Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 09, 2005

Fingerprinting of firearms just does not work

After wasting $2.6 million of taxpayers' money and receiving zero return on investment, would you continue to fund a worthless program?

Michael D. Barnes of the gun control lobby says yes ("Ballistics database still needed," Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 2). And he would disregard the counsel of the state police superintendent, Col. Thomas E. Hutchins, an integral player in fighting crime in Maryland.

"Ballistic finger-printing" is unreliable. Every time a trigger is pulled, sizable amounts of energy, heat and pressure are discharged.

Therefore, unlike human fingerprints, a firearm's ballistic markings may change as it is used over time.

A recent report from the Maryland State Police finds that "no crime investigations have been enhanced or expedited through the use of the MD-IBIS" - the Maryland Integrated Ballistics Identification System.

The report concludes that the system has not been "a time-saving tool for the firearms examiner or an investigative enhancement to the criminal investigator" and that it "failed in the mission and vision concepts originally established for the program."

The Maryland ballistic fingerprinting scheme was an expensive failure.

The political conspiracies are a figment of Mr. Barnes' imagination.

Chris W. Cox

Washington

The writer is executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.

Giving thugs a forum to intimidate us all

The Sun's article "Stop-`snitching' graffiti mar a wall of 1st Mariner Arena" (Feb. 1) should never have been published.

We citizens don't really need to know about the graffiti on the arena wall, and the thugs who put it there shouldn't have their messages spread freely thanks to The Sun - and on the front page, no less.

I can just imagine their delight in realizing that The Sun has broadcast their threat and warning to all those who might otherwise give evidence to the police.

The police and court system have a difficult time as it is contending with the rampant and unrelenting crime in this city without The Sun printing articles like this one.

Use some discretion.

Jane Hienz

Reisterstown

Hubble illuminates secrets of universe

Soon Congress will once again be considering whether to keep the Hubble Space Telescope alive and on station ("Lawmakers debate whether to repair or retire Hubble," Feb. 3).

Thinking about this brings to my mind that glorious phrase, "Light a candle to drive out the darkness." The Hubble is such a candle, and it continues to peel back layers of darkness in deep space. Each time, it reveals incredible history about the universe and thought-provoking clues to our future.

Astronomers are always busy probing the universe, but until Hubble, the nonscientist rarely felt part of all that heavenly research. Now, each new space telescope discovery brings humankind together in common awe and interest.

Why on Earth would anyone want to close this window on both our past and our future?

Waddell Robey

Harrisburg, Pa

Labor-law cuts give workers no respect

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s move to curb wage law enforcement is a disgrace and an insult to all who labor for wages ("Closing of labor offices opposed," Jan. 30).

There is a long and documented history of abuse of immigrant laborers in Maryland. They were cheated out of the meager wages they were owed and given substandard living quarters, and some were actually put in secure labor camps where they were held under conditions close to those of slave camps.

As for the prevailing wage law, it is fair and it holds construction work in Maryland to a high standard of quality.

The governor says he wants respect. He should start by giving respect to workers.

Henry Koellein

Severna Park

The writer is a former Maryland commissioner of labor and industry.

When will the judges be held accountable?

If state lawmakers would spend as much time worrying about judicial malpractice as medical malpractice, perhaps far fewer children would be killed by abusive parents.

I recently read The Sun's Jan. 29 article detailing how Juvenile Court Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan ordered the return of an 18-month-old baby to the home of her abusive mother ("Mother is guilty in death of baby," Jan. 29).

Judge Kaplan's decision was made despite objections from social workers most familiar with the case. The result: a death that should have been prevented if the system had acted properly.

If physicians make neglectful decisions resulting in a child's death, they may lose their license and face lawsuits.

Yet when judges make neglectful decisions resulting in a child's death, they are seemingly immune. It is only the children who suffer.

Denise Blasiole-Donovan

Baltimore

HMO users eluded user-fee for years

I am not a member of an HMO; I purchase medical insurance from another source ("Straight talk on taxes," editorial, Jan. 30).

It is my understanding that I have been paying a premium tax all along. It is also my understanding that until now, HMOs have been exempt from paying this tax.

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