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The Baltimore Sun

A slap on the wrist for scalding a boy

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John M. Glynn's 10-year sentence - with all but six months suspended - of Shamia Lawson was outrageous ("Woman gets 6 months in boy's scalding," Jan. 15).

According to The Sun, Ms. Lawson punished her godson for going outside without permission by placing him in a tub and adding five pots of boiling water. She continued the torture by threatening to beat him with a belt if he attempted to leave the scalding water without her permission.

To make matters worse, the boy was allowed to suffer in agonizing pain for four more days before Ms. Lawson sought medical attention on his behalf.

Although this monstrous act of cruelty was punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Judge Glynn suspended all but six months of the sentence.

While Ms. Lawson will be free after six months' incarceration, her victim will remain imprisoned by the physical and mental repercussions of her barbarous act for years to come.

Ralph Clayton


More DNA testing could protect public

Maryland currently requires DNA testing solely for convicted felons and sex offenders. So Gov. Martin O'Malley was right to offer his support for legislation to expand DNA testing to arrestees ("O'Malley wants to expand DNA testing," Jan. 11).

The modest increase in costs this expanded testing would involve would be well worth it for the gain in safety and the dissipation of fear it would produce.

Such legislation has been promoted before but was blocked because of concerns about infringement of civil liberties. But this is a horrible argument that only protects criminals.

Why would any law-abiding citizen fear an expanded DNA database?

Only criminals - and people who protect criminals - would block such legislation.

C. L. Hamston


Sentence condones illegal gun-selling

I was shocked to read that former Parkville gun dealer Sanford M. Abrams received a slap on the wrist - a five-year suspended sentence with not a single day of jail time - for illegally selling an assault rifle to a convicted criminal ("No jail for gun dealer," Jan. 15).

Mr. Abrams admitted to selling the weapon without performing the mandatory criminal background check to a man whose criminal convictions prohibit him from legally possessing the weapon.

The man to whom Mr. Abrams illegally sold the weapon fired on police officers responding to a domestic violence call from the man's estranged girlfriend.

Federal agents documented more than 900 gun sales violations against Mr. Abrams and revoked his license to sell firearms. For years, no other gun dealer in the area had more of his guns recovered from criminals than Mr. Abrams did.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II missed an opportunity to send a strong message to gun-sellers who flout the law and sell guns to criminals that the state takes such offenses seriously.

Let's hope other gun-sellers weren't paying attention.

Daniel Webster


The writer is co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Service tax rollback could bust budget

According to The Sun's article "GOP returns, armed with priorities" (Jan. 12), Republican state legislators have repeal of the new tax on computer services as a top priority.

I'd go along with that, but only if combined with other budget-balancing measures that would not force cuts in necessary or desirable state or local programs.

How about combining repeal of the computer services tax with the elimination of state aid to religious institutions?

For instance, eliminating state aid to religious institutions would save millions that could be used for secular purposes or to balance the budget.

Another possible alternative to the computer services tax would be a larger increase in the income tax rate for those who are so wealthy that they could easily afford to pay a higher rate.

Action at the special session moved some distance in that direction but could well have gone further.

But let's not just abolish the tax on computer services and have to go without some desirable public programs.

Kenneth A. Stevens


Passing the buck won't save racing

The Sun's latest article on the racing industry in Maryland tells only part of the story ("Passion saps profit," Jan. 13).

The emphasis on the De Francis family or on Magna Entertainment Corp.'s Frank Stronach - without also considering the inept behavior of the current and past state racing commissions - shows little awareness of Maryland law or of the way the racing commission is supposed to oversee Maryland racing.

And it is disingenuous for John Franzone, chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, to say that "after so many managers, you have to look in the mirror and say, 'Why did this keep happening?'"

The fact is that the tracks own only land and a business. The racing commission controls all the racing days.

If the racing commission does not like the way the operators of the tracks are running racing, it can withhold those racing days.

But continued buck-passing won't improve anything for Maryland racing.

Stuart Tiegel

Havre de Grace

The writer is a former supervisor of the Maryland Horsemen's Counseling Program.

Unfit owners ruin pit bulls' reputation

We applaud Recycled Love, the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, the Maryland SPCA and other fine local organizations for advocating for pit bulls and for responsible dog ownership ("A tail-wagging end," Jan. 12).

Handled with the proper care and knowledge, the powerful and extremely affectionate and loyal pit bull has a lot to offer.

But sadly, just as there are unfit parents, there are unfit pit bull owners.

However, let's not blame the breed for being mishandled.

Irene Heath Alan W. Heath Lutherville

Hostile to women or just Mrs. Clinton?

Steve Chapman's bitter, relentless tirade against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (" ... or just the latest pose," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 11) makes me wonder if he hates Mrs. Clinton, or just most women in general.

Marianna Busching


Detroit disfigures the convertible

I can't believe that Detroit is, once again, taking the testosterone out of the American driving experience ("Detroit offers convertibles without wind," Jan. 15).

The notion of replacing the ragtop with a "broad panoramic glass roof" is preposterous. It makes about as much sense as driving with a fishbowl over your head.

The convertible experience is about the wind in your hair and the sun overhead.

If you don't like that, drive an emasculated minivan.

Michael D. Rausa

Forest Hill

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