Not AutomaticDuring any randomly selected 24-hour period...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 28, 1993

Not Automatic

During any randomly selected 24-hour period, an army of thousands of lawless, vicious male human predators prowl the streets and byways of our country, illegally armed to the teeth with weapons illegally acquired and seeking to commit even more serious crimes against a society that they have no part in or use for.

In the same period, six people will be murdered on average, an act that should bring certain and severe retribution, but too often does nothing of the kind.

This grisly scenario occurs everywhere, but is for the most part concentrated in the largest cities, all of which have had strict gun control laws in effect for the past 25 years.

The death toll in the five cities of Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia equals that of the entire rest of the country. Go figure.

Law enforcement agencies such as the FBI keep records that show the overwhelming choice of weapons is either the large-caliber revolver or semi-automatic pistol.

The fully automatic genuine military assault rifle is almost never encountered. Less than 3 percent of the murder weapons are rifles of any kind, including the semi-automatic military types that are erroneously identified by the media and politicians as ''assault weapons.''

The failed and fraudulent nostrums of gun control have never been the answer. The far more difficult effort of criminal control offers the only plausible, workable answer.

Donald K. Tag

Havre de Grace

Wrong Buyers

Well, another government giveaway program going to the wrong people.

I'm just furious that a number of auctioned city properties are being scarfed up by professional real estate barracudas and not by poor people, for whom they were intended.

I was excited to think that people on a limited income could achieve the dream of home ownership.

Let's rethink this program fast, so that some poor schleps have a real chance.

Anne Frith

Timonium

Where Is Our Sense of Vision?

A letter by Philip Carl Salzman May 18 ridiculed an earlier letter suggesting that our country can return to greatness by finding its "roots" as a Christian nation led by public officials who profess the Christian faith.

Mr. Salzman saw parallels between this sort of thinking and the Nazi mentality that produced the horrors of the Third Reich.

Whether or not the earlier letter (May 6) deserved Mr. Salzman's criticisms, I do not know. Possibly the tone was too exclusionary. All persons of good will must be included if there is to be true hope for renewal. Over the years, pursuing their own narrow view of a perfect society, misguided and evil men have done cruel deeds in the name of God and country.

It is also true that we sometimes tend to view the past through a nostalgic mist that makes all our earlier years take on a rosy glow. Such a view is a distorted perspective, of course, and one could even argue that in some ways these are the very best of times.

Nevertheless, perhaps Mr. Salzman can agree with me that something vital is missing from the current American scene.

Where is our present sense of vision? From what do we derive our concepts of purpose and direction -- of right and wrong?

Has our public morality become equivalent to the lowest common denominator of public taste and tolerance? Have we come to the point that we prefer our nation's values to be shaped solely by the free-market, profit-and-loss concerns of publishers and merchants and purveyors of entertainment?

Or are we ready to look beyond avarice and return to our moral roots -- roots that spring from the rich soil of our Judeo-Christian ethical heritage?

Do we pursue our vision for America and for ourselves in narcotic trances, in the erotic fantasies of pornographic films, magazines and in the hedonistic allurements of fashion, money and power?

Or do we dream again the "patriot's dream" of a nation crowned with brotherhood and filled with "alabaster cities . . . undimmed by human tears"?

I hope Mr. Salzman will join with me in a prayer that America will come to its senses and recapture the vision of its forefathers -- and teach it to our children.

Let's elect good, moral men and women who can rearticulate this dream and lead our country into a better future. Without a vision, the people perish.

Edwin S. Jordan

Ellicott City

Alumni Gifts

In its May 16 editorial, "A Gift That Inspires," The Sun recognized the critical role played by private philanthropy in supporting institutions of higher education. Thank you.

All too often, public institutions are not included in donors' gifts because many potential donors think that tax dollars already support the institutions.

At Towson State University, for example, only about 40 percent of the budget is derived form state support. The balance is generated from room and board, special fees and other revenue sources on campus.

Many institutions have reluctantly increased tuition to offset rising costs, knowing each increase reduces the number of prospective students who can afford to pursue a degree.

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