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Readers React: We banned machine guns in the 1930s. Why can’t we ban semi-automatic assault rifles now?

High-capacity clips for AR-15-style rifles are shown at a gun store in Utah on Feb. 15.
High-capacity clips for AR-15-style rifles are shown at a gun store in Utah on Feb. 15.
(George Frey / Getty Images)

To the editor: I’m not sure why the Los Angeles Times believed Dan McLaughlin’s Feb. 16 op-ed article, “Every solution to mass shootings inevitably involves a serious trade-off,” was worthy of publication. It was basically a clarion call to do nothing about gun violence, but not even a real discussion on why we do nothing.

In 1934, the National Firearms Act (NFA) was enacted. We never see criminal actors using fully automatic weapons now. They were banned by the NFA.

In the 1950s, I took the National Rifle Assn.’s hunter safety course. I’m sure my excellent NRA instructor never felt his rights were infringed by not being allowed to own a machine gun. By what measure would those traditional values be infringed by a ban on semiautomatic weapons and their multi-round clips?

How about the right to some reasonable degree of safety, especially for our children?

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Peter Poole, Temecula

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To the editor: It’s time to stop talking and to start marching.

We are running out of schools, movie theaters, concerts, nightclubs, businesses, parties and subways to avoid being gunned down. But too many of us are also emotionally and intellectually in flight. Action is needed, not words.

We must shift from the flight response to the fight response.

Our history proves that the action of marching masses imprints in lawmakers’ minds the image of conviction in action. Marches were the catalyst for women’s voting rights, the Civil Rights Act, marriage equality and the #MeToo movement.

A “March for National Gun Sense Laws” will shame our lawmakers into being true leaders. The nation’s youth are begging us to be dedicated, driven adults. I’m ready to march. Are you?

Lisa Telesca, Valley Village

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To the editor: When I composed “An American Elegy” nearly 20 years ago in response to the Columbine shooting in 1999, I thought it would be a singular episode, or at least a rare one, in our nation’s history. Sadly, I am constantly reminded how wrong I was.

Nothing will improve until more lawmakers admit that the Constitution was written by mere mortals doing the best they could without benefit of a crystal ball. Those same mortals saw this themselves, thereby permitting amendments to the Constitution. In other words, they possessed a humility and wisdom that many current lawmakers seem to lack.

Common-sense gun legislation may very well save the 2nd Amendment. This may not happen in my lifetime, but I have hope that our children’s generation will show more wisdom than the small-minded legislators from our generation.

“An American Elegy” has been performed frequently in response to mass shootings occurring since Columbine. I had no idea that could ever happen. I am sad about a cultural situation that makes it so.

Frank Ticheli, Pasadena

The writer is a professor of composition at the USC Thornton School of Music.

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