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It's not the same
In response to Rodney E. Hammond's letter, "Tragedies happen" (Dec. 26): First, when a man out hunting trips on a tree root and accidentally shoots himself, that is a tragedy. When someone shoots and kills 20 children and six adults, it's an atrocity.
Second, I find his comment — when a child is killed by a drunk driver, everyone else's "booze" is not taken away — an interesting beginning for a discussion on gun control. For while his statement is true, there are rules that govern drinking and driving:
• Anyone providing alcohol to someone who can't legally own it can face severe penalties; if you provide someone with alcohol and he leaves and drives drunk, you can be held liable.
• You need to be a certain age to drive a motor vehicle, and even then you are required to take a written and practical test to get a license. That license needs to be renewed periodically, and can be revoked if you don't follow a huge list of laws, or if you have certain physical or mental limitations. One license covers most vehicles, but certain types require a different license and some vehicles aren't allowed on public roads at all.
• You must pay a yearly registration fee for your vehicle and maintain adequate insurance to cover the damage it may do to others. There are places like city parks, wilderness areas and pedestrian malls where motor vehicles are not allowed. Not to mention all the places where it is illegal to consume alcohol.
I don't know if passing similar restrictions on gun ownership would stop every atrocity, but I think it's time we had an intelligent conversation without hysterics from folks like Mr. Hammond, who would rather blame the news station for reporting the horrifying news than change the laws that contribute to it.
— Anna Lord
Green Mountain Falls
Time for a look inside
There was a time when we were the envy of the world. America was endowed with rich natural resources, an incredible work ethic and an attitude of national self-confidence.
How did we become a culture that breeds monsters?
Many of us, at least subconsciously, will blame the parents of these monsters, but there are no simple answers; there are no patterns of pathos within these horrible tragedies.
It is past time to look in the mirror. America is a far different place than it was through the Depression, a world war and post-war rebuilding. Maybe those were times when people believed in each other and had seen the benefits of helping those who were down and out, a time when working together and everyone making sacrifices made sense. People had less and shared more because they had a common vision.
Today, you only need to look at the way people treat each other when they drive to see underlying aggression, flagrant rudeness and selfishness. Road signs give hotline numbers to report road-rage. Mobs trample each other at Black Friday sales. Supposed "news" channels sound like barroom brawls, and political ads are mostly character assassination.
There are still many great people, great acts of charity and legions of hard-working people in this land. Volunteers give countless hours of service, and our ideals are as great as any nation has ever conceived. But we are falling short of our heritage.
It's time to take a collective deep breath and realize that we are all in the same boat. And we need to love each other, no matter what differences we have, so we can raise all children in a place where they are accepted for who they are and know that they are loved and feel they can be safe.
— Dante Langston
Little big men
Thank you Rich Tosches for your "Way of the gun" article (Ranger Rich, Dec. 19). You hit the nail on the head. It is a personal choice for these individuals who feel the need to own not just a simple hunting weapon but one that absolutely destroys — annihilates. What's the point of these weapons except to make a small person feel big? Enough is enough!
The National Rifle Association, its members and anyone else who thinks "the bigger and more firepower, the better" need to take a look at themselves. It starts with the individual saying, "I'm not going to contribute to a society of destruction."
— Holly Wellborn
In "The way of the gun," Rich Tosches takes glee in describing the damage done to the children of the "village called Newtown." The reason for this is, Mr. Tosches is actually happy these children were, as he puts it, "butchered by flesh-exploding, bone-shattering bullets" because he could push for an end to the Second Amendment.
Many reporters have sat like vultures, waiting for the next tragedy to push their agenda. In fact they report the slaughters with the hopes of a copycat killing to attack our gun rights. Maybe we should ban Ranger Rich's use of rapid-fire technology that enables him to spread his venom to the masses. After all, the Founding Fathers never envisioned the ability of the press to spread propaganda this fast!
— Jill Coleman
Living in fear
Americans will not be safe so long as this country is controlled by the National Rifle Association, funding lawmakers.
Consider: You can't go out to a movie without the worry that some lunatic with semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines might sneak in and cut short in an instant your moviegoing enjoyment. You can't send your child to school without worrying that some homicidal maniac might open fire and stop your child's life on the spot.
Simply compare the statistics of handgun-related deaths in the U.S. with those of gun-control nations like England or Japan.
There's the old saying that, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." That's wrong, dead wrong. Change that to, "Only outlaws and police will have guns." I would much, much rather take my chances with outlaws and police, than with both of them, together with millions of lunatics and political fanatics, like that champion killer in Norway.
Start with making laws against assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We have outlawed automatic guns, bazookas and hand grenades. We banned all guns from airliners. And now it is long past time to start going after the rest of the ridiculous weapons. Or do you want to wring your hands and wait for the next massacre?
Be afraid of the NRA — be very afraid.
— Larimore Nicholl
Rooting out violence
Guns are not the problem, they are a symptom of a deeper madness. Would a sane society buy one weapon for every man, woman and child? All those guns, and we still can't protect ourselves when we need it most.
The real problem is our culture of violence. It's everywhere. Movies, video games, TV, the media ... we've even tried to hide our madness by renaming our wars as "operations." If we deal with our culture of violence, we deal with the level of violence in our culture.
Violence is money — it sells products and "news" — so the quick answer is to sin-tax it all into oblivion. If we reduce their profits, the purveyors of violence can't make a living off death. They will have to find other prey. The revenue could pay for a response team designed specifically for these kinds of man-made disasters, help secure our schools, and make other life-affirming additions to our country.
We need a "War on Violence." An Operation designed to use political, legal and ideological methods to reduce violence wherever it exists.
— Steve Suhre
Is Scott Renshaw kidding in his review of Les Misérables ("Stage plight," Film, Dec. 26)?
When critiquing a film, he actually makes the asinine comment that "the people involved insisted on turn it into... well, a movie." What was he expecting, a filmed version of the stage play? Throughout the review his references are all stage references: "plays to the balcony" "[Crowe] doesn't understand how to act musical theater of this kind," "This is going to be a movie, not some stage-bound adaption of a play," "emotions writ large, combined with stage craft," "sheer force of commanding a stage," etc.
His comments, however deeply felt, are useless because he's trying to compare two entirely different media as though they were one and the same. It comes across as ignorance of the very medium of which he is (supposedly) a critic.
I went in to this adaptation expecting a film — and enjoyed the one I saw. My bona fides on the show aren't bad either, I worked the Broadway production for its first three years and also saw it multiple times.
— John Butz