The National Rifle Association’s apologists already are offering the usual alternatives to stricter gun controls, as stated by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.): “We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kinds of actions and make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books” [“Cries for sterner laws, as well as those for caution, ring out anew,” Dec. 15]. But the fact is that the crazed and disturbed will always walk among us.  What we must do is strive to deny them the ability to engage in mass murder.

It is in this sense that our current absolutist interpretation of the Second Amendment is wrong. If the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to have automatic weapons, then surely it gives them the right to have rocket-propelled grenades, too.

The more rational interpretation is that the Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms within the context of a real, functioning society. The idea that the Framers, who could not have even conceived of a semiautomatic pistol or a .223-caliber assault rifle, intended these weapons to be available to all is absurd.

Michael L. Goldberg, Arlington