- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2002

Maryland prosecutes law-abiding citizens, ignores criminals

The disturbing Jan. 29 front-page report "'Citizen of the year' denied OK to carry gun" showcased the fundamental problem with most anti-gun legislation: It targets decent people and strips them of their Second Amendment rights while not doing anything to stop armed criminals.

The two examples cited in the article perfectly illustrate the problem. Donald G. Arnold had his carry permit revoked, and Larry L. Dicken had his weapons confiscated because of relatively minor brushes with the law that took place decades ago. Both men had no history of problems with firearms ownership. Neither was likely to commit a crime with the firearms. Why, then, is Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. so eager to have the state police take away their guns?

Could it be that Maryland has run out of criminals and that Mr. Curran has had to find some other way to employ the state's troopers? Not likely. Although crime rates appear to have dipped somewhat last year, the state still is among those with the highest per capita rates in the nation for murder, violent crime and robbery. In such an environment, one would think the attorney general would be going after people who are actively committing crimes instead of focusing on depriving law-abiding citizens of their right to defend themselves. Alas, this is not the case.

I don't believe most of the anti-gun politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats are so naive as to believe that murderers, rapists and burglars normally go down to their local gun shops, where they would have to fill out the necessary paperwork and submit to background checks, to acquire the tools of their criminal trades. The reality is that criminals, generally speaking, buy and sell their guns on the streets. If all handguns became illegal to own tomorrow, the illegal gun trade would become an underground industry in itself, and more criminals probably would have easier access to firearms than they do now. More American weapons manufacturers would go out of business, and illegal import trade with foreign arms manufacturers would flourish.

Crack cocaine provides a good analogy to this situation. Not only is crack illegal, but billions of dollars are spent each year specifically to target the substance. Yet crack remains a readily available product, peddled on street corners in just about every city in America. The major competitors in this illegal industry the street gangs battle each other for territory in deadly gunfights with illegally acquired firearms. Too many innocent, law-abiding people get hurt in the process.

Why, then, would politicians and bureaucrats go after law-abiding citizens when there is still so much crime out there? I believe the answer lies in the corrupting nature of power. An armed citizenry is not easy to oppress. That is why one of the first things the fascists and communists did when they came to power in Europe was to disarm the populace. An unarmed populace cannot resist. The anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats have had a taste of power, and they want more. I believe they have fallen prey to a pathological desire to control people, an unquenchable desire for power.

I pray that Maryland's attorney general and law enforcement personnel focus on catching and prosecuting the gangsters, murderers, rapists and burglars and that they leave the law-abiding gun owners alone. I hope the good citizens of that state see fit someday to elect politicians who will defend their individual, lawful right to bear arms and defend themselves. Until then, I'm glad I live on the other side of the Potomac.



Money for victims is price of freedom

It's bizarre that otherwise kindhearted people turn stone-cold when they feel the direction of their charitable giving is forced by the strong arm of government. In her Jan. 28 Op-Ed column, "Money and mourning at Ground Zero," Suzanne Fields eloquently summarizes this chilling view in regard to compensating the victims of the September 11 attacks. She describes the slippery slope of issues Should "domestic partners" be compensated? Where was the victims' compensation after the Oklahoma City bombing? as "an indigestible witch's brew" and wants to throw the baby out with the bath water. She prefers the clean, crisp logic of "it's complicated, so let's just forget about it" to a public effort to do something kind even if it will make others justifiably unhappy.

Freedom should come with a price tag commensurate with its value. The amount of taxpayer money being spent to compensate families who lost a loved one in those vicious political acts is small potatoes. Whining that the expenditure infringes on a person's freedom to be charitable is downright churlish.


Lafayette Hill, Pa.

U.N. Population Fund is 'line of defense' against abortion

As of today, 109 members of the U.S. Congress have called upon President Bush to release the $34 million Congress has appropriated for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest multilateral organization providing population and family-planning assistance to the poorest countries of the world, where 97 percent of world population growth is occurring.

The Washington Times reported Jan. 29 that 11 members of Congress will appeal to the president to exercise his discretion to withhold these funds ("Population fund at U.N. protested," Jan. 29). They charge that forced abortion is the foundation of the Chinese national family-planning program, which receives support from UNFPA. These charges have been leveled for nearly two decades. In the 1980s, the United States, under President Reagan and the first President Bush, actually withdrew its funding for UNFPA, which, incidentally, does not support or fund abortion.

The claims against China's program have never been substantiated to the satisfaction of even one country, other than the United States, that contributes to the fund. Indeed, several of these donors including the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Sweden increased their assistance to UNFPA while the United States sat on the sidelines. Perhaps these countries are acting on the kind of logic Mr. Bush should consider soon: The first line of defense against abortion is family planning, and to deny family planning is a surefire way to escalate rather than decrease abortions.



The Population Institute


Attacks on Turner reveal 'bias' of the Times

The Washington Times' Jan. 20 story on Ted Turner and your subsequent editorial betray a commitment to criticizing Mr. Turner and conservation organizations regardless of the facts ("Greens cut Turner a break," Jan. 20; "'Daddy Greenbucks,'" Jan. 26).

In what was misrepresented as evidence of a "double standard" paid for by Turner Foundation money, I was personally depicted as having "refused to criticize" fencing practices on one of Mr. Turner's ranches. In reality, I merely declined to pass judgment based on the one-sided accusations presented by your reporter.

Indeed, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has voiced concerns regarding the impact of fencing practices on wildlife with Mr. Turner's principal land manager in the West. Given Mr. Turner's record of conservation stewardship, we are confident that the matter will be resolved satisfactorily. Our handling of this issue is no different from our handling of another fencing matter now pending in southwestern Wyoming. There, just as in the Turner matter, NWF is working with the landowner and others to address potentially problematic fencing practices in a common-sense manner that protects important wildlife values while respecting the rights of private landowners.

Your editorial's labeling of NWF as "green radicals" flies in the face of its 66-year history of promoting the kind of pragmatic, nonpartisan solutions that work for people and for the health of the environment. Your attacks on Mr. Turner similarly ignore the reality of his conservation vision, commitment and contribution to shaping a sustainable world. As is so often the case, the facts just don't support the Times' anti-environmental bias.


President and chief executive officer

National Wildlife Federation


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