Richardson LeavesThe stay has been too short....

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Richardson Leaves

The stay has been too short. This month our city and state lose one of our most prominent citizens, William C. Richardson, the president of Johns Hopkins University.

He leaves us to head the Kellogg Foundation, the nation's second largest, after five all-too-brief years here.

But we had these years with Bill Richardson, we are thankful for them and recognize that though the person leaves, his work and good deeds will long be with us.

Bill Richardson's circle of associates and friends is a full one and extends far beyond the campuses of Johns Hopkins.

He has touched so many lives and events, and all are inspired by his grace, his wisdom, his warmth and caring, his intelligence, breadth of vision and total genuineness as a human being.

He is a man for all seasons. We do not see his like often.

One Hopkins dean said of him: "Here is a man who has not only done well -- but he's done good."

And another has recently spoken of his cheeriness: "He was happy to be with us -- no matter how big the problem loomed, his cheerfulness was there. Bill brought with him tremendous vigor, intelligence and optimism . . . He has tremendous integrity, and he's always marching around with a smile."

Milton S. Eisenhower was one of Bill Richardson's distinguished predecessors as Hopkins president. Dr. Eisenhower wrote: "For those who would follow, it is enough to be shown the path; for those who would lead, there must be the vision to blaze it."

Dr. Richardson has blazed countless trails in his brilliant career in this country, with much more to come. He is an unabashed idealist.

Some cast a jaundiced eye at professed idealists -- but it means one has ideals.

Bill Richardson has said: "I believe that you can alter your environment. You don't just have to take what comes along. You can get out and shape the environment . . . I'm always thinking, always thinking, what are things going to look like five or 10 years from now, then asking how one individual really can make a difference."

President Richardson has made and will continue to make one heck of a difference in our nation and world. There is no doubt.

We thank him and are grateful. We will miss him and his lovely wife, Nancy. We wish them well.

Robert I. H. Hammerman

Baltimore

Bad Taste

Apropos of your May 28 editorial "Agnew's Bust at the Capitol," and the tradition of gracing the Capitol with the busts of our vice presidents (all of them), I question whether any of the others whom you refer to as "having faced murder charges, owned slaves, accepted money for favors done while in Congress, been divorced on the grounds of adultery, and even been charged with treason" showed up for the ceremony and addressed the assembled group.

If so, then let me be the first to strongly suggest we start a new tradition.

Recognizing the high office to which he was twice elected and which he chose to disgrace does not in this writer's opinion entitle him to such an honor, the denial of which you say "would show a gross lack of proportionality and an attempt to blot out a piece of history."

Surely, good taste alone would have dictated that he stay at home.

Emanuel H. Horn

Baltimore

B-29 Crews

Reading The Sun article of May 28 relating to the Japanese medical experiments on captured B-29 crew members gave me an eerie feeling, since I was a bombardier with the same Bomb Group as the Watkins crew.

In 1993, I corresponded with Samuel T. Watkins, the son of Marvin S. Watkins, who survived the war but died in 1984, in connection with a historical survey for the 29th Bomb Group. At that time he furnished me with much of the same information that was referred to in The Sun article.

The article indicated that there was some doubt about the identities of the missing crewmen because they had been hastily assembled on Guam. I find that extremely unlikely since B-29 crews always trained and flew combat missions as a team. They were never assembled from a pool of crew members.

The names engraved on the monument to the Americans are the same as those appearing on the official Missing Air Crew Report which was prepared on May 6, 1945.

Otherwise, the article is too uncomfortably close to the realities of that time, 50 years ago.

Peter J. Woytowitz

Baldwin

NRA Is Right about Second Amendment

Instead of attacking the National Rifle Association and its interpretation of the Second Amendment, perhaps The Sun should visit a local law library and check up on the patently ridiculous interpretation ascribed to the amendment by Handgun Control Inc., Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse and the other usual suspects.

HCI's spokespeople have told so many lies (which go unchallenged by their media allies) that their noses have grown longer than the barrel of an assault weapon:

"No court has ever struck down a gun control law based on the Second Amendment." False. As early as 1846, a unanimous Georgia Supreme Court struck down a partial ban on handguns using the Second Amendment: "The right of the whole people to keep and bear arms . . . of every description," the court wrote, "shall not be infringed."

At least three dozen other state courts have either struck down gun control laws on Second Amendment grounds or have rendered an interpretation of the amendment identical to the NRA's.

While it is true that only one federal court has ever struck down a gun control law, the lack of case law vis-a-vis the amendment is due to the fact that, up until the Clinton administration, Congress had passed virtually no gun control laws.

"Legal scholars agree that the Second Amendment is about state rights." Even if this statement were true, which it is not, it is of little value to the constitutional argument at hand, since most legal scholars agree that the Contract with America is bad, big government is good, and, most importantly, strict gun control is ideal social policy.

Nonetheless, prominent left-wing constitutional law scholars who have actually researched and written scholarly articles on the subject agree, in the words of Duke Professor William Van Alstyne, that the NRA's Second Amendment interpretation is "extremely strong."

HCI, however, cites former Chief Justice Warren Burger to support their claim (Justice Burger has called the NRA's interpretation a "fraud").

The NRA, by contrast, is forced to rely on such mediocre legal scholars as Justice Joseph Story, who wrote in 1833 that "[t]he right of citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of liberties of a republic, since it offers a strong moral check against the . . . arbitrary power of rulers." Not until the 1960s did a legal scholar invent HCI's interpretation of the Second Amendment.

"The National Guard is the militia." False. Before the American colonists had declared independence, Josiah Quincy had argued for the necessity of "a well-regulated militia composed of the free holder, citizen, and husbandman, who take up their arms to preserve their property as individuals and their rights as freemen."

In 1774, local conventions in the colonies made resolutions similar to Josiah Quincy's statement and then called on all able-bodied males to "associate" themselves into militia companies (these militias, many of which were formed in Maryland, were not subject to government control).

A "well regulated militia" is a citizenry adept in the use of firearms, and not a group of uniformed soldiers on the state payroll.

HCI's legal counsel claimed in a recent interview that the framers of the Constitution would be horrified if they could see the various militias around the country today. This is quite a claim, since almost all of the framers, e.g., Mason, Washington, Marshall, Sam Adams, as well as dozens of other prominent Americans, e.g., Abe Lincoln, W. H. Harrison, U. S. Grant, belonged to private militia companies. Has HCI ever heard of the Minutemen?

Perhaps I should not be so harsh on HCI and its allies, since as advocacy groups we should expect them to lie to help their cause.

But when will The Sun and other media put aside their social policy preferences and challenge HCI on its facts?

David W. Fischer

Baltimore

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