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Readers Write: Death penalty can reduce suffering; Gun laws protect

Letters to the Editor for the June 4, 2012 weekly print magazine: We can't apply a simplistic 'cost-benefit' analysis to the death penalty. Stand Your Ground laws give Americans the freedom to defend ourselves with force, but don't guarantee we will use it.

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Death penalty might reduce suffering

Regarding "The Monitor's View" of April 23, "Death penalty's fatal flaw": As a punishment more punitive than preventive, more costly than compassionate, the death penalty harks back to a different time in our nation. Yet we should pause before we assign a simplistic "cost-benefit" analysis to those who still support it: lawmakers, police, and, yes, victims.

For some individuals whose lives have been touched by violence, the death penalty is justice even as it might be vengeance. Empathizing with those individuals who have suffered may, in the long term, reduce further suffering.

Stand Your Ground gun laws protect

There are parts of Walter Rodgers's April 30 commentary ("Florida-style gun laws sub impulse for thought") that I agree with, especially the recommendation that you try to talk your way out of a difficult or dangerous situation first. But while his recommendations are a good starting point, they should not be the foundation of state or federal law.

People facing a threat need the freedom to choose how to respond. One hopes they can find a solution that diffuses the situation, as Mr. Rodgers successfully has, but our laws should provide citizens with full legal support to defend themselves.

The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case is tragic, and I agree that if Mr. Zimmerman had not been in possession of a gun, Trayvon would probably still be alive today. But I cannot extrapolate from that instance that people should not carry guns. Nor can I jump to the conclusion, as Rodgers did, that "those who legally carry concealed weapons would likely have encouraged [Rodgers] to shoot" in the instance where he was accosted in Atlanta.

Most of the people I know who have a license for concealed carry are very levelheaded, often of military background; and they understand the consequences of firing a gun – some firsthand, on the receiving end. They would not be hasty to use one.

Yes, the Florida Stand Your Ground law does specifically entitle us to meet force with force, but it doesn't guarantee that we will. It simply gives us the freedom to defend ourselves should the need arise.

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