Editor's note: The Talk Back answers that usually appear in this space have be pre-empted this week so that we can feature our readers' letters about the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Talk Back will return to this space next week.

Must have meaningful gun control now

We Americans need to connect the dots!

There was outrage for years after 9/11 when 3,000 people were killed.

Yet, since then, approximately 100,000 Americans have been killed by gun violence. Where is the outrage?

Both are extremely tragic. The events of 9/11 were very dramatic and shocking, but the staggering number of Americans killed by guns should get more attention than the routine week of mourning.

We need meaningful gun control. Call or write your Congress member!

Kit Miller

Walnut Creek

Make ammunition more expensive

Guns don't kill people. People don't kill people. Ammunition fired from guns by people kills people.

Outlawing assault weapons will only create a bigger black market. It is a prohibition, and we all know prohibition doesn't work.

Chris Rock had it right. If you really want to stop gun violence, make bullets cost $5,000 apiece. That cost could be used as a tax for public education or assistance to victims of gun violence.

Institute an amnesty period in which people can turn in ammunition in excess of say, 10 bullets, no questions asked. After the amnesty period ends, every single piece of ammunition found in a person's possession in excess of that limit would cost the owner $5,000 -- each.

George Reinheimer

Castro Valley

Not protecting our children

If only we protected our children like we protect the Second Amendment.

Jan Fellerman

Walnut Creek

Pro-gun bullies are speechless

The National Rifle Association has refused to respond to media questions on its position after the Connecticut massacre. Thirty-one pro-gun senators were asked and refused to come on "Meet the Press."

Even they don't have an answer to this tragedy and may finally feel the guilt that they so richly deserve.

Or maybe they really are guiltless but think in their cynical way that it isn't the right moment politically to suggest that this would not have happened if every primary school student should have their own gun.

They all need to plead to their god or higher authority for forgiveness. Even more important, they need to start thinking about a way to sign on to responsible limits on guns.

Steven Birnbaum

Richmond

Break stranglehold held by extremists

As we cope with our broken hearts, we are called to action as we confront the violence that has once more torn at the fabric of our right to live in peace.

The time has come to trump the right of private citizens to bear arms with the right of parents to raise their children.

It is now time to form a well-organized militia of peace to secure common sense. It is no longer feasible, if it ever was, to think private citizens securing assault weapons is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. What is demanded by common decency is to break the stranglehold extremist groups have on American politics and society.

The killing of the children must stop. We all must work for the full human rights of children; their right to be fed, clothed, sheltered and educated in communities where the right to live is the order of the day.

Thomas P. Bonacci

Pittsburg Bonacci is director of the Interfaith Peace Project.

GOP is party of gun lobby

Some would argue that the Newtown tragedy unites the nation in grief. Not so.

There are millions of Americans willing to see the nation pay the price of the Newtown, Seattle, Virginia Tech or Columbine massacres, and more massacres to come, so this country can stay awash in guns. There are people who care more about their guns than they do about our children.

And it's wrong to talk about unity. Gun control is a highly partisan issue, with Republicans and Democrats taking totally different positions.

The Republican Party is the political voice of the gun lobby. Republican platforms always promise to oppose restrictions on guns. Republicans in Congress saw to it that the assault weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004. Republican appointees on the Supreme Court seem ready to strike down gun laws. A Republican blog refers to the party as the Republiguns.

As citizens we have no influence over the gun lobby, but we do have the power to vote their Republican mouthpieces out of office.

Lawrence Kolb

Oakland

Instruct teachers on firearms use

Once again, a terrible government decision has caused a tragedy.

The establishment of "Gun Free Zones" in schools, theaters and other places has proved a siren song to another pathological murderer. "Gun Free Zone" puts a sign on the location that says: "Come here, do your worst, no one will prevent your insane activity."

Israel had a horrible problem just like this 25 years ago. Its children were being slaughtered in their schools. The Israelis studied the problem and determined they had to arm and train their teachers to protect their children. They did. The problem was solved.

Ignatius Piazza, founder and director of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, has offered to train, free of charge, three teachers from any school in the use and proper employment of handguns; the normal cost is $2,000. The institute's four-day course is the finest in the United States.

Now all we have to do is get our school administrators to accept the solution and stop the slaughter.

Michael Denham

Brentwood

Restrict sales of assault weapons

According to one of the Sunday morning talk shows, more than 2 million guns were sold in the United States in November.

If you are going to buy a gun, you may need to buy an assault weapon. Buying a pistol, you may be outgunned. That is like going to a gunfight with a knife.

Assault weapons should be only for law enforcement and the military.

Jim Little

Brentwood

Must express feelings to Congress members

Two of my granddaughters go to a high school that had police officers in patrol cars sitting outside their school last Friday and again on Monday. Someone had reported a suspicious-looking man in the area.

The students were frightened. They had heard the unbelievable horror of Sandy Hook school.

Stop and write a letter to your member of Congress. Tell them you want assault weapons banned and stricter background checks on people seeking to buy handguns.

As President Barack Obama said: "Hug your children. Your primary duty is to keep them safe."

It is also very important to implement better mental health care for those disturbed and anguished persons whose grasp of reality has slipped or is slipping away.

I believe we will be judged on what "we do for the least of these," as well as the goodness of the lives we try to live.

LaVonne Lynch

San Ramon

Eroding our rights to own guns

In order to secure the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, one must be able to defend oneself.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution affords us the right to own guns. Citizens are the first line of defense against evildoers and also against a tyrannical government.

Just as one cannot be forced to vote, one cannot be forced to own a gun or defend oneself. However, no person may force another to give up her constitutional right to defend her life, family or property. It would be much easier for a citizen to defend herself if she could carry a firearm.

Unfortunately, we have passed laws that prevent honest citizens from exercising their constitutional rights and some are calling for a further erosion of those rights.

Do not let them.

Matthew Chertkow

Benicia

The carnage must stop

It has now been several days since the massacre of the small children and teachers at Sandy Hook school.

They were slaughtered by an automatic weapon in the hands of a deranged young man who never should have had it in the first place.

How many more of our children must die before we outlaw these military-type guns? Where are the outcries? Where are the editorials? Where are the demonstrations? Where are the politicians, Democrats and Republicans?

Does a hunter really need an assault weapon to bring down a buck? Remember, this type of gun fires up to 60 rounds a minute. It also has been stated that the ammunition Adam Lanza used on these poor children was designed to enlarge when entering their bodies.

At the very least, banning the sale these types of weapons would surely be a step in the right direction. Contact your Congress member to stop this!

Elliott Healy

Dublin

The right to regulate guns

All members of the NRA, those who support them, and those who are on the fence about gun control legislation, should reread the Second Amendment.

The first four words, "A well regulated militia," should make its intent clear and dispel any argument or ambiguity over the government's right to regulate what guns are covered by the people's right to bear arms.

Jill Waterman

Concord