Ever wonder how hard it is to get on the Democratic ballot in Cook County? For this current election, the number is 8,236 petition signatures.

Interestingly, if you want to run for a statewide office, you only need 5,000 signatures.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purpose.

Does this seem odd to you? Since the population of Cook County is only 40 percent of Illinois, making a similar requirement for Cook County would require only 2,036 signatures.

This rule clearly favors the established Cook County Machine, which has the organization to easily collect these signatures, while an opposing candidate will have to really struggle to qualify.

It is time to correct this system — until then we are shutting out many otherwise qualified candidates.

Lee Knohl, Evanston

Too many guns

Why do we have the highest occurrence of gun violence in the world? We have the most guns. We’re 4.4 percent of the world’s population and have 42 percent of civilian-owned guns. States and countries with more guns have more gun deaths. Canada has five times fewer gun deaths, Australia 21 times fewer.

How have other countries controlled their gun violence deaths? Limiting possession of handguns and banning assault rifles. Key is limiting the possession, not only the access to guns. The current debate is centered on access, sales. It’s a good start but won’t be enough. We have too many guns out there already. We need to limit handgun possession and ban assault rifles. Other countries have shown that works. We might have to begin with smaller changes.

A little change, Democratic leadership in the Illinois House passed stricter gun control laws, February 28th: retailer licensing and training in background checking, restricting sales of assault rifles and banning the sale of bump stocks. Little about limiting possession of handguns or banning assault rifles. It’s a start. It’s good government.

Richard Scott Miko, Westmont

Bad idea

I feel arming school teachers is ineffective. A teacher may decide not to shoot if they can’t burden the repercussions associated with the possibly of hitting an innocent student when trying to take a clean shot at a crazy shooter. An armed teacher will have to live with the death of an innocent child for the rest of their life. Not to mention any legal responsibility.

Tom DeDore, Garfield Ridge

A huge win

The editorial in the Wednesday, “401(k)s no cure for pension woes,” could not have been more wrong. Switching from defined benefit (pensions) to defined contribution retirement plans for retirement benefits accrued going forward would be a huge win for the hard working municipal workers of Illinois.

Because these programs operate under federal legislation, there is no room for the hanky-panky that is infamous with Illinois pensions. The employers must, by law, fund them when they are earned. No kicking the can down the road with a 401(k). There is no ability to game the system right before retirement to get a bigger payout. Since the feds cap yearly contributions, there is no ability to take excessive amounts out of the system by having multiple positions at once. Finally, retirees can invest how they see fit, instead of letting connected insiders squander these important earnings.

There are other benefits, like removing the golden handcuffs of the workers, so they don’t feel trapped in jobs they no longer are inspired by. Switching to defined-contribution retirement plans would be a huge win for Illinois municipal workers and residents.

Don Anderson, Oak Park

Ghoulish reminder

I chuckle when I hear a gun advocate invoke the Second Amendment to promote the unrestricted manufacture and sale of machine guns and handsguns of enormous firepower. The near-daily occurrence of a mass shooting of four or more makes no dent on their real concern this imagined sacred constitutional guarantee will be abridged in the slightest. My question to them is “What slave patrol are you planning to participate in?”

The purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure the new nation had a sufficient nationally controlled militia to repel foreign invasion or internal insurrection. But slave states feared federal control over state militias could doom their primary purpose of being state slave patrols to maintain totalitarian power over slaves. The new nation had already called upon free blacks to help win the Revolutionary War; a dangerous precedent to fearful slaveholders.

To get Southern support for the Constitution, James Madison altered his original draft of the noxious amendment to declare that the purpose of the well-regulated militia was to guarantee the security of a “free state” instead of the original “free country.” The political ploy worked, ensuring the Constitution’s ratification. Alas, 235 years and the ocean of blood from over 100,000 killed and wounded annually is a ghoulish reminder of the cost incurred to birth our constitutional system. 

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn