow any special treatment upon marriage either.

The Constitution takes all the guesswork out of it. Short of the amendment process, the federal government is simply not allowed to do anything that the Constitution doesn't specifically task it to do.

David Fields