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Regarding the Feb. 1 article "Guilty plea in a fatal crash," the at-fault driver Leta Jean Schroeder was a homicide in progress. Schroeder used amphetamines, opiates and oxycodone, then chose to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. In her impaired state she drove recklessly, crashing into a vehicle, killing one man and severely injuring others including brain injuries, and then ran from the scene.

The newspaper published a photo of Schroeder hugging her attorney. The newspaper felt it important to state in large bold red print that the suspect will carry this forward with her the rest of her life. What about the victims? Schroeder did this intentionally with no regard to others. She killed a young man on his way to work, and caused lifelong injuries to three others.

Can you imagine how the real victims feel, reading this article about "poor" Leta while the real victims received a cursory mention. The coverage diminished this crime and portrayed the guilty driver as the victim.

You want to write an article? Write it about the victims of this perfectly preventable crime. — Ralph Nelson, chapter president, Southern Oregon MADD

I have had increasing trouble understanding the recent debates about "gun violence," since there are at least two separate and unrelated issues in play.

First is the use of guns in commission of a crime. The answer to this is easy — require a mandatory 20-year sentence for the use of a firearm in the commission of any felony. If during a felony you offer to kill the victim by showing a firearm, you go to jail for a long time. Seems obvious to me, but Congress has not had the heart to enact it.

Second, and independent from the first, is the use of firearms by people who are mentally ill. As President Obama said, mental care should be at least as available as firearms, and it is not. Inpatient care for the mentally ill is almost nonexistent.

Neither of these issues will be affected in the least by an "assault weapons" ban or limitation of magazine size. These measures may be desirable to prevent the citizenry from achieving parity with the government in firepower, but that is a separate debate. Let's keep our eye on the ball so the changes made affect the problem we are addressing. — Joel A. Tobias, Medford

I have read many letters regarding the issue of guns — some very intelligent and some, well, I figured some must be sitting on their brains.

The intelligent letter from Skip Stokes stated fact in a way that is clear if one thinks for a minute of the outcome of having assault weapons so easily available. The problem has not been having them in the hands of criminals. It has been their easy access for mentally challenged individuals that were incapable of making clear decisions of their actions.

I have always enjoyed target shooting, but I most certainly do not feel the need for an assault weapon for target practice or to defend myself. I am feeling safer in the knowledge that we have law enforcement officers like Skip Stokes on the job. — Alene Smalley, Jacksonville