In response to your Jan 27. editorial, "Holding Firm on a Life-or-Death Issue":
The Second Amendment, as far as I know, has never been about duck hunting or legitimate sporting purposes only. I always thought it covered self-protection also.
You throw the term "assault weapon" around rather carelessly. An assault weapon by the government's own definition is a fully automatic weapon. You stand firm in your position that civilians have no legitimate use for "assault weapons." But the only people who have real assault weapons are law enforcement agencies. As we have seen in the past, the government has used these weapons on their own citizens, e.g. Waco, Ruby Ridge, Idaho, etc.
Why does the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms need silenced, fully automatic weapons? The real function of the BATF is connected to interstate commerce, to make sure taxes are paid on alcohol, tobacco and firearms. Your position is clear when it comes to private ownership of firearms, but deafeningly silent on the more flagrant abuse of real assault weapons in the hands of rogue law enforcement agencies.
It looks like Democrats are not the only people in a state of denial over November's elections. The Times continues to cite polls showing that the majority of Americans support the ban on "assault weapons." If the polls are correct, then why did most of the congressmen who voted in favor of the weapons ban (including the House Speaker and powerful Rep. Jack Brooks of Texas), suffer crushing defeats?
In Milwaukee there was a binding referendum to totally ban handguns from the city. Before the election, the polls showed the referendum leading 60% to 40%. After the election, the real polls (the ballot box) sent the referendum down in defeat 65% to 35%. Clearly, the media polls are completely out of touch with America.
In his State of the Union speech Jan. 24, President Clinton lamented over the fact that many congressmen were no longer there because of their votes on the weapons ban. As usual, the President failed to grasp the significance of this.
We all long for an end to violence in our cities, our homes, our schools and workplaces. Would eliminating the ban on assault weapons and repealing the waiting period for gun purchases move us closer to our goal of peace in our cities--or farther away?
We all need to contact our Congress members and tell them we will hold them accountable if the assault ban and the Brady law are repealed. They will need to answer for police officer deaths by assault weapons, and for all guns in the hands of those who are prohibited by law from buying a gun but whose background was not checked.
ANN REISS LANE, Founder
Women Against Gun Violence
Additions to the list of reasons the Republicans will be in power for a very short time: 1) repeal of assault weapons ban, 2) Bob Dornan.
GARY W. GRAY
Your editorial on the gun issue is double-speak. The repeal of gun prohibitions, you say, "is not about less government, constitutional rights or refocusing the national debate on punishment and criminals." (Nor can we say six is three twos, three plus three, or four plus two!) Instead, "repeal serves the narrow interests of the powerful and politically vengeful gun lobby, period."
Indeed! And just who are the "gun lobby" and what are their interests? "They" are we who believe that an armed citizenry is a fundamental protection against both the predations of criminals and the encroachments of a tyrannical state. Our "narrow interests" are living, working and worshiping free from the molestation of either. We are "powerful" because we are many and despite all, still armed!
CHARLES WILSON HEWGILL
It was with a tenuously controlled anger that I read your editorial regarding the repeal of the assault weapons ban. In one fell swoop, House Republicans who threaten to vote for repeal of the ban on assault weapons will force an ever-increasing number of Republican constituents to look elsewhere for an alternative (be it Clinton or, perhaps, a third party) source of governmental representation!
It is an absolute outrage that Republican members of Congress are considering thwarting the will of the American people by knuckling under to the Machiavellian dictates of the NRA! The repulsion I feel for the NRA and its political hubris is second only to the contempt I feel for our so-called congressional representatives who allow themselves to become sycophant puppets whose strings are pulled so easily by the NRA!
VERONICA J. HOGUE