Friday February 1, 2013

The mindset revealed in James Durkee’s letter of Jan. 27 ("U.S. is following wrong footsteps") is interesting and discouraging. At its heart is an adolescent fantasy. He imagines a band of rugged citizen-soldiers, armed and ready to fight our own government in the event it turns Nazi (which could happen any time now).

I had often wondered why anyone would feel the need to have a semi-automatic weapon that is capable of firing many rounds very quickly. They are not useful for hunting and unnecessary for self-protection. Now I get it. This is really the only credible (if slightly paranoid) reason to want to keep military type assault weapons, which are designed to fight off an army (or massacre schoolchildren).

He implies that this could save us from the fate of other nations which have suffered oppression at the hands of their governments. What has actually saved America from that fate is our tendency to pull back from the ideological extremes; extreme views such as Mr. Durkee holds.

We did not have the pitched street battles between the Communists and the Fascists that one saw in 1930s Germany. As a nation, we have always ultimately come back to some middle ground, and have come together to find practical and democratic solutions to our problems.

Strong democratic institutions and culture keep us safe, not guns.

MARC ROSENTHAL

Lenox