I am very glad that some Pennsylvania Republicans are willing to go against the pressure of the National Rifle Association and vote for sensible handgun legislation that would require the reporting of lost or stolen handguns to the police ("Pa. gun bill draws some GOP support," March 31).

Handguns have made a combat zone of Pennsylvania, wreaking havoc from the inner city to rural communities. Every day in the United States, an average of 77 people are shot to death. They are the casualties of war, a war caused by guns. That's almost 30,000 Americans killed annually by firearms; by comparison, during the many years of the Vietnam War, about 58,000 Americans died there. As a medic with the Marines in Vietnam in 1970, I tried to save the victims of guns and other weapons.

I am sick of the handgun violence in our state. I am sick that illegal handguns are claiming an ever-increasing number of victims in Pennsylvania, victims who suffer the same agonizing and horrendous death as the Marines I tried to save.

A law requiring the reporting of lost or stolen handguns would be a step toward ending the violence, a step toward ending the death and injury caused by handguns. We must do all we can to stop the carnage, to end the casualties of this war.

Mike Felker


Clean up Philly

It is wonderful that Mayor Nutter is serious about trash in Philly. I hope it will not be just a one-day thing. No one wants to live or work in a dirty city ("First, the cleanup; then, keeping it clean," March 27). But trash isn't the city's only issue.

Philly has a serious problem with graffiti. One can walk from Washington Square to Fitler Square and see both public and private property defaced. Center City is the jewel in Philadelphia's crown, so we need to have an aggressive campaign to stop this vandalism. If we can catch them in the act, we should make them clean up the mess on the spot. Then fine them and make them do community service.

Street cleaning is done poorly in some neighborhoods. Even though signs order residents in advance to move cars to facilitate street cleaning or face towing, the city seldom follows through on the towing. Perhaps if people were ordered to park their cars on the opposite side of the street the job would be done properly. We shouldn't allow leaves to remain on sidewalks and streets until they turn to compost.

Homeowners and landlords bear some of this responsibility, but the city owes taxpayers a better job. If city workers can't do the job correctly, replace them. Plenty of unemployed people are waiting in the wings.

Mary Herdan


Free treatment

John Sullivan's article on Gov. Ruth Ann Minner's creation of a free cancer treatment program for residents of Delaware was heartening ("Del. pays for residents' cancer treatment," March 31).

Pennsylvania has already initiated a free treatment program for uninsured or underinsured women younger than 65 who have breast cancer.

Every hospital is eligible for reimbursement from the state for providing the treatment, and the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition is spreading the word to patients, physicians, hospitals and clinics. We have been holding seminars around the state to inform medical and health professionals not only that the free treatment is available, but that they are responsible for alerting women who qualify to take advantage of the program.

Pat Halpin-Murphy

President and founder

Bonnie Squires

Vice president for development

Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition


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