December 23, 2012

Letters to the editor: Nemitz mostly misses mark on NRA

Regarding Bill Nemitz's column on Dec. 16 ("Again, NRA has much to answer for"): He brings up some very salient points concerning the National Rifle Association, and my position is not one of defending that organization.

Newtown Mourners
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Mourners embrace Monday outside the Newtown, Conn., funeral home where a service was held for one of the 20 local schoolchildren killed Dec. 14. Readers take issue with a column critical of the NRA in the context of the tragedy.

REUTERS

I am a gun owner. In fact, I own several that I use for hunting, and I have others that are antiques that I have as collectibles.

As he pointed out in his column, guns are so prolific in our society that the sad truth is that regardless of any current or future gun control laws, a person intent on doing harm will be able to obtain a gun, legally or otherwise.

I think that the tragic outcome of the events in Connecticut would have been very different if at least one of the adults in that school had a firearm and was trained in using it. Perhaps more guns in trained hands is a solution.

Another point he did not address is, as a society, we should look at the violence in the all-too-realistic video games. For a person who is on the edge with mental illness, the step from video game shooter to real shooter is not so far. Why not ban those types of realistic violent video games?

If I am threatened in my home, I have guns and will use them. Thanks to Hollywood, the sound of a pump shotgun chambering a round is recognizable to everyone.

I would rather be a live defendant than a dead plaintiff. I am sure the families of the victims now wish their loved ones had that choice and could let the courts determine the dead shooter's "rights."

I also cannot help but wonder if in June 1944, when all of my mother's family was taken for "resettlement," would they have gone so peacefully to their fate at Auschwitz-Birkenau if they had access to firearms?

Gabor Korthy

Portland

Has Bill Nemitz no shame at all? I don't happen to belong to the National Rifle Association, but I do know some history, so that the idea of citizens able to resist oppressive governments, as well as the criminals who are always preying on the weak and helpless, is obvious.

There isn't a sane person in the United States, North America or the world who isn't sickened by the slaughter of these innocents. But let's be honest: There are monsters prowling the streets: They can't be stopped by more laws or hysterics howling for a magic cure.

Change the social system to end the poverty, helplessness and ignorance that produce rage. Provide mental help for those lost and alone. But when they do ravage the babies, the elderly and all the rest of us (as some will), ruthlessly put them down for the rabid monsters they are. Help those willing to be helped -- cull the predators from our herd.

Wringing hands and weeping isn't enough. Who protects us until the police arrive?

By the way, Mr. Nemitz: You brought up the shameful spouting of Bob Costas. A sports commentator raves about guns instead of immediately thinking about hulking athletes who may have used questionable drugs to ruin their minds, the very people he built a career upon. Some folks should talk about things they know.

There are armed citizens and there are slaves. I know where I stand in that sentence, and I respect Mr. Nemitz when he walks to the opposite. We each have the right to choose our place.

Rex S. Waite

Norway

In response to Bill Nemitz's bandwagon assault on the National Rifle Association: First, let me state that I have no dog in this fight. I am not a member of the NRA, nor do I hunt.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Nemitz has such a well-read platform made available to him in order to spread his own factless agenda as if it were based on truths beyond reproach.

Why does he think the NRA "has much to answer for" regarding this horrific event in Connecticut? They had absolutely nothing to do with it, and to suggest that they did is as ridiculous as suggesting that the autoworkers' union is responsible for the next traffic fatality.

This deranged individual would have carried this out even if all firearms were not allowed to be owned by private citizens. In fact, it was illegal for him to possess the pistols due to his age as it was, and the law was obviously not a deterrent.

Unfortunately, his deceased mother has some accountability here, as her legally obtained and owned firearms were apparently not properly secured to prevent unauthorized use.

I hold Mr. Nemitz's own media substantially accountable here for fanning the flames by sensationalizing these events and encouraging copycats to achieve the next "highest score." The scope and type of coverage is nothing short of obscene.

Mr. Nemitz only laid blame and offered no answers, which seems to be the media and political norm.

Do I have the answers? Nope. I think that there are immediate things that could be improved upon that make complete sense, such as making sure there are no cracks in our background checks.

We must work on the cause and not chastise the tool. Until the resistance exceeds the threat, the threat will always win.

Dave Whitaker

Saco

Series unfairly blames police for deaths of the mentally ill

As the wife of a police officer and a teacher at a Connecticut school less than 30 minutes away from Newtown for eight years, I am compelled to write.

Before this horrible tragedy, I could not understand your reason for featuring a four-day front-page series of articles ("Deadly Force: Police and the Mentally Ill," Dec. 9-12) on Maine police who were "not trained" properly or a system that lacked "sufficient funds" to train police officers.

It was almost as if you blamed police for doing their job. You used words such as "death toll," words that should be used for tragedies (9/11, Hurricane Sandy, etc.), not for police doing their jobs.

Although the facts are still unfolding in this horrific attack in Connecticut, it appears that a mentally ill man opened fire on two first-grade classrooms. I wonder if you still would have printed these same stories on the mentally ill after Dec. 14. I am guessing not.

Amy Roberts

Scarborough

In response to your series "Deadly Force: Police and the Mentally Ill":

Having participated in several police training exercises in Maine, including firearms training and use-of-force training, I can testify that the police are already at a severe disadvantage in any violent confrontation. Adding another step to an officer's decision to use force is both unnecessary and dangerous for both the officers and the public.

There are certainly cases where officers' use of force exceeds the needs of a situation, but the evaluation of those cases should be independent of the mental state of a suspect.

Violent behavior is violent behavior. The fact that such behavior may be the result of illness is irrelevant to the intended targets of such behavior.

Andy Robinson

Kennebunkport

Surely our president can find a trillion or two dollars to establish a new department, the NMHPD (National Mental Health Police Department).

People would be trained in the correct way to approach a potentially mentally ill person, maybe wielding a knife, baseball bat, Mace can or even a gun. Just maybe he or she is intoxicated or a drug user/abuser.

But this highly trained mental health person would be trained to know the difference, and would have time to check the electronic device (handheld) to see what medicine this person is taking (or more likely not taking).

Now what does this highly trained mental health person do? He or she has probably been shot, stabbed or Maced by this time, and the mentally ill person has been taken to a facility where he or she is re-introduced to medication that he or she may or may not take in the future. And the cycle goes on!

There are some people who have a "short-circuit" within their brain or a chemical imbalance that makes it impossible to deal with them, and sadly, deadly force is the only answer in order to protect the public.

Maybe we can find a better answer, other than blaming the police departments. Just askin'.

Anita Cornish

Hollis

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