Picture, if you will, one leg of a three-legged stool striving to hold up the full weight of a seated person by itself. That’s the image that came to mind when I read the May 26 Star Tribune article “Gun carnage rises, but answer elusive.” In the article, several sources assigned responsibility for solving the problem of escalating gun violence to the Minneapolis Police Department.

In and of itself, the best policing will never be sufficient to solve the complex problem of urban gun violence. In addition to law enforcement, we need to invest significant resources in addressing persistent social, educational and economic disparities in communities of color. And we need stronger, more comprehensive gun laws.

A 2013 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that states with the most gun laws have the lowest rates of death by gun violence, both suicides and homicides. Multiple recent reports on urban gun violence specifically have shown that strong gun laws, when combined with sustained community investment and effective law enforcement, can decrease entrenched urban gun violence by as much as 42 percent. The laws most associated with decreases in gun homicides include criminal background checks before all gun sales, mandated reporting of lost and stolen guns, permit-to-purchase laws, increased oversight of licensed dealers to prevent trafficking, and tougher penalties for straw buyers. Minnesota law is insufficient in all these respects.

We expect a lot from law enforcement, as well we should. But it is both unfair and futile to expect the Minneapolis Police Department, or any police department, to carry the weight of urban gun violence alone. Sustained community engagement and common-sense gun legislation are the two missing legs of the stool. Until we commit to addressing these deficits, we can expect to topple over amid the flying bullets.

The Rev. Nancy Nord Bence, St. Paul

The writer is executive director of Protect Minnesota, an advocacy organization.


‘Aren’t there bigger questions?’ indeed! Where to begin …

A May 26 letter writer asks: “Aren’t there bigger questions?” regarding Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail account for work — as if she were secretary of the PTA. The answer is yes. Here are a couple big ones:

Have sensitive communications been hacked and used as blackmail or to harm the U.S.? How has your international collection of funds for your charity affected your responsibilities as secretary of state? When you were first asked for these e-mails, why did you make two different efforts to scrub everything first? Where are the Benghazi-related documents?

The inspector general has found that (at a minimum) Clinton’s use of private e-mail for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal records laws are followed.

With hackers on the increase and many warnings given, “we the people” were failed in our need for secure and trusted communications at the State Department level.

Brad Albertson, Minneapolis

• • •

Thank you for the Star Tribune’s editorial about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails (“Clinton’s e-mail mess keeps getting worse,” May 26). Editorial comments and liberal printed letters to your newspaper for the past two years about this subject have often had a smug, condescending and dismissive attitude toward the conservative politicians who have all along contended what the Star Tribune Editorial Board has finally recognized. Clinton’s problems are about to become much, much worse.

You are very late to the game, but you are getting there, and we conservatives hope that you continue to express your opinions about this subject in the same unvarnished manner that this editorial demonstrated.

Bob Hageman, Chaska


Hypocrisy abounds among those opposed to such policies

Eleven states are suing the Obama administration over the public school bathroom directive (May 26), claiming that the administration has “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment.” Oh, please! Get real. How in the world could 0.3 percent of the population using a differently shaped toilet possibly represent a dangerous social experiment? I am going to go out on a limb and guess that these same governors don’t see upward of 40 percent of the population toting firearms around as a social experiment. Somehow that, and the carnage that goes with it, are not worthy of their ire. Why can’t these 11 governors just admit that they are upset that they are losing the cultural war and that this is where they are making their stand — at the toilet.

Peter Woollen, Minneapolis

• • •

A common refrain from conservatives is the importance of honoring the faith-based beliefs of those opposed to same-sex marriage and LGBT protections, which seem to emanate primarily from self-described Christians. Allow me to raise a politically incorrect point: There sure seem to be a lot of people who oppose gay marriage and LGBT protections because of their faith, but there sure are a lot of half-empty churches on Sunday mornings. In fact, church attendance in this country is way down, with only 18 percent to 22 percent of U.S. adults attending church frequently. But maybe going to church frequently, reading scripture and engaging in prayer frequently, tithing (or trying to), and working in the community on behalf of the church is not a necessary condition for faith-based beliefs anymore. Maybe just saying you have these beliefs is sufficient in 2016.

Michael Harwell, Forest Lake


Just something to think about

Fear — what an impossible mystery. There is fear of the dark, fear of spiders, fear of heights, but when someone is to truly narrow down what it is that people are fearful of, it is the unknown. Not knowing what is lurking in the shadows, whether a spider is poisonous or perhaps how long you are going to fall — it is all fear of not knowing. Our entire lives are lived in the unknown; no one has ever been able to look into tomorrow and tell us whether we got the job or if we got into college or not. This gives us the drive to desperately try to comprehend what is going on around us, whether it’s finding out if we got an A on a test, or if it’s a boy or a girl. It doesn’t matter the circumstances; the point is true for all: People want to feel in control, to know the unknown, to not be afraid. The truth is that this is the one thing a person can never have in life, and when anyone truly looks at life, they see just how ironic a statement fear of the unknown is.

Zachary Risken, Eden Prairie


But is the game not art?

For years, people have been arguing that contemporary art is silly, shallow and banal. I guess the Walker Art Center’s new mini-golf course will put those arguments to bed for once and for all.

Norman J. Olson, Maplewood