LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Another assault on sense of safety

Americans once had a sense of security in the basic institutions that were important to their lives. We used to think our churches and synagogues were safe, our schools were safe and, if memory serves, even our roads were safe.

Following yet another horrendous massacre, this time at Virginia Tech, we have again reduced whatever semblance of a sense of safety we had left ("Massacre," April 17).

The murderers in America continue to reduce our safety zones - our homes, our roads, our stores, our schools, our places of work all have been targeted with the same intent to kill and extend the mayhem Americans continue to direct against other Americans.

We continue to build self-imposed "prison" protections to defend ourselves and our properties -- we have security systems everywhere, allow ourselves to be searched anywhere and continue to pay for the basic freedom of staying alive.

At what point will we realize that we are so imprisoned by our efforts to protect ourselves that we have negated the very purpose of our freedom?

We are only as safe as we believe ourselves to be. But that sense of safety is becoming, very sadly and tragically, a rare commodity.

Rabbi Chaim Landau

Baltimore

The writer is the rabbi of Ner Tamid Congregation.

Media frenzy unfair to college officials

The degree of despair and sadness I feel for the students, staff and families of Virginia Tech is far-reaching and deep ("Massacre," April 17). My heart is breaking for the members of that community.

The tragic event is neither about the school nor about the town of Blacksburg. It is about the actions of a disturbed young man whose behavior and its origins we may never fully comprehend.

But on Monday, my sadness became complicated and gave way to anger by the actions of the press.

The media feeding frenzy and behavior by reporters seeking to get their story and make the news rather than reporting it were contemptible.

The university community had yet to fully understand what had happened, and full assessments of the situation by the school administration and law enforcement had yet to occur, before members of the media confronted officials with questions about whether the shooting was preventable, which implied that the school's actions had been inadequate.

Clearly, such an assessment will be appropriate at some point.

But it is just as clear to me that members of the press acted shamefully in the university's most devastating hour.

Art Rosenbaum

Owings Mills

Attention to killers inspires copycats

Here we go again. Where do people think the Virginia Tech shooter got his motivation and ideas? From previous coverage of similar events, of course ("Massacre," April 17).

Now the bar has been raised, and some nut will think, "Now here's a record that's really worth breaking."

But let's think about it. On an average day, there are more than 100 U.S. highway deaths. Where is the outrage about those deaths?

And the odds are good that that more than 30 people died by violence in Iraq on Monday.

Nevertheless, the president goes on TV to lament and decry the event in Blacksburg - which is truly a historic comma compared with the years of carnage he precipitated in Iraq.

Robert B. Heaton

Cockeysville

Iraq's daily carnage causes less outrage

The huge headline "Massacre" (April 17) gave me chills. And I grieve for all involved in the Virginia Tech shootings.

Yet we accept the daily massacres in Iraq right along with our morning coffee. Isn't hypocrisy afoot in the land?

I do not mean in any way to trivialize the murders in Virginia. But I had nothing to do with that incident.

But as an American, I do have a moral responsibility for the daily massacres in Baghdad.

Rosalind Ellis

Baltimore

Sterile gun debate blocks compromise

Unfortunately, I'm afraid the tragedy at Virginia Tech will not alter our discussion on gun control ("Massacre," April 17).

The spineless left will call for a total ban on guns, knowing this is impossible to achieve, while the far right will trot out the Second Amendment and unfounded theories about conspiracies they need to protect us from.

Those of us in the middle will be left to bury more innocent victims of gun violence.

There are compromises that people of good faith could deliver. But they would require courage and resolve - as the National Rifle Association would attack them mercilessly because they would put gun manufacturers' profits at risk.

Still, I am sure that sports enthusiasts, hunters and police could create guidelines for guns and rifles that would allow guns that are right for competitions, appropriate for hunting and adequate for self-protection while ensuring better public safety.

We are a deranged society that takes on a pre-civilized view of gun ownership.

Our death rate from gun violence just continues to grow, and we dawdle.

If we let the spineless left and the far right, with their entrenched lobbyists, define this issue once again, we will fail to provide any succor for these senseless deaths.

Alan McAllister

Severna Park

Time to reconsider easy access to guns

How could the president support the freedom to carry weapons in this country in some of the first words out of his mouth after this horror in Virginia ("Massacre," April 17)?

Virginia Tech, Columbine High School, the Amish schoolhouse shootings - when will the sensible people of this country rise up and say enough to the National Rifle Association and its supporters?

Susan Detwiler

Baltimore

How many Columbine High School- and Virginia Tech-style massacres are needed before public outrage can overwhelm the lobbyists of the National Rifle Association and cause this country to control the proliferation of guns?

I hope the massacre at Virginia Tech will create sufficient national outrage to prevent the recurrence of this kind of needless loss of life.

G. M. Naul

Chestertown

Patrons, workers need smoking ban

The other day I went to lunch at a bar on Charles Street.

First, I had to run a gantlet through a smoke-filled front bar to get to the rear area with tables. There is no wall or other separation between this part of the place and the bar, so the smoke is omnipresent. By the time my lunch arrived, my eyes were burning and my sinuses were severely irritated.

The next morning, I couldn't breath, and I had to get up early to try to clear the glop out of my head.

The writer of the letter "Smoking ban dulls dining experience" (April 11) says a smoking ban will spoil his dinners out. Well, the lack of one certainly spoiled mine.

Neither customers nor staff in restaurants should be subjected to such health hazards.

David H. Pardoe

Columbia

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