In response to Ralph E. Stone’s letter of March 29, let me emphasize that I am not a gun enthusiast. But blaming mass shootings on guns is like blaming war on bombs. It misses the larger and more important point of why anyone would want to randomly kill total strangers.

I am reminded of Bertrand Russell’s observation (circa 1920) that his children and future generations were incapable of happiness, because they would live in the shadow of “The Great War” — that four-year orgy of bloodletting, trench warfare, poison gas and other then unprecedented horrors, now known as World War I.

Russell, of course, could not have imagined the Holocaust, the still unacknowledged war crimes of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a human-caused mass extinction, catastrophic climate change or seawater that contains more plastic than plankton. Russell never dreamed that 100 years after “The Great War,” mainstream scientists would be predicting a 40% global water shortage by 2030 (U.N. figures), virtually total human sterility by 2040 (multiple sources, based on a 60% decline since 1970), between 200 million and 700 million hunger refugees by 2050 (IPBES), and the total and irreversible collapse of civilization, between 2040 and 2060 (“Scientific Reports,” May 2020).

In our lust for convenience, profit and “progress,” we humans have, in less than a century, threatened the life of the only planet on which it is known to exist. Given this, is the real surprise that we have so many homicidal maniacs, or so few?

Mark Behrend

Redwood City

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(14) comments


"Japan has the fewest gun deaths per year in the world. Japan has some of the strictest gun laws in the world and experiences 100 or fewer gun deaths per year in a population of over 127 million and a gun death rate of .06 deaths per 100,000 people. For Japanese citizens to purchase a gun, they must attend an all-day class, pass a written exam, and complete a shooting range test, scoring at least 95% accuracy. Candidates will also receive a mental health evaluation, performed at a hospital, and will have a comprehensive background check done by the government. Only shotguns and rifles can be purchased. The class and exam must be retaken every three years."

Ray Fowler

Hello, JME

Yes, I noticed the same info re: gun ownership in Japan along with the per capita stats for gun deaths. I feel some of their requirements are worth a look, but others would not get much traction. For example, a mental health exam for someone without a history of such issues would be nearly impossible to get through a legislative body. And... it's very likely lefties would soon decry the coursework and recurring exams as racist.

I feel using an approach that addresses gun violence as a health issue can help keep guns out of the hands of those who may use them against others. Mass shootings get a lot of headlines but the vast majority of gun deaths are suicides. If we can work to prevent guns from being used on our streets and as a means of self destruction, we will see the tragic and unnecessary loss of life decrease.

From 2014 through 2018:

How many gun deaths (willful, malicious and accidental)... 71,535

How may due to mass shootings... 1,669

How many gun suicides... 114,628

For the first three months of 2021:

Gun deaths... 4,673 Mass shootings... 121 Gun suicides... 6,138

Let's not wait for the next mass shooting to start identifying the causes of gun violence and to start eliminating them.


Good evening Ray,

All good information and I agree. Let's identify the causes and work on them. I am in the middle of watching the annual 5 hour showing of the three hour Ten Commandments on ABC tonight so I won't be back and forth so don't worry about a reply. This is just my comment on the spur of the moment.

It seems to me, and I may be wrong, that that same suggestion has been made many times before by the Democrats and the answer from the Republicans many times before has been "Now is not the time to talk gun control, now is the time to mourn the victims". Sound familiar? Maybe that is where we should start.

Ray Fowler

Well, it is time to mourn. It's not the time to divert those emotions to gun control. Never let a good crisis go to waste... sound familiar? Sadly, the situations in Atlanta, Boulder and Virginia Beach are already in America's rear view mirror. So, let's start working on prevention, now.

We can catch up, later.

Ray Fowler

I caught a little bit of the movie. Too bad James Earl Jones was not available to do the voice of the burning bush. It would sound way more authentic.

I love Ramses' line, "So let it be written, so let it be done." Kinda like signing executive orders...

Anyway, I switched it off. I know how it ends... I read the book.

Terence Y

Ray, that’s a good one, “… I read the book.” I’m surprised we don’t have a new version of the ten commandments. Maybe, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, unless you’re Hunter Biden? Thou shalt not steal, unless you’re a Democrat trying to win a presidential election? We could have a field day with the Ten New Commandments. Have a happy Easter.


Good evening Ray, again,

I will say that they don't film them like they used to. You mentioned the voice of God in the burning bush, some trivia facts. Charlton Heston asked CB DeMille if he could be the voice and he agreed. Other trivia, they used 14,000 extras and 15,000 animals in the filming. Moses in the basket in the river was actually Charlton Heston's own son, Fraser.

One of my favorite lines is Zipporah telling Nefertari that she lost Moses when he went to find his God and I lost him when he found his God.

Probably the one thing that has bothered me the most over the years is the scene where he parts the sea. When they cross over, the bottom of the sea is dry, they should have at least made it look wet. Now the problem is I can't help but think of Trump and his gullible followers during the worshipping of the golden idol scene.

Hope you had a nice weekend. We will see what the LTE's bring this week.

Terence Y

Mr. Emanuel, I’d like to point out that Japan is a relatively homogenous country that is 98.5% Japanese. As such, I’d say this makes comparing America to Japan in regards to gun deaths an apples to oranges comparison. As for emulating the Japanese requirements for purchasing a gun, I’d be interested in finding out what would be taught in an all-day class (not sure there's enough material - maybe an hour, or so, would be enough) and what would be on a written exam. Similar to what Ray has said, I can already hear the complaints about how paying for a class is discriminatory to low income folks, and how written exams must be in fifteen different languages, and whether mental health evaluations constitute racial profiling.

Ray Fowler

Hi, Terence

DME cut and pasted the info re: gun ownership in Japan into a comment, but he didn't say if we should adopt the Japanese approach in the US. I'm curious about what he would propose we should do to prevent gun violence.

Wilfred Fernandez Jr


Thanks for your pertinent thoughts about an irrelevant comparison. I'm surprised JME did not include that Japan does not have the obesity or face mask wearing problems associated with our nation. Hmm, I wonder what the Japanese do about street gangs?

Ray Fowler

Hello, Mark

Thanks for submitting an interesting LTE. It identifies many important issues and problems facing everyone on the planet... do you have suggestions re: how we may address those problems?

Gun violence... a tragedy. There are things we can do: create a system of universal background checks (no loopholes) with mandatory waiting periods, reduce access to firearms, insist on safe gun storage, make gun violence a treatable health care issue, fund research into gun violence that will produce science-based guidelines, fund gun safety technology, invest in mental health programs to reduce suicides by gun (65% of gun deaths are suicides). This is not a complete list, and does not address the hopelessness and poverty found in our cities where too many turn to gangs, drugs and gun violence.

Citing Bertrand Russell and referencing Paul Ehrlich-esque predictions of the irreversible collapse of civilization over the next 39 years does not really help anyone. Again, do you have suggestions re: how we may address immediate and near term problems?

Cindy Cornell

More to the point is why is there so much more gun violence in America per capita than in any other country? AmerIca is the only country that has never not been at war with somebody. It may have something to do with our national character. We don't seem to know how to live without irrational fear and aggression.

Ray Fowler

Good afternoon, Mrs. Aadahl

Gun violence... I agree... much, too much in the US. This issue needs attention from both sides of the political aisle. But is there, as you asked, "so much more gun violence in America per capita than in any other country?" Well, no. Check the World Population Review for some perspective. Gun deaths in the US occur at a rate of 12.21 per 100,000... entirely too many. However, there are several countries with much higher rates. For example, in the Northern Triangle of Central America you will see Guatemala with a 34.1 per capita rate, and El Salvador and Honduras with rates of 45.6 and 60, respectively. The average for the Northern Triangle is nearly four times higher than the the per capita rate for the US. Further, in terms of general safety, the Travel Risk Map lists 95 countries with a higher security risk than the US.

You wrote, "America is the only country that has never not been at war with somebody." Well, no. President Jimmy Carter said one of his greatest achievements was not involving the US in a military conflict. Donald Trump inherited US troop deployments overseas but he did not start any new conflicts. In fact, his administration worked to bring troops home. Twenty-seven days from now, we should have a military withdrawal from Afghanistan... we'll see if the Biden administration proceeds with the Trump plan.

You mentioned irrational fear and aggression in your post. Perhaps it would be easier to find a lack of rationality in Kim Jong-un and bellicosity in his neighbor, Xi Jinping.

Terence Y

Mr. Behrend, thank you for your letter. However, I’d take issue with your list of predictions. People have already lived past the Rapture and Al Gore’s first end of the world prediction in 2016. All predictions of the end of the world due to global warming have not rung true. In 2008, didn’t “experts” predict the Arctic was to be ice-free by 2018? Al Gore had to come up with a second end of the world prediction. If people are really worried, they should live it up for the next 9 years because AOC in 2019 predicted the world would end in 12 years. A lack of water is not a big deal in 2030 and for anything past 2031, we can ignore. BTW, I’m going to go with very, very, few homicidal maniacs. There are more firearms than people in America with more firearms being sold each day. Thanks, Joe, and thanks Democrats. Gun control and defund the police movements are letting people know that safety and defense are up to each individual. Spend some of your Biden bucks on your Second Amendment rights. Your family will thank you.

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