Offers a smokescreen

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Anyone appalled by the slaughter of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., should also be offended by the Dec. 30 Forum piece by U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy. Ostensibly a call to action and a vow to "prevent this from happening again," the column is, in the end, little more than a smokescreen to forestall a truly meaningful response to the horror.

Congressman Murphy calls for increased research into behavioral mental health and for increased treatment options. These would be worthy programs. However, he stops short of recommending increased government funding for any of this, and coming from a Republican who has fought to cut government spending, his vague call for expanded research and treatment is not meaningful. Instead, he promises to conduct budgetary audits of existing programs.

The word "gun," of course, appears nowhere in his column. He makes no suggestion for increased research into, or analysis of, gun usage. Nor is there any reference to reasonable proposals supported by most Americans to close the gun show loophole for background checks or to restrict the availability of high-capacity ammunition clips.

After 31,000 total gun deaths in 2011 and 88 deaths from mass shootings in 2012 alone, Mr. Murphy offers only budget audits. Since he is unable to offer any meaningful actions as a political leader, perhaps he should devote his time, as a psychologist, to providing counseling to the families and first responders in Newtown.

RICHARD MATTHEWS
Mt. Lebanon


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