Guns make the dif­fer­ence

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

In his June 23 op-ed col­umn, “The power of for­give­ness,” Michael Ger­son wrote that the mas­sacre in a Charleston, S.C., church re­vealed two prob­lems in the United States: racism and a sur­feit of an­gry young men.

The United States does not have more racists and dis­turbed young men than, say, Ger­many, France, Aus­tralia or In­dia. It has more guns, far more than any other de­vel­oped na­tion. It is easy for a tor­mented racist to get a pis­tol in the United States, where our gun laws pro­tect the prof­its of the firearm in­dus­try, not Amer­i­cans. Dy­lann Roof, af­ter er­ratic be­hav­ior at a shop­ping mall, was found in pos­ses­sion of drugs and banned from the mall. He was then charged with tres­pass­ing af­ter re­turn­ing to the mall. Yet he had ac­cess to a hand­gun.

Per­mis­sive gun laws and the re­sul­tant gun homi­cide rate, not racism or young adult fury, set the United States apart among de­vel­oped coun­tries. Mr. Ger­son may choose to ig­nore the gun cul­ture that spawned the Charleston killer, but we con­tinue to do so at our peril.

Tracy Zor­pette, Washington

Manda­tory back­ground checks may pre­vent some in­di­vid­u­als with se­vere, doc­u­mented psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tions or vi­o­lent crim­i­nal records from legally pur­chas­ing guns, but they are not a panacea. More­over, they cre­ate a false sense of se­cu­rity.

Our psy­cho­log­i­cal well-be­ing, like our phys­i­cal health, is sub­ject to change at any time. While some of those changes may be mi­nor, oth­ers are far more se­ri­ous and can be ac­com­pa­nied by grave con­se­quences. Be­ing anointed a “re­spon­si­ble gun owner” af­ter pass­ing a back­ground check is akin to re­ceiv­ing a de­cent grade on a midterm exam. It might be com­fort­ing at the time, but it does not pre­dict fu­ture be­hav­ior. The idea that we can safely co­ex­ist with guns is an il­lu­sion. We’d be bet­ter off with­out them.

John Mor­lino, Sil­ver Spring

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