Time to loosen state's liquor laws?
As the chairman of the Baltimore County Board of Liquor License Commissioners, I read with interest and dismay The Sun's editorial about the proposal before the General Assembly to allow direct shipment of wine to consumers in Maryland ("Special delivery," Feb. 20).
I was particularly struck by the editorial's statement that "it's easy enough to make sure the deliveries are signed by someone age 21 or older."
My five years of experience with the Baltimore County liquor board belies this statement.
This board, like the liquor boards in all the other jurisdictions in Maryland, has to deal with a constant stream of instances in which those under 21 are improperly able to obtain alcoholic beverages.
This board constantly attempts to ensure that the establishments that sell alcohol to young people, and deliver it where permitted, are properly trained and certified under the direction of the board to determine who, in fact, is 21 years of age or older.
Passing the bill that is now before the legislature would dramatically hurt the ability of the state's liquor boards to carry out this vitally important policing task.
Common sense dictates that this bill is a bad idea whose time has not come and should not come.
Why is a law that dates from the Prohibition era still messing with Marylanders' ability to enjoy life and limiting the profits of Maryland wineries?
Current restrictions keep wine lovers from having their favorite out-of-state wines shipped in and Maryland wineries from shipping their products out.
Such an obstruction to free enterprise, and of the freedom of the consumer to choose, should have been removed long ago - just as it has been in most other states.
I, for one, recoil at the image of Maryland wine aficionados forced into "rum running" - i.e., picking up private shipments delivered to a Washington address and stealthily crossing the state line to get home (can Eliot Ness be far behind?).
Legislation to allow direct shipments of wine to state residents should be enacted quickly.
I really enjoyed The Sun's editorial that pointed out how citizens of Maryland are prohibited from purchasing wine from other states.
How absurd this archaic law is, especially since more than two-thirds of U.S. states now allow this practice.
But I have two other archaic laws I would like to see abolished.
One such change would be to allow liquor stores to remain open on Sunday year-round.
And why not allow grocery stores to sell wine and beer, as they do in many other jurisdictions and most foreign countries?
The vestiges of the "blue laws" continue in this state. But it's time for Maryland to join the 21st century.
So, once and for all, let's do away with these unnecessary restrictions.
Gun compromises cost us basic rights
Leonard Pitts Jr. calls for compromise on the gun control issue ("When theory and reality clash on our constitutional right to bear arms," Opinion
Commentary, Feb. 17).
Unfortunately, "compromise" is one of those vague terms, like "reasonable" or "common sense," whose meaning depends on the viewpoints of the writer and the reader.
On the subject of gun control, the history of compromise shows us that compromise nearly always means more - not fewer - restrictions on firearms ownership.
Indeed, more and more compromise on gun control always seems to result in continuous movement toward a total ban on guns.
One only need look at what gun control "compromise" has led to in California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland and other states.
Some handguns that are completely legal for law-abiding citizens in Pennsylvania are banned in Maryland.
Some semiautomatic rifles that function little differently from the shooting gallery rifles we shot at state fairs or local volunteer fire department carnivals years ago are banned in California.
Mr. Pitts calls for compromise, and I, too, call for compromise.
But the compromise I'm talking about would allow sane, law-abiding people in all states the right to carry firearms to protect themselves - unlike the kind of compromise Mr. Pitts speaks of, which, sadly, would only make law-abiding people sitting ducks for those intent on violence.
Earl P. Weaver
New Freedom, Pa.
Firearms culture costly to children
If there hadn't been an accessible gun in his home, Nicholas Browning probably would have chosen another way to deal with his anger, frustration and disappointment instead of allegedly shooting his family ("Land of the free, home of the gun," Feb. 17).
I grieve for him, for his family and over the fact that he was not better protected against his alleged choice to engage in gun violence.
Gun violence has become a cultural norm as a result of our own choices. We have become a society desensitized to the reality of violence.
What our children are permitted to see and choose for entertainment is robbing them of their childhoods.
The Constitution was written for our own protection.