Killer-fish fiasco shows danger of moving species

The threat that the snakeheads that were in a pond in Crofton represented raises a larger issue that is critically in need of attention -- the need for better control over the irresponsible movement of animals on a massive scale throughout our country for recreational and commercial purposes ("Fish poison applied to pond," Sept. 5).

It is time to address this issue and the inexcusable laxity of our regulatory agencies in tightening controls as well as in failing to educate people as to the environmental costs of such activities.

The general public is unaware that not only are hundreds of species of non-native wildlife imported by the millions every year for food, as pets and for human entertainment, but thousands and thousands of native animals are moved about the country for essentially similar reasons.

For instance, the raccoon rabies outbreak that has spread throughout the entire Eastern United States is reported to have started because of raccoons that were imported from Florida to the Virginia-West Virginia border to be used for raccoon hunting.

The Bush administration has acted quickly to ban imports of snakeheads. We urge it to act as decisively to stop the flow of reptiles, birds, tropical fish and other animals into the United States.

It is time to come to grips with the enormous costs to society and environmental damage that can follow such acts.

We court disaster and invite great suffering if we do not.

John W. Grandy


The writer is senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States.

Time to reconsider ineffective laws

The Sun's editorial "Guns and votes" (Sept. 17) seems to suggest that Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is an enemy of gun control. But Mr. Ehrlich is one of the few politicians with his head out of the sand. He realizes that gun control isn't the cure-all for violent crime that some politicians suggest it is.

And many of Maryland's gun laws are nothing more than political window-dressing. How effective can these laws be when Baltimore had 185 homicide victims this year as of Sept. 19?

It is time for Maryland to re-evaluate its gun laws. Those that have proved effective in reducing violent crime should be more stringently enforced, and the ineffective ones should be repealed.

Adam M. Broadwater

White Hall

Life-saving gun laws are worth the price

The GOP's gubernatorial candidate has revealed his intent to revisit certain gun laws ("Ehrlich says he would review Md. gun laws," Sept. 14). His aim is to determine if these laws are cost-effective.

I understand and appreciate that there are costs for implementing these laws. But what is the cost of saving one life? And what's the value of that life if that person is your sister or father or friend?

We need those gun laws. Don't play games with them.

Carole Fisher

Ellicott City

Are NRA members unwelcome in Md.?

I take issue with the remarks of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend that were quoted in The Sun's article "Gun laws become an issue in race" (Sept. 15).

I was born and raised in the state of Maryland, I am a retired sergeant from the Baltimore Police Department, and I now teach in Baltimore. And I am a life member of the National Rifle Association, an avid shooter, hunter and gun collector.

It seems Ms. Townsend is telling all NRA members that they are not wanted in Maryland when she states, "We're saying to Congressman Ehrlich and your [National Rifle Association] friends, 'Stay out of Baltimore and stay out of our state.'"

Mr. Ehrlich has stated rationally that if he is elected governor he will look into two gun laws that have not done enough to reduce crime in the state.

This state needs to enforce the laws we have and rescind those that are not working.

And for Ms. Townsend to insinuate that Mr. Ehrlich is prostituting himself for the NRA is ridiculous.

Donald E. Oakjones Sr.


Rep. Ehrlich shoots himself in the foot

I read with interest The Sun's article "Ehrlich says he would review Md. gun laws" (Sept. 14), which states: "Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that if he becomes governor, he would review some of Maryland's gun laws with an eye to getting rid of them."

It would appear Mr. Ehrlich has shot himself in the foot.

Leon Reinstein


Israel is open to everyone

The writer of the letter "More inclusive Israel is real key to peace" (Sept. 4) argued that Israel is a democracy for people of one faith only. But I wish that other countries were as diverse and tolerant as Israel. Its constitution guarantees full citizenship to Christians, Muslims and others, regardless of their race.

Israeli Arabs vote, and their delegates address the Knesset in Arabic, which is an official language. Even in the United States, a senator cannot address Congress in Spanish, and there is a strong English-only movement here.

And the writer is not quite right that the Palestinians "want to have what was once theirs."

The Palestinians never had their own state when the area was ruled by Britain, Jordan or the Ottoman Empire.

Furthermore, if you go back in history, you see that the Arabs were not the original inhabitants of the land -- they gained it by military conquest.

Jeffrey P. Jarosz


Battle over a word makes little sense

Three (or even four) cheers for Gregory Kane's examination of words ("Parent's quest for correctness inspires lesson," Sept. 15).

As a retired English teacher, I know word roots and histories are fascinating and often are at variance with what we at first take the word to mean.

But why should anyone being "offended" have the power to override the history of a word and perhaps change its meaning to a pejorative one?

Phyllis N. Rowe


We face enough real racism, prejudice, injustice and, apparently, ignorance. Yet a North Carolina school board is punishing a teacher for a perceived infraction when, in fact, she was using the most effective weapon against such problems: education.

Perhaps the board can be accused of being niggardly with its common sense.

Maura O'Hare Hill


9/11 'Boondocks' insults Americans

The Sept. 11 cartoon in "The Boondocks" was a despicable insult to all Americans. The Sun owes an apology to all of its readers for printing it.

Send "The Boondocks" back to the boondocks.

Joseph V. DiGiacinto

Bel Air

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