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Letters to the Editor: Just update the location — our cut-and-paste responses to mass shootings

Flowers and candles form a sidewalk memorial.
People pay their respects last week outside the dance studio in Monterey Park that was the site of a mass shooting.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: As a professional I help organizations manage crisis communications, including several local schools. I spent the Sunday after the Monterey Park mass shooting working with school leadership on responses.

In his commentary, Paul Thornton refers to the “utilitarian” letter from the school district that serves Monterey Park. At this point it’s literally cut and paste. Pull out the messages that were sent after Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, Buffalo and Colorado Springs. Fill in the blank with the latest shooting location.

The messages are obligatory and expected, and they are losing impact as readers’ eyes gloss over.

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Our 15-year-old, part Filipina, had a shift that afternoon at her K-pop-themed retail job. Unsure if she’d heard the news, we spoke with her before work. She was matter of fact about it — as if to say “yeah, heard this before” — and off she went.

My husband woefully said what Thornton did: Our kids can handle this. That’s not only a shame; it’s disgraceful.

Joanna Brody, Culver City

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To the editor: In the early 1990s, I was the director of a small children’s center at a local community college. There were 24 kids enrolled who were between 2 and 5 years old.

One day, I noticed two girls lying side by side in the sandbox. They were still, eyes closed. I knelt down and asked what game they were playing. One opened an eye and whispered, “There’s been a drive-by and we’re dead.”

Days earlier, another child let me know that she had to sleep in the bathtub with her mom because “they were shooting in the neighborhood.”

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Unfortunately, I realized that our curriculum had to add a lesson about guns. When I asked the children if they had ever seen a real gun, half of them raised their hands. Then I asked if they found a gun, what should they do? Many children weren’t sure.

At that point, I was very direct and said, “Never touch a gun and go tell a grown-up that you trust — a helper.” Predictably, we received many reports.

Children shouldn’t have to handle this problem. It’s long past time for all adults to be trusted to fix this scourge and get rid of guns. The right to bear arms does not supersede a child’s right to grow up.

Genie Saffren, Los Angeles

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