December 22, 2012

Eugene Robinson set up a straw man when he wrote, “More guns, with amateurs firing every which way, surely would have meant more dead children and more grieving families” [“A time for action,” op-ed, Dec. 18]. I follow the news pretty closely, and I haven’t heard any serious proposals for placing armed amateurs in schools; it is inaccurate to call armed security guards or other trained and certified individuals “amateurs.”

I would like to see perhaps four staff members per school volunteer to go through local police training and be recertified annually. (Does Mr. Robinson think that police are “amateurs”?) Their concealed-carry status would be known only to their school’s administration. Pay them $5,000 extra a year, for a total cost of about $2.78 billion a year (139,000 schools times $20,000). That’s a rounding error in a $4 trillion federal budget.

This step would stop most attacks in schools, since the perpetrators tend to be cowards who seek out soft targets. Armed deterrence works.

Jeff Waters, Fairfax

Melinda Henneberger [“Let’s not confuse illness with evil,” She the People, Dec. 19] is onto something. What’s needed is a review of mental, emotional and developmental disabilities and how American society can be shaped to enable people with these problems to thrive. 

I think we can all agree that perpetrators of violent acts against society are probably diagnosable with one or more of the disabilities referred to above. I am a liberal who thought long ago (and still thinks) that we do not need all the weaponry that my conservative counterparts vehemently defended until last weekend, but I agree that the issue is so much larger than gun control. 

Karl Ritchey, Falls Church

I liked Maria Dunn’s suggestion [letters, Dec. 19] that parents not buy violent video games for their children for Christmas. Can we also include toy guns and rifles in this?

In my neighborhood, children stalk through back yards and around parked cars, jumping out to shoot each other. It’s like something you’d see in a news report from a war zone. I’ve seen an older child insist that a younger one lie down and play dead when “shot.” I’ve seen children take aim at cars driving by. When you talk to them about it, it is clear they just don’t understand why all this would be disturbing to an adult.

Let’s take back these “guns,” too, because while parents are inside minding the little ones or making dinner, their elementary-age children are hunting each other in my front yard.

Susan Foutz, Annapolis

Regarding Kathleen Parker’s Dec. 19 op-ed column, “Too much talking”:

Sometimes it’s good to be quiet. When the headline saying that 20 children had died appeared on my work computer, I didn’t click on the link. When my co-worker came back from lunch, I told her, “Please don’t talk to me about it.” I agree with Ms. Parker that sometimes we need to turn off the TV and toss the newspaper.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, I temporarily canceled my subscription to The Post and didn’t turn on the TV for two weeks. Was this denial? Maybe. But it was the best way for me to keep my composure and take care of my family and my obligations.

Even without being bombarded with talk of these horrendous acts, they are not far from my mind. I still have to answer my children’s questions, and we acknowledge in prayer those who have been affected.

We are moving a little bit more slowly these days, cherishing moments with those we come in contact with. The day after the unspeakable, I found myself in a crowded parking lot, coming upon an open space with another car approaching. I waved to the driver that he should take the parking spot but he signaled back for me to go ahead. On another day, I would have claimed that spot outright. 

Now is not the time for selfishness. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all just started being kinder to one another?

Leanne Guido, Herndon