Bill of Rights is far from 'a fraud'In an April 2...

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April 09, 1991

Bill of Rights is far from 'a fraud'

In an April 2 editorial titled "Still an outright fraud," The Evening Sun quoted a former solicitor general as stating that the Supreme Court has never invalidated a gun control statute on Second Amendment grounds. This is a half-truth.

Review by the Supreme Court is not automatic. Most cases are heard only when the court decides it wants to hear them.

The closest the Supreme Court ever came to a direct construction of the Second Amendment was in United States v. Miller, a 1939 decision. Miller was arrested for transporting an unregistered sawed-off shotgun. The trial court dismissed the indictment on Second Amendment grounds. The government appealed. Miller, who vanished, was unrepresented when the case was argued before the Supreme Court. Only the government's case was argued.

The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings because it could not take judicial notice that a sawed-off shotgun "is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense." Had such evidence been presented at trial, the government would have lost on appeal.

The opinion in the Miller case, however, stated that the term "militia" contained in the Second Amendment historically referred to "all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense" who, when called for service, "were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time." Last June, Chief Justice Rhenquist wrote in U.S. vs. Verdugo-Urquidez that "the people" referred to in the Second Amendment were the same people protected by the First and Fourth amendments. These opinions make it clear that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual, not a collective, right to keep and bear arms.

The Evening Sun implies that gun-rights activists are perpetrating a fraud by suggesting the Second Amendment is a bar to any controls on firearms. That itself is a fraud upon the paper's readers. In the session of the General Assembly that ended last night, the Maryland State Rifle & Pistol Association vigorously supported a bill to make it a crime for serious drug offenders to possess firearms. Unfortunately, Governor Schaefer (and The Evening Sun) were too busy trying to disarm hones citizens to support this worthwhile measure.

I hope that in the future you will take the time to research issues more carefully before discarding a part of the Bill of Rights as a fraud.

Howard J. Fezell

The writer is a lawyer in Frederick.

Going for No. 1

It is becoming more and more obvious that Gov. William Donald Schaefer wants to make Maryland No. 1. Last year Money magazine published figures that showed Maryland to b

No. 4. Maryland citizens are the fourth-highest taxed in the nation.

In the 1990 election, the voters shouted that they had had enough, that they were paying too much, that they were tired of taxation without representation, and started to raise the Republican banner. A lot of the "tax-and-spend-more Democrats" saw the writing on the wall, but Governor Schaefer, like an ostrich with his head in the sand, still wants to make Maryland No. 1.

John O. Hillstrom


It's called usury

One of the most profitable divisions of the banking industry is the credit card operation. The rates charged by banks for this service are difficult to defend. In addition to an annual charge of $10 to $50 plus a charge to the servicing company, the industry charges an interest rate of 18.5 percent to 21 percent.

With the prime currently 9 percent, the spread between the prime and the credit card rate is not logical. A reduction of 3 to 5 percent in the credit card rate should boost consumer spending more than a reduction of one-half percent in the prime.

This cannot be accomplished by individual states. The Maryland legislators tried that some years ago. At least one major bank reacted by moving its credit card operations to Delaware. It must be done by the federal government.

I suggest that Senator Sarbanes and the executive branch of the federal government devote a little time to this issue instead of trying to pressure the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates.

Russell C. Urich Jr.


Changing of guard?

With King Donald's crown wobbling precariously on his stately countenance, could it be that Mary Pat Clarke's noggin will adorn this prestigious symbol of Maryland leadership?

Local TV coverage recently presented a taped brouhaha over the controversial redistricting plan as Mary Pat, shouting vociferously, while perched on an ornately carved, red towering chair, appeared both queenly and ridiculous. Nearby, a discombobulated "Mimi" Di Pietro was eased into a chair by two concerned legislators.

Carl Stokes, who helped forge the coalition, was smiling like a Cheshire cat lapping up a large saucer of cream. Ah, to be a member of this royal gentry.

Kelton Carl Ostrander


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