Regarding the article "Crimes using legal guns on rise": The headline should have been, "Background checks failing to prevent gun violence even faster than in the past." Stealing a gun is already a crime. Selling a stolen gun is already a crime. Straw purchases are already a crime. These crimes all bypass background checks, and always have. Why aren't the laws against these crimes better enforced?
Instead, again and again, the simplistic solution of "universal background checks" is reflexively floated by a public and a press with a lamentably low ability for critical thinking. This entire article is an obvious indictment of the ability of background checks to prevent gun violence. Yet somehow it fails to reach that conclusion.
In an America with hyperpolarized political views, we should seek out the rare areas of agreement between the poles. Here is such a case. Both the left and the right ends of the spectrum want gun thieves, straw purchasers and black marketeers arrested and jailed with long sentences. Doing so would increase gun safety. Why aren't resources and police priorities focused accordingly?
And on a statistical note: The last few years have seen a huge increase in new gun sales. Therefore, the overall population of guns has skewed younger. An inevitable consequence of this is that any random sampling of that population will also be younger. That means the average age of guns used to hunt or target shoot will also be younger than in the past. So will the average age of stolen guns. And so will the average age of guns used in self-defense. None of this is news. It is simply a mathematical inevitability.
The only way to start reversing the polarization of America is to have a fair and unbiased mainstream media. This article fails on that point. Please do better next time.
Brian Belanger, Edina
Regarding the article "Mass shootings embolden Democrats on gun control" (Nov. 26): It seems apparent to me from reading many such articles that citizens want to limit firearm access, which threatens them, more than simply wanting to own firearms themselves. Also, many handgun owners bought their firearms for self-defense only in response to the growing surge in gun violence.
What is disheartening is that there are so many articles that talk about limiting legal access to firearms, which has both the negative psychological aspect of something being "taken away" from a person, rather than having articles that showcase how many alternative self-defense options there are to firearms. Many nonlethal and less-than-lethal options exist now in the form of long-distance chemical-irritant cans that fire streams and gels rather than the older, haphazardous sprayers and also newer "guns" that fire streams and large-bore, lower-velocity kinetic impact balls and balls containing chemical irritants.
Devices such as these meet the spirit of the Second Amendment completely regarding bearing arms in one's own defense. Other than the later interpretation to the amendment that allowed for handgun carry, there wasn't any definition of "arms" because there really wasn't anything more than muskets at the time the Second Amendment was written. Later changes stipulated that automatic weapons, explosives and whatnot could not be considered legal defensive "arms" in the case of the Second Amendment. The availability of new defensive technologies such as chemical irritant delivery systems and electrical incapacitation devices should guide America in changes to the Second Amendment that only allow for the public carry of such. Firearms should be strongly regulated, documented and licensed, and their transport should be limited to locked cases and only allowed between points of sale, homes, gun shops and firing ranges.
It would be grand to see a reputable news organization (cough) assign a reporter to investigate, report on and showcase commercially available personal-defense alternatives to firearms available to standard citizens, private security personnel and police forces. I think that the distribution of articles such as this would help to limit firearms in our communities and possibly give bad actors a less-lethal alternative to venting their unwarranted aggressions upon unsuspecting citizens.
Mike Harrington, Blaine
Slow, shortsighted approach
If the "Fencing Consortium" for sharing protective fencing between cities' police departments is not a misplaced April Fools joke, someone needs to follow the money! ("Fence plan a safeguard for police," Nov. 26.) Consider how a "no notice" event could set this in motion: "If a law enforcement agency needs the fence, its request would go to the Fencing Consortium's board, which currently has five members. The board would have to approve the deployment, and then a team made up of one to three staffers from each member agency would put out the fences." That's 24 hours too late. Fencing might shield property from damage and keep police and public isolated — but the police would be trapped behind the fence with the public free outside the fence.
A better plan? Retrain police to stop abusing suspects, thereby minimizing threats of riots.
Mary Lund, Minnetonka
Isn't our to-do list long-enough?
After reading and then reflecting on the Star Tribune article "DFL leaders make pitch for early presidential primary" (Nov. 30), I'm left shaking my head. I'm not at all clear about the benefits to our state and/or average Minnesotans to changing our current presidential primary process.
Given the high and sometimes volatile passion around our current election process right now, the last thing I'm in favor of is a change of date to an existing process that has so far rested way under the radar.
If the goal of changing our current presidential primary process is to try to exert some sort of fleeting influence in national politics, I think that's a waste of time. We have bigger fish to fry in this state, and with the Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate, our leaders should be focused on passing bills on the things that matter most to Minnesotans: things like high gas prices, reducing inflation, fixing our aging roads and infrastructure, and health care, to name a few.
Changing the presidential primary date seems to me to be the equivalent of navel gazing and not at all a good use of time and resources. I thought our leaders were smarter than this.
Bob Doyle, Savage
Wild, but not native
The story "The fall and rise of turkeys" (Nov. 20) was a feel-good story of how wild turkeys "were killed out of Minnesota by a combination of over-hunting, disease and deforestation" and then reintroduced and now are common in much of the state including the Twin Cities.
There is just one flaw in the story: Turkeys were not present in Minnesota until the release of imported birds, starting in the 1960s. T.S. Roberts, in his monumental "Birds of Minnesota," states, "There is no absolutely positive evidence that the wild turkey ever existed in Minnesota. No eye-witness has left a written record so far as can be found, and no Minnesota specimen is in existence. The tales of a few old men, which were passed on to the generation of fifty years ago, are all that remain." More recent writers agree with Roberts. None of the early explorers of the state, who wrote lengthy reports, including the game they shot for food, mentioned turkeys.
As far as Minnesota is concerned, turkeys are another introduced game bird along with ring-necked pheasants and gray partridges. The only difference is that turkeys were introduced from elsewhere in the United States, rather than from Asia or Europe.
Manley Olson, Minneapolis
The writer is past president, Minnesota Ornithologists Union.