Letters to the Editor

Readers debate gun control and argue for decimalization.

Virginia Tech shooting revives gun-control debate

In response to the April 18 Opinion piece by Jonathan Zimmerman, "Facing up to violence in America": I concur that Americans should reflect on influences that promote violence and discuss change. However, Mr. Zimmerman asks why so many American households (40-50 percent) have guns. I would ask why so many do not. In a society in which extreme violence is unpredictable, we can't depend on the instant response of the police. We must be able to defend our own lives and the lives of loved ones. Can we do so with a bat or knife, when facing a gun-wielding thug?

Gun control laws won't help; by definition, criminals ignore laws. They don't pursue prey that they know will fight back. The Virginia Tech gunman knew the campus was a gun-free zone and that nobody was likely to stop him until better-armed police arrived. I'm not advocating that everyone be allowed to carry a gun. But we should contemplate allowing citizens to protect themselves. Most gun owners can be trusted not to abuse a gun's lethal power.

Gordon Hauschild
Lakewood, Wash.

Regarding the article, "Should students be allowed to carry concealed weapons?": When one considers the number of students, the size of the country, the nature of the incidents, the answer is absolutely "No." Kids get into fights. Why give them a weapon as lethal as this? Do we want our family members exposed to guns, knives, and other such objects?

Jim Soudriette

In response to the April 18 article on gun control: The issue should not be whether all students should own guns for protection, but how to prevent guns from falling in the hands of unstable characters.

With the cost of medical attention beyond the reach of the lower income group in the United States, it is the government that should take up the blame for letting people such as Seung Hui Cho on the loose. It is a shame that the mentally ill are ignored by the state while attention is diverted instead to gun ownership issues.

Subramaniam Shankar
Palakkad, India

End foot vs. meter inefficiency

Regarding the April 19 Editorial, "US and Europe: syncing up standards": The editorial failed to mention one standards issue that is affecting the US not only in Europe, but throughout the world: our standard of measurement. The US is the last major nation on earth that does not use the metric system of measurement as its primary, and everyday, measurement standard. For decades, American interests have been cut off from the easy interchangeability of ideas and products because we speak our unique measurement language.

Our country could have completed metrication in 1985 – a government study recommended a 10-year transition, and Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act in 1975 – but lack of leadership and a national lack of interest postponed this change yet another generation. However, on Jan. 1, 2010, the US may have to worry about a lot more than just the design of the VW Passat headlights. Starting on that date, the European Union may no longer allow the importation of nonmetric products. The US, which instituted decimal currency in the 18th century, is long overdue to embark upon its decimalization of measurement here in the 21st. For the complete story, please see www.metric.org.

Paul Trusten
Public Relations Director, US Metric Association
Midland, Texas

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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