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To stop killings, take profit out of guns

President Barack Obamurges Congress pass legislatithwould keep federal student loan rates from doubling during an event East Room White House

President Barack Obama urges Congress to pass legislation that would keep federal student loan rates from doubling during an event in the East Room of the White House on June 21. | Chip Somodevilla~Getty Images

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Updated: August 6, 2012 11:56AM

Yes, gun control is no joke [Chicago Sun-Times, editorial, July 3], with Chicago kids dropping like flies in some city neighborhoods especially on weekends. Exhibit A last weekend: Nine people shot dead and 22 wounded.

But with an estimated 200 million guns in private hands, the United States needs to take the profit out of drugs more than guns out of the hands of citizens to stop the killing. And selling gun-buyback programs as a violence solution is like selling lead life preservers to the drowning.

Buying back a handful of guns to stop the violence pales in the face of facts like Smith & Wesson sales and profits jumping in the fourth quarter on strong demand for guns, with the stock up 58 percent on improving gun sales.

Drug-policy reform that takes the profit out of drugs takes away the business reason that kids are armed and need guns in the first place. Without a business reason to shoot, fewer guns will be found in the hands of kids.

James E. Gierach,

Palos Park

Students’ voices heard on loans

Last week, a divided Congress and President Barack Obama came together to deliver for the economy, students and families by extending the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans for one year.

The rate was scheduled to double on June 30 without a new plan. With the atmosphere in Washington, even more partisan than usual due to the impending election, many were skeptical that both sides of the aisle could come together to freeze the low interest rate on these loans.

Yet on Friday, just in the nick of time, the president and leaders of both parties did reach an agreement.

Their action will spare 365,416 students here in Illinois from seeing the cost of their loans increase by over $1,000.

The voices of students and borrowers, who mobilized in force on this critical issue, were heard loud and clear in Washington.

When Congress debates future action on student loan debt, they’ll know that students are paying attention.

Celeste Meiffren, field director, Illinois PIRG,


Global change is just warming up

I read the Sun-Time’s article “‘Excessive heat’: Chicago could see a trifecta of 100-degree days” with the eyes of an old man, remembering the way the hundreds of elderly died during Chicago’s heat wave in 1995.

Our five days were horrible. But today more of a million people from Indiana to the Atlantic are suffering the same kind of temperatures, without having electricity to provide air conditioning or refrigeration. While thinking about that, I remembered a quote by Professor Jonathan Overpeck in the Sun-Times a few days ago. He said, “This is what global warming looks like.” In my mind, I corrected Professor Overbeck: “This is what global warming looks like NOW.” What will look like next year and in the next decade?

Jay F. Mulberry, Chicago

Charter school give kids hope for future

Another summer is under way, and yet again it has been far from peaceful. By all accounts, the coming months promise to hold just as much — if not more — violence. While headlines recount nightly shootings, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the communities enduring high levels of violence are the same communities where children have the most restricted access to quality schools.

Hopelessness is a root cause of violence. And one of the things quality schools do is inspire students to see their futures as bright. More importantly, quality schools provide real tools and skills to empower students. We can’t allow chronically failing schools to continue serving our kids, and then wonder why they cannot see a successful future to strive for.

As a city, our goal should be to offer students a viable alternative to the streets, and a quality education is an essential part of that equation. Charter schools are doing this, as evidenced by 80 percent of our kids graduating from high school. These students are heading to colleges like the University of Illinois, Dartmouth, Cornell and Yale. We cannot afford to maintain the status quo. We have to embrace new schools that help give our kids hope and the runway to college.

The city’s strategy to mitigate violence must include increasing the number of quality schools. Anything short of that is denying children the future they so richly deserve.

Phyllis Lockett, president and CEO,

New Schools for Chicago

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