If politicians are truly sorry, let them act to rein in guns
I may be the only American who was not moved emotionally by President Obama’s visit to the vigil for victims of the Newtown grade school massacre [Dec. 16 Gazette]. Of course, this gesture of compassion is what presidents are meant to do in our modern photo-op “I-feel-your-pain” atmosphere.
What made me cynical was the lack of sincerity — the man has been in office for four years and has done nothing about gun control. The president and members of Congress are the adults around here. Yet they act like selfish, “it’s my ball” bullies. One could easily indict those legislators as accessories to murder since they did nothing to protect those children.
For decades, Congress has done nothing to rid the country of semiautomatic weapons in the hands of civilians. Instead, it has protected the small arms industry under the guise of “jobs,” as well as National Rifle Association conspiratorialists who fear a fascist takeover of the country by the military and law enforcement agencies.
Ironically, it appears one of the Newtown victims fell under the latter description — the mother of the shooter, collector of the guns he used, and a schoolteacher.
One wonders what is the need for all this fire power? In an equivocal way, Sen. Chuck Schumer suggests we limit the semiautomatic clips to 10 bullets. But why are so many ready bullets of need to the common citizen? It is illegal to hunt deer with such weapons, but legal to hunt human beings, it seems.
Why not just limit those toy machine guns to gun clubs for those Freudian types who get off firing those weapons? Make it a controlled sport.
During a radio interview, former Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund shifted the burden of guilt to the state’s failure to care for the mentally ill. He even suggested that colleges put the names of eccentrics “on a list” as potentially dangerous, and generally get the mentally ill off the streets. To conservatives, liberals are considered mentally ill.
As usual, intelligent legislative debate had to wait for a tragedy. They’ll call it the Newtown Kids Law, the president will hail it as democratic process. But none of this will bring back those children, nor their teachers; their surviving families will suffer unto the grave. Instead, “the children” who run Congress will be re-elected.
However, a solution might come from the individual states. If carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is illegal in New York, maybe another law could prohibit the ownership or semiautomatic weapons. It could be a start.
Farley’s attitude should come as no surprise
Sen. Hugh Farley’s behavior re the city of Schenectady and our city school district [Dec. 14 Gazette] should come as no surprise to anyone.
In 36 years, what has Sen. Farley done for us? I challenge anyone to list five major accomplishments that have benefited the city of Schenectady. It would seem that the longest-tenured state senator could and should do much more for our city.
The real shame, however, does not lie with Sen. Farley, but rather the voters of Schenectady for allowing this to continue.
The old saying should now read: Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, but fool me 18 times shame on all of us.
Will politicians ever stop kowtowing to NRA?
Obviously the original context of the Second Amendment right of citizens to bear arms no longer exists, technological changes were unforeseen by the Founding Fathers, and we now live with the consequences of the inflation of this right to absurd lengths by an irresponsible, and at times, irrational and inane gun lobby opposed to any firearm limitation or control.
As if an annual national carnage of 31,000 total gun deaths, of which 16,800 were homicides (almost three times the total U.S. military death toll to date from Iraq and Afghanistan combined) is insufficient proof of gun worship dysfunction in a “civilized” nation. We have become a shooting gallery at random.
The basic problem is cited by the NRA mantra: “If guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns.” So what? They are already in the hands of virtually every suicidal sociopath, as well as every nut case hothead and anti-government “militia” group of the “don’t mess with me or I will kill you” mentality.
Assault weapons and auto-fire sidearms have only one purpose — to kill people quickly. There are enough now in private hands to start a war. Background checks are ineffective; these weapons are too easily obtained on the secondary market of private gun sales, or stolen; expanded magazines and ammo come from the Internet or sellers outside the U.S.
The NRA response? Still more guns are needed for “self-protection” in (from?) a society already “legally” armed to the teeth.
All this is known to our gutless federal and state politicians, some of whom tout their support of the gun lobby as an election credential. So save the anguish and speeches, the words of condolence and prayer, for the victims of the next shoot-’em-up. They will be needed again, and again, ad nauseam, guaranteed.
George W. Putman
There’s no valid purpose behind semiautomatics
The Dec. 19 article about the local gun shop that advertised its stock of Rock River semiautomatic guns with a prominently displayed sign bearing a silhouette of an assault rifle made me wonder, once again, why anyone would want to own a gun designed specifically for combat or law enforcement activities?
The sign also stated, “Home Defense Headquarters,” the implication being that you need a weapon of this type to protect your home and family. That is just ludicrous. If you visit the Rock River Arms website, you’ll see that all of their rifles are similar in looks to the U.S. Army’s M16 and can be equipped with 30-round magazines.
Unlike a bolt-action rifle that requires the shooter to go through a series of hand movements to load a round into the firing chamber before each shot, these guns chamber bullets automatically with each pull of the trigger. In other words, a shooter can fire 30 shots at a rate of about one per second with a rifle that is advertised to be accurate within 800 yards.
The impracticality of this weapon for home defense is obvious and it’s equally unsuitable for hunting or serious target shooting. People engaged in those activities have an almost universal preference for high-quality bolt-action rifles.
Because assault-style semiautomatics are cheap copies of military weapons, they are not even in the realm of collectibles, so you have to wonder what is going through the minds of people who shell out on average $700 to own one.
Don’t be too quick to blame video games
I know video games and music are an easy target when terrible crimes are committed by young people. However, blaming the behavior of [Sandy Hook shooter] Adam Lanza on these things is just too easy.
There are millions of people who play video games that involve killing enemy soldiers, aliens, animals, even civilians. Yet the overwhelming majority of these people don’t pick up a gun and kill innocent people in the real world. These law-abiding citizens are able to differentiate between a virtual world and real life.
I’m not saying that it can’t be a contributing factor for a person with mental illness, but that’s what it is at the very most: a contributing factor, not a root cause.
The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.
There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.
All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.
Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.
For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.
For more letters, visit our Web site: www.dailygazette.com.