Monday January 14, 2013

Like Christine Hoppus (letter, Jan. 1) I shuddered when I heard Mr. LaPierre's opinion on how to provide safer classrooms for our children and grandchildren. I am concerned that my generation is leaving a society much less safe than when Mr. LaPierre and I were growing up. After a week of interesting dialogue with some of those with whom I grew up in the ‘60s, we came to several conclusions.

A former classmate who is a pastor told me about the documentary "The War on Kids." It discusses current educational and child-rearing practices and explores the widespread use of mood-altering prescription drugs like Ritalin and Adderal used to deal with "ADHD" youth. Dylan Harris, Eric Klebold and several other kids who have engaged in shocking acts of violence took these medications to control their behavior. The film alleges that, over time, the drugs deaden the child's sense of empathy and ability to experience the psychic pain associated with conscience, creating a walking time bomb with all inhibitions stripped away.

Several classmates who are long-time hunters said they have no use for assault weapons. These "new weaponry" products are marketed by the gun industry to pull in new customers. When you mix gun users who also use behavior-altering drugs that sedate the normal conscience thus distorting "good vs. bad" logic, the walking time bomb becomes more lethal.

My pastor classmate also uncovered an article from the Dec. 21, 2012, Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) titled "Silencing the Science on Gun Research" written by Arthur L. Kellermann, M.D., MPH and Frederick P. Rivara, M.D., MPH (JAMA. 2012; doi:10. 1001/
jama. 2012. 208207). This article states that the Congress and some states have repressed studies carried out by the Center for Disease Controls and other governmental agencies designed to determine the threat to public safety that exists because of firearm mishaps and misuse. The nation might be in a better position to act today if medical and public health researchers had been allowed to continue to study issues that may link childhood drug use, high technology weapons and acts of violence.

The madness that occurred in Newtown, Conn. was wanton killing done by a very bad young guy with distorted view of reality. A "good person" with a gun could not have stopped the killer that day. The only thing that can stop that sort of killing is to understand what caused the shooter to plan for the killings and pull the trigger.

My hope for 2013 is that the vice president's committee will look into how complex this situation is and develop meaningful recommendations that our legislature will be brave enough to consider and implement. Until we get past the "me and mine" type of thinking and remember that we are a united nation and strive for the common good, our society is doomed to return to the old wild west days, when the fear of violence had to be counteracted with gun ownership. ROBERT NIEBAUER

Pittsfield