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Sandy Hook father: Mass shootings are not inevitable if we take these actions

Sandy Hook father: Mass shootings are not inevitable if we take these actions
Mourners watch as the hearse carrying Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Helus leaves Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 8. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Wednesday’s horrific shooting in Thousand Oaks is the latest in a wave of preventable gun violence plaguing our nation. The suspected shooter exhibited classic warning signs and had access to a gun.

As a father whose family was devastated by gun violence when our 7-year-old little boy was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, my heart breaks for these victims’ families. But we can transform our collective agony by acting now to ensure the safety of all public spaces:

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First, demand that your Legislature pass Extreme Risk Protection Orders, bipartisan policy that temporarily separates at-risk individuals from firearms. For states like California with ERPOs, push to fund awareness of these lifesaving laws.

Second, tell your local lawmakers to require all students be trained in violence prevention. The earlier we start, the safer our communities will be.

Finally, visit, SandyHookPromise.org and “know the signs” to take seriously, and intervene before a tragic choice is made.

Through prevention programs and policies, we can ensure no other families have to endure the heartbreak from senseless tragedies like this.

Mark Barden, Newtown, Conn.

The writer is co-founder of the group Sandy Hook Promise.

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To the editor: I’m a psychotherapist who volunteers to treat veterans through a nonprofit called The Soldier’s Project. When it comes to the suspected Thousand Oaks shooter, a former Marine, it appears that correct protocols were observed when assessing his prior outbursts.

What I wonder is how much the assessment team considered the unique “outbursts” of former combat soldiers. It’s a bit different than evaluating a civilian who works at a regular day job.

At the risk of playing armchair quarterback, I wonder if anyone looked at this man’s former occupation and his skill with firearms and not just at the checklist to decide whether he should have been held for 72 hours. Was he offered veteran counseling services? What about follow-up inquiries?

I hope people will understand that very few veterans go on shooting sprees. I think looking at the list of mass shooters will bear that fact out.

Babs Greyhosky, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The recent tragic shootings in Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks call for President Trump to take a new, creative approach to determine why these gunmen felt compelled to shoot and end the lives of others.

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The president needs to convene a small group of psychiatrists and others to investigate these mass shootings and look for the common thread in the compulsive behavior of the individuals who carried out these massacres.

Thomas Roy Harney, San Jose

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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