As a child growing up in the 21st century, I can honestly say that I’ve grown up in an era of chaos and false security. I’ve grown up with terrorists attacking the twin towers; with active shooters firing on kindergartners, college students and moviegoers, and now with an active shooter firing on community-college students in Oregon, apparently for being Christian. When I go into a restaurant, I like to sit by the exit, just in case of an active shooter. I’m growing up in a time when my father asks me if I want a gun when I go to college because he fears for my safety.
In 2012, when Malala Yousafzai, a young girl in Pakistan, was shot for wanting an education, she was celebrated for her courage. In America, today we could all be considered Malalas for our risk of getting shot spontaneously, yet we would not be celebrated for our convictions if victims were shot; we will just be victims, part of a national tragedy. Will those at Umpqua Community College in Oregon be celebrated for being courageous Christians?
We are quick to fight the battle on terror, yet when it comes to the battle on gun control, we are reluctant because of our Second Amendment right, and are so scared that the government will infringe on it that it’s causing us to be blind to the risks we face. I would argue that some of the people in our own country pose a bigger threat than do terrorists.
Stephanie Haima, Eden Prairie
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I was making dinner, listening to talk on the TV about yet another mass shooting, when unexpectedly my friend’s face came into my mind and how I would feel when I learned she was killed by gun violence. If you’ve ever lost someone you love deeply in a sudden, unexpected and unnecessary way — an accident, suicide, illness — then you know: Your heart launches into your stomach, the floor drops out from under your feet, you’re overcome with nausea, and all you can say is “no, no, no, please, no.” In one moment, you cycle through disbelief, heartbreak, fear, panic and agony. In that same moment, you know that your life is now divided into the before and after. You will be able to identify this exact moment in time as the moment everything changed.
Now imagine that person you love and adore — your child, partner, parent, lover, friend — is taken in that tragic, sudden, unnecessary, senseless way by a gun at the hands of another person who felt they had the power and authority to end the life of another human. That person you love so deeply got up that morning out of bed like she or he always does, went to school, to work, to have fun, expecting to have another day, deserving to have another day — and was tragically murdered by someone they may have known or who was a stranger to them.
Tragically, every year, more innocent people die from bullets in accidents, domestic violence, suicide and from individuals who are being socialized by our society to believe that a gun is the solution to some perceived inadequacy, offense, or a difference in religion or skin color. Imagine the people you love deeply being cut off from the days they deserved to live, and the fear they must have felt in those final moments. We have the ability to change this senseless trajectory through smart, common-sense policies — the evidence is on the side of stronger, sensible laws that will make us safer. Imagine that this horrifying ending is the fate of a person you love, but you just don’t know when, and you have the ability to change it if you choose to do something about it. The future is not written; this cause is not lost, and prayers without action in response to preventable, unnecessary, senseless tragedy and agony are woefully inadequate and sadly misplaced.
Susie Schatz, St. Paul
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Though I voted twice for President Obama, he’s disappointed me many times, not willing to go far enough to tackle the nation’s worst problems. But he was spot-on perfect in his candid, angry remarks in the aftermath of yet another mass murder, the one Thursday in Oregon.
It’s certain, he said, that some will say that the remedy for gun violence is more guns so we can “protect” ourselves. And then, in a voice so honest and exasperated as to be both shocking and refreshing, he asked: “Does anybody really believe that?”
That’s the question the nation must answer if we hope to have any chance to cut down the carnage caused by gun violence.
Steven Schild, Winona, Minn.
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Mr. President, I just listened to your speech on the shooting in Oregon. My prayers and thoughts to those involved, and kudos to the law-enforcement response. I’ve been through active shooter training as a law enforcement officer, but I really can’t imagine the stress of having to respond to such a horrible event.
Question: How’s the body politic and gun control working out in Chicago? It’s not — and, thus, I will continue to vote for those who support the Second Amendment, which you as a lawyer, Mr. President, should know wasn’t passed to support my hunting rights or to provide me the ability to protect my family from the common thug. Might I suggest that you promote amending the Constitution if you really want true gun control, but even if that is successful, the cat is out of the bag.
Greg Hedtke, Rosemount
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I am so sick of the argument that we can do nothing about gun violence because it will infringe on our “freedom.” When we realized having lead in the air was bad, I lost my “freedom” to use gas with lead in it. After one person tried to bring a shoe bomb on a plane, I lost the “freedom” of keeping my shoes on when I board a plane. I even lost the “freedom” of having my electrical outlets exposed when I became a parent, in order to keep my kids away from them.
You know, when I think about it, I did not really lose my “freedom.” I became an adult and did what had to be done to make my family and the people around me a little bit safer. I really wish the people of this country could act like adults when it comes to gun violence and do what we need to do to stop mass gun violence. My kids and everyone else’s kids deserve nothing less.
Thomas Lucy, St. Paul
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CNN analyst and moderator Chris Cuomo referred to the “culture of violence” that is never addressed after mass shootings. Gun laws, the NRA, gun sellers and the Constitution are not the only entities that should be confronted with the need for radical change. To address the “culture of violence,” Americans need to recognize and aggressively lobby against the makers of violent games, the makers of violent movies, against insufficient mental health practices and against citizenry that tolerates openly aggressive behavior. The seeds of disintegration, nurtured by our complacency for viewing and accepting day-to-day violence as normal, is cultivated by many sources. We cannot continue to discount the origins of violent thought that ultimately culminate in chaos and the death of the innocent.
Sara Meyer, St. Marys Point