A member of the Milwaukee area Sikh community weeps as he listens to information… (Scott Olson / Getty Images )
Re "Shooter at Sikh temple had a record," Aug. 7
We learn from your article that "the gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple had a criminal record, a history of involvement in the white supremacist movement and a checkered career in the Army," but he was nevertheless "able to legally purchase a 9-millimeter handgun at a local gun store."
And the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin dutifully informs us: " He bought it legally; he was not an ineligible person."
If a man with such a record is deemed "not an ineligible person," what kind of person is deemed "ineligible" in the U.S.? Pray tell us so that we can better understand how things work in America.
I read with dismay about the recent deaths caused by deranged individuals with access to guns and ammunition, and how little we can do to stop these people because of the thrall that the National Rifle Assn. seems to have over a vocal minority.
What's really sad is that these casualties are a mere blip compared to the hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries due to gun violence in the past generation. As Josef Stalin allegedly said, "The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic."
Requiring background checks, eliminating high-capacity ammunition clips and banning assault weapons will not end this slaughter. Doing so will take a generation and will require a change in attitude about guns. Whether we can overcome the resistance by the NRA to discussing these issues remains to be seen.
Sad to say, in America today the message seems to be that if you've got a problem, get a gun. The latest shooting apparently involved a handgun, not an automatic weapon, but enough is enough. President Obama should go on national television and say he will fight for a total ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons, even if it has no chance of passing Congress (it doesn't).
These weapons are used for only one thing: killing people. Having a president speak out isn't perfect, but it's a start.
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