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Letters: Readers react in aftermath of Pittsburgh killings

On Thursday, Anat Halevy Hochberg of Brooklyn visits

On Thursday, Anat Halevy Hochberg of Brooklyn visits a makeshift memorial outside Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue, where 11 people were killed on Oct. 27. Photo Credit: AP / Gene J. Puskar

We have seen the worst in America with the synagogue killings in Pittsburgh — and the best of America in people who care.

The worst started with the annihilation of native peoples and slavery, as well as opposition to immigrants from Ireland and Italy, to Jews, Asians, Latinos, anyone of color.

In hindsight, Pittsburgh was inevitable — from Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” to Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens, from President George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton to Charlottesville, Virginia, and more recently from our president and members of Congress who have paved the way for haters to come out from under a rock.

The administration has only added fuel to the embers and fanned the flames [“America faces a reckoning,” Editorial, Oct. 30]. The Pittsburgh gunman and those in other atrocities were individuals, but they did not act alone. They were part of a context that brings out the worst of America.

We might be divided by theology, by history, by family background, by race, but we care about one another, about decency, about the ideal of acceptance of differences. This is America at its best. Our care for our mutual humanity transcends our differences. Let us work to make it outshine the hate and violence of the horrible shooting in Pittsburgh.

Rabbi Adam D. Fisher, Port Jefferson Station

Your Oct. 30 editorial about hateful rhetoric is a good example of what frustrates many people today. You blame President Donald Trump, saying he “created a climate that has motivated the unleashed and the unbalanced.”

How do you know what motivated likely insane people to do the acts cited? Maybe they became unhinged and angry from biased, irresponsible and critical reporting about this administration with almost no balance. Why no mention of the motives of the unhinged on the left who, too, have committed violence? Biased, partial and irresponsible journalism makes me angry and mistrustful. Maybe this could be the motive that sets some people off?

Before you assign motives and blame, perhaps you should look in the mirror.

Andrew Ross,Kings Park

Many believe hateful speech, political rhetoric and a growing divide between races, cultures and economic positions, along with President Donald Trump’s divisive arrogance and incivility, encourage fringe extremists to act. But we all share some responsibility — not over political tensions or opposing agendas, but gun proliferation.

Pro-Second Amendment and anti-gun groups must come to an agreement. No one has an absolute right to carry a gun, yet some choose to own a legal gun for limited use.

The solution is strictly enforcing “necessary need.” Ownership must correspond to a verified proof of purpose. Require background checks, safety classes and a 60-day cooling-off period before allowing possession. Weapons must be registered and ownership must be stamped on enhanced driver’s licenses. Independently review the need to maintain a weapon every two years. Limit handguns, rifles and shotguns by caliber, mechanism and magazine capacity for business, hunting or target shooting.

When will we get it right? Guns kill people.

Nicholas Casale, Baldwin

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired NYPD detective.

President Donald Trump said armed guards might have prevented the synagogue massacre. But there’s something else that could have stopped it, a federal ban on assault weapons. Such a ban ended in 2004, thanks to aggressive lobbying by the NRA, which holds the GOP in its holster.

Seven states ban assault weapons, including New York, but not Pennsylvania. News reports say there were no laws in that state that would have prevented the suspect from owning the AR-15 rifle and three semi-automatic pistols that were used in the shooting. Voters should consider this on Nov. 6.

Richard Reif, Kew Gardens Hills

It’s a fallacy to think that arming a teacher or a guard will prevent an attacker from shooting at schools or public buildings. Four SWAT team officers were unable to contain the Pittsburgh attacker and were wounded. A “good guy” with a gun doesn’t necessarily deter a “bad guy” with a gun.

Bert and Julie De Tomaso, Syosset

From the moment I heard about the atrocity in Pittsburgh, I was angry — angry that my right to be a Jew was taken from me. I did not want my anger to turn into hatred, because hatred is what led to this event. I also didn’t want to blame politicians, the media or laws. I needed something spiritual to restore my faith in God and alleviate my fear.

I attended a memorial service at Temple B’nai Torah of Wantagh, where I am a congregant. After reciting prayers, I left emotionally drained and spiritually defeated. In Hebrew, we say, “Zichronam liv’rachah,” which translates to, “May their memories be for a blessing.”

Can anyone tell me how we can say we need the victims’ memories for a blessing when their last memory was senselessly being killed for being Jewish?

Howard Lev, East Meadow


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