Madden lauded for backing primary change I applaud...


May 16, 1999

Madden lauded for backing primary change

I applaud state Sen. Martin G. Madden for his stand encouraging Republican party leaders to open their primary to independent voters.

This is a critical component of broadening the party's base and encouraging independent voters to evaluate whether they can find a home in the Republican Party.

Ultimately, this is about competing with Democrats for the growing bloc of swing voters who are disenchanted with both parties, but looking for ideas and individuals with whom they can connect -- not just party dogmas to which they can become enslaved.

This move would acknowledge how important it is to have a fully competitive marketplace for ideas and signal to Democratic leaders that the Republican Party is not afraid of change as a mechanism for growth.

It likely will invite a broader range of candidates to enter the Republican primaries, knowing that while many swing voters want to sustain and foster economic growth and fight crime (core Republican values), they are concerned about the perceived Republican hard lines on some social issues.

By opening the primary to independent voters, the party's leadership embraces a big-tent party that is looking for new ideas, energy and personalities, in both voters and candidates.

It may be the linchpin to fielding Republican candidates who can win statewide races for governor or U.S. senator because they appeal to the broad middle, rather than just the extremes. This is classic market theory: Identify a new market for the product and ideas you are selling and then move creatively to capture and cultivate that audience. Sticking with the current market and products leads to stagnation, not growth.

If this move is completed, I, for one, will gladly change my voter registration from Democrat to independent.

Vikram Khanna Columbia

Kane's name-calling feeds the problem

Gregory Kane's column on gun control ("Anti-gun crusade obscures real issue," April 24) misses the point entirely.

He is using his column to hurl insults at lawabiding citizens who want a safe environment for their families.

In regards to using the term "gun control nut," Mr. Kane wrote, "The standards have to apply to everybody or nobody."

Standards? Mr. Kane stoops to the lowest level of logic with his statement. Call it making fun of, teasing, ridiculing or whatever it's all the same. We need to teach our children that teasing, ridicule and derision are not acceptable. In extreme cases, these behaviors result in deadly violence. Mr. Kane's name-calling ("anti-gun nuts," "gun control nuts," etc.) is poor journalism and nothing more than emotional rhetoric.

Gun control is an emotional issue. When we can rise above the emotionalism, we will be able to develop laws that benefit all.

Mr. Kane's Wild West philosophy of carrying guns and using them in urban areas will not work. I am frightened by the thought that I would be surrounded by well-intentioned people with guns at the supermarket, church or the office. History has shown that vigilantes create larger problems.

Carolyn Keydash Ellicott City

Check, replace smoke detectors

A neighbor died the other day. Some of you knew her very well; others just knew her in passing. Maybe you did not know her at all. How she died is being investigated. We may never know why.

Whenever someone dies, whether it be a fellow firefighter or civilian, we want to know why. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 13,625 civilian fire fatalities occurred from 1995 through 1997. Some fires can be attributed to arson or electrical malfunctions, but the leading cause of home fires was smoking materials. For example, a dropped cigarette or falling asleep in bed can easily kill the unsuspecting person.

Fifty-nine percent of home fire deaths occur in houses without smoke detectors.

At the fire referred to above, one smoke detector was found in the house with the battery nearby. Was it working? Nobody knows. Were there other smoke detectors? We can't say for sure because of the damage. Later that evening, personnel from the Fire and Rescue Services Community Relations Unit and Station 10 returned to the neighborhood to distribute information and talk to residents about smoke detectors.

Alarmingly, of the houses that I checked, most smoke detectors did not work. One house in particular had two perfectly good smoke detectors, but had no batteries. Having a smoke detector that does not work is like not having one at all.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 93 percent of homes have at least one smoke detector. One is a good start, but we can do better.

Having a properly installed and maintained smoke detector reduces the risk of dying by nearly half. They are the first line of defense.

For those who have a smoke detector, here are tips on how to maintain it. Change the battery twice a year. Many people use the spring and fall time changes as opportunities to install fresh batteries.

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