America, follow Australia’s lead and enact tough gun laws

SHARE America, follow Australia’s lead and enact tough gun laws

Grieving people are led into the Thousand Oaks Teen Center in California on Thursday, where families gathered after a deadly shooting at a bar. | AP Photo / Richard Vogel

It is delusional to think the Thousand Oaks, California massacre will be the last. It’s only a matter of time before the next shooter goes berserk and kills more innocent people, maybe someone you love or know, sacrificed to the Supreme Court’s flawed interpretation of the Second Amendment and the “original intent” of our 18th Century founding fathers. They could not conceive of today’s modern, efficient weaponry or crowded urban settings, much less the lunacy the human mind is capable of. Private gun ownership and 21st Century life are simply too dangerous a combination to mix. Safety cannot be assured by superficial gun laws.

Australia faced this reality after a 1996 mass shooting when it outlawed automatic and semiautomatic firearms and bought them back from citizens. A 2016 University of Sydney study found Australia hadn’t experienced a fatal mass shooting since then. No guns handy, no gun deaths. For us to do the same requires the same acceptance of logic, which means giving up our gun romance associated with our history of taming the American frontier; giving up our childish, ingrained impulse to re-live Dodge City gun duels; and standing up to the National Rifle Association.

The British redcoats no longer are a threat to us. The only remaining threat is ourselves. It’s clear to most of us that mixing guns with humans means more humans die for nothing. Change shall come only from irresistible voter pressure, singly and in groups.

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park 

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Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a celebration of all who have served and continue to serve our great nation with honor and distinction, day in and day out! We at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs not only honor our service members past and present. but also the family members who support our heroes when called to duty and returning home.

Each year, we set this day aside across the country and dedicate it to celebrate and pay tribute to America’s veterans for their patriotism, sacrifice, selfless service and devotion.  The loyalty our veterans have to our great country along with their unsurmountable courage has made us what we are today — and what we will continue to be for many years to come: The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

On this special day, we at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs want to honor and give special thanks to you and your families for your service and sacrifice in protecting our freedoms that we have the privilege to enjoy every day without fear. We are honored and privileged to assist you and your dependents.

I encourage you to take some time today to reflect and pray for our Veterans. Additionally, I ask that you find ways that you can support the Veterans in your community.

Stephen Curda, Ph.D.

Retired Brigadier General, U.S.Army

Director, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Act on gun control

There have been 307 mass shootings in America in 311 days, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Yet only a handful of those shootings have received national news coverage, reporters on the scene, and the thoughts and prayers of our elected officials. After every high-profile shooting, there is talk of new legislation and calls for change. However, still no significant, sweeping gun control legislation has been passed.

It’s on us now. We must demand change from our elected officials, challenge the National Rifle Association, and vote for candidates for public office who promote common-sense gun laws. We cannot accept these shootings as normal, because this situation is the furthest thing from normal.

When our founding fathers amended the Constitution to include the right to bear arms, I doubt they ever imagined the existence of weapons that could kill dozens of people in mere minutes. We have evolved, our country has evolved, and the laws that govern us must evolve too. It’s only a matter of time until dozens more are killed. We must act now.

Allison Parker, Lake View

Taxes and wages

Now that the election is over, incoming governor J.B. Pritzker and the rest of Illinois must face our state’s harsh economic realities. A recent letter addressed Pritzker’s possible graduated income tax “A progressive income tax will send Illinois residents running” (Nov. 7). With a debt of roughly 16 billion dollars and an economic plan that is not addressing the problem, another approach for Illinois seems reasonable.

At the current tax rate, a family earning $35,000 a year is more adversely affected, with a larger share of their income going to taxes, than a family making $80,000 a year. A graduated system (as used by the federal government) should make for a more fair and equitable distribution of taxes. Another consideration is whether the state can generate more revenue this way. More state school funding (Illinois currently ranks last in public school funding) could offset high property taxes, which might actually go down.

We must create a more equitable way to raise revenue.  We also must establish a livable wage for workers. No matter what tax system is used, a minimum wage of $8.75 an hour will not provide anyone with the means to pay any tax, no matter the rate.

Daniel Pupo, Orland Park

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