I attended the first gun violence hearing of the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee and was encouraged by Republican Chair Warren Limmer’s end-of-meeting advice to both parties: The reality of divided government means the focus should be on nonextremist measures where both sides can meet in the middle. Immediately I thought of background checks, the lowest-hanging fruit, which would please more than 80% of Minnesotans.

Apparently he was speaking to Democrats only. Republicans have responded with bills to allow people to carry a gun without a permit and to shoot in public when feeling threatened — whether or not the threat is real — rather than retreat from danger (“Republicans seek expansion of gun rights in Minnesota,” front page, Jan. 21). Studies show that both of these measures have increased gun violence in states where they’ve been enacted.

Limmer denounces gun violence prevention advocates’ promise to vote him and his colleagues out if once again no meaningful action is taken as “nothing but threats of legislative tenure when we’re really trying to make sure we pass something that addresses the real problem.” First, Sen. Limmer, you need to understand that the ballot box is private citizens’ only redress when too-powerful elected officials advance special interests over the common good — which in this case includes saving lives. Second, your and the GOP’s belief that these two measures address the “real problem” is frightening. Unquestionably, they would only ratchet up the very real problem of gun violence.

Rich Cowles, Eagan


My ideals can’t be bought off

A recent letter writer touted the benefits of the Trump presidency, which include low unemployment and a record stock market (“Maybe you do know some, after all,” Jan. 22). This argument, that the ends justify the means, is something I have heard from other Trump supporters. I’m not convinced, so perhaps these supporters could clarify a few things: What rate of return should I demand on my retirement account before I give my vote to a pathological liar, a man who debases himself and our country on a daily basis? How much of my children’s future should I agree to sacrifice through the loosening of environmental regulations, so that corporations can continue to enjoy record profits that end up boosting Wall Street but not Main Street? And exactly how many of our democratic ideals should I be willing to jettison in exchange for more money in my old age?

The United States of America stands for far more than the sum of its corporate profits and retirement accounts. For all of our flaws, we have been a nation that stands for the highest ideals of liberty, equality, democracy and the rule of law. How many of these are we willing to give up for another four years of corrupt leadership, profitable or otherwise?

Gary J. Freitas, Waconia


New tech better serves farmers

Farmers have one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. It requires long hours, hard work and dealing with a multitude of unpredictable, and often uncontrollable, circumstances and conditions.

Thankfully, as we’ve entered the modern era, new developments in technology have eased some of the burden off farmers by allowing them to operate more efficiently and giving them more control over their jobs.

That’s why I believe it’s a misconception that most farmers prefer to use equipment from the 1970s and 1980s (“On the farm, nothing runs like an old Deere,” front page, Jan. 6). The agriculture industry is comprised of many sectors that work in conjunction with farmers to ensure they yield maximum operating profits.

The technological advancements in new-age farming equipment have empowered farmers by producing safer and more effective tractors that provide real-time diagnostics that can fix issues remotely and give them data to provide a better understanding of their land and crops (“Right to repair is latest revolt against tech,” front page, Jan. 12). New, high-tech farming equipment is also more reliable than it was in previous eras, which means less downtime during the harvest season.

Farmers, who work tirelessly to feed our nation, should use the best and most efficient equipment on the market. I believe that new agriculture equipment and the investment that’s been made to ensure the most effective technology is onboard is the right choice for the agriculture community.

Dustin Perry, Crookston, Minn.

The writer is president of the West Polk County Farm Bureau.


Businesses finally wake up

As the Star Tribune Editorial Board stated in “Trump’s no ‘prophet’ on climate change” (Jan. 22), “The president should hear, and heed, the call of world leaders gathered in Davos.” What do business leaders, and the corporations they lead, think about climate change? Here are two recent articles from the Star Tribune’s Business section:

• “BlackRock turns its eye toward climate risks” (Jan. 15): BlackRock is the largest money manager in the world. It is removing thermal coal company investments from its portfolio and changing its investment strategy to decrease climate dangers while mitigating the risks from the climate to its holdings.

• “Microsoft announces plans to become ‘carbon-negative’ by 2030” (Jan. 17): Microsoft pledged to not only stop emitting greenhouse gases but by 2050 to have actually removed from the atmosphere all the CO2 it has emitted since its founding. This goes along with renewable energy goals from Apple, Google and Amazon, some of which have already been met.

What lessons do we learn from all this? First, if you want to see what positive steps are being taken on the climate crisis, don’t forget to read the Business section!

All of the companies mentioned are large successful businesses. While there may be many wonderfully moral people working at these companies, the companies themselves make decisions to increase their profits based on cold, hard examination of the facts. And the facts seen by these companies are overwhelming: Climate change is real, and it presents great risks to these companies because it presents great risks to the economies and consumers on which they depend.

Several of these articles mention that action by these companies can only go so far. To really address the risks presented by the climate crisis, we need action by the government. Unfortunately, our current government is intent on denying the cold, hard facts all these businesses can see. The longer the government refuses to act, the greater the risks to all of us.

Michael Schwartz, St. Louis Park

• • •

Kudos to China (of all places), for announcing a swift ban on plastics! (“China is banning plastics that pollute land, water,” Jan. 21.) The ban includes the importation of plastic waste and the use of nonbiodegradable plastic bags in major cities by the end of 2020. Radical measures include the banning of other plastic garbage nationwide by 2025. What a country!

This is just the start from a frustrated government stating, “Enough is enough.” Severe flooding, severe fires, severe drought, severe temperatures, severe pollution, severe hurricanes, severe famine and therefore severe migration impact us all. Global change in climate is not a mirage or a passing fad. Just how bad do things have to get before we start paying attention? Time’s up!

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover

We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.