In the article about using night vision goggles to find seat belt violators ["See-in-Dark Seat Belt Patrol Irks Ehrlich; State Police Used Night Vision Gear," Metro, June 7], state Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D-Montgomery) was quoted as saying, "They are hiding on side streets to prevent people from speeding. What's the difference?"

The "difference" is what used to be the fundamental difference between the two major political parties in this country.

The "difference" is whether it is government's role to pass laws that protect me from my fellow citizens or to pass laws that protect me from myself.

The "difference" is whether it is the job of the police to ensure that I am safe from the illegal acts of my fellow citizens (such as speeding) or to ensure that I do not hurt myself through poor decisions.

Instead of debating the issue at the center of this story, we are left with two politicians doing what politicians are good at: lobbing sound bites from 20 paces instead of engaging in intelligent debate.

STEVE CAIMANO

Bowie

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Although some may not agree with the use of night vision gear to track down people not using their seat belts, sometimes laws that may seem to treat us like children do work.

After I complained to a friend about my $25 fine for being unbuckled, he countered that that was a cheap reminder to wear my seat belt, which I do now every time I drive.

SUSAN FUSI

Rockville

Let me get this straight: The governor of Maryland is upset that his state police are aggressively enforcing the law?

In three hours, aided by night vision equipment, the Maryland State Police identified and levied $25 fines against 111 people for failing to comply with state laws regarding seat belt usage.

This is not an esoteric law, as evidenced by the fact that 49 percent of the 643 people killed in traffic accidents in Maryland last year were not wearing seat belts.

State troopers and police are called "law enforcement" officers for a reason. If a law is flawed, the governor should pursue repeal or amendment. He should not expect law enforcement professionals to enforce only some laws at some times.

PAUL A. SHELTON

Mount Airy