- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 29, 2000

Shooting down the president's gun ID proposal

President Clinton's proposal to issue federally mandated licenses to handgun owners is another in an endless series of fraudulent, unconstitutional efforts to limit the possession of firearms to government-approved persons ("Clinton offers a long agenda for final year," Jan. 28).

While it would make it more difficult to own a handgun legally, it of course would do nothing to limit the use of handguns in the commission of crimes. Mr. Clinton knows this, but it doesn't matter. Making the lawful possession of firearms by private individuals impossible is exactly what he intends.

Here is a counterproposal to this useless measure: Let's license violent criminals. Any criminal must obtain a picture ID from the federal government that certifies he or she is a government-licensed criminal. Before committing any violent crime involving a firearm, the criminal must present a valid criminal's license to the intended victim. Failure to do so would subject the criminal (if caught, prosecuted and convicted) to severe penalties, such as denial of all but basic cable service while in prison.

Skeptics will heap scorn on this proposal. They will call it naive. Why would a violent criminal go to the trouble of obtaining a license to commit crimes when he is capable of committing crimes without it? Why would a criminal intentionally incriminate himself by applying to the government for a license to commit crimes? Why would any criminal, even an idiot, tip his hand to his intended victim by presenting his criminal credentials before his attack?

Any criminal stupid enough to apply for a firearm license (or stupid enough to believe the above is a serious proposal) is stupid enough to apply for a criminal license. Law-abiding people will not commit crimes with or without a gun license, because they are, well, law-abiding. The only practical use of a federally mandated gun license obviously has nothing to do with fighting crime and everything to do with providing the government with the name and address of every firearms owner in the country.

THOMAS D. COX

Muncie, Ind.

Loopholes in court's privacy ruling can drive you mad

The Supreme Court's unanimous ruling for the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and its provision that the dissemination of personal information can be barred does not instill any comfort in me ("Victory for privacy," Editorial, Jan. 20).

"Can be barred" does not read like "will be barred." What enforcement mechanisms are there in place to ensure that states don't just ignore (until caught) this ruling? What can citizens do to ensure that states don't find a loophole and continue to sell our information without telling us?

This whole scam really makes me mad but, as in most cases where the government abuses its power, there seems to be little anyone can do to prevent it especially if we don't know it's going on.

Thanks for your editorial. The Washington Times is my primary source of news because of information like this.

BARRY MALARCHER

Atlanta

Readers throw the book at the American Library Association

How ironic that Laurence Dickter, in his complaint about Dr. Laura Schlessinger's column on library groups, contradicts himself not once, but twice ("Index column on libraries under distortion," Letters, Jan. 19).

First he writes, "[T]he American Library Association (ALA) does not and never has suggested that children be allowed access to pornography at the library." Yet he goes on to say that during a meeting to discuss the objectionable paintings displayed in the San Diego library in front of children, only two people protested. This suggests that in his mind, this sufficed to demonstrate that the pornographic-style paintings were OK to display in front of the children after all. If The ALA is actually concerned about protecting children from access to pornography, why wasn't a representative from ALA at the meeting on the side of the two protesters? So much for his premise of the ALA's protection of children. Also, I guess somehow, in Mr. Dickter's mind, propriety must be supported not by truth, but by a majority.

Mr. Dickter complains that Dr. Laura and her followers wish to impose their view of what is right regardless of the facts or feelings of others, yet he begins his letter by suggesting that The Washington Times was wrong to "run a column from Dr. Laura" that he considered incorrect. Should Mr. Dickter's opinion of whether the column is "right" suffice to prevent it from being run, essentially imposing his view of what is right regardless of the facts or feelings of the rest of us who read this paper?

VICTORIA J. BINGHAM

Arlington

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Laurence S. Dickter's letter attacking Dr. Laura Schlessinger's American Library Association (ALA) criticism was a prime example of classic ALA rhetoric straight from the playbook of the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF).

ALA leadership consistently distorts the facts, discourages debate and gives aid and comfort to pornographers in court battles and on the legislative front from coast to coast.

Before taking her stand against the crude and obscene art display rendering the San Diego public library's music room useless to innocent children, Dr. Laura downloaded copies of those pictures from the Web and examined them closely. Part of the expert testimony she has seen that has encouraged her general attack on the ALA are chilling incidents, reported by librarians themselves, from coast to coast. One of the most comprehensive reports, "Dangerous Access," by cyberspace librarian expert David Burt (www.filteringfacts.org) contains more than 2,000 examples of children and women endangered and forever changed by disgusting experiences fueled by the unchecked flow of filth from unfiltered public-library Internet terminals.

Mr. Dickter obviously is unaware (or in denial) of the shameful number of libraries that not only have no protection even for children's Internet terminals, but also support policies preventing librarians even from objecting to having child pornography called up on the adult machines. Nor do folks such as Mr. Dickter acknowledge that in a growing number of those public no-holds-barred libraries, the bathrooms shared by innocents and porn addicts have become sexual war zones leading even librarians who are ALA members themselves targets of sexual harassment to question the absolutism of the leaders in their organization.

American Libraries Editor in Chief Leonard Kniffel wrote a courageous editorial in the October 1999 issue in which he asked, "What is preventing this Association … from coming out with a public statement denouncing children's access to pornography and offering 700+ ways to fight it?" One of the subtitles in his piece was, "Pornography and kids don't mix."

If Mr. Dickter's library is a model of complete and safe family friendliness, it is the exception, not the rule. The fault is with local library boards that have allowed themselves to be led astray by ALA policy gurus who have worked their way into the majority of key administrative jobs in the nation's public-library network. The fault is with the national ALA leadership, which has intimidated librarians with real concerns for children from fully standing up for the children's protection.

At the October 1998 gathering that was part of the president's Online Summit regarding children's safety on the Internet, before about 200 witnesses representing press, policy groups and other professionals, I asked Judith Krug, chief spokesman for the ALA-OIF, "Would you be willing to ask your association to support having, at least, rules against accessing obscenity and child pornography on public library computers?" Without a moment's hesitation, she firmly and decidedly declared, "No."

There is no distortion in Dr. Laura's written and spoken comments on the ALA. Mr. Dickter and others of his ilk need to lay their ALA manuals aside and get a grip on the truth, for the sake of young library patrons everywhere.

KAREN JO GOUNAUD

President

Family Friendly Libraries

Springfield

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