Officials need a solution to Chicago’s gun problem

When I first heard about the 82 shootings in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, I thought U.S. forces had been ambushed in Afghanistan. “War is hell,” as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman so famously put it. How else could you explain so many being wounded or worse in such a short period of time?

Turns out these people weren’t shot in the Mideast but in Middle America — Chicago to be exact. If you believe the newscasters, violent crime is on the decline in Chi-town. This may be true on an annual basis, but not over the Fourth. The numbers are on the rise. 

In 2012, five were killed among 21 shot. In 2013, 60 were wounded, 12 fatally. This year, 16 died when 82 were shot. What is it going to be next year — 20 dead and 100 wounded? 

People, it’s time to wake up and smell the gunpowder. There is a war going on, and it is right here in the good ol’ US of A.

I don’t blame the Chicago police for these staggering numbers. They correctly anticipated the increase in shootings and placed additional officers in the expected neighborhoods. The only trouble was, like in any war, the police were outnumbered. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they were outmaneuvered as well. In the Windy City, it’s not just law enforcement monitoring street surveillance cameras. Gangs are doing it, too.

If 82 American troops were shot in Afghanistan in a month, let alone a weekend, lawmakers would be calling for retaliatory air and ground strikes. I don’t know how the mayor and police chief plan to deal with this recent spike in violence, but something dramatic needs to be done. The sooner the better, because July 4, 2015, isn’t that far off.

From Denny Freidenrich, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Marking a day of sorrow

July 23 is marked as a day of sorrow for the loss of the Azerbaijani town of Agdam to the occupying Armenian army. In early 1988, Armenian nationalists in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, backed by the Armenian Republic, started a mass exodus of ethnic Azeris from their ancestral homes to annex Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. By mid-1993, after the complete ethnic cleansing of Azeris from Nagorno-Karabakh and massacres in the Khojaly, Shusha and Kelbajar regions, Armenian forces advanced on the heartland Azerbaijan.

Occupation of Agdam (1,094 sq km and population of 153,000) by Armenian forces caused material destruction equaling $6.179 billion; 5,897 ethnic Azerbaijanis died in Agdam during the days of occupation.

From April through November of 1993, the United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions  —  822, 853, 874 and 884  — calling for immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces, allowing the return of Azerbaijani refugees. On March 14, 2008, the U.N. General Assembly reiterated its position on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by resolution A/62/L.42. Armenia has yet to comply.

According to the U.S. Refugee Committee’s report (2000) on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, “More than 568,000 persons from western regions of Azerbaijan under Armenian occupation since 1993, including 42,072 from Nagorno-Karabakh, remained displaced within the country. Most were displaced from regions just outside Nagorno Karabakh, including Fizuli (133,725 persons), Agdam (128,584), Lachin (63,007),Kelbajar (59,274), Jabrayil (58,834), Gubadly (31,276), Zangilan (34,797), Terter (5,171) and Agjabedi (3,358).”

As a member of Azerbaijani-American community, I urge you to be proactive is exerting pressure on Armenia to take a constructive stance, force it to comply with the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, withdraw from internationally recognized Azerbaijani territories and allow the return of Azerbaijani refugees to their homes.

From Yusif Babanly, Arlington, Va.

Protect America’s water

A couple of weeks ago, I was hospitalized in Vietnam due to poor water quality. I was so excited to come back to the U.S. , where the air and water qualities are significantly safer. You can imagine my surprise, when I found out that the drinking water of over 2 million Virginians and 117 million Americans is in jeopardy (“EPA to reach out to farmers on water jurisdiction rule,” July 1).

Unfortunately, more than half of Virginians’ waters are constantly polluted by factory farms. These big polluters lobby Congress to fix loopholes in the Clean Water Act. Luckily, environmental leaders such as Gina McCarthy are continuing to push the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts forward.

Although there is a growing grassroots movement and support from influential figures, it is crucial for Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to oppose efforts to stop us from having safe water. I hope this summer we will be able to prompt the EPA to make the necessary changes to provide safe water for Americans from Virginia’s beautiful rivers.

From Quyen Ha, Falls Church, Va.