Readers React: That period of nonpolitical mourning after a shooting? We’re past that now

Fourteen people are dead in San Bernardino, shot by two masked gunmen who showed up armed to an office holiday party and opened fire. It’s the deadliest such among the many since 28 people, most of them kindergartners and first-graders, were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012. Just this past Friday, three people were shot dead at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

Here’s one reaction our letter writers aren’t expressing: shock.

To be sure, the dozens of readers who have written to are angry and sad in response to the tragedy, but the few writers who steer clear the debate over lax gun-control laws or terrorism as possible causes of the shooting express a kind of grim resignation to this kind of event. Their sense of defeat seems to be warranted: According to a Reddit community that tracks gun violence, there have been more mass shootings than days so far in 2015.

RIP, my Southern California neighbors. You didn’t deserve this.

— Keith Pittell, Los Angeles

And the other letter writers? Most abandon the once-customary interlude of politics-free mourning and get straight to arguing over gun laws or terrorism. Generally, those who favor more gun control say the slaughter of 14 people in San Bernardino on Wednesday is the inevitable result of a nation awash in hundreds of millions of firearms. Readers who support gun rights say terrorism -- given the personal histories of the two suspects -- might have played a role (and even if it didn’t, they’re less than eager to surrender their weapons).


Here is what some of our readers are saying about the shooting.

Keith Pittell of Los Angeles is one of the few readers to refrain from debating gun control or terrorism:

Fourteen of my fellow Southern California citizens are dead today after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, and I don’t know whether to hate the gun lobbies, hate terrorists or hate myself for hating anyone.

Hatred is poison to the heart, but how does one rise above the outrages visited on the innocent and unknowing -- where our animalism clashes with the “better angels of our nature”? Where if only God can forgive mortal sin, how do we?

It seems we are hard-wired for beauty and brutality together, and why this is so after 10,000 years of civilization is beyond me. Why have we not been able to break the bonds of brutality? We are still in the cave.

RIP, my Southern California neighbors. You didn’t deserve this.

Joan Horn of Carlsbad ponders gun ownership in a stable democracy like the United States:

We promote universal gun ownership based on our constitutional right to maintain a “well-regulated militia” to ensure the “security of a free state.” We non-militia members then exercise our right by easily obtaining guns without strict proof of responsibility, thanks to the National Rifle Assn.

Finally, we do not limit gun ownership to handguns and rifles, but also purchase semiautomatic weapons capable of killing many human beings in a matter of seconds. This results in ongoing slaughters of our fellow citizens such as the recent one in San Bernardino.

We are a free, secure country with a stable democracy, many resources and a comfortable standard of living compared to many countries; yet we choose to live and die by the gun.

Winnetka resident Mike Post says we shouldn’t be talking about gun control:

Whatever the motivation of the domestic terrorists involved, one thing is clear: This incident is not a poster child for gun control, and the premature pronouncements of our president and The Times proclaiming gun control as the solution to this type of incident are off base.

Criminals who build bombs in their garage and who have jointly planned a mass killing in advance are not going to be dissuaded ‎by background checks and magazine capacity limitations.

Gun control efforts are undermined by such blatant political pandering before the blood on the street or the tears of the survivors have even dried.

Michael Pit of Lake Forest calls on reporters not to mention the names of mass killers:

Every TV station that carried coverage of this horrific carnage said the same thing: “We do not yet know the motive for this attack.”

What does it matter? The motive is always the same for these lunatics: recognition.

If you want these “people” to stop this madness, stop printing their names. Give them no recognition whatsoever. Tell the stories of the dead and give them and their families the press time they deserve.

Stop making these vermin famous and they’ll find another way to get their names in the paper or on television news. Maybe it will be a way that will not involve the murder of 14 people.

Tom Scott of Spotswood, N.J., says more of us should have guns:

If only the people in Paris and the people in San Bernardino were armed, countless lives could have been saved. Anti-gun laws are getting people slaughtered.

You won’t see this happen in Texas. It is a shame. Let people defend themselves as they have the right to.

Glendale resident Ken Artingstall touches a third rail:

Is there a Presidential candidate brave enough to run on a single platform: “Amend the 2nd Amendment”?

Nothing will change unless someone does. And that someone could win a landslide.

Michael Frishberg of Torrance keeps his reaction short:

American exceptionalism.

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