March 29, 2009

Seeking a voice on group homes

It is disappointing to see continued misrepresentation of neighborhoods' opposition to the group home legislation before the City Council ("Treatment centers part of the solution," letters, March 22). We are not anti drug rehabilitation or group home operations; we are pro communities having a voice in the establishment of these facilities, many of which are run as for-profit businesses, in our neighborhoods.

We can all agree that there is a need for group homes; however, this flawed legislation would create more problems than it would solve. There is a mistaken belief that if a group home or drug rehabilitation facility is licensed, there is adequate oversight to protect the residents of the facility and the community. The city and state do not have central points of contact when neighbors have issues with group homes and in fact continually fail to inspect facilities regularly, leaving communities and residents open to exploitation and abuse.

The lack of protection offered to group home residents and the wider community is the issue that must be addressed before we give the operators carte blanch to open these facilities at will.

Kenneth W. Lockie, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Lauraville Improvement Association.

Gun bill won't help victims of abuse

The rationale of legislation in the General Assembly to confiscate guns in domestic violence situations may be obvious, but the fundamentals it is based upon are seriously flawed ("House OKs taking gun with protective orders," March 18). It presumes that an abuser under a final restraining order will surrender all guns and not hide any, will not go ahead and use the gun before it is taken, or will not obtain one via illegal means. It also assumes that a murder will not be committed by other means.

When abusers are determined to take the life of a former partner, this bill will be no more effective at stopping a potential murder than waving the protective order in front of their faces before they pull the trigger. Violent criminals understand only one thing: brute force. When innocents are attacked, the only thing that will save them is the threat or use of lethal force.

James Mullen, White Hall

No 'victory' in order that diminishes life

The writer of the letter "Moved by removal of stem cell ban" (March 25) states that embryonic stem cell research is conducted on frozen eggs. The truth is that it is performed on human beings.

So like her, I too was moved to tears to see President Barack Obama sign the executive order - because it designates a group of Americans as nothing more than research material. For all those celebrating this "victory" for science, I'd offer a word of caution: If we let the government decide that one group of citizens doesn't have the right to life, it can easily designate other groups as well.

Jon Shoemaker, Columbia

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