A few simple ideas for lawmakers to consider

It is very likely that after hours of strutting, preening and pontificating, the Minnesota Legislature will wilt under public pressure and pass a law that addresses "firearm" issues. We all should accept that the legislation will not satisfy everyone on any side of these issues.

My suggestions are that the law should require background checks and registration on all future firearm sales; limit the number of rounds of ammunition contained in a magazine inserted in a semiautomatic firearm unless the firearm is on private property, on property with the permission of the owner or on a shooting range; and ban holding a round of ammunition in a gun's chamber when the firearm is carried on public or community properties.

The Legislature should then get to work on matters of importance.


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According to the University of Chicago Crime Lab, suburban gun shops are a main source for guns used in crimes within the city. With more than 400 gun shops surrounding Chicago, that's hardly a surprise, is it?


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In the raging debate between the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and gun control advocates, it has occurred to me and others that:

Criminals don't want background checks on weapons purchases. LaPierre doesn't want them, either.

Criminals don't want their weapons registered. Neither does LaPierre.

Criminals recognize no limits on possessing of weapons. LaPierre doesn't want any limits, either.

Criminals use weapons to carry out their personal life choices. LaPierre uses the profits from gun manufacturer's weapons sales to fund donations to advance his and the NRA's agenda.

Criminals use fear and intimidation to get their way. LaPierre uses the very same tactics to get his way.

It's frightening how much alike LaPierre and the criminals are.


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Zoning would harm neighborhood shops

A recent zoning request by Opus Development Co. to allow six-story residential development in Dinkytown is inimical to the interests of the Minneapolis and University of Minnesota communities.

Dinkytown, which has been a peerless "small-business incubator" for over half a century, would no longer exist, and the Opus project would displace several anchor tenants: the House of Hanson, the Book House and the Podium music store.

Dinkytown long allowed small entrepreneurs to acquire moderate-cost storefront leases, which in turn allowed their businesses to exist, frequently for decades.

The rezoning would produce a sterile, unremarkable environment, with a churn of major retail and food service chains each attempting to survive unrealistic "per foot" overhead costs imposed by "new construction" amortization needs.

"Character," an attractive attribute that extends the revenue footprint of the existing stores to a wider field, would be lost.

These small shop owners and proprietors provide friendships, jobs and mentoring to thousands in the U of M students, faculty and neighborhood community. Their owners provide niche and unique services, goods and entertainment to the entire Twin Cities community and beyond. Their revenue tends to remain in the community, rather than spread to outstate and absentee investors.


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The party needs to put substance before image

I read with great interest Dana Milbank's piece on the migration of Republicans away from Tea Party ideology ("The 'Tea Party' might not be over, but many in GOP seem to be leaving early," Jan. 31). His commentary raises significant questions as to whether Republicans are actually revising their positions on such issues as immigration reform, or simply chasing voters and votes for the next election.

Based on news stories of the last several weeks as summarized by Milbank, I have become increasingly confused as to what exactly the Republican Party stands for these days. My advice to Republicans is that voters want solutions, not ideology. To win the hearts and minds of the electorate requires more than changing the Electoral College.

You've got to stand for solutions to issues that matter, such as fair taxation, real job creation, environmental challenges, and economic and social justice for all Americans. Until we can see real substance and a concrete vision for America, the Republican Party can only be seen as merely chasing votes to win elections, focusing on image without substance.


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Setting the record straight on quadriplegia

Regarding the article about Brendan Marrocco, the man who lost four limbs to a roadside bomb in Iraq: The word "quadriplegic" in the headline implies that he has a spinal cord injury affecting four limbs ("Quadriplegic soldier gets arms transplant," Jan. 29). The prefix "quad" does mean four, but Marrocco is a quad amputee, not quadriplegic. The miracles of medicine are not yet working on arm transplants for those without a functional spinal cord.