Author Tony Horwitz will be greatly missed

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I was saddened to learn of the sudden death, on Memorial Day, of author Tony Horwitz, who is best known for his 1998 book about the legacy of the Civil War, “Confederates in the Attic.” Horwitz was a native of Washington, D.C., and the topics he covered were international in scope. However, his books often had ties to Virginia.

On a book tour for “Confederates,” he visited the Museum of the Confederacy, where he was greeted by re-enactors in full regalia. Ten years later, at the Library of Virginia, he spoke about “A Voyage Long and Strange,” which included a chapter about Jamestown. His most recent volume examines Frederick Law Olmsted’s travels through the pre-Civil War South (“Spying on the South”), which Horwitz had been scheduled to discuss at the new American Civil War Museum. He and his family even lived for a while in the village of Waterford, in Loudoun County.

A hallmark of Horwitz’s reportage was his own participation in activities that would make the past come alive. He became a re-enactor for “Confederates” and followed the Pacific path of Captain Cook on a vintage sailing vessel for his book “Blue Latitudes.”

Our paths crossed briefly seven years ago at the Chautauqua Institution, in western New York. I was having breakfast at the old hotel there, and Horwitz, who was sitting close by and had just arrived the night before, was unfamiliar with the Institution’s sprawling grounds. For a few moments I assumed the role of his guide. I pointed out the literary center where he and his wife, novelist Geraldine Brooks, would address an appreciative audience a day later. He signed a book for me after his presentation. His authorial voice, which has given so much enjoyment to many an armchair adventurer, has been silenced far too soon.

John Harris.

Richmond.

E-scooters a shaky idea for the uninitiated

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

What could go wrong? Place scooters on the street for pickup by people who have never ridden a scooter. Don’t supply helmets with the scooters. Require that they be ridden on city streets, including downtown. Fail to supply any three-wheeled scooters.

Analie Rademaker.

Midlothian.

Does video game violence stoke aggression?

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Still another clarion call for gun control. As usual, Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals would not have deterred DeWayne Crowder from his monstrous crime. The rhetoric suggests that guns alone are the villain. But the last time I checked, someone had to pull the trigger.

Shouldn’t we focus more on what motivates people to commit these horrific deeds? Mental disorders surely are a factor. But what about the entertainment industry, whose products supply our children and adults with vivid images of human carnage? The most popular video games, for example, thrill participants by allowing them to inflict realistic violence, death and destruction upon adversaries. Perhaps some of our mass shooters are merely re-enacting what they have seen throughout their lives.

If the governor wants to address this issue in an honest and comprehensive way and put politics aside, all players must be at the table, including the entertainment industry.

Michael C. Carter.

Ashland.

Mueller comment surprises reader

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I am amazed that special counsel Robert Mueller would say that if he “could prove President Trump did not commit a crime he would have said so.”

A lawyer saying he should attempt to prove some one innocent?

Anyone is presumed to be innocent unless proved guilty.

I’m afraid Mueller gives a us a good look into his mindset going in to this so-called investigation.

Robert Passmore.

Glen Allen.

More gun restrictions might not stop attacks

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I strongly oppose Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposals for additional gun restrictions. None would have prevented the tragedy that occurred in Virginia Beach.

The proposed universal background check would not; the perpetrator cleared a background check. Extreme Risk Protection Order laws would not, as he exhibited no signs that would have risen to that level. Magazine limits would not, as reloading takes only seconds.

Why not try to come up with something that might work? Stop restricting law-abiding Virginians from being able to protect themselves where they work, play and conduct business. Until we can forecast what humans are going to do before they do it, I will continue to follow a creed I learned in the Boy Scouts: “Be Prepared.”

Banning property already owned legally by Virginians seems inequitable. If I owned an AR-15, must I destroy it? Must I register it with the commonwealth, to be on some list compiled for future confiscation when the next mass shooting happens, or does the commonwealth intend to confiscate it now? What about pistols that shipped with a magazine capacity above 10 — must I destroy them, or have them in some way modified?

These laws are on the books in other states with no success. California still has mass shootings, and they already have all of these laws. They don’t work in California, and they won’t work here in Virginia. After all, murder already is illegal, and those who are contemplating murders are not going to think twice about breaking a gun control law.

My firearms have never harmed anyone. I hope not ever to need to protect myself or family with one, but self-defense is a fundamental human right.

My firearms are like my homeowner’s insurance, I have it but hope to God never to have to use it.

William M. Haskins Jr.

Goochland.

Pro-birth, but what about afterward?

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The hypocrisy surrounding the abortion debate is stunning. While there are heartfelt religious and moral objections to abortion, the same spiritual zeal does not exist in concern for the child after birth. I think it’s beyond question that demographic analysis of the typical anti-abortion advocate would show that this same demographic also opposes Medicaid expansion and eschews any programs to, in fact, care for the children. These folks are not pro-life, they’re pro-birth. How hypocritical.

Steven A. Linas.

Richmond.

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