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Letters: Gun control back in play

December 20, 2012
  • Supporters of gun control measures march in Washington in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
Supporters of gun control measures march in Washington in response to the… (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA )

Re "Obama weighs options on guns," Dec. 18

The coming weeks will be a true test to see if members of Congress will do what is morally right by banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, and addressing mental health issues. They need to stop hiding behind the 2nd Amendment and have the courage not to worry about their jobs but instead worry about our innocent children being gunned down.

FULL COVERAGE: Shooting at Connecticut school

They ought to consider how reluctant some families may be to frequent public places. If we want to stimulate the economy, consumers need to feel safe spending their money in malls, theaters, restaurants and other public places.

Liz Day

Palm Desert

Opponents of gun control say that the assault weapons ban of 1994-2004 had no effect, so why go back there. First, we can fashion a better law without the many loopholes of the previous ban. Second, everyone ignores what happened after the ban ended — not just here but everywhere.

Mass killings became more frequent in Mexico, where thousands of seized guns from the U.S. — assault-style rifles in particular — have ended up. Our guns didn't cause the drug war in Mexico, but their easy availability all along the border (hundreds of shops and gun shows every year) have made it much more deadly.

About 50,000 to 70,000 people have been killed since 2007. This criminality in turn affects us, with the drug cartels using U.S. gangs to distribute their product.

David R. Ayón

Los Angeles

The writer is the U.S. director of the binational Focus Mexico/Enfoque Mexico project at Loyola Marymount University's Center for the Study of Los Angeles.

Using the Newtown, Conn., tragedy as an excuse to limit access to automatic weapons is disingenuous. Access to his mother's guns made it easier for Adam Lanza to kill, but he might have killed anyway.

The Times has also reported on the incident in China in which a man slashed 22 elementary schoolchildren with a knife. Several children were killed and many injured this way in China in 2010.

The Newtown tragedy is only partially about guns; it's more about mental illness — or perhaps even about an abnormal relationship between mother and son.

Robert Epstein

Vista, Calif.

The writer is senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology.

Some say gun control would prevent future massacres. Some say improved mental health services would do the trick. The chances for success are slim for either of these solutions. A misanthrope who wants a gun will find one. And just exactly who needs or gets the mental health service?

Our society needs a diaper change. We've done it before. Look at cigarette smoking. A few decades ago, smoking was as accepted and glorified as violence is today. Over the years, smoking rates have dropped.

Our regard for guns and violence can be morphed in the same way. Call it indoctrination if you must. It would be a brainwashing worth pursuing. Long term? Yes. Effective? If done strategically. Call in those clever marketing people.

Barbara Unsworth

Chino Hills

I am making a plea to law-abiding assault gun owners. They can lead the hero's way after the massacre in Connecticut by voluntarily forfeiting their assault-style weapons and large magazine clips.

I own a gun and believe in our 2nd Amendment right to have weapons for personal protection and to hunt, yet this plea is for them to go beyond the rhetoric of all or nothing and to make gun ownership a rational right.

Our 2nd Amendment was designed to prevent tyranny, but with assault weapons proliferating across our nation, the tyranny comes from our fellow citizens. They should unload their assault weapons and large magazines in a public ceremony and invite the media to witness the laying down of arms.

Ellen Schafhauser

Weldon, Calif.

Consciously or unconsciously, guns have become an accepted part of our society. Unless your mother was a pacifist, as mine was, chances are the little boys in your family played with toy guns.

During my childhood, most boys played cowboys and Indians; eventually, pretending to shoot Indians became politically incorrect, but the guns remained. Toy guns have been a fixture ever since I can remember.

Perhaps the most recent horrifying gun violence — blasting away at innocent little children — is simply the poisoned fruit of the tree that grew from seeds planted by childhood toy gun "play."

Shakti P.K. Khalsa

Los Angeles

It really doesn't matter much to me why Lanza massacred 27 people any more than it matters to me why James Holmes allegedly slaughtered theater-goers in Colorado, Jared Lee Loughner shot a congresswoman and many others, or why Wade Michael Page gunned down Sikh temple members.

What matters to me is that these individuals had access to so much firepower.

In the search for reasons and explanations, we lose sight of the underlying issue: too much easy access to guns. And too many guns. If guns were far less plentiful and accessible, far fewer people would have the ability to act on their murderous impulses, whatever the underlying cause.

We don't just need gun control; we need gun elimination.

Cathy L. Costin

Los Angeles

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