To My Neighbors:

Where are your hearts? Who among you are still pressuring the District Attorney to press charges against an ailing, peaceable, blind man whose only transgression now is that his illness is inconveniencing his neighbors? [News, “Weapons Hoarder Turns in Guns,” 8/28/08,]

John Walters left home when he was 14 or 15 to work on a ranch in Santa Ynez. He lived in the bunkhouse, took care of the horses, and led trail rides. He became interested in the whole art and lore of guns in this context-that of ranch hand and cowboy.

Last month, his guns and ammunition had to go-clearly he could no longer safely house them. He surrendered them quietly. When he came upon some the confiscators had missed, he called the police to have these picked up as well. He did this even though these guns are a valuable collection, dear to his heart, and as far as he knew, all legal.

The media hammer us daily with terrifying images. The fear caused in the neighborhood by the discovery of the guns and ammunition is understandable but it is time to let this man be. He is blind. He is ill. Nothing happened and all of the guns are gone.

We will all suffer from aging and illness. Please have compassion for those who reach this state ahead of you. Do only what is needed to keep yourselves and an ailing neighbor safe. Be very, very slow to take steps that will deprive anyone of his liberty, dignity, and peace. – Lydia Emard

I couldn’t help being both angry and sad after reading the article about John Walters. The assertion that certain neighbors are concerned about John’s welfare as well as their own safety is comical. First of all, why would they feel unsafe? The guns are no longer in John’s custody so what are they afraid of? Secondly, they are so concerned about his welfare that one of them trespassed to peek into his window to see him naked. Some of the neighbors are so concerned they think he should be made a ward of the state. Do they want him to be placed in some locked facility? Very convenient if they don’t want him to be their neighbor any longer!

Asst. Dist. Atty., Lee Carter, intends to prosecute John with vigor. Does the D.A. believe John was amassing these guns so that he could commit some act of terrorism? Does the D.A. hope to convict John so that his health issues (Parkinson’s disease) can be paid for in a prison setting at taxpayers expense? It would make more sense to prosecute the “peeping tom” who has already confessed for her behavior. Shame on the D.A. as well as the nosy neighbors! – Greg Bristol


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