I continue to receive feedback from valued readers over the recent tragedy at Uvalde, Texas, as they share ideas and thoughts on that school shooting and other recent events. Some prefer not be be named publicly, a request I honor.
"Good morning, Mr. Masterson. My opinions are from a Republican 80-year-old great-grandmother, for what they are worth.
"I never want to hear the word 'shooter' again in association with killing innocent children or killing other unarmed people. I want all media to refer to them as 'the coward.' Coward should always precede their name, because this is what they are, no matter what their motive. Whether they are evil or have a mental problem, police should shoot to kill and remove them from society.
"I have always been a responsible gun owner and would never point my gun at another person or kill them, except in self-defense. The AR-15 is a military-grade weapon that is not made for hunting, but for war. I support their ban, or raising the age limit to 21 to purchase one.
"Teenagers' brains are not sufficiently developed to always make wise decisions. I do not approve of banning gun ownership in our country; unarmed citizens leads to a dictatorship. Our political parties are both a big stinking mess!
"I am not a Trump supporter even though I did approve of his handling of the illegal aliens crossing our southern border. My personal opinion is that Biden is incompetent, led around by his nose by the liberal progressives. Trump is a narcissist that can't keep his big mouth shut. What a sad state of affairs for America! Have a blessed day."
ARs are plentiful
Good morning, just wanted to drop a note and tell you thank you for writing the column you do and the way you do it. You use thoughtful and informed opinions to ... write an opinion column! That is sad that people do not get it in this day and age.
"I certainly don't want to be mentioned/write to the Voices page but do want you and your colleagues to know you are appreciated. The left is so out of hand that the right is terrified to compromise even when it would be for the greater good. ... As in meaningful gun laws.
"I have not yet seen the '60 Minutes' program on the AR-15 controversy, but am mystified that not one columnist has touched on the glaring issue. Perhaps you will (or direct me to the one I missed).
"The issue is the ease with which a small (young), untrained user can hit targets with outstanding accuracy because of the efficiency of that particular weapon. So few people seem to get that because I'm betting so few actually have ever used one.
"I love your paper's editorial column but they compare to a 30.06, and that's just not close. Full disclosure, I'm a lifelong hunter and [Second Amendment] supporter, but having kids be able to buy is and has been a recipe for even more disasters.
"If people knew how many legally owned ARs are discharged and carried on a weekly, if not nightly, basis, not many would venture into the capital city. Sorry for the length, but I've been waiting to send to someone that 'might' could make a difference. You're it ... and for that I thank you ... again."
(Thank you for the kind words. Actually, I've seen several columnists offering opinions on the AR-15. At any rate, I assure you the resolution to this superheated situation lies far beyond my capacities to make any meaningful difference with my words.)
Failure to listen
John Swinney also sent this thought-provoker.
"Good morning, Mike. I truly enjoyed the article you wrote about your father. Very touching and poignant.
"As for your article today, my experience has been equally distributed between the right and left folks talking opinions whether on social media, private message or in-person conversations. The ones very passionate about the subject tend to be more strident and have a tendency to not listen to the other person.
"I just get so tired of guys 'mansplaining' to others, female or not, when it's obvious they haven't researched or read very much on the subject but rely on pundits, crackpots or cable news (of questionable content and reputation) for their basis of argument, let alone facts.
"I had an old friend the other day say she was 'done,' I guess with our conversation, that I could 'block' her. This saddened me deeply; no, I didn't block her. I wouldn't. As mature adults, I always thought you could have a conversation, disagree and still maintain friendship.
"As a side note, I wasn't disrespectful, didn't use swear words, name-call or what-not. I try to maintain that much dignity and respect for a person older than myself as well as a woman.
"The division in today's world runs very deep. The lack of civility is rampant, much of which has come about in the last decade. Starting after 2008."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.