Letters to the Editor: Readers react to the bipartisan deal on guns

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People attend a protest near Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8. Gun violence survivors and hundreds of gun safety supporters demanded that Congress act on gun safety issues.
People attend a protest near Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8. Gun violence survivors and hundreds of gun safety supporters demanded that Congress act on gun safety issues.

Each week we ask readers to weigh in on a timely topic. This week's question centered around efforts in the U.S. Senate to approve modest gun reforms. The Senate passed their bill Thursday, and the House passed a bill on Friday. Do you think the steps are enough? If you'd like to see more, what should Congress address?

Texas could take steps to tighten

purchases of firearms. Here's how.

In response to the senators' initiative for gun reform, Texas could tighten legitimate gun purchases as follows:

  • California has a system known as the Dealer's Record of Sale, which functions as a background check form, reporting system and gun registration system. This also imposes a 10-day waiting period before a firearm can be released to a purchaser or transferee.

  • Include a National Crime Information Center check. There are categories of individuals covered in that system that include juvenile offenses. This might afford a "cooling off" period for emotional purchases and puts that weapon and individual in the system.

  • Make clear the responsibilities of parents of juveniles (up to age 21-25) for their ability to obtain a weapon owned by the parent, to include penalties of ownership, fines and/or prosecution. Parents most likely know of their child's mental and emotional status, and tougher restrictions impose accountability to abating violent crime.

Arleen Hammett, Del Valle

Some more steps to address rising

gun violence and mass shootings

The reforms are insufficient. I suggest the following steps:

  • Repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. No organization should be immune to litigation especially when guns are produced and marketed to a general populace that is obviously using them to kill each other.

  • Fund technology for smart guns that will only fire if the owner is shooting. Only one user should be authorized to use the gun.

  • Completely eliminate sales of semiautomatic weapons, including AR-15s and AK-47s, to the general public.

  • Legitimate gun groups should mobilize a national campaign to teach gun safety and promote responsible use, especially to new owners.

  • State and federal government agencies should work together to collect and destroy guns used to commit crimes, especially when innocent people are killed.

Steve Donovan, Austin

Access to guns, not mental illness,

is the leading cause of gun violence

While it is good that John Cornyn’s bipartisan gun violence bill includes much needed money for mental illness, it will likely have little or no effect on the level of gun violence, as it fails to address the root cause.

The United States has similar rates of mental illness to other countries, yet only the U.S. has such high levels of gun violence and mass shootings. Studies by The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence concluded that it is easy access to guns, not mental illness, that is the major cause of gun violence.

Increasing the spending on mental illness, while highly admirable, is simply a move by Republicans to appear to do something on the issue and appease the National Rifle Association while actually doing nothing to address the root cause of gun violence in the United States. We deserve better than this.

Brian Clark, Austin

As long as the NRA doles out cash,

necessary gun reforms won't happen

As long as Republican senators like Cornyn and Cruz accept grotesque amounts of blood money from the National Rifle Association and the right-wing echo chamber consistently misrepresents the Second Amendment, necessary gun reform is simply and sadly not going to happen.

Who needs an AR-15? It’s a weapon designed for mass murder.

Marty Lange, Austin

The GOP's acts to perpetuate gun

violence. Is anyone else frustrated?

Is anyone besides me frustrated with the cavalier, decades-long ducking and weaving that Republicans have done to perpetuate the slaughter of our children? The servile lies and distortions they have perpetrated on our society to abet the gun industry and its worshippers?

If so, please vote for Democrats at all levels and repudiate Republicans’ debasement of our politics and our culture.

John Stephens, Austin

The bipartisan gun deal isn't progress;

it's a GOP scam to fool Americans

I disagree with your June 16 editorial that the Senate gun agreement would make “significant steps” and “save lives.”

It is a scam designed to fool Americans and co-opt Democrats into believing that Congress has done something to stop the slaughter of innocent and defenseless people in this country. Mitch McConnell’s support confirms this – come November, he will be the first, but not the last, to claim, “C’mon! What more do you want? We’ve done enough.”

Will the number of individuals massacred go down by 20%? 30%? Will we call that “progress"? We must prohibit civilians without training and licenses from buying weapons that have one purpose only: to kill other human beings.

Sen. Cornyn, be prepared to tell the parents whose children are murdered in the next school massacre, or the children whose grandparents are mowed down in the next grocery store shooting, “Sorry, the assailant was 21. He’s legal.”

Neil Suneson, Austin

What we must pass is a complete

overhaul of the nation's gun laws

What our legislature has proposed is not enough.

Citizens do not need assault weapons!

Why ban switchblades and brass knuckles and allow semi-automatics?

Any firearms sale or even gifts of firearms should require background checks. We register cars when ownership is changed!

We need to completely overhaul our gun laws. How many more people do we have to lose before we correct this horrible situation?

Jean Samples, Round Rock

Gun reforms will help to decrease

killings, but there will be more

At this time, the answer is yes. These reforms will help decrease the killings and will lead to real reform structured around age and licensing. With tenacity and conviction, Mothers Against Drunk Driving worked slowly to get states to reduce the blood alcohol concentration limit for a DWI.

There will be more killings even with these limited reforms. Ultimately, the only real way to stop the killings is with age limits and licenses. But even when that happens, there will still be killings, like there still are drunken drivers.

Robert Anderson, Austin 

A tiny bandage, a massive wound:

Bipartisan bill doesn't do enough

The bipartisan bill currently before the U.S. Senate does not go far enough.

The continued incidents of mass shootings clearly show that the wrong people are getting guns. We should be making it harder to obtains guns and make the process take longer, with long waiting times to make a purchase.

Also, all gun transfers need to go through a background check. And that is just a start. What we see in the bipartisan bill is nothing but a tiny bandage on a massive wound.

Robert Odendahl, Austin

There is no reason for a civilian

to own a semiautomatic weapon

The gun reform law senators are working on is a thinly veiled attempt to pacify an irate public without losing constituents or National Rifle Association donations from whom many in Congress (benefit), including Sens. Cornyn and Cruz.

This is patching a gaping wound and it will have little effect.

There is no valid reason for a civilian to have access to a military-style weapon. The Second Amendment has been twisted to fit the narrative of gun rights activists and should be revisited. Those who wrote our Constitution could not envision today's weaponry.

John Nugent, Georgetown 

Editor's note: Some readers weighed in on other topics this week. Here are some of their letters.

McCraw should own responsibility

for law enforcement's failed response

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw's briefing to the state lawmakers was a harsh and probably accurate assessment of the capabilities of Pete Arredondo, the incident commander. He clearly was not up to the task. However, I see a larger problem with the law enforcement command structure (whose ranks) seem to be pinning all the blame on Arredondo.

How much of this is just covering the inadequacies of senior leadership with regards to law and training? In the Navy, when a submarine crashes into an unmapped sea mount while the commander is in his bunk asleep, it is the commander who is fired, not the officer who was on watch. Why doesn't Texas hold its leadership (Abbott and McCraw) at fault when underlings fail in their mission?

Since McCraw feels it is his duty to comment on the Uvalde failures, he should also own the responsibility for the poor effectiveness of the law enforcement response.

Jon Percy, Austin

Climate change is a public health

crisis; we must all respond now

Re: June 19 article, "Green New Deal not at fault for higher electric bills."

I am so sick and tired of Ted Cruz and all the other climate change deniers.

Anyone attempting to loosen the grip of the billion-dollar fossil fuel industry on this country is met with obstacles every step of the way.

This country needs to act now, not next year or even next month. In the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change it was clear that our planet is in trouble.

The American Medical Association just declared climate change to be a public health crisis.

We all need to act and act now.

Ilene McGarrigle, Austin

Lawsuit to block housing homeless

people not a good look for Williamson

Re: June 20 article,"Williamson County sues to stop Austin from housing homeless in former hotel."

It seems really mean-spirited of Williamson County to try to stop Austin from providing housing to seniors who are unfortunate enough to be unhoused.

What are they afraid of? What if this was their elderly aunt or uncle?

There is a similar facility walking distance from my house in Austin and you would never even know what it was or who lives there. This lawsuit is just ugly and isn’t a good look for Williamson County.

Rona Distenfeld, Austin

The GOP's refusal to accept Biden's

victory is not based on facts or logic

Re: June 19 editorial, "Republicans who deny Biden won don't deserve our vote."

An excellent editorial you wrote, full of logic, reason, facts. But by now we realize the refusal to accept Biden’s election win has nothing to do with these things, but only with psychological matters – tribalism, denial and one’s propensity to believe outlandish conspiracy theories.

Virtually the entire Republican party has fallen for an authoritarian con-man’s baseless accusations, which would be farcical were they not so dangerous to democracy.  The vast majority of Republican voters have guzzled the Kool-Aid and will never abandon their election delusions.  Our best hope is the few who haven’t so guzzled will switch their vote to the other party, just enough of them to turn many of the Republican/Trump cult members out of office in a close election.

If you vote for any Republican who has not publicly repudiated Trump’s big election lie, you are aiding and abetting in the destruction of U.S. democracy.

Mark Warren, Austin

It's no surprise that police officers

waited before confronting gunman

I don't need to see the body-camera footage to understand why 19 police officers in Uvalde waited over an hour before confronting a gunman who killed 19 children and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary School.

They obviously feared for their own lives, knowing that they'd be facing a semiautomatic rifle, capable of shooting through cars, doors, walls and body armor.

But the failure of the Uvalde Police Department must be shared with every police union in the country as they've stood by and done nothing to protect their police officers from being outgunned by these weapons of war.

Police departments across the country should go on strike and demand that Congress ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines to ensure the safety of their officers, as well as every child that they've sworn to protect.

Sharon Austry, Fort Worth

Editor's note: The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion nationwide. We invite readers to share their thoughts on this historic decision. Send letters of no more than 150 words to letters@statesman.com by noon Thursday.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Austin American-Statesman Letters to the Editor: June 26, 2022