It would be a relief to readers who value the TRUTH if the Star Tribune (and its editorial cartoonist, Steve Sack) would exercise some much-needed journalistic integrity and do their research into what the NRA is really all about — which is law and order, patriotism, teaching and preaching gun safety, and preserving the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution. When an outrage is committed, whether with guns, knives, ball bats or bare fists, the person responsible is the one who did it — not the NRA, not Congress (which has dozens of gun laws on the books), not a troubled childhood.
Ever since President Bill Clinton tried to connect the NRA to the Oklahoma City bombing and called the organization (of which John F. Kennedy was a lifetime member) his worst enemy, the left has deemed it politically correct to blame the NRA for any and all crimes committed with firearms. It is time for you in the media to get your facts straight, cease the vile slanders against the NRA and tell the truth! The Bible says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Maybe you should read that, too, while you’re at it.
Dean C. Nelson, Mounds View
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One of the major but overlooked reasons the NRA and its acolytes oppose any meaningful efforts to address gun safety through background checks of aspiring purchasers of firearms is economics. Requiring commercial vendors to undertake reasonable background checks would not only prevent some of those who should not have firearms but also deter a number of others who ought not have access to even trying to buy them. This would have a deleterious economic effect on manufacturers of firearms and ammunition and other accoutrements, as well as on those who sell these items.
Imposing this kind of economic pressure on the industry could have a prophylactic effect on keeping guns out of the wrong hands.
Another salutary economic device would be to require all guns to be registered, at least prospectively, and impose a fee on the registrants, much like vehicle registration. Additionally, increased taxes or surcharges could be assessed on the purchase of firearms and ammunitions.
Despite the impasse at the federal level, these steps could be undertaken by state and local units of government. Placing reasonable, realistic economic constraints on the acquisition of guns would, like raising the cost of tobacco products through taxation, lead to fewer people buying and selling firearms.
This approach would not be a panacea; firearms and ammunition could still be acquired from private parties or by criminal activities or from those who engage in them, bypassing the official registration and taxation process. But it would be a means of raising the financial ante for gun owners in a way consistent with their vaunted Second Amendment rights.
This partial solution to the gun safety problem is not through the Constitution, or politics, but, in the inimitable words of Deep Throat of Watergate fame: Follow the money!
Marshall H. Tanick, Minneapolis
The writer is a constitutional law attorney who has represented gun-safety advocates as well as gun owners and organizations.
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I support the Second Amendment. I applaud the efforts of some elected officials in their attempts to control the proliferation of firearms. Firearms are the common denominator in all these mass killings. Here are a few points that should be considered and could perhaps curb this needless loss of life in America:
• Insurance company involvement: Frankly, I am surprised the insurance companies haven’t weighed in on gun control. When my wife and I applied for homeowners insurance, the first question from our agent was, “Are there any firearms on the premises?” I haven’t read anything recently about lawsuits being submitted as a result of someone being accidentally or intentionally killed by a firearm. News reports repeatedly describe accounts in which someone is killed or injured from easy access to guns (playing or intentionally wanting to cause harm to others). This applies to children as well as adults. I am confident that if someone were injured or killed on my property, lawsuits would follow. Surely the insurance companies would object to payment for any legal proceedings.
• Registration of firearms: This should be handled just as motor and recreational vehicles, ATVs, boats, etc., are registered. I have to renew the plates on my vehicle each year — the same should apply to a firearm. Additionally, firearm permits should be renewed every four years — just like a driver’s license. This is the only way we can get a handle on all these firearms.
• Mandatory insurance for each firearm: Individuals who own firearms should be required to carry insurance on each item. After all, drivers are required to have insurance on their vehicles — why not on guns? Firearms should be considered as lethal weapons. Policies need to cover theft, medical and all other legal claims. Essentially, this would cover the owner for any liability regarding the firearm.
Are my points going to stop all gun-related violence or incidents? No. I am a realist, but I believe it’s a start in the right direction. Again, the intention is not to repeal the Second Amendment but to make Americans safer and reduce all this gun violence. Let’s listen to the appeals from the students at the Florida high school where the latest mass killing occurred.
Fred Orlowske, Winona, Minn.
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On the day before 17 people were shot and killed in Parkland, Fla., a teenager’s grandmother in Everett, Wash., alerted police that her grandson was planning to shoot up a high school with a semiautomatic rifle. She’s a national heroine. And as hard as it must have been, she did the right thing. Saved another tragedy from happening. Saved countless lives.
As this copycat epidemic spreads, this is unfortunately what “national defense” must truly become: paying more attention to one another and speaking up when someone’s words or behavior threaten lives. It’s not a TV game or a movie shoot-em-up — it’s the real thing. Of course, we should stop selling military automatic weapons across the counter. And stop letting any kinds of weapons get into the hands of unstable people.
But the federal government has just asked for $686 billion for “national defense,” to increase a weapon system already unmatched in the world — to guard us against external enemies.
Wouldn’t it be cheaper — with more lives saved — to spend some small part of those billions right here at home, inspiring people to watch out and speak out like that courageous grandmother did?
Dan Dippery, Menlo Park, Calif.
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Regarding the FBI mistake in the Parkland shooting (“FBI missed ‘desire to kill’ tip,” Feb. 17):
On a recent Sunday morning, I got a call from the FBI. They wanted to know if I knew a person named “[omitted]”. I told them yes, that was my son. They asked where he was; I happened to know that he was at a church service. They wanted his phone number to speak with him immediately. I asked what was wrong, and they said they have found him to be connected with a terroristic threat online, and I said it couldn’t be possible, that he was a good man. I became a little wary and said they should give me their phone number and that I would relay it to him. They did so and warned me that if I interfered with their reaching my son, I would be in trouble as well.
I gave their number to my son, and they were waiting at his home when he arrived. My son was a little wary, too, and asked if they could talk in a coffee shop. They talked to him for more than an hour and determined that he was innocent but that someone had put a bot on his computer to post a terroristic threat online.
I just want to say that these agents were professional and were not there to “make someone guilty” but rather to solve a problem, and that they did it quickly and professionally. The FBI has systems in place to monitor online threats, and in the case of Parkland, something in the system failed; they will learn and do better, but it was unfair for the president to condemn the FBI for this rare failure.
Thomas R. Sem, Bloomington