The Baltimore Sun

Killings underscore need to curb guns

Following the tragic killings at Virginia Tech, people are asking: Why? Why do we have violence like this in the United States?

I think part of the explanation is that handguns are relatively easy to buy in this country ("Va. tragedy likely to put gun control in spotlight," April 18).

Handguns are easily concealed and are the weapon of choice for most criminals.

Look at countries like Great Britain. You rarely see mass murders like this in England because handguns are illegal.

I'd be willing to compromise with those who advocate freedom to buy and use guns.

If we must have guns in this country, let's change the laws so that rifles are legal and handguns are banned completely.

Bill Simmons


After the shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, how many more killings do we need to endure before we pass some common-sense gun control legislation?

Norman Shillman


Victims, not shooter, deserve attention

My heart aches for the families and friends of the victims of the horrific killings at Virginia Tech. But is it just me, or do screaming headlines such as "MASSACRE" (April 17) and the subheading labeling this event the "deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history" make anyone else uneasy that maybe there is another social misfit out there who is sick enough to read that as a challenge to top this grotesque crime?

I always find myself questioning the media's logic for naming the perpetrators of such acts and detailing their crimes. It seems to shine too much attention on the murderers, at the expense of honoring the lives lost or showing sympathy and respect to the loved ones left grieving.

I, for one, would much rather read an informative account minus the extensive profiling of the criminal.

No one should become famous for such psychopathic and senseless acts.

Courtney McGee


President's presence points to his absence

It is altogether fitting and proper that President Bush appear at Virginia Tech to express the nation's grief and shock at the senseless murders of 32 innocent people, whose lives were taken and who had the promise of their youthful talent tragically cut short ("Tears, Hokie spirit fill memorial service," April 18).

However, the president's presence at Virginia Tech stands in contrast to his absence at any of the funerals or memorial services for the 3,200 innocent U.S. troops whose lives were ended and the promise of their youthful talent tragically cut short by this president's senseless and unjustified invasion of Iraq.

Sheldon H. Laskin


Iraqis experience such a loss daily

As tragic as the event that unfolded in Blacksburg, Va., is, an event of similar magnitude and despair occurs in Iraq on almost a daily basis ("Tears, Hokie spirit fill memorial service," April 18).

The pain we feel is experienced by Iraqis over and over again.

Chris Shane


Study group offered an Iraq alternative

Shortly after the horrors of World War I, Franz Kafka reportedly said that that conflict was the result of a "monstrous lack of imagination."

Sen. John McCain deserves our respect for all that he has done for our country. But in saying that there is no "Plan B" for the situation in Iraq, Mr. McCain reveals a similar monstrous lack of imagination ("No 'Plan B' for the Iraq war, McCain says," April 15).

The Iraq Study Group provided a thoughtful and detailed plan for Iraq. I would hope Mr. McCain would look at it carefully and change his mind.

Stanley L. Rodbell


Don't blame Israel for Arab refugees

If Arabs had acquiesced, as Jews did, to the U.N. resolution to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, there would have been an Arab Palestinian state established simultaneously with the Jewish state of Israel in 1948 and all the death and devastation of the last 59 years might have been averted ("Land for peace redux," editorial, April 2).

Instead, five Arab nations - Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq - waged war on Israel, making thousands of Palestinians war refugees.

Further, they denied the refugees resettlement, letting them wallow in refugee camps to tug on the world's heartstrings, while blaming Israel, the victim of their war of aggression, for the consequences of that very aggression. And the gullible of the world have swallowed that nonsense whole.

Those Arab nations are responsible for the Palestinian refugees. There is no "right of return" to Israel for Palestinians.

They can return to a projected Palestinian state or finally be resettled in the vast lands of those warrior nations.

Rea Knisbacher


Excessive pay rare in nonprofit sector

Jay Hancock's column on the results of an Internal Revenue Service study on executive compensation in nonprofits missed the mark ("Cloaking charities' misconduct hurts others," April 11).

The most significant finding in the IRS compliance check of more than 1,800 nonprofits groups nationwide is that there was not evidence that excessive compensation, or other inappropriate payments to individuals, is a widespread problem in the nonprofit sector.

Admittedly, the IRS found, as Mr. Hancock explained, that a sizable minority of nonprofits have trouble completing their tax forms properly.

That number is too large, which is why we at the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations provide training to help nonprofits learn about these and other legal requirements.

The more important thing to keep in mind, however, is that for the vast majority of nonprofits, the real problem isn't excessive compensation - it is inadequate compensation.

For the majority of nonprofits, funding is tight and salary levels are often too low - making it a struggle to attract and retain a qualified work force.

Peter V. Berns


The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

16-year-old sets example for city

Where were the rest of the community leaders while Deshawn Batson, an obviously caring young man, put them all to shame by being out on his block trying to do something, anything, to make a difference ("A dangerous block," April 14)?

There was a huge outcry and much outrage last month over the arrest of a local 7-year-old by police. I'd like to see the same level of outrage over people opening fire on a public street without regard for anybody or anything.

Baltimore needs more young people like Deshawn Batson and fewer thugs who think only of their own greed.

James Christhilf

Glen Burnie

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