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The following are letters that were submitted to and published today (Monday, December 17, 2012) by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School will end when Americans decide they love their children more than they love their guns.

RICHARD MURNANE
Hornsby

When the Second Amendment was enacted in 1791 guns were made by a gunsmith, had rudimentary rifling, were single-shot weapons loaded through the muzzle, and were fired by means of a flintlock.

Today guns can accept detachable magazines, have a telescoping stock, can auto-load, have the ability to fire multiple rounds, have pistol grips, bayonet mounts, flash suppressors, and are designed to accommodate grenade launchers.

Isn't it time to update an outdated law that 221 years ago could not have possibly foreseen the frightening firepower and damage caused by today's modern weapons?

JACKSON PELLOW
Leichhardt

The intelligence of the American gun lobby was summed up nicely by one of its members, who lamented the tragedy was the fact that no one at the school had a gun with which to defend themselves.

BILL CARPENTER
Bowral

Quo vadis NRA, quo vadis USA?

BILL GOODEN
Aberglasslyn

The U.S. is in a bind on gun control, with its leadership fearing the gun lobby more than bullets. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney did not dare touch the issue before the election, although they had similar views. They need some outside help, and perhaps Australia is uniquely placed to give it.

We have a conservative ex-prime minister who responded to a massacre by introducing laws restricting gun ownership, and yet was a friend of George Bush. As an ambassador for disarmament, perhaps John Howard could help convince Americans to lay down their AK-47s.

FRANK SZANTO
Newtown

Paul McGeough is right: tears don't cut it. Politicians in the U.S. must do something about guns. But I would not underestimate the problem of addressing the issue, even in these appalling circumstances. I still castigate myself for unthinkingly wandering along to a local meeting attended by John Howard with my then 12-year-old son during the gun debate in Australia. It was frightening, and the image of being surrounded by angry people goading each other has not left my mind.

We are quick to condemn our politicians, but the bravery required of Howard when he had to stand in front of mobs in town after town was a lesson in political courage. Let's hope there are similarly courageous politicians within America's political institutions.

TED KEATING
Tallai

The oft-peddled line that ''guns don't kill people, people do'' will be aired again this week. The essential truth of this statement has supported the right of U.S. citizens to own an assortment of weaponry, including in many states concealed weapons, and even Uzi sub-machineguns.

It's equally true to say that nuclear weapons don't kill people, people do. If they were affordable, the logic of the initial contention would allow one for each citizen, an allocation that is thought to represent the current number of firearms in the U.S.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of ''government of the people, by the people, for the people''. It's difficult to reconcile ''for the people'' with such a tenacious defence of the right to bear arms.

There are 30,000 people killed every year in America from guns. If government holds a constitutional amendment written in the 1700s in higher regard than its duty to act ''for the people'', then an outside observer could be forgiven for seeing this as evidence of a severely dysfunctional society.

In that same famous Lincoln address, he also proclaimed ''these dead shall not have died in vain''.

JAMIE CALDER
Queenscliff

I read with horror about the mass shooting of 20 school children and their teacher by a man in Connecticut. I then noticed another story: in the village of Chengping, a man with a knife injured 22 children and a teacher as they were arriving for morning classes.

To all those gun lobbyists who like to trot out the saying ''It's not the gun that kills, it's the person'' I say: what total rubbish. If the man in China had had a gun, those children and their teacher would be dead.

ALISON WROE
Hazelbrook

Here's another letter stating the bleeding obvious to the whole world but, no doubt, it will fail to affect the U.S.'s infamous blind spot, i.e., gun control. Criminals, as a rule, don't do mass murders. Mentally ill people with access to guns do. Prosecution, jail or death penalties are not the remedies. However, we all know that the National Rifle Association has too much political power for anything to change in the U.S. Maybe Ned Kelly suits for all citizens may be the answer.

MAX CLAYTON
Oatlands

I am tired of hearing that Americans have the constitutional right to bear arms. I suggest these people read the Second Amendment to the constitution which says: ''A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.'' Gun owners always fail to mention the need for a well-regulated militia.

CLINT OLIVER
Penshurst

A bravery medal to the teachers of Sandy Hook. They made me proud to be a teacher.

GAIL SUTTOR
Hornsby

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