An April 5 letter writer commented on the debate over guns and distracted driving by adding the results of alcohol and driving while intoxicated to the discussion. He points out that he knows no one personally who has been killed by gun violence but has friends who were seriously hurt by a drunken driver. That is a terrible thing, and there is no argument that drunken driving is an issue.
The problem with his or any comparison of distracted driving, drunken driving and gun violence is that it is irrelevant. Each issue needs to be addressed on its own. I am a gun owner. I hunt and have a carry permit. In 2010, three of my friends in the same family were murdered by a relative with a gun. I don’t know how he obtained the weapon. I do know he committed suicide shortly after it happened. On the other hand, I don’t personally know anyone who has been injured or killed by a drunken or distracted driver. Yet I still believe that we need laws that deal with all of these issues. As a gun owner, I think we need to strengthen some of the gun laws. As a person who occasionally has an adult beverage, I believe we need strong laws against drunken driving. As a person who uses a cellphone and texts, I think we need strong hands-free laws.
Trying to weigh the importance of these issues is wrongheaded. They are all important, and our laws should address them all as needed.
Jerry Feucht, McGregor, Minn.
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The April 5 letter was flat-out wrong when it stated a bill before the Legislature requires background checks for transfers of guns between family members or short-term loans for the purposes of hunting or trap shooting. Such transfers are specifically exempt from this legislation. Updating our background checks law isn’t about inconveniencing law-abiding citizens; it’s about closing one loophole by which a criminal or prohibited person can easily buy a gun, undetected by law enforcement.
It’s also not true that “current gun laws cannot even be enforced” because background checks don’t mean anything. Nationally, over 20 years, the background check system has prevented about 3.5 million ineligible people from purchasing guns (EverytownResearch.org). In Minnesota, over a 10-year period, 4,341 have been denied a permit to carry for similar reasons (Protect Minnesota). The lifesaving effects of various states’ permit-to-purchase laws have been documented. For example, of Connecticut’s 1995 law: “Over the next 10 years the state saw a 40% drop in firearm homicides. During that time there was no drop in non-firearm homicides, indicating that it was likely the permit-to-purchase law that prevented gun deaths.” (National Center for Health Research, drawing from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health data.)
It’s unfortunate that untruths continue to be spread about the background check bill’s effect on law-abiding gun owners, as if we don’t have enough “false facts” floating through the ether already.
Rich Cowles, Eagan
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This probably isn’t the direction the April 5 letter writer was going, but what about a background check for buying alcohol? Either with a code or mark on our state-issued ID, or a check against a database of people caught driving under the influence? Would you risk providing alcohol to someone illegally and getting sued if/when they got caught again? It has not worked to take away their driver’s licenses, and we aren’t locking them up. Maybe this would reduce drunken-driving accidents.
Becky Carpenter, Minneapolis
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I think most responsible gun owners would support some reasonable measures like background-check loophole closures and even red-flag laws as long as measures were in place to prevent scorned people from abusing the system and to ensure that the person who was red-flagged got a fair and reasonable hearing, as opposed to cops knocking down the door in the middle of the night. Many like to use the old “if it saves just one life” mantra.
My question is, why isn’t the same logic good enough when it comes to cracking down to secure borders and deporting of illegals? Or when it comes to banning people from countries known as terror hotbeds?
To use another of their favorite buzzwords, it’s only “common sense,” right?
John Morgan, Burnsville
We’ve seen reductions before, and we’ve also seen the tragic results
The report “Return to the Jungle: How the Reagan Administration Is Imperiling the Nation’s Meat and Poultry Inspection Program” was written by Kathleen Hughes during the Reagan administration. It charged that the Food Safety Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture had reduced the frequency of meat inspections and had done nothing to alleviate the shortage of inspectors. The service also had increased the speed of the inspection lines and had loosened enforcement standards, making it possible for diseased, unsanitary and improperly graded meat to reach the public, the report stated.
President Donald Trump is following in the footsteps of President Ronald Reagan by ordering a 40 percent reduction of meat inspectors and replacing them with plant employees (Business, April 4). We could likely experience similar results.
What was the result then? In 1993, the Jack in the Box chain had a huge outbreak of E. coli in the meat served by its restaurants, which resulted in 732 people infected, 178 with permanent injuries, and the deaths of four children. The meat came mainly from four meat producers in the U.S.
May I quote President Reagan? “There you go again!”
Darrel Mathieu, Luck, Wis.
It’s a nice story, but does every story need to be so widely told?
My husband and I adopted our fourth child and feel that his biological family history is his business and not something we have license to share with others in conversation, let alone spread throughout the national press. Kudos to Liz Smith, the adoptive parent in the April 5 article “I needed to love this child.” She has opened her heart to the needs of a child and has responded by creating a family for herself and her daughter. What I don’t understand, as an adoptive parent, is her willingness to share her daughter’s private information with the world. This article was written by a reporter for the Washington Post, and has made its way around the internet and has been picked up by numerous newspapers. Now, Ms. Smith’s daughter can grow up being known as the baby nobody visited in the hospital and who was rescued from her drug-addicted biological mother, instead of being known as just another child from a family formed through adoption. So much for empathy for those with drug addiction or privacy for children’s health information. It makes a good story, though, right?
Janelle Holmvig, Minneapolis
So a few people and some kids want its release. Who cares?
Wow! Eight protesters on the State Capitol steps, along with several kids, wanting the Mueller report released really warrants space in the paper? (Photograph with the continuation of “Justice defends handling of report,” April 5.) I am sure those kids had no idea what they were even doing. What a waste of space!
Linda Daley, Bloomington
Raise, don’t lower
Nearly 30 percent of chronologically mature members of the U.S. House recently tried to pass a law lowering the minimum voting age to 16. In contrast, how interesting that the U.S. Constitution for more than 200 years has set the minimum age for representatives at 25, for senators at 30, and for president at 35 — ages set by genius founders, presumably with maturity a major factor and at a time when a life expectancy arguably was under 40. Anyone for raising the voting age back to at least 21?
John Miller, Hopkins