I am writing in response to Bill Haglund’s Feb. 21 column, where he states that, in a mass murder, blaming the murderer, instead of the gun, is idiotic. He believes that laws restricting the availability of semi-automatic rifles would eliminate mass shootings and that the deranged individual who shoots defenseless people is not totally responsible.

This position is naive and illogical. AR-15 rifles became available to the public in 1963. Prior to 1968, firearms could be purchased by mail. If access to AR-15s causes rational people to become killers, why weren’t killing sprees common in the 1960’s? Something has changed. Compare today’s movies, television and video games with those of the 60’s and 70’s and you’ll see how attitudes and morals have devolved.

Mr. Haglund states that Dylan Roof used a high-powered rifle to kill nine worshippers in church. He used a pistol. Mr. Haglund has no argument with hunters or sport shooters; he says this is their right. However, the 2nd Amendment guarantees the right to possess arms to protect freedom, not provide food or entertainment. He states that semi-automatic rifles are not suitable for hunting or sport shooting. Many former members of the military prefer a rifle they are familiar with. AR-style rifles, such as Remington’s R-15, are designed for hunting. AR-15’s are often used in recreational and competitive target shooting.

After mass shootings, people who knew the murderer often report that they saw indications of serious problems. Some have stated that they weren’t surprised. Identifying and helping people with major psychological issues would save lives. Restricting the availability of semiautomatic rifles would not. Perhaps we also need to critically examine aspects of our society such as television, movies and video games, which normalize and even glorify violence.

Harlan Kammin

Newcastle, Wash.