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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Time for good talks about safety

Gun week started in Minnesota with a visit Monday by President Obama, who has proposed numerous safety measures.

The President’s plan includes a mixture of actions he can take on his own and laws Congress would need to pass.

Obama wants to require background checks on any potential gun purchaser, including private gun sales that now are exempt. He also would require more thorough background checks and outlaw assault weapons and ammunition clips holding more than 10 bullets.

Many gun supporters back his idea of increasing mental health treatment. U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is putting his gun violence efforts behind mental health bills.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar also supports Obama’s efforts.

On the other hand, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., questions some of the President’s proposals.

He, like many Americans, has bought guns since the latest debate cropped up. Peterson, an avid hunter who owns at least 25 guns, recently purchased a bolt-action rifle from a Detroit Lakes gun shop.

The Congressman said some changes are acceptable, but predicted not much will be accomplished during the upcoming debate on the topic.

Let’s hope the national discussion remains civil, cordial and constructive – and begins to address the long overdue issues related to mental health illnesses.

New home to Bemidji

A visit by Mike Gallucci, the deputy commissioner of veterans health care at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, provided some sound advice and direction during a local veterans home task force meeting Saturday.

At the meeting, Gallucci encouraged the task force to assess the needs of the local veteran population and how the facility will address them before making a pitch to the state.

“Understand your community of veterans and not just the desire and build that argument,” Gallucci said. “And say to them, ‘What do you got that’s better than that?’

“Come to the fight ready.”

It’s a case Beltrami County can make.

More than 3,000 veterans live in Beltrami County, and nearly 16,000 live in the surrounding nine counties. Many of these veterans, who have unselfishly served their country, are underserved. They must travel long distances – to Fergus Falls and Silver Bay – for services.

The local momentum can make a difference in St. Paul, where in the next two years legislators may choose the location to build another home.

Funds make impact

Funding for the arts makes a significant impact in an art-friendly community like Bemidji.

A large crowd gathered this weekend to show their support for the arts and emphasize the importance of the funding to Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids.

Saxhaug is a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Legacy, which decides Arts Legacy funding through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

Without question, funding provides quality events, workshops and opportunities in Bemidji, which enjoys an improved quality of life because of the funding. The benefit extends to artists, but the public truly are the recipients of a dynamic, thriving arts community.