"To the Editor:
Re “Killers Fit a Profile, but So Do Many Others” (front page, Oct. 4):
James Alan Fox, a criminologist, is correct in saying, “We can’t round up all the people who scare us.” But we can do a lot more to sever the link between them and easy access to guns.
Most mass killers obtained guns legally, because of the sieve-like national background check system — unlike the system in New York. To receive my pistol permit, I was asked about my employment and other history, and I submitted the names of four character references who completed multi-page questionnaires probing the kind of person I was, including my “demeanor or behavior.”
All this information and more was submitted to law enforcement and a county judge (I was also interviewed). They could decline my application if the information suggested that I was troubled. Too bad most states don’t conduct real background checks.
ROBERT J. SPITZER
The writer, a professor of political science at SUNY Cortland, is the author of five books on gun policy."