Political courage is what's needed

All members of Congress will soon be forced to make decisions on addressing the gun-control issue in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy.

They all know several things can and must be done. They know, among other things, that the sale of assault weapons must be stopped, that magazine capacity of weapons must be diminished and that gun shows must adhere to the same standards as gun stores.

They know new laws will require more personnel for enforcement and investigation. They also know 47 percent of American households possess firearms and that, in certain areas of this country, a great number of people are single-issue voters on gun control.

Congressional members know very well that a vote that's politically wrong -- even though it's the right thing to do -- could be a great risk to their political future.

I say to members of Congress, look in the mirror. Who are you serving -- your country, your state, your district or yourself? So what if you lose your next election. At least you have not lost your integrity. We know you have compassion and feel grief. What we are asking from you is to have political courage.

Robert Cousins

Walnut Creek

There is a lack of community

I applaud Marco Manriquez for his Jan. 9 letter, "Need neighborhood unity to save lives," because he hit the nail on the head.

For a long time now, I have felt a serious lack of community and empathy in the United States. I believe this lack of community stems from our overvaluing of independence, which has now made us totally dependent.

We are a country that hires nannies to watch our children, house cleaners to clean our houses and landscapers to beautify our yards. People are self-absorbed and too busy to clean their own toilet or raise their child. We value Twitter, Facebook, TV, fast food, and celebrity gossip. We send our elders away to senior living centers instead of taking care of them as they once took care of us.

While police shoot to kill, the NRA suggests more guns. I'm not thinking that's a good recipe for a violent-free society.

Come on, America, let's re-prioritize our values. Knock on your neighbor's door, introduce yourself, say hi. It's not that hard, and it's rewarding.

Matthew Sylvester

Martinez

Sowell is once again inaccurate

In his recent column, "Gun-control zealots are ignoring some key facts," Thomas Sowell is once again making statements that are not accurate.

Most advocates of gun control are not saying take away single-fire guns that people have for sport or protection. It is the assault weapons we want banned, those that can kill 20 innocent children in minutes.

We need better mental health care and a ban on all assault weapons for individuals. Leave the assault weapons for the military and the police.

Ginny Kamp

Berkeley

Mallard Fillmore is offensive cartoon

I object to the placement of Mallard Fillmore on the comics page. It is a political cartoon that belongs on the editorial or opinion page -- if you must publish it at all.

The Jan. 3 edition, which essentially parroted tea party claims that the mainstream media, such as The New York Times, are biased in favor of President Barack Obama, was offensive, no matter where it appeared.

But my real objection is that young and unsophisticated readers are subject to this propaganda on the comics page, where they may be unduly influenced by the message of this right-wing political cartoon by reading it and thinking it is merely attempting to be humorous and entertaining, like all the other comics.

Stephen Whitney

Kensington