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Rethink policy toward `militias'

I do not favor the formation of extralegal armed groups (`` `Militias' Forming Across US to Protest Gun Control Laws,'' Oct. 17), but the events that have encouraged their rise are disturbing.

The presence of small children made the siege of the Waco compound a hostage situation that needed to be waited out, however long it took. The explanation that the FBI hostage SWAT team was becoming fatigued rings hollow. What kind of government orders an armored assault on a compound where infants are being held?

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The government acted so heavy-handedly and outrageously in the 1991 assault on Randy Weaver's home that a jury found that his use of deadly force was justified even though it resulted in the death of a federal officer.

It is not just the members of these self-styled militias that are becoming alarmed. A July 9 letter to President Clinton that deplored this situation was signed by representatives of organizations as far apart as the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. William G. Dennis, Kelso, Wash.

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