In a recent letter to the editor (“Preventing another Newtown tragedy,” Dec. 19), Thomas O’Connor of Falmouth asked: “When is Congress going to get serious about preventing these mass murders and stop listening to the anti-gun nuts?”

I assume O’Connor prefers that Congress only pays attention to the Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association. This organization has spent millions of dollars influencing and intimidating Congress to not only protect but actually extend the “constitutional rights” of those I would deem to be “pro-gun nuts.”

The indiscriminate deadly use of military-style assault weapons and 30-bullet magazines is not enough for O’Connor and his peers. He advocates for yet more placement of guns in the hands of civilians. He is opposed to Congress’ “old knee-jerk reactions” to violence, including the passage of new gun control laws.

While the nation mourns our dead is neither the time nor does it serve any useful purpose to trade insults or bandy about allegations of blame. It is not only Congress but all the anti- and pro-gun “nuts” who must join with the rest of the nation and seriously consider sensible, coherent solutions to the prevention of these tragedies.

If we persist in childish name calling and proposing simplistic, illogical “solutions” that address every issue except gun control, the only result will be that no responsible changes will be made. Our nation will have the blood of even more innocent victims of gun violence on its hands, and no amount of tears shed will cleanse them.

Sam Kamin


In response toMan with assault rifle prompts flurry of police calls in Portland” (Dec. 25):

Taking our shoes off, body scanning at airports, and allowing email checking and phone tapping are viewed as an acceptable altering of the Fourth Amendment in our quest to eliminate future deaths from terrorist activities.

However, a man with an assault rifle — similar to the one used to murder 26 people in Newtown, Conn. — could potentially stand across the street from my children’s school all day, and the police are not allowed to ask his name or even if his gun is loaded, lest we risk infringing on his Second Amendment rights.

In the United States, twice as many people were killed by firearms last year than were killed by terrorism in the past 12 years combined, including 9/11. Where should we be focusing our energies?

Leah Coplon


Donated heart ‘ultimate gift of life’ for young boy

Most letters to the editor are complaints about society, politics and/or the fate of our economy. My letter, however, is an impassioned plea as well as a heartfelt “thank you.”

You see, while our elected officials were arguing about whether or not the country would fall off the “fiscal cliff” on Dec. 31, a small 6-year-old boy, Nolan Murray, received the ultimate gift — that of a new heart — in Boston.

While this was a tremendously happy day for Nolan’s family, it was an equally tremendously sad day for the family of the 10-year-old little boy whose heart now beats inside Nolan.

That family gave the ultimate gift of life, not only to Nolan, I’m sure, but also to many families out there whose child needed a kidney, a liver or even a lung. I want to thank that mother and father who, in their despair, made sure that their son did not die in vain. I cannot begin to imagine myself in their position.

I am blessed to have healthy grown children as well as two healthy, beautiful grandchildren. I want to thank the parents across the country and around the world who make the choice to donate organs of their children.

My plea is to ask everyone to become an organ donor. It’s simple to do — just check the box when you renew your driver’s license.

To all the parents out there with healthy children — hug them today and love them every day. To the family who lost their 10-year-old little boy — thank you, thank you, thank you. I know that Nolan’s mom, Linda, will take good care of your son’s heart.

Please say a prayer for Nolan’s recovery and a prayer for the donor’s family.

Michelle Tompson


Well-maintained trail shows beauty within city

I moved (back) to Portland several months ago.

Since I relocated to southern Maine from Aroostook County in 1980, I’ve been drawn to the water, especially Portland’s beautiful Back Cove and its lovely trail.

This past summer and fall, I made it a goal to walk the trail daily, enjoying all its beauty. I continue to walk it for the first time during winter, thanks to L.L. Bean snow sneakers!

I’m discovering a well-maintained path, thanks to the hard work of the city of Portland.

As we enter a new year, I’m reminded of all of nature’s beauty in our wonderful city.

Thank you to the organization Portland Trails for creating this beautiful gem in our city.

Thank you, city of Portland, for your continued efforts to make Portland a safe and lovely place to live, work and play!

Mary R. Grant, aka Nature Girl