Handguns: an epidemic that is killing kidsEvery day, 11...

the Forum

February 07, 1992

Handguns: an epidemic that is killing kids

Every day, 11 children and adolescents die because of firearms simply because they're accessible. There is a handgun in one out of every four American homes. These guns too often find their way into the hands of children.

In a 10-state survey of 11,000 adolescents, 41 percent of boys and 21 percent of girls said they could obtain a handgun if they wanted; 64 percent of boys and 19 percent of girls reported having used a gun in the past year.

Guns in the hands of children foretell disaster. One out of six U.S. pediatricians reported treating a child for a gun-related injury as of 1988, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's time to acknowledge what pediatricians know ` death by firearms is an American epidemic affecting our children.

Many people own guns to protect their families, but studies show that a gun in the home is more likely to kill a family member or friend than an intruder.

A lot of people think most teen homicides are related to crime, gang activity or premeditated assault. But the Centers for Disease Control reports that the majority of shootings are committed by friends or relatives during an argument, which is later seen as trivial.

Adolescent suicides are rising sharply, and most involve handguns. Unintentional injuries, which are also due to handguns, usually occur when children find or play with a gun in their home or that of a friend or relative.

We must act now to reduce firearm accesses by children and adolescents. Write to your congressional representatives, and urge them to continue to support gun-control legislation.

Lawrence C. Pakula


Z The writer is past president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What's in a name?

Before Del. Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings and editors of The Evening Sun come down the mountain with tablets inscribed "African American" where "black American" once did duty, you might profit from the comments of Shelby Steele in his incisive new book, "The Content of Our Character":

"This self-conscious reaching for pride through nomenclature suggests nothing so much as a despair over the possibility of gaining the less-conspicuous pride that follows real advancement. In its invocation of the glories of a remote African past and its wistful suggestion of homeland, this name denies the doubt black Americans have about their contemporary situation in America. Possibly we are ready now for a new name, but I think 'black' has been our most powerful name yet because it so frankly called out our shame and doubt and helped us (and others) to accept ourselves. In the name 'African American' there is too much false neutralization of doubt, too much looking away from the caldron of our own experience. It is a euphemistic name that hides us even from ourselves."

Alan Eade


Rely on business

At last Governor Schaefer has called on some business people instead of lawyers to suggest ways to balance the state )) budget. I am referring to the committee chaired by Henry Butta. This committee had good suggestions on ways to save money without raising taxes. We need more people with business experience and fewer lawyers.

Cole Riddle


Praise for Schaefer

Governor Schaefer's "State of the State" speech was refreshing despite the seemingly gloomy times in our society. It is a pleasure to have such a fine governor who is truly responsive to the varied needs of our citizens. To listen to him discuss these needs is to see total commitment and dedication in action. Most important, it is to see concern, caring and genuine warmth.

Our governor stands out in these distressed times; what he lacks in some areas he gives of himself in time and energy. This type of behavior should be acknowledged, but we rarely see this picture of the governor in our daily paper. It is amazing to read the criticism leveled by individuals who could not begin to stand in his shoes.

Raymond D. Bahr


Stop yelping

It is surprising that Ellen Hawks takes the negative stance she does in her article on Rep. Ben Cardin's "lemon law" for puppies. It seems clear the law will benefit both the consumer and the responsible breeder. As Alex Caras points out, breeds are being destroyed by unscrupulous breeders. It is well past time to enact and enforce regulations in the pet industry.

Now is the time to come together to work out a compromise which will protect breed standards and consumers. Cardin's proposal is not set in stone. Dog lovers like Barbara Davis and Alex Caras should stop yelping and pitch in to help in the creation of the regulatory acts which will ultimately save the pet industry.

Rena Borkhataria


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