Focus on gangs and assault weapons
The current national concern over murder rates and gun control, as illustrated in the article about Chicago bloodshed, misses a very important component ("Strict gun laws haven't stemmed Chicago bloodshed," Jan. 30).
The murder rate in Chicago is very high. What is the murder rate in Duluth? Or Burlington, Vt.? What are the rates in cities that do not have significant gang problems? The big question is what percentage of the murders in Chicago are caused by gang warfare and illegal drug activity?
The murder rate is always high in cities where gangs and drugs are out of control. There are many millions of gun owners who are careful, prudent and law-abiding citizens. Instead of diminishing the rights of gun ownership for those citizens, our politicians should put the hammer down on the thugs and gangs.
BOB HAGEMAN, CHASKA
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The field weapon of the Revolutionary War was a muzzle-loading musket with an attached bayonet. It took about one minute to load and discharge. Today's AR-15 can discharge many bullets per minute. Our founding fathers wrote and ratified the Constitution and Second Amendment with the vision that Americans would be keeping muskets in the closet -- not assault weapons with high-capacity magazines.
PETE BOELTER, NORTH BRANCH, MINN.
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Identity theft is a crime, but what can a user do?
Thanks for Diane O'Meara's Jan. 29 commentary, "How I became America's most famous fake." Identity theft on Facebook seems to be the new form of robbery. And the police can do nothing about it.
Like O'Meara, "I didn't give a lot of thought" when my grandchildren urged -- and helped -- me to get on Facebook. Now someone has stolen my somewhat unusual name and not very flattering picture and is telling people I don't even know that I got a lot of money from the federal government. Not true, but what can one do? Facebook has assured me that it would shut down my page, but I'm still getting e-mails from good-hearted souls telling me it has been hacked, and I'm hearing from real friends that they've also been.
Social media may be good, but beware.
ARVONNE FRASER, MINNEAPOLIS
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Contrary to reviewer's take, play was first-rate
My husband and I saw the History Theatre production of "Nellie" last week, and we respectfully disagree with reviewer Graydon Royce. The play captures the essence of Nellie Stone Johnson at a most pivotal point in her life. It depicts Nellie as the first organizer for rights of Minneapolis hotel workers in the 1930s.
The risks she took, both personally and professionally, cannot be understated, and her success undoubtedly was a pivotal impetus in her subsequent political career. Nellie's determination in this critical organizing effort yielded benefits that improved the quality of life for many others.
Royce's observation that Nellie's life story encompasses more than one chapter misses the mark. This play is an artful presentation of an important and perhaps even defining life chapter. The play was a clever, well-staged and finely acted production.
ARDIS WEXLER, EDINA
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We must pay attention to indoor air quality
The tragic rise in Minnesota day-care deaths is unnecessary and unconscionable ("Day-care deaths prompt action," Jan. 29). Compounding this tragedy is the scant recognition that poor indoor air quality receives for its role in sudden infant deaths.
While proper sleeping positions can affect an infant's breathing, so does breathing air that contains respiratory irritants. Air that is contaminated with smoke of any kind or fragranced products -- including scented lotions, air fresheners or scented laundry products -- can be deadly to tiny lungs, which take a bigger hit of pollution with every breath they take.
Fragrance chemicals contain many of the same toxins that are in tobacco smoke and wood smoke, which can also creep into day-care centers through open windows, cracks and vents.
My hope is that the Star Tribune will begin to print more information on this crucial topic. It could save the lives of vulnerable infants.
JULIE MELLUM, MINNEAPOLIS
The writer is president of Take Back the Air.
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It's a reminder to set a better example
Thank goodness most children are resilient to the many trials of youth. Unfortunately, some are forever affected by the experience ("Youth trauma linked to later ills," Jan. 29). We must have compassion for those severely affected by their youth, while the majority mature into adulthood and are able to take personal responsibility for overcoming the daily problems of life.
The message from this is for us to strive to be better parents to our children and set a positive example that others can proudly work to perpetuate.
MICHAEL TILLEMANS, MINNEAPOLIS
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We've been down road to reform before
The U.S. Senate and President Obama laid out their immigration reform ideals over the past days. A number of common themes ran through them, from tougher border security to a more efficient path to citizenship.
Back in 1986, Congress passed immigration reform and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law. The theme then was nearly identical to the theme laid out this week.
It begs the question: Are we serious about reform?
CHRIS LUND, HAMBURG, MINN.