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Bearing arms: Is it a right?

The editorial ``Misfire,'' Sept. 19, misses one very important point about the potential effects of the Brady amendment, which recently met its doom. The National Rifle Association does oppose waiting periods on the basis that they've done nothing to deter the flow of firearms to criminals in the states which have adopted them. However, the significant effect the Brady legislation sought to impose was the creation of a federal bureaucracy with the authority to approve or deny the transfer of any handgun of any type in any of the 50 states.

Additionally, it would have given the secretary of the Treasury the authority to ban entire classes of handguns without approval of Congress or the American people.

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The NRA is not a group of ``kooks'' or ``gun nuts,'' as the cartoon accompanying this editorial implies; it is a grass-roots organization concerned with the protection of one of our most important constitutional rights. As long as emotionalism rather than logic dictates the actions of the antigun lobby, the right to keep and bear arms will not be safe. Brian Joseph Todd Bakersfield, Calif.

Regarding the article ``States at a draw over handgun bans,'' Sept. 8: I am baffled by the American belief in the ``right to bear arms.'' Americans do not have a right to carry arms except for the use of militia (military), as the US Constitution clearly states. Norman Morrison Newhall, Calif.

Educational erosion Regarding Rushworth M. Kidder's column ``Have US universities flunked out on the humanities?,'' Sept. 19: The National Endowment for the Humanities report, ``Humanities in America,'' is long overdue.

It's hard to believe that 37 percent of US colleges and universities give degrees without requiring any course in history. This is just one more tragic symptom of the erosion of an educational system. The heart and soul of knowledge and understanding has been stripped from the learning process from kindergarten to college.

Everyone in education should be shocked into action when they read this report. Enrichment, values, comprehensiveness, appreciation, and culture have been systematically siphoned from classrooms. Elizabeth Shea South Laguna, Calif.

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