Any talk of rights must be multifaceted


When I listen to the conversation on gun control, I understand both worlds. I know the man who thrives in rural America, who hunts game and varmints, who treasures the freedom of the open spaces and the right to bear arms. He is entitled to these liberties. I am he.

I also know, through association, the young mother who works in the city, who drops her children at grade school on her way to the office. And, I must wonder, does not liberty belong to her as well? Is she not entitled to the freedom of living without fear that the next face of terror on the news will be hers?

A quick search on the Internet under "firearm related deaths by country" reveals the data. America looks very bad. The extreme positions and political influence of the NRA are factors contributing to our Third World standing in this area. I have revoked my membership in the NRA.

Many countries, such as Canada, Norway and Australia, have strong restrictions on assault weapons, yet hunters are not denied hunting rifles or ammunition. Through my travels, I sense that in these places, young families have the freedom to live without the fear of terror that haunts our society. I am not hearing conversations in these countries about posting armed guards at schools.

We should be ashamed of America in this regard.


• • •

Where do criminals get their guns? After the sharp rise in teen homicide in Minnesota in the 1990s, as part of my doctoral nursing research, I spent 18 months interviewing 12 teens convicted of murder. They were from urban, suburban and rural communities. All had access to firearms, which resulted in the loss of life.

How did they access firearms? Some would go to malls and strike up relationships with teenage girls whose fathers had guns; they would arrange to meet the girl at her home when her parents were not there, and one boy would have sex with her while another stole her father's guns. Some bought guns from friends who had taken them from family members.

The teens then talked older women into buying ammunition, as well as alcohol -- a deadly combination with the teenage brain, particularly for teens who have been traumatized or stigmatized. Those involved in drug trafficking promised drugs to addicted customers who had no criminal record in exchange for going into stores and buying a gun the youth had picked out.

While many of these teens were indeed depressed, only one had received any treatment. There is a clarion call to take better care of our youths and our guns.


* * *


Snowbird tax: Just the idea does damage


Last week's significant coverage in the Wall Street Journal of Gov. Mark Dayton's ill-thought-out snowbird tax has likely already cost the state more than it hoped to receive in revenues ($15 million per year).

Setting aside the enforceability, legality, and cost of compliance and collection, this proposal seems to be more of a political ploy than serious legislation.

The problem is that a subset of the Journal's vast global readership participates on corporate site-selection committees or directly in the decisionmaking of where to expand a business. How many executives read yet another piece about the great Minnesota revenue grab and either formally or back-of-mind scratched the state off their lists?

We compete with 49 other states and many lower-cost counties for jobs. It would be nice if the governor highlighted all the positives our great state offers instead of leading with the negatives. It would also help if his political team were reminded that not all politics is local.


* * *


In general, it serves older students better


Arthur Brooks ("It's time for a $10,000 college degree," Feb. 4) relies on his own experience to advocate for virtual degrees. Yet, he admits that when he returned to college through this correspondence-degree path, he had already tried a traditional college for a year and then spent a decade finding himself.

Because they are motivated and know why they are in school, returning adults are typically much more successful, whether in a traditional college classroom or in the online environment. As one who teaches both on-campus and virtual students at a local community college, I have seen this many times.

Brooks fails to see the fallacy in extrapolating from his own experience as someone pushing 30, with many life experiences under his belt, and assumes the same would hold true for the fresh-out-of-high-school student. If he'd used his personal experience to advocate for the idea of a gap year (or decade), I'd buy that argument; this one I don't.


* * *


Right example being set in some places


I have children, so I hear "That's not fair!" about 35 times a day.

And I'm no expert, but my own "playground" sense of fairness compels me to commend Elizabeth R. Schlitz ("Disabled won't harm sports," Feb. 4) not only for supporting her own son in playing sports, but also for publicly acknowledging the Minnetonka and Wayzata school districts that practice justice and inclusion in providing them.

Likewise, her acknowledgement of the store clerk at the letter-jacket store who easily assured her that an athletic letter is an athletic letter, regardless of "ability" or adaptation.

These institutional and individual acts contribute to justice and fairness for all. Cheer for the day when they become commonplace, and no cause for anyone to cry foul.