Arkansas shootings sign of too many guns and not enough...

Letters to the Editor

March 30, 1998

Arkansas shootings sign of too many guns and not enough talk

The recent tragedy in Arkansas is further proof that kids and guns simply do not mix. As we await the details of the shooting spree that left five people dead, we must ask how the two accused boys gained access to the rifles and handguns. What will it take to persuade gun owners to keep their guns unloaded and out of children's reach?

Simply locking up guns is not rocket science. Study after study indicates that a gun in the home is far more likely to injure or kill a loved one than to protect a family member.

Yes, we must teach children conflict-resolution skills. We must teach them that the violence portrayed in the media is just imaginary, and the actors can walk away after they are shot. More importantly, we must teach parents about the hazards of firearms in the home.

The soaring suicide rate among African-American male teens is attributed, in part, to the accessibility to firearms. Young curious children will continue to find guns in nightstands and under mattresses. Unfortunately, there will probably be more school-based shootings.

Parents must weigh all of these possibilities and decide whether owning a firearm is worth the life of their child.

Nancy A. Fenton

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse Education Fund.

As a pediatrician with 20 years' experience in practice, I was very troubled by your account of the Jonesboro shootings by an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old.

I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of violent conflicts involving schoolchildren of all ages in recent years, both in my suburban practice and in my work at the Woodbourne Center. Children are angrier and have less fear of authority than ever.

Kids are the most sensitive barometer of what is going on in homes and in society. We need to be more conscious of how we speak to each other at home and in the street, and what we find acceptable in the media.

I can't help but think that the late pediatrician, Benjamin Spock, an Arkansan of note and a devout pacifist, would have echoed the sentiment that the Almighty gave us sensible rules to live by long ago, and we have an urgent need to revisit them daily -- for the sake of our kids.

Daniel J. Levy, M.D.

Baltimore

Ollie for Ellen draws hypocrisy, envy

The recent article dealing with the appearance of Oliver North at a fund-raiser for Ellen R. Sauerbrey reported some criticism from her enemies inside and outside of the Republican Party. It is easy to see how Democrats are envious of her ability to draw support from a broad spectrum of supporters, and their discomfort is understandable.

The lavish financial support given Gov. Parris N. Glendening always seems to have a heady scent of quid pro quo in the tradition of Maryland's politics as usual.

A broad-based, grass-roots campaign with more than modest financing could provide the turning point in our state's political history.

The criticism from a spokesman for her nominal primary challenger may be sour grapes in its pure Aesopian form. Can her opponent deny that he sought an appearance by Mr. North at one of his events? If not, it appears that hypocrisy is rampant in his camp.

Any positive change in the political climate could prove costly to the movers and shakers, the influence peddlers, and fixers who have held sway too long.

Arthur W. Downs

Severna Park

Trojan horse of oil prices rolling back to your pumps

Columnist George Will was awfully sure of himself in his March 23 effort, "Falling prices keep Cassandras at bay." He verbally drubbed environmentalists who have been warning us for years about the finite supply of oil and the harsh environmental consequences of depending upon it. Mr. Will, however, neglected to inform readers that Cassandra was ultimately proved right. She warned the Trojans to beware of Greeks bearing gifts, but they ignored her and dragged that big old wooden horse inside the city gates.

The dubious "gift" of falling oil prices that prompts Mr. Will's exultation appears to be evaporating as swiftly as it came, witnessed by The Sun's business pages the very day after his column ("Oil rises $1.83-$1.90 a barrel"). Oil producing nations are once again, not too surprisingly, tightening the noose around supply to drive prices back up.

Might not Mr. Will better serve the public by reporting on sustainable and nonpolluting energy sources? After all, summer is coming and the oily smudge that regularly mars the sky over Baltimore (and most other American cities) is thickening again -- kind of a daily portent that anyone who wants to can understand, even without Cassandra.

Steven McFadden

Parkton

For order in the court, a judicial civility award

In these days where a lack of politeness and candor has become the hallmark of many who appear before our judicial system, it is refreshing that the Maryland State Bar Association has created an annual judicial civility award, "The Judge Anselm Sodaro Award," to be given to a Maryland judge.

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