'TCCriminal control neededPresident Clinton went on...

the Forum

October 14, 1993


Criminal control needed

President Clinton went on national television to unveil his newest plans to take aim at you, the law-abiding citizen. He made a call for passage of the Brady Bill.

If passed, this bill will create a national waiting period before you would be allowed to purchase a handgun. A waiting period may not sound bad, until you stop and think.

All the gun-control laws enacted in the past quarter century promised to reduce crime. But no city or state with gun-control laws ever experienced a reduction of crime in comparison to neighboring cities without such laws.

There are over 21,000 federal, state and local gun laws already on the books. In fact, Washington, D.C. has had a total ban on handgun ownership since 1975.

However, since banning handguns in the district, the homicide rate in that city has risen 200 percent, while the nation's rate rose less than 10 percent.

Now in Washington only the criminals are armed. Of special note -- just the opposite is true in Oregon. Violent crime there has declined since honest citizens have been allowed easier access to weapons-carry permits.

We do not need more useless gun laws like the Brady Bill on the books. These laws only restrict the honest citizen. Besides, it should be obvious by now, criminals will not obey the law anyway.

If a person commits murder, whether with a gun, knife or baseball bat, it is still murder. It is senseless to try to convict him for owning a gun, knife or bat. Since there is already a law against murder, it makes more sense to prosecute for murder.

And if found guilty, you put him in prison and throw away the key. Or better yet, capital punishment. We need swift, sure criminal control -- not gun control.

If you value your right to own a weapon for self- protection, I urge you to tell your senators and representatives to vote against the Brady Bill. Then join the National Rifle Association.

Robert L. Totten


Private business

Our president plans to keep ailing shipbuilders afloat by guaranteeing about $3 billion in loans and assisting in developing new technologies. He also announced that our federal government will assist the Big Three auto-makers in the development of an affordable, fuel-efficient, low-pollution passenger car.

In a democracy, industrial production ought to be market-driven. When our government gets involved with industry, the result is usually negative. Unless there is an emergency, Uncle Sam should not become a partner with any big business. The Constitution allows us to enjoy the pursuit of happiness, but it must not support the chase.

Joseph Lerner


Stop testing, start teaching

Once again the State Board of Education has devised another test for our children to take. They think it will be the "magic wand" that will cure the ills of public education. When will they realize that tests do not teach children? Teachers do!

Twenty years ago, when I taught in the public schools, a battery of tests was developed to test every aspect of reading and phonics. There was a whole series of short tests for each skill, and each grade was to receive certain sets.

As a remedial reading teacher, I was in charge of counting out and distributing these tests. I spent hours on this fiasco.

I never saw any significant result or improvement because of this testing. All I saw was my valuable time taken away from the classroom and the very children I was supposed to be helping.

Now our children are required to take a writing proficiency test, a citizenship test, a functional reading test, a functional math test and midterm and final exams in order to graduate.

They also are expected to take the PSAT, the SAT, the ACT and various advanced placement or achievement tests if they want to go to college.

Even in the elementary grades, children must take several standardized tests which, in my opinion, waste valuable instructional time. I think it is about time children were required to attend class promptly, pay attention and learn.

As a parent and former teacher, I have seen many excellent teachers become discouraged. I have watched my own children excel with the help of wonderful teachers and struggle with incompetent ones.

I strongly suggest that the State of Maryland stop wasting money on "testing" and start spending money on "teaching."

Use this money to fund home visitation and truancy programs, give teachers the salaries that professionals deserve, hire teacher aides and librarians, weed out those teachers who are not doing their job and support the many excellent teachers who struggle every day to teach our children.

Ninth grade testing is too late. By then, you have already lost the battle and the child.

Sherrilynn Wilmer


Better to learn reading than to abolish English

In his Sept. 30 letter ("English should be spelled the way it sounds"), Edward Rondthaler writes (or should have written, given his argument):

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