"What difference will it make if a kid takes a gun or a knife to school and kills people?" asks an April 5 letter writer who argues that perpetrators, not their weapons, are to blame in mass killings.
At the risk of stating the obvious, it's really hard to defend yourself against a gun, especially a semiautomatic gun, if unarmed. On the other hand, one has a fighting chance against a knife, even if unarmed.
Further, it's vastly easier for a crowd to overwhelm a knife-wielder than a person with a repeating gun. Finally, it takes vastly more courage (and/or derangement) to attack with a knife than with a gun. And that means that the frequency of such attacks would be far lower if guns weren't so readily available.
And, yes, of course the person wielding the weapon is to blame for any attack, whatever the weapon may be. But allowing our ludicrous license of access to weapons with the potential to kill dozens of people in a few minutes lies with the lack of courage and will of our leaders, as well as the rigidity of the NRA.
Rational weapons laws do not have to restrict constitutional rights, and nowhere in the Constitution does it say that weapons access should go unregulated. Were that the case, I'd like a Trident submarine, please. Good grief!
JOHN F. HETTERICK, PLYMOUTH
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Minnesota is considering higher teacher standards, but what assurance do we have that home-school teachers possess the same understanding of curricula, teaching methods and behavioral issues as licensed teachers?
Might some home-school teachers be refused entrance into teacher education programs because they lack general education or expertise in specific areas?
They are teaching thousands of children.
GLORIA J. KIESTER, NORTHFIELD, MINN.
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I know we all, in the heat of the moment, have let out harsh, angry words that we wouldn't have said in a calmer moment. Bashing is of little use and only keeps the fire stoked to an unnecessary degree. In my 37 years of teaching, I had my students memorize poems.
Carl Sandburg's "Primer Lesson" was always in my class plans; the first lines speak volumes:
"Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is
not easy to call them back."
A recent letter falsely declaring how easy it is for teachers to keep their jobs has brought this to my mind, but beyond that, vitriol seems to have engulfed our public debate in general.
PATRICIA JOHNSTON, ST. LOUIS PARK
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This quote from Helen Keller is still helpful: "The highest result of education is tolerance. Long ago men fought and died for their faith; but it took ages to teach them the other kind of courage,--the courage to recognize the faiths of their brethren and their rights of conscience. Tolerance is the first principle of community; it is the spirit which conserves the best that all men think. No loss by flood and lightning, no destruction of cities and temples by the hostile forces of nature, has deprived men of so many noble lives and impulses as those which his intolerance has destroyed."
DICK CROFT, MINNEAPOLIS
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Breakthroughs on the cause of the growing rates of autism ("Autism studies point to gene link," April 5) are sorely needed. While advancements bring hope, this is just a baby step toward better understanding of autism, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says affects one in 88 children in the United States.
The research has almost exclusively focused on genetic causes. Environmental impact should also be explored. The tremendous increase in autism cannot be explained away by rare genetic mutations, improved detection and more awareness alone.
Don't let Thursday's headline lull you into thinking this problem is being addressed. Autism rates have doubled in the past four years. We need to look into all possible causes. The cost of not doing so is extremely high. Kids and their families suffer and struggle, and so does all of society.
PAM CARLSON, ST. PAUL
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Once again, smokers get the shaft ("No butts about it: Target Field's last smoking locale snuffed out," April 5). I would rather sit next to a smoker than a foulmouthed drunk at Twins games. You feed the drunk, but once again the smokers become second-class citizens. There has to be a corner of the plaza to which you can herd the smokers. This is an outdoor stadium -- come on.
SUE WILSON, SAVAGE
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Thanks to the Supreme Court, it's now legal for a police officer to conduct a strip search on anyone who is arrested for even the smallest legal infraction. If it ever happens to me, I'm going to insist on a dinner and a movie first.
DOUG WILLIAMS, ROBBINSDALE
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Oh, shoot! I did not win the Mega Millions lottery big prize. My dream purchase would have been the next president of the United States by way of a super PAC. Praise the lord for the "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision.
DAVE HILE, MINNEAPOLIS
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There's nothing quite like spending time in the BWCA, listening to the cry of a loon and the sound of someone's ring tone drifting across the lake.
MARK PIPKORN, MINNEAPOLIS