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(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Guns are the problem
In his “Guns are not the problem” letter (June 10), Andrew Neft posed several questions for consideration. We would like to answer them.

1. He wonders why we never talk about mental illness or the violence our children are exposed to. This is because mental illness is not a root cause of shootings. Stereotyping the mentally ill as dangerous is deeply harmful. On the other hand, no one disputes that gun violence damages the mental health of children and entire communities.

2. Why does nobody talk about the crimes foiled by lawful gun owners? Because there is zero evidence that having a gun is protective. Worse, having a gun in the home increases the risk of being shot dead. The number of “lawful gun uses” is grossly overestimated by opponents of gun reform.

3. Mr. Neft invokes Hitler solely as a fear tactic. This is so deeply offensive that we have nothing more to say about it.

He then goes on to say that “While it is sad that 19 children and 2 adults were murdered….” We have difficulty imagining a more heartless statement. We suggest he try rephrasing his sentence as “While it is sad that 11 Jewish worshippers were murdered in my hometown of Pittsburgh…” and find any way to end to that sentence that is not inhumane and absurd. He further states that many of these shootings occur in “gun-free zones,” another fallacy. Looking at mass shootings over the past 30 years, there is no evidence that a single shooter chose their target because it was in a gun-free area.

Mr. Neft then states that the Second Amendment phrase “well-regulated” militia does not mean “well-regulated” but instead means well-trained and disciplined. Had the founders meant well-trained and disciplined, we suspect they would have said so. Mr. Neft is correct that eliminating modern sporting rifles (a genteel term for military style assault weapons), certain (large capacity) magazines and enhancing background checks will not stop all gun violence. We need to do those things and more. We need safe storage laws so children stop shooting themselves and others, as well as perpetrating mass shootings as happened at Sandy Hook. We need to raise the age for all gun purchases to 21. We need to mandate reporting of lost and stolen guns.

We do need to invest money in distressed communities to address poverty, education and joblessness. We need to invest in mental health services. These are the right things to do but cannot be a distraction from strengthening our gun laws.

Miri Rabinowitz, Dan Leger and Dana Kellerman

Dr. Rabinowitz’s husband Jerry was murdered in the Oct. 27 synagogue massacre.
Mr. Leger is a survivor of the Oct. 27 synagogue massacre.
Dr. Kellerman is the policy director for Squirrel Hill Stands Against Gun Violence.

Gun fallacy
Andrew Neft’s “Guns are not the answer” letter (June 10) states erroneously that shootings happen in “gun-free zones” like schools, implying that the presence of a gun makes you safe. This is dead wrong. First of all, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Gun-Free Zones Act (1990), which prohibited the possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, is unconstitutional, and it was struck down. All the other “gun-free zones” he mentions are also not gun-free zones as both concealed and open carry laws allow you to take your gun anywhere you want. Second, gun homicide is primarily due to accidents, minor altercations and domestic disputes where a gun is handy. Humans are passionate creatures who get angry, make mistakes and like to get intoxicated. The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk that someone in the home will die by gun suicide, and more than quadruples their risk of getting shot. Only a minuscule fraction of gun homicide and injury is due to self-defense or, conversely, premeditated killings. More than 110 of us die every day, and many more suffer severe gun injuries that are indistinguishable from gun homicides except that the vital organs were a few inches from the wound and the victim survived — sometimes with brain, spine, vital organs, limbs or face destroyed. Guns are now the top cause of child deaths in the United States. Many more children are mutilated but survive. Mass homicide by gun is a small fraction of gun deaths. But the repeal of the assault weapons ban was followed by an ever-increasing rate of mass shootings using assault rifles. It is scientifically proven: When and where fewer people have guns, fewer get shot. Every death or injury destroys an American family’s happiness. Need any more proof that guns are ruining the American way of life?

Sarah E. Flanders, MD
Squirrel Hill

Hadassah still needs our support
We are writing to clarify the article of May 20, 2022, “Hadassah members disappointed by its departure from Greater Pittsburgh.”

This was not new news. It happened over two years ago! We agree that our passion, unfortunately, had not transferred to funds raised locally. Thus, our status was taken from us. We are sad that the perception is that there is not a viable core of Hadassah members in Greater Pittsburgh. At last count, there were over 3000 life members, many of whom share our disappointment in the events that have caused us to be seen as non-existent when that is far from the truth.

We are very proud and passionate about the medical advances that have been discovered at Hadassah. The care for all citizens of Israel has been a model for all of the Middle East and beyond. Even though we do not have a face in the Jewish community we do have a connection to Hadassah and all of the wonderful work it does. Hadassah will always continue to need our support.

Marlene Silverman, Bernice Meyers, Bobbee Slotsky Kramer
Hadassah Greater Pittsburgh past chapter presidents

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