It's disturbing that state Sen. Warren Limmer, who wields enormous power over legislation, is so out of touch with the huge majority of Minnesotans. Take gun control, for instance — an issue on which he's consistently obstructed the will of the vast majority. In "A policy of patience" (Dec. 29), Limmer says that support for universal background checks largely comes from "a left perspective" in the metro.
From the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll of October 2019: When asked "Do you support or oppose a universal background check on all gun sales, including those sold privately or at gun shows?" 88% of Ramsey and Hennepin County residents said yes, compared with 82% of residents of metro suburbs, 81% in northern Minnesota and 83% in southern Minnesota. These poll results are consistent with previous Minnesota Poll results.
It's really rather remarkable that a leader in America today wouldn't agree with most citizens and support closing the background-check loophole, requiring the same process on all gun sales that is already codified into law for purchasing guns from licensed dealers. The states that have enacted background-check laws for unlicensed gun sales are associated with a 10% lower homicide rate (according to Everytown Research and Policy). Minnesota enjoys no such protection.
Limmer says he thinks that momentum for addressing gun violence has "faded." That's only because he's so insulated from what Minnesotans of all stripes and regions think, and from what's happening this year when gun violence is through the roof. Responsible, representative government would address this issue with the life-or-death urgency it demands.
Rich Cowles, Eagan
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The day the Star Tribune reported that Limmer believes momentum for gun safety policy has "faded," it also reported that a man had been charged in the death of a St. Paul 2-year-old who accessed a loaded gun and shot himself ("Gun's owner charged in boy's death," Dec. 29). The gun belonged to a felon, who was charged with illegally possessing the firearm. Just last month, a 5-year-old in St. Cloud was shot with another gun that, according to charges, was illegally possessed by another felon.
What could have prevented these devastating deaths? Preventing the felons from buying the guns. But here in Minnesota, a felon can buy a gun from a private seller without ever facing a background check. Limmer has blocked the Senate Judiciary Committee from taking up a bill requiring background checks on all gun sales for years. Perhaps it is no surprise that the senator who refuses to hold a meaningful hearing on background checks also wants to plug his ears to the high percentage of Minnesotans who support such a law. Gun violence hasn't gone away, and neither has the political will to pass stronger gun laws.
For my part, I will keep asking my friends with children to lock their guns and store them separately from ammunition. I will continue pounding on the doors of state legislators until they enact a law requiring background checks on all gun sales. And I will persist with lobbying Sen. Limmer to schedule a hearing on background checks so he can see for himself how very strong the momentum is for lifesaving gun-safety measures here in Minnesota.
Megan Walsh, Edina
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In the Dec. 29 issue of the Star Tribune, Limmer is quoted as saying that momentum around battling the horrible toll of gun violence in Minnesota has "faded." As someone who has been organizing for the last two years for the cause of gun sense in our state, let me assure him: Nothing could be further from the truth.
I am an instructor at a community college that is currently undergoing a construction project. At our last faculty meeting, the discussion point that took the most time and drew the most impassioned opinions was not whether our new offices are accessible to students with disabilities. It was not whether the restrooms are ideally situated; it wasn't even the coffee machine's new location.
It was whether our new offices were properly defended against an active shooter.
Professors from every discipline, from music to microbiology, peppered their points with words like "sightlines" and "access points," and as the discussion wore on, I could feel myself getting angry that this is our new normal.
And when I talk to my family and friends, they're angry, too. They're angry they know exactly which supply closet they should duck into if someone bursts into their office with an AR-15. They're angry a major portion of preschool orientation for their 4-year-old was devoted to lockdown drills. And they're angry common-sense gun legislation that would not infringe upon Minnesotans' Second Amendment rights — laws that have the support of a majority of Minnesota Democrats, Republicans and gun owners alike — withers in the Minnesota Senate without even being brought to a vote, thanks to Sen. Limmer.
This is not what law and order looks like. This is not what freedom looks like. And our movement has never been stronger. If Sen. Limmer thinks our momentum has "faded," he is sorely mistaken.
Chad Kuyper, Maplewood
BOOKS IN SCHOOLS
Not a ban but a needed update
I should have seen the misguided letters coming when I read about the Henry Sibley High School's decision to stop teaching "Of Mice and Men" and "Montana 1948" ("High school halts teaching of 2 books," Dec. 28). In the Dec. 30 letters to the editor, one writer wrote to compare the decision to Nazis, and another snarkily advocated for books on flowers and rainbows instead ("Better to discuss than to run away"). Instead, how about asking who is requesting a change (not a ban) of books, and why? I recall the last time this debate surfaced, over "To Kill a Mockingbird," and that one of the main requests to not teach the book was its repeated use of the N-word, which Black students said felt like repeated aggressions, even in context. I can't help but notice that each time, most of the loud voices advocating to keep the work with the racist bits are white (as I am).
Updating (not banning) a reading list is something teachers do all the time. Adding more modern and diverse voices, especially ones that were previously excluded, helps white students learn about difference in the world, while their Black and Indigenous classmates and other classmates of color don't have to endure repeated trauma. There are lots of books in the world. Let's stop valorizing and clinging to old ones that reinforce how racism was once tolerated by taking small steps like teaching (not banning) different ones.
Kristin Boldon, Minneapolis
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Uneven levels of risk for players
Regarding "Masks now mandatory game face" (Dec. 29): It's hard to take the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for winter high school sports seriously because the risks are so unequal by sport. I suspect that the goal was to not deny any sport and to present masks as (figurative!) fig leaves. For example, the bodies of hockey players are heavily protected against exposure by their equipment, and full plastic face shields or specially designed masks could complete the safe barriers. In contrast, basketball players are very vulnerable despite masks, due to proximity and frequent body contact. For obvious reasons, the craziest idea of all is to condone wrestling, and sometimes without masks!
D.C. Smith, Minneapolis
Out with the old, very gladly
A Minnesota take on 2020: This year was ... interesting.
Joel Boon, Shakopee
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