Tough enforcement of current gun laws can curtail crimeI...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 08, 1999

Tough enforcement of current gun laws can curtail crime

I join The Sun in applauding U.S. Attorney Lynn A. Battaglia for Project Disarm ("Federal prosecutor taken aim at criminals," editorial Oct. 29).

The program shows that successfully combating illegal guns, and criminals who use them, requires passing and enforcing good laws. Doing one without the other is doomed to failure.

Congress has made it illegal for a convicted felon to possess a gun and imposed severe penalties. Ms. Battaglia has emphasized strict enforcement of these very tough federal laws.

As a result, Project Disarm required no new gun control laws.

Project Disarm works well in the few communities where it is in place. But what about the rest of Baltimore, and other places in Maryland where guns are pervasive and crime dominates daily life?

The federal laws that make Project Disarm work can also benefit these areas.

For the past four months, I have been seeking to bring to Maryland -- and particularly the Baltimore-Washington corridor -- a similar but more effective strategy called Project Exile.

The Richmond, Va., area is covered by that project. Under it, unlike Project Disarm, there are no circumstances that keep criminals caught with guns out of jail -- no pleas, no bargains, no exceptions.

Over the past four months, I have met with state's attorneys, police leaders, gun enthusiasts and opponents and business and community leaders from all over Maryland who support bringing Project Exile to our state.

I've also made a commitment to Ms. Battaglia to get her the resources she needs to implement this program.

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Washington

The writer represents Maryland's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Courts have long limited individuals' gun rights

The letter from Sanford Abrams, vice president of the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Inc., perpetuates misunderstanding of citizens' right "to keep and bear arms" under the Second Amendment ("Curran confirms fears, inspires gun owners," Oct. 25) .

In fact, the right is limited by Supreme Court decision. In 1939, the court ruled that the guarantee applies only to those who need guns to serve in a state militia, such as the National Guard.

The court has refused various opportunities to modify that decision.

Of course, if Mr. Abrams' organization could only sell guns to members of the militia or National Guard, their business would fall off considerably.

Gerald B. Johnston, Ellicott City

Pep rallies can bring fun, spirit to schools

As a student who has been involved in planning an extremely successful pep rally, I feel The Sun's recent article about banning pep rallies demands a response ("Rallying to keep pep under control," Oct. 16).

Pep rallies bring out school spirit and give students a sense of pride and a feeling that high school can be fun -- and that is obviously important.

Fund-raisers and drives are not school spirit activities, they are services.

If a pep rally is well thought out, it can be successful.

I find it upsetting that many area high schools are missing out on a unique school experience, the pep rally, because careful planning was neglected.

Grace Imwold, Catonsville

Public schools could use parents' energy, resources

Elaine Hanus' letter "Private school parents subsidize public education" (Oct. 17) argues that parents who pay both taxes and private school tuition are lightening the public school systems' load. But I'd like to suggest that the absence of these children and their families hurts the public schools.

If the children currently attending private schools moved to public ones, those school systems would be infused with well-behaved, capable students.

And, perhaps more importantly, with the resources and participation their parents would bring.

Obviously, the additional money needed for more teachers and classrooms would be staggering. But it would be a small price to pay for the stabilizing effect those students and families would have on our state's troubled schools.

Lisa Combs, Annapolis

Responsible risk-taking is just a part of life

In her recent letter, Valerie Lorenz, executive director of the Compulsive Gambling Center Inc., posited a logical fallacy to promote her view that the world is awash in gambling addiction ("Game of cards, gambling gateway," Oct. 30).

Her argument that because the "competitive effort" in Pokemon trading parallels those which often precede serious adult gambling, it could be a "gateway" to heavy gambling is an unsubstantiated leap of logic.

Responsible gambling and risk-taking is a part of life.

Implying that kids should not be allowed to enjoy the craze of their age is worse than being an old fogey: It costs us credibility for more important arguments, such as placing limits on the times and places where Pokemon cards can be displayed.

Richard E. Vatz, Towson

The writer is a professor at Towson University and associate psychology editor for USA Today Magazine.

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