Store owner was right to shoot robber

October 11, 1997

IN YOUR OCT. 2 editorial ''Armed against crime'' you state that fear of death doesn't always stop those desperate enough to rob. What do you suggest -- submission? You say that citizens shouldn't try to take the place of the police. Yet none of the 230 police officers that serves in the area of Sung Kim's store were present when he needed them.

I understand perfectly Mr. Kim's belief that his life and the fruits of his labor are worth defending. But why the collective sensibilities of The Sun's editorial staff are outraged every time a citizen decides not to be a helpless, passive crime victim remains a mystery.

Jan A. Barnes

Cockeysville

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I would disagree with your editorial ''Armed against crime'' (Oct. 2) about whether Sung Kim's actions were responsible.

Just imagine what it must feel like for a city merchant each day not knowing if he will be held up or possibly killed.

Now while we expect and often do observe the police patrolling the troubled areas throughout the city, should we allow ourselves to be so naive about their limitations and our expectations? Sure, the police can increase their presence in these areas as crime trends surface, but they cannot be $H everywhere all the time.

Instead of labeling a law-abiding, victimized merchant a vigilante, let's look at the big picture.

Your article concludes: ''Citizens must work with the police but they shouldn't try to take their place by arming themselves.'' I believe Mr. Kim's actions were both proper and in accordance with current law-enforcement efforts. Simply put, it was true ''community policing'' at its best.

Matt McElwee

Hanover, Pa.

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I am responding to your Oct. 2 editorial bemoaning the recent shooting of a would-be robber by Mr. Sung Kim, a liquor store owner. You condemn Mr. Kim for arming and defending himself rather than relying on the protection of the police.

With all due respect to the police, I have to ask: What protection should Mr. Kim have relied upon? There may be 230 officers patrolling his neighborhood, but as your editorial accurately noted (while missing the salient point), none of them was there on Monday when Mr. Kim was forced to shoot the robber. Nor were any there during the five robberies in two months endured by the store owner you profiled in your view of the ''right'' way to handle these incidents, and you can feel gratified to know that this gentleman's business will surely benefit as a result.

Now that you have told the entire metropolitan area that this owner is unprotected and where to find him, he will probably see an increase in traffic in his store, although possibly not the kind of traffic he was hoping for.

You maintain that Mr. Kim's actions in the shooting two years ago did not keep him from being robbed again. Maybe so, and maybe not; Mr. Kim apparently has been robbed only twice in two years, vs. five times in two months (and counting) for the other gentleman.

The point, though, is that the police obviously cannot be everywhere at once, and so cannot provide the kind of protection you believe Mr. Kim and other merchants should depend on. In most instances all the police can do is pick up the pieces and try to catch the perpetrator after the fact, when it is far too late for the victim. This leaves it to the individual to decide how best to protect himself and his business.

Whether to arm oneself is a very personal decision, and I would neither encourage nor discourage taking such action. For that reason I cannot, and you should not, condemn Mr. Kim for his own decision. He may very well be alive today because of the choice he made.

Roy Trudel

Ellicott City

Pub Date: 10/11/97

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