Letters: Readers continue to weigh in on Newtown massacre
A man reacts at the site of a makeshift memorial for school shooting victims in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. A gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the town, killing 26 people, including 20 children before killing himself on Friday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
The Monitor continues to receive mail on the Newtown, Conn., shootings. Here’s a sampling of local opinion:
A strategy of
Part of why the problem of violence seems so simple is because readers only hear one side. For the most part the media will not write about firearms used responsibly to protect person and family.
Has anyone read stats in the popular press like these:
∎ Based on survey data from a 2000 study in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, U.S. civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crime at least 989,883 times per year.
∎ A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, at least 3.5 percent of households had members who had used a gun “for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work, or elsewhere.”
∎ A 1994 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year.
∎ A 1982 survey of male felons found that 34 percent had been “scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim,” 40 percent had decided not to commit a crime because they “knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun” and 69 percent personally knew other criminals who had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim.”
Knee-jerk calls for gun control inhibit a more serious discussion of violent crime. Root causes like violent graphics coming out of politically protected Hollywood and computers gamers are ignored. Factors include a criminal justice system that turns the violent back on society, mental health services and more. Criminals have always ignored anti-violence laws. There is much we need to explore and much we can do, but first we must stop wasting time on a concept with a 1,000-year history of abject failure.
Who will finance
the armed guards?
In response to the Newtown, Conn., murders Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, said: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” and he advocated armed guards in every school.
He implied that guns in the hands of bad guys are inevitable. If one accepts his premise, one must demand that LaPierre provide a realistic means of paying for the training, salaries and liability insurance of these guardians.
If it is the political mood of the country to turn our schools into armed bastions, I feel obliged to suggest what I believe is the only sensible way to finance it. Since 1937 the Pittman-Robertson Act has taxed manufacturers of firearms and ammunition, the receipts dedicated to restoring and preserving wildlife. President Obama should propose and Congress should enact an expansion of Pittman-Robertson so that manufacturers, importers and distributors of firearms, magazines and ammunition become the source of funds to protect our students and teachers from the damage their products inflict.
A good bill could be written to impose a graduated excise based on a matrix of a product’s human lethality versus other legitimate uses. It could easily price such things as Kalashnikov knock-offs and 30-round magazines out of the market while leaving the huge majority of hunting, target and self-defense guns mostly unaffected. Only those who profit from murder will be required to pay for it.
I can imagine the likely responses: the soft-spoken protests from the smooth face of the NRA leadership as represented by LaPierre and the screams of outrage from the likes of Ted Nugent, its rough backside.
A system failure
on many levels
We at Concord Pediatrics express our condolences to the families and citizens of Newtown, Conn., who had the safety of their town so brutally taken away.
This is a failure of our system on many levels. It starts with the lack of gun safety/controls that allows for ownership of assault weapons. These aren’t guns used for hunting or recreation. These are weapons used in war or by the police. We favor a ban on all assault weapons being sold in the private sector.
In addition, the mental health care system in the United States is broken and, in some areas, virtually non-existent. In our own area pediatricians have been trained in some aspects of diagnosing and treating depression in children and teens. This is due to the lack of pediatric psychiatrists in our community where waits for appointments are a month or longer. As many of the people responsible for mass shootings are young people, we can see why access to mental health services is vitally important.
As for safety in school, the answer doesn’t seem to be putting guards with weapons in schools but trying to prevent the problem. One resource officer with a gun can’t protect an entire school from someone armed and determined to hurt others. All this will do is to convince our children that they are never safe, and to heighten their anxiety in the environment where they should feel safest.
We request that the government consider re-establishing some form of gun control especially for assault weapons, increase reimbursement for mental health care, train more mental health workers and reimburse them fairly, and work to create safer schools. Also, responsible gun owners must make sure that their guns are locked in secure safes so children and teens don’t have access to them.
Dr. PATRICIA EDWARDS
(The letter was also signed by Drs. Elizabeth Cramer, Dolly Courtemanch, Thomas Albushies, Nathan Faulkner and Roger Wicksman.)
Don’t blame the gun
My heart will ache for many years to come for the senseless deprivation of the multitude of innocent lives caused by the severely damaged mind of one with a severely miswired brain circuit. I’m sorry to sound so cold in the following discussion of liability, but it, too, is a factor in this matter.
Deaths by automobile operators far exceed any other causes in this country. These negligent operators are punished as dictated by law. I have yet to hear about any actions brought against the physical vehicle itself with the exception of errors due to dealer liability.
Using sound mind and judgment, we should not lead a posse of police officers, FBI agents, our president, etc., to make us feel good for a short period of time when in reality we should be researching a program to identify those individuals who could duplicate the actions of Adam Lanza.
We can do better
The massacre in Newtown, Conn., has shocked us all. Even more shocking is the Republican, Fox News and NRA response.
Meeting violence with violence is not a solution. It speaks to a lack of values in American culture.
We need to value peace, understanding and leaders with a new ideas, not small ideas. We have too many leaders with small ideas. We must no longer choose those people to represent us.
We no longer need people such as state Rep. JR Hoell, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and others to represent the American people. We also need to turn off Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. The values of those people are not American values, but the values of the small and weak-minded. We need leaders, not people with a limited knowledge of history and society.
We can do better. I hope that the American people decide that enough is enough. Americans should value a peaceful, democratic society, not one of violence. One where kindness toward others is rewarded, not demonized. If we are to change, we need leaders whose values and minds represent the best in people, not the worst. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Newtown .
Live by the sword…
The NRA’s solution to tragic slaughter by assault rifle? Wait (a week) for it: more guns. When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. The NRA hammers away. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
Don’t forget the shooter’s family
We can all agree on the horrific tragedy that took place in Newtown, Conn. These families and close friends are suffering a great loss and accepting that loss will be a challenge for years to come. However, the Champion family has also suffered a tragic loss. I can’t imagine how they must be feeling as they deal with the untimely death of two family members, one of them the shooter. They, too, need to be remembered in our thoughts and prayers. This will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
JUDITH A. WOOD