Shooting in Washington, D.C.
Re “Gunman Opens Fire in Capitol, Kills 2 Officers, Wounds Tourist,” July 25:
Newt Gingrich spoke about the killings in the Republican weekly radio address. “Please help those who are troubled learn to live peacefully with their problems,” said the speaker, a tear running down his right cheek.
His statement seems incredibly naive. The paranoid psychotic is not about to “learn” anything. He has very little control over his thinking and actions. Keep in mind also that many of the mentally ill are hard-core drug addicts who are in chains to their habit. These people very often completely reject the ideas of therapy and will never enter a treatment program voluntarily.
Current laws make it difficult to force these individuals into treatment. At the same time, we do not hesitate to throw these people into prison or even execute them when they commit crimes.
Here is another reason that we don’t provide treatment for these people. There are so many of them that it would be enormously expensive. Many mental hospitals that used to be available for the mentally ill are now closed.
Not providing involuntary treatment is inhumane and terribly hard on families of the mentally ill. It’s also not fair to the rest of the community who now must pay for more and more prisons to house them, not to mention the danger from the large number of mentally ill who now roam our streets.
Let’s not be shocked when a psychotic kills someone. For their own sake and for the rest of us, let’s make sure that the seriously mentally ill, including the hard-core drug addicts, are put into appropriate therapy programs, involuntarily if necessary.
QUENTIN C. STODOLA
Days before the tragic shooting at the U.S. Capitol, Congress defeated Sen. Barbara Boxer’s bill to require child safety locks on guns. This legislation would not have prevented the deaths of two U.S. security officers, but it could prevent the deaths of many unknown children.
In voting against the bill, Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) was said to have suggested that there were more deaths from children drowning in pools than there were from children killed from guns. What does that have to do with anything? Children are killed in car accidents every day too, but we know that since the passage of strict legislation regarding child safety seats, the number of deaths of children in car accidents has gone down significantly.
The real tragedy of the Capitol shootings is that the next time a gun control bill comes up for a vote the same people that always vote against them will do so again.
I’m sure The Times will receive a plethora of letters from supporters of the gun control lobby citing the shooting in the Capitol as proof that we need more gun control in this country. I say the act of one mentally disturbed individual with a gun does not justify the taking away of our 2nd Amendment rights any more than pornography or hate literature justifies abridging the 1st Amendment.
DON HEADLAND JR.
The shooting at the Capitol should cause all thinking persons to consider the arguments for gun control. Almost all firearms are illegal in the District (unless they were registered some quarter of a century ago), yet a deranged criminal killed two brave civil servants. Someone once observed that insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes; these murders suggest that more gun control is not an answer. I don’t know what the answer is, but the laws outlawing firearms didn’t help, did they?
J. WILLIAM STINDE