Love remains stronger than hate

After the carnage of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, I sent this to the two elementary schools in El Paso.

Dearest students and teachers:

Both my wife and I want you all to know that our hearts are as broken as yours right now and that we love each of you with all our heart. We refuse to believe that America is an evil place even though the forces of evil seem to be out of control presently.

In the past eight or so years, we could feel that our so-called leadership had taken to what we believe is a concept that Vladimir Putin has spread throughout this once great country of ours: “divide and conquer.” We witnessed it here in Wisconsin with the election of Scott Walker who was even overheard as saying that “divide and conquer” is how he would take control.

But all of you and all of us will not be divided and conquered. We will instead join together as brothers and sisters and through the love of one another, we shall once again celebrate the one principle of strength that we hold: our diversity.

Our motto, as the original founders of the United States of America so stated in Latin, E Pluribus Unum: “Out of Many, One.”

Please know that there are millions of Americans, all of different races, colors, creeds, that still believe that love is stronger than hate and we shall overcome the terrible tragedy and suffering that you have been forced to bear by lifting our voices as one at the ballot box.

Larry Heagle

Fall Creek

Column on gun violence balanced

Kudos to the paper for publishing a fair and balanced opinion piece on mass shootings on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

To set the stage, I’ve been a deer hunter for the past 55 years and for the past 45 years I have used a “so-called” assault rifle. Over those 55 years, I have never had the urge to shoot anything other than the three or four deer I was lucky enough to bag. It’s total poppycock to think anyone is going to make me give up my so-called “assault rifle.”

Now to the article. A psychologist and sociologist wrote a great piece using facts gathered over two years to identify some potential solutions to these horrific shootings.

They identified four commonalities. The vast majority of perpetrators had trauma/exposure to violence at an early age, they had a crisis point in the months leading to the shooting, societal fascination with mass shootings partly drives the shooting and, finally, they had a means to carry out the plan with 80% of shooters getting weapons from family members.

The authors say some sort of gun control is essential. Age restrictions, red flag laws, safe storage, stronger background checks, etc., are important.

But they also talk about working on the root cause — things such as reducing media coverage, intense active shooter training, most shooters are suicidal and leak plans ahead of time which requires people to inform police, school/work counselors need to identify common traits and get these people into treatment. Mental health care is critical.

For those of you who think controlling mass shootings is all about gun control, I suggest you read this fact-based, non-emotional, apolitical article.

Well done, Leader-Telegram.

Jon Hehli

Altoona

No guarantee of gun ownership

The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution was never intended to guarantee every American the “right to bear arms.” It is interpreted as the right to own or possess a firearm.

The lethal ability of firearms, when in possession of persons with criminal intent or diminished mental capacity, has promulgated the legal system to screen and bar such individuals from acquiring and possessing firearms. The Wisconsin Legislature is introducing LRB 3949 “Universal Background Checks” to further curtail persons prohibited by state and federal law from acquiring firearms.

LRB 3949 will require all sales and transactions of firearms to be conducted through federally licensed firearms dealers, excluding family members who gift, convey or inherit firearms.

LRB 3949 will also close the loopholes associated with gun shows, auctions and clandestine firearms sales that are currently circumventing enforcement where sales are prohibited. The impact of enacting LRB 3949 would include:

1. Persons prohibited from acquiring firearms will have dramatically fewer resources from which to purchase guns.

2. Stolen firearms and firearms subject to seizure by state and federal law can be screened and confiscated at the licensed firearms dealer source, as currently required.

3. “Straw sales” (a purchase made by a person legally authorized to buy a firearm who then intentionally conveys it to a person prohibited by law from possessing a firearm) will be dramatically curbed.

Unless you are currently prohibited by law from possessing a firearm, LRB 3949 will have no impact on you. Gun violence has become a growing epidemic, terrorizing and traumatizing every person in our society. Can’t we agree to at least begin somewhere?

Paul Miller

Eau Claire

Teachings of Islam get short shrift

ISIS’ image of caliphate and Islam is distressing but what’s more disturbing is the way our media, politicians and government are dealing with the situation.

Instead of responding to their wild acts with wisdom by spreading true and peaceful teachings of Islam and to shut down their supply line with which they are financing their war, or to save society from Islamophobia and radicalization, everyone seems to sensationalize the conjecture to promote fear and uncertainty among masses. Sad, but true.

On the contrary, when the caliph of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, founded by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah, engages in bringing humanity closer, everyone is silent. Why? Perhaps, sensationalism sells the story. This year the UK’s biggest Islamic conference was streamed online on mta.tv on Aug. 2-4 to spread the true Islamic teachings of sympathy, compassion, love and loyalty for all. Let’s join with thousands to disseminate a message common to Christianity and Islam — humanity and kindness for all.

Furthermore, when Islamophobia is leading to hate crimes the true meaning of Jihad needs enlightenment. Jihad is self-reformation against immorality or using the pen to defend Islam or using one’s mental capabilities to educate and provide for social, economic and political issues. Unfortunately, ISIS is not only defaming Islam, but also creating chaos and fear. As a community we need to reject all forms of terrorism, concept of bloody messiah and essentially recognize an Islamic injunction, that is, no religion has monopoly over salvation.

Rafia Mansoor Waraich

Altoona