After officer's death, don't turn suspect into a martyr...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 27, 2000

After officer's death, don't turn suspect into a martyr

I was saddened to learn of the death of Baltimore police officer Kevon M. Gavin ("City officer killed in crash had come back for action," April 22).

I'm sure that over the next several weeks, media outlets will exploit the incident by talking to family and friends of the driver suspected of killing Mr. Gavin, who will explain how Eric Stennett erred by "falling in with the wrong crowd."

I know stories such as these sell newspapers and gain public attention.

However, the fact is that Mr. Stennett is a thug who made a choice to take the life of another human being.

If convicted, he should pay for his decision by spending a lengthy period with the "wrong crowd" at one of our correctional facilities.

Mayor Martin O'Malley and Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris have their work cut out for them in making Baltimore a safer city.

It is the responsibility of every city leader to put race aside and support this administration.

Without such support, tragic incidents such as the death of Officer Gavin will continue. Criminals need to know that we as a community will hold them accountable for their actions, instead of turning them into martyrs.

The mayor's office and the police department are committed to changing Baltimore for the better. It is now time for the community to put up or shut up.

Mark S. Chaney

Forest Hill

Confront drug-dealers; support police commissioner

My husband is a lifelong resident of Baltimore and I have lived here 51 years. The decline in our city's safety we have seen is unreal.

My sister lives in the city also. Her neighborhood is in worse shape than ours. I cannot go visit her without dealers approaching me to sell drugs.

My sister and her husband have taken a stand against the drug dealers. As a result, a drug dealer tried to run over my niece. My nephew was beaten up by the same drug-dealer and his cohorts.

My niece's cat was run over and killed by another drug dealer. Drug dealers also threatened to fire-bomb my sister's home.

This is a scary and horrible way to live.

Why are drug dealers in the community known to police and still allowed to sell drugs openly?

I have read about Edward T. Norris' background and listened to him carefully. He is the right choice for police Commissioner.

Let's get on with the job of restoring sanity and safety to our city.

Patricia M. Cummings

Baltimore

Both houses and guns are safer when locked

Is Sanford Abrams trying to tell me that he doesn't lock his car or house when he leaves them ("How many more restricting gun laws do we need," letter April 22)?

Locks have not stopped all criminal acts but I'd be willing to bet the last penny in my 401(k) they have reduced the number and have stopped many of them.

I know that I will continue to lock my doors.

But I agree with Mr. Abrams that the mish-mash of gun laws on the books don't seem to have done much.

That is why I propose scrapping them and starting over three national laws:

All guns must be registered and their owners finger-printed.

Require background checks for all gun sales, public or private.

Enforce mandatory, severe consequences for all criminal acts committed with a gun.

Of course, these laws would not stop all acts of violence in this country, but I do believe they would noticeably reduce them.

Ken Ungerecht

Jessup

Sanford Abrams states that "a lock has never stopped a criminal from stealing someone's automobile, burglarizing a house, or robbing a store." I beg to differ.

Is Mr. Abrams suggesting that society is safer if I'm armed and leave my house unlocked? A more rational approach is to lock my car, my house and my guns.

While no one doubts that will tamper with internal gun locks, it is paramount that gun manufacturers engineer this technology to prevent that.

Mr. Abrams also suggests that gun locks will not reduce firearms accidents. But how many 6 year olds will be able to bypass this technology?

An internal lock on handguns is an idea whose time has come. Otherwise, the Attorney General J. Joseph Currans of the world will seek and get a ban on handguns.

Kirk Fairfield

Towson

Zimbabwe's violence merits aid cut-off

The letter "Land expropriation is justified in Zimbabwe" (April 19) applauds expropriation of white farmers' lands.

I suppose the author also applauds President Robert Mugabe when he vilifies white farmers as "enemies of the people" and urges squatters to attack them.

I assume he revels in the fact that four ranchers were recently killed and five others were beaten severely and had their dwellings burned.

President Mugabe isn't assertive; he's a violent thug and the United States is justified in withholding funding from him and his cohorts in Zimbabwe.

Sharon Drescher

Glenelg

I thought the recent letter supporting Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe's expropriation of land from the white settlers was excellent.

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