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I am a gun owner and a hunter. I support the rights of law-abiding Americans to buy, own and use guns for hunting, shooting and self-defense. I am disgusted by the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Boys and other right-wing militia/vigilante groups that potentially seek to use military-style weapons to intimidate the public against voting.

I believe it is amoral and irresponsible for the president of the United States to imply that heavily armed volunteers monitor polling locations. This undermines civil society and our democracy.

Sportsmen and sportswomen have a profound obligation to use guns safely and responsibly when in pursuit of game and recreation. The use of guns to compel or deter voters is counter to the norms of civil society.

In my experience, Minnesota hunters are decent, honest and thoughtful people who are passionate about the outdoors, conservation and respect the game they hunt. I cannot imagine that any of them would wear body armor, carry a military assault rifle and show up at a polling place to threaten and intimidate voters. It is time for this nonsense to stop.

Zenas Hutcheson, Minneapolis

Best response is compassion

In regard to the Trumps getting COVID-19, the best thing we can do is to show love and compassion toward them even though their policies and actions have caused so much suffering for so many people. I don't know what it will take for them to understand the effect of their actions. But by showing kindness and love through their suffering maybe they will see things differently. Either way, vote!

Jean Sheehan, Minnetonka

Don't get sucked into the sinkhole

Former Vice President Joe Biden called the president of United States a clown and told him to shut up in Tuesday's debate. I can only imagine the restraint and poise it would have taken to resist the impulse, stick to the issues and let the president's words and actions speak for themselves. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to this. It's what I am looking for in my candidate for president. Civility, honesty, passion for democracy and respect for the office he wants to hold are essential features of future president. I hope Biden can find his way to do as Michelle Obama taught us: When they go low, we go high.

Charlie Greenman, Minnetonka
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Who is Steve Scully, the moderator for the second presidential debate?

Steve Scully has worked for C-SPAN since 1990. He's currently a producer and host for one of their morning programs, "Washington Journal." He's also in charge of the network's White House coverage. He's even served on the executive board of the White House Correspondents' Association, where he was the president of the association from 2006 until 2007. He had been described as the most patient man on television.

Anyone wonder about his earlier résumé?

While he was attending American University in Washington, D.C., he interned for then-Sen. Joe Biden. Who coincidentally is currently the Democratic presidential candidate who will be in the presidential debate with Scully as the moderator.

I'm wondering what are the chances of an unbiased moderator at this next debate.

Mike McLean, Richfield
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While Tuesday evening's debate was simultaneously captivating and disturbing, I might be even more disturbed by some of the reactions from local citizens. In Wednesday's Readers Write section, at least two (and arguably three) of the six pieces published concerning Trump's tax status variously congratulated him, exonerated him or gave him a pass ("To whom and how much?"). One person even said, "Just because you paid more than the president and probably most of the big companies in America doesn't make it illegal or wrong."

Think about that for a moment. While our tax system may indeed be a mess, what does it say about us when we suggest that something is, by definition, "right" simply because it is not illegal? News flash: Most of our behavior as individuals, and our relative health as a society, is not covered specifically by laws.

Among other things, my career included teaching professional ethics in a local graduate school for over 20 years. In many ways, ethics are transcendent and meant to guide us through the many gray areas that are not necessarily governed by laws or even rules. I always used to tell my students that the two things a society cannot afford to sacrifice are a sense of accountability among its citizens and the ability to be outraged when you witness outrageous behavior. While I am outraged by Trump's behavior and virtually complete inability to accept accountability (or understand, as Harry Truman taught us, where "the buck stops"), I am almost as concerned — chilled to the bone, really — when I read some Readers Write contributors' congratulatory comments about the rightness of Trump's tax behavior, and what I can only conclude is their choice of Trump as a role model.

Heaven help our young people if this is the track we are on.

Dan Haugen, Plymouth
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We watched a "debate" on Tuesday that is one for the history books, and I hope never to see one like it again. Perhaps more discouraging is the acrimony among so many of us. Where is the respect for a different point of view? Where is the belief in the democracy that should be the hallmark of our nation? I know my adopted land is not perfect, and we have many wrongs to right, but we must not give up or give in to those who shout loudly. Please vote this year whether you're a Trump supporter, a Biden supporter like me or an independent who still is deciding. Please vote if you are mad at both candidates and think that not voting is punishing them or that you are "making a statement" about the process. Your vote counts and your vote matters.

Katherine Leonidas, Lake Elmo

Here, less of a wait for results

President Donald Trump's strident disinformation campaign has made us conscientious absentee voters worried that our votes will not be counted. Add to that misleading statements made by otherwise well-meaning opinion writers, and everyone is second-guessing themselves. In an opinion piece by Thomas Friedman published in the Star Tribune on Oct. 1 ("This is how democracies perish," Opinion Exchange), he urged people to put on a mask and vote in person on Nov. 3 so that "Biden can win outright with the votes cast on Election Day, instead of waiting for all the mail-in ballots to be counted."

In Minnesota there will be no such wait, or less of one. According to the secretary of state, election officials can feed absentee ballots into vote-counting machines starting 14 days before the election, though vote counts are not calculated and reported until election night ("Minnesota officials defend integrity of mail-in balloting," Oct. 1). Ballots that are mailed in or delivered in advance of Election Day — the earlier the better — should be counted on the day. No need to risk your health or stand in lines made extra-long by COVID restrictions to assure that Joe Biden will have your vote. Fill out your ballot, follow the directions carefully, mail in or deliver your ballot as early as possible, check the county website to see that it has been approved, and then feel confident your vote will be counted on Election Day.

Jean Boler, St. Paul

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