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Given the mostly arcane, irrelevant and paranoid points the NRA raises to justify expanding gun ownership in the United States, Americans might be excused for thinking there is some confusion or mystery in how a society can improve its gun safety record. In fact, throughout the rest of the developed world, there is no confusion whatsoever: Virtually every developed country in the world has a better record than us. Their solutions might be particular to their individual circumstances, but they all do a better job than we do.
Take, for example, a sampling of English-speaking countries: The United States has a gun homicide rate that is 6.4 times Canada’s, 35 times Australia’s, and 80 times England’s. Add gun suicides and accidents into the mix, and the ratios remain roughly the same. Although the U.S. population represents less than 5 percent of the world’s total, 60 percent of the mass shootings in the past 50 years have occurred within our borders. Of the 11 deadliest shootings in the United States, five have happened since 2007. Six, if you include Sandy Hook.
Our federal government bears full responsibility for our country’s dismal gun safety record. Whether through willful ignorance or cowardice, our elected officials allow the NRA to dictate gun policies that directly affect the other 325 million Americans.
Bill Mantis, St. Paul
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I was quite bothered by the defeat. Then I read the bill. I am completely in favor of background checks for gun sales, but this bill would result in the federal government compiling a list of all guns sales by owner, make, model and serial number unless given as a gift within the immediate family or inherited by will. That is going too far. I am not a big fan of the NRA and do not own any guns, but this bill would jeopardize the intent of the Second Amendment. Had it been in place in the early 1770s, we would still be British.
Gary Schlieckert, Bloomington
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I live two blocks from Accent Signage in Minneapolis, where last fall a gunman killed seven people, including himself. My mother, in Wisconsin, lives a few blocks from the suburban mall where, a couple of months later, a gunman killed three women and himself. We know very well the deadly consequences of not checking gun purchases to ensure responsible ownership. No one, on the other hand, has died from the inconvenience of a background check.
Tim Gihring, Minneapolis
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I am a gun owner. I’m not sure how many guns I own — I think it’s between 15 and 20, including shotguns, deer rifles, a .22-caliber rifle and a German Luger pistol given to my dad after World War II. I am an avid hunter. I bought my first hunting license in 1950, and I have bought at least one every year since, except for the years in the late 1950s and early ’60s, when I was serving in the U.S. Navy.
I don’t care who knows about my guns. I do not fear our government trying to take them away. If I choose to buy another gun, I’m OK going through a background check, and I surely have no need for an assault rifle. I have never used more than two or three shells to kill a deer. As a matter of fact, my shotguns have a five-shot capacity, but when I’m afield hunting, I must have a plug in the magazine that limits the capacity to three shots. Thirty-shot clips make no sense to me at all.
I am not a member of the NRA. I let my membership lapse several years ago, but I wish I was still a member. If I were, I would tear up my membership card and send it back to Wayne LaPierre, and suggest to him where he should stick it.
Bill Lipp, Audubon, Minn.
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This fear of compromise doesn’t stop with the gun issue. Liberal Democrats are unwilling to take a chance on middle-ground entitlement reform. How do they propose to balance the budget? Most Republicans seem unwilling to compromise on immigration reform. How many millions of illegal residents are they willing to expel? Tea Partiers and Republicans are unwilling to compromise on tax policy. How many consequences of growing income inequality are they willing to swallow?
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.