I read the articles and saw the local news coverage about how the Minnesota Department of Transportation couldn’t change its plans to close Interstate 35W even though there were multiple things going on over the weekend in downtown Minneapolis (“MnDOT defends closing I-35W on jam-packed sports weekend”). They almost convinced me, and then I had to go from the northern suburbs to southern Minnesota on Saturday.
The obvious route around the 35W shutdown was to take 35E (the practice freeway) through St. Paul to connect with 35 south. Upon entering the 45 miles-per-hour area of 35E, we were at a steady 10 mph for the whole length of the practice freeway. Only a 50-minute delay. The reason for the traffic jam in both directions was because MnDOT decided that it was a good weekend to shut down one lane of 35E to cut weeds in the center median. (Maybe they wanted drivers to get some practice being in a traffic jam.) I am now convinced that MnDOT officials don’t even coordinate among themselves. How would we ever expect them to coordinate with someone else? Who do they work for? Who pays their salaries? I think they are forgetting that they are supposed to be a service provider and not a dictator. Someone should be fired for this lack of planning.
ed gangl, Blaine
MASSACRE IN LAS VEGAS
Don’t rush to judgment on guns
It hadn’t even been 24 hours since the Las Vegas tragedy unfolded and already several letters had been printed promoting false narratives, particularly about the availability of fully automatic “assault” weapons. At least two of the letters insinuated that these guns are readily available and for sale at your local store. They are not. They are already illegal. Only the writers know if this ignorance is just that or part of a larger agenda, but these knee-jerk reactions are not the answer. As this and other shootings have illustrated, the laws don’t work. Even if they did, the perpetrators would just find another recourse for their wrath. Criminals, you see, don’t care about laws. Case in point, in addition to guns, the Las Vegas shooter had a large stash of bomb-making materials. This attack was happening regardless of the circumstances. Someone intent on mass murder and ultimately suicide is not double-checking local gun laws.
Chicago has some of, if not the strictest, gun control laws in the nation. The city also has a murder epidemic. Taking guns away from the vast majority of responsible, law-abiding owners does nothing to solve the problem. Whenever there is an act of Islamic terror, the first thing we are told is to not rush to judgment on the motivation, followed closely by being admonished to not judge all Muslims for the acts of a few. Yet that is exactly what you are doing, first by publishing letters before all the facts are known and second when you look to ban guns over the acts of lone gunmen. Millions of Americans legally own and responsibly use hundreds of millions of guns and trillions of rounds of ammunition. We are not the problem.
JOHN MORGAN, Burnsville
• • •
To the suggestions for gaining control of guns and who buys them offered by a Tuesday letter writer, I would like to offer a couple of additional proposals:
1. Require owners of handguns and assault-type rifles to carry liability insurance on them and show proof of such insurance before being allowed to purchase such guns, paraphernalia and ammunition for them. We require such insurance to operate and purchase motor vehicles, which are also deadly.
2. Significantly raise taxes on the purchase of handguns, assault rifles, ammunition and related paraphernalia similar to what has been done with tobacco products.
While I appreciate that these suggestions will not prevent the illicit trading in guns and ammunition, they would be a step in the right direction in reducing the number of handguns and assault rifles available by making them much more expensive to own. These proposals do not violate a person’s Second Amendment right to own a handgun or assault rifle. They just acknowledge that there is a societal cost that must be borne by the owners of such weapons.
JOHN SCHAEFER, Brooklyn Park
• • •
Following the massacre in Las Vegas, there are calls to look into federal gun control laws, and rightfully so. However, in the absence of federal action, we should be taking steps to improve our gun laws and safety in Minnesota. Minnesota currently does not mandate a universal background check for firearms purchases, allowing sales online and at shows, whether the person is a felon, has a history of domestic abuse, is mentally unwell, or is an undocumented immigrant. Fixing that — and enacting a few other common-sense, publicly supported laws — would go a long way to making each Minnesotan (including law enforcement officers) safer. Call your state representative and senator, and tell them that we deserve to at least have a modicum of protection against acts of gun violence, large and small.
CRAIG LONG, St. Paul
Consider the consequences
I second the thought that President Donald Trump’s travel bans have far-ranging effects. My late husband and I have been supporting six Tanzanian AIDS orphans. Through visits, texts and Skype, we have become their parents, advising, counseling and loving them. This year, five of the six are graduating from university, and I invited them to come here as a celebration of everything they have accomplished. We were so excited, planning all of the things we would see and do in Minnesota. And then, huge disappointment: The U.S. embassy would not issue visas. The kids were told that they needed stronger ties to their country, to prove that they would go home after their visit.
One of the six got married, and they all had jobs or job offers, but they were told that “right now” there is an order to suppress all visas, and that “right now” the embassy requires even more ties, like property and money in bank accounts. Hello, these are kids who are lucky to live with relatives, in homes without water or electricity. They have often gone hungry and struggled to have clothing or supplies for school. They are so excited to begin careers in their beloved Tanzania. They would all go home after the visit and be great ambassadors for our country. Instead, they are frustrated and disappointed, wondering why our country won’t allow them to come. One of the boys said to me, “Why can’t they understand that I just want to go see my mom?”
KATHRYN E. LeFEVERE, Dassel
For example, there’s Tom Price
For all those who claim that professional news outlets are superfluous now that there are so many sources on the internet, listen up. The stories on U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s use of chartered jets was unearthed by trained investigative reporters and by editors with years of editorial skills, and published by a publisher who understands the benefits of professional news outlets. The extent of the devastation in Puerto Rico came to us from professional newspeople on the ground. Russian meddling in the German elections — same path from happening to reporting. I could go on, but you get the picture. I’m not a shill for the Star Tribune; I’m merely a news consumer who wants to be sure her news is vetted, facts are facts and news stories are presented without bias.
ELAINE FRANKOWSKI, Minneapolis