Md.'s illicit violence is the real problem
Reporter Annie Linskey continues to facilitate bad behavior by Maryland authorities by pointing her finger at the wrong problem ("Illicit guns flow into Maryland," June 1).
Maryland has had a long history of violence and has ranked as one of the most violent states for more than a decade. But Maryland's focus on gun control isn't an effective way to control the violence.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study in 2003 admitting that there are no scientific data to prove gun-control laws are effective in preventing violence.
The National Academy of Science agreed a year later in its analysis titled "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review" (December 2004).
But politicians like gun control because it allows them to fool voters into thinking that they are doing something to control violence by passing gun laws while they neglect the importance of enforcing laws against criminals.
Articles such as Ms. Linskey's facilitate such non-action actions by keeping the focus on symptoms of violence (firearms) rather than on the violence itself or on the effectiveness of actions by authorities to deal with violence.
So we read in this article about the flow of guns into Maryland from states with "lax laws" such as Virginia. But the article doesn't mention that according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the other 14 top gun-supplying states had lower rates of homicide in 2006 than Maryland did.
What else can we conclude from this but that Maryland's law-and-order policies are dismal failures and that the news media have facilitated these bad policies by failing to inform the public of this fact?
There isn't even a hint in Ms. Linskey's article that the performance of Maryland law enforcement might be a part of the problem here.
And there isn't even a hint about what Maryland is doing to prosecute "straw" purchases, solve gun thefts, run stings on gun-running dealers, use Project Exile prosecutions to go after violent criminals with guns or about any measures of effectiveness for police efforts to address gun-running.
The subtext of Ms. Linskey's article seems to be that Maryland is an island of virtue surrounded by an ocean of vice.
The message of the real world is that Maryland is an island of public policy incompetence surrounded by an ocean of better-performing states.
Ms. Linskey's article facilitates that incompetence by suggesting that the gun problem is one we import from elsewhere.
Philip F. Lee, Silver Spring
The writer is a volunteer for Maryland Citizens for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
What the article "Illicit guns flow into Maryland" does not mention is that the states it seems to blame for providing guns used in crimes all have murder rates lower than Maryland's, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for 2006.
If guns are the cause of crime, how can this be possible when these states have "lax laws"?
Perhaps rather than blaming other states for our problems, Maryland's policymakers and advisers should be asking themselves what states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania are doing right and what Maryland is doing wrong.
After several decades of complaining about guns and passing a multitude of gun-control laws, what does Maryland have to show for itself besides one of the worst crime rates in our nation?
Guns are not the problem.
If we want lower crime rates, we need to address the reasons people commit crimes and get the criminals off the streets.
James Mullen, White Hall
Competition aids energy alternatives
The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission deserves the recognition that it received from The Sun for purchasing one-third of its power from a wind farm in southwest Pennsylvania ("Wind and water," editorial, May 29).
The initiative proves that environmentally friendly energy can be provided at a competitive price. It is the culmination of years of work by the WSSC and Constellation Energy to improve the sustainability of our energy supply.
The editorial, however, failed to credit the role of competitive electricity markets that make purchases like this not only possible but also financially practical.
This contract was a competitively bid agreement brokered by Constellation Energy in which the WSSC and Constellation Energy agreed to take 100 percent of the wind farm's power output.
This guarantee was critical to the construction of 14 wind turbines in Pennsylvania.
It's no coincidence that 70 percent of wind energy generated in the United States is produced in competitive markets, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Such markets are the best way to bring together visionary consumers such as the WSSC and renewable energy generators.
Greg Jarosinski, Baltimore
The writer is president and CEO of the Constellation Energy Projects and Services Group.
An individual plan for each student
The Sun's article on the accomplishments of Margoshia "Mimi" Donaldson beautifully illustrates what a committed young woman, educated in a setting that emphasizes inclusion and supported by a loving family and support network, can do ("After high school, her time to shine," June 2).
It is important for the public to recognize that there is as much variance between individuals with Down syndrome as among people without disabilities.
And Ms. Donaldson's example illustrates the importance of seeing every school student as an individual with unique strengths and weaknesses.
Our schools seem to have difficulty recognizing this fact.
Perhaps every pupil should have the advantage of an individual education program, not just those in special education.
R. H. Starr Jr., Pikesville
The writer is the founder and former president of the National Down Syndrome Congress.
Can headlines make it cool to be good?
I want to commend The Sun for its decision to put the article "After high school, her time to shine" (June 2) on the front page.
Perhaps if good news, instead of bad, made the headlines all the time, striving to be good, instead of cool, might become popular again.
Anyway, thanks for what was really an uplifting article.
Edith Boggs, Bel Air
Too sweet a deal for sugar industry
The letter from the chairman of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida was a painful reminder that the U.S. sugar program benefits only a handful of people ("Boost for sugar is good for city," May 23).
The current price of U.S. sugar is roughly 20 cents per pound. The price of sugar on the world market is about 10 cents per pound.
Any economist will tell you that the price of our domestic sugar is artificially inflated by strict regulation of imports, a commodity loan program that forces the government to buy up any sugar that domestic producers can't sell and production controls that make it illegal for domestic sugar processors to sell more than their government-assigned allotments, even if they have buyers standing in line.
By keeping domestic sugar prices so high, the current sugar program encourages companies that use sugar in their products to move their factories to countries such as Canada and Mexico where they can buy less-expensive sugar and then just bring the finished products back here.
If you owned a factory that made candy, wouldn't you jump at the chance to cut the cost of your key ingredient in half, especially if you could do so by simply relocating a few miles across the border?
Regrettably, Congress just passed a new farm bill that makes a sweet program for sugar growers and processors even sweeter.
And by mandating a new and costly sugar-for-ethanol program, the bill will require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase surplus sugar for about 20 cents per pound and then resell it to ethanol plants for less than 10 cents per pound.
The sugar program has always been touted as one with no net cost to taxpayers. But this costly new measure requires the government to give away taxpayer dollars.
This would be laughable if it were not so outrageous.
Thomas A. Schatz, Washington
The writer is president of Citizens Against Government Waste.