What wasn’t done? What’s best done now?

“The terrorists have failed” — the words of President Obama. But people killed and maimed is not a failure for the perpetrators. We hear, after the fact, that these radicals were “on a list” or “under suspicion” or “have been questioned,” yet people died by their hands.

Is that not our government’s failure? We deport farm workers and allow suspected terrorists to live here. Completely outrageous.

Don Eisenschenk, Minnetonka

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Before it was announced Monday that the remaining Tsarnaev brother would be tried in civilian court, some senators and others in Congress suggested that he be tried as an enemy combatant. Heinous as the acts were, our justice system is strong enough to apply correct punishment.

The Tsarnaev family came to the United States a decade ago. The men who committed the crimes in Boston last week were 8 (Dzhokhar) and 15 (Tamerlan) at that time. This is the United States. We want justice, not vengeance. We are wounded and full of hurt, but we must continue to be Americans.

Mary Thacker, Greenwood

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It seems to me that there is a vital lesson to be learned from the events in Boston: An attack strengthens and unites us; it enables us to forget our differences and to apply the full strength of our resources in responses.

But this is not the lesson we need to learn. I think we know this. The lesson we must learn is that we are typical of the world; others respond to attacks perceived as unfair just as we do. Attacks do not resolve differences; they magnify them.

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Actually, the NRA also represents people

Since the defeat of gun bills, the commentaries and letters the Star Tribune has printed have overwhelmingly portrayed a failure of the political process. Even though an overwhelming majority of people favored increased gun control, the narrative goes, the Senate instead listened to a tiny minority of well-funded, politically powerful lobbyists, led by a monolithic entity called “the NRA.”

While compelling, this narrative is false. Suppose the bills had passed — no one would have attributed it to “the Brady Campaign.” Instead, it would have been heralded as reflecting the grass-roots will of the public.

The NRA is not an alien entity imposing its will upon society from without; it is millions of Americans who support the continued freedom of Americans to own and carry firearms, and the focal point of still more millions of nonmembers who look to it as the largest and most visible group working on behalf of gun owners.

If the NRA spends large sums of money on lobbying, it’s because millions of Americans donate money to the cause. If the NRA is politically powerful, it’s because millions of Americans take note of the voting records of their representatives and respond accordingly at election time.

In short, gun owners have participated in the political process and have obtained the laws they wished to have. Isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work?

Michael Hutson, Minneapolis

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The argument propagated by opponents of any form of gun control that proponents are “using” emotion rather than reason (Readers Write, April 22) is a total canard. Of course emotion is, and should be, involved. How can one react to the horrific murders of thousands of innocents every year — more than any other nation per capita — with anything other than emotion?

With the U.S. Senate’s display of disheartening cowardice in the face of a demagogic minority, how can anyone say that the NRA’s motto about prying guns from cold dead hands isn’t far more emotional — and fanatical — than any reference to the senseless killings by gun that are perpetrated every single day in this “exceptional” country?

The blood of future innocent victims is on the hands of every heartless individual and organization who would belittle those victims’ survivors for wanting an end to the needless massacres.

Kevin Driscoll, St. Paul

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Democrats also good at twisting words

When small-business owners express concern about raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour and its effect on prices and jobs, a Democrat hears: You hate poor people.

When a person stands up for unborn children who have no choice, a Democrat hears: You hate women.

When a person expresses concerns about the morality of homosexuality, a Democrat hears: You hate gay people.

When a person dares to talk about immigration policy and how it might affect our country, a Democrat hears: You are a racist.

It looks like selective hearing is an issue for more than just Republicans (Readers Write, April 22). How about we all try to listen better?

Don Mussell, Eden Prairie

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Photos showed people engaged, doing good

During the past week of horrific news, two photos in the Star Tribune made me smile and restored my hope. One was the image of Somali-Americans at their precinct caucus raising their hands, eager to become delegates to their ward convention.

The other was a group of Metro Transit riders pushing their bus out of the slush — among them a man with his pants belted around his thighs and a woman who appeared to be wearing a skirt and tall fashion boots.

It’s reassuring to see all these fellow Minnesotans engaged in our common life. Thank you, photographers Jeff Wheeler and Brian Matthew Hart.

Cheri Register, Minneapolis