The US's love affair with guns is a direct function of a libertarian culture that places the rights of the individual above those of society, a philosophy perfectly summed up by Margaret Thatcher when she said "there's no such thing as society, only individuals".
Combine that with a pervasive fear of "the other" and a wild west/Hollywood mythos in which guns and violence are always the right answer, and you have what you have.
Here, libertarians like David Leyonhjelm are at the forefront of the movement to dismantle Australia's gun controls.
The money factor relates to the massive donations to politicians by the National Rifle Association.
The immediate response of politicians to the inevitable calls for gun control following this latest slaughter — that it's "too soon" to be talking about it – is a direct result of their need to appease their benefactor.
It will always be too soon.
The religious link stems from beliefs among the religious right that God uses events such as these to punish America for its sins.
The primary lesson for Australia is that the price of liberty is, indeed, eternal vigilance: vigilance against invasive libertarian culture; vigilance against social manipulation promoting fear of anyone different; vigilance against the corrupting influence of political donations; and vigilance against religious influence in public life.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen
Society going insane
More deaths from a lone gunman. One gun is enough for protection, normally two guns would be the most you could hold and fire but 23 guns is a sign of an individual and sadly society going insane. The right to bear arms can be discussed and agreed upon but there should be no right to have a truckload of military weapons.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
Sign of 'manhood'
We were visiting a friend in US. He told us he had been to the firing range teaching his 12-year-old son how to shoot and showed us his gun.
We were surprised he had a gun so he said "A man's not a man if he doesn't have a gun."
Another friend in Washington had two guns displayed in brackets on the wall. Dan proudly showed them to us and gave one to my father-in-law who aimed it at one of us, jokingly he thought.
I said my father always said "Never point a gun at anyone."
"Oh it's all right," he said, "It's not loaded!" The friend sounded most incensed, saying, "A gun's not a gun if it isn't loaded".
My father-in- law couldn't give it back fast enough.
Glenys Hammer, Narrabundah
US at war with itself
What will it take? Sandy Hook – and several massacres since — ought to have been the very last straw so we can confidently anticipate that the latest atrocity in the US will change nothing.
Forget external enemies; Americans are at war with themselves.
As long as their spineless politicians remain in the thrall of the NRA, the killings will continue, the number of those slaughtered will mount, and apologists for unfettered gun ownership will trot out more weasel words to justify it.
Meanwhile, even more deadly military hardware will continue to flow into the hands of those who are more than willing to take their fellow citizens to hell along with them.
A. Whiddett, Forrest
Pride in the game
I share Jon Stirzaker's gratitude (Letters, October 3) for the way in which the AFL and its administrators have evolved and taken decisive action on a range of social issues.
For the last two seasons the Sydney Swans and St Kilda, with the full support of the AFL, have promoted a game as the Pride Game, the stated aim of which is to counter homophobia and improve attitudes towards the LGBTI community.
Jason Ball has been appointed as the AFL's Pride Ambassador.
Bruce Taggart, Aranda
Edgar's Inn at the Ainslie Shops will have loose asbestos insulation removed over the next two weeks, and nearby shops will be treated early in the New Year.
Presumably the government will then declare these premises fit for staff and customers alike?
So how come our house in Giralang, which had had the asbestos removed before we bought it in 1990, and two subsequent inspections detected no fibres anywhere in the building, still had to be domolished?
I'm sure there were many other houses in the same situation and their owners are also wondering why different criteria is applied to different buildings.
Frances Cornish, Spence
Light rail farce
The National Transport Commission has just called for submissions (closing on November 24) to establish legal obligations for automated driving system entities (ADSEs) which transport ministers will consider at their May 2018 Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting.
Last month the US House of Representatives passed a bill that will exempt carmakers from safety standards not applicable to driverless technology.
In your editorial of October 2 ("Beware of letting good ideas stagnate", p16) you note that "the multibillion-dollar light rail project dictates budget allocations to all other potential initiatives" by the ACT government.
In other words, for a dispersed city that is designed to be always primarily dependent on road transport, and with the prospect of automated vehicles playing a major role in our urban transport from 2030, our government is basing all development initiatives around a very expensive, sparse, light-rail network.
That beats the national electricity grid renewables farce hands down.
John L Smith, Farrer
If we keep going, Canberra will end up looking like any other city
It is sad, distressing, agonising (no word is too strong) to be a witness to the destruction of Canberra.
The aim seems to be to make it look like any other city. I have yet to find anyone who approves of what is happening.
I am sure we are all grateful to those who created the lake. But now we are seeing a piece stolen from us, apparently in the great cause of "vibrancy".
Many people arrive here via Northbourne Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
Well, the Northbourne Avenue entrance has been ruined, but please can't the lake and the view over West Basin to the mountains be left for everyone to enjoy?
Who, in their right mind, could prefer concrete and coffee shops and (greatest horror of all) blocks of flats, to calm beautiful water and trees on the shore and mountains in the distance?
The office of the Federal Minister tells me she has no power to intervene, so what hope is there for ordinary citizens?
This beats graffiti and theft.
This is major vandalism. What right has anyone got to amputate a piece of our lake?
And why do they want to?
Heather Henderson, Yarralumla
Apples and oranges
Bill Deane (Letters, October 5) contrasts the "...awful tuneless song with banal lyrics...".
He is referring no doubt to Macklemore's Same Love.
He compares this with the "the tuneful nuances" from Showboat's Why do I love you.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Oscar Hammerstein II who wrote the lyrics for "Showboat" uses a form of rhyming poetry referred to as doggerel, often defined as drivel and nonsense.
If one wishes to be more kind it could be defined as random rhyming, a blight on many forms of popular music given its simplistic and most often artificial form.
Macklemore on the other hand crafts his beautiful song, Same Love in blank verse, a metric, non-rhyming form of composing, a much more difficult and some would say classical craft.
Much of modern English poetry is written in blank verse, more often than not in the form of iambic pentameter, arguably putting Macklemore way ahead of Oscar Hammerstein II in the art of creative song writing.
John Galvin, Weston
Save the No.5 bus
Thank you Alexandra Back for reporting concerns of Narrabundah residents about the axing of the No. 5 bus ("Bus change hurts residents", October 2, p.8).
For those of us in Old Narrabundah who are able bodied and have time, walking up to 20 minutes to the nearest stop for the new Green Rapid to Woden or Griffith, Manuka and Civic, or crossing busy arterial roads to change buses, will be inconvenient but not impossible.
For the many elderly and mobility impaired residents of the suburb, including many in the retirement complexes on Kootara crescent who need to get to Woden Hospital, the parents of young children attending the two child care centres and early childhood school and residents needing access to other services in Woden this is a much more serious concern.
Tenants will soon move into the new public housing units on Boolimba Crescent. Like the rest of Old Narrabundah, they should see transport services improved, not downgraded or removed. I urge the ACT Government to reconsider and keep the No. 5 alive.
(To add insult to injury we're told the Green Rapid will be free from 7 October to December, but presumably we'll still have to pay for the irregular and inadequate No. 4 to be able to connect with it.)
Ruth Dewsbury, Narrabundah
Giant ATM in the way
Well it did not take long for the Government's limit on ATM withdrawals in clubs to be revealed as a sham. The Belconnen Labor club has a massive ATM placed about 20 metres from the club on the footpath.
The footpath is public land so which minister or department gave them permission to place it there?
The club itself has shown that they have no regard for their members because the back entrance on a Sunday does not open until 10am.
The elderly ladies going to bingo parking in the rear car park have to walk right around and get past this ATM.
I have witnessed several of them using the road, putting themselves in danger from cars, particularly cars turning left.
John Gudgeon, Gungahlin
Idea goes up in smoke
Andrew Forrest is reportedly advocating that cigarettes should be illegal for those under 21.
Try as I might, I can't grasp the philosophical basis for his position.
Is he saying this would be a good step for the health of the community? If so, why would he still allow those over 21 to smoke?
Is he saying that young people aren't intellectually capable of deciding rationally whether or not to take up smoking, so society should make the decision for them?
If that's right, why would he allow those between 18 and 21 to decide how to vote, whether to drink alcohol, or to do any of the other things our society limits to those with an adult's intellect?
Greg Pinder, Charnwood
Peter Dutton's gratuitous criticism of asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru being resettled in the United States demonstrate that he is not fit to be a minister in the Turnbull cabinet.
Not only are his comments about asylum seekers who cleared the "extreme vetting" by the United States inaccurate, he has embarrassed both the Australian and US governments and shown disregard for any duty of care an Australian minister should feel.
Trevor Wilson, Holder
Grass roots matters
Jon Stirzaker's syrupy praise (Letters, October 3) for Gillon McLachlan and the AFL misses the point completely; politics does not belong in sport.
Gillon McLachlan should be putting time, money and energy into grass roots football for girls and boys, women and men and not showponying around like he's Australia's Justin Trudeau.
Damon Fraser, Weetangara
TO THE POINT
Is the government's Better Suburbs Community Survey designed to "justify" reductions in municipal services. You are prevented from completing it if you attempt to prioritise more than five of the following: domestic animal services; parks and public amenities; sporting and recreational facilities; shopping precincts; libraries; trees and shrubsin public places; roads; litter and waste collection; traffic management; well-lit public places; stormwater services; footpaths and verges.
Leon Arundell, Downer
Thank you Doug Hurst (Letters, October 2). You are proof that there is intelligent life in Canberra after all.
Jeff Day, Greenway
Congratulations to the ABC's James Bennett for exposing the atrocities against Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar. Buddhism invites us to follow the highest precepts of non-violence and compassion. How can Buddhist Myanmar allow these crimes to continue? I saw the suffering of Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh in the early 1990s. This violence is not new. Australia must pressure Myanmar to stop it.
C. C. Kenna, Murrumbateman, NSW
I am confused. Is Michael Danby the federal member for Melbourne Ports or the federal member for Israel?
Paul Dixon, Fraser
AGE OF REASON
There is some basis for Dr Alan Shroot's assertion, "Big Tobacco targets young people so by the time they become responsible adults they are already addicted to the weed" (Letters, October 5).
He praised Andrew Forrest's support of the anti-smoking lobby and wrote, "Raising the legal age to 21 is a good move."
Why? The electoral enrolment age is 18. The enlistment age for the ADF is 17.
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
It's either the driving licence identity or the identification card.
I am for any of them and the sooner the better.
Mokhles K. Sidden, Strathfield, NSW
ALTERNATIVE A WORRY
Jack Waterford (Forum, September 30, p1) wonders why there is no talk of a coup against Malcolm Turnbull.
Perhaps the Prime Minister's colleagues also read Hilaire Belloc, specifically the advice to "always keep a-hold of Nurse for fear of finding something worse".
Mark Westcott, Farrer
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