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Letters: State of emergency is only way to halt gun violence

In your recent editorial [“Listen to the American public on gun reform,” Jan. 5] you admit that the gun lobby “keeps pushing new initiatives to get more unregulated guns in the hands of more people, including those with criminal backgrounds or even on the government’s list of terrorism suspects,” and that it blocks “sensible measures to reduce violence … in Congress.” Yet you accuse the anti-gun violence group I founded after my son’s gun death, National Gun Victims Action Council, of not meeting the gun lobby “in the common-sense middle.”

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Does the Sun-Times really believe there is a “common-sense middle” in a lobby that fights universal background checks, a national registry, an assault weapons ban and defends the “rights” of people with mental illness or under orders of protection to buy guns? A lobby that would not make gun trafficking a felony after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre and would not ban people on the Terror Watch List from buying guns after the San Bernardino massacre?

Searching for a “common-sense middle” in the gun lobby has resulted in no federal gun safety laws passed in almost 24 years and the same obstructionism will render Obama’s recent executive actions meaningless. That is why NGVAC has launched a petition demanding that president declare a national state of emergency — the only practical way to get around the obstruction and halt the gun violence epidemic.

Elliot Fineman, president and chief executive officer, National Gun Victims Action Council

Worst governor

In my opinion, Bruce Rauner is by far the worst governor the State of Illinois has ever seen. His “don’t back down” comments by unnamed Democrats is only in his mind. He has caused untold harm to working men, women and families across this fine state. If he wants a great example of what type of government works, he should quit looking at Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and try looking at Mark Dayton of Minnesota.

Scott R. Zuhr, Park Ridge

Trump’s babbling meant for 2008

I listen to Donald Trump and I hear but one thing, a failed state of America, degraded and downtrodden and on the brink of a catastrophe so bad, you’d think it was 2008 and the banks were about to fail, the U.S. auto industry was going to completely collapse, the stock market had dropped by some 50 percent, gasoline was $4.50 a gallon, we were shedding a half a million jobs a month, and terrorists had just finished off five buildings including skyscrapers in New York City. Oh, and Osama bin Laden was STILL on the lose, planning, planning, planning.

It has to be noted, over and over again, and for, truth’s sake, that this nation is not failing, we are not on the brink of failure, we are still winning, we have recovered from all those past Bush failures from eight years ago.

Louis DeRosa, Westchester

Medical cannabis for autism

It’s time we make medical cannabis a treatment option for children with autism. At just 7 years old, my son has been on at least 15 medications, many with negative side effects.

People with autism are often in a state of sensory overload. Experiences are more intense: louder, scarier, and often intolerable. I have seen anecdotal studies of children, like my son, improved almost overnight when allowed the chance to have medical cannabis.

For my son, there are extraordinary swings of angst, fear, and aggression. There are flashes of brilliance and charm; those are the moments we relish, the ones that bring us through the challenges.

Many children in states with more sensible laws have recovered the ability to function in everyday life by using edible cannabis. It is our ethical responsibility to offer this same opportunity to children in Illinois: the chance at a calm and joyful childhood.

On behalf of my son and others who may not have words to express, I call on the Illinois Department of Public Health to accept the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board’s recommendation to make medical cannabis available to autistic children. Allow physicians, the true experts, the option to use medical cannabis to help my son and hundreds of children like him.

Patricia Ihm, DeKalb

Elephants and cancer

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ announcement to retire their elephants early is wonderful news; however planning to use them in cancer research is horrendous!

Scientists are confused as to why cancer is much less common in elephants than in humans? Perhaps it’s the Red #40 artificial color in our diet cherry cokes or the double bacon cheeseburgers and hot dogs or the five packets of Splenda we put in our morning coffee or the dozens of chemicals we cannot pronounce and never heard of that hide in our lotions, makeup, personal care and cleaning products. Humans ingest many carcinogens and toxins every day that elephants don’t come into contact with.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus paid a $270,000 fine for violations of the Animal Welfare Act in 2011 and there is extensive documentation of elephants being struck with bullhooks, whipped and electrically shocked. According to Philip K. Ensley, a veterinarian from the San Diego Zoo, who inspected Ringling’s elephants, “”Nearly 100 percent”” of the adult elephants were lame with serious foot problems or musculoskeletal disorders. Their feet were misshapen, ulcerated, abscessed and infected, which is no fun for a four-ton animal forced.

Jodie Wiederkehr, Lake View

Questionable bank payments

Sunday’s Sun-Times article on City Hall’s skyrocketing payments to big banks reveals real questions as to who the mayor is working for: the financial elite, or working families in Chicago. Much of the astronomical borrowing the city is about to do this week is to pay banks termination fees on predatory interest swap deals — lucrative clauses that banks snuck in these deals to ensure their profits in the event the city wanted out. Instead of suing the banks for fraudulent dealings — they hid how risky these deals in fact were — Emanuel instead is paying out precious dollars that could instead be funding our schools, city services, and libraries. In fact, the City and CPS will pay $1.4 billion to big banks in toxic swap payments and fees over the life of these deals. Can you imagine what those tax dollars would do in our classrooms and in our communities? Emanuel should be fighting to get back every dollar possible from big banks, not paying them even more in fees to borrow our way out of this mess.

Amisha Patel, South Loop