As I watched news of the horror at the Connecticut elementary school, I was deeply saddened. My thoughts went to recent acts of Mayor Littlefield and Mayor Coppinger and the city's Multicultural Affairs Office, endorsing and implementing the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Children's Memorial Peace Gardens Project.
Last month, Chattanoogans of all walks of life, denominations, races and creeds came together to participate. Many churches, synagogues, businesses, schools, colleges, military and civilian organizations, youth and neighborhood associations joined in planting over 6,300 daffodil bulbs in memory of our community's children who died as a result of senseless acts of violence. Councilman Rico donated a granite bench for the Riverwalk's peace garden near a children's playground for citizens to use as they reflect on the irrational loss of innocence.
I am proud our community has taken a stand to remember the young victims of violence. Next fall organizations are encouraged to help plant more gardens. This coming spring when these gardens are in bloom, may they serve as a means of hope and act as a means of vigilance against future violent loss of innocent lives in our community and the nation.
SYLVIA WYGODA, creator, Chattanooga-Hamilton Children's Memorial Peace Gardens Project
Dec. 14, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut, 26 lives lost. Dec. 11, Clackamas Town Center Mall, Oregon, two lives lost. Aug. 5, Sikh Temple, Wisconsin, six lives lost. July 20, movie theater, Colorado, 12 lives lost.
In America, we often assume that schools, malls, houses of worship and movie theaters are safe. Getting out of the house to go to these places, we normally worry about the possibility of getting stuck in traffic, not the possibility of getting shot.
But this past year, Americans have witnessed a startling amount of violent crime in areas we used to assume were safe. How can we give justice to the American dream of prosperity if we must live in fear?
The answer lies in our implementation of the Second Amendment. Yes, we do have the right to bear arms, but obtaining a gun should not be as easy as our current system has made it.
As an American and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, my heart goes out to those whose lives have been lost in recent events. I hope and pray that we all, as Americans, can take a step forward from our current system to prevent events such as this from happening in the future.
NAJIA HUMAYUN, Tunnel Hill, Ga.
The Newtown school shooting has affected our United States. So many shootings and murders for some time now; how can anyone do this?
Everybody wants these unnecessary crimes to stop. A huge majority feel eliminating guns from our households for protection will solve this horrific crime. Fewer guns will not make it safer, if armed we are able to protect. If adults in schools and business are armed, they would be able to help prevent these attacks.
Unstable people will always find a way to harm others even if there were stricter gun laws. It is the person, not society, that makes the decision to be evil.
We hear that these horrific crimes come from somebody possibly mentally disturbed. Of course it's a no-brainer; they are not in their right mind to do these horrible acts.
Studies show 60 million Americans suffer diagnosable mental disorder in a year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Our government needs to zone into educating and helping families with disorders.
America's first mistake is taking the Bible out of schools and our community; this makes our society weak and vulnerable to wicked people.
Pray and believe!
Support for stricter firearms-control laws grows with each successive mass killing. How many more will it take before we come to our senses and do something? But gun laws alone won't stop the killings. I agree with the NRA (National Republican Association?), people, not guns, kill.
The gun lobby, the tea party bunch and the Republican right-wing claim that any gun-registration laws whatsoever will result in the government coming into our houses and arbitrarily confiscating our firearms. That's ludicrous. We have had gun-control laws since the early 19th century, even in Southern states such as Alabama and Tennessee, as well as the Firearms Control act of 1934. But we still have our guns.
Comparison of our gun homicide rates with those of other countries can be misleading. The main culprit is our casual attitude toward violence in general and our hyper-aggressive, gun-toting mentality. Look at our movies with blood splattered all over the screen and the sound cranked up to 300 decibels, the sports we watch and the video games our kids play. We're in love with violence, addicted to it.
Better gun laws? Yes; but also anti-violence programs and anger management courses.
GEORGE B. REED JR., Rossville, Ga.
Question? Why aren't we as a nation having a discussion on mental health. The gun did not kill, the person behind the gun pulled the trigger!
Why did a single mom even have that many guns in the house? One for protection would not be a question ... but more than one?... and all registered in her name.
The families who have children who struggle in our society are often hidden, not spoken out-loud because what would be the answer?
Well, no one knows, because we don't talk about that child who struggles and the family with no solutions!
The mother needed help, and our society does not give enough help or support!
Yes! We can take the assault guns off the market. But will that help the families who will still struggle with mentally unstable children?
Let the news media take up real discussions on the fate of children who do not function in our world and how the government could help these families.
SHARON SMITH, Birchwood, Tenn.
Here's a pledge that every politician needs to take: "Do not accept one bloody dollar from the National Rifle Association." Then get off their duffs and pass legislation to ban all sale of assault and rapid-fire weapons and the ammo that fills them.
Our society is so saturated with violence on the TV, movies, video games, etc. that people actually believe that ownership of these types of war-like weapons are acceptable. These weapons were developed to be used by the military and law enforcement, not the public. No one is suggesting that our citizens cannot own hunting weapons or small target guns. We are awash in weapons in the U.S., but has that made us feel safer?
If we start by changing the laws that make absolutely no common sense, it will be a beginning. Also, if you refuse to buy your children these violent video games depicting such butchery and monitor the type of movies or entertainment they engage in, it will show them you actually care about them.
Call your legislators and show your support for banning these weapons from our society and also tell them to tell the NRA to take a hike!
MS. PAT TABOR, Estill Springs, Tenn.