Agreed: “A cure for mass shootings doesn’t exist” (Steve Chapman column, Opinion Exchange, Feb. 20). Let’s add: “A cure for cancer doesn’t exist.” But, I am alive today due to mammography, research, drug trials, genetic testing, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. My doctors can’t say exactly what worked for me, but I am grateful.
“A cure for traffic fatalities doesn’t exist.” But, my husband recently survived a serious accident. We have instituted seat belts, air bags, better car design, highway design, improved guardrails, speed limits, turn lanes, snow removal, icing chemicals, training, testing, licensing, registration, traffic laws, manufacturer recalls, maintenance, policing, ambulances and myriad other things that help reduce traffic fatalities.
Even without a “cure” for cancer, breast cancer fatalities are down almost 40 percent in the last 20 years, and traffic fatality rates are down almost the same percentage. Forty percent fewer deaths in Parkland would mean seven families wouldn’t have to bury their loved ones this week.
Do not argue “rights.” Those students’ “unalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” shouldn’t be sacrificed to anyone’s Second Amendment hobby of playing with semiautomatic weapons. America, we can do better than this.
Rochelle Eastman, Savage
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Chapman fails to acknowledge that many countries have found solutions. How else does one explain the vast differences in both mass shootings and homicide rates in the U.S. compared with both Western and Asian countries?
For example, the U.S. has 3.0 gun murders per 100,000 people, while Canada has 0.5, Sweden 0.3, Australia 0.1, Spain 0.1 and Japan 0.
The U.S. spawns almost 60 mass shooters per 100 million people. Only Yemen has a higher rate. From 1996 to 2012, we had 90 mass shooters. No other country had more than 18.
The differences: The U.S. has by far the highest rate of gun ownership per 100 people at 88.8, with Canada at 30.0, Australia at 15.0 and Japan at 0.6. We have 4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the guns.
Yes, it is about guns, as the students in Parkland have stressed, and it isn’t primarily about mental illness, with studies finding that some 4 percent of gun deaths are related to mental-health issues. However, it is worth noting that the U.S. does not have universal health care, as does virtually every other country in these surveys, and has the highest rate of income inequality. Both factors lead to significant disparities in the availability and affordability of mental health care, and therefore may well have some difficult-to-measure impact on these dreadful shootings.
Charles E. Dean, Apple Valley
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To state Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, who is chairman of the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee: I find your quote on the request to take action for common-sense efforts to curb gun violence — “We have a very short session, so I’m not going to waste time on bills that are not eventually going to become a success” — remarkable. You won’t “waste time” on these requests? Really? (“In Minnesota, advocates look to Legislature for changes,” Feb. 20.)
As a citizen, educator and parent, I ask that you revisit that thinking and instead of blocking these efforts you use your power and authority to move them forward. Students and their teachers are depending on you to keep us safe. I can assure you that if you do not, when the use of a weapon of destruction, designed and intended for military mass murder, is used by a mentally ill person in a Minnesota school, I will be the first to remind you and others that you thought taking precautions was a “waste of time” and that the blood of those victims will be yours. It is time to take action.
My apologies if I’ve wasted your time today, sir.
Jennifer Norlin-Weaver, Minneapolis
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When I see the protesters carrying signs reading “gun control,” I think that they may as well say “world peace.” It looks good and it sounds good, but how are we ever going to achieve it? There is a lot of anger right now and we do need to address what causes these young people to commit mass murder. Breakdown of family structures, less parental involvement, violent movies and video games — all of these need to be discussed. To many, gun control means gun confiscation. One need only to look at Chicago as an example of bad guys who find and keep weapons despite strict gun laws. New gun laws and enforcing current laws are only one part of the solution. We must look at what causes people to want to commit these horrific crimes.
Steve Johnson, Zumbrota, Minn.
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In 2012, our family had the privilege of hosting a bright, young college student from Spain in our home for two weeks. She described traveling frequently throughout Europe and had completed one year of high school in Ireland. She said to me, “No one in Europe sends their children to the U.S. because it is too violent here.” Then she asked me, “Does everyone in America have a gun?” I responded, “No, it just seems that way.” At that moment we were driving on Interstate 494 and passed a very large billboard with a picture of a rifle advertising gun sales at a local outdoor retail store. I laughed just a little and said, “Oh, never mind that billboard.” That was six years ago. Sadly, I can imagine having that same conversation today.
Peggy Flaig, Minnetonka
Americans offered the blueprint
Having read the report published Friday in the Star Tribune (“Russians charged in meddling”), I came away with the conclusion that a bunch of Russians didn’t like Hillary Clinton, so they attempted to aid Bernie Sanders. When that failed, they decided to assist Donald Trump’s candidacy.
There were millions of Americans active on social media during the 2016 campaign. Not a day passed that I did not see many of my friends and neighbors, not to mention strangers and media, tirelessly advocating on behalf of their preferred candidate, often making cruel, negative and disturbing claims about the opposing candidate in the process. This led to many reports of families divided and friendships ended due to this particular election.
What troubles me is how easy and acceptable it is for Americans to deliberately spread fear, hate and lies via social media in a blatant attempt to influence the outcome of an election, all under the protection of the right to free speech. What further troubles me is Robert Mueller and the U.S. government pretending they accomplished something because they caught foreign citizens engaging in the same behavior.
If you want to punish those who attempt to deceitfully manipulate an election using a social-media platform, why not start by setting the example at home? The Russians only mirrored what they saw Americans do first.
Jason Gabbert, Plymouth
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I do not know how many hours and dollars have been spent to come up with the indictments in the Mueller investigation. Add the cost of the hours our politicians have spent endlessly talking about it. Divide this number by 13 and you get the cost per indictment. Did we get our money’s worth? Do we ever? How much influence could 13 Russians have over our voting public? Are we that gullible? If we are, why is this so? What can be done? What other wool is being pulled over our collective eyes and by whom? I could name names.
People seemed outraged that the Russians could pull off such a coup. How did they get away with it? How do we prevent it from happening again? I would like to point out that this same Russia has hundreds if not thousands of nuclear warheads targeting American cities. No big deal there. Talk about threatening our way of life. Come on, politicians, set your priorities.
H.M. Gabriel, Brooklyn Center