Starting with a bang

January 04, 1991

The new year was less than 12 hours old before the first homicide was recorded in Baltimore: A woman was shot to death, and the man she lived with has been charged with murder. Meanwhile, the new year began with a bang -- the bang of gunfire -- in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

Washington Police Chief Isaac Fulwood, commenting on the record number of homicides of more than 700 in the nation's capital, noted ominously that the carnage is no longer principally related to the drug trade. Increasingly, Fulwood said, the violence is random, and seemingly committed with casual indifference to human life.

How long will it be before the American people rise up in indignation and demand substantial measures to control guns? How many more killings must take place before we face the fact that tinkering around with such well-intentioned measures as restricting a few handguns known as Saturday Night Specials or weapons like assault rifles will not bring an end to the epidemic of violence?

It may take years, but make no mistake, the time will come when the United States will have to adopt laws similar to those in European nations -- laws which virtually ban handguns altogether and which place the most stringent restrictions on ownership of any kind of firearm. There is no other answer.

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