Assault weapons are too readily available

A country that allows, indeed encourages and celebrates such acquisition, is committing genocide on its own people.

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Signs against gun violence are placed at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade, on July 6 in Highland Park.

Signs against gun violence are placed at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade, on July 6 in Highland Park.

Jim Vondruska, Getty

America is the only industrialized country in the world that manufactures, sells and distributes machine guns to just about any citizen who has the money and inclination to acquire one or more.

Over 20 million guns are in circulation. Dozens, maybe hundreds, are used every year in mass shootings, killing scores of people among over 45,000 that die annually from lead poisoning.

That alone makes America the worst industrialized nation on the planet. A country that allows, indeed encourages and celebrates such acquisition, is committing genocide on its own people.

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The reasons are many, from grotesque capitalist greed to politicians selling their soul to those gun capitalists, to delusional culture warriors wallowing in the mud of hate with their machine guns around their shoulders.

On 24/7 news coverage of each of the many atrocities enabled by our government charged with keeping us safe, one will only hear the cries of anguish, horror and disgust from the majority of citizens who want this carnage ended.

What one will never hear are the crazed thoughts and plans of dozens of disturbed individuals being inspired to commit the next mass shooting to fulfill a psychotic need to kill.

We must stop calling these body-obliterating assault rifles, semi-automatic or automatic weapons. Listen to the 70-plus shots fired in Highland Park that sounded like a war documentary and call them what they really are: machine guns for mass murder.

And the next one, 10, 50, possibly even 100, are lurking just around the corner.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn

Keep flags at half-staff

President Joe Biden on May 24 ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff after the shooting in Uvalde.

President Biden has now ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff after the shooting in Highland Park.

Why not just leave the flags at half-staff until there is a federal ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines?

Gerald Weisberg, M.D, Lake View

Bailey apology reminiscent of Trump

State Sen. Darren Bailey’s comment to the residents of Highland Park to move on hours after the recent massacre of citizens is reminiscent of Trump’s comment about Vice President Mike Pence getting what he deserves after hearing chants to kill Mike Pence during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Here is a guy who hides behind religion, to carry out his hidden agendas as a stout Trump supporter.

Bailey’s apology for the statement he made about moving on was certainly not altruistic. He soon recognized the potential damage he may have done to his political career and sought a way out.

Trump did the same on Jan. 6 when he eventually came out of the White House to make a speech not condoning the violence that was occurring at the Capitol when his supporters tried to overthrow our government.

John Livaich, Burban

Corporate money blocking action on climate change

The U.S. Supreme Court decided to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, saying Congress should have this power. It was a 6 to 3 decision, with the six justices in the majority appointed by Republicans.

Corporations, including fossil fuel companies, make hundreds of millions of dollars of political contributions to elect sympathetic politicians.

These politicians, along with the same big donors, support the nomination and confirmation of sympathetic judges, including Supreme Court justices.

Corporations spend millions more on advocacy groups that push their agendas before the politicians and judges they helped put in office. This is the first of many cases in the pipeline funded by these corporations and being brought by Republican attorneys- general who are also corporate funded.

Congress, with a sparse record of acting on climate change, has delegated this decision-making to the EPA, which has the required expertise.

Despite the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists, including Exxon’s own climate scientists, and the clear increase in frequency and severity of disruptive climate events, federal action against climate change could be in limbo, helping only fossil fuel companies.

Ordinary people make no or small political contributions. Fossil fuel companies single-mindedly focus on their profitability even when it threatens our planet’s habitability. They have a hugely outsized influence on elections and policy through unlimited contributions that were allowed by the Supreme Court’s precedent-overturning 2010 Citizens United decision, also decided by Republican appointees.

The United States is the only Western nation whose mainstream conservative party is in denial about climate change. It is also the only nation that permits unlimited political contributions. 

As Sen. Mark Hanna famously said in 1895, “There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember what the second one is.”

If we want decisions to be based on merit and a habitable planet, we must replace big money with public funding of elections.

Richard Barsanti, Western Springs

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