Thursday December 27, 2012

While I agree with much of Mr. Mattina’s rhetoric in his letter of Dec. 18 ("No guns, no more gun massacres"), I think his conclusion is as absurd as anything Wayne LaPierre has ever said. The truth is that over two-thirds of the NRA members favor sensible gun legislation, such as background checks, waiting periods, and closing gun show loopholes. Unfortunately, their leaders, and their lobby take a more rigid stand.

Mr. Mattina is right in asserting that politicians have been cowed by the gun lobby for much too long. For Democrats, gun legislation is a third-rail issue and for Republicans, the only good constitutional amendment is the Second. Wayne LaPierre holds sway over right-wingers in the same way that Grover Norquist does with taxes, and the Koch Brothers, et al do with union-busting. Within hours of the horrible tragedy in Newtown, the usual lunatics, Bryan Fischer, Mike Huckabee, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, etc., were reciting their mantras, and spouting their ridiculous theories as to who was to blame.

Maybe the time has come for all reasonable people to tell the radical ideologues to shut the hell up, and participate in good-faith discussions. If we don’t, unimaginable horrors like the recent shootings and all the others will continue.

It’s time for national introspection. We must find answers to questions like, how is it that Canada and other nations have armed citizens without having the appalling level of gun violence that the U.S. has? As we renew the debate over outlawing assault weapons, detachable clips, thirty round magazines, etc., we also have to address what our society and culture have become, and how we can change them.

Interestingly, Mr. Mattina cited Prohibition as a failed experiment, apparently unaware of the irony of the statement. Prohibition did not stop Americans from drinking, did it? Repealing the Second Amendment wouldn’t stop Americans from shooting, either.

ROBERT O’BRIEN

Lee