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Firearms Advocates and Opponents Face Off Over Weapons Ban

The article "Brady Gun-Control Bill Gains Ground in Congress," March 25, attributes two quotations to me that are misleading.

A National Rifle Association representative told the author that the NRA has the support of 200 congressmen and 42 senators. I commented (and was indirectly quoted as saying) that this margin is a few votes short of the number required to guarantee a defeat of all firearms legislation; however, that the further the administration gets from a seven-day waiting period on handgun purchases (such as passed the House in 1991), the more difficult it will be to get it through Congress.

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The present "Brady Bill," H.R. 1025, goes beyond the original "Brady," and, when fully implemented after five years, would apply to all guns.

The article directly quotes me as saying, "It is reasonable to ban ... semiautomatic rifles if they are frequently used in crimes as HCI claims." I never said any such thing, nor would I. I said that all data on criminal use of firearms show that only a minute percentage of crimes are committed with rifles. If the majority of crimes - or as many as are committed with common handguns - involved military-style semiautos, those who wish to ban them would at least have a reasonable argument. But it is prepos terous to try to ban a type of gun that is used in only 1 percent or 2 percent of armed crime.

Even without the constitutional protection of firearms, I would never suggest that it is reasonable to ban any firearm on the basis that some are criminally misused. Though handguns are most commonly used in crime, only about one-half of 1 percent of all the handguns in this country are misused. That's not a reason to ban the 99.5 percent that are not. Neal Knox, Rockville, Md. Director, Firearms Coalition

The article presents some of the pros and cons of gun control but does not mention the benefits of gun ownership. Each year nearly 1 million people in this country use their guns for their own defense; because of this, they do not end up as crime victims.

Some areas of the country are not closely protected by the police; people in these places must provide for their own defense. Even when nearby, the police sometimes can't provide the needed protection.

Guns can lead to tragic results, but a multitude of tragedies are also avoided when people have their own guns. D. E. Barlow, Scappoose, Ore. Toy guns send wrong signal

The article "National Black Group Organizes to Identify Programs That Work," March 29, states: "Every six hours a black child dies from a gunshot wound." What do we see in the accompanying photograph? Three young black children carrying toy guns.

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The key to turning this problem around is education. Parents, teachers, county workers, and police officers on the beat all need to wipe out the old idea that it's "only normal" for little boys to play with guns. Not to be able to live long enough to grow up is far from normal. Carolyn Hill, Citrus Heights, Calif.

The article speaks of the need for children to rely on "parents, neighbors, and community institutions for their protection and love." Yet the photo shows gun-toting children walking across the playground.

What's the message? Are we to protect ourselves with a multitude of violent means, or are we to rely on family and community for protection and support? A violent photograph used to illustrate the goals of a hope-filled organization sends mixed signals. Marjorie T. Blubaugh, Hickory, N.C.

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