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News Opinion Readers Respond

A society made sick by gun violence

To those opposed to tougher Maryland gun laws, I can only say that we have to start somewhere ("Battle lines form in gun debate," Dec. 19). The answer cannot be that criminals will get guns anyway so law-abiding people must have them as well to protect themselves.

We are living in a society where the character and moral differences between the good guys and the bad guys are blurring. The country is awash in paranoia and fear. The reasons for the good guys to be armed may be purer and nobler than the reasons for the bad guys. But the consequence of the indiscriminate arming of society is civil war and vigilante justice that take an emotional toll.

Even if most gun owners are responsible, they are like all humans subject to anxiety, depression and impetuosity. They make mistakes. Statistics show that gun owners more often kill themselves or members of their family than use their weapons successfully against an intruder.

The Newtown shooting was dramatic and hence it galvanized society against violence. But what of the people who die every day from guns? Only a few weeks ago a grandfather shot his own granddaughter after mistaking her for an intruder.

Americans have such a high level of anxiety that if I were lost on a street in America I would hesitate to knock a door to ask for help for fear I might be shot by a frightened but "perfectly normal" gun owner.

The subliminal anxiety that runs through American society takes a big toll on the country's mental health. Our mental health issues cannot be dismissed as merely genetic. They spring from isolation, abuse, drug addiction and the violence embedded in society and in our media.

The widespread arming of an anxious society fed on a steady diet of violence produces terror and anarchy. That causes more anxiety and a greater hankering for guns. That is not what the founding fathers intended for America when they wrote the Second Amendment.

Teachers, pilots and doctors each have their callings and careers. The notion we should arm all professionals who come in contact with the public, including elementary school teachers and college professors, is an idea so repugnant that its proponents should be ashamed.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

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