Maura Matthews, Wyndmoor
To serve and protect from guns
Surrounded by violence and facing danger every day, cops have to be true optimists. And that's why police chiefs looked to the U.S. Senate for courage and leadership on gun violence. With 94 percent of the public asking for better gun laws, we expected the Senate to do what cops do - protect the public. But a Senate minority protected themselves instead of the American people. That's a disgrace.
A handful of courageous senators had offered bills to enact modest federal reforms intended to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, laws already on the books in many states. No guns would be taken away; there were no plans for registration or licensing.
Much was said about the rights of gun owners, but almost nothing about the equal rights of the public to be safe from gun violence. As the families of children murdered in Newtown watched from the Senate gallery, better laws were defeated by less than a majority because of a procedural requirement of 60 votes.
During that same week, the Boston Marathon bombings came as a grim reminder of the violence that constantly threatens the public and police. But the events in Boston also remind us that bravery and leadership are the qualities that make Americans proud - and that's why we will remain optimistic, no matter what. We will continue our struggle for laws that protect the public from gun violence. Just as the public knows police will be there for it, the chiefs want Americans to know that we are not giving up and going away.
Charles H. Ramsey, commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department, president, Major Cities Chiefs Association
Safety in snail-mail tax filing
As an agency, the Internal Revenue Service has to be faulted for its refusal to adopt three simple measures that could put a dent in identity thieves scamming individuals' tax refunds ("Taxpayer gets shock of identity theft," April 16).
First, the IRS ought to allow individuals to opt out of e-filing permanently. Second, the agency ought to check the names on the receiving bank accounts for consistency. While financial institutions check account names, the IRS does not. So a taxpayer's purported refund could be posted to the account of John Dillinger without raising a flag. Third, the IRS should refuse to post refunds to refillable ("GreenDot") bank cards. The use of these anonymous cards makes the crime extraordinarily safe for the criminal; he does not even need a regular bank account with its extensive Patriot Act credential trail.
These suggestions, in part, were in legislation proposed by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson in 2011. But with 1.2 million cases of fake tax filings occurring in 2011, why doesn't the IRS not just implement these reforms itself?
Dale Henderson, Downingtown
Embrace new-look Kalas grave
Harry Kalas' Laurel Hill Cemetery memorial is a tribute to him and, obviously, his family thought it fitting ("Headstone should be outta here," April 19). The visitor who saw the sportscaster's microphone as a phallic symbol must have been appalled with all of the obelisks. And, yes, a bench is a great place to sit, remember, reflect, and maybe imagine the swing of a bat connecting with a hard-thrown baseball. Times and fashion have changed from the monuments of old.
Marian A. Hardt, Collegeville, firstname.lastname@example.org