Grace McDonnell, the beautiful daughter of my husband’s cousin, was one of the young victims of Friday’s shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Rightfully, the outcry has begun again for more gun control. But parents can do something right now to change our society and reduce the danger of this happening again: Don’t give your children violent video games for Christmas. If you have already bought one, return it. Explain to your children that you do not want them learning to hunt other human beings.

Maria Dunn, Derwood

The Dec. 15 editorial “Grief beyond imagining” stated that the country would be “safer with fewer guns.” But jurisdictions with tight gun controls often have high counts of gun violence. More important, when we condemn the instrument of violence, we also absolve the perpetrator of direct accountability. We compound the excuse when we also blame anyone who might have anticipated or prevented the act (parents, relatives, police, school administrators) for failing to do so. The person who would consider the next such horrible act will do so believing that he or she will be remembered as the victim of a hostile society that should have taken better steps to protect itself.

On April 19, 1995, 168 people in Oklahoma City, including 19 children, lost their lives to a bomb made from fertilizer and diesel fuel. That horrible act has been eclipsed only by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, which involved the use of knives and box cutters. Condemn those who commit evil, not the instruments they use.

Chuck Rushing, Vienna

It defies logic that, as economist John R. Lott argued, more guns will help to reduce gun crimes [“With gun issue in sharp focus, advocates are on the defensive,” news article, Dec. 17].

There are already more guns in private hands in this country than anywhere else in the world. If guns were going to keep a nation safe, we’d already be the safest nation on earth.

Barbara Lautman, Washington

The writer was executive director of the Center to Prevent Gun Violence from 1989 to 1991.


President Obama ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff after the shootings in Aurora.

President Obama ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff after the shootings in Newtown.

Why not just leave the flags at half-staff until there is a federal ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines?

Gerald Weisberg, Chicago

I wish that we would show more respect for dead strangers and their families. Instead, we seem to turn every newsworthy death — from a celebrity overdose to a school shooting — into a vulgar reality-show tragedy. Selfishly, often without self-awareness, we refocus the devastation of people we never met onto how it affects us. Tragedy may help us work through our fears and sorrows, but these are real people with real losses.

Don’t tell me I don’t get it: My wife is a teacher, and our child attends an elementary school. Nonetheless, I will not participate in the vicarious wallowing in a mixture of news-tainment and therapy. That is not empathy or respect.

Sean Oberle, Bethesda