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Gun Control, Profit, and Individual Rights

The article ``Gun-Control Advocates Gain Momentum ...,'' Dec. 14, mentions that the National Rifle Association (NRA) wants Congress to supply funds for the ``instant-check system'' that they are proposing. The money should come from taxes on guns and/or ammunition and not from general funds.

Also, Jeff Danziger's cartoon in the same issue says it all. Profit is what the NRA does not want to lose. It has nothing to do with the right to bear arms; it is about selling arms. Bruce Clark, Los Altos, Calif. Gun Control, Profit, and Individual Rights

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The article ``Mayors Urge the Congress to Go Beyond Crime Bill,'' Nov. 17, states that the Senate is expected to approve a bipartisan bill that will spend $22 billion to build more prisons and put 100,000 additional police officers on city streets.

This is surely a very shortsighted measure, and doesn't get to the core of the problem at all. There are many more beneficial ways of spending this vast sum of money. First ban all firearms except for those used by authorized officials - and all firearms must be registered. This is not a new idea. Supposedly the gun lobby is very powerful, but is not the life of every citizen more valuable and important than the imagined right to own a gun? Will we never learn that the welfare of others comes before one's own selfish interest? Joy Walker, Maroochydore, Australia Legalizing drugs

Regarding the article ``Elders Sparks Debate on Legalization of Drugs,'' Dec. 13: Kudos to Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders as the only one in the Clinton administration who has the courage to recommend the only feasible solution to our drug-related crime problem - legalizing drugs.

Any economist will tell you that by outlawing drugs the government has created a monopoly for crime wherein the profits are so high that it pays to expend tremendous efforts to get people addicted (sales efforts) and to protect one's territory (violent crime), regardless of the possible cost of incarceration.

Does anyone remember Prohibition and crime and what happened when the law was repealed? Does anyone remember the number of rackets and illegal gambling casinos? Where is the excessive violent crime related to the illegal sale of alcohol and gambling now? This is not to say that we should encourage drug use. Rather, we should treat drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes as social problems, and help people by removing the conditions that push them toward these substances as solutions to their problems. Richard E. Weber, West Long Branch, N.J. Legalizing drugs

The article on legalizing drugs set off some sparks for me. This is a complex issue that desperately needs ongoing dialogue. While 85 percent of the public opposes legalization (according to the article), it may be because the media have almost entirely focused on battling drugs as a war on crime. We're all against crime. But few people have been exposed to the possible advantages of legalization, with appropriate controls.

There is a high level of public agreement that what we are doing now is not working. But politicians are not likely to make real changes without significant public support. Paul H. March, Seattle Old or new in Russia?

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What an ironic twist the new freedoms in Russia have brought about. Those who have been enslaved by Communism for the past 76 years have tasted freedom, and it appears that many Russian citizens want to go back to their ``old'' system. What a dilemma for Americans who have heralded to great news of a new freedom in Russia. Should we cheer their free election or reject the outcome? Or should we simply try to ``love our neighbors as our brothers'' and allow them to live under whatever system they choose? David Terentieff, Kennewick, Wash.

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