There’s a sculpture that sits just outside the U.N. headquarters in New York City. It’s a giant bronze revolver with the barrel tied into a knot. It’s called “Non-Violence,” and, in the wake of yet another shocking episode of gun violence, it seems especially poignant.

As it always does, an incident like this will once again stir up the debate on gun control. And as we advocate for tighter restrictions on guns, the National Rifle Association and its supporters will, as always, trumpet their Second Amendment rights.

But let us consider what they are actually trying to defend. Gun-rights advocates always scream out that they have a constitutionally protected right to bear arms. How convenient for them that the first part of the amendment seems to get forgotten in the argument.

Next time someone shouts at you that they have a right to keep their guns, ask them which militia they’re in, and if the answer is anything but the National Guard, you might want to avoid them.

We live in an era of technology and instant communication, yet in this incredible era of progress, we also exist in a world where children and madmen have ready access to guns and ammunition.

You’ve all read the news stories of the young man in Colorado. The owner of a gun range where his membership was rejected said he didn’t think the shooter was very stable. But gun store owners sold him guns because they know they will never be held accountable.

It is past time that we enact legislation that makes the sellers of guns liable for the actions of their customers. If not criminally liable, at least liable in civil court. Shouldn’t the families of the dead and the living victims be able to file suit against the irresponsible men who sold guns to a madman?

The owners of the gun shops should be accountable to the public and should be accountable under the law. The gun lobbyists and manufacturers, and the NRA, will say, “But wait, it isn’t their fault. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

But you have to wonder, if James Holmes hadn’t been able to buy any guns, would he have been at the theater that night? Would he have found some other way to massacre a theater full of men, women and children? I doubt it.

If James Holmes had been denied the means, how many people would still be living today? Maybe the gun folks are right, and guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Fine. Then how about we pay a little more attention to which people get the guns?

T. Mason Brown

Akron

Woodridge voters?already said no

Regarding the impending vote on the Woodridge school district levy, the only thing I can conclude is that Superintendent Walter Davis does not understand the meaning of the word “no.”

Twice, voters have told him to run the district on the funds he currently receives. But he ignores the results of these elections and schedules new votes as if nothing has been decided.

Now, to top it off, he schedules votes in August and in November, I suppose because he thinks he will lose in August, too.

The problem with the public schools is not a lack of funds but a lack of leadership and an unwillingness to do what the job requires. The people paying for these schools have suffered a drop in incomes and a loss in the value of their homes and property that support these taxes.

It is only fair that the schools cut back a commensurate amount and stop this incessant whining and begging. If Davis is not up to the task, he should resign and leave the job to somebody willing to do what is necessary.

Jim Hamill

Cuyahoga Falls

Food stamps for ?the truly needy

The food stamp program, now called SNAP, provides nutritional assistance to those in need and is a vital component of the safety net. However, the evidence may not support several assertions in the July 20 editorial regarding this program (“Damaging cuts”).

The editorial claims, “Participation, typically, declines as the economy improves.” But from 2001 to 2006, when unemployment remained at around 5 percent, the food stamp budget doubled.

The number of people receiving food stamps in 2007’s healthy economy was about 50 percent higher than it was in 2001.

When the program began in the 1970s, it was intended to help 1 in 50. Now, 1 in 7, nearly 15 percent of all Americans, receives assistance.

The editorial also implies that all those receiving assistance are in need. That’s not necessarily so.

Most states have no asset test as a benchmark for qualification, and more than half have gross income limits above 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines.

Even more perplexing, the federal government pays out bonuses to states, some $500 million so far, as an incentive to enroll more people in SNAP.

Conservatives were rightfully targeted for their efforts to cut the food stamp budget.

Many federal transfer payment programs, SNAP probably included, suffer from questionable standards, a lack of disciplined administration and mission creep (the efforts of bureaucrats, often aided by legislators, to expand the size and scope of their bureaucracies and their dependent constituencies).

A focus on these three things could bring about the budget cuts the conservatives seek while maintaining the program’s fundamental purpose — to help those truly in need.

Steve France

Akron

Unjust punishment ?of Penn State

How can we allow the NCAA to punish millions of students, as well as tarnish the reputation of a huge institution comprised of many faculty members and administrators?

All are punished for the sex crimes (proved or not) that have happened at the university. A dead coach is punished for crimes on which he could not completely defend himself. The NCAA punishment should be rescinded immediately.

My great-grandfather, William Clark Lane, who was clerk on the Canton City School Board for two decades, would agree with me that not a penny of Penn State University money should be paid to compensate the victims because it is there to educate millions of innocent people in need of education.

A college institution is no more liable for this type of crime than a shopping center or any other business where a small group of people was or was not involved in a crime.

We do not need to know if this is factual. This was a foolish decision based on the pompous pride of a sports organization that cares very little about the magnitude of damage done to the innocent.

Catherine V. Grossi

Waynesburg

First, kill the ?campaign ads

I’ll bet I’m speaking for 99 percent of the population when I say, about political ads, “enough is enough.” The pressing need for this country is election reform.

None of the ads is affecting my vote. It’s a shame that we are subjected to this kind of harassment for over one and one-half years.

I truly believe we should have one primary day across the country, so other states don’t influence and change the candidate for whom I would vote.

There should be term limits for senators and representatives. There should be a three-month limit for political campaigns.

All the incumbents, especially the president, are not fulfilling the duties of their office while they are touring on your dime and mine trying to get our vote.

The money spent on TV advertising is a crime. That money should be going to the deficit, and not to TV networks.

My vote will be going to anyone other than an incumbent. The people in Washington, D.C., need to be ousted. They are doing a terrible job.

Let’s get new people, who don’t have years of liaisons and commitments, and maybe we will get more service from these public servants for the general population and for the good of the country.

They surely couldn’t do any worse.

Mary Houk

Akron

Fresh water ?in the drilling

The fine letter from Terry Fleming (“Drilling responsibly,” July 18) was very informative and told many a lot they didn’t know about hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas. Good laws were passed, good standards set, good regulations established for drilling in Ohio.

Fleming represents the Ohio Petroleum Council, and I could be wrong, but he probably gets a good hunk of money from every one who drills legally.

One issue not mentioned in his letter are the millions (not thousands) of gallons of fresh water used for every well drilled, successful or not.

Scientists can keep trying to find new fuels, but there’s only so much fresh water. Let’s keep it.

Mike Sullivan

Akron