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The new gun laws we really need

Updated: January 20, 2013 6:16AM

Gun-rights advocate Richard Pearson wants Illinois legislators to pass a law allowing concealed weapons in public schools.

His law does not go far enough. Legislators should pass a law allowing visitors to the Statehouse to carry concealed weapons, especially during legislative sessions. Legislators should experience the same heightened sense of security and safety the rest of us will experience after they pass laws allowing concealed-carry weapons not just in public schools but also at college campuses, churches, state parks, restaurants, bars, etc.

Bob Barth, Edgewater

The problem of ‘free riders’

Eden Martin’s commentary in Sunday’s Sun-Times titled “Real Meaning of ‘Right to Work’” did a fair job of considering several of the complex issues involved in this topic with two exceptions.

First, unlike the various public interest examples Martin offers, federal labor laws require unions to represent all employees in any given bargaining unit regardless of whether they are union members or pay dues or fees of any kind. Unions are thus federally mandated to provide collective-bargaining benefits and enforce contract rights like seniority protection against layoffs by their “duty of fair representation.” Employees cannot “opt out” of union representation (unless they quit to work elsewhere) because federal law makes the union designated by a majority of employees the exclusive collective-bargaining representative. Nor can the union choose not to represent individual employees because they choose to be “free-riders.”

Furthermore, federal law — even absent a state right-to-work law — does indeed permit individual employees to opt out of paying those dues and fees unrelated to collective bargaining such as support for political candidates. Individual employees, their corporate employers and union representatives all are entitled to engage in First Amendment protected activity. But only unions are required to allow employees to withhold a portion of their dues from political causes with which they disagree. The courts and the National Labor Relations Board have gone to great lengths to accommodate the rights of individual employees, but no corresponding accommodation has been afforded unions in their efforts to cope with the “free rider” problem.

Dale D. Pierson,

general counsel,

Local 150, International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO,


Don’t arm our educators

It’s disgusting to see Illinois State Rifle Association executive Richard Pearson argue the best response to the Newtown, Conn., murders is to arm teachers, principals and custodians.

Maybe if the gun lobby hadn’t spent years pushing for easy access to military-grade firearms, the rest of us wouldn’t have to live in fear of the mass shootings that seem to happen almost monthly. We should be investing in mental-health treatment and cracking down on guns that can spray 30 bullets in a matter of seconds. If America decides to answer our gun problem by ensuring kindergarten teachers are strapped in the classroom, we might as well throw in the towel now.

James Seidler, North Center

Don’t make America an armed camp

The legacy of the Newtown tragedy should be effective gun laws — especially laws that will ban assault weapon type magazines; these should only be available to law enforcement. It should NOT be turning the country into an armed camp, where newspaper columnists (among others) start packing heat.

Armed guards at shopping malls and schools would be horrendous. If we change our lives because of this — the bad guys and the NRA will have won.

These tragedies are thankfully rare and no amount of gun-toting can prevent them all.

So how about some common sense — like no gun can shoot more than a few bullets without reloading and frightened citizens can carry nonlethal protection like pepper spray. The answer is not more guns.

Carol Kraines, Deerfield

Gun control helps criminals

It is a shame what happened to those innocent children in Newtown, Conn., and my prayers are with them. At the same time, how dare the president, et al, speak about gun control and/or banning assault rifles?

If any type of gun control is implemented and/or assault rifles banned, only criminals will have them. The law-abiding citizens will become helpless victims and sitting ducks for those who have no respect for the law. Obama is correct with his statement, “Surely we can do better than this.”

Ed Ambrogi, Arlington Heights

Expand the circle of ‘us’

The murder of little children is heartbreaking beyond description. Human beings are naturally compassionate and loving (unless severely damaged), and so we are stricken with grief and sorrow at the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

Every day, children are shot down on the streets of Chicago and are killed and maimed as ‘collateral damage’ in wars. Sixteen thousand kids die daily from hunger-related causes. Millions of children are exploited, abused, and denied safety and love.

How much grief can we bear? Not enough to accommodate the suffering in this world. To protect ourselves, we unconsciously seek degrees of separation. We distract and numb ourselves. We close our hearts.

If Jesus or Buddha were hired as policy consultants, they would no doubt insist that the elimination of poverty, violence, and war be our top priorities-- more important than military contracts and corporate profits, but also more important than sports, celebrity culture, and electronic devices.

The first step is to expand the circle of who we consider “us,” which means making ourselves vulnerable to more pain. As we embrace and process that pain, our capacity for compassion deepens. We then find healing and joy in helping to reduce suffering in this troubled world.

George Ochsenfeld, Monee

Don’t televise trials

What if a defendant or respondent does not want his or her case televised? TV is a commercial venture, where the court receives compensation. The participants should be entitled to payment as actors in a drama if they agree to being filmed. Witnesses might also be reluctant to testify.

John Culloton, Norwood Park

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