Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In reading some recent letters to the editor, I had to reflect on the existing gun laws of the state of Massachusetts, which already require that purchasers or possessors of firearms be licensed, that guns are registered at the point of sale, are required to be in locked cabinets or have trigger locks, and unfit individuals are, and have always been, barred from becoming licensed. Anyone who thinks that obtaining a license or buying a firearm in this state is easy and simple is someone who obviously has never tried it.

So-called gun buy-back programs of every sort are legion in cities and towns all across the country, but these have no measurable success, since criminals serve what is supposed to be a mandatory year in prison for illegal gun possession, making the law itself only a tattered scarecrow in a field. A mandatory surrender program, which amounts to government confiscation, would not only fail to disarm criminals, it would additionally put any municipality attempting to enact such a law into diametric opposition with current state and federal laws, not to mention the United States Constitution, and would not be just radical but radical in the extreme. The fact is that laws in themselves never stop or prevent crimes, but only provide accountability and penalties after crimes are committed. And by then, in most cases, it is light years too late when violent crime is considered.

Dismissing the possible training and arming of teachers and administrators as pure crazy talk with the assertion that guns do not belong in schools will come as a surprise to the Israelis who each day live under the threat of armed attack, and who have their schools gated and fenced in, with armed personnel who will challenge anyone approaching, asking them for identification, why they are there, and their child’s name. This is most likely the reason there have not been any mass homicides in Israel’s schools in many years.

That guns do not belong in schools also comes as a surprise to me, since when I was a student at Tabor Academy, there was a rifle team which had matches with other schools. The rifles in question were stored in a basement that also housed the firing range, and these were located immediately below an actively used classroom. No one was ever shot or threatened with any rifle and none of the firearms was ever misused.

What part the print and electronic media play in outrageous violent incidents is not even being discussed, and given the number of copycat crimes which may follow a particularly horrific event, it might be possible that the media is confusing the public’s right to know with the psychotic’s need to be known.

American schools should consider every means available to establish better security. Waiting for yet another example of what happens when only the criminal or lunatic is armed is not an option, unless for those who may fancy being the subjects of chalk tracings by a police forensic team.

Michael F. Fontes

West Tisbury