Gun legislation by governor long overdueGov. Parris N...

LETTERS

January 11, 1996

Gun legislation by governor long overdue

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has proposed adding numerous requirements to the existing gun control laws in our state. A good idea.

I was brought up in a small community in upstate New York. My father and all my uncles were hunters.

The first hunting trip and owning a gun were important rites of passage for us kids. I saved money toward that magic birthday, when I would buy a gun.

As that birthday approached, my father picked up the license application form from a county office. It came with a booklet of some 50 pages which described the numerous regulations on hunting. There was a long section on gun safety. I studied and memorized it over a period of weeks.

Then my father made an appointment with a game warden.

On a cold dark evening in February, my dad drove us to the warden's in our 1946 Ford. We knocked on the front door. A gruff and unfriendly man and grunted us into his office, a fairly large but cluttered converted bedroom.

"So, you want to own a gun?" were his first words. "Well, sit down."

We did and he went to his gun cabinet, unlocked it and took out a lever-action Remington rifle and laid it on my lap.

I picked it up, pointed it away and worked the lever to check whether it was loaded.

"All right," he said, "now we can talk. If you had not checked to see if the gun was loaded, I would have taken it away and told you to come back in six months and left you to figure out why."

In a lecturing tone, he added, "Now, be careful."

I did not regard any of this as inappropriate or onerous, or an infringement on any rights I might have had.

Compared to what was required of me by the laws of New York state, what Governor Glendening has proposed appears modest indeed and long overdue.

Thank you, governor, for proposing this piece of responsible legislation. We should pass it quickly.

George Paul Mocko

Towson

The writer is bishop of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Letter headline called misleading

The headline blares: "HMOs divert money from patients."

How so? Who says?

Dr. Karl Diehn, of Towson, who wrote the Dec. 24 letter provides no hard evidence or any third- party attribution to support either the headline or any of his other statements.

Now, just how many readers read beyond the headline? That's how many more citizens are absolutely convinced that HMOs are the scourge of modern health care. . . in league, no doubt, with the tobacco companies.

Come on, medical professionals and editorial page editors. While it would appear that practices by some HMOs haven't exactly been in the spirit of the managed care concept at its best, let's not lambaste the whole industry (and the concept) with a litany of generalities and unsubstantiated claims that only serve to further the causes of those with other axes to grind.

Thomas Groff

Baltimore

Health care resources wasted at end stage

Dr. Douglas Carroll (letter, Jan. 1) is justified in his concern over how our shrinking health care dollars are being spent.

A disproportionate share of Medicare expenditures is consumed during the last stage of life and even during the final days and weeks of life.

All too often, the heavy artillery is dispatched from the medical arsenal when the encroaching enemy, death, is seen approaching.

In our current ''sick care'' system, the big bucks are in promoting unhealthy habits and then treating the consequences. For those paid for rendering sick care, the stakes are high and the profits are enormous. Hence the recent blood-letting in Washington over health care reform.

While no one wants to be accused of rationing health care, limiting expensive tests and treatments in the final stage of life is simply responsible behavior.

As a home health nurse, I have cared for many patients in the final stage of life. Most patients and families face end-of-life issues with great strength, dignity and acceptance.

Dr. Carroll, however, states that family members, in conflict over guilt and lost hopes, may insist on aggressive and expensive care, even when death is imminent. This has not been my experience in working with terminally ill patients and their families.

The majority of people look to their physicians for information and guidelines in making decisions regarding treatments and medical interventions. Most physicians provide this guidance appropriately and responsibly, directing care aimed at pain control and comfort measures.

However, there are physicians who give patients false hope by ordering expensive and futile treatments right up to the moment of death, in an attempt to forestall the inevitable.

Perhaps this behavior is research motivated, or maybe the physician does not accept death as a natural and inevitable part of the life continuum.

Whatever the motive, offering aggressive care to end-stage terminally ill patients is immoral, inhumane and a complete waste of our scarce health care resources.

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