Gun-control laws disarm the lawful

We all sympathize with the grieving parents of Newtown, Conn., but cannot know their grief. Let’s not blame the mental health community for an inability to predict irrational behavior nor burden sufferers of neurological disorders by asserting unproven opinions. To look askance at the actions of a mother in such circumstances is insensitive.

It also is wrong to blame Second Amendment supporters for the actions of a disturbed individual.

Certain facts should be considered. More than 80 million gun owners in the U.S. have never killed anyone, while reliable estimates indicate that privately owned guns prevent tens of thousands of crimes a year.

Far more children die in auto accidents or drown each year than die as a result of firearms.

And 10 years of the federal assault weapon ban did not decrease gun crime, and its expiration led to no increase.

Gun-control laws disarm the lawful. Criminals will get weapons. And mass violence occurs everywhere. Violence is not exclusively an American phenomenon.

And Switzerland, New Zealand and Finland have high rates of citizen gun ownership and very low murder rates. Why?

PHILIP F. BLANCH Egg Harbor Township

Reduce number of guns and you reduce violence

I was speaking with someone recently about the unimaginable tragedy in Connecticut. I mentioned that I felt there is an obvious and crying need to reconfigure our nation’s policy on firearms.

My friend countered by saying that a person bent on violence would find some way to act on their impulse, so restricting gun ownership would have little if any impact on our culture of violence.

I had to agree with him on one point. A person hellbent to act on some affront, real or imagined, will probably find a way to do it. But take the gun away from that person and what do you have? A disgruntled employee who might graffiti his employer’s property? A victimized kid who picks up a rock and throws it through a window? Street gangs who beat each other up?

This is really a no-brainer. There are too many guns in our country and they are too easily accessible.

It will be a mighty task to turn things around, but it must be done. No more business as usual. There is a Russian proverb that says, “When it happens to you, then you will know about it.” The sad people in Connecticut thought they were safe. Then it happened to them. May God bless them and be a comfort in their grief.

JIM McMANUS Ocean City

Let veterans go to local hospitals

Regarding the Dec. 19 editorial, “Health care for local veterans/Listen to task force”: I know so many veterans who have to go to either the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Wilmington or the ones in Philadelphia or East Orange. I am so glad that common sense may prevail and that the New Jersey Veterans Hospital Task Force is recommending that veterans be allowed to go to local hospitals instead of taking long, uncomfortable, bumpy rides, with the VA reimbursing the hospitals. Let this pilot program go forward and ease the anxiety of the vets.


The facts are in — guns are the problem

During a recent television interview, when asked about the Newtown, Conn., shootings, a proponent of gun rights responded, “We need to wait until all the facts are in.”

The facts are in and have been for decades. Assault-style weapons have been aimed and fired at too many innocent public school children and citizens at malls and theaters.

There is no fathomable reason why such weapons need to be accessible to our general population. In 1996, after 35 people were massacred in Australia, its government banned certain rapid-fire guns. In the 18 years before that ban, Australia had suffered 13 mass shootings, but there have been none in the 14 years since.

Some people are deflecting the national conversation about the school massacre from the weapons to the issue of mental health. That discussion has some merit. The nation should put funding for the treatment of mental illness on par with that of physical illnesses.

But the fact is that elected legislators have been submissive to the gun lobby at the cost of public safety and the public good. They need to summon the courage to take the steps necessary to reduce the chances of any more Newtowns. How many more deaths will it take?