Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Your Views

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Your Views

Article excerpt

I have personal, tragic experience with the ease mentally unstable people can purchase a gun in many states.

On June 10, 2011, my mother traveled from her home in New Hampshire into Maine. She arrived at the Kittery Trading Post and purchased a gun. She drove home, test fired the weapon in a couple of her closets, then fired it one more time into her head, immediately ending her life. Only by sheer luck was no one else injured or killed with her naive practice shooting through walls.

Her death could have been prevented.

My mother managed to pass interviews by different people in the gun department at the Kittery Trading Post and none of them suspected she was a danger to herself. If regulations for purchasing a handgun had been different, this sale would have not taken place.

No one who knew my mother at the time would say that she was in a state of mind to own a weapon. If all states required personal references before you can get a license to buy a handgun, many tragedies could be prevented. Not all people with mental health issues are in a national database. My mother was not, and she had been previously hospitalized for suicidal behavior.

Would my mother still be alive if a reference phone call had taken place or a waiting period was required and the gun sale had been prevented? Would she have been determined to find another method? Would we have been able to help her view life with a new perspective and hope to get through a difficult time? There is no way to know.

If I had been given the opportunity to say, "No, this woman is not mentally healthy enough to own a weapon," I know we could have tried to help her another day. I believe that personal references should be a requirement for all gun licenses or purchases.

I wrote my representatives in Washington about this incident and explained my recommendation for personal references. I received form letters in reply. All mentioned the Newton, Conn., tragedy, which I did not mention in my correspondence.

Michelle Brook

Newfoundland, Jan. 21

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I'm optimistic about the future of restrictive gun laws.

As a not-quite 80-year-old citizen, I've seen many changes come about in this great country of ours since I was a child. These changes didn't happen overnight. They took time -- all due to a gradual shift in the majority of people's convictions.

Time was that the only place you couldn't smoke a cigarette was on a bus or a subway (just take a look at the movies of the '40s and '50s). Driving and drinking was commonplace. Abortion? You had to go out of the country if you didn't want to be involved in an illegal procedure. Gay marriage? Are you kidding?

Women fighting alongside men in the U.S. armed services? Unheard of, but that will soon change, officially at least. Women on the Supreme Court? Not when I was a kid. And the ultimate change as far as I'm concerned: Barack Obama, a man of color being elected our president.

These shifts of public opinion all happened during my lifetime. The majority may move slowly, but it moves.

The NRA may not like it, but most of the people in this country are so appalled by the gun violence we've experienced lately that they are ready to take a stand. It may take some time, and it may not happen in my lifetime. But, believe me, it will happen. The people's will cannot be denied.

Judith Weisbuch

Westwood, Jan. 23

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Regarding "Two month plan on guns" (Page A-1, Jan. 18) and "Christie on guns" (Editorial, Jan. 18):

It greatly disturbs me that you approved Governor Christie's plan.

There has already been plenty of research on the effects of gun ownership. In Japan, where they have extremely violent videos, their homicide rate is microscopic compared to ours, because they have far fewer guns.

When Australia decided to cut down its violence to avoid the American disease of a high homicide rate, its strengthened gun rules greatly reduced homicides.

In the United States, states with the strongest gun restrictions have the fewest number of gun deaths. Around the world, nations with the most guns have the highest number of gun deaths.

So, the research has been done. Is Christie trying to find an excuse for not banning assault weapons? Why is he wasting time and tax money, researching a topic that has been researched exhaustively?

Guns cause violence.

You stated that the topic is complicated. It is only complicated if you fear that the National Rifle Association will persecute you for standing up to their willful promotion of homicide to make a profit selling more guns.

Irma M. Goodman

Mahwah, Jan. 19

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Regarding "Man acquitted in night out killing" (Page L-1, Jan. 25):

I read with interest the story of Marlon Rochester. This is a perfect example of anti-gun hypocrisy in New Jersey.

With an illegally obtained handgun, Rochester shot his victim, Robert Godfrey, in the back of the head from three feet away; he said he was being attacked by Godfrey. After 2 1/2 years, the jury found Rochester was not guilty of murder.

I don't know how you can claim self-defense when your victim has his back to you and is three feet away.

James Raymond

Clifton, Jan. 25

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By taking an extra step, we may be able to find common ground between the advocates of gun regulations and gun advocates.

The National Rifle Association, its representatives and other gun lobbyists maintain that the Second Amendment guarantees everyone the right to bear arms. But some people can't afford to buy guns legally. Just like we provide aid to the poor for food and shelter, we should assure them the financial means to have guns as guaranteed in the Second Amendment. This would reduce the presence of illegal guns and require massive funding.

The NRA and others advocate that we put armed officers in every school, and perhaps other public places, and that we deal with the widespread mental illness that leads to gun violence. They might want to add teaching people to control the rage that too often leads to gun homicide and suicide. This would intrude on some people's rights to privacy and require massive funding.

How will we raise the money to fund these ambitious but essential programs? Since all these problems are most dangerously manifested in the use of guns, especially military-style guns, we should raise the funds from taxes on the sale of guns and ammo.

The NRA and others advocate that we control the violence in all media including videogames. This would necessarily infringe on some people's First Amendment rights, which come before the Second Amendment rights in the Bill of Rights. Since videogames are free tools of recruitment and training for the gun industry, the gun industry should be taxed directly to enforce whatever controls we deem fit, including prohibiting the gun makers from advertising on these videogames.

The NRA and others advocate all these steps because they recognize that "the right to domestic tranquility" is declared in the opening sentence of our Constitution. Our Declaration of Independence states that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life. Killing someone, by whatever means, denies them that right. So, we must stop gun violence somehow, within our fiscal means.

Stephen Tencer

New Milford, Jan. 17

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In light of the most recent shootings on the Lone Star College campus in Texas, where carrying sidearms is a way of life, we now have a better interpretation of what the National Rifle Association was trying to tell us -- the only thing that can stop a good guy with a gun is a bad guy with a gun.

Peter V. Marchesani

Hackensack, Jan. 22

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Regarding "Two-month plan on guns" (Page A-1, Jan. 18):

This task force should focus on the fact that most gun violence is due to the war on drugs. I urge them to invite speakers from www.Leap.org; they can offer a new approach to our dismal drug laws.

At the same time, we can gain many new jobs and revenues, from legalization of cannabis, particularly in saving police time in arresting people for mere possession, common work for police throughout the state.

Paul Fraser

Teaneck, Jan. 19

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Regarding Anthony Iannarelli's "Respect all the Constitution" (Other Views, Jan. 22):

Iannarelli argues that by respecting the Second Amendment we are somehow subverting the rest of the Constitution by not respecting the long-held and equally institutionalized right to "domestic tranquility." He quaintly (and curiously, for a lawyer) refers to the Preamble of the Constitution as "the first paragraph" and derives rights not included in the Bill of Rights, from it.

I suppose that if we were to apply his reasoning to the remaining amendments, none would be safe. What is more damaging to "the right of domestic tranquility" than people speaking out vociferously against government policies or writing vigorous letters to the editor opposing "popularly" held opinions?

Iannarelli states that even with his training and familiarity with firearms he could be, but refuses to be, "the good guy with a gun" because the gun's primary purpose is to kill. I would like to understand exactly why he engaged in firearms training if he held this belief.

Many people have made the decision to own a firearm because they believe in the right to wield deadly force to protect their homes and families. This is their "domestic tranquility."

Michael R. Harris

South Hackensack, Jan. 22

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Regarding "Rigorous testing of gun applicants" (Your Views, Jan. 24):

The letter writer proposed there should be "rigorous psychometric testing" of gun applicants before being allowed to purchase a gun.

We have the nation's second-toughest guns laws, and we are way ahead of everyone else on these issues. In fact, what President Obama is proposing, we already do in New Jersey.

I back the state's gun laws 100 percent. So should all states, especially those with lax gun laws.

Mark Aromando

Lyndhurst, Jan. 24

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I would inform those politicians and anti-gun advocates who keep saying the country needs a background check for all states there has been a national check for years -- the National Instant Check System.

I myself cannot buy a gun in another state. To buy ammo you have to show a firearms ID card with your fingerprint in New Jersey. At any gun shop, just to pick up and look at a handgun without your firearms ID card is prohibited.

So all of those politicians who want stricter laws should read the law first and act on what we've had for years. Stop blaming honest gun owners.

Ken Mamazzo

South Hackensack, Jan. 19

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Regarding "Hundreds march for gun control" and " 'Hansel and Gretel' out for revenge" (Inside, Page A-1, Jan. 22):

A large photograph on Page BL-1 of Better Living -- illustrating the article referred to on Page A-1 -- shows Hansel and Gretel not as children, but as scowling young adults dressed in black and carrying crossbows tricked out to look like automatic assault rifles.

I applaud the marchers for gun control, and I share their outrage at the cynical gun sellers who, through the National Rifle Association, their puppet, make money by keeping automatic assault rifles readily available to psychotic young adults.

But I am equally outraged at the cynical movie producers, directors, screenwriters and video "game" programmers, who all make money by cranking out "action" and "adventure" movies and violent video games aimed at young adults. Such media show psychotic persons how to act out their sick fantasies of revenge and retribution.

I urge The Record to set an example to the (hopefully uncynical) media by instituting a voluntary moratorium on reviews, ads and listings of starting times for such movies and games.

Ernest W. Robb

Glen Rock, Jan. 22

Useless dredging of Lyndhurst mud flat

The Environmental Protection Agency plan to remove contaminants from a section of the Passaic River in Lyndhurst known as the mud flat is merely a high-price bandage that will do nothing for the larger problem.

It would remove approximately two feet of contaminated silt from a tidal area of the Passaic River and replace it with sand. The contamination has been in the making since the Vietnam War when Agent Orange was being produced downriver.

This is a senseless project. It merely addresses a very small area. The intention is to remove contaminants by dredging, packing them up and shipping them elsewhere and then capping the area. The downstream contamination is not being addressed. This being a tidal potion of the river, what is going to stop the contaminants downriver proceeding up river with every incoming tide? The ebb and flow will probably create another mud flat equally contaminated to what was removed.

I believe what is being done is merely busy work at the cost of $20 million.

Lyndhurst needs remediation. The banks of the river, due to the numerous recent storms, have been severely depleted. That situation can and should be addressed before anything else is done in the river. There are many cost-effective ways of raising the riverbanks; they would at the very least save the homes of families that have been underwater four times in recent years.

Local officials have indicated the cost of riverbank remediation would be about $1 million a mile. Therefore, I see the first priority is restoration of the retaining walls along the river.

In The Record's Jan. 22 edition, there were several stories about what is being done in Long Branch, Bradley Beach, Park Ridge, Alpine, Englewood and Ridgefield Park -- even saving the home of a pair of eagles -- but none about Lyndhurst. Why?

I do not mean to minimize what superstorm Sandy has done to New Jersey and New York. But Lyndhurst has endured devastation four times recently. Something sustainable, sensible and cost-effective must be done for relief. Removing two feet of silt at the cost of $20 million is neither sensible nor cost-effective.

Marie T. Cush

Lyndhurst, Jan. 22

Truncated view of Vietnam history

Regarding "Vietnam anniversary worth U.S. consideration" (Other Views, Jan. 23):

Tom Hayden supports his truncated view of the Vietnam conflict with some truncated dating. If "Jan. 27 will be the 40th anniversary of the Paris peace agreement, which formally ended direct U.S. military involvement in Vietnam," why would he introduce that same paragraph with the assertion, "the war ended in 1975"?

The answer, of course, is that the North Vietnamese never intended to honor the cease-fire agreements. This is the real reason Le Duc Tho, their signatory to the cease-fire, refused to accept the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize as did co-winner, American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Once the American exodus had been accomplished via the pen, North Vietnam's tankers reignited their vehicles to overrun the very republic they had agreed to recognize -- nor did they stop until those "patriotic, anti-colonialists" invaded Laos, Cambodia and an attempt on Thailand in 1975.

Hayden should wait with his colleagues until 2015 to commemorate the true Vietnam cessation of aggression.

Robert Taylor

Hackensack, Jan. 23

Public disrespect for private shrine

Regarding "Palisades Park mayor hailed by Korean-American group" (Page L-3, Jan. 24):

Should any monument featuring the Korean flag be placed on public land? Should any monument on public land be festooned with Christmas trees and floral tributes as if it were a private shrine?

This is what the "comfort women" monument on Second Street in Palisades Park looked like in December. This ill-thought out monument to sexually abused women during World War II is located right next to a public library and an early education center. Some days, I've seen young Korean men horsing around the monument, snapping pictures of themselves laughing at the inscription. Little kids can see this disrespectful behavior. No one guards the site.

If the Korean-American community wants to mourn Korean comfort women with Korean flags and Christmas trees, then why not move the existing monument to private land? Otherwise, can someone please relocate the current monument to a public site where officials can keep an eye on it?

R.S. Katz

Palisades Park, Jan. 24

Camera alone can't provide security

Regarding "Measured response" (Editorials, Jan. 24):

"Ramsey High School has 21 doors," the editorial said. "It would be impossible for a security guard or police officer to watch every one. But cameras can."

Come again? Cameras can stand guard, or send out an alert if something suspicious is observed? Or, a security guard can monitor the images of some 21 plus cameras all day long? Could anyone stay alert enough to monitor mostly uneventful images all day long, five days a week? Wouldn't he or she need to be relieved every so often?

Just how many employees would be needed to continuously monitor the images of 21 cameras for eight hours, stay alert enough to spot trouble and act on it appropriately?

Unless robots could be developed to handle this task, I say, without the presence of (who knows how many) human observers, cameras alone do not make an effective security system.

Carol S. Weinberg

Closter, Jan. 24

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