Our youth must live in a war zoneViolent crime in today's...

the Forum

April 22, 1994

Our youth must live in a war zone

Violent crime in today's society is robbing the innocence of our youth.

The playground is no longer a safe environment for our children, and we as parents can no longer view the playground as a safe haven.

We can no longer rest in the assurance that our children are surrounded by youthful interactions with one another.

Instead, even the playground has become a ''war zone,'' making our young people prisoners of war in their own back yards.

No longer will you find innocent bubble gum wrappers lying on the ground. Instead, you will find casings from a .357 magnum or high powered rifle.

There are now drawings of bodies in place of simple hopscotch boards, and our kids are playing dodge-the-bullet instead of dodge-ball.

How long will we allow tragic reality to continue? Something must be done.

andra J. Moore

Baltimore

Phone bill

What competition can do to lower prices. Bell Atlantic gives ''out of town'' callers as much as 25 percent off phone bills.

How about a discount for local callers, who really give the bulk of its business? We should demand a discount, as we are in the majority.

I believe we have a commission to look at the charges, which is not doing its job.

David Chupnick

Baltimore

Play ball

I am utterly astonished at the bill introduced by City Councilman Joseph DiBlasi from the 6th District.

It seems that Joe has nothing better to do than to figure out a way to keep fans from interfering with balls hit near the walls of the outfield at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I don't mean to over simplify the matter, but how about simply letting the fans know that they are not allowed to do so?

They have a lot of other things to do besides following baseball and are not as knowledgeable about the rules as Joe is.

He says their interference can cost us a game. How about our lack of ability to police our city, costing hundreds their very lives?

Please excuse the sarcasm, but I just can't comprehend the stupidity of such a bill. By the way, I'm an avid Orioles fan.

Rick Scarfi

Severn

Gun laws

In 1986, Congress passed the McClure-Volkmer Act, which provides a mandatory 15 years in a federal penitentiary for any violent felon with three prior convictions found in possession of a firearm.

No parole or plea bargaining allowed.

This law authorizes the FBI or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) to arrest and prosecute felons already in the custody of local police or incarcerated by the states.

Why isn't this law being applied before more time and money are spent enacting new legislation that may or may not be enforced?

Instead of going after the Randall Weavers and the Branch Davidians, the BATF could have been spending the past eight years preventing violent offenders from being unleashed on the public from state custody. Think of the lives that could have been saved.

Unfortunately, the real issue is not criminal control but subjugation of the populace by the banning and confiscation of all privately owned firearms.

It is much easier, and certainly safer, for the power structure to continue the imposition of confiscatory taxes and regulations on an unarmed citizenry.

Benjamin Franklin told us that we had been given a republic if we could keep it.

It is my belief that when the last law-abiding gun owner is disarmed, we will have lost it.

James A. Kelly

Baltimore

Feed the children

As a first grade public school teacher I thank you for your attention in the past to issues of children's hunger in America. At this time, Congress is considering appropriations that would finally set in motion the full funding for the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

This has proved to be a successful government program, actually saving money by preventing costly health problems caused by inadequate nutrition during the most critical period of a child's mental and physical development. It is preventive health care.

The congressional General Accounting Office (GAO) studied WIC cost savings for pregnant women and concluded that serving all pregnant women who met the income criteria could more than pay for the up-front cost in a year, with additional savings generated in future years.

For each dollar spent on WIC prenatal care, Medicaid costs for newborns and mothers are reduced between $1.92 and $4.21. GAO estimated that the $296 million invested in WIC for pregnant women in 1990 will save $1.4 billion in education and health-related costs over an 18-year period.

For these reasons, I am asking Rep. Benjamin Cardin, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, to co-sponsor the ''A Child is Waiting'' resolution (H. Con. Res. 233) and to make sure that any health care reform bill which passes in Congress includes a provision to guarantee full funding for WIC.

Barbara Reimer

Reisterstown

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