Thank you to Jennifer Brooks for remembering some of Minnesota’s recent domestic shooting victims (“In memory of all the murders we forgot,” Dec. 5). Her words and the smiling photos online are plaintive reminders that behind the mind-numbing gun violence statistics are individuals, ripped away from loved ones by an abuser who never should have had access to a gun.
The recent deaths in a four-day period of Raven Gant, Kjersten Schladetzky and her sons William and Nelson raise the number of known domestic murders in Minnesota this year to 19. Nationally, an average of 52 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner each month. Each a light of humanity, extinguished by a shooter.
Domestic shootings are as American as motherhood and apple pie. Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to die by firearm homicide than women in other high-income nations; nearly half of these victims were killed by a current or former intimate partner, according to FBI data.
The National Rifle Association’s answer is for women to arm themselves. Studies show the opposite — the presence of a gun in an abusive household can increase women’s risk of being killed by 500%, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Research shows that laws disrupting abusers’ access to guns can save lives — in particular, enacting red-flag laws and closing the background check and “boyfriend” loopholes (current federal law bars only spousal abusers from buying guns).
Last session, the Minnesota House approved red-flag and background-check bills, which died in the Senate without discussion. The U.S. House recently reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, while closing the “boyfriend” loophole. The House bill is among those collecting lint in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s pocket.
You can add your voice to the crescendo of outraged citizens insisting that elected officials take action to help protect our loved ones and us. Contact your state legislators and U.S. senators — and McConnell. Do it for Raven and Kjersten and William and Nelson.
Rich Cowles, Eagan
SUPPORT FOR TRUMP
A few things to remember amid the House impeachment chaos
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said of Democrats, “If they do not impeach [President Donald Trump], they cannot beat him at the polls.” Since this is a variation of Republicans’ favorite argument these days — that the impeachment process is an attempt to overthrow the popular will of the people in the 2016 election — it is worth noting a stark fact:
Republicans have won exactly one national popular presidential vote in the last 30 years.
That was in 2004, not 2016 — when they lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots. The party’s retreat into a fearful and exclusionary white nationalism has made it seemingly incapable of winning a majority of voters nationwide, which is why party leaders are fine with winning only with the help of the Electoral College (which makes some people’s votes count for more than others), voter suppression (like voter ID laws that disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color), and Russian interference to help their candidate (as every U.S. intelligence agency affirms happened in 2016).
So let’s dispense with the “overturn the will of the people” baloney. Fifty-four percent of the people voted against Donald Trump in 2016, and every reputable polling aggregator shows that a majority of Americans has opposed President Trump since his very first month in office, long before the impeachment hearings. He is an unpopular minority president who has made no effort to reach out to anyone beyond his base, and everybody — including Republicans, if they are honest — knows that he has virtually no chance of winning 50% of the vote next year and can only win the presidency again with a similar set mitigating circumstances that overturn the “will of the people” for the third time in my lifetime.
Jason McGrath, Minneapolis
• • •
Democrats and never-Trumpers are totally mystified by the support Trump commands. They think it’s cultlike and represents moral inferiority. They believe most Trump supporters have an element of evil in their souls. That attitude mystifies me because there’s a simple explanation.
Trump supporters aren’t blind to the outrageous characteristics of our president. But they are devoted conservatives and, appropriately, refuse to permanently forsake their heartfelt policy preferences in exchange for stamping out a temporary outrageous leader who supports most of those important ideals.
If tempted by the “siren song” of progressivism, conservatives have trouble supporting Electoral College abolishment, late-term abortions, conflicting border control policies, unsustainable ideas for free higher-ed, and Medicare for All. And then they see the Green New Deal with its goals to virtually eliminate air travel, reject clean nuclear energy, and so much more.
These conservatives can’t ignore the great economy, wages, low unemployment, job growth, stock market records, border control methods, pro-life policies and the optimistic outlook of so many citizens.
Maybe there’s a subliminal attraction to Trump’s combative style, but the real explanation is simple. They are resolute in their opposition to the Democratic candidates and their policy priorities. It’s all about unacceptable alternatives.
Steve Bakke, Edina
Bridge divides or widen them?
In her commentary, Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman states “some people seek to score political points by contending that there is an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ in Minnesota” (“Minnesota’s urban-rural divide is a myth,” Dec. 6). She then spends the entire commentary doing exactly that — trying to score political points by touting all the good that DFLers are doing for the state, while accusing “pundits and Republicans ... of manufacturing divides between us.” Every time she mentions Republicans in her commentary, it is in a negative light.
The speaker needs to lead by example if she indeed wants Minnesota Republicans and DFLers to work together for the good of all of us. For example, she states, “DFLers acted swiftly to provide low interest emergency loans to farmers impacted by catastrophic snow events that led to barn collapses throughout the state.” But bill SF 2225, which did exactly that last March, was authored by five Senate Republicans, and the House version by five Republicans and five DFLers; the bill passed unanimously, with every Republican and DFLer voting in favor.
It was a true bipartisan success that would have been a perfect example for Hortman to use on how our legislators do good for our state when they work together in a bipartisan way — which is exactly what she claims she is seeking. Instead, she gave no credit to Republicans for their leadership and support of this effort, thus reaffirming the “us vs. them” mentality she claims she wants to undo.
My letter shouldn’t be viewed as a defense of Republicans or a rebuke of Democrats — it is neither, as both parties are in desperate need of improved relationship-building. My message is simply that if any legislator (of either party) wants to undo the “us vs. them” mentality that exists today, they need to lead by example, in both their words and actions. The speaker did not do so with her commentary.
Brad Schoenbauer, New Prague
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.