The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, March 21, 1995, Image 11

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    Tuesday • March 21, 1995
5 ' '
The Battalion • Page 11
4 m
The Battalion
Established in 1893
Editorials appearing in The Battalion reflect the views of
the editorial board. They do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of other Battalion staff members, the Texas A&M
student body, regents, administration, faculty or staff.
Columns, guest columns, cartoons and letters express
the opinions of the authors. Contact the opinion editor
for information on submitting guest columns.
Mark Smith
Editor in chief
Jay Robbins
Senior Managing
Heather Winch
Managing editor
for Business
Sterling Hayman
Opinion editor
Erin Hill
Asst, opinion editor
Let us Decide
The Texas Legislature should let citizens
decide fate of concealed handgun law
Last week the Texas Senate
passed a measure that would allow
citizens to carry concealed handguns.
The bill will now advance to the
House for consideration.
The Legislature should use a pop
ular referendum to determine the
fate of the carry concealed hand
guns bill. This sensitive issue can
only be resolved fairly by allowing
each citizen to make
the decision.
Citizens carrying
guns could easily take the
law into their own hands,
which would only increase the
amount of violence that already ^
exists in Texas.
Advocates of such a measure
claim that increased crime is a dri
ving factor behind the legislation.
Yet the crime rate in every major cat
egory in Texas decreased.
A “right-to-carry” law would send
the wrong message to Texas children.
It would convey the message that it is
acceptable to be violent. It says that
the answer to crime and violence is an
increase in guns.
A right-to-carry law would not re
duce the amount of crime within the
state. Violence would more than likely
increase with more accidental and un
necessary shootings.
The speedy passage of the concealed
handgun bill by the Texas Senate is
disconcerting. There is no research
that shows that allowing citizens to
carry concealed weapons will decrease
crime. In fact, much of the research
conducted shows otherwise.
A study conducted at the University
of Maryland found that right-to-carry
laws lead to higher numbers of deaths
from firearms. The state
should eliminate concealed
weapons instead of allow
ing them.
The bottom line of
this issue is that citi
zens should be allowed
^ to vote by referendum
^ concerning any law
that would legalize
concealed handguns. A recent poll re
flects that 51 percent of the Texas
citizens would support such a law,
while another poll showed that 51
percent would not.
The Legislature should
With such a divided opinion on such
a crucial issue, it only seems fitting
that the Legislature would allow the
people to decide for themselves.
Spirit of Aggieland can
be found in friendships
After being accepted to Texas A&M
the admissions office sent me a poster
inscribed with The Spirit of Aggieland.
The song claims that “there’s a spirit
that can ne’er be told . . . it’s the spirit
of Aggieland.”
Four years ago I entered A&M
knowing little of this spirit. Later, as I
experienced Aggie traditions, I
thought I had discovered the soul of
A&M. I was wrong!
On March 16, my best friends, Joel
and Gina Johnson, died in a traffic acci
dent. Unfortunately, it took the death of
these graduating Texas Aggies to make
me realize what the real spirit of Ag
gieland is all about.
It’s not the great traditions or the
prestigious diplomas that give life to
A&M, it is the friendships. The Spirit of
A&M lies within the intangible bonds
we make with other Aggies.
So from now on when someone asks
you what makes A&M so great, tell
them first about your friendships. I
know I will.
Chris Forthman
Electrical Engineering ’95
A&M too often courts
A few years ago A&M changed the
name of a street to George Bush Blvd.
Then we were honored by Bush bringing
his voluminous library (one-term presi
dent’s worth) to dear ole Aggieland.
I don’t understand why A&M didn’t
send George packing for Connecticut or
Houston, but I’ve learned to live with it.
I thought A&M had gone too far on
that, but it really disappointed me with
the Phil Gramm circus on the steps of
the Administration Building. I saw
RVs, BQs, and all sorts of cadets at this
most important of occasions. Ms. Rev
must have been busy!
Gramm has reluctantly pointed out
that he used the same tactics as Bill
Clinton to not go to Vietnam. However,
he points out that his economical tal
ents would have been wasted in the
basement of the Pentagon. Come now
Phil — I bet they would’ve let you gone
into the infantry, if that would have
made serving worth your time.
The only difference I see between
Phil and Bill on this matter is that Bill
had the conviction of his beliefs to say
he thought the Vietnam War was a bad
idea,while Phil gave new meaning to
“don’t ask, don’t tell, and maybe no one
will notice I’m not serving.”
I’ve noticed Gramm only having two
convictions through the years. First, to
Students need protection from theft
Bookstores should implement system that monitors purchases
I t’s becoming an ever
growing problem on
campus — the theft of
books and identification
I have been the victim of
at least four stolen books,
and I am aware of many
other students who have
had books stolen.
Just last week, someone stole a
book from my roommate and a buddy
down the hallway. Lucky for my room
mate, he had put his name in an in
conspicuous place inside his book.
With this information, he called the
local bookstores to see if his book had
been sold back. After calling nearly
every bookstore, his efforts finally
paid off.
The Texas A&M Bookstore had
bought the book back earlier that morn
ing. They were even good enough to
give the book back.
However, this was only the begin
ning. Policy at the Texas A&M Book
store requires that anyone selling a
book must present an I.D. card and
telephone number.
The employee who helped us find the
stolen book was able to track down my
other buddy’s books — which had been
sold back only minutes before by the
same person.
Things were getting more interesting
by the second. Soon we would have the
name of the person who stole the books.
But here’s where our luck began to
run out. It turned out that the I.D. card
the person used to sell the books was
stolen; the thief had used someone
The Battalion encourages letters to the editor and will
print as many as space allows. Letters must be 300
words or less and include the author's name, class and
phone number. We reserve the right to edit letters for
length, style, clarity and accuracy. Letters may be sub
mitted in person at 01 3 Reed McDonald. A valid
student I.D. is required. Letters may also be mailed to:
The Battalion - Mail Call Fax: (409) 845-2647
01 3 Reed McDonald E-mail:
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-1111
else’s name, I.D. and
phone number to sell
the books.
This, for all practical
purposes, ended our
hopes of catching the
thief. All we could do
was hope that he might
use the I.D. card again
and get caught.
I need not explain how expensive
books are the first time you buy them,
much less if you have to purchase more
books to replace stolen ones.
Something must be done to prevent
these corrupt few from profiting off the
misfortunes of others. Students aren’t
the only ones who lose when our books
are stolen. Bookstores also lose money
when they return stolen books to their
rightful owners — as was the case with
my two friends.
If your I.D. card is stolen you can call
a 24-hour a day hotline — 862-4884 —
and have it canceled.
The I.D. cards work similar to credit
cards; when a stolen card is swiped
through the scanning machine, such as
those used for Aggie bucks, the employ
ee can see that it has been lost or
stolen. The holder of that card can then
be apprehended.
However, in the case of buying back
books, there is no way to tell if the book
has been stolen.
To prevent stolen books from being
sold back to bookstores, a new system of
selling and buying books should be im
Let’s hope that local bookstores will
realize the problem and care enough
about students to agree that they should
implement a new or improved policy on
buying and selling books.
One such idea might include using
one’s I.D. card as a means to buy and
then sell back books. The card would
be scanned when purchasing a book
and a serial code corresponding to the
book to be bought would be registered
on the I.D. card.
Only the person holding that I.D.
card could sell the book back. This sys
tem would be similar to many public li
brary checkout systems.
Books could still be bought at one
bookstore and sold back to another. All
bookstores would have access to the
computer system that would hold the
information needed to buy a book from
a student. This would be similar to the
procedure for using Aggie bucks any
where on campus.
You might ask, “What happens
when I want to sell a book to my
friend and he wants to sell the book
back later?”
The system could be set up to allow
students to access the system and
transfer the books serial numbers
from one students account to another.
Any solution is going to require some
thought, research and programming by
the University and cooperation from lo
cal bookstores.
Nevertheless, the end result will be
very beneficial to students and bookstore,
and it will be a positive step in prevent
ing the theft of books and I.D. cards.
Zach Hall is junior
mechanical engineering
keep his rear out of the military (be it
the Pentagon or Vietnam) and secondly
to keep his rear in Washington (be it
Democratic or Republican).
I feel that he is hiding in the bosom
of A&M so that no one will question his
patriotism, hoping that most people will
overlook his interracial marriage.
I don’t have a problem with either of
these situations and in fact agree with
some of your views.
My problem is with the way A&M is
peddling it’s birthright by courting every
pseudo-Aggie wannabe that comes down
the pike. We don’t need this — A&M can
proudly stand on it’s own.
I’m afraid to know what A&M’s plans
are to honor the one term Governor Bush
— Perhaps the George W. Bush branch
of The Texas A&M Savings and Loan.
So I ask myself “Where is Clayton
Williams when we need him?” He’s
probably out somewhere enjoying the
weather. So I ask, “What have George
or Bill ever done for A&M?”
Come on A&M, get your head out.
Dwight L. Phillips
Class of ’76
Guns don't kill people,
people kill people
In Kyle Littlefield’s March 20 column,
he falls into the same trap as many anti
gun advocates. He believes that “People
don’t kill people, guns kill people.”
I have spent 23 years around guns,
and never have they killed anyone.
These devices that “propel a small piece
of metal with such force that it can rip
through human flesh and bone” that
the NRA and the Texas Senate have
overlooked, are powerless to act without
human interference.
Littlefield and so many others are
trying to villianize guns as the culprit
of the increased violence, instead of the
people committing the violence. They
don’t understand that it is just as easy
to rob a convenience store with a carrot
in your coat pocket as a gun, and it is
just as easy to kill someone with a base
ball bat or a rock as with a gun. Should
we outlaw bats, rocks and ropes since
these can be lethal weapons? No.
If someone had been carrying a gun
in the massacres at the Luby’s and Mc
Donald’s restaurants,he or she could
have put a stop to the killing. If one hu
man life is saved by someone carrying a
gun, it is worth it.
One final fallacy in Littlefield’s col
umn was his comment about Dirty Har
ry fantasies. Dirty Harry didn’t use a
Glock. He preferred .44 Magnums.
Trey Morton
Class of ’93
Daily reminders of freedom
Calendar provides new perspectives of First Amendment
Senior Managing
“Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the
free exercise thereof; or
abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; of the
right of the people peaceably
to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress
of grievances. ”
— The First Amendment to the U.S, Constitution
L ast January I got a free daily calendar which followed
an unlikely theme: the First Amendment. Each day’s
page includes the date, the First Amendment and a
quote from some famous, infamous or unknown individual
who at some point happened to talk about freedom or the
press, or maybe both.
This compilation of 365 thoughts has become an impor
tant part of my everyday ritual. I look forward to turning
the new day’s page and seeing the “quote of the day.”
Yesterday the calendar quoted former Canadian Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney: “Even politicians who feel the
lash of the media from time to time understand that, in
great democracies, that is part of the price you pay to main
tain a vigilant, effective and functioning democracy.”
Today, 18th century English essayist Samuel Johnson
contends, “A newswriter is a man without virtue, who lies at
home for his own profit.”
That’s quite a switch. Food for thought, at any rate.
Supreme Court justices, biblical prophets, editors, poets,
presidents and other pundits voice their opinions and obser
vations as I flip through the year day by day. They take
turns slamming the Left or the Right, criticizing the news
media or singing its praises, questioning widely varied
philosophies or commenting on the world.
Jan. 1 started out with James Baldwin: “[Fjreedom is the
fire which burns away illusion.” The comment struck hard
when I recalled the eye-opening discussion of morality, race
and sexuality in Baldwin’s Another Country.
That novel seemed to burn away many of my immature
18-year-old misconceptions. And my high school library, in
all its “freedom,” didn’t have a copy — probably because
Baldwin had the audacity to actually discuss right and
wrong, racism and whisper the words — GAY people.
Baldwin’s Book probably gave me the first clue I noticed
that not everyone views freedom as simply “the ability to
do what I want.”
I often wonder how much impact this random spiral-
bound sheaf of papers on a plastic sandwich stand actually
affects what I do or say or write, or how I think. Am I a bet
ter journalist and person, or am I only entertaining myself?
Well, it can’t do any harm.
The important thing is that the people who compiled the
calendar, who said and wrote things published in it and who
read it are all thinking about the meaning of freedom. The
conscious effort to define and understand that most precious
asset of society is essential to preserving and ensuring it.
A survey of newspaper editors by the Associated Press
ranked the O.J. Simpson case as the top news story of 1994.
A Times Mirror Center survey of newspaper readers listed
the topic third, after the Southern California earthquake and
the early 1994 blizzards in the Northeast.
What the hell? The Simpson case is a tragedy that left two
children motherless and damaged or altered dozens of lives.
But, it will hardly affect the whether Joe Aggie can find a job,
or Jane Aggie still has the right to an abortion. Will their kids
get to pray in school when they go off to kindergarten?
Politicians and activists change our lives every day and we
pay almost no heed. Most of the time it doesn’t matter what
they do. Budget shortfalls, health care crises, trade deficits
and concentrations of power in corrupt “establishments” re
main to plague us, despite much publicized efforts by differ
ent presidents and political parties.
But, with my trusty First Amendment calendar by my
The conscious effort to define and under
stand freedom — that most precious asset
of society — is essential to preserving and
ensuring it.^
side, I notice the movements to eliminate affirmative action,
to cut funding for artistic programs because of their content.
Various people out in the great, cruel world want to lower my
taxes, raise my interest rates, keep children from learning
about sex in school and amend the U.S. Constitution for at
least a dozen minor reasons.
People cannot know how such ideas and proposals will al
ter or limit freedom if they don’t know what freedom means
to individuals, to America and to the world.
The only way to uncover the basic notion of freedom is to
probe its depths in thought and practice.
My favorite calendar line so far comes from Feb 18:
“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because
we practice it.”
— William Faulkner
Think about it.
Jay Robbins is a senior political science
and English major