From: Normand A. Pelissier
As our new U.S. Representative Wayne Gilchrest, R-1st, takes his new seat in Congress later this month, he will be confronted by a number of urgent domestic issues, including measures to reduce violent crime. One bill that will reduce the gun violence plaguing our streetsis the Brady Bill -- a national seven-day waiting period for handgunpurchases.
Just four days before Christmas, a co-worker of mine lost her brother. He was killed with a gun by a good friend during an argument. I can imagine what kind of Christmas Cynthia and her familyhad this year.
The Brady Bill is named in honor of Jim Brady, press secretary to President Reagan, and would provide a cooling-off period before the purchase of a handgun.
During this time local officers would have the opportunity to conduct a criminal background check on handgun purchasers. In Maryland during 1988, this waiting periodenabled police to catch 838 people who were trying to purchase handguns illegally from legitimate gun dealers.
All states do not have these laws. It's still too easy for criminals to purchase guns in states with weak laws, and then traffic them back to states with stronger laws, such as Maryland. That's why we need a national law. The only opposition to this law comes from the National Rifle Association. We have to start somewhere.
There are just too many guns out there and sooner or later, someone we know will become a victim -- yes, even in Harford County.
Representative Gilchrest needs to hear from all of us who want to keep handguns out of the wrong hands -- the hands of criminals and drug dealers and the hands of those who would act irrationally when angry and later be sorry they killed someone they really didn't mean to.
Representative Gilchrest needs to know that his constituents will be expecting him to stand up to the gun lobby and support law enforcement by voting for the Brady Bill.
EDUCATION NEEDS MONEY AND STANDARDS
From: Ray Hoffman
Operation Desert Shield demonstrates the ability and willingness of the United States to meet an external danger in the Middle East. Over the years, the military has been provided the money and manpower to be ready to respond to such an external danger.
Over the past several years, the United States has failed at the federal, state, and county levels of government to provide the money and manpower to deal with theinternal problem of declining performance of American school children.
The problem is real and is growing, and as a nation we fail to muster the resolve to attack the problem with anything but words!
To deal effectively with declining educational performance, more money needs to be provided by the federal, state, and Harford County governments.
Equally important for a turn around in education will be the establishment of higher expectations for students by parents, educators, and the students themselves. The allocation of more money foreducation will be of no value if standards for performance are not raised.
The failure of this nation to provide the money and to raise educational standards will result in the United States being unprepared to compete in the world economy.
Some say we cannot afford the high price tag necessary to improve education; I say we cannot afford not to spend the money and establish the standards to have the best educated youngsters in the world. Their education is the future of our country.
RILEY SAYS THANKS, BYE TO CONSTITUENT
From: Catherine I. Riley
Senator, District 34.
For the past 16 years it has been my honor to represent Harford County in the Maryland General Assembly. As I leave office, I want to extend my sincerest thanks to allthe good folks of Harford County for their support over the years. The kindness extended to me throughout this beautiful county has been truly outstanding.
The decision to retire from elective office wasmost difficult as public service offers the greatest challenge and opportunity to help people and to make a difference. I have worked hard to try to do that and to represent our county well. I shall miss the many wonderful people with whom I have been fortunate to work.
Thank You Harford Countians for allowing me the great privilege of serving you. It has been a unique experience!