Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 20, 2006

Assault weapon ad just a political ploy

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's ad campaign attacking Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. concerning assault weapons is totally misguided ("Spat over ad spotlights Ehrlich's gun position," May 16).

No one believes that we need more firearms (of any kind) "on the streets" to be used illegally by felons and gang members, and Mr. Ehrlich certainly does not believe this.

But these semiautomatic rifles are used so infrequently in crime that no Maryland police agency has a sub-category for their use in its crime listings.

And I do not believe that assault weapons were used to commit any of Baltimore's almost 300 homicides last year.

The truth is that the desire was not there to pass a ban on these firearms in the state legislature during the last four sessions.

Even Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley has not used gun control as a campaign issue. And most Democrats are running away from gun control because it will gain them few additional votes.

Mr. Duncan is merely trying to stir the pot to get media attention he otherwise would not receive on an issue that has been settled for years.

Sanford Abrams

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of the Maryland Licensed Firearms Association Inc.

Demolition plan imperils Fells Point

Preservationists in Baltimore, across Maryland and nationally are gravely concerned about the future of St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church and its historic Fells Point neighborhood.

As Tyler Gearhart and Joshua Phillips of Preservation Maryland described in their column "Preserve our heritage in Fells Point" (Opinion

Commentary, May 10), a block of historic buildings is slated for demolition - and St. Stanislaus Kostka Church itself will be gutted - to allow construction of undistinguished rows of luxury townhouses.

I believe that this needlessly destructive project would have a devastating effect on the Fells Point Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Curiously, the developers have posted a sign on their property that implies incorrectly that their wrecking-ball scheme is, in their words, the "preferred solution" of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the National Trust, Baltimore Heritage and Preservation Maryland strongly support a preservation-based redevelopment approach.

There is still time to craft a compromise that protects the developer's economic interests without sacrificing the beloved, historic character of Fells Point and St. Stanislaus Kostka.

That's the National Trust's true "preferred solution."

Rob Nieweg

Washington

The writer is director of the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Smearing authors of report on Israel

The fact that the Anti-Defamation League's national director, Abraham H. Foxman, predictably labeled their work anti-Semitic ("Is the `Israel lobby' a danger?" letters, May 13) in his response to Norman Solomon's column "Opening the debate on Israel" (Opinion

Commentary, May 7) is just the kind of smear tactic that prompted John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt to write their study of "The Israel Lobby" in the first place. Their response to their critics can be found at the London Review of Books Web site (dated May 11).

By postponing for as long as it has the end game over its territorial ambitions, Israel has spared our government the necessity of defending the indefensible before the court of international public and political opinion.

But if Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has his way, those days are soon coming to an end.

Without an open debate on the history and current direction of our government's relationship to Israel and of that state's relationship to the Palestinian people, we will be in danger of even further isolating ourselves than we already are.

This is not in our interest or in the interest of the international community.

And in the long run, it will not be in the interest of the people of Israel or of the worldwide Jewish community.

Michael Burns

Catonsville

Glad NSA pursues nation's enemies

Those interested in utterly destroying our free society will not willingly come out of hiding to turn themselves over to our authorities.

And there is a major disconnect between what I consider to be reality and what I constantly read in the newspapers and hear whenever the likes of Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy issues another vituperative statement about the administration's handling of the "war on terror."

For instance, in The Sun's article "Bush defends spy program" (May 12), Mr. Leahy states: "Shame on us in being so far behind and being so willing to rubber-stamp anything this administration does."

Notwithstanding that this administration does, in fact, share its intelligence programs with leading representatives from both sides of the aisle, what would the good senator from Vermont wish the government to do?

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