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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 10:54 GMT
Washington sniper charges: Your reaction
Prosecutors in the US state of Maryland have filed murder charges against the two Washington sniper suspects.
Gulf war veteran John Allen Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, John Lee Malvo, have been charged with six murders apiece and officials say they intend to seek the death penalty.
Jamaican citizen Malvo has been described as Muhammad's step-son and the two were captured at a Maryland rest stop early on Thursday morning when police found them asleep in their car.
The shootings over a three-week period left 10 people dead and three injured since they began on 2 October.
How do you feel about the charges? If you live in the area, do you feel safer? How have the sniper attacks changed your way of life?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I am certainly relieved that this particular maniac has been stopped. My husband works in Rockville, and we spend much of our time in Montgomery County. I feel much better about him leaving for work and me taking the children shopping. My concern now lies with the seeming rush to execute both of these "men". Although I oppose capital punishment in all cases, it seems to me that a 17-year-old boy following the orders of his pathological father-figure is less than fully responsible for his actions.
Paul Mosley, Chesterfield, England
A shame that good police work has to be sullied by the unedifying spectacle of lawyers competing for jurisdiction on the basis of who can guarantee the quickest conviction and execution.
John Allen had his
grudge against the
system. He had no right to take it out of other people,
Mr Bush should focus on internal problems of his own
In Switzerland we all have a fully automatic state of the art machine gun under our beds. Yet we have been extensively trained with them. If a burglar breaks into our house we call the police. We know that if we pull our gun out it merely makes us a target. Things can go wrong very quickly, even for the highly trained. I think a change of mentality about self defence and guns is called for. Legislation alone will not work.
My thoughts go to every family member of those killed by this vicious, heartless, thoughtless killer
Alaa, Ottawa, Canada
If the killers have been apprehended, why haven't they been charged with the crime? It seems as though the police are fishing, hoping to get lucky and maybe they will. But what if they don't? The public is thirsty for blood and are ready to point the finger at anyone without even considering the possibility that the suspects may be innocent.
I live in the city, work in the city and play in the city. Most of my friends live in the city, too. We certainly weren't happy about the sniper and are glad he has been caught, but we weren't spending every waking hour quaking in our boots or snivelling either. It was a bad situation that we all dealt with and now it's over.
My heart and my prayers goes to all the victims families, may God give them strength and wisdom.
I am so pleased to see that the human population still believes in innocent until proven guilty! The alleged snipers have not been tried and found guilty yet. It is terrible to see that the US government are seeking the death penalty for these two alleged killers. When will they learn that it's obvious that the death penalty isn't a deterrent and is not a humane punishment.
I am amazed that everybody in the US is talking punishment. Surely there needs to be a trial first and due evidence heard and a jury decision with guilt established before we talk punishment?
Shannon, Baltimore, MD USA
I feel no safer than I did, nor do I feel unsafe. That's because I legally own a gun and know how to use it. Sure beats relying on the police.
People will forget all about this in two months. Last year no one would get on a plane. Six months ago no-one wanted to go to the mailbox or open their mail. Now people are scared to get gas. I was never scared because I live in one of the most targeted cities in the world for random terrorism and that is my choice. Everyone who was zigzagging through the parking lot should leave because this is not the place for you. Next year it will be something else!
Nan, Silver Spring, MD USA
What happened to being presumed innocent until proven guilty?? Last I heard he has not been charged or convicted??
ASSUMING he is the man responsible, isn't it interesting he is a Gulf War veteran??
Along with a huge sense of relief for the citizens of Maryland, I can't help but think it won't be long before another wacko emerges from the woodwork.
NAJI, Winona, MN
My name is Mohammad too and this... I don't have words for him. I also think the media should tell more that he was not a Muslim but a follower of Nation of Islam, which is not Islam.
This crime is an anomaly. I feel much safer in America than I do in England. Street crime is far less prevalent here. The north-east has stringent gun control. Here in NJ, I had to wait 30 days for a firearms ID card and another 60 days for a handgun permit. When is Britain going to wake up to the fact that criminals will always find a way to get guns and its only the general public who are prevented from defending themselves?
Maryland has over 300 gun laws, and has some of the toughest laws in the country, yet Baltimore is considered the "murder capital" of the US. It proves gun laws don't work. What would work would be if everyone HAD to pack a gun. Everybody would be real polite I bet.
I'm worried that this will lead to a backlash against Muslims and/or blacks in the US. I hope people remember that Timothy McVeigh was a white Christian, and keep things in perspective.
Sonya, Maryland, USA
In respect to gun ownership, as Eddie Izzard once said: "People say that guns don't kill people, people kill people... but guns make it an awful lot easier."
Well, it is very appreciable that law enforcement agencies have caught the sniper, but, If America wants to root out such kind of events, then she should change her policies, otherwise it is not success , there will be more Osamas, Saddams and snipers.
I believe this guy was a nut doing it for kicks and as a result it's unlikely he had any political or terrorist agenda. However, when comments are made by the likes of Imad and Abdul that American foreign policy was to blame, is it any surprise that the Muslim community will, sadly be subjected to a backlash?
Thank God! Now the justice system needs to ensure anyone else thinking along the same lines is deterred!
David Parker, Seattle, USA
Gun laws in Maryland and DC are probably a red herring. If these are the snipers then they most likely brought their rifle in Washington state, where Muhammad was believed to have lived at one time. People should also realise that the same thing could happen in the UK. Powerful rifles are legally available here, and in the wrong hands could kill just as many innocents.
The media coverage of the events of the past few weeks has been deplorable. In addition to creating a national hysteria, they treated us to an endless parade of "experts" most of whose predictions turned out to be completely wrong. It is time for some serious reflection on behalf of these "news" organisations. Perhaps, if they have nothing constructive to say, they should keep quiet.
This has set a precedent for anyone who wants to spread terror across entire cities. All it would take is a few copycats in multiple cities to make this sniper look like child¿s play.
Yes, the copycat situation is a legitimate issue. However if the US judicial system does what it is supposed to do he will be taken care of properly and set an example of to discourage future threats. We can only hope that humanity is going in a different direction and weed out the weak. The US should be more concerned about its foreign relations right now, or should I say lack of relations?
Hayat Rehman, Chicago, USA
Rather than focus on what the alleged sniper did, we need to try to focus on why he did what he did. Could it be the American policies that have driven him to madness, could it be the American arrogance that has driven him to the point where he had no control? Whatever the cause, we can be assured that there's some American policy behind it.
Does it really matter why he did what he did? Those people he killed had nothing to do with the government. Their families deserve our sympathy and respect. We shouldn't satisfy this killer by providing him with a platform by which to express his views. Since when does a murderer's rights come before the victims?
Imad Lodhi's comments are staggering! American foreign policy is responsible for this sniper? Where do these people come from and what drugs are they taking? No-one is driven to murder 10 people and main three others by foreign policy. Criminal, insane or just plain evil perhaps, but this sniper's murderous activities are not political comment! Get a grip, people!
Congratulations to the police for solving this situation. Banning firearms will not help situations like this, but fingerprinting guns will. I fear that a ban would only pave the way for more incidents like this. Private ownership of guns actually deters a lot more incidents than it creates.
I live in the DC area and have heard from relatives throughout the country. It sure became personal when they targeted children. All of my relatives want swift justice for these losers. They crossed the line in the nation's psyche.
David, Rockville, Maryland
Do I feel safer now that the sniper is caught? Yes, I do. But I also understand what so many people all over the world live with day in and day out. But thank God the fear we lived in is over; no one deserves to suffer such a horrible death at the hands of an insane, gun-happy maniac.
If these two are the snipers, it is a relief to have them off the street. On the other hand, I was listening to the news and a gentleman made a comment about these acts of violence not being the profile of an African-American. I suppose he meant the way each killing or shooting was done. A killer is a killer. It doesn't matter the colour of the skin.
Janice Glazier, Fort Littleton, Dublin Co.
I live about 15 minutes from the rest stop where the suspects were arrested. The reports seem to indicate so far that everything fits, that these are the men responsible, and that's a great relief to all of us. It's a little unsettling, frankly, that they were discovered here - nobody really expected them to come this far west. This part of Maryland is pretty rural and quiet. In fact, I came back here from Chicago four years ago for that very reason. Whether this string of violence is reason to revisit American gun laws I can't say; I don't own a firearm and likely never will. But I do know that many of the gun control laws already on the books are not strongly enforced. Dealing with THAT issue is the most logical first step in preventing this kind of thing from happening again.
Yes I feel safer. Law enforcement handled this professionally and should be given much thanks.
I am so glad the sniper is caught. I think the police department; FBI and ATF did an excellent job. Now I hope that the police releases the correct information regards to the sniper, why this person was doing such a criminal act.
Peter Morris, Falls Church, VA USA
Tougher gun laws will probably not stop someone like the sniper. But most gun crimes (and gun suicides, of which there are many) are not carefully orchestrated events, but rather happen in a moment of passion when a gun happens to be available. For those types of crimes, tougher gun laws would make a big difference.
I just hope that the people arrested are really involved and this is not another false alarm.
As usual, the liberals are out in full force with irrational and incomplete facts. This was a random act by two individuals. Stricter gun laws will not account for the thousands upon thousands of un-registered, illegal weapons in this country. The opportunity and weapon will always be there to commit this type of crime no matter what type of laws are put in place. Government regulation cannot and will not solve this problem. It is too late. It's not a solution but it's the facts.
Sabit Alley, North Brunswick, NJ, USA
It is not so easy to purchase a firearm in Maryland. To purchase a handgun you must fill out a paper for a background check. You must wait for seven days for the results before you can take possession of it and you must be a resident of the state to by one. To purchase an assault weapon you must go through the same procedures as for a handgun. All weapons sold in Maryland must be registered with the federal government. Also you must complete a firearms safety course or you may not purchase any weapon. As you can see, Maryland does not need more gun laws. I think people over-reacted and the only people who will benefit from this tragedy will be the politicians.
We live in a violent country. Nothing illustrates that more than the ability to buy at practically any gun shop a "civilian version" of a semi-automatic rifle that was designed for the military. Ironically enough used by an ex-soldier to murder innocent civilians.
We must wait for irrefutable evidence before we assume the police have the snipers in custody. It wouldn't be the first time the law has made a mistake and arrested the wrong persons. There are many who have been freed after spending years in jail and been subsequently cleared by DNA evidence. So, let caution prevail and justice be served.
Chris, Washington, DC
The sniper tragedy should be a call-to-arms for establishing new anti-gun laws in the US. Unfortunately, a President from Texas isn't about to take on the NRA.
George, Alexandria, VA, USA
Excellent police work on a very difficult case. Captain Moose deserves our thanks and a good night sleep.
True, we can't be sure we have the right guys until we analyse the ballistics evidence, but so far everything seems to be making sense. These guys are sleeping at a rest stop with a rifle, a scope, and a tripod in the car. Also there was a hole drilled in the trunk, allowing them to fire the weapon from inside the vehicle. KUDOS to law enforcement. I thought this killer may take off into the sunset
The Washington sniper has not changed my life at all. I am not a fatalist but I refuse to be intimidated. Now that the sniper has been (allegedly) caught I can only hope that there are no copy-cats and that no terrorist group, drawing lessons from the successful terrorisation of a major US metropolitan area by a single man with rifle - starts to conduct similar operations on the cheap.
Matthew, Boston, USA
I think five million people just breathed a collective sigh of relief.
I am concerned that we will be too quick to believe that the suspects have been caught. I am hoping that the police are carefully assessing the situation.
The sniper case shows that the strict gun laws in DC and Maryland won't stop criminals from owning guns.
Re: Shawn, Washington. If anything, this case demonstrates to me the need for stricter gun enforcement. You make it sound as if the "strict" gun laws in DC and Maryland aren't working. They are not that strict compared to other states and other countries.
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