Letter: Gun control debate should balance safety with freedom

February 4, 2013 

I don't believe that the discussions about gun control and mental health issues that have intensified since the recent mass shootings at Newtown, Conn., are well-served by President Obama making overly broad statements such as, "And to repeat what I've said earlier, if there is a step we can take that will save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step." (Transcript of his Jan. 14 press conference).

Any step taken to save lives will have some costs, certainly in dollars, and often in losses in individual freedoms, which should be carefully weighed against the potential benefit of saving lives.

I do believe that the president understands that this is the case, but then must wonder why he speaks so carelessly. However, I'm not willing to assume that all members of his administration (and other employees of the federal government) understand that benefits must be weighed against costs -- and fear that some of these people will make decisions based on the president's apparent guidance that the loss of any amount of our citizens' freedoms is justified by the saving of one life.

JOHN L. SWANSON, Richland

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