Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Several words were omitted from a letter...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Several words were omitted from a letter to the editor by William Banks published Monday.

The sentence should have read, "The idea that by giving honest people $107.11 worth of merchandise for antiques or firearms which have been sitting in closets for 30 years, 7-Eleven will reduce crime, is hilarious."

The Sun regrets the errors.

Buying Guns

I was very amused, yet troubled, by your July 12 article concerning the 7-Eleven gun buy-back program.

I found it quite amusing that the picture in your newspaper showed two Baltimore City policewomen looking at a replica of an 18th century muzzle-loading pistol which had been turned in for $107.11 worth of "Big Gulps" and junk food.

I doubt that anyone has been killed with a pistol of this type in Baltimore since about the year 1850, and the policewomen shown looking at this antiquated firearm probably found it interesting since they had never seen one before except in the movies. The idea that by giving honest people $107.11 worth of merchandise for antiques or firearms which have been sitting in closets for 30 years is hilarious.

The part of your article which troubled me was the quote of Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier saying, "The kinds of guns we're getting are the kinds we want to get."

For heavens sake, why doesn't the police commissioner want to disarm the inner-city crack dealers and criminals and throw them in jail?

What good will it do to society to take the guns away from the honest, law-abiding citizen, while the criminal goes free to rape and rob at will?

If a citizen wants to trade any possession of his or hers for a "Big Gulp," it's certainly his or her business. But the idea of reducing crime by taking away law-abiding citizens' ability to defend themselves is ridiculous.

William Banks

Baltimore

Reducing Smog

The Environmental Protection Agency's decision to retreat from commuting rules that are necessary to reduce smog is disappointing. Voluntary compliance will not encourage car-pooling, and employer incentives will not be substantial enough to influence changes.

The federal government itself, through locality pay raises, compensates employees who must commute longer distances. Not until financial incentives are made that reward ride-sharing, or alternatively penalize non-commuters, will smog in urban areas be reduced.

The strong lobbying by lawyers representing the interests of large corporations with many commuters is reminiscent of the recent story of the lobbyist for the tobacco industry. He now suffers from lung cancer.

A stronger stand by EPA to protect the rights of the individual and ignore special interest groups is needed.

Ann G. Muhvich

Pikesville

Lawyer Lincoln

Referring to Abe Lincoln, Maryland's official song begins: "The despot's heel is on thy shore . . ." Yet in his July 7 column, Theo Lippman, honors Lincoln as our only U.S. president who was truly a working lawyer.

Mr. Lippman says that "the way to think of Lincoln as a lawyer president is to consider the American people during his presidency as a jury that was convinced by his arguments."

Known as "Honest Abe" (just as used-car salesmen are called "Honest John"), Lincoln once used an almanac to convince a jury that a witness lied in saying he saw a murder by moonlight. The almanac indicated that there was no moon that night.

In fact, the light came from a lantern hanging where the witness could not see it -- and Lincoln knew this.

Nevertheless, he exploited the witness' honest confusion so as to confuse the jury into finding a guilty defendant innocent.

Similarly, Lincoln confused the world into imagining that the Emancipation Proclamation was meant to end slavery, or legally did end it.

Willis Case Rowe

Catonsville

Lifetime License?

In an editorial in the July 3 edition of The Sun, you wrote, "In Maryland, as in many states, experienced teachers have virtually a lifetime license to teach, once they reach tenure."

On June 25, The Sun had a news article about a music teacher with 15 years experience in Baltimore City who, along with 48 other teachers, had just lost her job.

I ask you, is this what you call a lifetime license to teach, when you can be fired after 15 years of outstanding service, without a hearing and no clue that her position was going to be cut?

Now every teacher is on notice that no matter how good you are in the classroom, you may not have a job next year . . .

Edward Palanker

Phoenix

League Record

Nancy L. Centofante's July 8 letter misrepresents the League of Women Voters' position on health care reform and our long-standing commitment to encouraging citizen participation in government. We are taking this opportunity to set the record straight.

The league, after a two-year study and with member agreement, adopted a position calling for promotion of a health care system that provides access to quality care for all U.S. residents at an affordable cost.

We believe the plans proposed by President Clinton and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., include these requirements.

The league has since its founding almost 75 years ago worked to encourage citizens to learn about the issues and give their opinions to decision-makers. We hope that readers of The Sun will carefully review the issues involved in health care reform, and (as is their right as American citizens) notify their congressmen of their informed opinions.

Patty Pollard

Kay Terry

Betty Newcomb

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, presidents of the League of Women Voters of Maryland, Baltimore County and the city.

Dog Owners Should Obey Leash Law

Willy, my cat, was killed on June 23. To understand why I write this letter, a little history is needed.

Willy spent his early years as a stray in Bolton Hill. When he was about two years old, on or about May 2, 1988, I captured him in a save-a-heart cage.

He was named Willy after William Donald Schaefer and Edward Bennett Williams, signatories on the lease for the new baseball stadium in Baltimore which was signed on that day. He was a wild one.

At first, I questioned the wisdom of attempting to tame him, but with the veterinarian's encouragement, I decided to try.

It wasn't always easy, but gradually his disposition improved. In fact, he became a real character. The one thing I was not able to accomplish, however, was to make him an "inside" cat. His two sisters and one brother do not go outside at all.

For the two-plus years we lived in Bolton Hill, he went outside. Although I knew the risks, he seemed wise to the ways and dangers of the inner city.

When we moved to Homeland four years ago, I thought life would be easier and safer for Willy. He only went out when I was at home. My trick was not to feed him until he came back in.

As time went on he grew more complacent about outside dangers, too much so. He guarded our house and made his rounds and, as far as I know, didn't go beyond a 100-foot radius of the house.

Neither he nor I was aware of the lurking danger. About three weeks ago he was chased by a neighborhood dog.

In almost four years, I have never seen this dog on a leash, nor the owners scoop the poop.

Willy was not mauled by a pack of dogs. He died of a broken neck. I found him on the lawn before going to work at about 9 a.m.

The veterinarian confirmed that he had puncture wounds on the sides of his neck and had been severely shaken, severing his spinal cord.

We have a law in Baltimore City requiring all dogs to be on a leash. In this instance, I cannot prove that the neighbors' dog killed Willy but, if the leash law had been enforced, Willy might still be part of my life.

My purpose in writing this letter is to plead with Homeland neighbors with small animals to protect them and for those with dogs to comply with the law. Please be considerate, we love our pets.

Louise T. Keelty

Baltimore

Failing at Mathematics

While viewing the O. J. Simpson preliminary hearings, something became very apparent beyond any reasonable doubt.

As articulate and well-paid as the various attorneys and legal experts were, one distressing thing became very clear: Mathematics and all that hold it dear were slandered.

The week began with a Los Angeles criminologist proclaiming to the world that he would be able to reference various measurements of blood droppings, but he could not do any computations since "I am not good in mathematics."

It was later announced that the blood droppings found matched Mr. Simpson's and that they were so rare that only .43 percent of the population would statistically match them.

Later, the defense attorney, while delivering his all-important closing argument, stated, "If you take the [Los Angeles] Coliseum on any given Sunday, 40,000 to 80,000 people have that same blood type."

This exaggeration, which sounded quite convincing, went unchallenged by both the prosecution and the judge.

Yet upon closer mathematical investigation, the defense attorney's calculations would indicate that on an average Sunday, approximately 18,604,651 could be in attendance at the coliseum. That is truly team support.

The final assault came in the prosecutor's closing statement.

She said, "Testing revealed that only 43 percent of the population could have been the source of the blood drop," which basically destroys her case.

The judge did immediately correct her, yet she fumbled with the same mistake one more time.

How can we as Americans expect our young students to take mathematics seriously if educated professionals, who are involved in a life-and-death battle, treat it with such irreverent disrespect?

Charles Levie

Ellicott City

The writer is the supervisor of mathematics for the Howard County Public School System.

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