The Baltimore Sun

Stronger gun limits could curb tragedies

I think two recent columns -- "33 dead. Who's to blame?" (April 22) and "In post-massacre gun debate, both sides wrong" (Opinion * Commentary, April 23) -- were terribly biased.

The first column reasons that "the pro-gun-control argument seems to be a non-starter" because the "gun control measures that have been proposed" would not have prevented the tragedy.

I would counter that this means the measures proposed are far too weak.

The second reasons that the Virginia Tech tragedy was "freakishly horrible" and that "deadly violence is a diminishing danger," and compares firearms deaths to auto fatalities.

I am well aware that the greatest danger to me and my family is driving in a car. I am also in favor of speed limits, safety belts and public transportation.

But cars are necessary to the comings and goings of most Americans. Guns are not.

The fact is this: If the purchase of firearms were illegal, Seung-Hui Cho might very well not have had a firearm with which to shoot anyone.

If the purchase or ownership of firearms were illegal, they would rarely be used for suicide, in cases of road rage or domestic violence, or by the mentally ill. They would rarely be accidentally handled by children.

Certainly, there would be a black market for weapons. Organized crime members and drug kingpins and other criminals would, no doubt, get their hands on them.

But the not-so-remarkable truth is that criminals tend to kill each other.

As for the Second Amendment, I'd say, if you want to defend our country, by all means, please join the military or the National Guard. They need you.

But if you are not willing to do so, do not pretend your desire to own a firearm is related to a desire to maintain what the Second Amendment calls the "security of a free state."

That just makes my blood boil.

Patricia Wise


A clear compromise to gun rights debate

If the framers of the Constitution had meant that "the militia has the right to own and carry guns," they would have said so in the Bill of Rights. But that's not what they said.

The Second Amendment was written at a time when a militia of private citizens carrying their own weapons was a valuable component of national security. But that is no longer the case, some 215 years after the Bill of Rights was ratified.

The Second Amendment, with its clumsy wording, says what it means, even if badly.

If it had instead said, "The moon being made of green cheese, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," we'd still be stuck with that final declarative phrase. And the people would still have the right to bear arms.

To claim otherwise is as absurd as claiming that the people still need that right.

The modern truth is this: It being necessary for the internal security of a free state for the people to be protected from the criminal use of firearms, Congress should have the power to regulate and restrict, but not abolish, the right of citizens to own and use firearms.

It would be good for the country if people on both sides of the issue would quit their political posturing and work together to make that the law.

Jeffry D. Mueller


We just can't know where we'll be safe

Cynthia Tucker's column "Calls for armed citizenry rely on belief in superhero fantasies" (Opinion * Commentary, April 23) really missed the point, in my opinion, regarding the need to carry a gun.

Ms. Tucker pointed out that she took the advice of her father when he told her, "You don't need a gun. You need to stay out of dangerous places."

Sounds good, doesn't it?

But how does one go about determining in advance which places are dangerous?

John Tomassoni


Rejection by peers prompts Cho's wrath

There is much discussion about what needs to be done to prevent the next Virginia Tech-style tragedy, and most of it has centered on gun control, campus security and getting help for the mentally ill ("School defends actions on Cho before shootings," April 20). But I have yet to hear much talk about how we, as humans, have the power to prevent the creation of some of the monsters who cause such killings.

I was horrified by the killings, and my sympathies and prayers go out to all of the victims and their loved ones. But I was also moved by the stories of how cruelly Seung-Hui Cho was treated by his school peers in the past.

How terribly alone he was made to feel.

How differently that bloody Monday might have turned out had he been treated with the dignity and respect that all of God's creatures deserve.

There rings some truth in Seung-Hui Cho's cries that "we" did this to ourselves.

So when we try to make sense out of the senseless, let the discussion also include what we can do to teach our children that they must respect one another, that inhumanity will always breed inhumanity.

Max Nordeck


Debacle an occasion to end U.S. empire

In The Sun and other publications, we can observe the back-and-forth game between Democrats and Republicans: Nobody wants to own the mistake of invading Iraq or take responsibility for the way this debacle should be terminated ("Congress, Bush head toward Iraq showdown," April 23).

But the essential point is that the United States cannot continue invading any country that the U.S. government, led by Republicans or Democrats, decides is our enemy or a danger to our security (and besides Iraq I would also mention the examples of Panama, Grenada, Vietnam and, in the future, perhaps Cuba and Venezuela).

This is the right time to liquidate the American empire and start employing the soft diplomacy needed to convince others, by our example, that our way of life is best for the rest of the world.

We can do that by bringing poverty way down, having full employment with universal health insurance and stopping discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference or national origin.

Jaime Lievano


Can mortals mediate the fate of our souls?

I was alarmed by Saturday's report that the Catholic Church has redefined "limbo" once again ("Vatican clarifies stance on limbo," April 21).

As a non-Catholic, I had no idea that church still believed in the concept of limbo.

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese called limbo a "theological hypothesis." Yet no evidence was presented to explain the shift from the traditional definition to today's new, more liberal definition.

Instead, the church leaders apparently redefined limbo to ease the guilt that a parent might have over the destination of his or her unbaptized, deceased child's soul.

I sincerely hope that the fate of my soul, or anyone else's, does not depend on the decision of a room full of mortals.

I suppose we won't know the truth until our own deaths; for now, we'll just have to wait in limbo.

Aaron Stephan


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