On Tuesday, I was online looking at a list of the people killed in the Orlando shootings. A picture of a young girl appeared, and it shocked me greatly — she looked so much like our 20-year-old daughter. Then I thought, what if that had been our daughter? Or one of our sons? Today would have been very different for us. We would be planning a funeral, wondering how our lives would be without her and starting the journey of grief that really has no end.
That is what 49 families are doing now. I don't know where they all live or what their customs are at the end of a life. But I do know what it feels like to be a mother: No matter how old your children get, they are always your babies. Or they are someone's brother or sister or best friend. That's all that matters. God bless these families now as they start the altered way of life.
No matter our religion or political beliefs, we should all remember that each of us is loved and unique — that each of us has a mission to fulfill. Tender life, especially, should not end in a hail of gunfire at a nightclub. Those young people went to that club happily, with anticipation of fun and friendship. Their lives ended long before they should have, at the hands of one full of hatred.
I grew up in Texas, from a family of folks who own guns, and I celebrate their right to do so. I hold the Constitution very dear, even while not wanting a gun in my own home. But, there is no reason that the type of weapon used in Orlando should be available to anyone outside the military. The weapon used was created for mass killings, as in war, and even then it is heartbreaking. That has been my only cry against guns. Stop the production of these weapons, and, I believe, we will surely see fewer of these massacres.
Joanna Backman, Apple Valley
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How convenient! Now when President Obama can't find a reason to blame former President George W. Bush for something that goes wrong during his administration, he can blame Donald Trump ("Obama decries Trump's terror stance," June 16). I could suggest that this failure put on his big-boy pants and stop acting like a petulant child, but after seven and a half years of blaming everyone else, that's not likely. Suggestion: How about when we accept refugees from the Middle East we consider Christians who don't have nefarious motives and are much more likely to assimilate?
Jim Dotseth, Plymouth
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As the president chastised Trump for painting all Muslims with one broad brush of hate, I happened to be in a car dealership watching with about eight other people. Five were typical Minnesotans (white, older, quiet). Two were young Somali-American men. And one was a Muslim woman, sitting an arm's length from me.
The term "radical Islam" came up a few times during the speech, albeit as Obama condemned that label. At one point I so wanted to lean over and ask: "Are you Muslim?" (Although, with her pretty hijab, I was pretty sure.) "I want you to know I am glad you are here. You are welcome here, in Minnesota." However, being born and raised here in Minnesota — and being raised Lutheran and being of Norwegian decent — I was too timid. The room was very quiet, and I didn't want to embarrass myself — even by being kind. So I decided to tell her this later, maybe while she was walking to her repaired car out in the parking lot. Then I got a cellphone call and walked away for five minutes. When I came back, she was gone. I went to the parking lot thinking I could catch her, but it was too late. Damn my quiet nature. Maybe next time.
The good news is that the entire time she was at the dealership, she was treated with respect. I wonder if she felt safe. I hope so.
Beverly Gores, Minneapolis
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Maybe it's an understandable human response to try to make sense of a tragic event by identifying "the cause." And certainly some of us will try to make the massacre at Pulse in Orlando fit within a predetermined ideological template. So we hear people say that the blame lies with radical Islamist terrorism, or homophobia or easy access to guns. And they're all right, but only partly so. The complex picture of Omar Mateen that's emerging is of an untreated mentally ill individual who felt lonely and isolated, was conflicted about his sexuality, was inflamed by a deadly mix of antigay bigotry, extremist online propaganda and steroids, and who was able to easily and legally buy an assault rifle. In short, a repository of many of the problems facing our society.
Dan Beck, Minneapolis
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I read the June 15 Opinion Exchange page carefully. I reviewed the evidence presented in the trial of the Somali-Minnesotan defendants ("What I saw at the trial"), the overwhelming amount of which caused their conviction. It sounded like a virtual slam-dunk case.
I then read the commentary "How did the FBI miss Omar Mateen?" The failure to find "probable cause" was a deciding factor in not opening a full investigation and, ultimately, in closing two preliminary investigations. The balance of the article was spent on the need to lower the standard for "probable cause."
Failing to have overwhelming evidentiary support and failing to have minimal evidentiary support seem to form the boundaries that Mateen navigated within.
I have been looking for disconnects that would allow Mateen to buy a gun. Televised reports, and internet reports as well, state that the store where the purchase was made was provided with three certifications and that it did a background check. If the FBI spent resources to preliminarily investigate and interview Mateen twice, why would that not have been noted on his background check? That would be a fact to consider, and with statistics on the huge growth of gun sales, I doubt any retailer has the need to take that chance for just one more sale.
The shooters in San Bernardino, Calif., got a gun from a friend. The Boston Marathon guys used a bomb. The recent police commander killing in Paris was done with a knife. Not all horrific events could be stopped. But why wouldn't this extra step in record-keeping be a good compromise?
Paul Kemmy, Minnetonka
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Between 9/11, Orlando and Mr. Trump's mordant comments on Muslims, we would do well to remember when the world, including the president of the United States, gave thanks to the Muslim warrior Abd al-Qadir who, at great risk to himself and family, rescued up to 100,000 U.S. and European diplomats, merchants and their families, priests, and nuns in the riots of Damascus, Syria, in July 1860. Al-Qadir was the past leader of the resistance to the French occupation of Algeria, his homeland, who conducted his campaigns with an extraordinary reputation of dignity and chivalry. After his capture by the French and release to Damascus, he and his sons protected his former enemies, the French, with such bravery that the French awarded him the Legion of Honor, along with an annual pension. In today's toxic anti-Muslim climate, it would be good to recall that Americans used to acknowledge this great man: There is even a town named after him in Iowa — Elkader — and he received gifts not only from Queen Victoria and other European heads of state, but also from the most outstanding Republican U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln.
Charles Taliaferro, Minneapolis