Light Rail is a Loser
I fully agree with John Branston's comments regarding public transportation projects (City Beat, June 22nd issue). Will Hudson, the head of MATA, needs to resign or be replaced. Mass transit in Memphis is a dismal failure. Entire neighborhoods are opposed to his plans to expand rail service to Memphis International Airport. His claims that light rail will rejuvenate neighborhoods and stimulate retail development have not been shown to be correct. Businesses continue to fail on Madison Avenue and retail has never blossomed on Main Street Mall.
I'll miss The Leon Gray Show. Apparently, so will you (Editor's note, June 22nd issue). You're right in your assessment that Leon was largely open to other views and that he meant well and cared about Memphis.
There's another dimension to Leon that needs to be told. When he made negative remarks about the gay lifestyle, it created a firestorm of a reaction. Most of the reaction wasn't positive. The issue was discussed in depth and in a civil manner on his show. Most good talk-show hosts would consider doing that to be enough. Leon, however, jumped at the chance when he was invited to a forum at a gay and lesbian organization. Not only did Leon attend and participate, he invited his straight listeners to the event. Since then, Leon has visited other gay events in the spirit of reconciliation and understanding.
We live in a society where many folks believe that sitting down with people with whom you disagree is a sign of weakness. They believe that conflict is superior to discussion. Any rational person knows this isn't true. Unfortunately, the world, and particularly this part of the world, contains a lot of irrational people.
Memphis needs more people like Leon Gray. I hope he remains in public life. Whatever he decides, I'm sure he will be successful. I'm not so optimistic about the future of his former employer.
I realize that, even though I've lived in Memphis for over 20 years, being a native Louisianan probably renders my geographic knowledge of the Mid-South somewhat suspect. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but notice that three of the four counties Chris Davis mentions in his June 22nd "Fly on the Wall" column (namely, "Tiptoe," "Faith," and "Crittendon") don't exist on any map of Tennessee or Arkansas that I'm aware of. I guess I should be thankful that he got "Shelby" right. I can only imagine the "Shabby" possibilities that might arise with the name of our beloved county.
Nathan G. Tipton
Memphis Public Library and
Editor's note: Mr. Tiptoe, "Fly on the Wall" columnist Chris Davis has been known to take liberties with the English language.
I am writing in response to a letter from Jack Bishop (June 8th issue) in which he misinforms your readers about gun shows and guns.
First, he claims that AK-47s can be purchased at a gun show and converted to fully automatic weapons. If he were familiar with U.S. law, he would know that fully automatic weapons are illegal without a Class III federal firearms license. Fully automatic guns were banned in 1934 under the National Firearms Act. Banning fully automatic weapons didn't make them go away, so how would banning other guns have any affect?
Modifying a semi-automatic into a fully automatic is also prohibited by the same act. Only a criminal would seek to do such a thing, because it would harm the value and integrity of the weapon. This is already illegal, yet, according to Bishop's letter, is still being done. How would further bans prevent this?
Finally, Bishop claims that there are no background checks done at gun shows. This is not true, as I have had one done on me and have seen people in line be denied weapons because of their criminal background. Please, attend a gun show before you deride them.
The only thing that I could agree with in Bishop's letter was the statement: "They will tell you that 'guns kill people.' That's a fact. What they will not tell you is that criminals will kill anyone." Guns aren't the problem; criminal access to guns is the problem, and there are already laws in place to prevent that.