Curran's call to ban handguns won't make...


Curran's call to ban handguns won't make Marylanders safer

It's nice to see Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran speak the truth for once: that his goal is to eliminate handguns ("Curran calls for ban on handguns," Oct. 20).

It's also nice to see a man, with armed guards protecting him, say it's time for the rest of us to give up our handguns.

Would Mr. Curran like to pay for armed guards to protect my family?

It is my God-given right to defend my family and myself from harm. I will be damned if I will sit by and let Mr. Curran take that away from me.

Law-abiding gun owners have stood by long enough while politicians spout feel-good legislation that hurts law-abiding citizens and helps criminals.

Thane Bellomo, Baltimore

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran's call for an end to private gun ownership is a sad commentary on his 13 years in office. Maryland's citizens deserve better from our elected officials.

Mr. Curran's proposal is just more of the Democratic Party's policy of calling for more gun laws and demonizing law-abiding citizens, while doing little to enforce existing laws.

Maryland needs to be tougher on criminals, not create a new criminal class.

Maybe the dramatic action we need is for Mr. Curran and his ilk to resign -- and turn authority over to those willing to enforce existing laws.

Michael S. Riley, Towson

Banning handguns would only save lives

Congratulations to Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran for being one of the few politicians willing to stand up and say what he knows is right.

It's about time someone was willing to state the obvious: the general public should not have access to handguns.

No one has a problem with the ban on private ownership of machine guns, bazookas or flame-throwers.

So why should lobbyists and gun dealers have such a problem with banning handguns?

The real reason has nothing to do with the Constitution or freedom or self-defense. It's the all-mighty dollar.

Banning handguns would only save lives. It wouldn't help line their pockets.

William Smith, Baltimore

Gas deregulation confuses public, press

I commend The Sun for providing information on the quiet restructuring of the retail gas industry ("Deregulated natural gas under fire," Oct. 17). Such articles can help educate small consumers, who are generally unaware the changes the Public Service Commission has ordered.

I'd like to offer a few clarifications to the article, however.

First, the commission has approved the expansion of BGE's gas supply program to all residential customers in its service territory as of Nov. 1.

But restrictions on the number of residential customer participants in the Washington Gas Light Co. and Columbia Gas of Maryland Inc. programs, which provide service in other parts of the state, still apply.

In some gas service territories (including the Eastern Shore), there is no gas deregulation for residential customers.

Second, the chart depicting gas supply offers describes variable rate offers as reductions of "BGE Home's rate."

BGE Home is an unregulated affiliate of BGE and is a competitive gas supplier. The correct comparison is with BGE's regulated gas cost.

Third, the article states that "BGE's current gas charge is 39 cents per therm."

Actually, as described in a brochure BGE provides its customers, that figure is the utility's calculation of a typical residential customer's average gas cost for a specified, historic 12-month period.

It may not be the utility's gas cost in the future. It is not a fixed cost, but varies from month-to-month. This makes price comparisons more confusing.

Such misunderstandings in the article reflect the general public confusion about gas deregulation.

That's why this office has urged the commission to pursue legislation that would provide protections to small gas consumers equal to those provided consumers in the electric restructuring law.

Michael J. Travieso, Baltimore

The writer is people's counsel for the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Watch the fine print on gas-supply contracts

Zev Griner's letter, "Utility deregulation isn't all that complex," (Oct. 20) challenged Maryland People's Counsel Michael Travieso's statement in The Sun's article "Deregulated natural gas under fire" ( Oct. 17) that selecting a gas supplier could confuse some customers.

I obtained copies of offers from about 10 companies offering gas service. Several sounded quite enticing, with relatively low prices per therm.

But careful reading of these offers' fine print revealed that the gas suppliers reserved the right to change the contract's terms, or cancel the agreement, with as little as a 14-day notice.

Such a "stop loss clause" is quite legitimate. But it can easily be missed by someone who is looking for the lowest gas price, but who hasn't had much experience studying the fine print of contracts.

William F. List, Linthicum

Immoral art is always detrimental

In her recent letter, Bryna Zumer holds that morality has no place in judging a work of art. Artistic expression, she writes, "should remain outside political bias, outside of religion and taboo . . . [art] is, or should be, amoral" ("Art's critical eye from outside," Oct. 16).

But it was the creator of "Madonna" who chose to make a religious statement in this art. He could have chosen to cover someone else in dung.

Roman Catholics respect the Madonna as a spiritual mother.

What if the artist had covered Ms. Zumer's mother in dung and surrounded her with pornography? Would Ms. Zumer still see that as an amoral piece?

I would find it immoral and I believe she would also.

The Rev. David Pietropaoli, Emmitsburg

Bryna Zumer's letter, in which she argues, "We have to distinguish between what is truly detrimental and what is just immoral" misses the point.

What is detrimental is not necessarily immoral, but what is immoral is always detrimental.

That's why it's immoral, because it harms the worth and dignity of the individual -- and thus of society in general.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt, Baltimore

Bigger sport utilities, bigger asthma pumps

I couldn't agree more with Kevin Cowherd's exultation over the enormous new Ford Excursion ("Bulking Up," Oct 18).

Yessir, bigger is better. My puny little Honda will only emit about 35 tons of carbon dioxide in its lifetime, but an Excursion can surely double that.

The U.S. Department of Energy -- those tree-huggers -- says that 40 percent of greenhouse gases come from automobiles, but why stop at 40 percent? Let's ramp that number up to 60, 70, 80 percent with our big, bad, belching Excursions.

Why stop at 8,900 pounds? If the Dow Jones broke 10,000, so can we. And, while we're at it, let's get bigger asthma pumps for all the kids who can't breathe.

Joyce Lombardi, Baltimore

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