Opinion

Better domestic-violence programs, not more gun laws, is the right response to the Texas mass shooting

To the editor: The problems that led a young man to fire an assault rifle, killing 26 people, in a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, had deep roots that were planted long before Sunday morning’s attack. (“Texas gunman’s long slide to mass murder began when he attacked his own family,” Nov. 7)

At so many points along the way, systems and people failed to intervene or did so unsuccessfully. Our investments in preventing domestic violence, improving mental healthcare and reducing gun violence in California make this story feel particularly familiar and tragic.

In the wake of the Texas tragedy, there is a rush to identify a single problem and then suggest simple, often theoretical solutions. Instead, we need to support programs that address the fundamental causes and explore potential solutions that could prevent this carnage in the first place.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ decision this week to devote new resources for domestic violence victims and prevention is a step in the right direction. We owe it to the 26 people who died on Sunday and the countless others before them to do that hard work and implement enduring solutions so we don’t repeat this grisly scene next week followed by the same hollow rhetoric.

Peter Long, San Francisco

The writer is president and chief executive of the Blue Shield of California Foundation.

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To the editor: Some have called for guns in churches. There are religious reasons to resist this “call to arms.”

As a symbol of protection, the gun has become an object of worship in our culture. As such, bringing a gun into a sanctuary would amount to bringing an idol, another object of worship, into the sanctuary where there is also a cross. Both are symbols of violence.

The gun is the ultimate symbol of an individual’s coercive power over others; it promotes violence as a way to preserve the peace. But the cross stands for Jesus’ giving himself over to the authorities as a rejection of the coercive power of the Roman Empire; his death on the cross was a repudiation of violence as a way to create peace. Coercive power is exposed as a power of violence and death.

Do we really think that Jesus would bring or allow a gun into a place of worship? Working for peace through justice takes a lifetime — even, sometimes, a life.

The Rev. Rick Marshall, Brea

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To the editor: It’s not a lack of gun laws that allowed the massacre in Texas to happen, but the failure of government to carry out its own laws and do the data input that could have prevented this killer from buying his weapons.

It was the U.S. Air Force that failed to report Devin Kelley’s discharge for domestic violence that allowed him to purchase guns. Similarly, Charleston killer Dylann Roof had a rap sheet a mile long, but he was able to acquire guns because of the government’s failure in flagging him.

It was an armed citizen who stopped Kelly by shooting him. If he had not acted before the police arrived on the scene, Kelley probably would have killed many more people. This raises the question of whether it is better to arm citizens to stop these killers, or disarm everyone but the criminals who could not care less about gun laws.

More laws are window dressing. Enforcing the existing laws with diligence would make a real difference.

Mark Collins, Altadena

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