Letters to the editor: November 18


More guns does not equal greater safety for Americans
I was disappointed to read the piece by Arkady Mamaysky on gun violence (Opinions, “Some thoughts about preventing mass shootings,” Oct. 28). One of the solutions that he thinks might work is to allow all law-abiding citizens to arm themselves with handguns for self-defense. In the United States, there are now 400 million handguns in private hands, making us the only country in the world with more civilian-owned guns than people. One would think that all of these guns would make us safe, but that is hardly the case. There are now 110 gun deaths each day in the United States, and our gun homicide rate is 26 times higher than that of other high-income countries. It is hard to understand how even more guns would make us safer.

The biggest flaw in the piece is that he makes no mention of the increased role of semiautomatic assault weapons such as the AR-15 in mass shootings in America. This type of weapon has only one purpose: to kill people quickly and in large numbers. The AR-15 was the weapon used at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.; the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; and other recent mass shootings.

There is no valid role for this type of weapon for hunting, recreational shooting or self-defense. Recent polls indicate that 60% to 70% of Americans favor a ban on assault weapons, but the NRA pushes the false narrative that this is the first step towards confiscation of privately owned guns. The right to own guns is supported by the 2008 Supreme Court Heller decision, and there is no appetite in Congress or by the public to infringe on private gun ownership.

In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapon ban, and over the next decade, there was a significant decrease in mass shootings. Unfortunately, the ban expired in 2004, and so far this year, there have been an average of 22 mass shootings a week. A majority of Americans favor reasonable gun control, but in our current sharply divided Congress, it is unlikely that we will see any significant legislative action.

Prevent future shooters through psychological intervention
The Oct. 28 opinion piece, “Some thoughts about preventing mass shootings” by Arkady Mamaysky, unfortunately misses its point significantly. The assailants in mass shootings all are “haters” who have translated their hate into action. These people all have mental problems that deviate from the norm. The obvious way to prevent them from jumping into action is some type of psychological intervention.
The unknown is: When and how this can be accomplished? It is in this realm that a solution may eventually be found.

These people leave clues as juveniles long before they act as shooters. As they grow up, parents and friends should be able to notice hints of deviant behavior. Lots of research is needed to seek the correlation of such early clues with the history of actual assailants. The author of the article never touches upon this aspect.

Additionally, he was much too flippant in dismissing ongoing efforts to raise the legal age to buy a semi-automatic gun from 18 to 21 years old. There is a maturing factor between those ages that should not be disregarded. This won’t solve the problem, but it might help, and it is something we are currently able to effect. Handguns cannot be purchased by 18-year-old juveniles, why then semi-automatic weapons? It surely is worth a try. I believe the article needs a bit of revision.
Fort Belvoir, Va.

‘A wonderful article’
Congratulations, Alan, on a wonderful article (“Recalling service in Vietnam with Alan Rivkin,” The Last Word, Nov. 4,) about your experience in Vietnam and to you, Ellen Braunstein, for publishing his story in the Baltimore Jewish Times.
May you both be proud of your accomplishments!

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