- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Virginia gun-show 'loophole' smaller than letter indicates

It appears that gun-control advocates are either unwilling or unable to state facts completely.
Take the case of Gail C. Horne, executive director of Virginians Against Handgun Violence, whose letter "Virginia should follow Maryland's lead on gun control not vice versa" appeared in the Jan. 5 edition of your paper.
In that letter, Ms. Horne made the point that people buying guns at gun shows are not subject to background checks. That is not the case. All licensed dealers at gun shows must do background checks. The only exemptions are for the few persons who are there selling a gun or two from a private collection.
I find it hard to believe that Ms. Horne, as head of a gun group, was not aware of current law on background checks at gun shows.

STEVE A. BROWN
Springfield

Sharpton disowns America, then demands special treatment?

So the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton have accused Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers of refusing to embrace that semantically vague term "affirmative action." Many people cannot agree on the meaning of that phrase, but we all know what it means to "civil riots leaders" Jackson and Sharpton: racial preference. Funny, then, that using race as a selection criterion for hiring or schooling is prohibited under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
That doesn't matter to a self-proclaimed outsider such as Mr. Sharpton. At the State of the Black World Conference, held in Atlanta in October, Mr. Sharpton celebrated the view that blacks are not really part of America. It was there that he revved up the choir by claiming, "This country can't find a guy who comes out every two weeks to cut a video, and then you challenge us to stand under one flag?" He went on to urge the 700 black delegates to take on the problems of blacks rather than those of the nation. His "me first, country last" diatribe was given a standing ovation by the attendees.
If Mr. Sharpton and his bunch want to embrace our Constitution and our laws, welcome aboard. If they want to remain on the outside looking in, so be it. It's their choice. However, if Mr. Sharpton claims he's not part of America, he has little right to endorse color-coded racial preferences illegality aside.

RAYMOND BATZ
Incline Village, Nev.

Condoms safe, bishops 'purveyors of death'

Twice The Washington Times has published letters concerning the supposed inability of latex condoms to provide protection from the spread of HIV ("Abstinence is not absent from church teaching," Dec. 31; "Metro ads slamming bishops contain harmful subtext," Jan. 2). Not true. The claims that latex condoms permit HIV to pass through are unfounded; most failures with condoms have to do with failure to use them consistently or failure to use them correctly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that scientific studies show that sexually active people at high risk for contracting HIV have found that "even with repeated sexual contact, 98-100 percent of those people who used latex condoms correctly and consistently did not become infected."
The Catholic bishops' opposition to safe-sex education and the distribution of condoms has a perilous impact that goes well beyond preaching. When church leaders advocate abstinence-only programs and actively intervene in governmental efforts to promote safe-sex education and programs proven to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in target populations, they become purveyors of death. This is especially true in countries where the bishops exercise overt political influence. Is it really all that unseemly to point that out?

REA HOWARTH
Coordinator
Catholics Speak Out
Brentwood

Democrats fail to discredit Bush

It seems that any legislation forwarded from the House to the Senate meets a quick and untimely death these days at the hands of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
With this being an election year, time grows increasingly short for the Democrats' well-oiled machine of demonization and character assassination to have any effect on President Bush's popularity but at least give them credit for trying.
The economy, which already was tanking in the first quarter of Bill Clinton's last year in office, is being blamed on Mr. Bush. In fact, during the entire year of 2000, Mr. Clinton did nothing in response to signs of a downturn.
Now Mr. Daschle, true to form, hopes to hang the blame for Mr. Clinton's lack of action on Mr. Bush and his tax cut. Fat chance.
During this time of crisis, Mr. Bush has shown leadership qualities that were missing during the previous eight years. Mr. Bush has chosen to take a strong stand against terrorism, whereas Mr. Clinton chose merely to ignore it. Clearly, the American people were ready for a strong, no-nonsense, moral adult to occupy the Oval Office.
Mr. Bush has attempted, perhaps naively, to bring a cooperative and bipartisan atmosphere to Washington. The major stumbling block to his plan has been Mr. Daschle's rhetoric and refusal to cooperate.
Lies and distortions can only carry the Daschle Democrats so far. The time has come for them to consider the best interests of the American people, not just the best interests of the Democratic Party.

DENNIS HAYWARD
Phoenix

Free to speak, free to heckle

In his Jan. 7 Op-Ed column, "Who is the enemy to American values?" Nat Hentoff points out that most of the nation's elite colleges and universities do not require courses about our history or Constitution. Mr. Hentoff must have graduated from one of those institutions. He later states that California State University student Janis Besler's First Amendment right of free speech was violated when, five minutes into her commencement speech, she was heckled off the stage. No so, Mr. Hentoff.
Our First Amendment is clear that "Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech." Congress did not intervene in preventing Ms. Besler from finishing her speech. The audience did that. Our Founding Fathers did not include a provision mandating that citizens must listen to what someone else is saying.

BOB ROENIGK
Needville, Texas


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