Michael Gerson’s Feb. 20 op-ed, “How to end the Chicago massacre,” provided a much-needed perspective. The debate on reducing mass murders, which caused some 400 deaths last year, mostly fails to mention the more than 10,000 people killed and the more than 20,000 who kill themselves with guns every year.

While the demands for increased mental-health treatment would be an appropriate response to gun-related suicides, they are, unfortunately, raised only when there’s a mass shooting. And the reality is that fewer than 5 percent of gun-related killings are caused by people diagnosed with mental illness. Are we less concerned about the 95 percent? One can conclude only that the call for improved mental-health resources is an attempt to distract from better control of handguns and assault weapons.

Further, it’s clear that staying out of “bad neighborhoods” is no protection from a mass murderer. Could that be related to the focus of the debate? We are part of the problem if we ignore history and the possibility that the focus on mass murders is related to their greater visibility within the white, middle-class community than the far greater number of gun deaths in our nation as a whole.

Mr. Gerson reminded us to broaden our focus from mass murders to the 75-fold number of Americans of every race killed in individual shootings every year.

Barry Yatt, Arlington

The powerful photograph with the Feb. 22 front-page article “ ‘Fix it’: Students, parents plead with Trump for action to stop shootings” depicted President Trump meeting with students and others. A painting of a reflective Abraham Lincoln, our last great Republican other than Frederick Douglass, overlooked the proceedings, surely magnifying the profound sadness and senseless paralysis of our times — more than 150 years since the Civil War.

Don Owen, Bethesda