Again, we are faced with yet more mass murders. What is our federal government doing about them other than offering condolences to victims’ families?

We strongly believe these shooters are mentally ill and consumed with hate. For starters, why doesn’t our government allocate funds to strengthen our mental health facilities in addition to banning assault rifles? Only the military in combat and law enforcement should have access to these weapons. We encourage everyone to put pressure not only on our federal government, but on the National Rifle Association. It is our responsibility as citizens to make life-saving changes.

Alicia Byers-Smith

Kelvin R. Smith

Española

Connecting to animals

I grew up in farming communities in the Midwest, witnessing the painful experience of 4H and the Future Farmers of America kids tearfully parting with the living beings for which they had dedicated their time and energy to caring (“Proud of a prize pig — or sheep, or goat,” Aug. 3). Why do we continue training children to desensitize to the connection they feel with another living being? There are many alternatives to teaching kids responsibility that do not involve the selling and eventual killing of animals with which they have developed a relationship.

I spoke with a woman who has been in cattle ranching over 30 years, who still feels she has to shut her heart down to send the cattle off to slaughter. In a time of so much violence and destruction on Earth, I would love to see kids encouraged to care for all life, and to honor relationships and bonds formed with others, both human and non-human.

Rae Sikora

Santa Fe

Accepting responsibility

Regarding Milan Simonich’s column about state Sen. Mimi Stewart (“Senate whip says she was targeted for ouster,” Ringside Seat, July 31), he left out the most important aspect of her long-ago DWI , namely that Stewart was not driving at the time of the arrest. She had pulled over once she realized she was impaired, and she took immediate and complete responsibility for her DWI. She apologized to her constituents, her legislative and public school colleagues and the people of New Mexico. That response is in sharp contrast to both former Rep. Monica Youngblood and current Sen. Richard Martinez.

I don’t know why Simonich felt he had to respond publicly to her text to him asking that she not be part of the Sen. Martinez story, but he could have at least reminded folks that she did the right thing, taking responsibility and taking her punishment without whining. I wish he had been more careful and thoughtful. New Mexico is fortunate to have a legislator of Sen. Mimi Stewart’s caliber.

Jonelle Maison

Santa Fe

A necessary start

The United States has a problem with our huge level of gun violence. As a Vietnam veteran, I am familiar with assault rifles; the preferred gun used in mass shooting like those of this week and the copy-cat shootings into the future.

The solution to our problem begins with Congress reinstating the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 this year without the 10-year sunset clause. That law specifies a ban on the manufacture of 19 weapons that have the features of assault rifles, including the AR-15 and AK-47. Importantly, a ban on the manufacture of the particular ammunition for most AR-15s should be added to the law.

If you have your heart set on owning and shooting an assault rifle, join the military. Your Uncle Sam will give you an assault rifle, ammunition and training. If you are too old, sorry but the window has closed for you. Will this solve the whole problem? Of course not, but it is a necessary start.

James Mackenzie

Albuquerque

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