Salisbury mall havoc spurs gun control callLast month's...


January 07, 1996

Salisbury mall havoc spurs gun control call

Last month's shooting in a Salisbury mall, which resulted in the death of one person and the serious injury of two others, terrorized innocent bystanders and disrupted Christmas shopping for hundreds of people, is one more reason why most people in Maryland and the rest of the country support reasonable restraints on the proliferation of guns.

Law-abiding people are fed up with being afraid to go to the mall, walk on neighborhood streets and even send their children to school for fear of some random act of violence.

People are appalled by regular reports of shootings by children, gangs of teen-agers, mentally unbalanced persons, drug dealers and common thieves and thugs who can readily purchase or steal guns of all kinds. People are also fed up with stories of punks who can buy a gun, rob a store, shoot a clerk and then be sent to prison at a cost to taxpayers of at least $30,000 a year.

It is time that we listen to our law enforcement professionals, including Chief Coulbourn M. Dykes of Salisbury and former Baltimore County Police Chief Neil Behan, and enact reasonable legislation to control guns.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has provided a reasonable outline of legislation to accomplish this goal. Gun dealers, National Rifle Association leaders and others who oppose any form of gun control should attend the funeral of a victim of a shooting, or review the medical bills of a victim before they complain about follow-up phone calls by the State Police, the paperwork or other aspects of reasonable gun controls.

E. Niel Carey

Ellicott City

One idea to further sensitivity in schools

I appreciated Kevin Thomas' column concerning the two acts of religious and cultural insensitivity and, in one case, hatred, by students from Columbia's Wilde Lake High School ("Wilde Lake left facing stigma it doesn't deserve," Dec. 17.) I, too, know enough students from the school to know these acts are the exception rather than the rule.

It is the task of the school administration to do what it reasonably can to prevent such acts in the future. In the above instances, a thorough investigation, expulsion and sessions with students encouraging religious and cultural sensitivity were cited by Mr. Thomas as actions having been taken.

While punishment may serve to deter individuals from repeating behavior, I wonder about the real effect of the sensitivity sessions on the students. In fact, I would like to hear from them whether such sessions really change attitudes and behavior.

I propose an alternative, one I believe takes advantage of Columbia's rich ethnic and religious diversity: a class (this is school, after all) on world religions team-taught by a number of our religious leaders, perhaps involving lay people from their congregations.

These people would be able to give a very personal presentation of their beliefs and the way those beliefs are acted out in community.

The students would benefit not only in academic learning, but in experiencing people of different faiths working together in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. Religious leaders and communities would benefit from dialogue with our youth.

We need to keep looking for ways to make the ideals on which Columbia was founded serve our needs today.

Rev. Joel Morgan


The writer is pastor at St. John Lutheran Church of Wilde Lake.

Hooray for return of school powers

Sometimes there is light at the end of the tunnel when for a long time you did not think there would ever be any. I think we should toast the school system for proposing to once again place the principals in charge of their individual schools. I prefer this procedure to that of seeing the state legislative delegation getting more involved.

I was thoroughly disgusted when then-Superintendent M. Thomas Goedeke introduced the open space schools into Howard County. I was even more disgusted when he eroded all the authority of the principals of the county schools.

I could not believe how far the problem had gone until I visited all the schools, the last time I filed for public office, and found that all the thermostats for the schools were controlled from the main administrative office.

On reflection, I am pleased that my children were out of Howard High ahead of the open space revolution. One has a doctorate and the other a master's degree.

James M. Holway

Ellicott City

Media need to help get out the vote

As citizens, it is our duty to vote. Voter registration is up throughout the state as the result of "motor voter" legislation. But as we all know, the next challenge is getting those people out to vote. We challenge the media to work with us in this effort by helping to disseminate voter/election information. It is the duty of not only the government, but also the media to make it easier for citizens to take part in their government.

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