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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Readers respond

by Mike Masterson | June 14, 2022 at 4:28 a.m.


Letters to the editor are part of the job when you lay your thoughts and opinions out for others to either appreciate, yawn or disparage. I always weigh the thought rather than the emotion behind each one, depending solely on the tone and logic of the argument.

Those that leave me coldest launch quickly into slurs and defamations, which often surprisingly miss my message and argument altogether. The thoughtful ones involving adult logic influence me the most. A majority of logical and positive messages from readers seem to come only to my email address, rather than the paper.

Here are a couple emailed from readers with rational statements about my recent column on dealing with school shootings. I offered the usual ideas being bandied about, while conceding I'm not wise enough to offer workable answers.

An earlier column also addressed the ugly intolerance in society against those who don't march in lockstep with the opinions of cancelers who call themselves "progressives."

Reader David Kelley noticed the same thing other readers invariably will, the regrettable tendency for roughly 35 percent in our "free" nation to attack others simply for having different views, rather than opting for intelligent discussion. And so the wearisome drumbeat in this divided and angry America goes on as the gap increases.

"You sure touched a nerve with your column on gun control," wrote Kelley. "I saw one letter actually demanding you apologize for your opinion. No wonder you wrote what you did today. Well said.

"Some went after you personally, not caring to counter or offer options. Typical. I was on a Facebook page attempting to have a discussion about gun control and was actually told to shut up and sit down. Simply because my opinion differed from theirs. Difference of opinion is fine as long as it is the same. Oh well."

Keep on thinking for yourself, David. It's why God gave each of us a brain.

A related email from Richard Wendt, as an adult who chose to respond as one rather than another knee-jerker who opts for the tireless name-calling devoid of meaningful debate, contained some feasible ideas that might help resolve the horror of school shootings.

"I read your column last week and didn't see anything that struck me as particularly unreasonable," Wendt wrote. "But today some guy writes to trash you. You probably have read it by now.

"In any event, Richard Mason (a Sunday columnist) had an interesting idea last week and should be seriously considered. Later that day I saw the repeat of the '60 Minutes' program that demonstrated the lethality of the AR-15 weapon. Yesterday, I was reading a Twitter message by a retired major general who was involved in weapon training. He said clearly the AR-15 was a military weapon.

"Recognizing that is only half the problem and not easily solved. Even if this weapon was outlawed, what about all the existing assault weapons in American hands?

"The inescapable fact: With half a billion weapons already in American hands, even if all weapons were outlawed, getting them out of circulation would be impossible, and if somehow possible, some would be making their own weapons at home.

"My suggestions: Since machine guns were outlawed in the 1930s, it is reasonable to outlaw assault weapons. If those were removed, the only weapons that would be sold would be "normal" weapons that are not nearly as lethal and damaging to the human body.

"The other thing that needs be done is to 'harden' public facilities. This is do-able. I used to have to enter the county courthouse where I worked in Springfield, Mo., through a metal detector and emptied my pockets before I could enter. It was a slight inconvenience, but nothing that bothered me. How many airliners have been hijacked since 9/11?

"School entries at one point [only] that locks automatically. Qualified guard with body armor and .357 revolver. That would stop an elephant. Shoot to kill if necessary.

"As to the existing assault weapons, buy them up. Convert them to fully automatic and outfit our military. The other on military weapons would fully keep the Second Amendment in effect.

"Personally I will get by with my .22 nine-shot revolver that I have never used since I purchased it 10 years ago.

"As to the mental issue, these killers should be removed permanently, either in federal prison or if necessary, dead. They made their bed, let them lie in it. We all have issues but we don't go around killing people. I'm done with them. Tired of the excuses. We just cannot continue with this mass murder. It's destroying society, what's left of it. This is not the America. We grew up in the 1950s. This was unheard of. I think these are entirely reasonable suggestions. Thoughts?"

My initial thought, Richard, is that, like David, please continue to form your own opinions using the brain you are given to sort facts from childish raw emotion, group hysteria and numbing illogic.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet (with the respect they deserve as fellow Americans) exactly like you want them to treat you.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.


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