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Readers Write (Sept. 20): Marijuana, gun violence, congressional Republicans

  • September 19, 2013 - 7:22 PM


Hennepin sheriff is scaremongering

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek (“Lax marijuana enforcement puts us on a dangerous road,” Sept. 18) wrote that “there is no silver bullet that will eliminate the crime associated with marijuana sales” because gangs could still sell illegally potent marijuana or sell it to minors.

I think he knows better than that.

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, alcohol was still restricted in sale to minors and, in many places, by strength. Did Al Capone continue his bootlegging by selling pure alcohol or selling to children? Of course not; there would be little money in that. Similarly, when marijuana becomes legal, organized crime will be out of it.

Legalized marijuana will result in enhanced tax collection and less-crowded court, jail and prison systems, as well as significantly less spending on law enforcement.


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Although Stanek and his clique of cops remain addicted to marijuana prohibition, it’s not their place to dictate the law. Since 1996, 20 states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and in 2012 voters in two states approved ballot measures for outright legalization.

The fact is that not one of these states has repealed its reform laws. Reality refutes Stanek’s “reefer madness.” A majority of these reform laws have been enacted by direct popular vote in states with the initiative-­and-referendum process. In Michigan in 2008, medical cannabis carried every single one of the state’s 83 counties. In 2012, in the swing state of Colorado, legal marijuana got more votes than did either President Obama or presidential challenger Mitt Romney.

In our country, unlike in totalitarian states, the police are supposed to be servants of the people, not their bosses. If certain elements in law enforcement don’t like that, maybe they should look for honest work in some other line of endeavor.


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Weary of war — that is, the one at home

This week, our daughter texted us from the boathouse at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is a freshman, telling us there was a shooter on campus and that they were in lockdown. She said she felt safe. Soon after, she was released, but it turns out that shots were fired and suspects were detained. The university handled the situation well. Crisis averted. As parents, we were unbelievably relieved.

With all the discussion of war-weariness for what our nation is doing outside our borders, and talk of adding more to the mix, we need to focus more on the war being waged here at home. We should be weary of the mass (and random) shootings; we should be weary of the ineptitude of elected officials to take any reasonable gun-control action, and we should be weary of waiting for the next text that brings scarier news from our children. I know I am.


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Putting the chance of death in perspective (“Life’s tenuous nature: The bookies put it all in perspective,” Letter of the Day, Sept. 19) can be meaningful only if done by age group.

The chance of dying of something over a lifetime is 100 percent. I would suggest the annual report of “cause of death by age group,” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for a more tragic perspective.

Deaths due to homicide make the top four by age 4, and are in the top two during the teens and 20s. Suicide reaches the top four in the group aged 10-14 and remains in the top 10 through age 64. The number of homicides due to gunfire vary a bit from year to year but are usually greater than 70 percent of the total.

Suicides by gunshot are usually 50 percent of the total.

The writer may have wished to give some reassurance along with perspective that there is a 1 in 312 chance of being killed by gunfire. In regions of the country with high per capita gun ownership, this ratio can be 1 in 150. The Journal of Military Medicine published a report recently of the deaths per 100,000 of military personnel in the Iraq theater. It calculates to about 1 in 250.

We can all prevent (delay) cardiovascular disease by well-known health recommendations. How do we alter the chance of death by gunfire? I have perspective, and I am not reassured.


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Republican plan may be bad for Republicans

In 1936, Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon ran against Franklin Roosevelt, and his campaign was focused almost entirely on repealing Social Security, which he claimed was “corrupt, unconstitutional, hostile to business and mired in waste and inefficiency.” Does any of this sound familiar? Landon lost the election, with eight electoral votes to FDR’s 523. Before the 1936 election cycle, Republicans had 25 senators and 103 seats in the House. After the election, they had 16 senators and 88 congressmen. They would not regain a majority in the House for more than 40 years.

Fast-forward to 2013; House Republicans are threatening to shut down the government rather than allow access to affordable health care through Obamacare. Let’s hope that history repeats itself.

Stephen Kriz, Maple Grove

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