I am a lifelong member of one of our two major parties — I vote straight-ticket 90 percent of the time. But I will pledge to vote for any candidate, state and federal, either party, who will pledge to me to begin a debate to make our schools safe. And will not stop until we have a solution.

Chuck Heikenen, Edina

• • •

In a recent letter someone called attention to U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s record in accepting contributions from the NRA. Since I am fearful of “fake news,” I dug in and found the following information:

•Tim has donated all of the contributions he received from the NRA to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

•He has been voting in favor of sending universal background checks, “no fly, no buy,” and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for gun-violence research to the floor of the House for years. (No bills have actually made it to the floor.)

•He voted against concealed-carry reciprocity and is a cosponsor of the bill to ban the sale of bump stocks.

I sincerely believe gun control will be the litmus test for all politicians.

KaiMay Y. Terry, Wayzata

• • •

Really, the best the Star Tribune Editorial Board could come up with after the horrific shooting in Florida is that we need research? (“Start with facts to curb gun violence,” Feb. 16.) To untie the CDC’s hands so it can fund research on guns and violence? There’s been plenty of research in other countries. We know what needs to happen now to curtail at least some of the violence some people’s love of guns begets. The editorial reminded me of politicians who fund a “committee” to investigate problems instead of actually doing something about them. When will you write something equal to the gravity of the problem of guns in America?

Karen J. Storm, Minneapolis

• • •

As an owner of a firearm, I was disappointed to see an ad from Mills Fleet Farm that contained assault rifles in Sunday’s paper. Fleet Farm has its own corporate responsibility opportunities in regard to the assault rifle issue. However, by running ads that include these dangerous weapons, the Star Tribune is also supporting their promotion, sale and proliferation.

Maybe it was too late to pull the ad. Maybe the thought hadn’t occurred. I appreciate the role that advertising has in the newspaper business. I also suspect that the impact of possibly losing an advertiser like Fleet Farm is greater than the impact to Fleet Farm of not advertising assault rifles in the Sunday paper. That said, we need action on this issue, and by not taking money from Fleet Farm, or others, to promote these weapons, the Star Tribune can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Richard Hansen, Maple Grove

• • •

I’ve decided to do something about gun violence, even a small something, myself since legislators seem capable of nothing more than empty “thoughts and prayers.” For me, that something will be to stop shopping at Mills Fleet Farm and all other retailers that sell assault weapons with no useful purpose other than mass human slaughter. Fleet Farm is especially egregious in this because, besides selling these weapons, it heavily promotes them in nearly every advertising circular I’ve seen from it. In the past, I’ve enjoyed many Fleet Farm products and have shopped there regularly. But unless it changes its gun policies, I will now make any effort necessary to find more conscientious sellers.

Paul Oman, Brooklyn Center

• • •

I, like most gun owners, am as upset about school shootings as everyone else. We are not opposed to gun laws; we are opposed to laws that will have no effect on mass shooting but that will take rights away from the more than 99 percent of us who will never use our gun for evil. How many anti-gun people have ever read a gun magazine or have been to a gun show? Do you know the other side? Or are you reacting from the only side you hear in the media? If anyone who knows both sides has an idea that will work without punishing the honest gun owners, please tell us. Remember, people who do not obey laws against murder will also ignore new laws.

David Newville, Coon Rapids

• • •

Guns don’t kill people — people kill people. Which is why we need strong, common-sense laws to prevent people from killing people. Hundreds of thousands of state statutes, federal laws and city ordinances aim to regulate the reckless behavior only a small minority of us actually engage in.

For example, we have laws regulating the possession, sale and use of certain hard-core drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine. These laws represent an infringement on individuals’ personal freedom to use these drugs responsibly. And yet, I don’t often hear objections to such regulations. Why? Because the laws serve the common good.

Such laws — and there are hundreds of thousands of them — somehow infringe on personal freedoms. And thank goodness they do. I would be overjoyed if my personal freedom to buy an AR-15 took a back seat to other individuals’ right to be safe and secure in their own community.

Jill Schwimmer, Minneapolis

• • •

“Red flag” laws identify dangerousness in existing gun owners and allow for those weapons to be temporarily removed to a safe place. Five states currently have these laws in place, and about 10 states have proposals. As a hunter, I would fully support this. It is just one plank in the platform of solutions. We must come together in common sense.

If not, we must take a hard look at ourselves in the mirror and say this every day: “We must simply accept the following as part of American life: We are vulnerable to gun bullets ripping through many people, wherever they may be gathered. We refuse to take collective action that can make a difference. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who will have their bodies and their lives shredded by bullets in future large-scale gunfire.”

Dan Rebek, St. Paul

• • •

“Before entering the [U.S.] Capitol Visitor Center, all visitors are screened by a magnetometer and all items that are permitted inside the building are screened by an x-ray device.” (From visitthecapitol.gov/plan-visit/prohibited-items.)

Guess I’d be less apt to prioritize student safety over a gun lobby, if my place of employment was so highly protected. Don’t our students deserve the same level of safety?

A concerned mom says:

• Add stronger Capitol-esque security to all school doors.

• Unpack bills to pass one or a few at a time — stop bundling unrelated topics. Make a decision for the common good and move on.

• Ban civilian access to automatic military weapons and bump stocks.

• Create a national gun registry, which includes a required waiting period.

• Close the gun show loophole — require those who want to buy a gun to preregister with the national gun registry to be cleared ahead of time.

• Invest in early childhood education and mental health services in our schools.

And my daughter adds: If the FBI needs to match up a social-media threat with someone’s identity, contact a team of experts. Employ teenage girls to use their social-media search tactics.

Julie Fulton, Minneapolis


The whole story

John Phelan’s analysis (“Put Minnesota tax code revisions on ‘to do’ list,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 19) on the newly passed tax bill falls short of the mark. He clearly implies that states with high local and state taxes are in that position solely due to excess spending. This appears to be the justification for the Republican position on narrowing the deductibility for those taxes.

Strangely, he mentions nothing about the federal government’s spending, which flows quite generously to certain states, mostly to the South, and very sparsely to others, mostly in the North. For instance, Alabama receives $2.46 for every tax dollar sent the federal government, while we get back 54 cents. Minnesota is always near the bottom in receiving assistance from the feds. That should be part of the discussion.

Arne H. Carlson, Minneapolis

The writer was governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999.