Treat gun owners like car ownersThis is a momentous...

the Forum

February 04, 1991

Treat gun owners like car owners

This is a momentous occasion. For the first time ever, I actually find myself in full agreement with Wiley A. Hall III.

Mr. Hall's column of Jan. 29 suggests that we treat the regulation of firearms the same as the regulation of automobiles. This makes perfect sense. Perhaps if gun owners were legally required to maintain regular insurance policies for each firearm they possess, the allure of owning a gun might wear a bit thin.

Taking the analogy further, we already have a tax on gasoline, so why not a tax on ammunition? Why not require a state inspection of used guns for sale? How about an annual emissions test? Tiny little license plates with stickers that have to be replaced once a year?

We hold licensed motorists responsible for the use of their automobiles, and for good reason. I see no reason why gun owners should not be held to the same level of responsibility.

David M. Kilgore

Baltimore

No shrinks needed

A recent gulf news story tells of the British idea of posting psychiatrists right at the front to counsel and treat "battle shock" victims. That is nonsense.

While no training of any type or any counseling can prepare the human mind for combat, tough training usually weeds out those not prepared mentally. The top British psychiatrist says soldiers will need counseling and treatment to overcome the horrors of war. Again, nonsense. Consider the number of highway accidents, building fires and murders the combat soldier won't see, as will civilian police officers, firefighters and ambulance drivers. Who counsels them?

There isn't a single psychiatrist who knows what "shell shock" is, how to treat it, how to prevent it. "Shell shock" is a condition that occurs early in the combat experience if the mind can't accept the inevitable shock. When it can, and that is much more natural, after a few moments of terror, combat becomes as natural as sitting perched on the front hood of a speeding car during rush-hour traffic.

The idea of replacing the Chaplin Corps with psychiatrists is a preposterous deception. If psychiatrists get in the way of men trying to cope with a deadly deed, the battle cry may be, "Shoot

the shrink!"

C.W. Edwards

Annapolis

Dealing with tyrants

If "war does not create peace," I wonder what Katharine W. Rylaarsdam (Forum, Jan. 23) thinks we've had with Germany and Japan since 1945?

She reveals her misapprehension by quoting Spinoza: "Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice." But Spinoza was not speaking as a "peace- nik" (in the contemporary sense) but as one who sought the gift of peace of mind that is necessary for philosophical contemplation while living in an unsettled world.

In his "Ethics," Spinoza agreed with Seneca that "no one can long retain a tyrant's way" because his irrational acts would eventually raise such opposition he'd lose power to govern. Even more pertinent, Spinoza thought adversity kept Jews as a distinctive people because their survival depended upon unity, whereas without opposition they might long since have been assimilated into the various world cultures ` a very real concern among Jews in peaceful America today.

Could Ms. Rylaarsdam feel a sense of "justice" were she one of the hapless Kuwaitis under the despot's heel? Would she sleep in "confidence" if Baltimore's police officers all suddenly went the peace route in their war against crime? Could she feel "benevolence" toward a criminal who broke into her home and commenced to beat her child to death? Spinoza would say no, that the natural impulse is toward self-preservation.

Tyrants see lack of opposition as a weakness to be exploited to its fullest. Unless we are willing to cede the world entirely to the evil ones, the question is not whether to deal with tyrants, but when.

Loretta J. Willits

Baltimore

Pension fee

Mayor Schmoke requested the pension fund board of trustees to give the city $102,318 a year from the fund to cover the cost of providing health care benefits information to retirees. The board refused, and the mayor then found another way to fund the program. Now all retirees pay a $1 monthly administrative fee.

What difference does it make whether the mayor gets the money from the pension fund before the retiree gets it or after? The retiree still pays. This fee is on top of three increases in health care costs to retirees in less than a year.

Compounding the matter is the amount of money retirees are being assessed. The mayor requested $102,318 a year. As any third-grade student should know, $1 a month for 12 months from 15,000 retirees amounts to $180,000 annually. Why are retirees being assessed $77,682 more than originally requested?

Joseph E. Siegmund Jr.

The writer is president of the Baltimore Retired Police Benevolent Association.

Purple Hearts

The Evening Sun's Jan. 24 "Newswatch ... on people" contained an item saying, "Writer Kurt Vonnegut, who won a Purple Heart at World War II's Battle of the Bulge ...."

Does this explain why all our troops are in the Persian Gulf? Is this a contest to win a Purple Heart?

Forrest F. Gesswein Jr.

Baltimore

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