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To the Editor: These are the mild rantings of a confused and frustrated liberal: Why is this race so close? Why does half of the population actually think school vouchers are a good idea? Or that we need another Scalia to interpret the Constitution? Or that drilling on virgin land to fuel more toxin-producing, asthma-inducing combustion engines should be the government's solution to high oil prices? Who are these people? Didn't their mothers teach them anything? Why do they have so much money, so many voices? There can't be that many anti-choice, pro-NRA millionaires. And why is a very well-educated, caring, responsive, inspiring, hard-working man struggling to reach the office for which he has been preparing his entire life? I watch the news. I read the papers. I even listen to NPR, and I still don't know why I will be forced to hold my breath on election night.

Bethann Miller College '01

Coping with guns

To the Editor: Ignoring statistics all together, Brian Cope ("Guns don't protect people -- the law does," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 10/30/00) makes faulty assertions that destroy his credibility among well-informed individuals. He claims that the sole reason the NRA opposes "basic gun legislation" such as registration and safety locks is the fear of a reduction in contributions from gun manufacturers. He conveniently overlooks that the entire purpose of the NRA is to defend Second Amendment rights upon which these policies infringe. Registration historically leads to the loss of gun rights. What other purpose exists for having a list with each gun owner's name and address? An instant background check comparing potential gun buyers with a list of dangerous individuals would give the same benefits and yet not be objectionable to gun-rights advocates. Mandatory safety locks ignore the real reason for the startling number of accidental deaths -- the lack of proper gun education -- and make it much harder to use a weapon in self-defense. If the NRA did not have reason to oppose these types of policies, the real source of their money, the millions of dedicated NRA members, would quickly abandon them. Mr. Cope also claims that these types of laws "would not affect those hard-working Americans who just want to defend their family or hunt on the weekend." Not only do these proposals make the process of acquiring firearms a much more lengthy and expensive process than it has to be, the benefits are either non-existent or can be accomplished in ways that both sides can agree to. I would suggest Mr. Cope review both sides with an open mind before deciding to enlighten us with his opinions.

Chad Edmondson College/Wharton '03


To the Editor: Unfortunately, it seems that Brian Cope didn't do his homework before coming to his conclusions about gun ownership. If he had, he would have discovered the ground-breaking study by Yale Professor John Lott, who outlines his use of statistical models to prove violent crime drops by allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms for personal self-defense. Mr. Cope could have looked at research done by Gary Kleck, a professor at Florida State University. His research indicates that law-abiding citizens use firearms in lawful self-defense 2.5 million times annually, with only 2 percent of those incidents involving firing the gun. It's hardly appropriate to compare Vancouver and Seattle to prove conclusively that guns do not prevent burglaries; the sample is too small. More importantly, violent crime, including home invasion robberies, is beginning to increase in Canada. The same trend happened in Great Britain and Australia, all after strict gun control and confiscation occurred. The link between the two is obvious; if law-abiding citizens are disarmed, the criminals who are armed anyway will terrorize their victims in the knowledge they will not have to worry about a victim who could fight back. Also note that every country that has required registration of guns subsequently enacted gun bans and used the registration lists to collect them. It has already happened in New York City and California. If this isn't enough to give credence to fears of total gun confiscation nationwide, I don't know what is. Maybe Mr. Cope could enlighten us.

Michael Bane

Keep names private

To the Editor: A recent editorial ("Time to name names," DP, 10/26/00) supporting the release of the names of student offenders missed a few key points. The editorial said that students should be held accountable to their peers if found responsible for an indiscretion just as if they were found guilty by a court. In the American criminal justice system, a bureaucracy of checks and balances are present to ensure the rights of the accused. Appeals and cross-examinations are used to certify that decisions are as fair and impartial as possible. I would hardly conclude that bringing a student accusation before the Office of Student Conduct would assure the level of impartiality that due process through the courts would provide. It is therefore unreasonable to disclose the names of student offenders on the basis of the fact that such disclosure occurs in the criminal justice system. The ability of the University to mediate in such cases and to offer anonymity to the victim and assailant can also be reassuring and allow matters to be heard that wouldn't normally be brought before a court. Of course, the rights of the victim should always be considered and carefully balanced with those of the accused. Furthermore, I believe the DP has a vested interest in the release of such names; clearly these stories will eventually appear on the cover of future DP editions. A University committee led by Dean Richard Beeman will soon release a recommendation to President Rodin on this important topic. I encourage all undergraduates to make their opinions known in the comment period that will follow.

David Greene Engineering '02

Righting old wrongs

To the Editor: Enrique Landa's "A sign from the Windy City" (The Daily Pennsylvanian, 10/31/00) discusses the poverty and crime in the areas surrounding both Penn and the University of Chicago. While Landa's call to fight "urban decay" is respectable, he neglects to take any historical view of how Penn became surrounded by one of "America's worst ghetto[s]." Unfortunately, many students get the impression that the surrounding area has been in shambles ever since the University was founded. Not only is this untrue, but our own school has contributed to the poverty of West Philadelphia. Much of the area that is now a part of our campus used to be a residential area called the "Black Bottom." Penn and Drexel pushed 15,000 residents out of this community by buying the housing from the landlords and allowing it to deteriorate, forcing residents to move and allowing Penn to expand. Thus, we should all take issue with the attitude that Penn's expansion is "improving the neighborhood." I am not trying to criticize Penn's recent community outreach -- tutoring, etc. -- but let us not have a self-righteous attitude about bringing the Gap to West Philly. Our efforts are hardly, as the accompanying cartoon portrays, a gift horse, but something we owe to a community we have helped destroy.

Julia Gottlieb College '03

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