I listened to an interview recently with an international correspondent, and he described witnessing people stepping over bodies in the street as they went about their daily activities in war-torn countries. It is deplorable, especially as it affects the psyches of young children. But are we not doing the same thing here? They were quite literally doing the same at the Seventh Street Truck Park in St. Paul, and we are elsewhere in our Twin Cities as both see increasing numbers of gunshot victims.
Speaking from personal experience, those of us who have lost family members to gun homicide and, I would posit, those of us who just witness it on the news night after night, are sick and tired of the killing and the inaction by our lawmakers. We need gun safety reform. There is no one measure that will solve what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Medical Association describe as a public health crisis. But universal criminal background checks on all gun sales, red-flag laws, increased penalties for straw purchases and unscrupulous dealers, and longer waiting periods for gun purchases are some of the reforms that have been shown to reduce gun violence and gun trafficking in states that have adopted them. None of these measures interfere with my right to gun ownership as a law-abiding citizen. The tragedies that we have become so accustomed to indicate that it is past time for reform.
John M. Barden, Prior Lake
The gun commentary by attorney Megan Walsh was so misinformed and inaccurate that it screams for rebuttal ("St. Paul carnage, court case, highlight crisis," Opinion Exchange, Oct. 15). The gist of her opinion, comparing lifelong criminals — felons who are banned from even owning a gun, much less carrying it in public — with legal gun owners isn't even apples to apples. It's apples to orangutans.
She equates gangbangers targeting rivals in a bar with legal gun owners, foolishly surmising "how easily carrying a firearm for self-defense slips into using a gun offensively." Can she name one instance of this ever happening in a Minnesota bar? A legal permit holder just opening fire?
Then she goes on to say (presumably with a straight face) that "Perhaps the shooters at the Seventh Street Truck Park imagined themselves to be good guys with a gun, carrying and bearing their firearms in the name of self-defense." This is the pinnacle of absurdity. Does the author know the first thing about the circumstances of the Truck Park shooting? Since the answer is obviously no, why would she write a commentary foolishly stating misinformation and conjecture as fact?
Here are some other things the author obviously doesn't know:
Minnesota permit holders are required to take a several-hour class covering the rules and regulations of carrying a firearm. A great deal of time is spent talking about the repercussions of even drawing your weapon, much less firing it (hint: nothing good) and how even drawing your weapon is a last resort when lives are at stake. We also cover drinking and carrying. The legal limit is half of what it is for driving, .04%. There is also a live range shooting proficiency test, where you must demonstrate the ability to safely load, handle and fire a gun with accuracy. If you pass the course and shooting test, then you submit your application to the county sheriff and are awarded your permit to carry after passing a federal background check.
To compare these lifelong thugs involved in this shooting to legal, law-abiding gun owners and carriers is the epitome of ignorance and a slap in the face. To then insinuate that these people go out looking for an excuse to use their weapon takes this nonsense to the next level.
John Morgan, Burnsville
Regarding state Sen. Warren Limmer's commentary, "We need common-sense control — of criminals" (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 15): I can rephrase his piece in three words: "Look! Halley's comet!"
Limmer's argument is disingenuous, obtuse and flawed; he argues that some civil rights are less important than the overly emphasized and made up "rights" that support an enormous supply of guns. Move your thinking upstream, Sen. Limmer: Fewer guns, and more restrictive access to who has them and where they are present, will prevent many of the "problems" you call out. Pay attention to the most instrumental of facts: Too many guns means too much violence.
Scott McConnell, Minneapolis
As someone who has worked on violence prevention for decades, I am in full agreement with the Star Tribune Editorial Board's analysis ("A mass shooting, more 'never again,'" Oct. 12) that the mass shooting at the Seventh Street Truck Park needs to seen as "part of a terrible national problem" and that we need a "sensible national response ... to the epidemic of gun violence." In the meantime, I would suggest that there is in fact something that we could do, immediately, to prevent the specific tragedy that happened in St. Paul last weekend from ever happening again in local bars in the Twin Cities: equipping bar security personnel, already in place to check IDs, with metal detectors to screen and ensure all bar patrons enter free of any guns (and knives, for that matter). People who wish to legally carry weapons would not have their right to carry restricted outside of bars, and the rights of everyone in the bar to safety and life would be respected and ensured as well. While the plague of gun violence indeed requires "a portfolio of responses," this is a step that could be taken now by bar owners themselves, with no government action needed. The indisputable fact is, had no one been carrying guns in the Seventh Street bar that fateful night, no one would have been shot. Period.
Donald Gault, Roseville
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