Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Deborah Charren: Arkansas politician wrong - this liberal not ‘cowering’ and wanting AR-15

To the editor:

“I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a high-capacity magazine?”

So asked Nathan Bell, as state representative from Arkansas. They were words my family awoke to Saturday morning after suffering through a week of terror and tragedy in our state.

I am a liberal Massachusetts resident who grew up in Newton, a suburb of Boston, and attended high school in Watertown. At no point in the previous five days did I ever wish that my family and friends had access to AR-15s with high-capacity magazines. Or any other guns, for that matter.

Instead, I appreciated the intensive training and preparation that local, state and federal officers involved in the capture of the bombing suspects received, and prayed for the success and safety of these brave Americans.

Bell calls himself a “staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self-defense.” On April 18, while the suspects were still at large, I read about two Revere teenagers whose photos appeared online on the New York Post’s front page under a headline that appeared to connect them to the bombings. These two teenagers were not actually suspects. This fact was not enough to protect them and their families from written and verbal attacks. Imagine if these boys were running down a sidewalk toward a citizen who carried a gun, just after he saw their photos on the Internet.

In the wake of this tragic act, will American gun owners believe they are being threatened by people with shades of skin different from their own? Will gun owners claim self-defense to justify their use of concealed handguns against those whose religious beliefs differ from their own?

As an elected official, Bell’s words matter. At this difficult time, he could choose to use communications with his constituents to encourage kindness and support for all Americans. If he did, he might be surprised to find that the hand of friendship goes a long way toward making America a safer place.

Deborah Charren

Northampton

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