Still-violent city needs new laws on deadly guns The...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 08, 2002

Still-violent city needs new laws on deadly guns

The Sun's article headlined "Violent crime rate down in Baltimore" (June 25) sounded hopeful and encouraging, but directly beneath it were the words, "But it still ranks No. 1 among largest U.S. cities, according to FBI statistics."

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris reacted to the FBI report by praising Baltimore as one of the "few bright spots" in the country. "We're doing better than most American cities," he said.

The commissioner's optimism is not borne out by the facts. The FBI says that Baltimore is still the most deadly and violent of the 20 largest U.S. cities, with 39 homicides and 2,272 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

I realize Mr. Norris and Mayor Martin O'Malley are doing their utmost to combat crime. However, the Maryland state legislature could give their efforts a powerful boost by requiring annual registration of every firearm in the state and a mandatory prison sentence upon conviction for failure to register a gun.

State law requires registration of every vehicle owned by a Maryland resident. Why not every gun as well? In both instances, we are dealing with deadly weapons.

Albert E. Denny

Pikesville

Gun licensing makes owners accountable

The writer of the letter "Limitations on guns won't stop criminals" (letters, June 27) questions whether Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse (MAHA) expects criminals willing to break all laws to suddenly license and register their guns.

The answer is simple: Of course MAHA does not expect this. But if the criteria for law-making was whether criminals would obey the laws, no laws would be written.

Licensing and registration accomplish two things: They ensure accountability and responsible ownership of guns and provide police with better law enforcement tools.

This is especially important because 40 percent of all U.S. gun sales now take place without a criminal background check.

Fred Davis

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse Education Fund Inc.

Deploy a U.N. force to stop the bombers

The very first rule in fighting terrorism is to search out and defeat those who encourage the world's suicide bombers and hijackers.

Therefore, the United States should convince the United Nations to send an armed force into the Middle East, especially Israel and the Palestinian areas, to reduce terrorist incidents.

If this is not possible, the United Nations must search the logical places for weapons or drug proliferation that could produce suicide bombers trained for terrorist action.

Alvin Polan

Owings Mills

Stop wasting billions on missile defense

Recent budget debates have once again underscored the excess budgetary demands of the defense establishment and its use of secrecy to block legitimate questions ("Senate compromises on missile-defense budget," June 27).

Untold billions have already been spent to prematurely deploy a national missile defense system that many scientists oppose as technologically unfeasible. And the total of the intelligence budget remains classified, so it is unknown how much is spent as part of the missile defense program.

Given the exhortation to spend responsibly in a time of renewed budget deficits, it seems odd to fund such projects while keeping the public in the dark.

Kristan Markey

Baltimore

Stress individuality instead of disability

I am writing to express my displeasure with a headline on the front page of the June 21 Sun: "Justices ban execution of the retarded." I think the choice of words here was unfortunate.

I have a daughter with mental retardation. Throughout her life I have tried to teach people to have respect for people with mental retardation and speak about them in a way that is not demeaning.

But it still seems all too common in our language to use the term "retard" loosely and to lump all people with mental retardation into a group called "the retarded."

These people are all individuals with unique abilities and personalities. They deserve to be treated and spoken about with more dignity than was shown by The Sun.

Leslie Landsman

Columbia

Spielberg's network aids ailing children

Many thanks for Michael Sragow's excellent article about talented film-maker and humanitarian Steven Spielberg ("The Spielberg Report," June 23).

It should also be noted that Mr. Spielberg deserves additional accolades for lending his talents to a program that impacts the lives of ill and injured children and adolescents in Maryland and throughout the country.

Mr. Spielberg created Starbright World, a computer network that enables patients in children's hospitals across the country to see and speak with one another.

In secure communication sites, monitored by hospital specialists, kids can talk about their illnesses, worries and triumphs with others who understand. Children with chronic illnesses can find comfort in the company of others and relief from a sense of isolation.

The Johns Hopkins Children's Center is a member of the Starbright family.

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