According to local news, state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has said that the hands-free bill will pass this session, attributing the success of this legislation (pertaining to mobile-device use while driving) to a combination of emotion and facts. “Emotion is part of what drives things over here and then what are the facts around it,” Gazelka said. “When the two meet, that’s when you get something done and then coming down you feel the heartaches it underlines that’s important and make sure it happens.”
As happy as I will be to see the hands-free bill pass, I wonder how Sen. Gazelka can say this while continuing to make hearings for gun safety bills so difficult to get. How many people have come to the State Capitol to tell their stories about the effect gun violence has had on their lives? How many more facts can we offer? Those of us who meet with legislators and law enforcement, go to town halls, study research, write letters and make calls, providing both personal stories and solid facts, are left to wonder where Gazelka draws the line. Does our skyrocketing suicide rate or the increase in school, workplace and public shootings not give him heartache? We need background checks on all gun purchases. We need a “red flag” law to give law enforcement the ability to petition a judge to temporarily remove guns from someone in crisis. We need our legislators to hear our stories and look at the facts. We shouldn’t have to wait another year for their compassion to kick in.
Jo Haugen, Eagan
Opinion editor’s note: While Gazelka said earlier that he would “do everything in my power” to block new gun-control measures this session, he said late last month that he will hold hearings on any gun legislation that passes the House (“Key state lawmaker open to gun control bills,” front page, March 28).
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Red-flag laws save lives. I know because my life was saved by a red-flag order.
My father was a good man who struggled with untreated bipolar disorder, which caused frequent and sometimes suicidal depression. Fortunately, we lived in Indiana, a red-flag state. This meant my family could have my father’s guns confiscated when he was dangerous. I was in the room with him at his lowest, when he had guns. I’m alive because we could have the guns removed. Without them, he, too, survived these periods, sought treatment, and became a doting and beloved grandparent.
Families like mine need the Minnesota Senate to pass the House’s red flag laws. These laws don’t impede the rights of responsible gun owners. They protect innocent people from gun owners who are a danger to themselves and others.
But this isn’t enough. Only three of the seven states where I’ve lived protect their citizens with red-flag laws. We need national red-flag laws to protect every family in this country. That’s why I support the presidential campaign of former U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland (and why my daughter, who works on his campaign, supports him, too). Delaney supports common-sense gun safety: red-flag orders, universal background checks, bans on bump stocks and semi-automatic weapons, and federal funding for gun-violence research. I urge gun-sense voters to measure their candidates’ stances and bipartisanship against Delaney’s impressive record. We need a pragmatic leader on this issue in the White House, and I suggest him.
Kathleen Myers, Vadnais Heights
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I understand the distracted-driving bill is now in conference committee. I have been told the Senate version allows for GPS use. How can anybody be so dense to consider this provision? You have to get the phone out of everybody’s hands. Also, make certain the fine and/or point system jeopardizes the offender’s right to drive in the future. Legislators, this is a serious issue. Use some common sense!
Jerry Haugen, Minnetonka
ARMY AMMUNITION SITE
Let the fiscally prudent city of Arden Hills do its job
I have come to the conclusion that people do not understand that, with respect to redevelopment of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition plant (TCAAP), the city of Arden Hills is looking out for the best interests of the current citizens of that city (“Is Arden Hills up to the task?” Readers Write, April 2, responding to “Arden Hills stunned at revised plan,” March 30.) This is in contrast to Ramsey County, which has continually misfired on TCAAP.
The effort to get the land back from the Army in the condition it was in when taken has been going on for 25 years. The county foolishly spent $41 million to prematurely acquire and then clean the land when the Army was responsible for cleaning it and returning it. As a citizen of Arden Hills, who has been involved in and aware of the process for those 25 years, I want to see the land developed also. But, I do not want to see my city, with its prudent fiscal management, be burdened with costs that would come down on the citizens. Let Arden Hills do its job. Ramsey County should back off.
Craig Wilson, Arden Hills
DEMOCRATS AND JOE BIDEN
Is there any tolerance?
Do Democrats think it is acceptable to expel a person from public life because he or she makes someone feel “uncomfortable”? (“Biden accused of unwanted touching, kiss,” March 31, and subsequent coverage.) President Donald Trump makes me want to vomit, and I’ve never even met him in person. I can think of a number of people who make me feel “uncomfortable,” yet it has never occurred to me to go after their jobs.
We already lost one of the smartest, most talented legislators the U.S. Congress and Minnesota have ever seen because of a backstabbing witch hunt. Rinse and repeat, Dems? Really?
Íris Erlingsdóttir, Northfield
Opinion editor’s note: In a cellphone video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, following several days of criticism and discussion of his gregarious style, former Vice President Joe Biden said that “the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. And I get it. I get it.” See tinyurl.com/biden-ps.
REPUBLICANS AND HEALTH CARE
In a word …
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! The Republicans are going to wait until after the 2020 elections to offer their health plan that’s going to be much better than Obamacare! (“Trump backs off health proposal,” front page, April 3.) Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Doug Williams, Robbinsdale
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The recent headlines on the GOP wanting to defer a health care vote until after next election tell me not to vote for any Republicans. They know their idea of health care isn’t popular with the electorate, and they think we won’t remember what they did to us when the next election comes.
Becky Carpenter, Minneapolis
FINAL FOUR SIGNS
Nose to the grindstone, please
The apparent lack of proofreading of the NCAA signs (“Sign makers aren’t spelling bee champs,” April 3) may point to a bigger issue: the tendency of employees to rush through work tasks in order to sneak a peek at personal devices. This compulsion easily hijacks that boring step of double-checking. But it’s important. This is when errors can still get caught and corrected. Correcting after a job is completed gets expensive, and, as the NCAA learned, a little embarrassing.
The lost art of double-checking can be funny when it comes to signs. But what if it happens in health care? Child care? Aviation? It does happen, and the results can be costly — and devastating.
Employers need to rethink — or better enforce — their policies when it comes to personal device use on the job. Quality work depends on it.
Barbara Beckman, Moorhead, Minn.