6/27 NYA Times Letters to the Editor

Integrity of Fourth Amendment is at stake

To the editor:

I must address and correct comments made by Sean Olsen in the June 20, 2013 Norwood Young America Times. By claiming “bipartisanship failure,” Olsen attempts to re-write history by spreading blame and ignoring real solutions. The problems we are discussing today are exactly what the Patriot Act attempted to prevent.
The chief author of the Patriot Act, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner-R(WI), has spoken out extensively since Edward Snowden made his revelations. After 9/11, it was important for the Country to upgrade its intelligence gathering capability and focus efforts at identifying and preventing terrorist attacks.
Sensenbrenner, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, knew they had to balance the detection of terrorist activities while safeguarding the Bill of Rights. The focus of the Patriot Act is to allow the intelligence community the ability to monitor, identify and interdict foreign and domestic agents working to create a terroristic event. It was never the intent of the Patriot Act, writes  Sensenbrenner, to gather all telephonic and internet data from all Americans.
By blaming Bush, Olsen confirms his partisanship by refusing to consider that the Obama administration may have over stepped their legal authority.
His Congressional vote tally is a lame attempt at blaming Republicans. Olsen further ignores my comments on the IRS, EPA and DOJ scandals. In short, he ignores any attempt at solutions and is more interested in scoring political points.
In his June 7th press conference, the President said that the collection of phone calls and digital records were two programs authorized by Congress. Sensenbrenner strongly disagrees saying that it was never the purpose of the original or the re-authorized Patriot Act (2006) to create one gigantic fishing expedition with data from American citizens. The President went on to say that Congress was briefed on these actions and should have known what was going on. Sensenbrenner counters by stating he was never briefed and these policy changes were never authorized. Oh, and I was never briefed either, Mr. Olsen.
Recent testimony speaks of successful terrorist interdiction as being able to find a “needle in a haystack.” The intelligence analysts say they need the entire “haystack” — all of our communication data. I say no! Access should only be granted after developing reasonable suspicion and by obtaining an administrative search warrant. If the new data confirms “probable cause,” a second search warrant would allow access to actual communications. Congress must create additional oversight beyond the secretive FISA Court as we now know they are a rubber stamp.
This renewed effort must create a judicial firewall that protects innocent citizens yet allows access to vital data in a timely manner.
It is obvious that many in Congress had no idea what liberties were being granted by the FISA Court. I have no doubt additional startling revelations will come forward. The temptation is too great — no matter who occupies the White House. The integrity of the 4th Amendment must be preserved for the American citizen while allowing our intelligence experts to do their job.
Finally, at the end, my new pen pal tries to hit a conciliatory tone. I would find it difficult to work with someone whose loyalties to the DFL party and President trump that of the Bill of Rights and my fellow citizens. Mr. Olsen, you can put your lifeless old “olive branch” back in storage. It ain’t working.

Joe Polunc


High School trap shooting taking off in Minnesota

With gun purchases and requests for gun permits at record levels, it’s no surprise to learn that one of the fastest-growing high school sports in Minnesota is trap shooting.
In just four years, this sport has grown from 30 to more than 3,400 male and female shooters from sixth through 12th grades and from three to 115 teams.
In trap shooting, the shooters use shotguns with shells and fire at clay pigeons. The winner destroys the most pigeons.
The Minnesota State High School League, in a close vote, sanctioned the state high school trap shooting tournament for 2014, just like all of the other high school sports. A state high school trap shooting championship meet also was endorsed by the Minnesota High School Coaches Association, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals and the Minnesota School Boards Association
In June of next year, Minnesota will be the first in the nation to have a high-school-sanctioned state trap shooting tournament.
Recently, 2,039 young shooters competed in the State High School clay target competition at the Alexandria Shooting Park. A team from St. Michael-Albertville won the championship, followed by Hastings, Hopkins, Prior Lake, Jordan, St. Francis, Worthington, Rogers, Wayzata, Alexandria and Elk River.
Members of the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League hope the high schools will treat this like any other sport with a photo in the yearbook and a letter for the participants.
Proponents of the sport claim it is safe. Since the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League was formed in 2001, there have been no injuries and no school gun policy violations after 3,000 participants have fired 1.5 million rounds.
Participants cannot have a shotgun in their car when it’s parked on the school lot. After school, they get their guns and ammo from homes and practice at local gun clubs.
They first must pass the Minnesota Firearms Safety Training Certificate to be eligible for the teams.
Proponents say the teams are well organized. A minimum of five is needed to start a team and there must be a coach for every 10 shooters.
It’s a coed sport, and it’s open to disabled shooters as well.
Moreover, it gives kids who can’t make the varsity sports something constructive to do.
Proponents point out that the sport also prepares young people to use a firearm safely and to be careful and accurate hunters.
The coaches in the league are all volunteers. Students pay on average a fee of $300 to participate, so little direct payment comes from the school district.
All that said, some wonder if under the high school curricular umbrella, teaching students how to shoot a shotgun in a recreational sport and bringing the gun culture into the school house is part of the school’s mission.
That’s no longer a question, because high school trap shooting teams are here to stay and the number of participants is continuing to grow. The case has been made that educating students on how to use firearms safely and properly while practicing good sportsmanship are good lessons to teach.

Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers and a member of the ECM Editorial Board.