Now is the time

to debate gun control

Here is my wish for President Barack Obama:

Give the Republicans and the lame-duck Congress a Christmas present. Extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich with one condition - Congress must debate gun control with the time remaining in this session.

The national debt will still be there on Jan. 20. The nation needs its elected officials - including my congressman - debating and then voting on the right to own assault weapons while the tragic attack at the Connecticut school is still fresh.

Unlike the impasse over the fiscal cliff, an inconclusive few weeks on this issue would be revealing. Or maybe they'll surprise us. Gun control? One can imagine it getting done (with or without Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd).

GARY STEIN

Egg Harbor City

We must improve

mental health treatment

Regarding the Dec. 16 letters about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which addressed the National Rifle Association, gun laws and politics:

This is not a gun issue, but a mental health issue. What really needs to be addressed is our mental health system.

When people would benefit from hospitalization, it is nearly impossible to get them into a facility until they are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Many times the threat becomes obvious after it is too late.

I don't have the answers, but I think we need to start by asking the correct questions. This was not the act of a stable individual.

BRENDA LAWN

Egg Harbor Township

New Jersey gun laws

already overly strict

Regarding the mass shooting at the Connecticut elementary school, I would advise people to do the following:

Be vigilant about your surroundings, and if you are aware of threats, report them to the authorities.

We should not criticize the National Rifle Association, because one of its obligations is to promote safe gun handling.

We talk about gun control, but there is no such thing. New Jersey has some of the toughest and most absurd gun laws in the country. Firearms can only be purchased here with a firearms purchaser identification card. Even BB guns are considered weapons. A person possessing a magazine that can hold more than 15 rounds (even without a firearm) can be fined and imprisoned. Throwing stars are illegal, even though they are not guns. Certain rifles capable of holding in excess of 15 rounds are illegal.

Even law enforcement agents don't know all the state gun laws. And across the Delaware River, the guns laws are not as strict. Remember, guns don't kill people. People kill people.

Did you know that every time a person buys a firearm in New Jersey, they must be cleared by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System? And there is a fee imposed every time.

Those who consider guns to be dangerous should be better educated about gun laws.

Do you think a criminal would go through all the trouble of legally purchasing a firearm? If a person wants to obtain a gun for illegal purposes, he will. It is always the law-abiding citizens who suffer from these laws. Anyone interested in our state firearm laws should read the book, "New Jersey Gun Law Guide" by Evan F. Nappen and Richard Gilbert. All gun owners should have a copy.

MATT RENDINO

Egg Harbor City

Please, gun owners,

listen to reason

Look, I really don't want all of your guns. But there needs to be some compromise from both sides.

There are mentally ill people who need help. Realistically, we won't be able to identify and help them all. But let's dramatically reduce the possibility of a deranged person being able to take multiple innocent lives in minutes.

Why do some people feel that they need to own weapons whose sole purpose is to kill as many people as quickly as possible?

I'm not after your hunting rifle or even the pistol you take to the range for target shooting. But, gun owners, you may need to rethink the freedom of purchasing weapons that have the capacity for mass shooting. What you lose by not being able to purchase an assault-type weapon is nothing compared to what society will lose if things don't change. Any of those children or any of the other victims of mass shootings in recent years could have helped discover the cure for cancer, could have made the next great technological advance or could have helped negotiate world peace.

It seems the people in charge have lost a sense of reason. They seem to believe that everything must be their way or the highway. No negotiation, no communication, all or nothing.

I hope we can communicate some sense to those who have the ability to change the way things work right now, because the status quo is not acceptable.

There will still be risk. That's life. But that doesn't justify unnecessarily, callously and selfishly claiming that you must be able to buy any type of weapon because it is your right - even weapons that have no good purpose in a civilized nation.

Give it up, people. That's just not right.

ANNE OSMAN

Estell Manor