Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.
Public safety representatives who stand at microphones and stand by comments like, "What drove a man to do this? We don't know, but we intend to find out," are wasting our time ("Sheriff seeking what drove 'mad man' to shoot up dance hall," StarTribune.com, Jan. 23). The mass shooter kills because they can hold a semi-automatic weapon and shoot it at people. Case closed.
It doesn't really matter what mental health picture was behind the gun, does it? There are those who continue to stand behind shooters and hold to the idea that if we just, finally, figure out a way to ID thought patterns of every individual, then mass shootings won't happen.
Mass shootings continue because of the killing tool. Shame on us.
Authorities believe he acted alone. But shooters do not act alone. All who continue to hold fast to the idea that the gun is not the problem are, in a way, correct. But they are also acting along with the mass shooter. Shame on us.
Oh, and a big shoutout to New Zealand's retiring prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, who served truthfully and boldly.
Sheila Martin, New Brighton
Another decree to lower flags at half-mast in memory of the victims.
A long as our society is unwilling to control guns, it might make sense to decree that all flag poles in the country be cut in half.
Michael L. Hannan, White Bear Lake
Please let us stop the practice of lowering the flag after each mass shooting. This practice is taken from the same drawer of empty gestures as "Sending thoughts and prayers" and "Have a nice day." Sincerity is gasping for air here. I don't believe that there will be a cure for the common cold or a significant reduction in the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S. during my lifetime. But at least there is interest in curing the common cold.
Christopher Schul, Apple Valley
Regarding "Search harder for end to gun violence" (editorial, Jan. 24): Hmmm, well, uhhh — maybe, just maybe, reduce the number of guns out there. Sadly, that cow left the barn long ago and is now too powerful in America to be corralled again. I fear for the future.
Walt Kilmanas, Minnetrista
Tuesday's A section included stories on our latest (as of Monday) mass shootings — 10 dead in Southern California and 7 dead in Northern California — and I didn't even blink. I sipped my coffee, opened the local section and read the following headlines: "Shooting [outside St. Paul rec center] prompts outrage and audit"; "2 deputies [in central MN] shot serving warrant; suspect dead"; "Prison for shooter of 15-year-old" (the 15-year-old was shot and killed at a light-rail station in Minneapolis); "Teen jailed in Mpls. shooting" (this man, shot and killed at a bus station on Nicollet Avenue, was 31 years old); "Charge added in newborn's death [in Lakeville] after mom's slaying." The baby lived for nine days. Nine. Want to guess how his mom died? She was shot. Shocking, I know. And finally this headline: "Trial witness describes tending to Hill as he died."
How did Deshaun Hill die, you ask? Brace for it. He died because now, we don't even blink.
Timothy Hennum, Minneapolis
Gun regulations should be enforced! Regarding the St. Paul rec center shooting, Mayor Melvin Carter has been quoted as saying, "St. Paul prohibits employees from carrying guns at work." The alleged shooter was an employee, and he had a gun. Why? Why didn't St. Paul enforce its own rules? Now the mayor wants to get state law changed to ban all guns from such places. That would be fine with me, but why bother if there is no effort at enforcement? Maybe Mayor Carter thinks slapping a few "Guns are banned" signs on the doors will do the trick. And maybe the tooth fairy is real, too.
George Westfall, Edina
Perceiving what's actually there
My husband and I bought a condo on the light-rail line 10 years ago so that we could more easily access the transit system into both Minneapolis and St. Paul. In the last few years, we haven't been on the train once when someone wasn't smoking, using drugs, yelling, acting up or just plain crazy. We have called the police three times — kids drinking alcohol and throwing glass bottles in the train car, someone assaulting another person on a platform in Bloomington, someone smoking crack in broad daylight on a different platform in Bloomington. We still use the light rail, but we are very careful to check the car before getting on and to get off at the next stop if we feel at risk, and we rarely ride it after dark anymore. We are so tired of the verbiage "perception of crime" and tired of these 40-point plans. Really?
Sandra Scholes, Bloomington
I could feel the frustration coming from the writer ("A one-point plan to fight transit crime," Opinion Exchange, Jan. 24) as he recounted his experiences. It is not breaking news that transit modalities have become a hub for criminality. The transportation system gives respite for those with a penchant to break the law. Why? Simply put, there has been a historical lack of serious enforcement so as to avoid any pushback from activists. In a world where everyone is hypersensitive to optics and actions, we find ourselves relying on studies and commissions to sanction our enforcement actions. Case in point: St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is hiring an outside firm to analyze the city's recreational policies after the most recent shooting. If elected officials can't figure this out, they need to step aside.
We cannot be controlled by arrest statistics that point to an economic class or race to control enforcement measures. Actions must be colorblind and motivated only by aberrant behavior. We cannot use "transit ambassadors" to soft sell proper behavior and ignore recidivism.
Our beleaguered bus rider announced his "one-point plan" that has been known to law enforcement for decades. It is remarkable how easily common sense is discovered. Perhaps unbeknownst to him, he has outlined the "broken windows" concept of policing. That is, petty crime, if unchecked, will become more serious and frequent as the offender becomes emboldened. Disorderly conduct, fare jumping, smoking, drinking, littering, theft and loitering become the norm when ignored. We already have seen the severity level increase as aggravated assaults and shootings have occurred around transit stations too. Whether on a bus, train or some other public space, all of us will continue to be put in harm's way until we allow law enforcement officers to do their job.
Joe Polunc, Waconia
The writer is a retired law enforcement officer.
A little is not a lot
Sunday's Star Tribune contains a five-sentence news item with the headline "Even a little alcohol can harm you." My high school expository writing teacher would have had a conniption after reading the thesis statement, evidence and conclusion. To quote it: "Even small amounts of alcohol can have health consequences. Research published in November revealed that between 2015 and 2019, excessive alcohol use resulted in roughly 140,000 deaths per year in the United States. When experts talk about the dire health consequences linked to excessive alcohol use, people often assume that it's directed at alcohol use disorder. But the health risks from drinking can come from moderate consumption as well." This news item treats "excessive alcohol use" as equivalent to "moderate consumption" and "a little alcohol." Really? Is ChatGPT being used to write newspaper articles these days?
Pat Kurt, Woodbury