Silly CongressI am sorry about the illness of Rep. William...


March 13, 1994

Silly Congress

I am sorry about the illness of Rep. William Natcher, the esteemed Kentucky congressman who has spent his last 40 years in Washington, but the action of the House of Representatives in suspending all legislative activity for one day to allow the congressman to hold onto his unbroken voting record is silly behavior. What kind of a sports club is this?

Members of Congress really do belong to a club, an exclusive club, in which they make their own rules and receive many privileges denied to "ordinary" citizens.

The elitist attitude of many of our congressmen is fostered by the lack of a constitutional restraint on longevity in office. This feeling of "belonging" must be curtailed by enacting a constitutional amendment to limit their terms of office.

The power of the office holder in this day of instant communication and media "hype" and the high cost of running for office are almost insuperable burdens for aspiring candidates to overcome, and thus new blood becomes difficult to instill into the Congress.

As long as the president and many state governors have term limitations, then it seems only fair that the same rules apply to members of Congress.

Otto C. Beyer

Ellicott City

Guns and Laws

Michael Jankowski's letter (Feb. 27) regarding Peter Jay's Feb. 10 article must be addressed. The idea that firearm restrictions will deter criminals from obtaining or using them is as ridiculous as the notion that bank robbers pursued by police will obey posted speed limits.

Prohibition clearly demonstrated the folly of making statutory criminals out of the majority of a country's citizens. It is counter-productive, often opening new venues for criminal activity.

Prohibition made Al Capone a legend. Without it, he'd have been a nobody. Place adverse limits on firearms; you'll create another like him.

This has happened in a number of foreign countries. They think they've banned guns, but they've really just sent them underground, where criminal kingpins rule.

As to dismay over folks carrying personal defense arms, in every state where this occurs, crimes against persons diminish. Florida is an excellent example.

Since 1989, Floridians have easily obtained carry permits for firearms.

With firearms-carry by regular citizens widespread, car-jackers, along with other criminals, found that victimizing Florida residents was a high-risk occupation. Hence the emphasis Florida's criminals put on tourists, truly a soft touch compared to the locals.

As Thomas Paine said, "The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property." True then, true now.

Gun-banners should reconsider. In reality, they're promoting job safety for the criminal element. They don't need it, and we don't need to be at criminals' mercy simply because they ignore the law. Decent people deserve a fighting chance against those who would victimize them. The laws should be on our side, not in favor of the criminals.

Keith A. Batcher


Stop the Hate

Children should grow up being taught about their roots and culture. But parents should be careful not to allow hate for others to enter into it.

Zelda Buccheri


Abolish Parole

To parole or not to parole, that seems to be the question in William Zorzi's report in The Sun Feb. 27, but most of the answers he provided support the current policies by reflecting the viewpoint of prisoner advocates and the Parole Commission.

Based on this information, he notes that the data is inconclusive about the impact of parole on reducing crime. That may be because he failed to relate critical data favoring the abolishment of parole.

No mention was made about the statistics and other documented data provided by Del. Ellen Sauerbrey, R-Baltimore County, to the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee in support of restricting parole for violent offenders.

The recidivism rates for youthful, violent offenders ages 17-22 are high, 64 percent within a six-year period, according to a U.S. Department of Justice study.

The strong correlation of age to recidivism is demonstrated by the 68 percent re-arrest rate for all parolees 18-24 years of age, compared to 40 percent for parolees age 45 and up.

Long prison sentences completely served by youthful, violent offenders will have what is known as the "incapacitation effect," that is preventing crime by keeping the offenders behind bars.

No mention was made about a Department of Justice report on recidivism that concluded many violent offenders entering prison would still have been in prison for a previous offense, if they had completely served their prior sentence. Within three years of their release, 60 percent of violent offenders were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor.

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