Letters to the Editor: Oh look, more of the same debate on mass shootings. Only in America

A sign hangs on a fence put up around the parking lot where a mass shooting took place in Boulder, Colo.
(Associated Press)

Here’s a sad experiment for you: Read the letters below, find any references to Boulder or Colorado, and replace them with Aurora, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, El Paso, Parkland or the locations of any number of mass shootings over the years. Then consider whether the opinions seem familiar, whether they could have been published any number of times over the last couple of decades. You might have to substitute body counts or the personal information and circumstances of the suspects and the victims.

I say this because every few months or years, I feel like I am editing and publishing the same letters on the occasion of yet another mass shooting. The most recent such atrocity — in Boulder, Colo., on Monday — involved a familiar narrative: A man armed with a high-powered firearm entered a public place and killed as many people as he could (this time, 10) in a few minutes. The public reaction is also familiar: People and lawmakers who favor gun rights express sadness and decry efforts to “politicize” the tragedy, others demand action on gun control now, and some wonder if America’s gun-violence epidemic is beyond containment.

Just as reliably as the outrage over another mass shooting rose to a fever pitch, it will subside. You can quote me on that, because it has happened with alarming frequency in the past, and it will probably happen again.



To the editor: We have learned that the 21-year old suspect in the mass shooting in Boulder, Colo., had a history of violent outbursts and was convicted for an assault.

In addition, we also know that six days before the massacre, he purchased the same kind of a weapon that has been used in many other mass shootings. Nothing in the federal system would have prevented the shooter from buying such a firearm.

In my discussions with friends, colleagues and police officers, I’ve picked up a sentiment that seems to capture the mood of our nation: “I’m sick and tired of people’s lives depending on whether a disgruntled man with a military-style gun is mad as hell and not going to take it any longer.”

Wouldn’t you agree this is exactly the time for Congress to expand background checks and ban the sale of assault weapons?

Mike Rustigan, Laguna Beach

The writer is a professor emeritus of criminal justice at San Jose State University.



To the editor: In fighting the scourge of mass shootings, we need not only better gun control but also to recognize that mental illness often goes untreated.

Preventive medicine helps improve life expectancy, but psychiatric disorders are often ignored. No doubt there is a relationship between mental instability and these shootings.

Gun control will only partially mitigate this social issue. Acknowledging this fact might not just save one life, but many more.

Robin Clough, Saugus


To the editor: The shootings in Atlanta and in Boulder have appropriately dominated the news. I believe no one in Congress should be allowed to offer their sympathy and prayers for the families of the victims as long as Congress is unwilling to pass legislation enacting universal background checks and banning the purchase and ownership of weapons (and ammunition) of mass destruction.

I consider all utterings of prayers from Congress on this subject disingenuous. Lawmakers consistently come up with the nonsense that the time after a mass shooting is not the time to pass gun control legislation.

These members of Congress must think we are stupid or hysterical, and they do not deserve our vote.

D.A. Papanastassiou, San Marino


To the editor: The problem with mass shootings isn’t the gun.

We had plenty of warnings about the suspected Colorado shooter, including violent behavior, making threats and his possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

I blame the ACLU because it does not want us to lock up people who show clear signs of mental illness and potentially violent behavior. When you have such clear signs as with the suspected Colorado shooter, I don’t have a problem with locking up someone for as long as it takes to make sure he is not a threat.

You can take every gun away from everyone, and it won’t stop killers. They will find another way. You have to change the laws so that mentally ill people are not allowed to walk the streets with weapons.

Shirley Conley, Gardena


To the editor: Those who love the 2nd Amendment always go straight to “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” and skip over the first four words: “a well regulated militia.”

Even in the 18th century, the framers of the Constitution apparently felt that those keeping and bearing arms should be regulated. Most of the regulations proposed in the current debate do not infringe on the right to bear arms.

Margaret Hamilton, Portland, Ore.


To the editor: If the killing of elementary school children didn’t spur our government into action against the proliferation of guns in our society, don’t expect the death of those in Colorado to do anything.

Tom Iannucci, Los Angeles