I was not surprised reading the Sun-Times story about coronavirus relief money being used to purchase guns. I am sure further research would find, thanks to the relief checks, an increase in the purchase of pizzas, sugary drinks, cupcakes and sweetened breakfast cereals. People probably bought more tobacco, too.
It took a long time for unsafe foods and drugs to be be regulated by the government and even longer for tobacco to be declared a public health hazard.
While many people are applauding President Joe Biden for his executive action on ghost guns and red flags laws, it is painfully obvious that this is not enough. The criminally easy availability of guns has made all of us unsafe in our homes and schools and hospitals and movie theaters and grocery stores. And it will continue to be so until guns are declared a public health hazard.
George Tafelski, West Elsdon
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Voters understand gerrymandering
Thanks to Phil Kadner for his column “A Map of Illinois Political Districts Designed to Discourage Casual Tourists.” He accurately explained all that’s been involved in legislative district drawing by politicians since the early 1800s. And now, as he wrote, we are at that time again.
Kadner made one point with which I would disagree. He said that “trying to get support from the average voter” for a less politicized way of drawing the maps “is difficult.” He believes the average voter is confused or uninterested in this important process. But he also mentioned “good government groups that have attempted to influence the process” — and this is closer to the reality.
These good government groups in 2016 managed to get more 600,000 average voters to sign a petition in support of an Illinois constitutional amendment that would take the process of drawing district boundaries out of the hands of the politicians and put it into the hands of an independent commission. This was no small feat. The fact that so many voters were willing to sign the petitions suggested a great interest and understanding of the evils of gerrymandering.
As a petition circulator, I found the voters interested, engaged and very willing to sign after just a little bit of conversation. Unfortunately, the courts ruled against the amendment.
In California, an independent commission has been drawing up legislative boundaries since 2010. The result has been a more representative state legislature. Maybe Illinois could learn something from them.
Jan Goldberg, Riverside
Fifty-two years ago, I began studying criminal justice and criminology at the University of Illinois. After graduation, I served on the Chicago Police Department for 35 years. This experience has led me to an inescapable conclusion: Gang members are child killers — and that is how they should be referred to, forever!
Lt. Michael C. Flynn, C.P.D., retired, Norwood Park