With the billion-dollar state surplus, we once again see a lineup of special-interest groups willing to spend the monies ("Strong economy fuels $1.9B state surplus," Dec. 4). Why as taxpayers should we be subjected to overpaying taxes so the bureaucrats can tell us they need this money to further their particular causes? In the past, some of the funds were returned to the people who actually paid in and contributed to the surplus. I would guess that our governor has no interest in recognizing those who pay the bills, but rather will defer to those who provided his political support and are more than willing to take.

Bob Adams, Plymouth

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The so-called budget surplus is an illusion. Those monies do not represent overtaxation. Rather, they are the result of the lack of investment in the repair of our crumbling infrastructure, the lack of investment in construction of affordable housing (especially for seniors), the lack of investment in social services (we should be preparing for the tsunami of seniors) and woeful attention to PreK-12 education. The shortsighted Republicans want to dispose of this illusory surplus by giving us citizens a tax rebate. Who knows? A one-time giveback might have an impact on some lives. Maybe it would be enough to cover a month's increase in the rent. Or perhaps it might help cover the cost of repairing the car's axel that got bent when it hit that gaping pothole in the road. Let's be pragmatic and use the illusionary surplus to build for a future that will benefit every citizen instead of treating everybody to a pizza.

Gordon B. Abel, Minneapolis

TERRORISM AND GUN LAWS

Simply going after firearms will not prevent evil actions

Many people believe stricter gun laws are the answer to preventing acts of terrorism.

Timothy McVeigh did not use a gun to kill 168 people in Oklahoma City. The Tsarnaev brothers did not use a gun to kill three people and injure dozens more in Boston. Not a single gun was used to kill more than 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.

Had the San Bernardino killers not had access to guns, it's likely they'd have used the many explosive devices found in their home to wreak havoc instead.

As long as evil people are willing to kill, innocent people will die.

Jason Gabbert, Plymouth

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After the horrific killings by radicals in France, our political leaders and letter writers to the Star Tribune were telling us that we should not judge people trying to immigrate to our country because some of the terrorists were of the same origin. Now today, those same leaders and letter writers are calling American gun owners radicals and evil because of the events carried out by a few in this country. They overlook their double standards only to fill their political agendas. Wouldn't it be better to ask: "Why have these events tripled in the last 10-15 years? What is it that's dividing this country and driving so many wedges between us?"

Only a cure for this will solve the many new problems that we seem to be facing every day.

Robert Saathoff, Prior Lake

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Advocates for gun control should thoughtfully digest the words of Joe McLean ("Depression no bar to gun-carry permit," Dec. 4), before barging into unknown territory. That McLean was able to successfully obtain a permit under existing regulations, as did San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, only hints at the Pandora's box awaiting gun-control legislation efforts. McLean reveals how his mental health issues were inaccessible to the background check process which, if known, could well have resulted in his being denied a permit. If such is the case on a nationwide scale, what would "tightening up" the process accomplish unless it were to invade the realm of personal privacy rights? Those screaming for better gun control now should contemplate the extent to which they would support that invasion. If you want authorities to have access to that information, how close are you getting to the full-fledged profiling of applicants? My guess is that you would call it "unacceptably close." Be careful that you don't shoot yourself in the foot, so to speak.

Marvin Koski, Grand Rapids, Minn.

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While I wholeheartedly agree that some measures need to be taken for gun control, especially automatic weapons, the politicians are overlooking the obvious and that is that terrorism is in our midst. Terrorists obtained weapons in Europe where gun control is tougher than in the U.S. and the crimes in Paris happened. So if we are successful in limiting guns in our country, what do we do about the next tactic, like IEDs ­— outlaw everyday items that can be used in their manufacture?

Wake up, America's left, and realize that each day we ignore the fact that radical terrorists who happen to hide behind the religion of Islam are wanting to kill us is another day of putting Americans at risk. Don't promote your agenda on gun rights at the expense of the fallen.

And to the law-abiding Muslims who do not hold the views of the radicals, we support and welcome your contributions to this great country.

Edward Stec, Maple Grove

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Protesters' disruptive tactics have been wearing quite thin

It is now obvious that Black Lives Matter (BLM) is not out to have a constructive debate over issues in their community. ("Protest shut down, anger lives on," Dec. 4) Rather, their goal is to create disruption in as many ways as they can in order to garner attention. Blocking streets, highways, malls and other public venues does little to further their cause. Even local officials and community activists as well as national politicians have distanced themselves from BLM. The demands by BLM to change the judicial and evidentiary process demonstrate how out of touch with reality they are. Instead of a positive influence, they have become a new problem for local officials. I hope Mayor Betsy Hodges and Chief Janeé Harteau now realize their accommodating approach will not get the results they seek. BLM has forfeited any chance at becoming a valid advocacy group. Those who break the law and expect support will get little empathy. What once had potential for a good outcome has been squandered.

Joseph Polunc, Cologne

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With inclusive video and laws that favor the police, it would seem that continuing to focus on the Jamar Clark tragedy may not be productive in convincing white people of the plight of minorities, but this is not to say that white people are not sensitive to the result of poverty.

Blocking traffic on Interstate 35W also brings resentment of poor people trying to get to their humble workplaces, while planning, budgeting and funding for white-dominated, high-wage union construction jobs continues. If anywhere at all, protesters should have their sit-downs on the Green and Blue light-rail lines.

The need is to win over or remove Minneapolis City Council persons in wards that are not on the North Side. The pandering that City Council people do in their wards does not serve Minneapolis well. There is no better argument for a five-ward, six at-large City Council than the problem Black Lives Matter people should wish to exemplify.

Bruce A. Lundeen, Minneapolis

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I feel very old and very tired. So many issues are so long-lasting and so many arguments are way too convoluted. Look, if we aren't going for a Chicago-style scandal, why not release the damn tapes as Black Lives Matter asks? Gun control? We should have taken care of that in the 20th century. Football in high school? Get it out — and out of college, too. It has nothing to do with education, it serves a tiny portion of both populations and it begins the development of celebrity mentality that becomes really pathological in professional football. It's not even very good exercise. Funny. I still feel old and tired.

Patricia Reeves, Prior Lake