YOUR REPORT on well-regulated guns was interesting (Stu Bykofsky column,
, Dec. 28). True, if all proper laws on the books were enforced and made national we would be able to have guns mostly in the right hands.
Where I differ is in regard to Hollywood and mass media. We are a major exporter of violent films, video games, etc., yet other cultures do not react violently as we do. If they are watching the same stuff - or as in the case with Japan, their own even more violent stuff - as we are and not suffering the same result, that means it cannot be the entertainment.
The main difference between America and other developed cultures is our Puritan heritage. Americans have always judged certain groups to be the blessed and others to always be the damned. This is what allowed us to enslave, lynch, dispossess and slaughter many of our own citizens over the years. There may be nothing more American than feeling justified in killing someone else, especially if someone considers the "other" to be less than human.
The second manifestation of puritanism comes in our control of vice. Most nations treat drug, alcohol and sex for profit as social and health issues. Here, it is an excuse to attack other people. Instead of taxing and regulating, we have wars on vice. This militarizes our police. It creates the incarceration nation. It rips families, communities and individuals apart. It allows little chance for reintegration into society.
Today, people don't kill each other over gambling hardly at all. Gambling in regulated, licensed casinoes exists, so fights over people cheating and who owes who have mostly gone away. People don't get killed over the numbers racket. Legal state lotteries are here, denying organized crime one of its old cash cows.
In 1933, alcohol was reinstated and the crime rate immediately fell, for nobody was on edge about indulging in illegal activity. Gun violence happens when two factors converge: individuals feel they have no place in society, and people feel they need to be their own police, court, contract enforcer, and regulator.
Indeed, in Canada, if a prostitute cheats you she could lose her license, receive fines, etc. Here, if a prostitute cheats a costumer, he has to let it go for he cannot go to the police, courts or other authorities because to do so he would be implicating himself. It's no wonder that some of these guys turn to self-enforcement and because they are not calm, cool and collected, end up using a weapon originally meant only to scare the other person. In the USA, many people show a gun to scare someone and the emotional nature of the situation leads to it going off.
As much as I can't stand vice (I personally don't smoke, drink, use drugs, and never have throughout my lifetime, minus one glass of wine) I have become convinced that puritanistic tendencies drive our high crime rate. A society that is both condemning and competitive will have major fights breaking out inevitably.
David W. Wannop
Can we talk?
Re: "How many weapons?" (letter, Dec. 27).
Questions such as "What happens if there is more than one attacker?" or "What happens if they attack from more than one direction?" are questions trained law enforcement along with school administrators will answer, not the average citizen who just wants children to be safe.
Mr. Orenstein, a gun-free school zone didn't work in Newtown and, yes, I would feel safer knowing an armed guard was posted my children's school. If you want to debate magazines or assault weapons, I am willing to have that conversation with those who advocate more control, but people like you are incapable of having any reasonable conversation unless the conclusion is more gun control.
We already have laws
Interesting point of view on preventing gun violence - pass more laws. Of course, all your suggested laws are already in effect in most states. Punish straw buyers? Adam Lanza's mother bought his guns and taught the mental defective how to use them. Wait three days before you can bring a gun home? In California you wait two weeks. Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, not to mention the prohibition against murder. They didn't work. People who are willing to carry gun into a school and kill children don't bother about laws. Only those of us who are law-abiding abide by laws.
As an aside, I myself own a large number of guns. I am a collector and a target shooter, although I do not hunt. I can't see any reason to shoot an animal. None of my guns has ever shot anyone, none ever will. About the best way to nullify a gun's destructive potential is to give it to me. I do not own an AR-15, M-16, Bushmaster or whatever you want to call that thing. I've never liked them, not even the one the federal government gave me in Chu Lai 45 years ago.
Oh, and there was no waiting period on that one. Took me about five minutes to get it and all the ammunition I could carry. I didn't kill any children with it.