Letters To The Editor


June 06, 2008

Md.'s illicit violence is the real problem

Reporter Annie Linskey continues to facilitate bad behavior by Maryland authorities by pointing her finger at the wrong problem ("Illicit guns flow into Maryland," June 1).

Maryland has had a long history of violence and has ranked as one of the most violent states for more than a decade. But Maryland's focus on gun control isn't an effective way to control the violence.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study in 2003 admitting that there are no scientific data to prove gun-control laws are effective in preventing violence.

The National Academy of Science agreed a year later in its analysis titled "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review" (December 2004).

But politicians like gun control because it allows them to fool voters into thinking that they are doing something to control violence by passing gun laws while they neglect the importance of enforcing laws against criminals.

Articles such as Ms. Linskey's facilitate such non-action actions by keeping the focus on symptoms of violence (firearms) rather than on the violence itself or on the effectiveness of actions by authorities to deal with violence.

So we read in this article about the flow of guns into Maryland from states with "lax laws" such as Virginia. But the article doesn't mention that according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the other 14 top gun-supplying states had lower rates of homicide in 2006 than Maryland did.

What else can we conclude from this but that Maryland's law-and-order policies are dismal failures and that the news media have facilitated these bad policies by failing to inform the public of this fact?

There isn't even a hint in Ms. Linskey's article that the performance of Maryland law enforcement might be a part of the problem here.

And there isn't even a hint about what Maryland is doing to prosecute "straw" purchases, solve gun thefts, run stings on gun-running dealers, use Project Exile prosecutions to go after violent criminals with guns or about any measures of effectiveness for police efforts to address gun-running.

The subtext of Ms. Linskey's article seems to be that Maryland is an island of virtue surrounded by an ocean of vice.

The message of the real world is that Maryland is an island of public policy incompetence surrounded by an ocean of better-performing states.

Ms. Linskey's article facilitates that incompetence by suggesting that the gun problem is one we import from elsewhere.

Philip F. Lee, Silver Spring

The writer is a volunteer for Maryland Citizens for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

What the article "Illicit guns flow into Maryland" does not mention is that the states it seems to blame for providing guns used in crimes all have murder rates lower than Maryland's, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for 2006.

If guns are the cause of crime, how can this be possible when these states have "lax laws"?

Perhaps rather than blaming other states for our problems, Maryland's policymakers and advisers should be asking themselves what states such as Virginia and Pennsylvania are doing right and what Maryland is doing wrong.

After several decades of complaining about guns and passing a multitude of gun-control laws, what does Maryland have to show for itself besides one of the worst crime rates in our nation?

Guns are not the problem.

If we want lower crime rates, we need to address the reasons people commit crimes and get the criminals off the streets.

James Mullen, White Hall

Competition aids energy alternatives

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission deserves the recognition that it received from The Sun for purchasing one-third of its power from a wind farm in southwest Pennsylvania ("Wind and water," editorial, May 29).

The initiative proves that environmentally friendly energy can be provided at a competitive price. It is the culmination of years of work by the WSSC and Constellation Energy to improve the sustainability of our energy supply.

The editorial, however, failed to credit the role of competitive electricity markets that make purchases like this not only possible but also financially practical.

This contract was a competitively bid agreement brokered by Constellation Energy in which the WSSC and Constellation Energy agreed to take 100 percent of the wind farm's power output.

This guarantee was critical to the construction of 14 wind turbines in Pennsylvania.

It's no coincidence that 70 percent of wind energy generated in the United States is produced in competitive markets, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Such markets are the best way to bring together visionary consumers such as the WSSC and renewable energy generators.

Greg Jarosinski, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of the Constellation Energy Projects and Services Group.

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