Editor: I own a semiautomatic (one pull, one shot) assault rifle. It is a Colt AR-15, which resembles the U.S. military M-16. I did not purchase it to hunt, although I have since used it quite effectively to hunt varmints that plagued my uncle's farm. I originally purchased it to target shoot. I chose that particular model because I liked the way it looked and handled. When I could afford the ammunition, I liked the ability to shoot fast.
Now, how does that make me any different from the person who owns a fast red sports car or a sleek pleasure boat? My reasons for purchasing the rifle are similar to the reasons given by those buying cars or boats. We are also similar in that we find enjoyment doing things that others may not understand and sometimes label strange.
The owner of the sports car gets a thrill driving a high-performance vehicle. Many boat owners like bounding through the waves with the wind blowing through their hair. I like firing my rifle at targets. Does this make me any more of a kook than the guy in the car who exceeds the speed limit?
There is no difference between any of us until you judge how responsibly we as individuals use our cars, boats, guns, etc. All have the potential for abuse. The role of the state should not be to ban potentially dangerous items, but to ban certain people from using them. Responsible citizens by definition should not be among those in that category.
George H. Burns III.
We, the People
Editor: Article XVI of the Maryland Constitution, entitled "The Referendum," begins, "The people reserve to themselves power known as the Referendum; . . ."
We, the people, have the right of referendum only if they, the politicians, say we do. No "proposition" may be petitioned directly to the voters of Maryland, as was California's Proposition 131, which now sets limits on the consecutive terms an elected state official may serve.
Where then is the power "The people reserve to themselves . . ."? It resides in the hands of the politicians, not the people as originally intended in the Ogden Amendment to the Constitution, dated Jan. 29, 1914, entitled, "An act to amend the Constitution of Maryland by adding thereto a new Article to be entitled 'Article XVI,' providing for 'The Initiative and Referendum,' . . ."
The politicians eliminated voter initiative, thereby gutting the bill, actually resulting in the consolidation of more power in their own hands. Despite this institutionalized flim-flam, the voters of Maryland must fight for term limitations. It's the only way "We the People" can get our governments back from "career" politicians. Nothing less than the survival of our country is at stakes here.
Ronald R. Rowan.
Editor: The Maryland Port Administration is headed toward another deficit. That makes three years of successive losses, or more than $9 million down the drain.
When the first deficit was revealed two years ago it was accompanied by a round of bonuses for MPA's top executives.
At the time it was said financial rewards for a bad performance were justified for motivational purposes.
Some motivator. Seems an executive salary cutback would be more in order. Of course, they can always add another round of bonuses so next year we can be assured of still another deficit.
Editor: I think Rep. Helen Bentley was irresponsible when she suggested we should have ''nuked'' the Iraqi people a long time ago. No one in a position of responsibility should toss off a statement like that so lightly.
Dorothy Luckett. Baltimore.
Editor: In his column in the March 1 Sun, James Kilpatrick laments the fact that for every $3 earned by a Social Security retiree above the $9,720 level, the evil Social Security Administration snatches $1 from his Social Security check.
I at first found it difficult to see the injustice in this, figuring why should I pay the regressive FICA tax to pay Social Security to someone who doesn't need it? As is well known, current retirees get far more from Social Security than they contribute.
Then I realized that part of the perceived injustice is that Social Security is largely tax-free, whereas earnings are taxed. A simple, just solution is to tax Social Security income as ordinary income. Why not? If a retiree is low-income including Social Security, he or she will pay little or no tax, particularly since people over 65 get a double exemption. Why should people of means get a tax-free ride? A single mother working at McDonald's to support her family pays 7.65 percent of her meager wages in FICA tax without any exceptions to support a current retiree who is probably immensely better off than she is.
Continue the practice of giving up $1 of Social Security for every $3in earnings and you still come out ahead. Merely tax Social Security as ordinary income.
A Heartless Law Cutting Cardiograms