- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 15, 2002

National ID cards are not in order

I totally agree with your Oct. 5 editorial "Big Brother's national ID card." Such a document would result in far more problems and abuses than any positive results could justify. Just think back to all of the bad movies we have seen, wherein some totalitarian thug with a badge or a uniform and a gun goes up to some innocent citizens and demands to see their "papers." We already know what happens if the papers are "not in order," and we also know who gets to decide what is "in order" and what is not.
The last thing we need is yet another way for any police agency, federal, state or local, to inconvenience and harass people for fun or with the hopes of producing a few arrests to impress superiors.
I rarely go out without two forms of photo ID. Those two documents and some others with my name and address should be all any reasonable, minimally intelligent officer should need to verify who I am. It will be mere minutes before fake IDs will be available on the black market, anyway, and this alone will dilute any value of such a program.
There are many other ways to improve our national integrity without resorting to another branch, bureau or department of government to create and administer such a program. We really don't need yet more unelected, unaccountable officials deciding what is best for us.
Let's think this out very carefully before rushing to the floor of Congress and doing something that many generations will regret.

Utica, Mich.

Ballistic fingerprinting is no magic bullet

In his Friday Commentary column, "'Fingerprint' bullets?" Clarence Page called for a national "ballistic fingerprinting" system. This idea has several problems.
First, the expense of collecting, processing and storing such a database would be prohibitive, especially given its limited usefulness. A small fraction of firearms, about two-tenths of 1 percent, is ever used in the commission of a crime. There are more than 200 million firearms in the United States. Forcing American taxpayers or legitimate gun owners to pay for such a scheme is unfair. By Mr. Page's logic, in an effort to solve future crimes, we also could argue for fingerprinting and getting DNA samples from every baby born in the country.
A vast assortment of illegal weapons are available on the black market. Criminals throughout the region already have access to almost any type of gun from underground sources, only a few of which have been "fingerprinted." We cannot even stop the flow of illegal drugs or counterfeit watches into the country; it is unlikely that we could stop the flow of illegal guns or gun barrels rushing in to meet an increased black-market demand.
Third, each time a gun is fired, its ballistic fingerprint changes because of minute scratches to the barrel. This means that a gun will have a slightly different "fingerprint" at the time of manufacture than it will after hundreds or thousands of rounds have passed through it.
Fourth, criminals would soon learn to swap the gun barrels of weapons they obtained, replace the original barrels with those manufactured illegally in clandestine factories, or change the ballistic fingerprint by scratching the inside of the barrel.
Fifth, as we have seen in the recent sniper attacks, bullets often are not recovered in a condition that would allow for comparison of ballistic fingerprints. In many of the attacks, only bullet fragments were recovered, which then were compared with the composition of other recovered fragments. When a gunman uses high-velocity, lightweight bullets like the .223 being used by the D.C.-area sniper, only fragments may ever be recovered.
We absolutely should "fingerprint" every firearm used in a crime or recovered from a criminal. However, to some anti-gun activists, no burden or expense is too great for gun owners to bear. The expense and impossibility of implementing a plan such as Mr. Page proposes means the end result would only be wasted time and effort. Universal "ballistic fingerprinting" would not provide us with a "magic bullet" to solve crimes.


Readers speak out on animal rights

Thanks for the humorous "Who are you calling a terrorist?" by Steven Zak (Op-Ed, Thursday). Especially in the post-September 11 days, I am certain some readers turn away in anticipation of an unpleasant topic, and humor scarcely exists in the tragedy of animal abuse or in the heated debates over animal rights.
Mr. Zak deserves applause for finding another tack for raising awareness of animal rights concerns. The Washington Times deserves praise for continuing its coverage of these important issues. Please keep up the good work.
With respect and appreciation,

Burnsville, N.C.

Bravo on the wonderful column "Who are you calling a terrorist?". It is refreshing to hear someone speak the truth regarding the terror we inflict on animals.
I, too, am deeply disturbed by our rampant abuse of animals in factory farms, hunting ranges, circuses, cosmetics labs and more. This overwhelming amount of cruelty simply has no place in civilized society. I am grateful that the author called attention to the many well-known and revered people who also share this view.
Respect for all animals is an idea whose time has come. It is not extreme, violent or radical to argue for kindness and mercy. Rather, it is ethical, pragmatic and compassionate and long overdue.

Takoma Park

"Who are you calling a terrorist?"shines light on the importance of advocating for animals. Increasingly, people from across political and social spectra are speaking out on behalf of those without a voice.
Animals indisputably are among the most oppressed groups on Earth, habitually killed and abused by the billions for whatever purposes we deem desirable. Each year, we force sensitive, defenseless animals on factory farms to undergo branding, castration, tooth grinding and other mutilations, all without painkillers. Soon after, we send them to slaughter, unbothered by documentation that they routinely are killed while fully conscious.
It's no wonder there is a growing uproar regarding our domination of those weaker than ourselves. It is long past time we end the violence and terror we wreak on other animals and begin treating them with compassion and respect. Certainly, we all can live with this change.

Compassion Over Killing

Steven Zak couldn't have missed the mark more completely. Nobody with a brain is applying the "terrorist" label to kindly old grannies who help out at their local animal shelters. Such "mainstream animal welfare activism" is a very healthy thing indeed.
However, last year alone, more than $13 million in damage was caused in the United States by radical animal activists who weren't content to donate their time to worthy causes. Members of the Animal Liberation Front preferred to express themselves by shattering windows, lighting Molotov cocktails and detonating explosives.
Members of another criminal group, known as SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty), have beaten people outside their own homes and freely distributed the Social Security numbers of Americans whom they don't like. Their targets have included people who dared own stock in or do business with a medical research company that uses animals in tests for cures to cancer and Parkinson's disease. The esteemed Southern Poverty Law Center recently labeled SHAC a "hate group," correctly lumping it in with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.
Animal rights zealots who object to having their violent friends considered "domestic terrorists" should take up the matter with the FBI. It's the FBI's characterization, not one cooked up by journalists.
Anyone who still needs convincing that "mainstream" animal activists are crossing the line into violence should know that last year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals made a cash donation to the North American Earth Liberation Front, another FBI-certified "domestic terror" group. The money came out of tax-exempt funds, too. No amount of fuzzy-bunny sophistry on Mr. Zak's part can explain that away.

Director of research
The Center for Consumer Freedom

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