Printed letters, December 19, 2012

A front-page story about gun control appeared in Friday’s Daily Sentinel, the same day as another mass shooting, this time in Connecticut. When will people and policy makers realize it is not guns and gun control but mental health issues?

Our governor spoke out and showed ignorance. To quote, “Do we all need assault weapons designed for warfare and designed to pierce bulletproof vests and body armor?” All weapons were originally designed as assault weapons — from rock-throwing slings, bows and arrows, muskets to whatever you choose in today’s small-arms arsenals.

My father’s .30-06 deer rifle was a successor to the World War I “assault rifle,” shooting a bullet developed in 1906. I can make that 106-year-old cartridge pierce bulletproof vests. Any rifle that has a magazine can be modified to carry a larger magazine. Are people suggesting we outlaw all today’s “hunting” rifles?

The AR-15 is getting a bum rap because it’s today’s assault weapon. Like all other small arms designed for combat, it, too, will be replaced by some updated “assault weapon.” Then the AR will be ignored, and the current weapon will be targeted.

Quit looking at the common thread of firearms, and please look at the common thread of mental health disease.

Our great-thinking policymakers go after the easy course and blame firearms while cutting funding for mental health care. In the last 10 years we’ve had three local mental health centers closed because of their susceptibility to budget cuts. And people climb on a soap box to claim something must be done.

Yea, something needs to be done. We need more intelligent politicians, hospital administrators and bean counters with backbones and also the understanding that mental health problems are inadequately treated.

RICK SPALENKA   

Cedaredge

Don’t let blind ideology stymie 
honest debate about violence

The tragedy in Connecticut, where an evil individual committed a crime against children using guns, leaves all Americans at a loss, trying to explain the unexplainable.

I was born and raised in Grand Junction by a man who fought in four major invasions during World War II, including Iwo Jima. The best memories of my childhood were the fall hunting trips in the mountains of Colorado. My dad taught me that the most important shot was the first shot and to make sure to aim small so that you missed small.

When I volunteered for the Army during the Vietnam War, I qualified as an expert marksman and was recruited for sniper school. I didn’t want to kill people, so I remained an Army medic.

Watching the debate on the Second Amendment that gives all Americans the right to bear arms while watching guns escalate violence in our country has prompted me to write my first letter to the editor. I am a scientist and the black-and-white views of non-compromising ideologies that divide our country evade every principle of reason based on facts. The hypocrisies on both sides of the debate defy logic.

Liberal activists who are against guns are blind to the fact that fees paid by hunters and other sportsman pay for programs that enhance wildlife.

That said, the gun violence that grips our nation is unacceptable. The NRA and its political clout provide as much of a solution to this problem as radical anti-gun groups. The facts are clear that guns in the home are more likely to escalate domestic violence to destructive levels than to protect individuals from outside home intrusions.

We have to ask a simple question in view of this remarkable tragedy: Are blind ideologies on both sides that solve nothing and result in child deaths more important than an honest debate?

While this is certainly a complex issue and the rights of the Second Amendment are worth protecting, I ask my gun-owning friends if there are ways to keep guns away from the mentally ill while maintaining their right to bear arms. I think the solution to this problem needs to come from people who own guns responsibly. Are they willing to compromise on the level of the destructiveness of weapons to minimize the terror of a well-armed madman?

Are they willing to support reasonable controls that protect their rights to own guns while keeping them out of the hands of someone who slaughters children? It is not a black-and-white issue but one that all Americans need to openly debate and compromise on to protect our kids and our country.

PETER KEARL

Grand Junction

 

Easy gun access is part 
of our American culture

Once again we endure a senseless tragedy, this time by a shooter at an elementary school with easy access to guns. There are an estimated 270 million nonmilitary firearms in America. So how, again, do guns make us safer?

Anyone who wants a gun can get a gun. But all of these people who have guns aren’t stopping these shooters from causing mass carnage. Yet, with all the easy access to guns, it is easy for these shooters, most of whom have a record of being law-abiding citizens, to continue to kill multiple victims without anyone stopping them.

I heard the laughable argument that every adult should be required to carry a firearm. But what happens if you go to a bar or are in a sports stadium with numerous people around and you get into an argument and you are losing that argument? What is to stop you from pulling out your gun and settling the argument? Yeah, that would make us all safer, all right.

With all the firearms we have in America, we are going to continue to experience these tragedies. These shootings are never going to end with the gun culture we have. And the blood of all the people killed in these shootings is on the hands of the pro-gun people who make easy gun access possible.

So, again I ask: How does easy access to guns make us safer?

JIM CIHA

Grand Junction

Time to outlaw cars
because they also kill?

I believe something must be done about the insanity of our “car culture,” in light of the recent death of the Dallas Cowboys football player in a car accident. People seem to feel as if they have some kind of right to just get in their cars and drive around and use them whenever they want to.

In spite of a host of laws that have been put in place to regulate their use, cars continue to kill and maim people every day. People who have been found in court to be irresponsible with the use of cars and have had driving privileges revoked still find ways to use a car.

Even mandatory registration and licensing of cars has not stopped the insanity of people driving cars. The carnage is unbelievable, many innocents are killed daily, and yet people can buy cars anywhere at any time without a background check. The loopholes in the car purchasing laws are, excuse the pun, large enough to drive a truck through. There are even car shows in which anyone, even the unstable and irresponsible, can purchase a car. There is zero scrutiny on private car sales.

Cars kill people, and they are everywhere. Bob Costas, where are you?

MICHAEL HIGGINS

Grand Junction

 

Gun-free zones become 
easy targets for predators

When are we going to quit setting up gun-free zones so predators bent on causing death and mayhem will not have a target-rich environment?

We take the most innocent among us, the children, and place them in buildings. Then we announce to the world that the children or adults there have no means of self-defense. It would not matter if the perpetrator had a gun, a sword or cyanide tablets. These children and adults have absolutely no protection.

Guns in the hands of trained, law-abiding citizens do not cause problems, but they could certainly provide much- needed protection for children in the schools, should the occasion arise.

PHYLLIS HUNSINGER

Grand Junction

 

More gun laws, mental- 
health services are needed

I was very glad to see the editorial in Tuesday’s Daily Sentinel: “Remember the victims.” Also, Jim Spehar’s and Matt Soper’s opinion pieces on preventing future mass shootings.

We need to re-examine the sale of assault weapons and magazines and whether current background checks are sufficient. We also need to establish and fund more proactive mental health services. Even if tougher gun control and better mental health services can’t solve all of our violence problems, they could help save lives.

KATHY ERBACHER

Montrose



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