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Arm the kindergartners? Times readers weigh in

MAILBAG

December 28, 2012|By Sara Lessley
  • Angel pendants in memory of the schoolchildren killed at Sandy Hook Elementary hang from a snow-covered string in Newtown, Conn.
Angel pendants in memory of the schoolchildren killed at Sandy Hook Elementary… (Craig Ruttle / Associated…)

“Crayons, pencil, gun” -- an opinion piece in Friday’s Times -- hit the mark. 

In his Op-Ed article, Daniel Akst wrote: “For some reason nobody in this country is willing to admit the obvious, which is that the poor helpless kids in that school could have helped themselves, if only we’d let them….The time has come to get over our squeamishness and arm the children.”

Readers quickly responded to The Times' letters to the editor with edgy comments of their own.

Wrote Maureen Block from Rancho Cucamonga:

“Daniel Akst's 'modest proposal' for solving the problem of school shootings was a brilliant piece of writing. His inspiration (no doubt the great Jonathan Swift) defined satire as ‘wit with teeth and a purpose,' and one can only hope that, despite the common core standards being currently pushed (some might say shoved) on us, high school English teachers continue to expose their students to writings such as these, which cleverly expose the lunacy of our times. For Swift, it was the fattening up and eating of small children. For Akst, it's arming them. Both extremes point to the inefficacy of those in power to come up with any viable, real solution.”

In Palos Verdes Estates, Norm Zareski got into the spirit of things with his own thoughts:

“Author Daniel Akst forgot to mention the positive effects of his proposal  on the U.S. economy, especially the manufacturing sector.  It's clear that all gun manufacturers will jump on a huge new marketing opportunity and expand their product lines to include smaller weapons customized  with easier trigger pressures and designed for smaller hands, which could be sold in a variety of blue, pink or rainbow colors and could be tricked out with age-appropriate stickers.  What better gift than your very own mini-Glock in cherry red finish and birthstone trim?  Every kid would kill to get one.”

Diane Jacoby in Palm Desert offered a modification of her own:

“While Daniel Akst's plan to arm all school children is a practical proposal, the implementation requires more thought. Certainly, all children K-12 should pack a pistol, but many of these kids are small. Common sense dictates that only hall monitors who weigh at least 85 pounds should be armed with a 10-pound assault rifle.”

Anita F from Wrightwood, though, wasn’t so sure:

“At first it seemed nothing more than the daily satire, but hold your horses, Akst has gone off the deep end.  Giving guns to children to protect themselves?  Children aren't, and never will be, mature enough to arm themselves for protection. The more likely outcome could be more deadly than the landing at Normandy.  Ever see a kid throw a tantrum Mr. Akst? Here's hoping you stay as far away from our kids as possible.”

And James Bandy in North Hollywood also wondered pointedly:

“What kind of insanity is this?! I have seen and heard many differing responses to each of the gun-related tragedies over my 60 years on this planet. But, Mr. Akst takes the cake! ….

“Children as vigilantes or police in our schools, on our streets, in our malls and parks? Are you kidding? Mr. Akst has lost his mind, if he ever had one.

“Gun violence is a very real problem in this country of ours. However, Mr. Akst's solution is unobtainable, irrational and irresponsible. He and most of the crazies in the NRA refuse to recognize the unavoidable correlation between two facts:  the USA has more guns and more gun violence per capita than any other modern civilized nation. When will we wake up and recognize that the very real problem is the proliferation of guns, not the lack thereof?”

But Nancy Inganni in Palmdale saw the wisdom:

“Daniel Akst's own modest proposal is a powerful essay on the mind-set of some Americans, and, like Swift's, his suggestions will be met with approval by many.”

And Eileen Flaxman in Wimauma, Fla., summed it up:

“After I had a good laugh at Daniel Akst's article, the sadness sank in. Sadness because despite what happened at Newtown, there are millions of people who are holding tighter to their guns than ever. I read that support for tighter gun control has gone up since the tragedy.  So my question is,  how many more massacres will it take before we all see the light?  Will the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre or  Republican congressmen have to lose their own child or grandchild to a hideous and violent death before the subject hits home?”

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