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Gun Owners Want Some Respect

Once again it seems the National Rifle Association is to blame, not for crime this time, but for discourteous behavior, in the View From Capitol Hill article ``Radical NRA Tactics Backfire for One Longtime Member,'' Sept. 15. Senator Campbell says that this venomous ``behavior is what the NRA unleashed.'' I have been an NRA member for many years. This organization encourages us to contact our representatives and let them know where we stand on crime and gun-control issues. Not once has the NRA urged me to use name calling or obscenities.

Mr. Campbell berates the NRA because it is an organization that refuses to compromise. In the past the NRA compromised and compromised, and if it compromises any longer, there won't be a Second Amendment.

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Although I don't condone the callers who were malicious, I can understand why they were upset. Gun owners who are law-abiding citizens are tired of being punished. Federal and state governments have been punishing millions of gun owners because a small fraction of the guns are used to commit crimes, despite the fact that millions of people use them for legitimate purposes. To punish the many for the faults of the few doesn't serve the purposes of justice or democracy.

Gun owners are tired. They are tired of being blamed for crime, and they are tired of voicing their complaints to their elected officials who are supposed to represent them. I agree with you, Mr. Campbell, that the voting booth is the place to get even, and when your Senate seat comes up for election, I hope to see it filled by a person with a sense of democracy and a sense of justice. John W. Ostler, Lawrence, Mass.

Gun Owners Want Some Respect

The author describes a barrage of hate mail and threats he received from members of the NRA during the debate on the crime bill. His description of the NRA's violent tactics should come as no surprise to readers: The extreme right has consistently resorted to such bullying in recent years over a number of issues.

Environmentalists, for example, have met with more and more violence in debates over public land use throughout the country. The increase in violence over environmental issues has been largely due to the growth of the ``wise use'' movement. The rise of this industry-backed, pseudo-grass-roots campaign during the mid-'80s was marked by a sharp increase in threats, hate mail, and outright violence faced by activists and environmentalist organizations.

The extreme right has historically used divisive tactics and hate to mobilize an element in the population who would otherwise have little interest in political issues. In recent years, the type of treatment received by Senator Campbell has become more and more widespread. It may soon become a common component of mainstream political ``debate'' if people don't stand up and take notice. Daniel M. Vernon, Stillwater, Okla.

A rehearsal for the wrong war

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The first article of the five-part series on Germany, ``Germany Hesitates as Europe Beckons,'' Sept. 21, draws a parallel between the German elections and the Spanish Civil War. In doing so, the article equates the German political spectrum with communists and fascists. Evoking a ``rehearsal for World War II'' fails to make the analysis more convincing. I am looking forward to seeing the next four articles present evidence for this stark comment.

Germany is as far away from a civil war as the United States is from the Indian Wars. Ulrich Knirs, Cambridge, Mass.

Keep the troops in Ireland

The editorial ``Changing Irish Climate,'' Sept. 21, refers to a future Northern Ireland ``without an occupying army.'' This implies that British troops have unlawfully ``occupied'' Northern Ireland.

The Army's presence has been a stabilizing force in the midst of conflict between Republican and Loyalist extremists and has prevented a civil war between these two factions.

Every British citizen hopes that the Army will indeed be able to withdraw from Northern Ireland, but at this time of hope and uncertainty the British Army's presence in the province remains a necessity. Alistair Budd, Rolle, Switzerland

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