Gun control debate creeps into ex-cop manhunt

by Paul Thornton,  |  published on February 9, 2013

Letters reacting to the search for Christoper Jordan Dorner, the disgruntled former Los Angeles Police Department officer suspected of a double homicide and the shooting three police officers, are finding their way into The Times’ mailbag.

Surprisingly, only one of those letters discusses the manhunt for Dorner, and the rest connect the shootings to the hot-button issue of the last few months: gun control.

Readers responded likewise immediately after 26 people were shot, including 20 children, in Newtown, Conn. in December, though in much greater volume. Reacting to those letters and the broader national discussion on firearms regulation, other readers and gun-rights activists said it was improper to politicize a tragedy, and I suspect some readers will react similarly to the two letters below.

The letters page (and, by extension, these Mailbag blog posts) and the comment boards on do overlap in their functions as forums for readers. But the letters page, which I edit, is a curated forum, and judgments are made daily as to which content is appropriate to publish and which isn’t.

Given the outpouring of reaction in response to the Newtown shooting, it wasn’t difficult to decide that printing letters touching on the politically volatile discussion of gun control in response to a tragedy that saddened both gun-rights advocates and gun-control proponents alike was appropriate. That initial reaction sparked a debate that continues today, and these letters are part of that ongoing national discussion.

Ron Charach, a Toronto physician who regularly sends The Times his arguments for passing stricter gun laws in the U.S., writes:

“The only thing worse than a man determined to commit ‘suicide by cop’ is when that man is himself a heavily armed ex-cop. The Dorner manhunt will stir up memories of the racially motivated Long-Island Railroad murderer, the response to whom brought badly needed gun laws to the U.S., which the GOP gradually dismantled.”

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