Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 12, 2004

Banning rifles is the wrong way to combat crime

With respect to The Sun's editorial "The line of fire" (July 5), I would first like to express my sympathy to the families of the slain Alabama police officers and my anger at the criminals who killed them. Those responsible for these crimes should be punished to the full extent of the law.

And the author of the editorial is to be applauded for describing SKS rifles as semiautomatics instead of automatics or machine guns, as is often done. But the editorial also describes the rifle as able to "spray a large number of large bullets powerfully and accurately." The SKS can only fire once each time the trigger is pulled.

And almost any center-fire rifle fires a round with enough energy to defeat body armor. The type of rifle makes no difference in this regard. Body armor is designed to protect against handgun rounds, which have much less power.

Assault weapons are military weapons capable of full automatic fire, and as such, their legal ownership is restricted and highly regulated. To own one requires a federal license, which gives the government the right to come to your home at any time and inspect the licensed firearms.

What is popularly known as an "assault weapon" is often a look-alike that is frequently different from other long guns in appearance only.

Banning the ownership by a lawful person of a firearm just because it resembles a military weapon is not logical.

We should support all of the rights we as Americans are guaranteed by the Constitution, even if there are some we do not appreciate. To do otherwise is to invite the loss of the rights we do appreciate.

And with some research, I am sure The Sun would learn that long guns (rifles and shotguns) are used in an extremely small number of crimes.

It is very difficult to conceal a long gun, and I am sure that if one or more persons were seen in public armed with long guns, the police would be called to investigate.

Criminals seem to prefer to get as little attention as possible and as a result tend to use handguns, which they often obtain illegally.

Carl Russell

Severn

Marriage predates civil institutions

It is no surprise to me that The Sun agrees with the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples who want to marry ("The power vested," July 8).

But the ACLU's argument has no merit, because marriage is not a civil institution. Marriage was instituted by God before any government or religion was ever established. Marriage is the joining of a man and a woman into one unit.

I feel sorry for those same-sex couples who feel they are being discriminated against.

Discrimination only applies to people who are treated differently because of something they have no control over, such as the color of their skin.

People are not born homosexual; there is no gay gene.

I will pray for those homosexuals who want to marry. I will pray for the ACLU, whose lawsuit is misguided, and I will pray for the editorial board of The Sun, which supports this action, that one day all will see the error of their ways.

Robert Balderson

Reisterstown

Values change for the better

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has said that restricting marriage to a man and woman is "common sense" ("Lawsuit challenges state law barring same-sex marriage," July 8).

So what? It was common sense in Salem, Mass., in the 17th century that witches existed.

It was common sense in Paris in the 18th century that monarchs were meant to rule.

It was common sense in much of America in the 19th century that slaves required the protection of their white masters.

And it was common sense throughout America in the first years of the 20th century that women should not have the right to vote.

As those examples teach, common sense changes, and often for the better.

Stanley L. Rodbell

Columbia

State's liquor laws must be updated

There is zero chance that Maryland's three-tier system of regulation of liquor sales will not change in the months or years ahead ("Spirited Debate," July 4). Many states are amending the laws about Internet sales or "direct to consumer" liquor sales when they are challenged.

The strong Maryland liquor lobby will not be able to defend against these winds of change for several very important reasons: The existing rules prohibit free trade; they do not limit consumption or abuse of alcohol in any way; allowing consumers to purchase wine directly from wineries will have no negative impact on retail sales; technology is allowing states to collect taxes on Internet liquor sales; and new rules could allow Maryland wineries to sell their wines directly to consumers as well.

The other thing for distributors and retailers to accept is that those of us who are likely to order those difficult-to-find wines directly from the winery are also the local liquor retailers' best customers.

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