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Letter: Readers sound off on shootings

AR-15 rifles are displayed on the exhibit floor

AR-15 rifles are displayed on the exhibit floor during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky on May 20, 2016. Credit: Bloomberg/Luke Sharrett

Readers submitted more than 50 letters after the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. Sentiment ran 6 to 1 in favor of stricter gun laws. Here is a sampling of the letters.

Perhaps this country is ready for an honest debate about gun ownership and mental health. It appears that the latest shootings were carried out by angry individuals with mental illness. Often these issues have manifested themselves for years. These were not the actions of law-abiding sportsmen. Further gun control laws will have little impact until society can identify those who clearly should not have access to firearms.

Along with registering all gun purchases with the state and requiring a license for every weapon, the federal government should require a background check and a mental health screening for each prospective gun owner. Perhaps this way, a person who should not have a firearm can be identified.

People will say this is government overreach or an infringement on their rights, but all rights are tempered by the greater good of society. It is time to act.

Craig Henry,

West Hempstead

After the two mass shootings, it did not take long for some elected officials to start calling out President Donald Trump.

Let’s face it, these incidents have gone on since well before Trump took office. Stop and look at the real cause. Did you notice which movie topped the box office the weekend of Aug 2-4? “Hobbs & Shaw,” a movie promoting violence. Hollywood should take some blame for constantly producing such violent fare.

In addition, it seems that our health system failed to identify some mass shooters and give them psychiatric treatment.

Third, we should blame the makers of video games that glorify death and gun violence. If you put these types of games in the hands of sick minds, what do you think will happen?

Tom Dougherty,

Huntington Station

Prayers to the innocents who were killed in Texas and Ohio, and a well-done to the first responders.

However, in Chicago during the same weekend, 51 people were shot and seven died, according to media there.

It seems we pay more attention to the sensational than the obvious.

David Lean,

Franklin Square

Flags are again at half-staff because of the hate-motivated slaughter of innocents in El Paso and Dayton. I believe some politicians offer gratuitous thoughts and prayers while remaining legislatively inanimate (outside of New York State) because they are beholden to the merchants of death. Yes, it’s not just guns, it’s also a mental health issue. The insanity starts with presidential hate speech and filters downward. The blood of the slaughtered taints the hands of many members of Congress, and in the capital cities of Austin and Columbus, where many “serve” only the interests of the NRA and their anachronistic fellow advocates.

Edward B. “Woody” Ryder IV,


In the wake of the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, we heard a White House narrative that focused attention on the role of mental illness.

Although people living with mental illness have been targets of discrimination for centuries, studies show that they are disproportionately the victims and not the perpetrators of violence.

All people of goodwill must continue to fight against stigma and discrimination and also for the elimination of race and ethnic-based fear and intolerance.

Andrew Malekoff,

Long Beach

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights.

Gun violence is a plague affecting all of America.

We live in a time of extreme division. Political discourse has reached new lows and our ability to reach across aisles to communicate with people with whom we may disagree has become all but impossible. People turn to violence to make a statement instead of using their right to free speech. The shooters have destroyed families and communities and caused us all to sleep less soundly at night.

In our tradition, we always prefer shalom, peace, over war. Whenever we can, we should try to make peace — with our armies, our civil discourse and among our citizenry.

Rabbi Royi Shaffin,

Editor’s note: The writer is rabbi of the South Baldwin Jewish Center.

Newsday’s Aug. 5 editorial, “Nationalism is fueling domestic terrorism,” carried the subheadline “Extreme anti-immigration rhetoric creates a dangerous climate of hate.”

Did you mean to write “anti-illegal immigration”? I found your wording misleading. Immigrants who come legally always have been welcome. I myself came legally and am a naturalized American citizen.

The editorial says, “There’s a sickness in this country.” Sadly, I must agree. The sickness is a mental health issue. Many people need counseling or to be institutionalized, but go untreated and are out on the streets.

The ease with which ordinary citizens can purchase military assault weapons is another reason for these mass killings. These problems have existed for too many years. Let’s not blame President Donald Trump.

Helga Breen,


I am sad and disappointed that my congressman, Lee Zeldin, has opposed sensible gun control. He has supported a bill to protect the interstate transportation of arms, regardless of state laws, and a bill to protect the carrying of concealed arms from one state that permits it to another that doesn’t. He also supported a decrease on restrictions on gun purchases.

What we need are universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and tighter controls on the sale and licensing of guns. These efforts may not stop every mass shooting, but they are a step in the right direction. Zeldin needs to stop aiding the haters and shooters and support sensible gun laws.

Adam D Fisher,

Port Jefferson Station

Editor’s note: The writer was a campaign volunteer for Zeldin’s 2018 election opponent.

We remain steadfast in protest and prayer for the broken-hearted families and friends of the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. We will fight daily in loving memory of every victim of gun violence. We hope Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will stop playing political games and support sound-minded gun control. The scripture is right as stated in James 2:26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

The Rev. Arthur L. Mackey Jr.,


Editor’s note: The writer is a senior pastor at Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt.

It is reprehensible that our Congress and president have not passed comprehensive gun controls. From Columbine to Dayton, little has been done to stem this tide of violence. It makes no sense that semiautomatic weapons are not banned, that universal background checks are not required and that there are not more “red flag” laws.

Why is the Second Amendment so sacrosanct? Why is there so much hatred in this country? Why are some of our so-called leaders so protective of this amendment and so bent on stirring hatred? Power, greed, fear or all of these?

It is time that we use our voice at the ballot box to vote in representatives — Democratic, Republican or independent — who care for their constituents’ safety and well-being. Please get out and vote!

Ben Horlick,

Dix Hills

I commend Nassau County Legis. Joshua Lafazan for his proposing the creation of a task force on crisis response to ensure that public centers and businesses are prepared for active-shooter situations.

In addition to involving young people in the dialogue, I hope the task force would consider supporting public education about New York’s Red Flag Gun Protection Law, signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in February. This law allows police, family members and school officials to seek an extreme risk protection order against someone who poses a risk to himself or others. This would allow a court to temporarily ban someone from buying or posessing firearms.

I am among volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America which pushed hard for this law. If people know about New York’s red flag law, they can use it to help save lives.

Laura Burns,

Rockville Centre

Polls say most Americans want stricter gun laws. However, since nothing has happened on a federal level and only some control has been enacted by only some states, blame is directed at the NRA, violent video games, mental illness, white supremacists and the news media.

Using scapegoats can take the responsibility from us to do something. We can write our members of Congress, but we know that the parties have dug in on these issues. I submit we can do something today. We can boycott one of the largest sellers of guns: Walmart. When Walmart stops selling guns, fewer will be available to the public. Perhaps, fewer guns will be manufactured. Capitalism can sometimes be more effective than democracy.

Richard Venable,


I believe the main cause of shootings that goes unaddressed is human nature.

The article “UN report: Homicides outstrip conflict deaths” [News, July 9] cites a UN report that says that in 2017, homicide killed more people than war, armed conflict and terrorism combined. The article said that in America, firearms were used in 75 percent of all homicides, and those deaths are 25 percent of the worldwide homicide total.

Ninety percent of the suspected perpetrators worldwide were men. I call this “the hormonal effect.” Testosterone makes men aggressive by nature. Nothing will eradicate crime because no law can change human nature.

Perhaps we can study which laws work in other countries. Also, politicians need to stand up to the NRA and quit worrying about losing votes over it.

Elaine Harrison,


President Donald Trump and the GOP will do nothing for El Paso, Dayton or the rest of America except give lip service. There have been more than 20 years of carnage executed by those using weapons of mass destruction, and most Republicans have done nothing. They seem content with the status quo and will continue to deny their inaction has anything to do with financial campaign contributions from the gun-rights lobby. I believe their morals have been bought.

Bob Bascelli,


If somehow the victims of America’s many mass shootings had all been members of Congress, I can’t help wonder whether their replacements might have felt enough guilt or fear that they would have passed some life-saving gun control laws. Reasonable and intelligent people have wanted reforms since 13 people were killed at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999.

Richard Siegelman,


Video games in which a player shoots people have been blamed for desensitizing those who have committed mass shootings. For those who like to shoot, how about games in which the player shoots cancer cells before they can destroy a life, or a game in which a player shoots termites before they can destroy a home?

Carol Ludwig,



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