Steps being considered or taken are flawed
New York passed its new laws, and apparently hasn't learned that higher magazine capacities favor the defender. The state has decided to limit magazine capacities on the basis that a murderer might be vulnerable in the two seconds it takes to reload a clip into a gun.
A person who goes out and commits these awful mass murders brings several clips with them. Meanwhile, the person who carries for protection of self or home, not expecting to actually use his or her firearm, usually has as many bullets as one clip can hold.
In the Georgia headlines recently, a mother defended her children against a home invader. She fired all six rounds of her revolver into the intruder at close range, and the attacker still managed to escape the house and drive away. If there had been a second attacker, as there often is, her gun would have been empty. It's because of these situations that a higher magazine capacity favors a defender.
I don't feel that we are even chasing the best course for preventing more violence. As long as we turn a blind eye toward bullies in school, and as long as mental health is ignored, we will continue to see a problem even if there aren't guns.
DOUGLAS VAN DYKE, OAK PARK HEIGHTS
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Imagine if President George W. Bush had issued an executive order stating that citizens no longer had protection from unreasonable search and seizure. No more search warrants required by law enforcement. It would be called an unprecedented attack on the Constitution -- a dictatorial power grab -- and there would be calls for impeachment.
How is what President Obama is considering with executive orders that curtail the Second Amendment ("Obama endorses a broad plan to tighten gun laws," Jan. 15) different?
MIKE HENDEL, COON RAPIDS
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Let's remember what we're forgetting -- and what we may be losing -- in the debate over how to minimize the chances of another tragedy like the one at Sandy Hook. I was heartened, in the aftermath of that terrible day, to hear as much emphasis on increasing mental-health services as on gun control.
But as the debate continues, the mental-health component seems to be fading, with virtually all of the emphasis going to gun control and armed guards in schools. Such measures would cost millions -- and do nothing to address the underlying mental-health issues that afflict many shooters. As Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek wrote ("Mental illness gets too much room to grow," Jan. 14), eight of the nine killers in mass shootings in the United States in 2012 suffered from mental illness.
The school district where I work partners with the local mental-health center to provide on-site therapeutic services for students in grades K-12 and for their families. The federal grant that funds these services expires June 30, and we are scrambling to find replacement money that will allow continuation of those services -- services likely to be at least as effective, if not more so, as spending millions on armed guards and fortress schools.
MARGARET M. SCHILD, WINONA
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Not behind us, even if we'd like to put it there
If observers at the Economist think that innovation has slowed ("Big breakthroughs: Are they all behind us?" Jan. 15), they're not paying attention.
The financial-services industry has rolled out an impressive array of innovative instruments during the past decade, including credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, structured investment vehicles, securitization of subprime mortgages, and rehypothecation.
It seems odd that observers at the Economist would be unaware of this surge of innovation. Maybe they were too busy looking the other way.
KENNETH JOPP, ST. PAUL
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It deserves a place on the legislative agenda
Some important issues were highlighted in "Carp, wolves, moose, copper, sand high on Minn. Legislature's environmental agenda" (StarTribune.com, Jan. 13), but what about trains, buses and bikes? Transit emits a fraction of the pollution of driving alone, and generates twice as many jobs as building highways does. We are $300 million a year behind peer cities like Denver, Dallas and Salt Lake City. Can this Legislature get us caught up, before we miss out?
JOSHUA HOUDEK, MINNEAPOLIS
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Here's a situation that seems wrong
I live in south Minneapolis, with Minnehaha Creek in my back yard. More than a week ago, a nearby water main ruptured. On Monday, water was still flowing down both sides of the street. A phone call produced the information that the city has 16 days to fix it as it waits on a bid.
Meanwhile, the trucks and plows are up and down the street putting salt down to help with the ice. When the water runs into the sewer at the end of the block, the salt flows right into the creek. I would think that the process to fix the break could be finished in a more timely manner considering what that salt is doing to the environment.
REBECCA BREDWELL, MINNEAPOLIS