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Letters to the Editor

Colleges have an obligation to their students to check criminal records

Northeastern Illinois University, including the the El Centro Campus, does not ask student applicants about criminal records. Northeastern is the exception among Illinois public universities. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Why on Earth would you not want a college to know if your son or daughter was going to school (and living in a dorm with), a potentially violent person?  I can see why you would want to prevent people convicted of non-violent felony offenses (drugs, most likely) from being excluded from attending colleges or universities — and I agree with you on this. But your editorial on Tuesday makes no such distinction.

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Further, you make no distinction about the age of any prior felony convictions. It doesn’t matter to your liberal sensibilities whether a felon was convicted 20 years or two years ago; you believe it should not matter in the least.

A public or private institution owes an obligation to students and their parents to be aware of the possibly dangerous backgrounds of any applicant. Once the background is disclosed, it should be exclusively up to that school to determine (based upon factors such as whether the felony was violent or non-violent, the circumstances of the conviction, the age of the applicant at the time of the conviction, the date of the conviction and what the applicant has done since that time to better him or herself) whether the student should be admitted.

A blanket ban on obtaining any of that information, as you propose, is flat out wrong.

Lou Ordonez, Miami, FL

When guns make police work harder

Recently, we saw the deaths of two men at the hands of police officers. One was a security guard in a bar who was holding a gun on a suspected shooter. The other was a man legally carrying a gun who was near a shooting in progress at a mall. Both men were black.

Those who advocate for more guns in more hands, including the National Rifle Association, like to say that “Nothing stops a bad guy with a gun like a good guy with a gun.” It seems that in these two horrifying incidents, the “good guys” paid with their lives.

Maybe the solution is not more guns, but fewer. Police officers should not have to worry whether the person they see holding a gun is the offender or somebody trying to help.

Karen Wagner, Rolling Meadows