Value of Robert Ingersoll Statue

Roger G. Monroe’s commentary “Free Money” about “The Great Agnostic” Robert Ingersoll is itself too annoying to escape commentary. He alleges that 99 out of 100 people in Peoria have no idea who Ingersoll was. In his day, Ingersoll’s arguments were known by theologians and religions leaders around the world, simply because he challenged thinking people to think. That alone should make Ingersoll’s statue valuable to the Peoria community. I should also like to know the source of Monroe’s statement that people in Marion found the Ingersolls “obnoxious.” Finally, most civilian Civil War officers received their commissions after raising a company of volunteers; that was how it was done. And ALL Civil War soldiers who were exchanged were forced to take a pledge not to raise up arms again. That Ingersoll vowed to fight no more and kept his word seems to touch a nerve in Mr. Monroe. I hope I never have to take him at his word.

William Furry, Springfield

Executive Director

Illinois State Historical Society

Back to Black Powder, Single-Shot, Muzzle Loaders

Concealed-Carry Cannons OK

Farm King, a rural-themed store in Macomb, sells “Pop Art” gun posters licensed by the National Rifle Association. My favorite shows an elderly man with a gun pointing at a shadowy intruder in a doorway. It’s captioned: “I’d rather have a gun in my hand than a cop on the phone!”  (Copyright NRA)

Not if you’re the cop in the doorway the Old Coot forgot he’d just called!

That’s a lesson the NRA, our National Gun Cult Club, might not want people to draw. How many police die every year answering intruder calls? Nobody knows! The NRA stopped Congress from funding such studies, fearing they might slow guns sales, which depend heavily on debunked notions of  “self-defense.”

After the awful slaughter of police officers in Dallas, Texas, (the gun-craziest state in the Union), it should be apparent that gun availability is the problem, not the solution.

Yes, mental illness or extremist ideology or crime are part of the problem, but it’s the easy availability of guns which endangers everyone ­– the police, the public at gatherings anywhere, even innocent children in school. Particularly dangerous are large-capacity magazine semi-automatic firing, military assault style weapons which can be rapidly re-loaded. They were once outlawed.

So what’s to be done? Given that Republicans in Congress will not act, there’s no chance guns will be banned outright, even should the Supreme Court reverse its re-interpretation of the Second Amendment as a “personal” rather than “collective” right. It’s a fact that nations that have restricted gun ownership or banned guns entirely have a much lower incidence of gun death. But that’s so “un-American” we can forget about it.

Instead may I modestly propose an “Originalist” approach to gun control resting on the intellectual foundation that the late Justice Antonin Scalia advocated. Scalia’s “Originalist” view was that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted only as the Founders understood the language in use at the time.

When the Constitution was adopted, the only guns widely available were of the muzzle-loading, black powder, single-shot variety. Committing mass murder with a weapon like that wouldn’t be easy or quick, so some of the Sandy Hook kids might have been able to escape during re-loading.

Meanwhile, since that solution also is unlikely, there’s always the election in November. Find out how the candidates stand on gun control, especially a ban on large capacity magazines. Then vote to throw out anyone who won’t ban them. The kindergartener you save might be your own!

George Hopkins, Peoria

Professor Emeritus

Western Illinois University

Gun violence is solvable

I am writing in response to the recent shootings in Orlando, Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas. I represent a blue family and a shattered family. A victim’s family. I hope to bring a personal response to this issue and map out a common sense and doable solution to this ever-growing problem.

All the statistics and victims have stories. I would like to tell mine. I come from a blue family. My great-great grandfather was the first African American sheriff in St. David, Ill., and my grandfather, Horace Crawford, was one of the first African American police officers in Galesburg, Ill. Also my Uncle Earl Wilson was a Galesburg Police Department detective with an emphasis on fingerprints for 35 years. He also taught criminal justice classes for Carl Sandburg College. I am very proud of my law enforcement ties.

With that being said, I would also like to bring to light a tragedy that happened in my family in July 2011. My cousin was a dynamic businessman and had everything going for him. He was getting ready to take his business overseas and really expand. The only problem was his wife did not want to leave the country, and they were going through a bitter divorce. My cousin was so distraught over this he decided to take matters to the extreme and shot his wife and then himself, leaving two children aged 2 and 5 at the time.

This was a person I had a deep relationship with. We grew up together, ate the same food and now he is no longer with us because he was able to obtain something he had no business getting. A gun. Had he been subjected to a waiting period, a psychological test or some temporary barrier to getting that gun, he might still be alive today. Until you experience the pain of the sudden loss of a loved one, you will never understand the urgency and desperation of those of us who want to spare anyone else that awful pain.

A lot of discussion has ensued about guns in America. I even got into a Twitter argument about this subject.

I mentioned earlier my idea of mapping out some solutions to this ever-growing problem. I propose banning all assault semi-automatic weapons of any kind to the general public and only allow them to be issued to military. I also think there should be a cap on possession of ammunition. One person should only be allowed a certain amount, and they should have to wait a year to purchase more. Also, to combat stock piling of weapons, maybe flag the credit card or delivery address so once a weapon is purchased in a store or online, no other weapons can be purchased for five years.

I find it very curious that in light of the recent tragedies, no spokesman for the NRA has denounced these wicked acts. I feel the Legislature has a duty to try and fix this problem. I say to those who feel their Second Amendment rights are infringed upon, this tightening of regulation doesn’t mean you are not going to get a gun. You just have to wait to purchase it.

In closing, I have made suggestions and invited the Legislature to weigh in on this hot button issue. Everyone has an opinion, but at the end of the day, what are you doing to make change in your community? It takes a village, and we all have to be part of the village to make a difference and love one another.

Karen J. Wilson, Peoria

The writer is secretary of the NAACP Peoria Branch

Why visit Cuba?

Throughout the world, there are many countries that look to the United States for support and assistance when they are in need. Last month, an article in this paper observed that the economy of Cuba, IL., could benefit from an influx of immigrants which would be of benefit to both parties. Much the same, the economy of the country of Cuba could benefit from an influx of tourists with both benefitting from the experience. Even more than an improvement in the economy, American tourists visiting this Communist country would go a long way to repairing the relations between the countries that are about 90 miles apart.

The people of Cuba have many challenges, including a lack of resources and amenities most Americans would consider necessities. Very few homes and buildings have air conditioning, a luxury they can ill afford, yet functioning in 90-plus-degree humid heat has its difficulties. Most farmers cannot afford pesticides, so organic farming is the only method. In fact, motorized tractors are few and far between, so farmers use oxen and hand plows. Then after they grow their tobacco crop and dry it, they turn 90 percent of it over to the government and receive about $30 for it. So how do they survive? The government subsidizes the purchase of beans and rice but it is scarcely enough to sustain a person. So the tobacco farmer gives tours of her farm and makes cigars from the remaining 10 percent of her crop that she sells to the tourists. For two dozen cigars, tourists pay her as much as she has received for her entire crop from the government.

Tourists are also welcomed with open arms at the many restaurants called paladars, which are family owned farm-to-table establishments, with the food being grown on the family farm. Delicious food is served family style and includes wonderful dishes such as ajaico (a rich vegetable soup) and delectable desserts like flan.

In addition to excellent food and interesting culture, there are many entertaining and informative places to explore, from the 17th century buildings in Old Havana to the Tropicana Club with its flashy dancers. All of these are opportunities for Americans to get to know the hospitality of a country eager to rebuild a connection broken over 50 years ago.

Now is a great time to go because once more Americans start visiting, everything will change. Several companies are offering packages (which is the best way to go) and one of the best is run by Dan Rutherford at www.GlobalRelations.OurCuba.com.  Travel to a country known for its old cars and its socialist government, but also a place full of beautiful scenery, gracious people and a rich history.

Pam Tomka

Washington, IL

The writer is a retired library director. In May, she traveled to Cuba on an educational and cultural trip with Dan Rutherford, past Illinois State legislator and state treasurer. Rutherford is now president of Global Relations Travel Club based in Pontiac.

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