Letters to the Editor: May 28, 2022

Editor’s Note: We have received a large number of submissions following the tragic events in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX. Ideas & Voices is committed to giving space to readers’ perspectives. If you are interested in providing a 150-200 word letter to the editor or a 500-600 word contributed column on this topic, please email your submission to edletter@coxohio.com.

From our daughter Sara, who teaches in a Catholic School in Columbus. Anyone who doesn’t think of teachers as selfless heroes needs to read this:

I’ve been unsettled all day trying to stay composed at school. I was thankful to take my class to mass today to pray for the grieving families in Texas and try to find solace in church. Instead, I found myself counting and recounting my students; reminding myself who was absent; who was not sitting with me.

I took note of all the exits and escape routes. I knew which students would lead the group if I had to stay behind. I went through the phone numbers I had in my contacts of parents. I made note of where my son, niece, and nephew were sitting and how to get to them. I debated walking to the nearby firehouse or seeing how many children I could fit at my house since I live near school. (All of them I decided.)

I reminded myself to tell them I love them. Sadly, I have run this scenario in my mind many, many times throughout my years of teaching. My heart is breaking. I just taught a lesson last week on Amanda Gorman’s poetry. She’s eloquent in her expression of universal hope and optimism while recognizing where we came from and where we’re headed as a nation and as humans. We finished that lesson with a message of taking care of each other and doing what’s right even when it’s hard.

I thought we were closer to the descent than the summit last week when we read " The Hill We Climb”…until now.

- William Walker, Centerville

I am bewildered about my government’s inaction. Columbine, Sandy Hook and Marjorie Stone Douglas were flashing red lights and piercing sirens that action was needed. Yet as the days passed and the headlines faded, nothing was done. What can be done? What about consistently enforcing background checks? Although there are procedures in place, many times they are not followed. What about a 3-5 day waiting period before a buyer gets access to the gun? What about reviewing and strengthening “red flag” laws and increasing availability and access to mental health services? And, what about requiring training in responsible gun ownership? We require a license to drive, hunt, or fish, but with the implementation of the law recently signed by Gov. DeWine, licenses and training for concealed carry guns will not be required. I beg our elected officials, do not let this latest tragedy pass without action. I will be watching your actions and will support candidates who favor “common sense” gun legislation. To those elected officials who promised to act when they heard, “Do something!” shouted in the streets of Dayton but have done nothing – I remember and hope others do, too.

- Nancy Evans, Centerville

Do something! The sign has been in my yard for a couple of years now. I would have thought that Sen. Brown and Sen. Portman would have acted after Sandy Hook, but they didn’t. My elected officials made their lost lives meaningless. We have no faith that they will stand up for us, protect the very lives of the innocent. Our legislators are bought and paid for by an industry that kills children and others. Prove us wrong this time. If they care about democracy, they would end Citizens United and go back to actually representing the American people and not special interests, but we no longer have any faith in their doing the right thing. They could change that. Vote to end the nonstop mass shootings. Vote for actual gun control this time.

- Monica Neiderman, Dayton

We in America are afraid to tell the truth about military-style assault weapons. It is ludicrous to argue that banning assault weapons is not an appropriate step toward a safer society. How is our nation ever to heal if we are so afraid of each other that we feel we must have immediate access to rapid fire killing objects? It is not the people, it is the guns; it is not the person, it is the gun; it is not the child, it is the gun. The nation’s love affair with guns is a sickness we must get over. The more we die from guns, the sicker we become. Nothing else in our society is going to get better until we face this elemental truth.

- Cindy Minton Piatt, Yellow Springs

I am Democrat. A proud progressive who voted for Governor DeWine twice. I like the “little” guy for his fight. However, DeWine lost my vote when he signed Senate Bill 215. The murder of 19 children in Uvalde, TX is squarely on gun advocates who will not allow background checks and Red Flag Laws.

- Mark Kline, Springboro

Dead kids. Live breaking news. Dead kids. Press conferences. Dead kids. Speeches. Dead kids. Resolutions on legislative floors. Dead kids. Talk of gun control. Dead kids. Debates online. Dead kids. Prayers. Dead kids. Impromptu outdoor memorials. Dead kids. TV specials. Dead kids. Law enforcement press conferences. Dead kids. Roundtables on society’s stress. Dead kids. TV news specials. Dead kids. Talk show interviews. Dead kids. Police cars stationed in front of schools. Dead kids. Experts opining on social media. Dead kids. Non-experts opining on social media. Dead kids. Sermons in churches. Dead kids. Grieving families and friends. Dead kids. The slaughter of the innocent will never stop. It is a perpetual motion machine that will just keep churning.

- Patrick Suarez, Springfield

How many children – babies, even – are we willing to sacrifice on the altar of “gun rights” before society says “Stop!”? Who has the courage to say “your right to own a gun does not include the right to leave it where your curious toddler finds it and accidentally shoots a sibling.” Or “if you fail to adequately secure your gun and your angry teenager takes it to school to settle a beef, then you lose the right to own a gun forever.”

In 2020 there were 45,222 firearm deaths in the U.S., including 4,357 children. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death in children younger than 19. In addition, approximately 3,600 children lost a parent or caregiver to gun violence resulting it severe emotional trauma. Guns are used in 80% of childhood suicides. How much is too much? If this many children died each year as a result of using any other product, wouldn’t we be looking at ways to increase safety?

Accidents can happen but many are predictable and preventable. Mandatory safety training and safe storage could reduce this. You cannot cut hair without special training and licensing. Why not require gun training? Isn’t handling a gun more dangerous and important than cutting hair?

And do you really want to go to the grocery wondering who in the check-out line has a gun in their pocket? Or worry if your neighbor has a rifle with automatic fire and an extended magazine when you carry out the garbage late at night because you forgot to do it earlier? Doesn’t your right to life (liberty and the pursuit etc.) supersede someone else’s right to keep a military-grade weapon at home or carry a gun anywhere, anytime?

We have heard that “responsible” gun owners are not the problem but, in a way, they actually are. Not only have they failed to come up with any suggestions about how to keep guns out of the hands of “irresponsible” people, but they also lobby against any of the reasonable suggestions made by others. It’s time for gun owners to step up and support solutions before more children die.

- Margaret Branstrator, Oxford