A jury has found that Mohamed Noor acted rashly. But that still leaves the question of why — why did he feel so afraid for his and his partner’s lives?
Guns are everywhere. There are now more guns in the U.S. than people, and there are shootings every day. Add the fact that Minnesota law allows anyone — including people who would fail a background check — an easy avenue to guns, and it isn’t hard to see how a law enforcement officer might consider every encounter potentially lethal. Who wouldn’t be afraid?
This isn’t an isolated example of police firing out of fear in what turned out to be a calm, nonthreatening situation. The killing of Philando Castile comes to mind.
The Minnesota House has passed two bills that would help reduce that fear — closing the background check loophole and establishing a due-process court procedure for temporarily removing guns from people exhibiting signs that they are dangerous to themselves or others (a “red flag” bill). As you might expect, law enforcement solidly backs these bills — as do most of us, polls confirm. These measures don’t infringe on law-abiding gun owners’ rights, and they’ve saved lives in the states that have enacted them.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, however, has declared these bills dead on arrival. My question for you, Sen. Gazelka, is whether loyalty to the gun lobby is really more important than addressing the ever-present and too-often-lethal danger that increasingly defines police-community interaction? I hope, for the sake of all Minnesotans, that you and your Republican Senate colleagues will change your minds. Meanwhile, tragically, the clock ticks until the next victim of our lax gun laws.
Rich Cowles, Eagan
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Like so many, I’m not sure what to make of the Noor trial and verdict. Some say there were no winners. Maybe. Where you stand depends on where you sit. There are lessons to be learned, but I’m not sure we know yet what they are. Let us hope we have the wisdom to determine that in the months ahead. To paraphrase an old quote, “There but for the grace of God go us.” Now, it’s healing time.
Don A. Osell, Cohasset, Minn.
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I am a Minnesota native and take pride in being from a state that has been a refuge for many people of different cultural backgrounds, but I was very disappointed with the verdict from the ex-officer Noor case. I believe the decision to charge him with murder and manslaughter was influenced by racism and possibly Islamophobia on the part of the jury and prosecutor. He is the only officer to be convicted after fatally shooting a citizen. It’s a dishonor to the memory of Jamar Clark, Philando Castile and all the others who lost their lives if only one officer faces consequence instead of all the officers. Justice for Justine should not mean injustice for Jamar or Philando. Based on the Constitution, we should all have equal rights under the law to life and liberty regardless of race or whether you are in law enforcement or a citizen. I sympathize with all the families that lost a loved one. Now is the time for police to learn better ways to protect and serve the people so no family has to worry ever again about being told their loved one was killed by the police.
Aleyyah Ramadan-Ali, Suitland, Md.
We protect kids in some ways, but fail them in an important one
Let’s see — how many U.S. kids have died, even when using duck and cover, from nuclear weapons? (“Slain student hailed for tackling gunman,” May 2.) Oh, that’s right, the world has limited and controlled nuclear weapons, though we are flummoxed by North Korea’s growing capacity to reach our cities. So, we kept Riley Howell safe from being incinerated by a rational policy to limit nuclear weapons. Too bad we haven’t got such a policy for guns.
Richard Breitman, Minneapolis
Committee hearings mask the Democrats’ real goal: Win 2020
One thing is clear from watching the two-ring circus being performed by the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committee “oversight” hearings. They have nothing to do with oversight and everything to do with the 2020 presidential election. Under the guise of their respective constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch, the Democrats on these committees have done little more than slander Attorney General William Barr with ad hominem attacks on his integrity, in the hope that this will work to their political advantage in the battle for the presidency. What other explanation is there for Sen. Mazie Hirono using her entire seven minutes to attack Barr, not asking him a single question? And what other explanation is there for Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s last-minute demand that Barr subject himself to interrogation by staff attorneys in addition to the 14 House representatives, who are themselves lawyers? Because the Democrats, after waiting two years for a Mueller report that would give them grounds to start impeachment, have come up empty-handed. Mueller exonerated Trump on the collusion/conspiracy claim and left the obstruction issue for Barr to resolve. So to the Democrats, Mueller’s two-year costly investigation is moot, leaving no clear road to impeachment, and the attack must now be through their judiciary committees.
The real question is: Why doesn’t the House commence impeachment proceedings? Could it be that an actual impeachment proceeding, rather than the fake ones going on in the House and Senate, might uncover two years of lies?
Ronald Haskvitz, St. Louis Park
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I don’t mean to be “snitty,” but isn’t Barr’s refusal to meet with the House Judiciary Committee further evidence of obstruction of justice?
Pete Boelter, North Branch, Minn.
To fix MNLARS, look elsewhere
As taxpayers, my wife and I found Minnesota’s car-registration system (“Walz and GOP agree MNLARS must go,” front page, May 2) an appalling waste of taxpayer money. At $100 million the light finally came on? Given that, we do not believe another $73 million will be adequate. How many of the people involved in the “$100 million lemon” will be associated with the substitute? Enough. At what point does the term “fiduciary negligence” become applicable? Here’s an idea that hasn’t been tried yet: See what all of the states that are not utilizing the MNLARS process have done. Reinventing the wheel really isn’t necessary and is indefensibly costly.
Thomas Edwards, Forest Lake
Sen. Kiffmeyer: Use available funds to shield us from cyberattacks
Minnesota Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, chair of a key Senate committee on voting issues, is holding hostage the $6 million in federal money intended to protect Minnesota voting from cyberattacks. This is wrong on so many levels: 1) It is in violation of our state Constitution for combining a simple up or down money bill with a new policy issue. 2) The provisional ballot initiative is a thinly veiled attempt to restrict and intimidate targeted voters. 3) The senator is willing to risk the voting security of all Minnesota voters against a known foreign adversary just to gain some political advantage. 4) The majority of bills that go to joint conference committees and come out in an omnibus bill never have a recorded committee vote, so the public cannot hold their politicians accountable. It is cowardice, and it is bad government, beginning to end.
Jim Herrick, Lauderdale