Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Bill will open doors for disabled athletes

Milton Kent fears that passage of the Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities bill opens up a "potentially massive can of worms" ("Bill went too far," April 15). But those of us who daily serve the disability community are appalled at the can of worms his elitist comments have opened up.

This bill may not be perfect. What piece of legislation ever is?

And there will certainly be bumps along the way. The transition from big-picture theory to implementation at the grassroots level is never simple, no matter what the issue is.

But this bill marks the first step toward equality on the playing fields for students with disabilities.

In that light, it is outrageous for Mr. Kent to treat the bill as nothing more than a headache for coaches - when it should be celebrated for the groundbreaking legislation that it is.

Mr. Kent's kind of thinking - that the law will "wreak havoc on high school athletics" - is proof positive of the kind of small-minded thinking that makes passage of this bill critical.

For more than 15 years, I have had the honor and privilege of witnessing thousands upon thousands of everyday miracles involving athletes in Special Olympics Maryland.

It is impossible to describe the mixture of pride and joy that I have felt in watching children and adults achieve goals that others still think they don't even have the right to set for themselves.

I, for one, proudly applaud the passage of this bill, as does the entire Special Olympics Maryland family.

It sends a clarion signal to members of the disability community that the state of Maryland believes in them, and believes that disabled athletes are just as valuable as able-bodied athletes.

Patricia Fegan, Linthicum

The writer is the president and CEO of Maryland Special Olympics.

One spelling error didn't cause death

My first reaction to the headline "Spelling error proves fatal" (April 15) was puzzlement: How could a spelling error cause death?

I thought the article might be about a medication error in a hospital.

But when I began to read the article, my confusion gave way to disgust. It seems painfully obvious to me that Jeffrey Clinton Butler's death was caused by a bullet.

Moreover, it could fairly be said that his death was caused by the person who fired the weapon.

One could even extrapolate from the circumstances that his death was a result of his many poor choices.

He chose to commit criminal behavior, to involve himself with others who had made similar choices, to escape from the juvenile facility where he was safe and to give the arresting officer a false name.

Attributing fault for his death to the overworked and underpaid criminal justice system is absurd as well as unfair.

The spelling error was regrettable and sad, but hardly fatal.

But articles such as this one contribute to the false and destructive notion that the criminals are the victims and that the police are responsible for preventing the consequences of bad behavior.

Chris Reiter, Perry Hall

It's time to end the dying in Iraq

The war in Iraq needs to stop ("Iraq forces called unprepared," April 10).

Since 2003, the Bush strategy has been to sell us this endless war in six-month increments. And it seems that in every congressional hearing, interview or speech, we hear the same answer: Give us six more months.

But the longer we remain in Iraq, the more detrimental the war is.

Our troops are dying at alarming rates.

At home, people are losing their homes to foreclosure, 28 million Americans are receiving food subsidies because they cannot afford to feed themselves and more than 40 million people lack health insurance.

Our money could be better spent at home.

We need to end this war.

Nakia Gladden, Germantown

Obama's activism defies 'elitist' label

I find it absurd that Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain are attacking Sen. Barack Obama for being out of touch with ordinary Americans ("Obama accused of elitism," April 13).

Do they forget that after college, Mr. Obama turned down corporate jobs so he could work on the streets of Chicago as a community organizer who helped, among others, workers who had lost their jobs when a large plant closed down?

Actions like that speak much louder then words.

I would urge Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain to try instead to address the needs of ordinary Americans who have been shut out in many ways over the past seven years of the Bush administration.

Steven M. Clayton, Ocean, N.J.

Felonious gun shop never quite closed

As a city resident who lives less than two miles from Valley Gun Shop, I read with interest the article in Tuesday's Sun about the store remaining the single biggest source of guns used in Baltimore street crimes.

But unfortunately, the article "Closed store is source of guns" (April 15) was misleading in one critical sense: While Valley Gun Shop technically closed in 2006, very shortly thereafter it reopened as Valley Shooting Supply, while the storefront immediately adjacent to it conveniently opened as Just Guns (indeed, the sign for Just Guns is visible in the 2006 photograph used with the article).

A search of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation's Web site reveals that Valley Shooting Supply was formed in July 2006, that its resident agent is Sanford Abrams' lawyer, Norman King, and that Mr. Abrams was designated as the corporation's temporary sole director.

And according to a July 2007 article in The Washington Post, Mr. Abrams sold most of his 700-gun inventory through consignment at Just Guns, and the property that houses Just Guns is owned by Mr. Abrams' mother.

Thus it appears that despite violating federal law and having his license revoked, Mr. Abrams was able to continue profiting from the sale of firearms with impunity.

His case demonstrates the need for stricter gun control legislation and enforcement and vividly illustrates the connection between unscrupulous firearms dealers and guns landing in the hands of violent criminals.

Carrie J. Williams, Baltimore

The writer is an attorney who practices criminal law.

Store was source of few city guns

If Baltimore police conducted a typical number of firearms traces over the last two years, the total should be about 7,000. So, if 142 firearms were traced from city crimes over the last two years to the gun store run by Sanford Abrams until it was closed by federal authorities in 2006, that would be the source for about 2 percent of all firearms traced.

What was the source for the other 98 percent?

As sloppy as Mr. Abrams was in his business, The Sun's article "Closed store is source of guns" (April 15) was a typical anti-gun scare job.

Its message seems to be: "Look at this bad behavior - we need a law."

If Mr. Abrams was so bad that he violated laws for years, why didn't the Baltimore County police or the state police set a sting to catch him?

Philip F. Lee, Silver Spring

The writer is a volunteer for Maryland Citizens for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Speeding columnist deserves his tickets

As a resident in a suburban area with a 25 mile per hour speed limit for vehicles, I want to congratulate the police officers who gave tickets to Kevin Cowherd and his friends for speeding in such an area ("Speeding excuses fall on deaf ears," April 14).

Apparently Mr. Cowherd thinks it is OK to speed through such areas, endangering the local residents who walk, jog, walk dogs and bicycle in these areas, many of which have no sidewalks.

I did not appreciate Mr. Cowherd's snide remarks about efforts to keep these areas safe.

And I hope that he continues to be ticketed for his illegal driving.

Robert E. MacDonald, Ruxton

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