The voice of Dr. Cathleen London, gun owner in rural Maine, resonates with the sentiments of many across the land (“Maine Voices: It’s not a contradiction to own guns and also want sensible regulations,” Oct. 11).

After the recent mass shooting, Maine’s Rep. Bruce Poliquin tweeted: “My thoughts are with all those effected in the horrifying attacks in Las Vegas. The nation is with you.”

His tweet was of the same genre as that of the senior senator representing my native state of South Dakota, John Thune, who advised people under assault “to take steps in their own lives to take precautions. … As somebody said – get small” (The New York Times, Oct. 4).

I grew up on a farm in South Dakota, where a .22-caliber single-shot rifle and a 12-gauge single-shot shotgun were the tools of farming and hunting. No rational person in this country is proposing that citizens be denied such guns in their households. But no citizen is entitled to have an arsenal of automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons, whose only purpose is to massacre large assemblies of people.

The pious platitudes of prayer for victims of mass shootings are a shallow substitute for congressional action to pass effective gun control.

When I think of the dereliction of duty by Rep. Poliquin and Sen. Thune and many of their colleagues, I am reminded of “The Hollow Men” of T.S. Eliot’s provocative poem:


“We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together


Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats’ feet over broken glass

In our dry cellar.”

Today’s breed of politicians, including Poliquin and Thune, are the small, hollow men of our times, getting smaller with each massacre.

Robert F. Lyons


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