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Control criminals, not gunsWhen will your paper...


Control criminals, not guns

When will your paper ever tell the truth about gun control? When will you stop portraying National Rifle Association members as "Billy-Bob Yee-Haws" who think everyone should own as many guns as possible?

Like Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, I am opposed to gun violence of any kind. However, the answer is not gun bans, gun licensing or gun limiting. A gun cannot shoot anyone without someone pulling the trigger. The problem must lie with personal responsibility and accountability. Even if an attempt were made to eradicate every gun in the U.S., criminals would still have guns.

I read in the magazine "Mother Jones," which is extremely anti-gun, that 37,184 people were killed by guns in 1990. The magazine broke it down further by stating that 18,964 of those deaths, or 51 percent, were homicides. Four percent, or 1,487, were accidents, and the remaining 1 percent, 372, were justified self-defense by citizens or police.

What these statistics clearly illustrate is:

* If our "revolving door" criminal justice system kept violent offenders locked up and harsh penalties were stated clearly to deter potential criminals, the homicide rate would decrease dramatically.

* If we could stop people from committing suicide, more than half of the country's firearms deaths would be eliminated. Unfortunately, if someone wants to kill him or herself, not having a gun will not stop them.

* If we eliminated homicides and suicides, we would have a total of 1,859 people killed each year by firearms. That's a drop in the bucket compared to 400,000 people who die each year from smoking cigarettes.

The media also incorrectly state the facts: "Semiautomatic" firearms are merely self-loading guns, not the "machine guns" the media portray; "assault weapons" are used in less than .5 percent of violent crimes and are primarily purchased for target shooting and by collectors.

The media also fail to report criminal and gun control measures that the NRA advocates. Why don't the media expose the real agenda of the gun control crowd, which is the total abolition of gun ownership by private citizens?

Joel B. McCall


Top cop

In response to reporter David Simon's excellent series on the Baltimore City Police Department, I was married to a former police official who worked under the late Commissioner Donald Pomerleau and was myself a member of the first group of Auxiliary (yes, volunteer) Police.

Because the position of commissioner is a political one, the department quickly began to deteriorate as Commissioner Frank Battaglia waited out his short tenure for a higher pension. Commissioner Bishop Robinson was able to stabilize the department for a short time.

What followed was a succession of commissioners picked by Mayor Schmoke, who has continually tried to lower department standards while paying lip service to the needs of the community and the police.

I certainly hope that Mayor Schmoke allows Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier to return the department to its former status as one of the top police departments in the nation, and that he channels his efforts into finding the monetary support that the department desperately needs.

Dale S. Woods


High-speed rail

I was greatly disappointed to learn that federal budget cuts will hamper plans for a maglev train prototype. I had expected that President Clinton would support federal seed money for developing new transportation technologies.

High-speed rail would enhance the unity of the Baltimore-Washington area. A rapid rail connection would encourage many businesses and non-profit groups to locate in less expensive Baltimore, and hop the train to D.C. when needed.

Similarly, many people working in the Washington area would opt to live in central Maryland, where housing is less expensive and life is so much more civilized.

High-speed trains have many advantages. If people used trains rather than cars for inter-city commutes, air pollution in the Baltimore-Washington corridor would be significantly reduced.

This is the type of preventive health care that the president appears to favor. Reducing train travel time between Boston and D.C. to under three hours also would greatly reduce the need for short haul air travel. This would reduced noise pollution, airport congestion and delays and also eliminate the need for much of the expensive planned airport expansion.

Mordechai E. Lando


Parental advice

In light of recent events, I suddenly realized why it is so difficult to teach children right from wrong.

Michael Jackson pays off his child molestation accuser. And Oliver North, of Iran-contra fame, is running for the U.S. Senate.

Lorena and John Bobbitt cash in on misery, abuse and mutilation. Naval Academy cadets are caught in a cheating scandal. The movie "Schindler's List" may win an Oscar while the world ignores the atrocities in Bosnia.

And Tonya Harding will sue to be an Olympian while she and her cohorts make deals after trying to eliminate the competition.

Everyone will write a book, sign a movie contract and make the ever expanding talk show circuit.

What is a parent to do? My advice is: Get your children to church -- but don't leave them alone with the priest.

Paula Baranowski

Havre de Grace

Genocide in Bosnia

One important reason to remember the Holocaust is to make sure similar atrocities never reoccur.

Yet despite the emotionally devastating National Holocaust Museum, powerful media expressions like "Schindler's List" and heroic reminders by world leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, the world refuses to acknowledge the genocide in Bosnia.

At some point silence, avoidance and denial become complicity for which we are all responsible. I believe that point has been reached.

The Clinton administration, after an initial attempt to persuade our European allies, has simply turned its back. Four State Department officials have resigned in the last 18 months in protest over our lack of responsible action.

If Serbian "ethnic cleansing," mass murder and concentration camps constitute "genocide" and "war crimes" -- which by any reasonable definition they must -- then both the United Nations and the U.S. have a legal and a moral obligation to act.

The first immediate action should be to 1) enable the Muslims to defend themselves by lifting the ill-conceived arms embargo and, 2) attacking military targets in Serbia that are the sources of the deadly munitions and materiel being used on innocent civilians in Bosnia.

Roger C. Kostmayer


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