Letter writer Jackie Merranko ("Let's Put the Blame Where It's Due") essentially offers a variation of the usual gun rights argument of "guns don't kill people, people kill people." The flaw in that argument is that it is impossible to prevent every mentally unbalanced or maladjusted individual from obtaining firearms, an argument Ms. Merranko unknowingly advances by listing all the failures of the system to realize that Richard Poplawski was potentially a very dangerous individual.
You cannot keep tabs on all the dangerous people in this country, but you can control the availability of very dangerous weapons. In the April 13 article "Experts Track the Patterns of Mass Murders," David Hemenway of Harvard University notes that "the psychological problems of these killers are not unique to the United States, but what is unique is that it's so easy for people in the U.S. to get access to weapons."
I have no problem with people who like to hunt or believe that they need a firearm in the home for protection. However, there is no compelling reason for military-style rifles and handguns to be available to the general public. In the same article, Carnegie Mellon University criminologist Daniel Nagin states that "it's technologically impossible to kill a lot of people very quickly without access to these assault weapons." The use of box cutters to hijack airplanes is something that can be easily rectified. The same cannot be said for preventing dangerous people from stockpiling dangerous firearms.