Tired of NRA's preaching on handgunsIn Long Island, six...

the Forum

December 17, 1993

Tired of NRA's preaching on handguns

In Long Island, six people are dead and more than 20 are injured from a handgun. The murder rate in Baltimore City will again set a new record, a rate that will have Baltimore become one of the top five murderous cities in the country. There is no end in sight to this violence.

I am so tired of the National Rifle Association's cry concerning our "constitutional right to bear arms." We do not have any such right.

The U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment states, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

This guarantee protects the right to keep a well-regulated militia -- what we call today a state national guard. In that context the people have the right to bear arms; they have the right to be armed soldiers in the state militia. A long time ago, the courts decided on this interpretation but the NRA continues to give false and misleading information to further its political agenda.

This amendment was authored 200 years ago because of the oppression we as a people suffered at the hands of the British colonialists. When setting up this country's ideals and laws, our forefathers wanted to guarantee that we would never suffer from an oppressive government again.

Today, this becomes a moot point. If our government decided to become oppressive, the people with the "NRA's right to bear arms" could do nothing against the government's massive firepower that exists today.

For argument's sake, let us assume that the NRA's literal interpretation of the Second Amendment is correct. With that, let us all be literal and ask why the National Rifle Association has any interest in handguns at all? It is a rifle association dedicated to hunting and target shooting. If it were up to NRA, hunters would be out in the woods stalking deer with "cop-killer" bullets fired from fully automatic weapons. Absolutely nothing would be illegal.

Time and again, the National Rifle Association argues and cites examples of how the day was saved because some citizen was able to shoot a trusty Colt 45 before the bad guy was able to shoot his. When is this insanity going to stop? Is it time for our lawmakers to put stock in what is truly important and essential to every one of us: our right to "domestic tranquillity."

It is time for these legislators to promote the general welfare. The only way to do this is to find the courage and intestinal fortitude to stand up to the National Rifle Association and not simply control handguns but outlaw them entirely. In a civilized world there is no room for these weapons designed simply to kill our fellow man.

Gerald Alan Goldstein

Baltimore

Belching trucks

Elmer Hoffman, in his Nov. 13 letter, was mistaken in believing that nothing is being done to reduce emissions from heavy-duty trucks in Maryland.

Maryland's existing Vehicle Emission Inspection Program tests all heavy-duty gasoline fueled trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or less. However, heavy-duty diesel trucks are the most likely sources of the "black and gray clouds of smoke" referred to in Mr. Hoffman's letter. While there is currently no mandatory emissions inspection program for these vehicles, efforts are under way to reduce diesel vehicle emissions.

Maryland is in the midst of a two-year pilot program studying the feasibility of a diesel vehicle emissions inspection program. Heavy-duty diesel vehicles are being tested randomly at truck weigh station inspection points and at fleet maintenance yards. All heavy-duty diesels operating in the state are subject to inspection, not just Maryland-registered vehicles. The results of the pilot study will help determine whether a mandatory testing program should be established for diesel trucks and buses.

In addition, the federal government has mandated the sale of cleaner-burning diesel fuels. Cleaner diesel fuels are already available at the pump and will significantly reduce pollution from diesel vehicles.

Merrylin Zaw-Mon

Baltimore

The writer represents the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Positive linking

A lot of sound has passed under the bridge since Baltimore's own Garry Moore, who recently died in South Carolina at age 78, was one of television's most popular stars in the 1950s and 1960s.

Although he resolved in his early years to become a serious writer, he turned instead to radio continuity writing in the middle 1930s. From 1943 to 1947, he was Jimmy Durante's partner on radio and later host of the highly successful Garry Moore Show.

It's rare indeed to hear any memorable or not easily forgettable comments from entertainers on TV, the pace that launched a thousand slips. But Garry Moore was an exception in at least one instance.

I recall a remark he once made on the air that is still worthy of high noting: "I've never read a piece of writing that couldn't be improved by a bit of judicious editing."

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