Students On President Clinton On Crime
President Clinton has promised us many things in his recent State of the Union Address. It is very comforting to know that Clinton wants to give the citizens of the United States lifelong health care and I am very pleased to hear that the welfare system is being revised. My question is what is he promising to do about violence?
Fortune magazine states that there are at least 200 million
privately owned guns in America, and more than half of all households have one. In the last decade, the number of children under 18 arrested for murder has jumped 53 percent. Clinton wants to "take away their [the youths'] guns and give them books." I don't think he knows what he is dealing with, and if he does, he doesn't seem to take it as seriously as he should.
A young inner-city citizen in Chicago, where handgun sales have been banned since 1982, can purchase the weapon of his choice in under two hours. For $20, he can purchase a used .22 pistol or for $200, a semi-automatic 9-mm pistol. All he has to do is talk to the people who hang out on his front steps. . . .
Giving the kids of America books instead of guns is just not logical. . . .
If you were an inner-city youth who had to fight daily for a little peace and self-respect, not to mention personal safety, and somebody gave you $20, would you buy a copy of "Heidi" or a used .22 caliber pistol? I know what I would do.
I think President Clinton's new crime policy is right on target. Making the Brady bill into law is the wisest thing done yet. . . .
With this new crime package there will be 100,000 additional police on the streets and increased spending on drug treatment and education. By banning assault weapons that "outgun our police and cut down our children," we would be taking further steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
President Clinton was accurate in saying, "Let us give children a future. Let us take away their guns and give them books. Let us, by our example, teach them to obey the law, respect our neighbors and cherish our values. Let us weave these sturdy threads into a new American community that can once more stand strong against the forces of despair and evil and lead us to a better tomorrow." Without safety for the children today, we will have no tomorrow.
I strongly agree with the majority of President Clinton's ideas on how to rid our communities of crime. I do, however, strongly oppose the "three strikes and you're out" concept.
There is a real need, as Clinton pointed out, for greater community policing. Over the past few years, I have watched in dismay as the crime rate steadily increased in our cities. Clinton's proposal of adding 100,000 policemen will help combat crime.
Also, another of Clinton's proposals, establishing a "police corps" that will allow people to get an education and work it off as policemen, is encouraging. Similar programs, such as those in conjunction with the U.S. Army, have worked well.
Additionally, building on the Brady Law by banning all assault weapons, which only have the purpose of killing humans, is an excellent idea. Also, as Clinton noted, we must address the drug element in our society by offering drug treatment and education. . . .
However, another of his suggestions -- the "three strikes and you're out" concept -- is extremely weak.
This approach says that if one criminal commits three violent crimes then that person will be put away for good. Why should we allow a criminal to commit three violent crimes? Violent crimes include rape and murder. . . . The concept should be, "one strike and you're out." . . .
I find it totally absurd that one person should be allowed to . . . end three others' lives before he or she is sent to prison for life. Shouldn't destroying one person's life be enough? . . .
Keech School Closing Moves Were Prudent
I attend C. Milton Wright High School in Harford County. Your editorial entitled "Harford Schools on a Thawing Limb" (Jan. 25) was read and discussed in my journalism class. Your comments regarding Harford school Superintendent Ray Keech's decision on school closings due to inclement weather were disturbing.
I will not argue that there were several days when we probably could have gone to school. Simultaneously, I will not contest the fact that Dr. Keech's greatest motivation centered around the safety of the county's students.
School buses are far from being the safest type of vehicle on the road. They are approximately 60 feet in length, transporting 40, sometimes more, people between the ages of five and 18 to and from school. The only person on the bus with a seat belt is the driver. Now, factor in unsafe drivers, such as people rushing to get to work in the mornings, talkative school students and one adult responsible for not only driving the bus defensively, but also for keeping its passengers under control. That can be dangerous on dry roads at any time during the year. Add some snow, sleet and freezing rain. It is now not only dangerous, it is treacherous. Would you like to be liable for all those children?
These "snow days" will not be forgotten; days will be made up. Dr. Keech supported this statement in a recent article in a local newspaper, "We will do it when it is safe." He continued, "even if it means going until July 4."
. . . In closing, I would like to say that people in other counties should not pass judgment on the decisions made by officials in neighboring counties. Road conditions in the state vary due to amount of traffic, frequency of consistent travel and a number of other elements. Consequently, just because all the other counties managed to get to school doesn't mean Harford County should risk the safety and well-being of its students.
Janet H. Lanahan