Twisting Constitution to suit the purposes of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Twisting Constitution to suit the purposes of gun rights boosters

I am irritated and incensed that Gregory Kane is allowed to continue such a myth as he wrote on Oct. 17 ("Glendening ads attacking Sauerbrey liable to misfire"). History and the Second Amendment are not on the side of the National Rifle Association and its supporters as Mr. Kane suggested in his column.

Our federal law distinguishes between the organized militia (the National Guard) and the unorganized militia. The Second Amendment states clearly: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed this many times. In every case, it has agreed that the Second Amendment only guarantees the right to bear arms in a "well-regulated militia."

Ellen Sauerbrey is supported by the gun rights advocates. She was the NRA's point woman in the state legislature. The NRA gave money to help her challenge the 1994 election results.

It is high time for the myths to end. It is high time to stop twisting the Second Amendment. According to Webster's Dictionary, militia means: "military service (1) a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency (2) the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service."

Lois W. Hess

Baltimore

Gregory Kane is to writing what Ted Williams is to hitting: The very best. In the 1946 World Series, Ted Williams batted a mere .200. Mr. Kane's equivalent of the '46 series was his recent gun-control column.

If Mr. Kane had said that gun control was ineffective, there would be room for debate. This is not so with regard to the Second Amendment.

The amendment has existed for more than 200 years. Not once has it been used to invalidate a gun law. Can Mr. Kane quote one reputable scholar of our Constitution who thinks that the amendment was intended to prevent gun-control legislation? He cannot.

I have read this paper with care over the years, and I have never seen an intelligent argument in this regard. None exists.

I defy Mr. Kane or any of the readers to advance one. I promise a prompt response.

Dennis Olver Baltimore Greg Kane is to writing what Ted Williams is to hitting: The very best. In the 1946 World Series, Ted Williams bated a mere 200. Mr. Kane's equivalent of the '46 series was his recent gun control column.

If Mr. Kane had said that gun control was ineffective, there would be room for debate. This is not so with regard to the Second Amendment.

The amendment has existed for over two hundred years. Not once has it been used to invalidate a gun law. Can Mr. Kane quote one reputable scholar of our constitution who thinks that the Amendment was intended to prevent gun control legislation? He cannot.

I have read this paper with care over the years and I have never seen an intelligent argument in this regard. None exist.

I defy Mr. Kane or any of the readers to advance one. I promise a prompt response.

Dennis Olver

Baltimore

Money goes to probe while many people suffer

I have AIDS, and I have cancer in my left leg and foot, which restricts my mobility. It is also in other parts of my body. I have a dysfunctional epiglottis, which causes difficulty eating and drinking. I am in terrible pain, both physically and emotionally.

Though I am unable to work, I volunteer two hours a week for Meals on Wheels, trying to help those even worse off than me.

I receive $837 a month in Social Security Disability Income benefits. That has been determined to be too much money to qualify for pharmaceutical assistance or food stamps, so I cannot get the medications I need or food assistance.

I have spent two years trying to work through the bureaucracy of the state of Maryland and the federal government. Could you live on $837 a month, even without health problems? Why has our government spent $45 million on the presidential "crisis," and I can't even get the basic necessities of life?

I hope a very large segment of Congress is voted out of office this November. It is the overwhelming will of the people to drop this embarrassing debacle and start running the country as it should be run. That includes adequate health care for all. Where are the priorities in Congress?

Terry S. Deem

Towson

Residents have duty to keep streets clean

The editorial in "City must clear way for cleaner streets" (Oct. 15) on the efforts of four college students who cleaned up an area on Bradford Street, was partly on target. Yes, the city needs to do more to keep streets and alleys clean.

The editorial also should have chastised the residents of the area (and elsewhere in the city) who regularly and deliberately make their neighborhoods look bad.

We taxpayers should not have to foot the bill. Impoverishment ought not be taken as an excuse for not maintaining an environment neat and clean and free of trash.

Frank Novak

Baltimore

Special ed's improvements, not miracles

It was with deep concern that I read the recent Sun series "Lost Learning" (Sept. 20-22), which described serious and disturbing deficiencies in the Baltimore public school system's special education programs.

My concern, however, extends beyond the cited abuses to the newspaper articles, which unfortunately have the potential for doing more harm than good. The outrage that people feel reading this series is understandable, but if they react by concluding as the articles do that special education is a "fundamental failure," the consequences could be devastating.

Particularly troubling is what appears to be authors' essential misunderstanding of the breadth and goals of special education. For example, they state that "Special education is supposed to provide the extra help children with disabilities need to learn on grade level and ultimately work successfully in regular classrooms." If these truly were the goals of special education, it indeed would be a fundamental failure because many children who receive such services may never learn on grade level or work successfully in regular classrooms except with individualized supports and services.

But the goals of special education are different. While students with certain disabilities, such as mental retardation, may never perform at grade level, they nonetheless make great strides through special education when taught well.

In the past, many such children languished at home or in institutions, but because of special education, they have rejoined their parents, siblings and neighbors. They attend local schools where, within limitations, they learn to read, write and do mathematics. They also learn how to acquire and keep a job, how to care for themselves, communicate in a complex world, and most importantly perhaps, make friends.

The jobs that special education prepares these students for is real work, important jobs that are held by non-handicapped workers as well. Literally thousands of young people with mental retardation now work in law firms, schools, industries and federal, state and local governments. Formerly isolated people with IQ of 40, 50 and 60 are now productively employed.

Special education is a major reason for this shift from neglect and segregation of children with disabilities to a system of effective instruction, support and inclusion. And those who teach these children are better prepared to meet their needs than ever before.

Special education teachers are a highly competent and committed work force, who with their regular education colleagues, are preparing millions of students with disabilities to become educated, employed and valued contributors to their families and communities.

Without special education, many of these students would continue to face a life of dependence that has been the hallmark of services for people with disabilities throughout most of the 20th century. In addition, special education teachers are changing some of the more traditional ways that education has approached the teaching of all students, such as the importance of individualizing and adapting instruction, valuing parent involvement and preparing students for the transition from school to adult life.

I know the situation described in "Lost Learning" is very unusual; that in more jurisdictions, special education is far better supervised and delivered. But whether the Baltimore experience is unique or not, the circumstances described should not cause condemnation of all special education but should serve as a call to arms to make the promise of special educational life of joy and growth a reality for every child who needs it, in Baltimore and throughout the country.

Millions of futures hang in the balance.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Washington

The writer is executive vice president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation.

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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