Letters to the editor

Mass shootings are a sad, heartbreaking occurrence. Equally serious is the violence in our major cities. Both problems deserve thoughtful, measured responses.

“Assault weapons” (technically, semi-automatic, high-capacity rifles) are an issue in mass shootings. I cannot find a reason for people to have high-capacity rifles, though I sometimes think of the Founders' original context for the Second Amendment. Their reason for writing the Second Amendment was self-defense from the one entity which they thought most likely to abrogate their rights: their own government.

I am hesitant to take away constitutional rights, one reason being that it is often a slippery slope. What starts out as noble intent too often ends up with unintended, not-so-noble second-order effects. Once a precedent is set, it is difficult to reverse. Having said that, I still find it hard to make an argument in favor of semi-automatic weapons.

Much more deadly than semi-automatic weapons in terms of lives lost, however, are handguns, the weapon of choice for inner-city gangs. We need to have a national conversation about gangs and handguns, too, and what to do about the nearly daily shootings and deaths occurring in our cities.

Recent talk among both political parties about “red flag” laws and background checks could be part of a more comprehensive answer. Whatever we do, we should make decisions based on facts and evidence. Similarly we should avoid moral exhibitionism, blaming one person or cause for a problem with many bad actors and interrelated, complex causes.

Ken Sommers, Bloomington

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