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A man embraces a young boy as they look at a memorial in front of the St. Rose of Lima Catholic church in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 16, 2012. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
A man embraces a young boy as they look at a memorial in front of the St. Rose of Lima Catholic church in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 16, 2012. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

Expats debate: Does a mental-health strategy need to be part of Obama’s guns task force? Add to ...

“Semi-automatic" means that when you shoot one round, the firearm automatically ejects the spent casing and cycles in a new round, without the need of any further action on the part of the shooter.

Many proponents of banning semi-automatic firearms say, "If you have to reload each round, as in the case of a bolt-action rifle, it slows you down and reduces how many people you might injure or kill in a given amount of time."

My response would be to go dig up some footage of biathlon shooters in any Winter Olympics. They have bolt-action rifles with magazines, and the bolts are designed to be cycled with an absolute minimum of effort and time. Give me one of those rifles and put me up against someone with a semi-automatic, and I could probably get shots away in almost the same time as the semi-auto shooter with a bit of practice ...

The only gun control measure I'd be in favour of would be to reinstate the [Clinton-era] provision limiting magazines to 10 rounds or less.

The Tucson shooter in the [Congresswoman] Gabby Giffords shooting had a 33-round magazine protruding from the grip of his handgun, and was tackled when he tried to change magazines. If he'd had to change after only 10 rounds, his toll would have been lower. This is the only gun control measure that, in my opinion, would have any serious impact on the frequency of possible future incidents.

The biggest difference we can make would be to vastly improve how we handle mental health in our society… We don't know exactly what demons were going through the mind of the Newtown shooter. But for this and for millions of other reasons, we need to take the resources we currently devote to mental health in this society and increase them ten-fold, if not a hundred-fold.

Colleen Pendergast, a former school administrator in Nantucket, Mass., from Edmonton:

I am struck by the amount of people suggesting that school principals should start carrying guns and the suggestion that the principal in the Sandy Hook shooting would have been able to take him down if she was armed.

Is she supposed to be walking around school with an assault rifle? Or was there supposed to be time for her to go and get said gun? I can say that as a school principal I would never, ever carry a gun inside of a school.

I know enough about myself that I am not comfortable with guns and never will be. I could never live with myself if a child or staff member or visiting parent was harmed in anyway from me "being armed." And there are a lot of troubled kids out there who would think it was a great feat to get a hold of the "school's gun."

I am assuming that these people who are saying this are not aware that most middle and high schools (and many elementary) have school resource officers (police officers). They carry guns, because they are police officers. That has obviously not prevented school violence, I hate to say. I hope this argument [to arm school principals] goes away very quickly.

Meredith Miller, who works in communications in Pittsburgh, Penn., is originally from Toronto:

I've heard a number of discussions and debates after events like this that disarming the public only works in favor of those looking to commit harm. If someone is looking to inflict such devastation, are they more likely to do it in a place where they know someone won't shoot back? In the case of schools, in the vast majority of school districts, school security personnel are unarmed. Looking back to Aurora, Colorado earlier this year, for someone looking to inflict mass harm, that movie theatre certainly wasn't the largest in the city, where the number of targets would be greatest. It was, however, one that did not allow guns on its property.

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