In a letter to the editor from...


In a letter to the editor from Jeff Stevens published yesterday, the word "not" was omitted from a sentence that should have read, "In Fletcher's Political Works, 1749, a militia is clearly defined as an armed people not under government control."

The Sun regrets the errors.

Armed Populace

Columnists Jack Germond and Jules Witcover ignored some special interests other than the National Rifle Association in their piece "Unease over shootouts . . ." (Dec. 11).

It's frightening to believe that an informed American public would rise up against the intentions of the Bill of Rights. The operative work here is "informed." To hear some politicians and writers interpret the Second Amendment, we would believe that has to do with "legitimate sport."

Mr. Germond and Mr. Witcover say "a well regulated militia" is a throwback to colonial days. In Fletcher's "Political Works," published in 1749, a militia is clearly defined as an armed people under government control.

Furthermore, "well regulated" commonly meant in those days "well functioning." The founders were talking about a citizenry capable of the skilled use of arms.

Frequently we hear an argument that the construction of the Second Amendment confuses its meaning, or renders it antique. Not so. The first phrase -- "[A] well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state" -- is written to stress the most important reason for the amendment. It could just as well say, for the benefit of the modern public "the defense against loathsome and remorseless highwaymen being necessary to safe travel. . ."

The militia did not then and does not now mean "a collection of police chiefs or federal agents in ninja garb." It means the people like the citizens of Athens, Tenn. On Aug. 1, 1946, they exercised their Second Amendment rights in stopping a crooked sheriff from succeeding with election fraud.

The Battle of Athens took no lives and would not have surprised Thomas Jefferson, for he fully intended that the militia, the people, make a stand against tyranny, foreign or domestic, at home or on the road.

The NRA does not choose what issues the Supreme Court hears. One thing the court has ruled on is that "the people" refers to individuals, not the collective populace.

Your writers shouldn't make light of Big Brother, for his intent is clear. Without the Second Amendment, the First would be on shaky ground, and Mr. Germond and Mr. Witcover might not have much to write about.

Jeff Stevens


Jack Kent Cooke Explains Laurel Plans

I read with interest your Jan. 8 editorial.

As you may know, I, too, have the pleasure of being in the newspaper business and working with journalists on a regular basis. Nothing matters more than accuracy.

I understand the content and context of your editorial. There are, however, aspects of your editorial that need clarification. As your editorial stated, I, too, need to "set the record straight."

Baltimore is a delightful city. As home to the Baltimore Colts, it helped professional football capture the imagination of America during the National Football League's early years.

Who will ever forget Alan Ameche diving across the goal line in the first overtime championship game? Some call it "the greatest game ever played;" I think it marked the beginning of football's golden era.

Baltimore and Washington are becoming and will continue to become one region. It is good for Maryland, which deserves an NFL team.

The governor, whom I greatly admire, says Maryland can support two NFL teams. The Maryland Stadium Authority agrees. I have said that two teams could affect the financial prosperity of each other. This is true. And it is true whether the Redskins play in Washington, Laurel or anywhere else in the region.

Whether Maryland will have more than one team is governed by established NFL procedures for proposed team relocations. This not a Redskins decision. It is not a Jack Kent Cooke decision. It is entirely a decision of the National Football League.

The league procedures require evaluation of certain supporting evidence regarding the financial stability of the franchise in its current locale, the team's current fan support, its audited financial records and a clear statement of the reasons for the proposed relocation.

The ultimate decision is subject to a three-fourths vote of the owners.

Such factors were contained in a bill reported by a U.S. Senate committee in 1984, the impetus of which was the Raiders' move from Oakland to Los Angeles. The Senate bill essentially states matters the league considers vital as to whether a relocation is justified and whether it is in the league's and public's interest.

As to discussions regarding movement of the USAir Arena to Laurel, let me be direct and to the point.

Yes, Abe Pollin is my friend. But the Redskins have proposed and will continue to propose only one proposition: a state of the art, natural grass, privately funded football stadium adjacent to Laurel Racecourse. Nothing more.

Finally, my people have been hard at work with traffic engineers and consultants studying the Laurel area. Much of the positive reception we have enjoyed is due to our solicitation of community input regarding traffic and infrastructure.

The science of traffic management is such that we can and we will avoid the type of congestion that some people fear.

Football games are played on off-peak hours. We can identify and produce traffic patterns that route drivers away from the heart of Laurel into many well managed and accessible parking areas. Exiting of these lots will be routed in directions that make the most sense and create the least impact.

Our stadium will be sold-out on at most 12 occasions a year, meaning traffic congestion will be at its peak for only 24 to 36 hours during the entire year. Yet any road and infrastructure improvements inure to the benefit of the community and commuters each and every day.

The greater Laurel area is extremely well served by a network of highways and rail -- more so than any other place between Richmond and Baltimore. We have studied them all.

The greater Laurel area is a wonderful place to call home. I hope the Redskins can call it home soon and for many years to come.

ack Kent Cooke

Middleburg, Va.

The writer owns the Redskins.

Reject Inman

Ellen Goodman, a confirmed liberal, and William Safire, a staunch conservative, seldom find themselves in agreement, but the nomination of Bobby Ray Inman for the position of secretary of Defense they are in complete accord (Goodman, The Sun, Dec. 23; Safire, The Evening Sun, Dec. 27).

Even more striking is the unanimity of arguments against Inman's nomination to this high office, namely his failure to run Tracor properly, resulting in bankruptcy for the company but $1 million for his "services"; his omission of paying Social Security taxes for a domestic employee even after the Zoe Baird debacle, and his glowing recommendation for an individual convicted of transferring arms to Iraq illegally.

The above, coupled with his arrogance and obvious disdain not only of President Clinton but also of the Democratic Party, make him an unfit candidate for one of the two highest cabinet posts.

When the American voter elected President Clinton and returned a Democratic majority to both the House and Senate, the electorate did not envisage that an individual of questionable background would be nominated to this critical post.

Either his nomination should be withdrawn or rejected by Congress. Certainly there are more qualified individuals for this important position.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring


When the United Way chooses who it will include as a member agency and the allocation it determines for each such affiliated organization, it makes social and philosophical public policy choices.

I would argue that a reason for the decline in revenues by the United Way is causally related to inappropriate policy choices.

Note: Not a single care-giving nor educational organization servicing primarily the population of persons with AIDS is a "chosen" United Way agency.

That the distance between the United Way and donors reflects philosophical and social choice is affirmed in your article of Dec. 13, which said that dollars earmarked for agencies not under the United Way are up and that one dollar out of four goes to an outside group.

The United Way has in the past and should continue to be an organization that through its giving helps mend the holes in the fabric of American society.

Your article noted competing interests (corporations, employee giving and member agencies) in the giving/allocation process.

A campaign reflecting different ethical values in choosing both affiliated organizations and allocations could balance the above cited competing interests, earn more dollars and better fulfill the mission of the United Way. As to different ethical values, they could and should extend to organizations created to serve persons with AIDS.

Joseph Shane


The writer is president, AIDS Interfaith Residential Services, Inc.

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