Readers' thoughts on gun control

We asked our readers for their thoughts on gun control. Here's what they said:

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Most of the president's remarks were typical feel-good suggestions addressing more the sense of urgency that we must DO SOMETHING than to offer any meaningful solution to violent evildoers. The ideas either haven't worked in the past or just made things worse.

I served 24 years in law enforcement, most of those years as a firearms trainer. I also helped train officers in rapid deployment for active shooters in schools and other public places. We all recognized that the only effective measure that would save more lives would be to have someone armed and trained already in the building.

The NRA's suggestion about more armed security in schools is unrealistic. Most school districts cannot afford this, so it is not a practical suggestion. It is also a tactically poorer choice. Any planning to inflict mass casualties in a school would include killing the "guard" first.

The best solution, politically unpalatable to many, is to do what some schools have already done. Allow a small number of selected, but unrevealed, teachers or others to have a firearm on their persons or secured nearby. That is the ONLY thing that would have saved lives in Connecticut or Virginia Tech. Those places and so-called gun-free zones serve as potential slaughter pens for disturbed / evil people.

I've been asked if I trust teachers with guns. Yes. Superintendents and principals know their stable employees, most with long work histories who are more vested in our children's lives than some recent private security company's hire.

Kent A. Jepsen, Urbana

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I have been listening to the feedback against President Obama's proposed gun legislation and have concluded that there are some people out there with their priorities way out of whack. I happen to believe in the right to bear arms for sporting and self-defense purposes. If the debate stays focused on these as the legitimate reasons to own guns, then I think reasonable minds can coalesce around some sensible ideas how to best reduce gun violence.

What seems to be the biggest factor derailing serious, constructive debate is the idea that American citizens need to be able to protect themselves against the government. It may be true that one purpose of the Second Amendment is to deter governmental tyranny, but come on! Surely, by now there is ample evidence that the greater danger to Americans is gun violence by criminals, not a tyrannical governmental plot to install a dictatorship.

We need sensible gun laws that address the real dangers facing society, not paranoid fantasies with no basis in reality. The Second Amendment will be fine. No one who can legally own a gun now is going to be stopped from owning a gun. That there is a Second Amendment doesn't mean gun control laws are inherently unconstitutional.

More guns in schools as the answer? No! Even if teachers are to be armed, surely that should be the last line of defense, not the first. It still makes more sense to do everything possible to ensure that armed teachers never have to rely on their guns. We do this by enacting reasonable gun laws to reduce the probability of a nut with an assault rifle ever setting foot in a school in the first place.

Sandy Hook was a long overdue wake-up call to America. If we can't do anything to reign in gun violence after that, then, as a society, we're in sorry shape. Contact your representatives in Congress. Let them know that you expect them to get this done.

John McMahon, Champaign

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Instead of watering down our Second Amendment, we need to improve our mental health care systems and to stop letting violent criminals get away with light sentences and early releases.

There are currently many calls for banning ordinary firearms, reducing how many rounds law-abiding citizens can have and registering gun owners like we register sex offenders. These measures have been acknowledged by their proponents to be merely "a good first step." A good first step toward what?

The measures being proposed would not have prevented the deaths of the children in Connecticut. They will not prevent the next deranged individual from gaining notoriety by killing several defenseless people in a supposedly "gun free" zone. And what then? Will the anti-gun groups acknowledge that their restrictions do not work as advertised, or will they claim that the restrictions did not go far enough and that we need more? A good second step perhaps?

Look, if they want to repeal the Second Amendment, they should come out and say that. Instead they want to kill it off piece by piece in the hopes that no one will notice.

Universal mental health care has a far better chance of preventing more mass shootings than placing further restrictions on law-abiding gun owners.

Waylena M. McCully, Champaign

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I strongly feel we have enough gun control laws. We need no more! The gun laws that we have now need to be followed/enforced with more focus on the background checks and reporting problems to the proper authorities.

I grew up in South Dakota and we had guns, and we were taught safety, safety and safety. Gun safety is a must — keep guns in a safe place and educate children on the safety issue. We need to keep the guns locked up with access only by a responsible person. Some do not teach their children about safety not realizing the importance of it. Guns do not kill people, people kill people, and with anything — hammers, knives, etc.

Margaret Helin, Catlin

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I support President Obama's proposals on gun control. What we currently have amounts to unfettered gun ownership and is rapidly becoming a punishment that we bring down upon ourselves. The term "law-abiding gun owner" applies to any gun owner up to and until they walk into that theater, school, or meeting and pull that trigger.

Ben Montez, Champaign

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An opposing view of firearms is at the heart of this controversial issue. On one side, there are those who feel most secure with firearms readily at hand. On the other are those who feel most threatened when firearms are near. There's no point in trying to persuade either side to change its mind. So the question then is how to create an environment where all can comfortably live, with emphasis literally on the word LIVE. Unless in blind denial, we should all be able to discern that the current circumstances under which we are all living are simply not working. We must presume that none of us wants to see more mass shootings in our country. If we cannot begin with this premise, and if we further postpone tackling this problem together with clear thinking and honest intentions, the consequences will reveal our failure to mitigate our own human suffering. This will be a test of compromise. If either side feels they are "winning," we will all be losing. Let us begin the long process of negotiating our differences for the good of all.

Ljubinka Jandrich, Champaign

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The murder rate in Chicago should have been the impetus for gun control reforms, but if that were the case, effective reforms would have been proposed years ago, and perhaps many innocent members of the black community would have been spared.

In contrast, look to the state of Florida where mandatory sentence enhancements are in place if a firearm is used in committing a crime. If the thugs are in prison, they cannot kill more people. Further, self defense seems to be encouraged by the state and perhaps should be a model for others. With the recent appellate court ruling for a concealed-carry law, maybe law-abiding citizens of Illinois can finally join the rest of the country in taking charge of their own self defense.

The Obama administration is precisely the kind of tyrannical government that the Founders had in mind when they put together the Second Amendment, and anything that restricts law-abiding citizens from defending themselves should be looked upon with suspicion. The NRA is more trustworthy than our president, and I chuckle at those who deride them for pointing out the obvious, that Obama is an "elite hypocrite."

That Mayor Rahm ("You never want a serious crisis to go to waste") Emanuel has jumped to the front of the reform line is telling. Let him start by addressing the rampant crime in Chicago and see how successful he is there before exporting his brand of government overreach to the rest of the country.

John Martin, Urbana

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I believe that the Second Amendment not only guarantees the right of the individual to own firearms to defend his family and home against the everyday criminal, but also allows for the people (individuals) to form into groups (militias) in defense of liberty and freedom against a tyrannical government.

As true assault rifles and other automatic firearms are already regulated through the National Firearm Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, I believe no other restrictions are merited. In fact, I believe there are already too many restrictions on the types of firearms individuals can own.

The way to stop crime is to punish the criminal, not the law-abiding citizen.

David Miller, Champaign

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My take on gun control is hitting your target! What happened at Sandy Hook was a terrible thing, which is now being used to the fullest extent possible by the people who really want to control the entire country. Unfortunately they have a firm grasp on the state of Chicago, oh right, Illinois. The real cause of Sandy Hook was also the first person killed by her own son. What was she thinking — he was known to have mental health problems for years, and mom bought guns and took him to ranges. Don't blame her or him, ban the nasty semi-automatic guns. Our vice president got this pushed through many years back and according to the F.B.I. it made no difference, so we should do it again. I am opposed to any more gun bans.

Larry A .Nixon, Danville

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Has anyone ever stopped and thought about why the right to bear arms is in the Second Amendment? Not the 10th or 12th but the Second. The framers of our constitution were very smart people. Only the freedom of speech issue is more important. Our right to own a firearm allows us to hunt and protect ourselves against intruders. It also sends a message to all of those who would like to take away our rights under the Constitution that an armed citizenry will not allow it. Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in our nation. There were over 500 murders in that city last year. Taking guns from the public did not help. Expanding the background checks to include gun shows and mental health problems will help. The biggest problem is that too many people have left God our of their lives. We are one nation under God.

Jerry D. Baumgartner Sr., Urbana

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Now that there are about 300 million guns in America, controlling the flow and ownership of new guns seems like blowing in the wind. Nevertheless, we strongly support efforts to control the types of guns in America and the qualifications of those who are allowed to have these guns. Banning assault weapons, weapons that fire bullets automatically, and large clips are a place to start.

We agree any changes in gun laws will not solve the mass shooting trend but they will represent a positive signal that we want to do something about the current gun and mass shooting situation. We don't want business as usual with NRA intimidation freezing us and our legislators into inaction.

Being much more careful and deliberate about who can own a gun is much more important and has a more realistic chance of making a difference over time. No guns for felons, those on probation, for the mentally ill. Some of these we have now, but we need to close loopholes allowing guns to be sold to anyone in certain cases (gun shows).

Even more important, to get our gun and shooting culture to a more reasonable place, is to have and enforce strict laws on crimes when guns are used. Apparently this is a local matter and thus each locality has to deal with the issue itself. We would be happy to vote for any politician who will promote legislation that will require extensive jail time for anyone using a gun during a crime.

We support President Obama's initiatives!

Brenda C. Lynge and Morgan J. Lynge, Urbana

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The people in America need protection from those who use guns to kill them and their children.

We have laws that restrict the way people operate cars and laws that prevent unsafe driving. Automobiles have a use — to transport people and goods. Guns have only one purpose — to kill.

Whether it is a little 5-year-old girl in a first grade class, a 12-year-old boy walking home from a pickup game with friends, a young couple at the movies on their first date, or adults who went to hear their congresswoman speak outside a supermarket, none of them should have been killed.

Assault weapons should be banned, backgrounds of people buying guns must be checked and those who lie have to be prosecuted. Loopholes at gun shows must be closed. What is the purpose of high-capacity ammunition magazines? To kill more people more quickly?

It is time to stop the NRA having so much influence over lawmakers. The NRA has even managed to get laws enacted that won't permit doctors in their offices to speak to patients about guns in their homes.

It is time to research the NRA's activities.

It is time to reform the gun laws.

Margot Jerrard, Urbana

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I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe people should have guns for hunting, sport shooting and home defense. However, I support the gun control ideas presented by President Obama. I have yet to hear any rational explanation for why a hunter needs a semi-automatic weapon (or 30-round magazines) to hunt deer. I did hear a Congress member (an NRA member and hunter) say he only kept three rounds in his gun and usually got off only one shot anyway.

The NRA leadership (not even most members) and others who oppose any efforts to control guns try to incite gun owners with inaccurate, extreme statements about efforts to take away all guns. No one has come close to suggesting this, and this couldn't be done anyway because of the Second Amendment. There are already some limits on the kinds of weapons one can own, and I don't understand why adding weapons designed for killing lots of people quickly to that list is such a problem.

Bottom line for me is that someone needs to explain why he needs a semi automatic weapon or 30-round magazines. And stating NRA talking points doesn't do it.

Richard Montanelli, Champaign

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I know it sounds clich, but "guns don't kill people, people kill people." You can't tell by looking if someone is well-intentioned or may have serious issues that could cause them to misuse a weapon: i.e., gun, knife, bow. Only checking the person's background for medical or police issues will provide a cause to accept or deny the purchase of a gun.

I lived in Virginia a few years ago. There, I purchased four or five military "long guns" from the First and Second World Wars for my collection. No FOID card required. However, it took over an hour for the sales person to receive the OK from the state of Virginia to sell the guns to me.

I have an Illinois FOID card and must assume the government did a background check on me before issuing my card. I should be able to purchase any legal weapon currently on the market. However, I see no need for 30- or 40-round magazines. I realize they are used for recreation. However, I don't believe a hunter should need one of these magazines. If they need that many shots, they shouldn't be hunting.

Steve Hicks, Danville

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I support gun control. Fifty years ago my father taught me to shoot; but our society is not the same as then. Fifteen years ago I was frightened when I talked one of my eighth grade students into giving me the switchblade in his boot; now I am horrified that in today's class it might be a gun. A few years later my grade book was stolen, taken into the woods behind the school and shot to shreds with the police revolver that belonged to the father of one of the boys. So much for responsible ownership!

The simple fact is that too many people see murder as the first solution to any conflict and the proliferation of guns makes death easy and quick. I appreciate the rights of gun owners, but every week hundreds of people lose their right to live.

My 2-year-old grandson lives in Cambridge, England, with his parents. Thank God they don't live here.

Claudia Ferrell, Danville

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I strongly support President Obama's common sense measures to curb gun violence in the U.S. Reasonable legal limits on activities and products that pose less danger than guns — driving, tobacco and fireworks for example — have resulted in significantly fewer deaths and serious accidents. In addition to the measures put forward by President Obama, we also need meaningful data about gun violence. That kind of public health research used to be conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and has essentially been blocked by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby since the mid-1990s.

The suggestion by the NRA that more guns would make our schools safer ignores facts. The on-site armed security failed to prevent the Columbine High School mass shooting. If more guns make us safer than the U.S. should be the safest country on the planet. Nothing could be further from the truth: we have more guns than any other developed country as well as more gun crime and more gun homicide. Our children are especially at risk. A child between 5-14 years old in the U.S. is 13 times more likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries. Our permissive gun control laws account for this difference.

I applaud President Obama for standing up to the NRA and the gun manufacturers. We need reasonable gun control measures that protect children and our communities.

Peggy Patten, Urbana

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I believe that the intent and the circumstances of the Second Amendment were substantially different when written over 200 years ago and I favor very strict gun control legislation, particularly for semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. Today's rapid capacity weapons are far too "efficient" at killing to be available for nonmilitary use and, in my opinion, should be removed from our society. I am not opposed to hunting rifles or shotguns, and small handguns kept safely in a home for personal protection is a reasonable application of the Second Amendment right. But I do not feel safer with a concealed-carry population nor do I feel weapons with rapid and massive capacity for harm should be available. I would feel safer with very stringent procedures regulating the availability, ownership and use of any weapon.

A recent editorial cartoon suggested that hammers kill more people than semi-automatic weapons do, but I would far prefer someone coming at me in a crowded theater with a hammer rather than a Bushmaster. And as for protection from tyranny, the ballot box and an informed and participating citizenry are our most effective safeguard.

Steven Ogle, Urbana

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The massacre in Connecticut makes me sick every time I think about it. The government responds to our outrage with more laws. We don't need more laws, we need to enforce the ones we have. More political theater to get re-elected.

What we need is, we need to be our brother's keeper.

The Connecticut thing would not have happened if the mother had kept her guns locked up when not in use.

The Colorado theater thing would not have happened if the universities that the shooter was involved with had reported their concerns to the authorities.

The Arizona tragedy would not have happened if the shooter's parents had alerted the authorities of their concerns.

I'm not pro or con on the weapons they want to ban, I just don't think that's the answer to the problem.

David Short, Champaign

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The politicians and the media should be honest about what they want to ban. What they are trying to ban are semi-automatic rifles that fire one shot with one pull of the trigger the same as any bolt or pump action rifle. Assault weapons (already illegal in Illinois) are select fire, single shot, three-round burst or hold the trigger back and the weapon will continue to fire until empty.

There are plenty of existing laws that should be enforced, not plea bargained away. If criminals knew that use of a firearm in a crime would get them a long prison term that might cut down on some violence.

Politicians should also understand that any new laws they pass will only be obeyed by already law-abiding gun owners. Criminals will pay no more attention to new laws than they do to existing laws.

Dan Burwash, Danville

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I do not support gun control. Gun control has not worked in Chicago, so why would the government think it will work now? The people who have been doing all the shooting are supposed to be mentally unstable, yet they have the ability to find guns. If they are smart enough to get guns, then they are smart enough to stand trial. Do the background checks. Do more to enforce the laws we have now. We need to be harsher on the ones who are doing all of the shooting. If law-abiding citizens have no guns, then the only ones who will have them are the criminals. They will not give up their guns. Do more to keep the guns out of the hands of the criminals and mentally unstable, and not away from the law-abiding citizen.)

Richard Kingery, Loda

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On the gun control issue it seems that the debate involves looking to a system of creating rules or laws to influence the results we hope to experience in our society. First, it seems fair to ask, "Do we feel that the creation of any additional legislation will actually produce the results that we claim it is designed to produce?" My guess is that most of us would recognize that rules and laws aren't what influence us to make the decisions we make, but that our accepted cultural practices (whatever culture we happen to associate ourselves with, church, gang, heritage, family, etc.) are probably the strongest forces on how we make our decisions. Take our tax code as an example and the continuous cat and mouse game that we play with rules and laws followed by devising strategies to get around those rules and laws because it is "culturally acceptable."

With that perspective, I would offer that we spend more time looking at ways to influence our culture through effective leadership. My recommendation is that we award, vote, follow (or whatever term you want to put on it) those who are living their lives to influence a culture that fosters love, trust, responsibility, accountability. On the other side of the coin, I would offer that we live out those values for those who seem to influence a culture of fear, skepticism, sloth, lack of discipline so that they may know the benefits of the previous. May we all start influencing the culture we desire through our actions and engage our political systems to influence the hiring of effective leadership. Our leadership and our culture is where are issues are, may we make that our focus.

Steve Gardner, Champaign

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Congress should pass legislation not only for universal gun registration and assault-type weapons, but ban all guns (not likely!) When there are enough guns owned in this country to arm every man, woman and child, why am I not surprised every time gun violence happens?

Midge O'Brien, Savoy

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Banning military style weapons and/or high-capacity magazines will do nothing to stop bad people from doing bad things. It will only hinder the law abiding citizen's ability to defend himself against such people.

What that kid did in Sandy Hook Elementary School was illegal, but he did it anyway. This coward attacked a kindergarten classroom, not a police station. He would not have made it past the front door at a police station because everyone in a police station is armed and able to fight back. Why can't we have that kind of security for our schools? Our children deserve that. Airports and courthouses have more security than any grade school.

The gun control advocates are using this terrible tragedy to push their agenda of disarming the public. They offer no practical solutions to deter or defend against future situations like this. If saving children's lives is truly their goal, then let's stop killing unborn children at a the rate of hundreds or thousands a day.

Saving children's lives is not their goal. Disarming law-abiding citizens is their goal.

Banning weapons now would be like burying our heads in the sand. In times like these we need to walk tall and carry a big stick. It is the only thing that criminals understand. Law-abiding members of the general public don't get secret service protection, we have to take care of ourselves.

Thomas J. Franey, Champaign

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In more innocent days the National Rifle Association was established to serve the interests of men who liked to kill birds and animals. Now it needs to be renamed the National Assault Weapons Association. Banning the sale of assault weapons is not enough — all the gun-happy people already have them. It needs to be a crime to own one, a crime resulting in serious jail time.

Is there any hope that this can happen? Sadly, no. On this issue our representatives in Washington will not stray from the party line, and the Republican party line is that what the NRA wants the NRA will get. Of course we know the reason for that.

Richard Wentworth, Champaign

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A number of my friends are members of the National Rifle Association and I almost joined around 1970 while the NRA was primarily a hunter's organization. However, after the many shootings and assassinations during the 1960s the gun industry grew nervous, and they turned the NRA into their major lobby in Congress. It's the leadership of the NRA, not the membership, that is joined at the hip by the CEOs and boards of directors of the major gun manufacturers whose first priority is to sell guns — Second Amendment rights and safety come second.

Since about 1970 the NRA strategy has been to threaten members and the American public with paranoid statements such as "the government is coming to take your guns." They constantly focus on the Second Amendment. As I recall, the Second Amendment was rarely mentioned before the late 1960s. The Second Amendment was adopted during the time of muzzle-loading guns that took about a half-minute to reload when no one could have foreseen the firepower on the streets today.

I don't want guns taken away from law-abiding citizens. However, common sense regulations like background checks on every commercial and private sale, the ban on the sale of assault weapons and ammo clips with multiple rounds should be adopted now.

"We have to change" as President Obama recently said. We can't stop all gun crime but if we can save one life through tougher regulation, is it not worth it?

Vern Zehr, Fisher

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I support the Second Amendment. I do not think a law that prohibited ownership of all guns of any kind would be constitutional. I also see no conflict between the Second Amendment and reasonable restrictions on weapons that exist solely for the purpose of killing as many people as possible in as short a time as possible. I do not believe that the Second Amendment grants private citizens the right to own nuclear weapons, grenade launchers, anti-aircraft artillery, military-style assault weapons, machine guns, or high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The president's proposals will not eliminate all gun violence in our country, but they might make it a little harder to carry out mass murder while still protecting the basic right to own a gun. I think that is exactly what most people in this country want.

Todd Kinney, Urbana

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This whole gun control fight is about power, not safety. If it were about safety, the political left would have long ago done what the NRA for years has pleaded be done: enforce existing law.

The real fight is about preserving what's left of our republic and the liberties for which it stands, and restoring all those liberties already lost or on the precipice of destruction in the name of safety (think, Homeland Security).

When Benjamin Franklin emerged from Independence Hall in 1787 after Constitutional Convention deliberations ended in Philadelphia, a woman asked, "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?"

His answer should haunt every American today. He replied, "A republic, if you can keep it."

Our enemies are many. But those from within are the most dangerous. If our republic and liberties are lost, it will as likely as not be because we fought the enemy only to find that it was us.

Both sides of the debate should take this to heart.

R. Stan Marsh, Champaign

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People who don't like guns exploit tragedies to punish law-abiding gun owners with feel-good laws that have been proven useless in stopping deranged killers or criminal and gang violence. These activists do not understand guns and use disinformation and emotion to sway public opinion. TV reportage often shows someone firing a fullyautomatic assault rifle; any full-auto gun has been illegal for decades. The targeted AR15 is the most popular rifle in America, widely used in competitive shooting events. The winning 2006 junior Whistler Boy team at the National Matches was two teenage girls, using AR-15s. The gun-banners depict these rifles as unduly lethal — a lie, because most hunting rifles are more powerful.

As for magazine capacity, the great majority of handguns sold today are made to hold 13-19 cartridges. Trained shooters can drop an empty magazine and reload a full one in less than one second. Hammers were used in more murders in 2011 than were rifles. The claim that guns kill more children than cancer is a typical distortion: the "children" referenced include teenage gang members.

Congress let the previous bans on "assault" rifles and hi-cap magazines expire because the FBI found they had no effect on crime. Yet here we go again with proposals that will not prevent more Sandy Hooks. Chicago and Washington, the nation's murder capitals, prove the uselessness of strict gun laws. We do need to add people detected with mental issues to the NICS, but psychologists will resist this as violating patient-doctor confidentiality.

Peter T. Tomaras, Champaign

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I have never voted for Barack Obama and consider myself a conservative Republican, but I agree with his proposal on universal background checks, as well as a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Citizens do not need these to protect themselves.

Bill Hancock, Champaign

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We wish to inform you that we fully support our president's recommendations on gun control including registration and background checks for all gun purchases.

Don and Eunice Holste, Champaign

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I am in favor of outlawing all "attack" type firearms and allowing no more than 10-round magazines. I also believe that all firearm owners should be required to register all of their weapons and be required to obtain liability insurance on them, in the event of any type of discharge and/or theft of same. An alternative to banning attack weapons should be a 100 percent tax on all of these types. If one of the attack type weapons is purchased for say, $800, then there should be sales tax for the state it is sold in, and then a tax of $800 paid to the state to be applied to a fund that could only be used to combat firearm abuses.

Don Foster, Villa Grove

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As long as there is a desire to obtain and use any firearm criminally guns will be available for that purpose. If it were possible to remove all firearms from our society tomorrow it would take very little time for illegal enterprises to bring guns back to our shores (think Prohibition). Such "prohibition" really only influences those who respect or fear the law.

Although not a perfect answer by any means better communication of professional concerns regarding serious mental health issues (not just background history of having a gun in the house by anyone seeking health care) should be allowed. To say this is a violation of that person's rights begs the issue of a gun owner registry for all.

Perhaps more significant is the practice of "pleading down" so many gun related crimes in our major cities. Laws are in place in most locales requiring mandatory sentencing for possession (use) of a firearm in a crime, but are frequently ignored.

Dr. Alan W. Jacobs, Loda

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There is an easy start to ending mass murder in our country.

The entire nation is saddened and shocked over the slaughter of innocent victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty children and six adults needlessly and violently died by the actions of one, and I repeat, one gunman. Currently, commentators and media pundits are stressing the need for an all-encompassing dialogue and conversation. Really? They claim we need to bring to the table Hollywood, the NRA, video game producers, mental health professionals and law enforcement officials to help solve the problems of our violent gun culture. Really? Where have these professionals been for the last 30 years? Gun control has been debated ad nauseam for decades. While an all-encompassing dialogue is a necessary component of a long term solution, let's begin with an easy, simple and compromising start. Ban the sale, distribution, manufacture and importation of assault weapons. Eliminate Internet sales of assault weapons. All trade show associations and independent retailers must require background checks. Require universal background checks. And in the spirit of compromise, restrict magazine clips to 10 rounds. After all, shouldn't we require an individual determined to kill people to at least have to aim the gun? Given the insane number of guns currently in our country, this is going to be a long-term process. However, eliminating assault weapons now simply and logically has to help reduce mass gun violence in the future. There is an easy beginning.

Daniel Zolfo, Urbana

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The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights) and is still very much applicable today. To me, the Second Amendment is a fundamental and time-tested ingredient to the recipe of freedom our country uniquely possesses. In my opinion, the founders of our country thought this was a necessary principle to protect a nation from the overreach of the body that governs it.

Attempts to restrict an American citizenry from the right to keep and bear arms are born of arrogance. To think our legislators are more informed than the framers of the constitution (who experienced tyranny), to think a knee-jerk reaction to a current event should outweigh a fundamental principle, to think that the little slice of history we occupy is more significant than over 200 years of American history and the future freedoms of our progeny is shortsighted and arrogant.

To argue that the advancement of weapons technology has rendered the Second Amendment inapplicable is illogical to me. Those who say "they only had muskets back then," should realize the army they defeated used the same weapons technology.

I have guarded confidence the majority of Americans are patriots and will defend their right to keep and bear arms by defeating the federal gun-restricting legislation in Congress. What concerns me more are the restrictive laws the state of New York recently passed regarding gun ownership and the possibility that my right to keep and bear arms will be attacked at the state level.

Craig Dutton, Tuscola

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I am a gun owner and supporter of the Second Amendment and of the Supreme Court ruling stating that the Second Amendment did indeed guarantee the right of citizens to own firearms. I find it very disturbing when others offer up different interpretations, especially those in legislative positions who suggest it does not and who propose legislation to change it.

In 1994 when the first assault weapons ban was being discussed and eventually passed, there were already 22,000 various laws on the books pertaining to gun control. Most were not being fully enforced and those that were did not curb gun violence. Today we face a newer version being introduced while history shows that gun control does not work! At the same time, we have ample proof of something that could work when we look back on the issue of DUI. Some time ago, very harsh penalties were enacted and enforced and the incidence of DUI dropped dramatically. Did it stop it totally? Absolutely not, just as no gun law old or new is going to stop all gun violence. Someone bent on personal destruction and those who are mentally impaired are always going to find a way to advance their senseless agenda of violence.

What is needed are the harshest and toughest penalties one can imagine in regard to crimes committed with guns. Furthermore, very strict background checks should be enacted and implemented everywhere to ensure the mentally impaired are not able to buy firearms. Those who can and do should not be judged differently than those who are not mentally impaired. Penalties must be harsh and VERY final. Only then will we see any significant drop in violent crimes with guns.

Bobby Ward, Mahomet

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I support the president's recommendations on gun control. There is no rational justification for the need of keeping assault style weapons or ammo clips holding more than 10 rounds. I can't understand how anyone could object to background checks for everyone wishing to buy a weapon.

Mike Talkington, Champaign

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The push for gun control is an emotional overreaction to the Sandy Hook school tragedy. Statistics don't lie, and statistics say that gun control legislation does not work. After the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.'s, gun ban, the violent crime rate dropped significantly. This is an inconvenient statistic that seems to get ignored by the left pushing for strict gun control. If gun control worked, why is Chicago a virtual war zone despite it being illegal to own a handgun in Cook County? Why did the Sandy Hook tragedy happen despite the fact that Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation? Didn't the Sandy Hook shooter know that he was at a "gun free zone" when he entered the school? The bottom line is that gun laws keep guns from law abiding citizens — not criminals. Criminals intending on doing harm to someone with a gun will find a way to do it whether the law says they can own a gun or not. The government's call for strict gun control does nothing more than infringe on a law-abiding citizen's right to defend himself. Not only should Illinois adopt a concealed-carry law, which has been adopted in every other state, but the national call for gun control needs to be tempered until the emotion of Sandy Hook has passed.

Michael Hart, Champaign

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There should be strict gun control laws. No assault weapons. Careful background checks. The NRA argument that we need guns to protect us against government is specious. Protection against tanks, artillery, bombers, drones, warships?

Mary Lee Spence, Urbana

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I do not support a measure that would effect a ban on guns and/or the magazines that hold ammunition. Many proponents of this proposed tyranny are quoted as saying that hunters do not need 10 rounds to kill a deer. While I do agree with this statement, the point that is being lost is that I may need more than 10 rounds of ammunition to protect my family in the event of an attack.

I also know that history has proven that the mainland of the U.S. was not attacked in 1941-1942 because the population was known to be armed.

This country has taught our children for the last three generations that the murder of children is quite acceptable as long as it is done as a woman's right to choose. And now this country wonders why the sanctity of life is absent from our youth. There are consequences to our decisions and our policies and the fruits of those decisions and policies are now being harvested in the form of mass shootings and the murder of schoolchildren. This country slaughters more than 20 children a day but defends it as family planning. Connect the dots, people.

If you really want to stop the crimes maybe you should issue a gun to every household to defend themselves.

Paul K. Freebairn, Newman

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I agree with the president that we need a federal law for stiffer background checks as well as a ban on military-style assault weapons and the high capacity ammo magazines.

While not a gun owner, I believe the citizenry should still be allowed to own personal guns. I see no need for the average person to own a gun that is capable of firing off as many rounds as some of these guns are now capable.

Gerald Wicoff, Danville

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Anyone who thinks these gun control measures will stop the violence is only kidding themselves. As a society we have lost the value of a human life. I have been around firearms for over 50 years and not one person I know has committed a crime using one. The problem is society is not teaching respect for firearms but instead the media is making a spectacle out of each atrocity. The Sandy Hook shooting was caused by a parent who did not secure her firearms from her son who she had admitted was a troubled child.

As is usual our Congress and administration are addressing the wrong solution instead of the actual mental health issues.

Lastly, the Second Amendment was not intended for prevention of crime but rather protection of the people from oppression of their government. History has proven gun control has only resulted in higher crime and government control of its people.

Why is it wrong for our people to have assault rifles and large ammunition clips but it is OK for us to supply the rest of the world? Talk about hypocrisy!

Terry L. Friedrich, Covington, Ind.

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I have studied the idea of gun control for almost 50 years. Growing up in Tuscola, I started reading gun magazines at a very early age and continue to enjoy them. My earliest memories of family gatherings involve target shooting with the rifles or clay pigeons with shotguns.

I don't believe gun control has any effect on reducing crime. Only the law-abiding citizens are harmed by needless rules and regulations. It is not gun violence, it is simply a violence problem. FBI statistics show most violent crime occurs in a relatively small number of urban areas. You have no family structure, rampant drug usage, corrupt political leadership, a failed education system and poverty all contributing to the problems.

I was in a restaurant the other evening and every child there under the age of 20 was engrossed in a device of some sort. Video games encourage this solitude and in some people with a lack of interpersonal skills, violent video games can lead to serious problems. Most, if not all, of these mass shooters were described as loners or someone who did not interact with the rest of society.

The last assault weapons ban did not reduce crime and crime did not increase after the ban was lifted. Our politicians refuse to tackle tough issues such as violence, crime and fiscal problems. They pass "feel good" legislation that does no good but allows them to brag about how much they did.

I have no problem with background checks as Illinois already does this via the FOID card system. I support the mental health system reporting possible problems. I support the enforcement of existing laws. I remain opposed to any further bans on guns or magazine size.

Max Albritton, Normal

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I am a legal gun owner and I must agree that something has to be done. I fully agree that stricter background checks that are universal across the country are in order.

However, I do not believe that restricting gun sales (assault weapons) will prevent criminals from getting what they want to perform acts of violence. They are not getting these weapons legally now and restricting the sales on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines will only prevent honest citizens from protecting themselves.

We do have the constitutional right to form our own militias too. A lot of good it would be if we tried to form a militia for the protection of a community and not be able to arm it with weapons equal to those of the evil-doers and terrorists who threaten it.

The Connecticut tragedy was performed by a mentally unfit person who had no business having access to firearms. The fault lies with his mother, who gave him access to those weapons knowing that his mental and emotional state was unstable to say the least.

We live in a diverse society where evil is embraced by many people as a form of entertainment. Video games and other forms of visual entertainment offer people a direct avenue to things like murder, horror and blood, guts and gore.

How can we, as a society, even try to imagine being free of terror and torment when we thrive on it for entertainment? It only stands to reason that some individuals who have not yet reached maturity will take the violence they practice on the video screen to the next level by making it real.

Victor J. Krueger, Champaign

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People kill people. Guns do not kill people. Making guns illegal does not stop bad people from doing bad things with or without guns. Honest, law-abiding citizens do not randomly kill people. Murder is already a crime and yet it still happens.

Why are gun owners treated like criminals? I should be able to walk down the street carrying a gun for personal protection without everyone, law enforcement included, assuming I intend to commit murder.

The purpose of law enforcement is not personal protection for the general public. Every individual is responsible for self-defense. If help is possible from a good Samaritan or law enforcement is present, that is a best case scenario, not to be considered the norm.

Criminals in every state illegally obtain and carry weapons for protection and to hurt others. Why should non-criminals be prevented from defending themselves? A society allowed to practice self-defense is also a society that will not allow mass killings to happen anywhere, including schools. A society of unarmed, law-abiding citizens is a society of victims powerless to stop those who want to harm others.

Joe Mott, Champaign

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I definitely support President Obama's gun control proposal. There are just too many deaths caused from guns, especially with assault rifles. No one needs one of those for anything, except, of course the military. The school shootings are happening way too often, and the last one was just too much! The president is a smart man and making some smart proposals.

Sue Reed, Homer

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I see no reason for high powered attack weapons to be sold to private citizens. I do not understand the NRA bully pulpit on the issue.

Tighter gun control will help with mentally unstable people not getting guns. Tough laws are needed to stop individuals from buying weapons and ammo for people who are barred from such sales. Perhaps guns could be chipped so they can be located and if the chip stops working, so does the weapon. We need something better than we now have.

My wife and I dislike many movie ads on TV because of their violent nature; we do not consider violence entertainment. The U.S. seems obsessed with violence, why else would these films be made?

Kurt Martin, Indianola

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I grew up with guns. I shot my first birds at age 3 on my grandmother's farm in Texas. I love guns and shooting. I agree with the NRA: No matter how strictly we regulate firearm ownership, bad people will obtain guns in spite of the laws.

I also understand that, no matter how well I guard against burglars, people intent on breaking into my home will find a way to do so. That doesn't mean, however, that I should make it easy for them. I lock my doors and windows. I notify my neighbors when I leave town. I keep my valuables in a strong safe. By the NRA's reasoning I should not bother with these tactics, since determined burglars will succeed if they try hard enough. Do vacationing NRA leaders lock their doors?

We should follow similar precautions regarding firearms. Yes, it is people, not guns, who kill people — but we need not make it easy! No one should purchase a firearm anywhere without a thorough background check. Those with unstable personalities should not own guns. No one needs an assault rifle. No one needs high-capacity magazines.

The NRA — largely a shill for the firearms industry, which wants to sell guns and ammunition — verges on being a terrorist organization. It is unconscionable that it is able to control the United States Congress through its threats and blackmail. Shame on Congress!

I love guns, but I refuse to be enslaved by them or by the NRA.

Brian C. Mustain, Urbana

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Violence without provocation is of course anathema in human society. Unfortunately there are certain portions that choose to prey on others for self-fulfillment, whether it's individuals or groups, simple thieves, rapists or gangs and governments. The makeup of this struggle had always seen the balance tipped heavily towards those who were larger, stronger, more aggressive or with greater resources, greater numbers; but make no mistake, horrific violence and oppression did not begin with the invention of gunpowder.

What did begin with gunpowder was an advent in technology that would one day enable the weaker, the smaller, the lesser in number to fend off unwelcome encroachments on their persons and property. This development in fact paved the way for the liberal democratic society we enjoy today, beginning with the obsolescence of the knights class. The American Revolution was sparked by an attempt by the British Crown, who was in fact our rightful and legal ruler, to seize arms owned by colonists at Lexington and Concord. Without those arms, there would be no United States of America, without those arms there is no guarantee that those officials who are supposed to serve us will not become exceedingly oppressive, without those arms we are merely prey, subject to the whims of those who seek to plunder.

In light of these realities, it only makes sense that the Founders, who sought and obtained liberty by arms, would intend for us to have the choice to arm ourselves robustly enough to resist aggression.

Josh McNattin, Champaign

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There does seem to be a lot of news about gun violence, but there are a lot of crimes done by other means (knife, club, fists, etc.).

There are already so many guns out there you can't keep them out of the bad guys' hands. Keeping better track of sales is the right direction, even private sellers. Close loopholes. All of the people I know who own guns are very responsible (gun safes, gun locks, keeping them unloaded, etc.).

Tom Reed, Tolono

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Repeal the Second Amendment. You heard me correctly. Introduce a new constitutional amendment to directly address the rights of people to protect and defend themselves as individuals and their families and homes. The Second Amendment, as written, was never intended for the perversion we've made of it.

There is a sickness eating away at the heart and soul of our nation. Washington's dysfunctional Congress is just a surface blemish of the cancer that lies below. We seem to think that solutions through compromise is like surrender and submission and what I'm seeing in the mindless, moronic arguments about guns confirms to me that we need to change the culture in this country.

Change is a journey and no law passed today will change tomorrow. However, with each law we pass, each time we look into a mirror and realize the biggest change must come from within us, we take a step in that journey. No journey can begin without us taking a first step. Therefore, I support the initiatives taken by the president. It's a first step and I would challenge Congress to pass the ban on assault style weapons, mega clips, and pass the other proposals the president has made — take another step.

Tim Stiles, Champaign

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If you care about your children and grandchildren we must have police/armed guards in our schools. There is no conceivable way to stop a lunatic from attacking our kids until we become mind readers. You cannot stop someone from trying to commit these terrible crimes but you may be able to stop them with a good guy with a gun.

As you know, this is a very emotional subject with strong feelings on each side. I hope the gun control side is filled mostly with people who don't understand guns and/or are afraid of them because they are not familiar with them. This point is brought out in the media quite often by the claim that "so and so wants to ban military assault weapons." Military assault weapons are already banned — they are fully automatic weapons that virtually NO civilian owns. There are many weapons that look like assault weapons. That's like comparing your base model V6 Mustang to a Shelby Cobra. They may look something alike, but the performance is much different.

The bottom line is, until we can identify and contain the lunatics in our society, we need to protect our cherished children. The "gun control" aspects that some of our elected officials want will not do anything to protect our children. As a matter of fact, the "gun free zones" that are in effect at our schools translates in the lunatic's mind as a target rich environment. Ask yourself why these guys choose schools or theaters that are marked as "gun free zones." The reason is they are reasonably safe from anyone stopping them. There have been many instances where someone with a gun has stopped a mass killing from happening — you just don't hear about them much.

Richard Willoughby, Tuscola

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Much has been said about the Second Amendment, and there are other viewpoints.

Keeping and bearing arms protected individual colonial homes and families. Skilled musket users were also critical to form "well-regulated" militias quickly. These rights were crucial in colonial America, and continue to be relevant in modern contexts. It's also important to be historically accurate, and to judge such rights in modern times.

The Second Amendment does not specify who will bear the arms, or the nature of such arms. Nor can the Second Amendment anticipate post-colonial needs; new technologies have forever changed these issues.

Today, we have the National Guard, not local militias. Just as a colonial patriot could volunteer for militia service, so today a patriot can join the National Guard. But the times, they have changed; technology has wiped out colonial practices. To be a national guardsman requires extended physical and mental training, and a time commitment that depends on circumstances. My point is that now there is no easy, quick step from citizen to "militia." History changes situations; it does not freeze them for all later times.

The local excitement of being in a "militia" — skirmishes, parades, celebration days — has a strong appeal. How could we support such events, and encourage others?

Why not make true colonial history come alive? From now on, let citizens keep muskets, not modern military weapons. It's not easy; reloading a musket takes many steps. Muskets have no rifling, so are inaccurate. Well-trained shooters can fire four rounds a minute; experts, five. There is much room for challenge, competition and improvement.

Even the NRA might rise to the occasion, to provide trained musketeers for more historically accurate battle re-creations. In these ways, the Second Amendment could help make us be more aware of our true history.

Edward Olson, Urbana

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Surely as a nation we can come to some reasonable middle ground between a total gun ban and the NRA's position that anyone can have any gun anytime and anywhere. The NRA advocates "better enforcement of existing laws" and "keeping guns out of the hands of criminals," but fiercely resists any effort to institute meaningful background checks, for example. As to the loss of liberty, I consider the NRA's absurd proposal of armed guards at elementary schools will engender a culture of institutionalization (in a negative way) in our children. Totalitarian nations are often referred to as "police states" for good reason.

Alfonso Valdes, Mahomet

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President Obama's efforts are so long overdue. When Rosie O'Donnell tried to have peaceful marches against handguns and assault rifles she had to stop because of the death threats against her children.

Why do gun owners feel the need to own guns? Movies and TV glamorize it, but it is all make-believe, are we not lucid enough to separate fact from fiction?

I support President Obama and Vice President Biden 100 percent in their efforts.

I believe they are not being stringent enough but any small steps we can take to get all guns off of the streets is a step in the right direction.

Rebecka Dickson, Champaign

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Gun proponents keep pushing the concept that restricting the guns won't reduce the violence. This is patently false and not supported by reason or evidence. Violent crime rates in other industrialized nations are a fraction of ours, and the difference is guns. If "guns don't kill people, people kill people," then why do gun owners want to have guns?

Yes you can do mayhem and murder with a car, a bomb, a knife, or many other creative weapons. But nothing beats a multiple shot, semi-automatic, easy to reload firearm for quick and easy access to the means of dispensing death.

Don Wallace, Champaign

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Universal background checks and gun control are further steps in creating a totalitarian state. In proportion to the millions of people in the United States, gun violence is rare. Background checks cannot warn of the behaviors of people who "snap." Most people who have committed mass shootings have had no history of criminal activities or mental illness. We have created a violent culture in which babies can be ripped apart to prevent their births. Children are raised without parenting that teaches them right from wrong because society tells us that it is your "right" to engage in what used to be called "wrong" behaviors. People of all ages spend hours watching heinous crimes on television and in movies. Video games glorify death. If we respected life in all stages and taught people to be horrified of evil acts, maybe crimes would be less awful. Look at history. The Holocaust happened because a totalitarian government had universal background checks and people could not defend themselves. Gun control makes criminals of law abiding citizens and does not stop the proliferation of guns on the black market.

Marjorie Jordan, Danville

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The only reason one needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine is to kill a lot of people real fast — so ban them. As for background checks, law abiding hunters, target shooters and those who keep a legal handgun for self protection should not mind filling one out each time they buy a gun. It's a no brainer — no civilian needs an assault rifle and no felon needs any gun.

Joan Lawson, Monticello

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We need background checks on every gun and ammunition sale. We need to limit the number of shells a gun can hold and make it more difficult to exchange clips so you can't reload so fast. Register all guns and gun owners and fire the gun that is being registered and keep the bullet on file, and put a picture in a database so any gun involved in a crime can be traced back to the registered owner.

Michael Leyerle, Urbana

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Before we outlaw guns or restrict their purchase, we must look at the more heinous, preventable causes of death in the United States and outlaw the real culprits.

More than 33,000 deaths per year are caused by automobiles (according to data gathered by Wikipedia.) Approximately 400,000 deaths per year are caused by obesity (according to the Centers for Disease Control.) And a little over 11,000 deaths per year are cause by firearms of all kinds (CDC.) All of these deaths are preventable.

So let us outlaw cars because people who drive them kill themselves and others in accidents. And spoons make people fat, so we should definitely outlaw eating utensils. The much smaller number of deaths caused by guns is regrettable, but the facts should be weighed before changing the Constitution to take away our rights.

Beth McClurg Felts, Urbana

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In all of the passionate appeals from both sides after the abhorrent crime in Newtown last year, something very important has been overlooked in the shouts of rights and bans and opinion polling and policy options: Trust. Trust in the overwhelming majority of legal, peaceable gun owners to keep, bear and safeguard their arms. Trust in the goodness and earnestness of the intentions of all to address this terrible tragedy. Trust in the ability of our magnificent constitutional system to mediate this latest clash of deeply held beliefs.

It is only in this atmosphere of trust that we can have a meaningful conversation about Newtown, firearms and our responsibilities to our fellow citizens.

This issue is not one to be decided by focus groups or opinion polls, but instead with the same respect for differing viewpoints that our nation has come to embrace in regards to religion, lifestyle and speech. Just as with these sometimes divisive issues, the impulse to restrict the actions and vilify the beliefs of a group, in this case lawful gun owners, should be viewed with deep suspicion. Our trust in one another and belief in our constitutional system should preclude these actions just as we rightfully preclude persecution on the basis of religion, sexual preferences and speech. The recognition and respect of the beliefs of legal gun owners of all persuasions must be separated from our personal opinions of those beliefs, much as we embrace a society with differing and sometimes theologically incompatible religious beliefs.

Brian Schertz, Champaign

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I have so many things to say.

1. The redundancy of many measures such as background checks — already in place in Illinois, a waste of money. Print out the 16-page state of Illinois gun laws and you will see, we are already so over the top on our gun laws for those that follow the law.

2. Unfortunately the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut would have happened because a disturbed person made the decision to do it. What type of gun he used was probably not on the top of his list, he would use any gun, or maybe even any weapon. When a deranged individual performs an awful crime it should not translate into taking away my rights of gun ownership. Many types of crimes are committed using other means, knives, fists, belts, etc., but there is no outcry to restrict citizens who obey the law for those.

3. Restricting the capacity of a magazine is laughable. The criminals would carry two or three extra clips to make up the difference.

4. "It's the person, not the gun" we have all heard, but no one seems to get it. That person would get whatever he needed to commit the crime anyway. It is crazy to think that the proposed measures would slow down any gun violence

5. The violent games being "studied" — please do not waste the taxpayer money. Who remembers playing cowboys and Indians and pretending to really shoot the other guy? So many of us remember Clint Eastwood as an idol to many kids, while he wielded a gun. Did those movies make the criminals then?

6. Banning AR-15s is unenforceable. Tell me the process of taking someone's gun without paying them for it? Law enforcement has a hard enough time keeping track of weapons, felons have them all the time — how in the world could banning AR-15s actually occur? It sounds good to those who are afraid of guns, but if you think of the paperwork, manpower, reimbursement, tracking everything down, etc., it's an impossible task. Leaving Illinois gun laws as they are now is already too much.

7. The laws are already in place and no one can keep a felon from getting a gun. Banning an AR-15 will only go after those who do the right thing to purchase their gun of choice, yes, my choice.

8. I definitely agree with having officers in the schools, I have actually witnessed this be a positive factor in Champaign schools.

9. It is hypocritical for government officials to try and take away my rights to safety when the officials themselves have paid staff to protect their families and always will. The average person will not have a team of armed body guards as a privilege at any point, let alone for the rest of their lives. Perhaps if government officials had to strip their body guards of their weapons also, they may change their attitude.

Cynthia Harmon, Champaign

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I grew up in a family that owned many guns. I enjoyed learning to shoot and handle a gun as a child and target shot for many years as an adult. I favor universal background checks. I favor limiting magazines to 10 bullets. I favor owning a gun for hunting or sport shooting if a responsible individual so desires. I favor limiting assault weapons to active military and law enforcement only. I favor forbidding gun sales via the Internet and gun shows until a background check is completed AND at least 30 days has lapsed. Additionally, although you didn't ask, I also favor getting a director into the ATF. To me it is a shame that Congress and the Senate have not approved an appointment to that post for so long when illegal weapons are such a problem in this country.

Some arguments which I think can be made to opponents who cite the Second Amendment are 1) The change in our culture and in the nature of weaponry since the Constitution was drafted and signed. Back then each gun could fire only two rounds maximum (handguns) and one round (long guns) before needing to be reloaded. The five cartridge cylinder was invented in the 1830s. The first high volume cartridge firing weapon was the Gatling gun invented in the 1860s during the war between the states. 2) When the Constitution was drafted many people lived in rural if not frontier areas and needed weapons for protection and hunting meat for the family. There are few places these days where you cannot find a grocery store within driving distance. 3) Protection — with the federal courts finding homeowners who shoot home invaders guilty of assault for shooting them? Really? 4) Repelling enemies — I don't think that there is much chance of either Canada or Mexico invading us. 5) Those who hunt really do not need an assault weapon. One shot and the rest of the game disappears anyway. So, I contend that there is no leg to stand on in the Second Amendment. I believe that the Constitution should be a guideline for our country, not an absolute. Our lawmakers and the court should be guided by the people's opinions and beliefs. Polls overwhelmingly show that the majority favor gun control laws.

Most important is the fact that the majority of us don't own guns, we don't hunt, we aren't planning an insurrection (most of us aren't, not yet, anyway) and crazy people are shooting our children and other innocent citizens. That "only one percent of schools have had a shooting" fact that someone came up with is immaterial to me. Sandy Hook may have been the context in which the president set his reforms, but in truth, it is something that is long overdue for so many more reasons than that very sad, tragic incident. People who had no business having access to guns have gotten them, used them, killed with them and it should not be so easy.

Carol DeVoss, Savoy

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The current discussion on gun reform and mental health issues makes me recall a situation in Winnetka that happened in May 1988. Laurie Dann had been seeing mental health professionals but had not attended her last scheduled appointments. Laurie had possession of several handguns and she used them to kill one schoolboy and wound several others in an elementary school. She also threatened a local family as she attempted to elude police.

I could not determine how she acquired the guns, nor could I discover whether she had a FOID. At the time, it was a huge sensation because she had several handguns and the killing happened at a school in a Chicago suburb.

Many people decried the situation and many worked hard to try to change the laws in Illinois. It did not happen.

However, there was an incident in Illinois that resulted in major changes in our lives. In October 1982, cyanide-laced capsules of Tylenol killed several people in the Chicago area. That was big news and it caused the pharmaceutical industry to change the way that products are packaged. As a result, laws make product tampering a federal offense. In addition, it did not take long for those changes to be implemented.

That law and those changes in packaging did not stop the problem with cyanide-laced medications. In 1986, Laurie Dann managed to tamper with some Excedrin capsules in the state of Washington. A couple of people died, including her husband. A law was in place but the law did not stop her.

Because of the recent shootings in Connecticut, we are giving more attention to gun reform and whether mental health issues need to be addressed by the government, as happened with the Tylenol situation. 25 years after that tragedy, we rarely take notice of those foil covers and plastic bands on so many products, many of which are not medications and we buy over-the counter.

Should restrictions be placed on guns and their owners? Possibly, but it will probably not happen until another killing spree manages to force politicians to realize that the gun lobbyists need to be stifled. Mental health professionals can do only so much about their patients. We face a moral issue, not whether the writers of the Second Amendment wanted to indicate that everyone had the right to own and use a weapon.

The access to guns, knives, machetes, bayonets and any other item that might be used to kill other people cannot be stopped unless the people who represent us take it upon themselves to act responsibly. What do I support? I support those who have the obligation to do the right thing for the good of all in the United States of America.

Jim Hronek, Urbana

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I'm a law abiding gun owner and have nothing to hide. I agree on the universal background check. There are quit a few states that allow you to walk in and walk out with a gun the same day. In Illinois the waiting period is 72 hours for handgun and 24 hours for long gun. That should be universal.

As for magazine capacities, it doesn't matter if they are 10-round or 15-round, go to any local PPC match and you'd be amazed at how fast a person can reload a revolver or semi-auto pistol. Same for rifles. The big problem with "assault weapons ban" is the broad definition of said weapon. Many squirrel rifles and shotguns will be included. And let's face it, if a criminal or mentally ill person wants to get a gun, he won't go to Dick's or Wal-Mart to buy one. Gun shows are not a walk in and out unless you have an federal firearms license. That's a fact in Illinois. If it happens, it's illegal. Enforce the existing laws to the max.

More input is needed on the mental healt issue and should be added to the database. In my opinion, doctor/patient confidentiality has limits.

The shooting in Connecticut was horrible, but that boy didn't buy his weapons. You can have all the gun restrictions in the world, but it would not have prevented that from happening. I could go on about the government's approval of mass murder of babies every day (abortion) but that's OT.

The realization is that in the end, it's not the tools used, be it guns, knives, ball peen hammers, or even baseball bats, that do the killing. It's the people using them. That's what has to change and until it does this kind of slaughter will keep happening.

Tim Lewis, Paxton

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