Letters to the Editor: Don’t fall for the Republicans’ mental health dodge. The problem is guns

An 8-year-old places flowers at a memorial
An 8-year-old places flowers at a memorial for the 22 victims of the May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The only thing more predictable than these horrific mass shootings is the now standard response by the GOP that the problem isn’t guns, it’s “mental health issues.” (“Mass shooters aren’t mentally ill people who suddenly snap. They decide to kill,” Opinion, May 21)

The problem is that by legal standards, it’s usually not a mental health issue. Most of the time, the mass killers convicted of these crimes end up in prison for life or on death row, not in mental institutions. Under our justice system, if you have the mental capacity to plan and execute a capital crime, you are by definition typically considered sane enough to be subject to the full weight and criminal punishment afforded by law.

The mass shootings committed due to racial hatred or by disaffected, self-absorbed young men are usually well-planned acts of evil, not unhinged acts of impulsive psychosis.


Despite this, Republicans say the problem lies solely with mental illness, and that the incredibly easy access to guns is not to blame. It has been said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process or behavior and expecting a different result. By that definition, perhaps insanity is a component of the endless, hellish cycle of our mass shootings — just not in the way we think.

Matthew Singerman, Newbury Park


To the editor: While certain restrictions on guns are called for, keep in mind that Dylann Roof killed nine innocent members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 with one Glock pistol, hardly an assault rifle.

Some of the schools in Santa Barbara County engage a nonprofit organization to check on the mental health status of school children. The point of course is to identify and treat problems at an early age.

We shouldn’t just say that a student is weird and leave it at that. We should find out what is going on with that student and offer them services. Their families need to be included in the process.

Seriously mentally ill people need to be helped as soon as possible.

Nathan Post, Santa Barbara



To the editor: It seems to me that mental illness, the usual justification for not addressing gun restrictions, is not a uniquely American concern. Any nation with a large enough population is going to have individuals with mental health problems, yet the United States is the only wealthy nation where mass shootings occur on a regular basis.

Logic would indicate that laws restricting the acquisition of guns (especially those derived from military weapons) would be a useful deterrent to the mass slaughters we see way too often.

The mental health issue, therefore, seems to be just a “red herring” used by those who do not want to face up to the actual issue, which is way too many guns in the hands of way too many people.

Larry Little, Fullerton


To the editor: Babies are dying because a small fraction of our populace insists on minimal gun regulations, most of them evidently in Congress. While “guns don’t kill, people do” may be true, people without guns cannot kill so effectively.

If you’re “pro-life,” then protect lives.

If you’re benefiting from campaign spending by the National Rifle Assn., then your source just went through a failed bankruptcy. So what’s your motivation for keeping military-style weapons available?


Toughen up, for Christ’s sake, for humanity’s sake, and ban these assault weapons. Legislate reasonable regulations.

As one letter writer suggested, I too would like to see the names of those who vote against gun control published regularly.

Betsy Martin Rothstein, Long Beach