- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Columnist shoots blanks with gun-control argument

There she goes again. Adrienne T. Washington managed to get my blood boiling with her latest crusade for more gun control ("Violence hits close to home for leader of mom march," Metropolitan, April 28). Like President Clinton, Ms. Washington seems to capitalize on every gun crime to push her hateful anti-gun agenda. I am convinced she either doesn't get it or wants to magically get rid of civilian gun ownership in America.

Her suggestions for registration, licensing and cooling off periods simply will not inhibit the deranged and criminal from obtaining anything they want. What Ms. Washington fails to realize is that these people travel in different circles than we law-abiding citizens do. They don't walk into their local gun shop and fill out the required government forms.

Take the shootings at the National Zoo she writes about as an example. The suspect was too young to purchase a gun. He lives in the District, so even if he were an old man, he still couldn't own a handgun, much less carry a loaded one. But let's assume he lives in Virginia and is old enough to purchase a gun. If he has a criminal record, it is doubtful a firearm could be purchased. The existing laws would be more than sufficient to stop him in his tracks. What on earth compels Ms. Washington to think more laws would prevent future tragedy? Laws only affect the law-abiding.

What Ms. Washington is advocating will not reduce crime. She can have her own opinions, but shouldn't they include at least a shred of reality? How about facts or statistics to back up her opinion? On the other hand, if she is simply attacking guns, I would feel better if she would come clean and admit that she wants to abolish the Second Amendment.


Mount Airy, Md.


It was inevitable. An innocent little boy is stabbed to death in the quiet suburb of Alexandria, and Adrienne Washington uses this tragedy as an excuse to call for more gun control. It simply boggles the mind.



The Times caught in a Cold War time warp

When will you guys ever get past your die-hard Cold War mentalities and the idea that it is America against the rest of the world ("Russian missile roulette," Editorial, April 28)? With the current array of weapons of mass destruction and the variety of means to deliver them, if other countries were really out to get America, they could do it without ballistic missiles.

Your threat scenarios are too limited, but if you are only worried about the limited ballistic missile threat from rogue states, the limited national missile defense proposed by the Clinton administration should be all that is required. At the end of the day, America can't afford another arms race any more than Russia can. Just because America has more money than Russia is no reason to maintain its nuclear arsenal.

After a decade of progress toward the reduced threat of nuclear war between the major powers, one would swear there are those who would like to turn back the clock 50 years. Let's move past the Cold War rhetoric and into the new millennium. If Cold War dinosaurs such as Sen. Jesse Helms can't evolve, it won't be too soon before they become extinct.



Media were focused on the more outlandish protesters

As one who participated in the public demonstration against the policies espoused by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, I take umbrage at Donald Lambro's characterization of the protesters as sharing a "profound ignorance of how the free market works" ("Economic protests that missed the mark," Commentary, April 20).

The sundry clusters of protesters were amalgamated by the stark reality to which Mr. Lambro refers: The IMF and the World Bank, with their impolitic designs to hastily usher in economic reforms in foreign nations, can point to "few if any success stories."

Unfortunately, this underlying cause of the mass protest has not been appreciated in the more liberal precincts of the Fourth Estate. Instead, these elements of the press have chosen to characterize the demonstration against the IMF and the World Bank by its more laughable features black-clad anarchists and would-be Marxist revolutionaries, for example.

By and large, however, those who thronged the streets of Washington in protest wished only that both world organizations would correct some of its more glaring failings. This message for positively needed reform, and not dismantlement, should not be dismissed impulsively.



Too soon to give Turkey credit for turning corner on human rights

Sen. Jesse Helms cites several hopeful indications that Turkey's terrible human rights record is improving, including, "the release [of] dozens of imprisoned writers" ("Turkey's human rights progress," Op-Ed, April 21).

Mr. Helms also quotes Human Rights Watch as saying that the incidence of torture in the country has dropped "appreciably." (The State Department's latest Human Rights Report on Turkey points out that "torture, beatings, and other abuses by the security forces remained widespread, at times resulting in deaths." The report notes that "with the decrease in operations and detentions in the southeast, there were fewer reported cases of abuse; however, the proportion of cases in which abuse occurred remained at high levels.") While these and other statements in Mr. Helms' column are technically accurate, they create a much rosier picture of the current state of human rights in Turkey than is actually the case.

It is true that a number of imprisoned writers have been released. However, if any of them should utter in print the opinions that led to their incarceration, they will immediately be put back in prison. While the incidence of torture has declined in Turkey during the past year, not only does torture, including the torture of children, still take place on a regular basis, but Turkish doctors who report on the abuse of those in custody by Turkish security forces are themselves victims of abuse by security forces and are put on trial for honest reporting. Human rights organizations continue to be harassed and kept from investigating abuses: Akin Birdal, an award-winning former head of Turkey's leading nongovernmental human rights organization who has been re-incarcerated recently for speaking out for peace in the southeast, has been selected by Amnesty International as a "prisoner of conscience."

I do not disagree with Mr. Helms that there is a growing consensus inside Turkey to change its constitution and to bring the country more in conformance with European human rights norms. The question for those who make U.S. foreign policy is how best to encourage this consensus. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee soon will have to decide whether Turkey has made sufficient progress in correcting its abysmal human rights record to warrant its purchasing U.S.-made arms that have the potential of being used against Turkish civilians. Giving the green light to these purchases risks sending the message that Turkey's small steps toward a more civil society cited by Mr. Helms are the end, rather than the beginning of reform.


Advocacy director for Europe and the Middle East

Amnesty International USA


More on Scout case

It is almost surreal that we are confronted with the question of whether a private group, in this case the Boy Scouts, which rejects homosexuality on moral grounds, must accept homosexuals into its membership ("Trustworthy, loyal, helpful and gay?" Editorial, April 28).

I just hope we find that the Supreme Court exercises some common sense rather than finding that the justices are collectively so open-minded that their brains have fallen out.



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