Accessibility of guns sparked youth killingsThe two youths...

Saturday Mailbox

March 28, 1998

Accessibility of guns sparked youth killings

The two youths charged with the tragic shootings in Jonesboro will almost certainly be charged as juveniles. In the eyes of our justice system, they are not fully responsible for their actions.

Who, then, is responsible?

Guns. Easily accessible guns do kill people.

Our constitutional right to bear arms was fashioned by well-meaning men who could not have envisioned the devastating power of a single modern weapon.

A lone gunman with an 18th-century musket could easily be subdued before killing 10 unarmed people.

However, the modern alienated, not-criminally-responsible sociopath need only hold the weapon and fire to achieve a high body count.

In the wake of this third school killing spree, we are sure to see a host of rumpled scholars straighten their ties and make appearances on talk shows lamenting the rising tide of violence in America's youth.

I do not sleep more safely at night ensured of my right to own a high-powered repeating weapon, especially if my unbalanced neighbor may own the same weapon -- and leave it where his kids can find it.

The beauty of the Constitution is that it can be changed. How many more of these sensational killings must leap out against the daily urban gunplay before we recognize that not everyone ** can be responsible with exceptionally dangerous weapons?

Paul Mathews

Pikesville

When a local Jonesboro, Ark., journalist was asked where he thought the two boys got the guns they used to shoot classmates and teachers at their middle school, he replied to the National Public Radio reporter that hunting is very popular in that part of the state. He said many homes had guns and even gun collections.

He also said that there is a saying in the area that goes, "If you hunt with your children, then you won't be hunting for your children." While there may be many reasons that caused this act of violence, in my opinion, growing up in a culture that encourages hunting as entertainment devalues respect for all life. Parents should think long and hard before they put a rifle in their child's hands and initiate them into a "sport" that is bloody and cruel.

amela M. Cobo

Bel Air

Kane expands minds and closes his own

Gregory Kane's March 18 column, "A suggested reading list to expand narrow minds," on broadening required reading lists to include multiethnic and racial works of distinction, turns out to be a liberal's nightmare.

After advocating an expanded literary consciousness on the part of school systems, Mr. Kane promptly proceeds to demonstrate the very close-mindedness that has characterized racism in the United States. He advocates the elimination of a classic work of literature, based on his profound critical comment: "['Heart of Darkness' is] a sack of reeking convoluted screed "

What is even worse is he panders to the basest principle for the perpetuation of ignorance -- supporting one's empty argument by appealing to mob acclamation (the students of Joppatowne Senior High School).

What intelligent, literary arguments does Mr. Kane have to offer in the face of the work's masterful imagery, beautiful structure and poignant themes -- one of which happens to be the elimination of racism (the mistreatment of colonial Africans) in Victorian England? How does he overlook one of the most profound examinations of man's innermost being -- his own sense of evil? How does he account for this book's being the source of the cinematic icon, "Apocalypse, Now"?

The most sinister element of Mr. Kane's column is its hypocrisy. He wants us to liberalize our consciousness to sensitively and academically expand the required reading in our school systems, but he proceeds to censor and condemn a literary masterpiece with no intelligent academic support.

Finally, pandering to students' -- and our -- unwillingness to work hard at deciphering the value of a work of literature is sending an even worse message than not expanding our reading lists. Mr. Kane threw "the baby out with the bath" when he wrote an initially well-intentioned article.

Michael S. Magrogan

Cockeysville

In reference to Gregory Kane's March 18 suggested reading list, I wholeheartedly concur. In fact, Richard Wright's novel "Black Boy" perhaps is better at conveying the artistry and frustration for those at odds with society. It is in the league of Knut Hamsun's "Hunger" or Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer," both very revealing at inspiring discussions. And too often overlooked.

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