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The Other Side of the Firearms Issue

The opinion-page article "Don't Let Firearms Industry Off the Hook" (April 18) is no more than twisted logic aimed at discrediting the firearms industry.

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Statistics used to justify the "safety" issue have nothing to do with accidental deaths from poorly made firearms. In fact, accidental firearms deaths are at an all-time low, despite increases in legal gun ownership.

Are manufacturers conspiring to provide poorly made products to people legally entitled to own and purchase firearms? Hardly. If there is a conspiracy, maybe it is between lawyers and groups such as the Violence Policy Center to distort fact in pursuing a blatant anti-gun policy.

Yes, I am part of the 74 percent who support gun safety - responsible firearms use and failure-free operation. Gun owners are generally interested in reliable firearms and seriously concerned about crime. We all support firearms safety and understand the wisdom of proper firearms training.

But the purpose of several recent gun-related tort cases appears to be directed at controlling access by eliminating the import or manufacture of firearms irrespective of quality or design. How this protects me as an innocent consumer is beyond me. Maybe it is easier to intimidate gun manufacturers than law-abiding gun owners.

It is interesting to note that this gun control article is on the same page as the essay "Men and Women We Must Remember." This article concerns April 19, the day our nation was conceived in Massachusetts over 200 years ago. The British occupying army tried to confiscate firearms and ammunition belonging to Americans. It seems to me that the British thought that disarming the public was a safety issue as well. Unfortunately, some habits of thought never seem to change.

E.V. Reed

Tucson, Ariz.

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Regarding the tort and firearms industry essay: The fairness of the messenger needs to be evaluated. The author's expertise derives from her association with the Violence Policy Center. VPC was formerly known as the The New Right Watch, whose director came from the National Coalition to Ban Handguns.

Richard Boisvert

Marlboro, N.H.

There are points I have never seen discussed in articles regarding firearms and the right to bear them in this country:

* No one ever proposes compulsory firearms safety education in public schools. This would be more beneficial than any other single thing in reducing so called "accidental" shootings.

* No one ever points out that in all countries, the government's final authority rests in its control of force. This country is no exception, and it is likely that the Founding Fathers included the constitutional right to bear arms as a check against oppressive government.

I just wish firearms-control advocates would seek nonlegislative means to promote rational ownership and use of firearms by our citizens.

Mike Howard

Cobleskill, N.Y.

One of the few continuing disappointments that I have with the Monitor is the bias it shows in favor of gun control.

Recently the Monitor attributed part of the decline in our homicide rate to new stringency in licensing gun dealers. That idea stumbles badly when we realize that the states with the lowest homicide rates have the greatest number of guns dealers per capita.

New gun control laws were credited with part of this past year's decline in crime. But the only new gun-control law worth discussing is the Brady Law, which did not take effect until the current decline had been under way for at least two years.

A 1996 University of Chicago study shows the decline in violent crime correlates with more permissive laws governing the carrying of concealed firearms.

The study shows that the best way to reduce violent crime is prompt capture and punishment of criminals. The next best way is to create uncertainty in the mind of the would-be violent criminal as to whether he is facing an armed victim.

William G. Dennis

Longview, Wash.

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to

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