Guns make the difference
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