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Stop pussyfooting ?about gun control

It was 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 14 when I first heard news of the tragedy. I had just finished my work week and was looking forward to the weekend, as so many of us do. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. How could someone enter a "secure" facility and slaughter 20 young children and six adults?

I have been a teacher for 20 years. I'm employed by St. Mark's School and have taught there for 13 years. My colleagues and I have been to numerous seminars that instructed us on what to do in a crisis situation. How could anyone ever fathom facing a situation such as this one?

It's time to stop pussyfooting about gun control. Our forefathers granted us the right to bear arms. At the time, I'm certain the right was considered a necessary evil; one sanctioned so that a person could defend oneself against an armed enemy. The times have changed and too many people have taken this right beyond the limits of what was intended.

I can't imagine the grief that all of those involved are going through. There is an answer to this problem, and it must be addressed soon. We must somehow restrict the ease with which someone can procure weapons.

C'mon politicians, do your job. Stop kowtowing to special interest groups and move to amend gun control legislation. If you don't act, what school will be next in the chaotic cascade of carnage?

Matthew E. Derr

Amherst

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Assault-type rifles ?have to be banned

It's time to ban assault-type rifles in our society. These weapons have been designed and built for only one reason and that is to kill other people. Regardless of the different competitive events that have been organized to accommodate these guns, the basic potential of their existence remains a fact. It does not matter what the caliber of weapon is, rim-fire or center-fire, because in the hands of the wrong people they outgun the police. We've made it too easy for multiple slaughters to occur, and it must cease, both statewide and nationwide.

Louis A. Starr

Patrol Deputy (Retired), Erie County Sheriff's Office

Life Member, NRA

Springville

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Better mental health care? may avert future tragedies

The tragedy in Connecticut on Dec. 14 doesn't just bring to the forefront the very obvious need for tighter controls on who can obtain guns, it also makes brutally obvious the lack of mental health services available.

As a social worker, I spent 20 years working in mental health outreach services. At that time, there were safeguards in place to assist persons with mental illness not only obtain needed services, but to retain them through a system of case managers in the community. While these services still exist, they have been curtailed by budget cuts and stringent regulation.

Now, as a registered nurse, I see a large number of untreated mentally ill individuals who come in for medical treatment, many of whom could benefit from the safety nets that had initially been put in place to decrease the impact of mass deinstitutionalization.

Our society tends to view the mentally ill as a "throwaway" population, not worthy of our time and resources. Many still blame the victims of these severe psychiatric disorders, as though they're responsible for the illness that plagues them. That's akin to blaming an accident victim for the injury. And, while we hear a great deal about those who commit heinous crimes, we tend to forget that the vast majority of people with psychiatric disorders aren't dangerous at all. They're just in need of assistance.

Perhaps if those in power could re-evaluate their priorities, some future tragedies could be averted.

Susan Gibbons, M.S., R.N.

Williamsville

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We need to expand ?mental health care

I am mystified at the reaction by so many that the lack of gun control is the problem every time a tragic incident involves the killing of innocent people. The resolution to these problems is not gun control. The root cause of these killings is generally mental health issues.

If President Obama wants to raise taxes, then let the administration invest in reopening mental health facilities and have Obamacare fund mental health programs. Ultimately, other costs would go down. We have closed two facilities right here in Erie County in the last decade. People, who years ago were confined to institutions, are now free to come and go and no one is paying attention until it is too late.

If school budgets provided enough money for appropriate identification and counseling, some of these individuals could be helped or hospitalized before it goes so far that innocent lives are needlessly lost. It does not take a professional to recognize unusual behavior. I am sure that experienced teachers see this every day. I am not familiar with the laws protecting students from possibly being recommended for counseling, but even as a lay person, I think I have witnessed many children who show signs of instability due to many unfortunate experiences in early childhood or their high school years. I cannot believe that I am the only one who feels this way.

Joni Williams

Williamsville

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Let's stop glorifying? violence and horror

In light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, I have a few thoughts on arms restrictions.

As a retired federal officer and former National Rifle Association member who withdrew my membership several years ago over NRA support of assault weapons, I recognize that changes have to take place in this country regarding automatic and assault weapons. The availability of assault weapons is unacceptable.

However, I believe an equally important change that must be made is in our tolerance of video games and horror movies that glorify the use of these weapons. Hollywood and video games have, for years, fed the country a steady diet of gore, torture and murder that must be stopped.

Dick Mauer

Angola

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We are desensitizing? children to violence

The recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary has made me wonder: When will we get it right? When, as parents and citizens, will we say, enough? When will all of us realize it takes a village to raise happy, honest, compassionate and productive children? No matter your religious beliefs, doesn't the phrase "I am my brother's keeper" mean anything anymore? All of us have to change the way we think and act.

This tragedy goes beyond gun laws, and yes, I support our Second Amendment right when it comes to protecting myself and my family in my home. What I'm talking about is the atmosphere of violence and fear. As long as we tolerate war, and violence in movies, television shows and video games, things will never change. Until we stop desensitizing our children to violence and end all our wars, we are stuck.

Since 9/1 1, we have become a society that is ruled by fear. We were lied to and somehow accepted the fact that we needed to go to war. We even accepted the Patriot Act and turned our heads when we lost some of our freedoms. We teach our children that bullying is not acceptable, but then our adult leaders "bully" their way into other countries.

I say, enough! Our children are dying every day, whether they're on the battlefield or in a classroom. We have to change our way of thinking. We have to embrace the ideals of peace and tolerance. War and violence should never be the acceptable answer anymore. Our children deserve better.

Sandra Massung

Hamburg

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Cars kill many more,? but they're not banned

The shooting in Sandy Hook was a tragedy. However, blaming guns is like blaming your car for an accident. Let's blame the sick person who pulls the trigger. One sick shooter out of 300 million people is no reason to punish 150 million-plus gun owners who are law-abiding citizens.

About 30,000 people are killed by cars every year, yet there is no talk about restricting car ownership. Most car "accidents" are caused by someone doing something wrong. No difference guns or cars they both kill if misused. Maybe we should do a better job of testing drivers and eliminate violent computer games that teach young people how to kill.

Bill Johnson

Burt

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Knee-jerk reaction? won't stop shootings

We are all saddened by the horrific events in Newtown, Conn. Again another example of mental illness rearing its ugly head. We are all hurt by such tragedy and violence. But we should not allow our raw emotions to dictate ill-advised "swift action." We need to consider more people are killed by drunken drivers every day than by gun violence, yet no one calls for taking away every automobile. After the 9/1 1 terrorist attacks, we would not consider getting rid of all but military aircraft simply because planes were used in the mass slaying of innocent life.

Now is the time to look at the real cause of gun violence and recognize it is mental illness and a lack of self-responsibility, not the tools used by the insane. The liberals will no doubt try to use this tragedy to further their short-sighted agenda. Let's not be fooled.

Thomas Rommel Jr.

North Boston

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Abortion is killing? innocents every day

As tragic, as horrible as the murders of these 20 innocent babies and six adults was, it pales in comparison to the hundreds of daily murders of innocent babies in their mothers' wombs that occur daily in this country under the guise of "legal abortions."

Mary Sand

West Seneca