- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2000

Readers take aim at District's suit against gun makers


Now that the District has joined 29 other politically motivated cities and jurisdictions that are using the courts instead of the legislatures for their gun control agenda, I think D.C. residents should start filing lawsuits of their own ("District targets makers of guns," Jan. 21).
These lawsuits should be directed against the Metropolitan Police Department, Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the D.C. Council for failing to adequately protect residents against crime and failing to aggressively prosecute criminals who use guns. If the D.C. government and police would enforce the law and give better protection to city residents, then the medical expenses the mayor wants to reclaim in his gun manufacturer lawsuit would be significantly less and crime less of a threat.
This type of lawsuit also could be used against the federal government in particular, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for failing to make public housing projects safe from criminals, and thereby increasing the cost of medical expenses incurred by the federal government. Residents of housing projects could claim in court that HUD was responsible for their injuries and medical expenses by letting criminals commit crimes with guns, knives, baseball bats and cars.
The thought of suing the mayor and police force in the District is less absurd than suing gun manufacturers because the individuals in a class-action lawsuit would have a greater chance of recovery than the city has in suing the manufacturer of a federally licensed and heavily regulated product.
Evidence of lack of enforcement of current laws by the District is available to support that theory. High rates of crime in certain parts of the city where gun violence is rampant would show a failure of the city police to protect residents in these areas.
Maybe even a few gang members could be brought in to testify about how they acquire their guns illegally and how they are not prosecuted for these crimes by city and federal lawyers. Statistics will show that enforcement by the Justice Department of federal laws on illegal gun ownership and crimes committed with guns has been nonexistent.
D.C. residents should stand up finally to the political hacks, and those that support them, and identify what the real problems are when it comes to crime and its cost.
Suing gun manufacturers because of the illegal actions of criminals is related to the Clinton administration's agenda of putting the gun industry out of business and indirectly eliminating U.S. citizens' rights to gun ownership.
DARRELL COOPER
Fredericksburg, Va.

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The latest salvo in the war against gun makers shows how ludicrous these suits are, and how useless it would be to pass more gun control laws.
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams complained that the laws prohibiting guns were not stopping violence. It would seem then, that better enforcement of those laws is the responsibility of the police, not the gun manufacturers.
Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, said it best when he stated, "If gun control worked, Washington, D.C., would be the safest city in the world."
D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp compared guns to cars, in that they need licensing and registration. Very well. Do I need a background check to own a car? Can I buy a car in another state? Can I drive my car on any street or highway in the nation? D.C. Council member Jack Evans went on to state that fireworks are illegal in Virginia, "But I can go into that same state and buy an AK-47 assault rifle and bullets, put it in my trunk and come back into the District. Isn't that absurd?"
It is absurd to think that passing laws changes behavior. If you are a criminal, by definition, you do not obey laws. To buy a firearm in Virginia and transport it into the District is a crime. Morality and a sense of right and wrong prevent the vast majority of people from committing crimes. A psychotic killer does not pause before taking a life and says to himself, "Wait a minute. This is illegal."
It is absurd to hold the makers of a lawful product liable for the misdeeds of those who use that product unlawfully.

JAMES D. MILLER
Gaylord, Mich.

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D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is correct when he says "enough is enough." I am sick and tired of such Mickey Mouse politicians as Mr. Williams and so many others attempting to circumvent our constitutional rights through the use of politically appointed federal judges. If they cannot get what they want through legislation, they will do it like any good Clintonian would and pull an end run.
Enough is enough, Mr. Williams. It's time you and your cronies stop.
Rep. Bob Barr is correct when he says that if gun control worked, the District would be the safest city in the world. The District is not, and gun control does not work.
Mr. Barr said he would seek legislation to block these kinds of frivolous lawsuits. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said that if Congress did that, it would be in for a fight "a big one." She then went on to talk about the "recovery" and how the District would be left out. For those who don't know, the term "recovery," as used by Mrs. Norton, means money. This is proof that the only thing our politicians care about is money. They don't care about us or anything else except that almighty dollar.
It's time to wake up and go after something other than an inanimate object and a legal industry. It's time to go after the real problem, the criminal.
ROBERT E. BRAND
Gaithersburg

Energy Department needs to come clean about radioactive waste


According to a story in The Washington Times ("Energy cancels sale of radioactive metal," Jan. 13), the Department of Energy will temporarily halt the release of some highly contaminated radioactive waste materials contaminated throughout for recycling into household products. This falls far short of protecting the public, however. This action will still allow radioactive surface-contaminated waste to be recycled.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson should come clean with the American people about what his agency's agenda is for nuclear waste. He should not try to whitewash the department's precedent-setting, quarter-of-a-billion-dollar contract with BNFL Inc. for recycling radioactive waste from the massive, inactive uranium enrichment facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The contract would have allowed 127,000 tons of waste to be recycled into common household products, such as belt buckles, zippers, frying pans, forks and baby carriages. Because just 6,000 tons of that waste was contaminated, the Energy Department still will permit 121,000 tons of waste to be recycled.
Mr. Richardson is attempting to straddle the political fence by responding to public concerns but is moving ahead with what the nuclear industry desires.
The Energy Department must make protecting the public its first priority and immediately stop the release of all contaminated materials.
WENONAH HAUTER
Director
Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project
Washington

Proposed tax credit will be a magnet for fraud


On Wednesday, President Clinton proposed giving a $3,000 tax credit to Americans who take care of an ill relative.
What a joke.
On the one hand, the Clinton administration has cut billions of dollars from the Medicare home health benefit. This benefit reimburses Medicare-certified home health agencies for providing doctor-certified home health care. This care includes skilled nursing care, speech therapy and home health aide visits.
How on one hand can Mr. Clinton take away from an already established program (home health care) and offer a tax credit to people who, while they are well intentioned in taking care of their sick relative, are not medical professionals? How will family members document that they actually have taken care of their ill relative? Will doctors have to sign a place on the 1040 form stating that the relative was ill and how much time the family member took care of the person?
I predict this initiative will end up like the Earned Income Tax Credit. This program to help the working poor quickly turned into a huge avenue for fraud that Congress ended up having to deal with.
While I appreciate the effort to help family members who take care of a sick relative, it is more appropriate to reinstate funds to the Medicare home health benefit, which truly takes care of our Medicare beneficiaries.
SCOTT LARA
Director of governmental affairs
Home Care Association of America
Jacksonville, Fla.

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