Thank you to state Rep. Erin Maye Quade, who initiated a 24-hour sit-in on the House floor Tuesday morning in support of gun control.
I am a survivor of American gun violence, and I am asking our elected leaders to be bolder. I’ve founded Survivors Lead, the only gun reform organization that is 100 percent survivor-led, and we are training survivors of gun violence, sexual violence and domestic violence to run for your seats. Be bold or be replaced.
Rachael Joseph, Minneapolis
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Two recent letters labeled “gun policy” deserve a response:
• The term “gun control” is definitely incorrect, and “Toward Zero Crime and Violence” would work much better. The issue is loss of innocent lives by all methods, the injury of innocent persons and the lifelong nightmares of those victims not physically injured. Causes and solutions are the same.
• Actually, firearm confiscation has been and is being talked about and is open and declared. This is a very real and serious threat for all of us.
• The recent Minnesota Poll (results reported April 22 and 23) was a gun-control opinion poll. There were no questions testing knowledge of facts or what the actual crime and violence problems and potential solutions are. Remember, one is free to have an opinion, but if that position is not supported, then it may be discounted with no action.
• “Gun safety” is not an issue here. It is extremely important, but quite simple and easily taught. Among many other great people, you would be working closely with the NRA, as firearms safety is a main focus in its charter. No, you never need to shoot, hunt or own a firearm, but the knowledge will serve you well.
• Conversation was opened decades ago, and the doors are always open, but it isn’t a dialogue without actual honest effort at problem-solving.
• Two warnings: (1) Dealing with people, there will be no 100 percent success rate, and (2) this is extremely complex and very difficult. Some of the underlying social causes are things getting worse and will continue to do so.
I look forward to finally getting to know you and the joy of working together on solving difficult problems to save lives and suffering.
Roger Bentley, Andover
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In response to April 24 and 25 letter writers: Yes, in discussion of gun policy and Second Amendment issues, new language is needed! My suggestion for a better term than “gun control,” one that would not raise visions of firearm confiscation, would be “sensible gun rights.”
Anne Sovik, Northfield
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Another mass shooting and more discussion about gun laws. But little talk about a different prevention strategy: providing universal access to health care.
The Nashville shooter had symptoms of schizophrenia, an illness that affects about 1 percent of adults (“Gunman’s troubles went back years,” April 25). Although medication is highly effective, an estimated 40 percent of people in the U.S. with this disease don’t get treatment. Ironically, just three days before the shooting, the Tennessee legislature voted to restrict the state’s Medicaid program by imposing work requirements.
As a physician, I would ask legislators, here and elsewhere, to expand their understanding of human nature to include people on the margins. Someone who is too paranoid, disorganized and irrational to hold a job can still cause terrible damage. Give us a chance to treat them.
Dr. Richard Adair, Minneapolis
HEALTH CARE COSTS
I’m a retired doctor and a health care consumer. A story:
In an April 23 commentary, Dr. Carl Burkland wrote on the need for transparency in health care pricing (“One big step: Show patients the prices”). Like Burkland, I am a retired family physician — G.P., actually. I don’t know as that bestows any authority to comment but I hope some legitimacy.
There are several problems with health care delivery today beyond the lack of transparency. One is what can only be called obscene and abusive pricing of some services by some providers. I could easily cite several, but here is a glaring example from my own recent experience.
On a recent visit to our doctor, my wife and I were advised by him that it would be prudent to get a booster dose of a new vaccine for shingles (aka zoster) as it conferred better immunity than the original shot we got several years ago. I asked the doc about cost and whether it was covered by Medicare and/or our supplementary prescription drug coverage. Since it is a new drug, he really didn’t know and advised that we call our insurer for that information. Based on previous experience with trying to get info by phone, good luck on that.
So my wife called our “health care provider” billing office and requested what the charge would be. We were told that the vaccine cost was $199 and that there was (sit down and hold your breath!) an $80 charge for administering the shot. Now, administering an intramuscular injection is not, as they say, rocket science. Eighty bucks is insane, abusive and obscene. How did we get to this? Some bean-counter ought to be a guest of the state for a few years.
Next step was to call a nearby local pharmacy that we use for our prescription drugs and ask whether they could provide and administer the stuff, as I knew that they did with some other vaccines, flu for one. They could, would and did, and the cost was $167.58 with no charge for administering the shot.
Last, let’s say you went to your favorite bar (if you’re into that sort of thing) and ordered a cold beer. The price might be $2.50, but the bartender charges you an additional $1.75 for opening the bottle for you. Have I made my case?
Dr. Joseph F. Just, Spring Park
PRINCE AND THE OPIOID CRISIS
Empathy is due, in this death and the suffering of others
People clearly don’t understand the word addiction, the nature of addiction or its effect on a human body (Readers Write, April 24). Addiction is not a character flaw. Nobody sets out to become addicted, but when addiction happens, they need help, not judgment. When someone is suffering from addiction, giving in to their addiction is no longer their choice. There are physiological changes that take place, over time, and they no longer have control over how their body reacts. Many people suffer from the DTs (delirium tremens) and can die as their bodies react to not having the drug or alcohol. People talk about understanding and compassion except when they feel a sense of moral superiority over others.
Scott D. Finkenaur, Crystal
Here’s how I help
One never knows why people are panhandling — homelessness, mental illness, extra money or so on (“Not always what you’d assume,” Readers Write, April 25). I don’t ask; they don’t tell. I carry extra water, offer panhandlers a bottle of water, and feel that I have done a thoughtful deed, especially as the days get warmer.
Ron Linde, Burnsville