Columnist Jennifer Brooks got it right (“Small men shrug off America’s big guns,” Aug. 9). As we in Minnesota and the nation struggle to understand and develop strategies to address the complexities of this ongoing tragedy, it is beyond outrageous that some of the most obvious and straightforward actions are stymied here in our Minnesota Legislature (as Brooks says, “The Minnesota Senate is where gun safety legislation goes to die”). When Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, tweets that there is essentially nothing the government can do to stop the next mass shooting, so why even try, he declares himself to be unfit as a Minnesota legislator. Has he even taken the time to read and consider the data on curbing gun violence? Certainly, one would assume this to be an important responsibility as a legislative leader in a time of crisis.
It is past time for all of us to act; we must demand responsible action from our legislators, and, failing that, we must remove from office those “small” men and women who refuse to work toward meaningful, comprehensive solutions. People are dying.
Susan Sisola, Minneapolis
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One reader (“Do research before legislating guns,” Readers Write, Aug. 8) suggests that we wait before we take any action on gun violence or pass any legislation in order to gather more “information” and research the problem.
But under lobbying from the National Rifle Association, Republicans have stymied any federal funding of such research (under the Dickey Amendment) and similar restrictions are in effect in Minnesota (Minnesota Statute 144.05). If nothing else, legislation to lift these restrictions needs to be passed, and right now. That said, we have plenty of data already for more comprehensive legislation.
The reader then suggests that we take into account that “morality standards have lost popularity,” “boundaries of behavior have disappeared,” “dysfunctional lifestyles have become more acceptable,” “government programs have institutionalized breeding grounds for violence,” and the “sanctity and value of human life has declined,” all presented as fact without any research or evidence. And he leaves it unstated what he alludes to with “dysfunctional lifestyles,” but I would hazard a guess that those with the alternative lifestyles that concern him are not the ones shooting up schools, churches, synagogues and nightclubs.
Arne Langsetmo, Robbinsdale
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Perhaps the chant “Do something” that began in Dayton, Ohio, will catch on as a message to legislators regarding gun violence. It would fit on red and blue baseball caps.
Gary Erickson, New Brighton
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The recent commentary from the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass about gun violence was an unwelcome note to my vacation in Minnesota from Chicago (“It happens all the time but makes poor politics,” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 8). Kass has staked out a fundamentalist GOP position that is toxic, like the threat of PolyMet pollution here in my pioneer Finnish family home in northern Minnesota.
Kass implies that Chicago gun violence is overlooked by Democrats and the media. But the problems there have been extensively covered by the media, and the new Democratic mayor has put it on the top of her agenda, as have the previous mayors. Kass’ solution to gun violence is not to focus on reasonable gun legislation to chip away at a slaughter rate far higher than any industrial nation. His solution is to praise a concealed-carry U.S. Army private who intervened. We praise him, too, but this is obviously not the answer to mass murders.
A particularly egregious statement by Kass praises Trump’s “belligerent rhetoric, used to wage war against the corrupt status quo.” Aside from the fact that the president is attacking the status quo of the Constitution and the balance of power, Trump’s rhetoric scaled up the incidents of gun violence and hate crimes.
Roderick Gibbs, Winnetka, Ill.
STATE OF POLITICS
All right, drop the theatrics and actually accomplish something
Are we becoming experts at making a show of doing something without really accomplishing much?
We are “repairing the past” by renaming buildings and bodies of water instead of addressing the current injustices experienced by black and Native American citizens.
We are condemning past statesmen for beliefs and behaviors that insult current sensibilities while ignoring or explaining away egregious behaviors by present politicians.
We are making passionate statements for or against relatively minor changes in gun laws that might not impact mass shootings while avoiding the hard stuff — like making it a crime for citizens to make, sell or own assault rifles or large-capacity magazines.
And we are adopting and arguing over extreme solutions for health care, caring for the environment and immigration instead of planning solutions for a world that works for everyone.
Mary L. Forman, Minneapolis
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It’s time for Congress to re-evaluate its longtime tradition of an August recess and return to D.C. and actually get some work done. A very long letter could refer to the lack of “work” actually done when members are in town, but that’s for another time.
Right now, there are two reasons for Congress to stop one of its many vacations and get back to work: The first would be consideration of some gun regulations that are badly needed, despite the NRA screaming that guns don’t kill people. The second is the need for the Senate to consider fixing the Central States Pension Fund. Since the government is so willing to throw money at anything these days, it seems like — for once — it could consider helping to save the “common” guy from starving to death because the fund that person paid into is no longer solvent.
To Congress: Go to work!
Jim Stromberg, North Oaks
If obstruction isn’t enough, what about treatment at the border?
The Trump regime has swept businesses in Mississippi, arresting 680 undocumented workers, leaving the workers’ children, on the first day of school, to fend for themselves (“Mississippi ICE raids left kids without their parents,” Aug. 9).
The same corrupt regime has imprisoned migrants legally seeking asylum under U.S. and international law, separating them from their minor children and caging the children in pens with inadequate sanitation, food and water. Some children have died due to inadequate medical treatment.
Yet, the Congress dithers about impeachment. My message to the elite 535 voting members of Congress: If you’re too lazy or thoroughly bought to impeach the president for a dozen acts of obstruction of justice, you could at least impeach him for systematic child abuse and torture.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
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While my heart was breaking for the children involved in the latest Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Mississippi, I also couldn’t help but wonder about the companies that are hiring illegal immigrants. It’s not illegal immigrants taking our jobs, but rather all these American companies that hire illegal immigrants and pay them substandard wages which in turn drives down Americans’ wages. These companies and their CEOs should be in prison.
Avi Rosenman, Minneapolis