Time to act

After another bloody shooting of innocents that could most likely have been prevented, this has to be the time for all rational people to act ("Amid sorrow, call to action," Monday). It sickens us, but it must also compel us to come together and insist that those who make the laws not hide from conscientious action.

Instead of legislators pledging to not raise taxes, they should pledge to take no more money from the National Rifle Association, and disallow its influence over gun laws and enforcement. In doing so, they might even gain back some respect of their constituents, who are so cynical and so in despair at an appalling lack of leadership.

Bonnie Raines, Philadelphia

Guns not only factor

Gun-control advocates are taking a blinkered view of events at Sandy Hook Elementary School if they contend that ending the NRA's iron grip on gun-control legislation is the most salient factor in this horrific equation.

For starters, violence is iconic in movies, television, the Internet, video games, and music. Even President Obama welcomed a rapper - whose songs encourage the murder of policemen - to the White House. Moreover, many busy, stressed out, or negligent parents fail to provide their offspring with the supervision they require.

To some extent, new laws can address the acquisition of lethal weapons by just about anyone. But unless we stop viewing violent action (on screens big and small) as entertainment without negative side effects, until we create homes that are emotionally and physically safe for women and children, we will be reading of mass killings in public places with ever-increasing frequency.

Barbara Grancell-Frank, Penn Valley

Reminder for lawmakers

It is time for state and federal legislators to decide that children's safety is more important to them than their own reelection. It is time for them to tell the NRA that their votes are not for sale, and that the Second Amendment does not mean that people can possess and use any firearm they want. It is time for us to assure our representatives that we support gun control, and we vote.

Margaret Rohdy, Philadelphia

Failure of mental-health system

I don't want to sound like an NRA member, but I think our biggest failing is in our mental-health system, not in gun control. This young man's mother was a gun collector; her guns were legally bought and registered. When, in previous years, lawmakers tried to ban assault weapons, the guns became in great demand and the industry found ways around the law. But this young man was mentally ill. Everyone knew it. His teachers, his family, the kids he went to school with, all knew he was mentally ill. But he obviously didn't get proper treatment. Such was the case with the other two recent mass murderers. Until we recognize mental illness as something real, with an urgency to treat it as a contagious disease that can kill us all, these tragic events will continue to happen.

Catherine M. Poole, Glenmoore

Issues of morality and justice

This tragedy calls us - once again - to confront what America has become. We must face our addiction to violence, which disguises itself in "constitutional rights." When our forefathers penned the phrase "right to bear arms," assault rifles did not exist. Today they do. Their only purpose is to kill - on a massive scale. To claim they have a place in sport is ludicrous.

When this addiction mixes with our inadequate approach to mental health, the victims of that slaughter become our children. How can we continue to turn a blind eye to this reality?

If you want to do something to heal, consider where you stand on this issue. Consider where that stance calls you and respond. It may be through a call to your representatives in Washington. It may be through joining a national campaign or lobbying effort related to gun-control or mental-health services. These are not political issues. They are issues of morality and justice. Our nation must treat them that way.

What we do not want to do is simply to cry and then forget. These children deserve more.

Sister Renee Yann, Merion, renee.yann@verizon.net

The verdict is in

The verdict is in. Ban all hand guns and automatic assault weapons. Sound like overkill? No, the overkill is what happened in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.

Andrew C. Mills, Lower Gwynedd

Violence in today's culture

While I firmly believe that additional gun control is needed, I am far more concerned about the insidious role that violence plays in our culture and in our day-to-day lives.

We celebrate violence as recreation. Increasingly realistic video games reward gun-related violence and killing. TV, movies, and books promote violence as a problem-solving technique. Sports fans rail against attempts to reduce violence in hockey and football.

While we will again look to Congress to fix the problem, other shootings have shown that we can expect little more from them than heartfelt expressions of outrage and sympathy. A far more effective approach is for parents and caregivers to limit the impact of pervasive violence among their impressionable and malleable charges.

John Bryer, Downingtown, john@rattlejax.com

Extremism is the enemy

As in so many issues, extremism is the enemy in the gun "control" debate. I can't believe that most rank-and-file members of the NRA, including hunters, home protecters, and parents, would be against reasonable gun-safety laws that pose no threat to the Second Amendment. Our less than courageous legislators, both local and national, grovel at the feet of the uncompromising NRA leadership, which wants no restrictions on guns. Obviously, reasonable gun-safety laws will not solve all the problems, but as a nation, we must balance the financial interest of the gun lobby against the potential death of another kindergarten student.

Richard McFadden Sr., Plymouth Meeting