The only ones trying to “exploit tragedy for political gain,” as National Rifle Association Vice President Wayne LaPierre put it, are the National Rifle Association and anyone else pushing to put armed guards in our schools [front page, Dec. 22]. The NRA might profit from more people carrying more weapons, but what will be the effects on our children and nation? Our schools will look like prisons. Our children will grow up believing a gun is the answer to every problem. The ideas of community, mediation, compromise, deliberation and problem-solving will be shoved aside. Children will learn that the only way to be safe is to carry a gun.

Do we want to be a nation of people who hide behind locked doors, afraid to talk to neighbors, afraid of the person standing next to us at the grocery store or the pizza parlor? While fear-mongering supports the goals of the NRA, it does not promote democratic citizenship. It does not encourage people to live as a community and to come together to discuss differences without anger and violence. NRA leaders preach a life of fear and alienation that is an assault on democracy.

Sheryl Howie, Suffolk, Va.

Gun control debate has been in the forefront in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., always ending with a footnote asking, “Will any action be taken this time?” My suggestion is this:

Let members of Congress and future candidates make a pledge, similar to Grover Norquist’s tax pledge, that they will not accept any campaign contributions from gun manufacturers, distributors or retailers or from the NRA, not even indirectly such as donations to campaign funds or political action committees.

That would be a good start toward progress on gun control legislation and enforcement.

N.T. Umamaheswaran, Potomac

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) described the idea of allowing school principals or armed guards to carry firearms as “reprehensible” and “outrageous” [“McDonnell, O’Malley at odds on gun issue,” front page, Dec. 19].

At Sandy Hook Elementary School, the principal courageously charged the shooter, even though she was unarmed. This heroic principal paid with her life, even though she was not able to do anything to stop the shooter.

Mr. Connolly apparently favors continuing to leave courageous school principals at the mercy of coldblooded killers by denying them any tools they might be able to use to stop them. The only result can be dead principals and free rein for killers. And that, not armed principals or guards, is what is truly reprehensible and outrageous.

Robert Book, Fairfax

I write as a father of a 7-year-old son. We need to take steps to protect my son and all our children from gun violence. I grew up in Vermont skiing, hiking, fishing and hunting. I now live in Maryland, where I remain an avid hunter, and I am a gun owner. But mostly today I am a father. We need reasonable gun control. I am tired of NRA extremists’ views putting schoolchildren at risk. We need to push for an assault weapons ban and controls on high-capacity magazines.

Kevin Omland, Columbia