By Paul Thornton
5:41 PM CST, January 16, 2013
I was holding out for a spirited defense of gun rights vis a vis President Obama's actions Wednesday to curb firearms-related violence before putting together this post. But so far -- and take my word for it -- no such reader submissions have been sent to email@example.com.
This isn't necessarily surprising to me, as most of the immediate reaction to the massacre last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was from readers outraged at the National Rifle Assn. and Congress for the lack of federal action following several recent mass shootings. But as I've noted before, where gun rights advocates have been vocal is in responding to other letters calling for stricter firearms laws.
What follows is a selection of responses to the proposals and actions Obama unveiled Wednesday. As more reaction comes in -- including, I hope, from those who oppose gun control -- those letters may be printed later this week in the paper or posted here.
Frequent letter writer Paul McElroy of Laguna Woods contributes some sarcasm:
"How dare the president try to control the sale of assault rifles. Doesn't he realize the effect that would have on jack-rabbit and coyote hunting? Think about how difficult it would be if we had to limit the number of shots we could take at deer. Does he really want us to return to the days of our founders?
"I know the president is somewhat of an expert on the U.S. Constitution, but when it comes to assault-style guns, the National Rifle Assn. knows better. Just ask any extremist on the far right."Kenneth L. Zimmerman of Huntington Beach, also a regular contributor to The Times' mailbag, laments the circumstances that spawned this action:
"I am glad that Obama is taking strong and comprehensive measures to reduce gun violence, including requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, banning assault weapons and armor-piercing bullets and restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
"It is unfortunate, though, that it took the slaughter of children and educators in Newtown to prompt the federal government to take action."
Richard C. Goodwin of Snowmass Village, Colo., says the government should come for our guns:
"Twenty children and six adults murdered in cold blood may be the catalyst for much-needed controls on guns, especially the rapid-fire assault weapons that only the military and law enforcement should have.
"Los Angeles is buying guns back. I suggest the country buy back assault weapons, no questions asked, and then declare that after 90 days, ownership of these weapons is illegal."
Ron Lowe of Santa Monica says yes, guns do kill people:
"Mentally unstable males are being blamed for many of the killing sprees. OK, but is everyone overlooking the obvious? A mentally unstable person cannot go out and kill 10, 20 or 30 people without the aid of semiautomatic guns and military-style assault weapons. It's the guns, stupid.
"And people keep saying there are no easy answers to gun violence. Wrong again. Australia is an excellent example of what can be done to stop mass murder with guns. In 1996, a lone gunman killed 35 people with semiautomatic guns. Within weeks, the Australian government was working on laws that banned assault weapons, tightened licensing procedures and financed gun-buyback programs. Since the laws were enacted, there has been a reduction of gun violence and no more mass murder rampages with firearms.
"Yes, something can be done."
Teacher Caroline Brown of Sierra Madre says her classroom shouldn't be a war zone:
"As a secondary classroom teacher for 32 years, I know that it is not my job to arrive at school armed to defend my students and fellow teachers against armed gunman. There is absolutely no earthly reason for the sportsman gun owner to have military weaponry and large-capacity clips in the home.
"If the NRA does not want to share the responsibility, it may find it delivered to them by the consciences of America's mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers, and by the conscience of elected officials and citizens that want to keep everyone safe from this illogical approach to firearm ownership. Hunt for food with a weapon that was invented to replace the bow and arrow and the spear, not with a weapon invented to kill large numbers of enemies in wartime.
"No child should have to cower in a classroom, saying, 'I don't want to die.' "
Check latimes.com/letters this week for more reader reaction.