Do Minnesota alcohol laws hurt or help?

Is our government saving us from ourselves by creating laws regarding what age we can drink and what days we can buy alcohol?
That has been the idea for several decades. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the U.S. had an uproar never seen in this country. It was called Vietnam. The age of 21 was the age of “reason” and thus granted rights to citizens to vote, purchase a gun and to consume alcohol in most states (Wisconsin not withstanding).
This was not ordinarily any big deal, but Vietnam changed everything. It wasn’t really Vietnam; it was the U.S. draft to serve in Vietnam.
We sent eighteen-year-old service members to die in Vietnam who could not vote, drink or legally own a gun while they toted automatic weapons that were illegal for any citizen to own.
College campuses were mobilized and students were outraged.
Professors joined the protests and at Kent State University in Ohio, the National Guard shot and killed many, and many more were wounded.
For years afterwards, this event was referred to as the Kent State massacre, something that now seems to be sadly forgotten.
They changed things, these protesters.
Suddenly 18-year-olds could vote, buy a gun and drink legally. The government could no longer send young men to die without ever having a say in governance.
Drinking, however, was another kettle of fish. It turned out 18-year-old high school seniors were more than willing to buy and share alcohol with their underage friends.
Sadly, what happened was that teen deaths skyrocketed to the point that it competed with teen death rates in the Vietnam conflict.
Teen drinking has been around forever. It is not even just teens that err through lack of experience.
My husband, Bill Cole, shared this story with me. “Out of the Army at age of 22, I lost a car full of friends, all whom were of legal drinking age,” said Cole, “I was supposed to be in that car. I had met my friends at a bar to play foosball and, of course, have a few.”
After an impressive winning streak and lots of drinks, his friend wanted them to carry on the night. “He begged me to come with him and I told him that I was feeling worried about just getting home.”
After a long night and an aching back, he decided to go home instead, and left his friend to carry on with their night.
“I picked up my morning paper and found my friend in the headlines. He had wrapped his [Volkswagon] around a telephone pole and he and all my friends had died,” said Cole, “I cried and cried, but I was never sure if I cried for their loss or the fact that I was spared. It was like being in combat where the guy next to you gets it. It could have been you.”
In 1984, the U.S. government passed a law stating that any state that allowed drinking under the age of 21 would be subjected to a 10 percent decrease in annual federal highway funds. This act did not outlaw the consumption of alcohol by those under the age of 21 but seven states extended its provisions to an outright ban. These included Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Vermont and Pennsylvania. By 1988 all 50 states and Washington D.C. were in compliance.
As recently as March of this year, Minnesota lawmakers were considering a bill to allow store owners to sell liquor on Sunday. It was thought that Minnesota stores would no longer be at an economic advantage since Sunday is the second busiest day for liquor sales.
Minnesota is one of 14 states to maintain this law that is known as a prohibition-era ban. With states like Wisconsin and other neighboring states selling liquor on Sunday, Minnesotans have resorted to taking their business elsewhere.
Some store owners disagree because they feel this is business that they would have gotten on Saturday and say that it might require them to start getting Sunday deliveries. Other owners believe they are losing business because it forces people to go to an establishment to drink instead of purchasing it and drinking at a private residence.
Prior to the late 80’s most retailers were not open on holidays and had limited hours on Sunday. Some were not even open on Sunday.
Our society has changed and demands have changed. Weekends for some are not just Saturday and Sunday anymore.
Do we really need this law any more than we need a law stating that we are required to tie our horses up when they are parked in front of a business?
The finest attributes of the young are supreme confidence, fearlessness and a feeling of immortality. It is these attributes that contribute to a society’s growth and movement towards something better. They contribute by questioning the status quo.
It is these same qualities that engender many poor decisions. Drinking and driving comes immediately to mind, but there are many other examples. Every year we hear of someone at a party who tries to prove they can drink an entire bottle of liquor and dies trying while their friends watch and applaud.
A study at the National Institute of Health found that a young person’s brain is not completely wired until about age twenty-six. This does not mean they are dumb, but it does mean is that they are less thoughtful regarding consequences and therefore more likely to gamble with things like their own life. This seems beyond my comprehension when I think that only 150 years ago a young woman was considered marriageable as soon as she reached menses and boys became men as they stepped into their teens. This had been a common wisdom for thousands of years.
Is drinking alcohol a right for people at the age of 21? It is an important milestone for the young to reach. I was 20 years old when I had my first child and my husband was married and out of the Army at age twenty-two, yet he said sharing a beer with his father for the first time had made him feel more like an adult than all of his other experiences.
Perhaps the answer is to teach more critical thinking to the young. Stop the campaigns that insist that all booze is bad/harmful/ugly because the young are not buying any of this. Prohibition did not work either, and instead created a multimillion dollar industry of smuggling alcohol.               Instead, let’s teach about choices. Imagine if the young person who wants to down an entire bottle of liquor was given a choice that day by saying he/she could down that bottle and sacrifice his life forever or skip drinking the whole bottle and live.
Instead of going to one extreme or another maybe the approach is a happy medium. There really are a couple of different solutions to the Sunday ban. I believe if you are not old enough to drink, you are not old enough to go to war. Change the age you can enlist in the military, it’s as simple as that. The other solution is to change all three laws – drinking, voting and enlisting – to 19 or 20 years old.
As far as alcohol being sold on a Sunday I think that should be up to the owner of the store. If we can purchase everything else on Sunday, why should we exclude alcohol?