Remember when you could give a name to each mass murder that took place in this country? Now, the pace of the killing has accelerated so quickly that I can hardly register one before another blurs it from my mind, whether it’s a child killed by a younger sibling with a handgun from daddy’s dresser or the youngster shot when his father is cleaning a loaded weapon.

We are a society run amok with our commitment that anyone who wants a gun can have a gun. I am a gun owner. I am a handgun safety instructor. Students have come to my classes who know nothing about their new toy. I give them credit for wanting to learn, but no one required them to do so before they acquired the gun.

We need to put a higher value on human life than on everyone having a lethal weapon.

Other societies know how to do this. Thorough background checks for all purchasers, training in the law, training in safe handling and firing, proof that you know how to store the weapon — we don’t require any of these.

While I profoundly sympathize with the victims of gun violence and their loved ones, I don’t have enough thoughts and prayers to go around. And I won’t support the cowardly legislators who routinely offer theirs while they hide behind the Second Amendment.

Bruce Anderson, St. Cloud, Minn.

• • •

It’s a sad reflection on the current state of the U.S. that the story about the latest school shooting was on Page A12 of the May 8 Star Tribune.

William J. Middeke, Eden Prairie

BOUNDARY WATERS

Take bold action to prevent mining

While the Trump administration weakens offshore oil drilling safety measures, even as the Taylor Energy well site continues to leak oil into the Gulf of Mexico 15 years after Hurricane Ivan, we in Minnesota face our own potential environmental disaster in the making. I am disgusted by the Trump administration’s reinstatement to Twin Metals of two expired mineral rights leases and the sudden termination of the environmental review that was underway.

Should the company’s proposed sulfide-ore copper mining operation begin, a wide swath of our precious northern waters, including America’s most visited wilderness — the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — will be at extreme risk for environmental degradation.

Even the Environmental Protection Agency has called sulfide mining “the most polluting industry in America.” Well-documented mining failures in Canada, Brazil and elsewhere have led to devastation and even deaths although supposedly all safety and regulatory precautions were in place. It is impossible to clean up sulfuric acid once released, unlike the ability to vacuum oil from an ocean spill site.

It is not too late to save the Boundary Waters — but we have to take a decisive, bold stand in the face of powerful special interests. I beseech our elected officials to prioritize the long-term life of our state’s unique wilderness area as a holy place for generations to come against the interests of a few, and to join their colleague U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum in seeking to reverse the lease reinstatement.

Kris Berggren, Minneapolis

U.N. BIODIVERSITY REPORT

We must act now to save ourselves

Are we as a society so greedy, self-centered and ignorant that we will blow off the deeply depressing United Nations report on the imminent extinction of 1 million species?

That finding, an accumulation of observations from leading world scientists (“1 million species face threat of extinction,” May 7), should be a collective dope slap to the back of the heads of us all.

This extinction crisis will have devastating implications for human survival, the report says.

Some relative good news: It is not too late to make a difference, though opposition to possible solutions from rich people invested in the status quo “is expected.”

The report states that hope demands nations to urgently work together and cooperate on a global level.

But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, nations are cocooning themselves in short-sighted nationalism while the U.S. spends trillions of dollars protecting us from enemies that, it turns out, are us.

Not everyone is complacent. Extinction Rebellion, a self-proclaimed nonviolent rebellion against the world’s governments for criminal inaction on this emergency, has it about right.

Deeply embedded in our culture is the concept of rights, but we humans are actually born into the world with obligations. Chief among those obligations is the requirement to ensure that the planet can sustain all life, because that includes us, too.

Greg Larson, Excelsior

• • •

The recent U.N. report on biodiversity points out that human society is in jeopardy from accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural systems.

The health of those ecosystems is deteriorating more rapidly than ever, and future forecasts indicate negative trends will continue in all scenarios except those that embrace radical change across society, politics, economics and technology.

So what is our hope going forward? I believe that our war-torn world has only one option. The U.S. can be a hero now by leading the world in cutting military spending drastically and going to work on saving our fragile Earth.

There is no Planet B.

Mike McDonald, St. Paul

MEASLES OUTBREAK

Education is the best prevention

Since my recent retirement from medical practice, there’s a new rhythm to my week. Every Tuesday and Thursday I go to the University of Minnesota for my master of public health classes. Sadly, every Monday I now check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to monitor the alarming increase in confirmed measles cases reported nationally. Every week now we are breaking a new annual record for cases in the U.S. since continuous transmission was eliminated in 2000. And it’s only May.

Measles is a highly contagious disease with serious consequences. One to two cases per thousand will die and as many may become permanently deaf. Since humans are the only host for the measles virus, the virus can only survive by attacking clusters of unvaccinated people. Unfortunately, the internet is a ready source of misinformation about measles and its vaccine.

Two Minnesota bills, HF 1182 and SF 1629, would target educational outreach to populations at risk of experiencing an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease. The Legislature’s inaction on these bills is frankly bewildering. Some legislators appear to be invested in protecting the rights of parents to remain susceptible to misinformation campaigns. By doing so they are ignoring the fact that children remain susceptible to a highly contagious and occasionally fatal disease. It is past time to change the conversation and take action to protect the health of our children.

Richard J. Patterson, St. Louis Park