Letters: Why gun laws matter

Letters: Why gun laws matter
Priscilla Daniels, whose husband, Arthur Daniels, was killed in the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, is comforted by Lynnell Humphrey, a local official who came to assist the family with arrangements. (Jonathan Newton / Washington Post)

Re "Police warned Navy about shooter," Sept. 19

As journalists dissect the mental health of the individual responsible for the Washington Navy Yard shooting, I want to challenge us to stop focusing exclusively on blaming individuals. Trying to assign a motive is to miss the point.

Gun violence is an epidemic in this country. This issue is not about politics or the 2nd Amendment, it's about public health. In Los Angeles County, guns are the second-leading cause of death for young men. If a disease were killing us at this rate, we would be using every tool to do something about it.

To those who say gun laws have no effect, research shows that of the 10 states with the strongest gun safety legislation, seven have the lowest rates of gun deaths. And the gun issue is not just about the mass shootings; more than half the young people who commit suicide with a firearm got that gun from their home.


Gun laws alone will not solve this, but they are a critical component of the systemic change that is required. There is a package of gun violence prevention bills on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk right now. We can choose not to accept gun violence as part of our lives.


Kaile Shilling

Los Angeles

The writer is the director of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles.

Another tragedy, another round of anti-gun fanatics demanding more gun control, trying to make it even more difficult for vetted, responsible citizens to enjoy their hobby. What about mental health? Do the anti-gun people know that the recent high-profile mass shootings have been perpetrated by people with mental health problems?

Stricter gun laws would only punish legitimate gun owners. California has some of the nation's strictest gun laws, but our crime rate is worse than some states with less strict laws.

Why do lawmakers say little about mental health, poor parenting, violent video games, bullying and other factors? Is it because it's easier to attack legitimate gun owners by demanding stricter gun laws?

Leave the vetted, responsible gun owners alone. We are not the problem.

Marty Ryzak

Newbury Park

What needs to be explored is why gunman Aaron Alexis, who had mental health problems and a record of strange behavior, was able to buy a gun and receive security clearance. This is a more significant reflection on our society than on Alexis.

When as a society are we going to become more adept at providing psychiatric assistance to those who are suffering? I believe the 13 deaths in Washington on Monday represent a systemic, societal problem.

In a separate article, a close friend of Alexis asked a question that deserves an answer: "Why didn't they get him help?"

Karl Strandberg

Long Beach

Guns don't kill people. People who are able to get guns because the National Rifle Assn. refuses to accept universal background checks, which could keep guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people and others who shouldn't own firearms, kill people.

Jeffrey Teets