Jan. 6 hearings show the importance of democracy

If American democracy continues, we can fix the rest of our problems. If it disappears, we will no longer be a free country and the rest won’t matter.

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People gather in a park outside of the U.S. Capitol to watch the Jan. 6 House committee investigation in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022,

People gather in a park outside of the U.S. Capitol to watch the first night of televised hearings from the Jan. 6 House committee investigation on June 9.

Jose Luis Magana/AP Photos

On Thursday night, Tucker Carlson, representing the only major television network that did not put the televised hearings on the Jan. 6 House investigation front and center, opened his show by trying to persuade people that the attempt by former President Donald Trump and his crowd to overthrow American democracy was old news and, really, not that important.

I will keep this simple so Carlson won’t miss or misunderstand anything: Nothing is as important to me as the continuation of American democracy. If it continues, we can fix the rest. 

If it disappears, as the Republicans seem to want, we will no longer be a free country and the rest won’t matter.

Curt Fredrikson, Mokena

Self-defense at what cost?

A recent op-ed by Benjamin Ferdinand (“As a firearm dealer, I support background checks for gun purchasers”) made sense until the last paragraph, when he mentions “responsible firearm ownership for self-defense and defense of the free state.”

With regard to self-defense, I would ask, how many times have gun owners needed to use them for self-defense? If it’s even once in a lifetime, I would be surprised. I doubt if it compares to the number of innocent people killed by firearms. And who is to decide what is covered by “self-defense?” It appears some gun owners think they need to defend themselves from being cut off in traffic.

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Next, what is “defense of the free state?” Wouldn’t that be left up to the military? I can’t imagine someone in a suburban home running out of their house with a gun to “defend the free state.” I think some people either have vivid imaginations or they have been watching too many Rambo-type movies.

Michael Shawgo, Chicago

Facts still matter and always will

A recent article from the Better Government Association, published in the Sun-Times, fact-checked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent statements that “real gun laws,” like we have in Illinois, fail to protect children from gun violence. 

Not surprisingly, Abbott’s claims were rated “Mostly False.”

In reality, Illinois and Texas have almost identical gun deaths per capita: Texas is 14.2 per 100,000 people, Illinois is 14.1. And strict Illinois gun laws don’t help when 60% of illegal guns in Illinois come from other states, mainly Indiana, with lax gun laws.

The facts are clear. But will they matter? About two-thirds of Republicans still believe Trump won the 2020 election. I’m guessing the people who voted for Abbott believe his nonsense because it fits with their view of the world. Same for those who watch Fox News. Reality is a minor consideration when one is being fed a constant diet of misinformation intended to stoke fear and resentment.

That’s why the facts must continue to be important to the rest of the Americans who still live in the real world. Facts still matter to me and always will. I hope many of my fellow citizens feel the same.

Bob Chimis, Elmwood Park

New generation fighting for gun control

Silver linings are scarce after the Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, mass shootings. Thankfully, David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, erased some of my pessimism in a recent interview.

Hogg, 22, and several of his high school classmates met with lawmakers and organized a Washington, D.C. rally that led to some Florida gun controls. He fielded questions with poise and professionalism that I could have only dreamed about at his age.

One political party is not only expected to win big in November but also gain momentum into 2024. That party might want to consider a new generation of voters adept at communicating legitimate anger, impatience and an evolving view of Second Amendment rights.

They’re the latest “mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore” generation, and I think they mean it. The generation that watched repeated violent acts against their peers knows who in Congress is serious about gun control and who isn’t.

On Election Day, they might introduce their own replacement theory.

Jim Newton, Itasca

Some rights too important to leave to politics

Columnist Neil Steinberg used kiddie porn as an example of how our rights are not absolute, subject to government regulation.

This might be a better analogy: You have a First Amendment right to use your devices to capture (non-pornographic) images for your personal use, to show friends even to distribute on social media. But because some evil people use similar devices to victimize children, you will now be subject to a background check, maybe a waiting period to purchase one or to registration. If it continues to happen, some functionality of your devices will be limited, and if it still happens, you will no longer  be permitted to possess such devices and will have to sell them back to the government.

He never mentions how some enumerated rights have been expanded. I sent this letter over the internet and can read the paper on my device, and the government has no say. The government also can’t seize and look at what’s on my device without a warrant under the Fourth Amendment.

There is a reason the Bill of Rights was added to our Constitution: Because some rights and freedoms are too important to be trusted to any government or administration, or to which party temporarily holds power, or to the polls.

Mark A. Nauyokas, Justice

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