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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

May 31, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Gun violence in Seattle

Remove guns from culture

Editor, The Times:

As with most Seattleites, I find myself seeking a solution to the growing trend of gun violence. [“Day of horror, grief in a shaken city,” page one, May 31.]

The most natural tendency is to seek gun control. This is a punitive response to a problem that has taken root and as such will need to be dealt with at its root.

When as the last time that you saw a gun — going to the range for target practice? Your neighbor’s gun that he or she keeps hidden away for self-defense?

Most likely the last time that you saw a gun was in a movie; or perhaps it was a toy gun or video game you reluctantly purchased for your kids to play with?

It becomes almost easy to see how the tragic death of the Madrona dad occurred. Kids “playing” with guns. The kids who now routinely bring guns to school? It’s a toy in their eyes because we, as adults, are condoning a perverse perception of them.

I encourage all of us to take our share of responsibility and make conscious decisions not to indulge in entertainment that features gun violence. It may not eradicate the problem overnight, but it begins the process of uprooting the problem at its source.

— Adam Simon, Seattle

Opposition to handguns is indisputable

After yesterday, it dawned on me that there are opinions I disagree with. Some are defensible, like who should be the next president, and some aren’t, like whether space aliens control the Internet. But there’s another whole level of opinions that are not only indefensible, but irresponsible because they threaten other people, like believing in and promoting lynching, or honor killings, or genocide.

Since yesterday I’m feeling like opposition to handgun regulation is in that category. Six people were shot and killed in Seattle yesterday. Their only mistake — and their families’ only mistake — was living in a country where handguns are easily available to almost any criminal, gang member, mentally ill person or angry person who for one second in his or her life gets the urge to shoot someone.

And it’s not because we haven’t tried hard enough to eliminate crime, gangs, mental illness or anger. It’s because of the concerted effort of people who should know better, relying on arguments that may have emotional appeal, but don’t stand up to reason.

— Keith Cohon, Seattle

Fixing the problem pre-tragedy

We have a problem, Houston — oops, I mean Seattle.

There is no simple, all-encompassing solution to gun violence, but we can begin by embracing two ideas.

First, families and friends must get involved when a mentally unstable person has access to a firearm. It isn’t good enough to say “we saw this coming.” It is our responsibility in a community to get involved pre-tragedy.

Second, while recognizing that criminals have unfettered access to weapons, we need to address how mentally unstable people acquire weapons and develop procedures that ensure that only responsible people have such access.

— Larry Donohue, Seattle

Prioritize mental-illness care

The city of Seattle is stunned this morning after having experienced a rampaging murderer in its midst.

Yet the brother of this gunman said, “We saw it coming.” The family had watched the alarming behavior get worse over the years with very little they could do. The amount of help available for families with mentally ill members is less because of the economy and state budget woes.

What people do not realize is by not making treatment for mental illness as important as cardiac care, they are neglecting a silent danger that may erupt into a public nightmare like we saw on May 30. Priorities must change to provide a way to effectively help these families and intervene before it is too late.

— Marietta Alexander, Everett

Call for stricter regulations

Kudos to letter writers Vicki Decker and Larry Wechsler, who both had the guts to say what everyone else knows but nobody is willing to say: The National Rifle Association is the problem. That organization has shoved “gun culture” down our throats time and again. How many times have I heard some gun nut say, “An armed society is a polite society”?

Bullcrap! Such a society is based on fear and paranoia, not politeness or respect.

Guess which kind of society we now have, courtesy of the NRA?

The fix? Make gun sales at gun shows illegal. Period.

Next, control all sales of guns by private owners through federally licensed gun dealers, with detailed records of the sale from both the seller and the buyer, with fingerprinting of both.

Next, increase the waiting period for purchase of a gun from five days to 30, with a requirement that the buyer complete a minimum of eight hours of gun-safety training — with at least one hour of watching video of innocent children and adults who were shot dead as a result of an unsafe weapon.

Finally, go to a “one strike, you’re out” law: Any crime — no matter how small or petty — committed and convicted with a firearm leads to life imprisonment. Period.

Oh, and let’s get rid of the NRA. It’s outlived its usefulness.

— Philip Ryburn, Seattle

Sue the NRA

The recent rash of gun violence that peaked today in Seattle could be alleviated in two ways.

Surveys have shown that the majority of the people in the U.S. want more-effective gun control. The National Rifle Association opposes gun control and gets its members to vote against politicians who support gun control and for those who oppose it. If the vast majority of voters who want better gun control would vote for politicians who favor gun control and against those who oppose it, they would outvote the NRA and we would have better gun control.

The other deterrent would be for those suffering a loss from gun violence to put the blame where it belongs and sue the NRA for contributing to wrongful death or injury.

— Robert S. Leighton III, Edmonds

What happened to current laws?

With multiple shootings these weeks, let’s find out what existing gun laws were violated before we talk about making more such laws.

— Denis DeVries, Kenmore

Gang violence to blame

Seattle Times headlines have recently shouted “gun violence” and quote a Seattle Police spokesman saying that the “common denominator is the use of firearms,” suggesting that guns are the issue. [“Cops: Guns, not gangs, are issue,” page one, May 30.]

Baloney.

There are more than 360,000 people licensed in Washington to carry a concealed pistol. There are many thousands more who legally keep firearms in their homes and use them for recreation and self-defense. None of them were involved in the recent spate of violence.

The common denominator is gangs.

The police know that. Otherwise, why add patrols and “gang detectives” to “high crime areas”? Even after the headline tries to convinces us that the problem is guns, it quotes police as outlining plans to the City Council that “dealt with people — not firearms.”

How about a little intellectual honesty, Times? Call it what it really is: “gang violence.”

— Daniel Morris, Renton


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