Letters to the Editor

Letters: Guns, school safety

Pittsfield, Mass., students advocate for school safety on Feb. 27 in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.
Pittsfield, Mass., students advocate for school safety on Feb. 27 in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. Associated Press

Listen to students on school safety

Educators have understood and embraced for a long time the importance of student advisory groups. We know that when we truly listen to the students and make changes or modifications based on their ideas, schools are stronger and students achieve at higher levels. We know that when impacted groups are part of the solution, the outcome is better and stronger.

I understand that there are people who may be thinking “What do they know, they are kids.” Some people are actually using the internet to discredit the students and their leaders.

Don’t sell the students short. From my experience as an educator, they are incredibly gifted at cutting through the noise, getting to the issue and developing solutions.

I an embarrassed because I, and my generation, have failed these students. To think that we have gotten to the point where the kids are demanding to attend safe schools is unbelievable. They are not asking for more parking spaces, longer lunch periods, permission to go off campus during lunch, better food in the school cafeteria, all the things that kids should be asking.

I am hopeful that community leaders, politicians and everyone else will come together and take concrete steps to create safe schools.

Mike McKenzie


Act, don’t speak

In this time of national grieving after our latest school shooting, I am one of many asking for help from our leaders in Washington. I don’t want to hear any more condolences or words of comfort that sound more hollow after each incident. Condolences did not prevent our last school shooting, nor this one, nor will they prevent the next one, nor the ones after that.

If the president wants prayer, pray that he and leaders in Congress will find the courage to take action to slow down this sad slaughter. If the president doesn’t know what courage looks like, look at the young survivors in Parkland, and please listen to what they are saying. If he still can’t find the courage to act, then the next time this happens, it would be better for him to remain silent. At least that would be honest.

Barbara Frederiksen


Freedom is at stake

Freedom without responsibility is anarchy. Too many gun enthusiasts bought the lie, promoted by the National Rifle Association, that there must be zero regulation of their “freedom.”

Consequently, toddlers are killing with handguns and men are using sniper positions in hotel windows to strafe outdoor concert-goers. Warped individuals are taking battlefield weapons into schools, churches, bars, movie houses, shopping malls — and anyplace else a free and open society can gather — to commit mass murder.

The goal of terrorism is to shut down open societies. More than 90 people are lost every day in this country to gun violence — many of them children — and another 300-plus are wounded. By refusing any sane regulation of firearms, the NRA is attacking our open society, ironically, in the name of freedom.

Any other country would call that terrorism. The NRA stranglehold on our government must end. For those who say they must have military-grade weapons to “resist tyranny,” I say we have a ballot box for that. This ridiculously savage status quo cannot continue, or we will lose our free and open society. Elected officials must protect our American way of life. Legislating responsibility for uncompromising gun owners is the only way forward.

The alternative is unacceptable.

J. David Hollingsworth


Choose simpler solution

One key argument emerging from gun rights activists is the notion that this is all because of mental illness. If they think the gun issue is complicated, wait until they get into the hopelessly confounded chaos of our mental health care system.

I guess they think you can single out individuals undeserving of a rapid-fire killing-machine designed for no other purpose than to spew out bullets moving more than twice the speed of sound. But you cannot.

You will, for starters, have to rewrite health privacy laws. During the eternity before this is done, mental health care itself will have to be revamped, opening doors to every sort of developmental and personality disorder. Nothing gets through the cracks. And since many are too chintzy to give someone an aspirin, this too, might give pause.

It might save everyone distress, not to mention save innocent lives while promoting peace, to approach this problem honestly, courageously and thoughtfully. In other words: with a mentally healthy adult attitude. Banish these war weapons from the public.

Doug Epling