LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Blackwater plan protects the land

Thank you for the coverage of the state's purchase of a majority of the Blackwater Resort property south of Cambridge for farming, wildlife habitat and nature-oriented recreation ("State board OKs purchase of land near Blackwater," April 19).

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is very excited to see this important land protected and proud to have worked with so many others toward such an important compromise.

With 70 percent of the parcel of land which would have been developed under the original proposal now protected and 75 percent of the development units eliminated, this deal is not only a fair compromise but also a great example of how local community involvement can help shape the future of our lands and waters.

Members of local communities will be invited to participate in the development of a management plan for the preserved land.

This public involvement can help begin to heal the divisions the project caused.

Working together, we can help shape growth on the Eastern Shore and ensure that we maintain our rural heritage and high quality of life.

Rob Eugene

Queenstown

The writer is the executive director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.

Much too forgetful an attorney general

According to the reports from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the actions of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, his response to questions from the committee was "I don't recall" dozens of times ("Gonzales gets GOP scolding," April 23).

I cannot understand how anyone with this bad of a memory can function capably in any public office, let alone as U.S. attorney general.

Bill Cookery

Glen Burnie

Check the registry to protect children

Hardly a week goes by when we don't see charges of sex offenses against adults for allegedly abusing children in their charge ("Registered sex offender charged in abuse case," April 19).

It is true that criminal background checks take a long time, and that is why teachers sometimes are hired for schools before the background checks' results are returned.

But in the case of Richard David Morris Jr., apparently the officials in charge of the program didn't even ask for a background check until he had been working as a volunteer for the city parks department for two months.

If he had been asked for a criminal background check when he applied, the children he is accused of abusing might have been safe.

Anyone can do an informal search of the Sex Offender Registry to find out if a person is registered as an offender in Maryland.

The least parents can do before letting their children spend the night with an adult who is not a family member is to check the registry.

Employers can do the same thing, although that will not help if the person has moved here from another state and not registered.

But too often it seems people hurry to fill a vacancy and neglect to take simple precautions.

Anne Brooks

Towson

The writer is president of the Missing and Exploited Children's Association of Maryland.

Why do the adults face lesser charges?

It's interesting that two 16-year-olds who allegedly splashed caustic drain cleaner around a playground in Middle River have now been charged as adults with first-degree assault ("Police upgrade teens' charges," April 20), while the six staff members at Bowling Brook Preparatory School, all adults, who restrained a teen-ager who was in their care until he died of suffocation are charged only with reckless endangerment ("6 indicted in death at Bowling Brook," April 18).

What am I missing here?

Nancy Hassling

Columbia

Curbing guns leaves victims vulnerable

I am outraged by the editorial cartoon that featured Lee Harvey Oswald, the Columbine killers and the latest mass killer reciting the Second Amendment ("Another View," April 20).

Let me remind you that the liberal gun control laws The Sun champions keep the victims of such shootings unarmed and defenseless.

M. Norman Ryan

Bel Air

Gun freedoms focus on public militias

The much-misunderstood Second Amendment makes a direct connection between maintaining a well-regulated militia and the right of the people to bear arms ("Lawmakers focus on gun laws gap," April 23). It says nothing about the right of private individuals, acting as such, to own firearms.

Much more important is that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of all citizens of a free country to bear arms in service to the nation, a right once denied to minorities and others excluded from the full duties and rights of citizenship.

The fact that in Virginia, which has among the most lenient gun laws in the nation, a disturbed individual found it so easy to purchase deadly weapons is a misapplication of our constitutional rights.

Jack Eisenberg

Baltimore

Blame game debases victims of shooting

As a Virginia Tech student who knew one of the victims of last week's shootings, I am disgusted by the amount of finger-pointing that has followed this tragedy ("School defends actions before Cho shooting," April 20).

There will be a time to argue over whether lax gun control laws allowed guns to be sold to a psychopath. There will be a time to argue over how to handle campus security.

There may even be a time to argue over whether President Bush showed more concern for Tech students than for the troops in Iraq, as one reader suggested.

But that time is not now.

The fact is that Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger and the campus police did all they could with what little time, evidence and capabilities they had available.

It's easy to say that communications could be improved when you are thinking in the context of a high school or small community, but Tech is a school with 26,000 students, all of whom are in different places at any given time.

So instead of playing this childish blame game, let's use these coming weeks to do what we should be doing: honoring the fallen.

Andrew Marshallsay

Baltimore

Use flags to salute the troops in Iraq

In many places, flags have been lowered to half-staff for the 32 people murdered at Virginia Tech on April 16.

Yet 100 times as many Americans have been killed and tens of thousands wounded in President Bush's mistaken war in Iraq.

Shouldn't we keep all our flags at half-staff until those who are left in Iraq come home?

Our soldiers and Marines can come home with heads held high for doing their duty.

However, Mr. Bush and his enablers should be hanging their heads in shame.

Edd Doerr

Silver Spring

CorrectionThe letter "Blackwater plan protects the land" in yesterday's Sun was written by Rob Etgen, executive director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. An incorrect name was given. The Sun regrets the error.
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