In a Readers Write contribution published Thursday, the writer, who works for the Center of the American Experiment, puts forward the false choice typical of persons who oppose any action on gun safety legislation ("The plan needs to actually work"). In his view, rather than enact legislation, we should do a better job of holding the perpetrators of gun violence accountable through our judicial system using the laws we already have; to do otherwise is to be just reacting emotionally. I beg to differ. If the staff of the Center of the American Experiment are truly interested in addressing the crisis of gun violence, and not just diverting attention away from gun safety legislation, they can do the public a service by identifying and reporting the names of judges they believe are responsible for the failings of our judicial system, so we can vote them off the bench and vote in better judges. I look forward to seeing their report before the next election.
Meantime, the Legislature can do what it can to address the problem posed by rising gun violence by passing universal background checks, red-flag laws, and yes, even an assault weapons ban. We don't have to choose between either legislative action that may at least reduce some gun violence or better responses by our criminal justice system once the violence has been done. Surely it is rational, not emotional, to say that the threat to public health and safety posed by the rise in gun violence merits both.
Bill Kaemmerer, Edina
The Star Tribune has recently published two letters about gun control that essentially declare that applying existing law will be enough to curb gun violence. Both overlook glaring gaps in their arguments.
In a letter on Wednesday ("Find agreement. Enforce the law"), the letter writer ignores all the ways that the laws cited are negated. For example, one can claim that straw purchases are already illegal, but it isn't a straw purchase until the weapon is found in the possession of a prohibited individual. No crime is committed by buying five Glocks at one time. It's when the Glock is in the hands of a criminal and it's traced back to the purchase that the crime exists. Even then, the "gun show" loophole and the "private sale" loophole make the straw purchase harder to prosecute. In both of these cases, the seller has no obligation to check the background of the purchaser.
In Thursday's letter "The plan needs to actually work," the author declares that not prosecuting the added gun charges has led to more gun crime. How? There's no causal relationship between the two. The author also ignores that these added charges are usually removed as part of plea deals to clear the backlog in court and that the perpetrators are often sent to prison on the main charges.
Another detail that the author overlooked is that the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban worked. Assault weapons became harder to acquire, so they were used less frequently. Overall gun violence declined by significant amounts, though the exact numbers elude me. I didn't understand why the author would overlook this given that it supports his thesis that successful methods should be used.
Daniel Beckfield, St. Paul
A terrible trade
Trading arms dealer Viktor Bout for the release of basketball player Brittney Griner was a terrible deal for the international community ("Griner is freed in swap for Russian arms dealer," Dec. 9).
Thousands of civilians in Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Sierra Leone and a number of other countries were allegedly injured and killed by weapons he supplied.
His victims will not see justice because of Griner's poor judgment.
Aside from this injustice, it sends a terrible message to international terrorists. All they have to do now is kidnap an American to secure their release.
Jim Piga, Mendota Heights
Welcome home, Brittney. Maybe we could trade the Russians ex-President Donald Trump for Paul Whelan?
Harriet Johnson, Prior Lake
Valuable perspective nonetheless
Robert Maranto and Wilfred Reilly attempt to discredit information and perspectives of Nikole Hannah-Jones' "1619 Project" in their Dec. 4 commentary by citing a series of disconnected information tidbits ("U of M should welcome diverse views on '1619,'" Opinion Exchange). For example: Other countries have practiced slavery much more recently than the U.S., and certain southern politicians in 1776 would have preferred for racism to be written into the Constitution even more overtly than the compromise version of enslaved humans being valued as three-fifths of a person. It is unclear how this is intended to derail the well-substantiated abundance of evidence and analysis the project includes about the fundamental ways that slavery shaped and continues to shape culture, finance, political process, distribution of wealth and access to housing and education in the United States. They infer that acknowledgment of the immense impact of slavery implies "America never really existed."
What the writers frame as "real" history by "real" historians describes a framework that wishes to silence Black voices and Black perspectives.
Annika Fjelstad, Minneapolis
ASSISTING THE BLIND
We could all use some lessons on this
Thank you to Craig Hansen for "Assisting and engaging the blind" (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 9).
I could have used this about five years ago. I was heading down Nicollet Avenue to 9th Street to catch my bus home after work — this was when the street was torn up due to construction.
It was at 8th Street where I saw one of the saddest things ever: A blind guy had tried to cross Nicollet, had walked into a dirt hole surrounded by that orange fencing — and nobody would help him! I can't even imagine the frustration he was feeling. I did announce myself, explained his situation and said I was coming down to help.
He then asked me to help him to Hennepin. I felt terrible enough, but I had my bus to catch on 9th Street, so I aimed him in the right direction and said it was clear sailing now.
I think it would be great for the Star Tribune to do more of these stories. You'd think these things would be taught in school.
Rob Godfrey, Minneapolis
Leaving the working class out to dry
Regarding "Why Europe's buy-American beef has merit" (Dec. 7): The continued espousal of the idea that "free trade" benefits all ignores the long-term damage done to the workers in the United States and other countries. No country has effectively reconfigured its economy to replace jobs lost to globalization. The wealthy have benefited from lower prices and investment opportunities at the expense of middle-class economic security. The opening of trade under President Bill Clinton and the destruction of unions begun under President Ronald Reagan have led to the staggering economic inequality here and abroad. We do not owe the international system free trade at the expense our laborers. But if you think that the threat only comes from trade, look no further than the railroad "settlement" forced on workers by the "pro"-union governing party.
Is it any wonder there is such despair and cynicism among today's working class? No one and no system has their back. Dark days indeed.
Paul N. Scott, Bloomington