* Had Michael Jordan's father, James Jordan, decided to responsibly arm and protect himself with a handgun, the outcome of the attack against him might have been much different. It certainly couldn't have turned out any worse.
As has been said many times: Criminalizing guns will leave only criminals with guns. However, your Crime Watch editorial ("Gun Culture," Aug. 17) and previous Times editorials imply that limiting or halting the sale of guns to civilians is our answer to violent crime. This couldn't be further from the truth. As is the case with illegal drugs, anyone with money who really wants one will always find a gun. (In the 1920s my great-great grandfather made reliable automatic rifles and handguns at home with simple machinery.)
Until the cultural causes of violent crime are uprooted and our streets are truly safe, the only defense innocent Americans will often have against unprovoked aggression is to fight back with equal force. As a handgun self-defense instructor once said to me, "We're all going to go some time, but let's not make it easy."
My sincerest sympathies are with the Jordan family and anyone else who has lost a loved one to violent crime.
JAMES M. LENTHALL
* There is something terribly wrong with society when someone who has accumulated a nine-page criminal record by the age of 18 is permitted his unrestricted freedom.
It is comparable only to the person with three or more convictions for drunken driving who is permitted to own a car and have a driver's license.
WALTON D. CLARKE