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Senator advocates 'common sense' gun laws

Dear Editor:

A week after performing in her high school band at President Obama's inauguration, 15-year-old honor student Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed.

H adiya's story captured the attention of media and politicians finally focused, post-Newtown, on gun violence and the toll it takes on our communities. Yet she is only one of the hundreds of children killed each year with firearms - hundreds of victims, nameless and faceless to the media but mourned by parents, sisters, brothers and friends.

T hat is why I'm co-sponsoring a state-level ban on further sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. I also support universal background checks on would-be gun purchasers: a policy even 74 percent of National Rifle Association members favor. And I believe guns should be registered like cars. It's time - no, it's past time - for common sense gun legislation in response to the reality that children are dying because deadly weapons are so readily available.

I support common sense gun control not only as a legislator, but as a citizen. I've been involved with this issue for the last 10 years since I marched with Rev. Michael Pfleger around Chuck's Gun Shop. I've also worked with Purpose Over Pain, an organization of parents who have lost sons and daughters to violence. I know from my 10 years of engagement that we must stand united across geographic and partisan lines if we are to protect our children from wanton violence.

W e live in a war zone. Nationwide, 95,000 Americans have been murdered with guns since the Afghan War began in 2001 in contrast to the 6,500 American soldiers who have died in both the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts. In 2012 in Chicago, of the 505 mostly black and Latino murder victims, 108 were youths under 20 years of age.

T he time for action is now. President Obama has made curtailing gun violence a top priority on his legislative agenda. Mass shootings such as the one in Newtown, though rare compared to the countless attacks that claim lives one or two at a time, have focused national attention on the shameful fact that in this land of freedom and plenty, we still live in fear for ourselves and our children. We must act, and I hope this time we will.

Jacqueline Y. Collins
State Senator, 16th District

Gun violence is controllable in Chicago

Dear Editor:

Gun control seems to dominate the news these days.

All sorts of schemes have been proposed, most having to do with disarming the honest citizen while not targeting the problem here in Chicago, where roaming gangbangers have turned the streets of the city into a virtual shooting gallery killing innocent bystanders.

My father-in-law, Jim Speese, was a retired Chicago policeman. He told me how each District handled potential gang members back in the '40s, '50 an '60s. They knew who the potential problem makers were, and would stop them on the street or in their vehicle, search for concealed weapons, and if found, make the arrests.

Today, that would be deemed politically incorrect, social profiling and unconstitutional. We have checkpoints for seat belt violations, open bottles of liquor and DUI testing.

It would not be profiling if 'randomly' the police would pull-over six or eight cars in different parts of the city. Search would be for concealed weapons, seat-belt compliance, vehicle insurance, DUI, driver license and car registration. If appropriate, tickets would be issued. In the case of an illegal weapon, immediate incarceration and confiscation of the vehicle! The drive-by deaths resulting from drug and turf wars should be greatly reduced. What idiot would want to take the chance of being pulled over and found with a firearm resulting in mandatory prison time? Think of the revenue to be generated from tickets issued for other violations!

I think Officer Speese had the right idea! Do you have a better one?

Jim Kirby
Palos Park

Ban assault weapons, high-capacity clips

Dear Editor:

Our elected officials, both in Springfield and Washington, will soon be returning to the work of the people. There are so many issues to deal with, problems to solve and political posturing to achieve.

We hope they will tackle the easy one first - a ban on assault weapons and their associated large capacity clips. This is not gun control, so let's not get all riled up about interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. Let the well regulated militia have whatever it requires. There is no need whatsoever for a civilian to possess a weapon capable of killing dozens in minutes. Let me quote Rep. Gabby Giffords, NRA member, gun owner and victim of a killer with a high-capacity magazine, "We need to do something. We've got to stop just talking about this."

The President has told us that the only way this can change is if the American people demand it.

Barbara Pasquinelli
League of Women Voters
of the Palos Orland Area
Palos Heights

Moving toward what we long for

Dear Editor:

The end of a year is a time of reflection. We tend to make resolutions that we feel will improve our life. Faith in ourselves and a hope for success motivates us.

As a member of society, we have a responsibility towards one another. We are affected by the tragedies that befall our fellowman. Our hearts were broken with the recent loss of innocent lives.

Our ancestors endured and survived many disasters on our behalf. It is our turn to step up to the plate and put the ball in play. We must be firm in a resolve to create a more peaceful and safe environment for our children and ourselves. Let us ask God to enlighten and guide us in this endeavor. He is our solace in time of sorrow.

May 2013 bring us the peace we long for, the love we seek and the joy that warms our hearts!

Marlene Jeziorski
Oak Lawn

Schools need armed security

Dear Editor:

The recent tragedy at a Connecticut school points out the need for stronger security measures to help prevent or mitigate loss of life at our schools.

The emergency plans implemented at schools can minimize injuries and deaths, but cannot prevent them when confronted with determined shooters. Buzzers, cameras, identification cards and sign-in books will not stop shooters from forcibly entering schools.

One security measure that could counter the actions of shooters is the presence of armed security officers in every school. Granted, the killers might try to shoot the officers first, but the killers could be focused on shooting the students and teachers, and the officers could take out the shooters.

Another possibility would be to have trained administrators with weapons available to them in a locked and secure location.

Mentally competent people and non-felons may purchase weapons in accordance with the second amendment of our Constitution which allows citizens to bear arms, and this right should continue. However, should ordinary citizens, like the Newtown shooter, be allowed to purchase a bulletproof vest? The purchase of bulletproof vests should be a huge tipoff on the purchaser planning a shooting.

We need armed school security officers.

Donald A. Moskowitz
Londonderry, N.H.