3 mothers of slain sons protest Sauerbrey stand

October 19, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Sun Staff Writer

Another article yesterday incorrectly identified Lois Hess, whose 24-year-old son was shot to death in 1975.

The Sun regrets the error.

Three mothers whose sons were shot to death brought their grief and anger to the doorstep of Ellen R. Sauerbrey's gubernatorial campaign headquarters yesterday, imploring the candidate to change her position against gun control.

Carrying homemade signs and trailed by a media entourage, the women paid a visit to Mrs. Sauerbrey's Cockeysville office, where they delivered a letter saying they were "appalled" at her long-standing opposition to gun-control legislation.


"She has got to look in her conscience and re-examine her position on this issue," Barbie Willis, one of the protesters, told Sauerbrey spokeswoman Carol L. Hirschburg during a tense conversation inside the headquarters.

With Mrs. Sauerbrey campaigning in Montgomery County, the encounter in Cockeysville lasted only a few minutes. Afterward, the protesters stood outside the headquarters in a York Road office park to begin the first day of what they say will be a daily, two-hour vigil through the Nov. 8 election.

While opposed to gun control, Mrs. Sauerbrey, a Republican, has been a leader in the General Assembly for years in the push for stricter laws on parole, probation and victims' rights.

"Mrs. Sauerbrey feels a great deal of compassion for people who have suffered losses such as yours," Ms. Hirschburg told the protesters.

Their action drew an angry response yesterday from Anne McCloskey, chairwoman of the Maryland Coalition Against Crime and a Sauerbrey supporter. "I personally am offended that anybody would attack an elected official who has worked so hard on behalf of crime victims," said Mrs. McCloskey, whose 61-year-old brother was shot to death in 1981. "I think it's unconscionable."

Noting that her brother's killer was a parolee, Mrs. McCloskey said the anti-crime effort should focus on parole and probation laws.

"We can write all the gun-control laws on the books we want from now until doomsday, but it's not going to affect those individuals who are prone to violence," Mrs. McCloskey said.

Ms. Willis' 21-year-old son, Charlie, was shot to death in August 1993 in a Severna Park doughnut shop by a man who wanted his dime-store pen. The killer then drove to Virginia and killed himself. Ms. Willis and her husband, Dick, have since become active in gun-control efforts.

Joining Ms. Willis were Georgia Garrett, whose 23-year-old son was murdered in Baltimore last year, and Sue Hess, whose 27-year-old son was shot to death in Rosedale in 1975.

Handgun-control advocates such as Sarah Brady have endorsed Mrs. Sauerbrey's Democratic opponent, Parris N. Glendening, who supports proposals to license handgun owners and limit the number of guns individuals may purchase each year.

Yesterday's protesters, however, said they were acting on their own and that they had not been in touch with the Glendening campaign.

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