Ban Handguns in City, Region and StateAfter...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Ban Handguns in City, Region and State

After reading the Aug. 14 article saying handguns are the weapon of choice for city crimes, I am surprised that all of the gun stores have not been immediately closed and their deadly wares confiscated and destroyed.

I cannot think of another product that is legally sold to the public in stores, that when used as intended cause serious injury and death. The main purpose of a handgun is to shoot people.

If a handgun is used to hunt deer or some other type of game animal, I do not think that there is any forest for hunting in Baltimore City. The bottom line is that handguns are used to hunt people.

As we know, crime in Baltimore is a very serious problem. It seems that every day we read and hear about another shooting or murder over drugs, money, arguments and other petty issues. We are heading for another 300-plus homicide year in the city. This doesn't include homicides in the surrounding counties.

Most of the homicides are committed with handguns of which almost half can be traced to seven sources in and near to the city.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms study showed that during the course of one year the Baltimore City police recovered 3,546 guns that were used in crimes.

That's almost 10 guns per day! The study also showed that 60 percent of the guns confiscated by the police were purchased from federally licensed firearm dealers.

The study also contains some seriously flawed logic. It says "the city's problem is not dealers selling guns to criminals, but the resale of weapons." This logic is flawed because before a gun can be resold or given to a criminal, it is usually purchased from a licensed dealer. Therefore, the dealers are the source of 60 percent of the city's gun problem.

It would logically follow that if you eliminate the selling and purchasing of handguns in the city and surrounding counties, you may be able to reduce the homicide rate by 60 percent also.

Melvin Abrams, owner of the Valley Gun Shop, says that there is no fault on him for selling guns as long as the applications for purchase are checked by the Maryland State Police.

However, the study showed that 34 of the traceable guns recovered by the city police were sold by his store.

Even if the state police are checking applications, the guns are still being used in crimes and his and the other six shops mentioned are at fault because they are the source of the purchases.

The obvious solution for eliminating approximately 60 percent of crimes committed with handguns in the city is to eliminate the source of 60 percent of the guns: the dealers. Baltimore City should immediately ban the sales and purchases of all handguns.

Washington, D.C., has a ban on handgun sales, but it is still one the nation's murder capitals. D.C.'s gun ban is useless because people simply go to Maryland and Virginia to get their guns.

Likewise, a ban on gun sales and purchases in Baltimore would be equally ineffective unless the surrounding counties enacted a ban also. Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Harford and the other nearby counties must work together with the city to make a gun ban effective.

Handgun crime does not stop at the city line. On the very same page as the handgun article, there were five other police blotter articles describing shootings and assaults with handguns in the city, Baltimore County and Delaware.

If a region-wide and a state-wide handgun ban were enacted, the 200-300 extra policemen promised by both mayoral candidates could be used to enforce the ban and to eliminate the illegal gun sellers who would almost certainly pop up the day after a ban is enacted.

I do not wish to deprive any legitimate hunter or sportsman of the right to have a rifle or any other type of weapon for hunting; however, I must ask for what sporting or hunting purpose does one purchase a .38 caliber revolver or 9-mm semi-automatic pistol? If there is an answer to that question, it cannot justify 300 murders per year. Nor do I wish to deprive anyone of their constitutional right to bear arms, but that right is killing more than 300 of us here in the city each year.

In closing, I urge the local governments to enact an immediate ban on handgun sales. Let's not study the problem anymore. We know what the problem is and we must act now.

Every one of these deaths by handguns is preventable. To the thousands of Baltimoreans who agree, we must unite to solve this problem.

If there is a citizens group that is organized to combat this problem, I would like to join your cause.

Carl M. Highsmith

Baltimore

Reproductive Rights and Population in China

Whenever a columnist writes a disparaging piece about China's often brutal population policy, I feel a need to ask that writer to explain how China could support a much larger population. In The Sun Aug. 22, Mona Charen presented a harsh denunciation of China's family-planning police.

The present population of China is approximately 1.2 billion. Without controls, that number could double in less than half a century. Besides the devastating effect on what is left of a livable environment, how would that country provide food, housing and employment to 2.4 million people?

During the 1960s, when the United States was pretending that China did not exist, that country experienced a famine.

With its recent success at earning foreign exchange, China could buy huge amounts of food from other countries to avert a famine. But what about year in and year out survival?

The kinds of oppression required in China to hold down the population is what other countries can expect if they don't adopt policies to avoid disastrously overwhelming their resources. That what it comes to. Let's learn from China's experience instead of condemning them.

Carleton W. Brown

Elkton

Mona Charen eloquently describes the atrocities committed against the reproductive and human rights of Chinese women. However, she does so in the context of the cynical argument that such atrocities are beyond the understanding of liberal women from the United States such as Hillary Clinton and organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women.

Ms. Charen would have done both Chinese and American women a better service had she highlighted their similarities. While the flagrant atrocities of the Chinese population program may be easy to condemn, the challenge lies not in condemning, but rather in finding international parallels and solutions.

Reproductive rights for women are far from assured in this country, particularly for poor women and women of color. Reproductive choice implies the ability to decide when to have ++ or not have children. Proposed legislation on welfare reform links benefits providing for basic needs to women's reproductive behavior and choices.

Women of color reproductive health organizations have called for a moratorium on contraceptive methods such as Norplant and Depo-provera because of allegations of coercion and abuse within the justice and health systems.

Women and girls are still dying because they cannot access the reproductive health services they desperately need. These problems reflect the same principles of the Chinese population program: in the name of national budgets and "good" women's reproductive rights are at best a low priority, and at worst, readily violated.

Violence against women is daily sport in this country. Witness the welcoming back of convicted rapist Mike Tyson as a hero; the farce that the O. J. Simpson trial has become; and the recent beating and killing of a woman in Detroit because of a traffic accident.

Sexual harassment and abuse against women and girls are commonplace activities for our political leaders, as evidenced by the behavior of Sen. Bob Packwood and Rep. Mel Reynolds.

In this context, the U.S. obviously has its own atrocities to reckon with. Particularly as it is the only industrialized democracy that has not ratified, or agreed to legally abide by, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The value of international conferences, such as the Women's Conference in Beijing, lies less in the cynicism they inspire, or the political speeches and often meaningless U.S. categories of "liberal" and "conservative." There is much more at stake.

Women need to go to this conference, not only to condemn the situation of Chinese women, but to understand how their struggle is wrapped up with ours.

Sia Nowrojee

Baltimore

Law School Legacy

I appreciated David Folkenflik's Aug. 20 article on Justice Thurgood Marshall and the University of Maryland School of Law.

Whether he was rejected because of his race or did not apply because he knew it would be hopeless, the harsh reality is that a future great justice of the U.S. Supreme Court grew up in the neighborhood of this law school and was not able to attend for the worst reasons.

The fact that Thurgood Marshall remained angry and embittered at the law school until his death is understandable and justified. What can be added to Mr. Folkenflik's article, however, is what a different law school Justice Marshall would have found if he had applied in 1995.

Today, more than 21 percent of the students at the University of Maryland School of Law are African-American and more than 30 percent of the students belong to a racial minority.

These students, and their classmates, are taught by a faculty which includes eight African-Americans (out of a total faculty of 48).

The African-American representation among the student and faculty at today's University of Maryland School of Law is one of the very best in American legal education except for historically black institutions.

In his years on the Supreme Court, Justice Marshall was a passionate advocate for the rights of the dispossessed.

Today, the University of Maryland School of Law has become nationally recognized for its superb programs in clinical education, in which our students represent many of the same victims of discrimination about which Justice Marshall wrote about so eloquently.

Justice Thurgood Marshall was a giant who transformed American law and American society. We at the University of Maryland School of Law are proud to be a part of his legacy.

Donald G. Gifford

Baltimore

OC The writer is dean of the University of Maryland School of Law.

No Pity

After reading the Aug. 26 letters written by Amy Donohue and Kathy Phoenix, I finally found something more appalling than Shannon Faulkner being allowed to enter The Citadel -- the pity they expressed toward her.

Why show this "girl" any pity? (I use girl as Ms. Donohue used "boys" -- her behavior is too immature to be considered adult.) She was the one who decided to destroy time-honored history for every Citadel alumni and every student, past and present.

She took this task on and when it fell through, what did she fall back on? She claimed the stress was too much during the more than two years of trials. Tough!

She needs to face reality. She couldn't handle it because she was overweight and she wasn't in shape enough for the vigorous expectations put on her during that type of training.

Ms. Donohue stated, "My heart goes out to Ms. Faulkner. If these cadets are America's future leaders, we're in big trouble." Well, we're in even bigger trouble if "girls" like Ms. Faulkner are her idea of future leaders. When things get too tough, she'll fall out and come up with some lame excuse as to why she failed. Is that a leader? No. If Ms. Faulkner were a leader, she wouldn't have used stress as an excuse. Everyone has stress (usually not brought on by themselves, as in Ms. Faulkner's case) and people survive and succeed.

If Ms. Faulkner wanted a challenge, an education and a chance to enter a male-dominated organization, she needed to enter the active-duty military. It's a wonderful experience, as long as you can get through the physical phase and the six weeks of mental games -- people yelling at you, calling you names, etc.

When I entered the military, I don't remember anyone feeling sorry for me while enduring this "stressful mental and physical abuse." Why? Because I chose to enter the military, just as Ms. Faulkner chose to enter The Citadel.

She knew what was ahead and she deserved all the recognition and humiliation that came with it.

Catherine Pulverente

Baltimore

A Sore Loser

After nine full months of allegations pointing to a Democratic conspiracy which prevented her from occupying Maryland's State House, Ellen Sauerbrey is still contending the 1994 gubernatorial election was fixed.

Although two different probes by FBI and state prosecutors, requested by Sauerbrey supporters, found no evidence of criminal acts or conspiracy, Mrs. Sauerbrey remains convinced of a Democratic conspiracy and of the inadequacy of the investigations.

Furthermore, she contends that state prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli acted with political bias when he conducted his investigation, a charge so heinous considering that his office budget is controlled solely by the state legislature and not the executive department, which lends evidence to believe there was no possible way any political leverage could be thrust upon him.

Even so, Ellen Sauerbrey cries foul. After a campaign in which miracles were achieved, considering Maryland's Democratic history.

After a campaign in which she upset Helen Delich Bentley, considered a "lock" for the Republican nomination and came within 5,993 votes of betting now-Gov. Parris N. Glendening, she instead decides to ruin her image by becoming a sore loser.

It must be hard on the thousands of volunteers who worked countless hours, trying to get her message across.

I think it's safe to say that Ellen Sauerbrey has shown her true colors and has succeeded in embarrassing herself, her supporters and the establishment in which she was a hard working insider for so many years.

Erica F. Rothstein

Rockville

Dismayed

I was very dismayed to see the article "Junior livestock contests show a rise in cheating" (The Sun, Aug. 21) for a variety of reasons.

The byline of this article indicates it was pulled from the Associated Press wire and it was given a prominent play. The story, however, is not even close to being breaking news, with the activities described having been reported at length in a variety of newspapers and industry publications for over a year.

It is unfortunate that The Sun has chosen the event of the Maryland State Fair, where a large number of honest, dedicated and hard working 4-H and FFA members will be exhibiting their livestock projects, to finally print this story. While the cheating has occurred, it involved a minuscule portion of the thousands of young farmers who participate in these excellent programs.

Nor does the article even begin to mention the efforts undertaken by the organizations involved to police themselves of this problem.

A large grass-roots effort to discourage these practices, as well as mandatory testing of all the champions at major shows was instituted to make it known that these practices would not be tolerated. As the story indicated, the penalties have been serious. This was all done voluntarily by the shows and organizations, independent of any outside pressures.

The deeper implications of possible food safety problems is also unwarranted. The drug involved, clenbuterol, is illegal in the United States for any use and had to be smuggled in from Canada. The food supply in the United States is by far the safest, cleanest and cheapest of any country in the world, bar none.

Ned Sayre

Churchville

No Morality

It seems that in the matter of the new "pregnancy policy" at the Naval Academy, morals and morality did not even get an honorable mention.

O tempora, o mores.

Francis A. Stolka

Towson

Republicans

Joan Jacobson's article, "GOP mayoral candidates have gumption, lack notice" (Aug. 25), states that the Baltimore City Republicans running for mayor are "almost absurdly upbeat about their candidates," in a city that is so Democratic in registration.

I wonder if Ms. Jacobson would also have dismissed the candidacies of Rudolph Giuliani of New York and Robert Riordan of Los Angeles, both of whom were no doubt "almost absurdly upbeat about their candidacies" while running in predominantly Democratic cities.

David R. Blumberg

Baltimore

NB The writer is chairman of the Baltimore City Republican Party.

Bombing Hiroshima Was a Capitalist Crime

I believe the atomic bombing of Japan was a tragic mistake. Nevertheless, I salute the U.S. and Allied soldiers, including members of my family, who fought courageously to defeat fascism in World War II.

While some letter writers to The Sun believe that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved their lives, I would ask them to try looking at it another way. Suppose, for argument's sake, an invasion was unnecessary because Japan was already defeated. that were true, leaders who would order such a foolhardy

invasion should have been disobeyed and should have received the scorn which many veterans are instead heaping upon anti-nuclear protesters.

Japan was surrounded, its navy was destroyed, and its air force had very little fuel. All the Allies had to do was keep up the blockade and wait them out. As an island, Japan could import neither food nor strategic war materials.

Under the circumstances, it would have been a horrendous criminal act to waste thousands of lives, both American and Japanese, with an invasion. I invite veterans to investigate Japan's historical situation and, if found to be futile, to turn their wrath upon Harry Truman's advisers and defenders. Even former President Bush had the good sense not to invade Baghdad.

Perhaps plans for an invasion were just a ploy to scare the enemy into unconditional surrender. If so, the ploy did more to scare Americans into supporting a nuclear attack upon civilians. Unfortunately as well, the bombing unleashed a nuclear arms race and the possibility of the future annihilation of humanity.

The situation in Japan was comparable to having an opponent who had lost both arms and both legs, yet refused to surrender. Faced with such impudence, we blew the person's head off, so to speak. Hardly a courageous act.

One explanation of why the leading capitalist power would perpetrate mass extermination of either sort is their predatory desire for world domination over all potential adversaries, including socialist countries. The rush to keep the Soviet Union out of influencing the terms of Japan's surrender and to discourage socialist expansion was no doubt a factor. The U.S. wanted capitalism to revive in Europe and Japan, even though capitalist competition led to two world wars. The corporations LTC which dominate America certainly did not want anything to threaten their hegemony. In reality, the atomic bombing was the opening shot of the Cold War rather than the terminating shot of World War II.

While World War II was necessary to defeat fascism, not all U.S. motives were pure. Even though workers accepted a wage freeze, speed-ups and dangerous conditions throughout the war, banks and industry made record profits. They also sought ** to exploit labor, markets and raw materials in southeast Asia.

As a history major at the University of Maryland, I read Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson's autobiography. He related how, prior to Pearl Harbor, U.S. destroyers would circle Japanese warships, trying to provoke hostilities. Stimson knew it would garner great public support for a U.S. war in southeast Asia if we were attacked. How right he was.

When faced with a crisis, such as a depression or socialist takeover, capitalists in many countries have resorted to many crimes to prevail. Witness the Nazis and fascists in Europe. Witness the recent death squad torture and murders in Central America. Witness Japanese aggression in China. And yes, witness the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Richard Ochs

Baltimore

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