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Plenty of reasons for mass shootings

Plenty of reasons for mass shootings

Guns are the tool; treat the symptoms
Plenty of reasons for mass shootings
Students leave after classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 28, 2018.
Photographer: Saul Martinez/The New York Times

Re Feb. 14 letter, “Guns don’t up and kill by themselves”: James Homan gives a good, but fictional illustration that guns are inanimate tools that are only a problem when they get into the wrong hands. It takes a furious, unstable and/or innocently ignorant human being to pull the trigger. A gun can’t fire by itself. Suicide, accident or mass murder — the difference is basically a matter of numbers and publicity. Killing others is wrong, no matter how many bodies are involved. 

The Feb. 19 editorial cartoon was spot-on. Many persons and agencies dropped the ball regarding the Parkland high school shooter. The FBI didn’t follow up on several clues to his state of mind. Local law enforcement was called by his own mother and went to the home, but didn’t take further action. The school administration didn’t report expelling the young man for repeated aberrant behavior, in violation of the Florida state law that requires notification to authorities. Neighbors, for their own reasons, failed to report careless shooting of squirrels and their chickens in their own yards. Really, there was plenty of blame to go around, but none of it should fall on the rifle. It was merely the tool of demented destruction. Recent murders in our own region have been committed with: a hammer, a bath towel, a house fire and bare hands.

Choice of weapons varies with plan, timing, convenience and motivation or state of mind. The AR-style or modem sporting rifle is one of the most popular firearms in the country, largely due to its ease of mastery. This reason, plus a relatively lower cost of manufacture, is why they were developed for the military. In spite of the rhetoric from over-zealous or ignorant media personnel and ambitious, unscrupulous politicians, the over-the counter AR is not an assault weapon. The real fault in Parkland and in many other cases is lack of communication, cooperation and proper enforcement of many existing laws, along with lazy, inefficient prosecution of unlawful firearms traffickers who are violating U.S. federal law and are allowed to plead to lesser state or local laws.

Peter Henningson
Saratoga Springs

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