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While visiting Fort Collins, Colorado, recently I learned that their newspaper, The Coloradoan, has severely limited the letters to the editor. Letters are only published on Sundays and then, have many restrictions for acceptability. The Coloradoan is owned by Gannett Publishing Group, which oversees the publication of over 50 US newspapers, including USA Today.

We are fortunate to live in a community where our newspaper is an open forum for many varying thoughts and opinions. The meaning of the Second Amendment (the right of the people to keep and bear arms) has been often debated. However, I believe what makes America great and sets our country apart from many other countries is the First Amendment.

During this time of turmoil and unrest, it is critically important to remember that the First Amendment guarantees that all U.S. citizens have rights to freedom of religion, speech, the press, and peaceable assembly and that we can express our opinions without censorship or fear of retribution. It is our duty and responsibility as citizens to ensure that we listen, learn and form opinions based on facts and information from many sources and perspectives, rather than to judge or berate others for their beliefs. We must do our homework on issues. There is no "fake news.’" All news is important. In my opinion it is critical to refrain from using superlatives or generalizations for any group or from making judgements based on one letter or one 280-character “Tweet.”

Many thanks to The Chronicles and Adams Publishing Group for continuing to allow this form of expression. May this forum and others like it allow input for citizens to make informed decisions during this important election year. A free press is vital to our democracy.

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Linda Gabel

Bozeman