New guidelines for buying guns
With the madness of mass killings we are experiencing, we are in need of a change in how a person purchases a gun. Obtaining a gun should be like learning to drive and taking responsibility in owning a car.
1. A person purchasing a gun should be required to take serious training and pass a safety exam before qualifying for a license.
2. They should be screened for mental illness involving any history of violence, including domestic violence.
3. They should be required to buy insurance against the harm done by wrongful use of their weapons.
Such course of action might not produce immediate results. It could enhance gun safety and raise higher the obstacles to obtaining weapons by people likely to misuse them. By starting with small steps, perhaps we can reduce some of the killings. It is time to think deeply and carefully, and then act.
Gretchen Gibbs, Santa Cruz
The death of any young child is appalling -- multiple deaths, that much more appalling. But we must remember that many more have died in senseless violence carried out by inhuman gunmen with access to automatic weapons and ammunition. Are automatic weapons to blame? Not at all. The ammunition they fire kills. Regulate ammunition.
Brian Spencer, Aptos
The violence in movies, on TV and in video games helps create the mass murders you're seeing in our country. Murderers don't just wake up in the morning and go out and shoot a bunch of people without having some idea how it's done.
We glorify murderers by dissecting them on TV or in the movies. The constant barrage of what happened last Friday on all the TV networks helps encourage the next mass murderer and gives him ideas. Every night on the nightly news there are murders in every major city in the country. Children are taught in video games that it's nothing to kill somebody.
I believe Hollywood is just as much to blame as the guns used in crimes.
Ron Stephenson, Soquel
Limiting loss of life
There are no words adequate enough to convey the grief we share as a nation and around the world of senseless public shootings, this time including young school children.
We collectively lost the plot when we legally made it easy to purchase and use Assault Weapons in this country. These are weapons designed for warfare -- to kill people quickly. We have a constitutional right to bear arms, but what type of arms are we talking about and for what intended purpose?
Beginning one year before the Federal Ban on Assault Weapons was allowed to expire in 2004, there have since been four bills before Congressional Representatives. In every case, each bill has died in Congress.
Whilst a ban is not a panacea for our many social ills, limiting loss of life strikes me as an extremely worthy goal.
It seems as if our Democrats want to ban all guns and that our Republicans want zero regulation of guns -- what is wrong with us?
Please. Get involved. Write and call our representatives. Our elected officials need to hear our views.
Robyn Cooper, Aptos
Every town needs to act
The horror of the Newtown shootings will take a long time for us to process emotionally, but we cannot just internalize it. This is a call for action, if there every was one, for closing loopholes in gun buying laws, and limiting ownership of rapid-fire weapons to those who have a legitimate purpose for possessing them. We must turn our grief into anger over the obstacles that have impeded gun reform before now, and make it clear that we, as a society, demand action. This is not about taking away second amendment rights, it's about creating sensible legislation that supports the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all of us. Then we must improve access to mental health services to assist those who are troubled. A compilation of your elected officials is found at http://lwvscc.org/elected_reps.html. Please phone, write, or email today.
Barbara Collins, Santa Cruz
Shooting in Connecticut, gun control
My letter to President Obama via White House web site:
Dear Mr. President,
I am shocked and deeply grieved about the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut today. I am very angry that you stated now was not the time to debate gun control. The events of today, and in Colorado, and the other five places in the US that experienced a mass shooting this year are strong indications that we are terribly past-due on gun-control discussion by our lawmakers and on implementing much stricter gun-control legislation. I am sick and tired of the NRA throwing the 2nd amendment in Americans' faces over EVERY legal attempt to keep guns out of the hands of the insane and criminal. Please, Mr. President, I donated what I could to your re-election campaign and gave you my vote in 2008 and 2012. Please lead this nation to stricter, safer, saner gun-control legislation.
Sonya Newlyn, Santa Cruz