- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Gun control prevents citizens from defending themselves

My thanks to The Washington Times for its Dec. 29 editorial, "Self-defense-free zone." As a retired Army paratrooper, now a public high school history teacher, I agree that the "gun free zones" around schools and other places are an open invitation to criminals.

Military strategy teaches, "You defeat a like weapon with like weapon." Gun-control laws do not measure up to raw force of an armed and mentally deranged person. As your editorial stated, law-abiding citizens are no threat to those who wish to do harm.

A few months ago, three armed gang members were roaming through our school, looking for another gang member to settle a score. When they found out their intended target did not attend our school, they left and by the grace of God were apprehended on their way to the other school. By law, I cannot bring my pistol onto school property. If things had gone wrong that day, I might have been another statistic. Do I feel safe in a public school?

I support armed citizens in public places and that includes schools.

KIRK D. SMITH

Sanford, N.C.

Gun control prevents citizens from defending themselves

Your editorial cites requirements for manufacturers to provide specimen bullets and shell casings with new weapons. Politicians outside of Massachusetts and Marylandhave made similar proposals. I'm sure the legislators who have passed or proposed such laws mean well. Don't they all?

The plan has flaws, however. The distinctive markings on bullets and casings are the result of tool marks in the firearm. Unlike fingerprints, these tool marks change with normal wear. The markings that appear on bullets and casings from a new weapon will likely not be the same as those produced after some use. There are cases of weapons fired enough in ballistic testing to alter the wear characteristics.

In addition, variations in ammunition components used in different brands of ammunition affect the transfer of these markings.

The best chance of obtaining a ballistic match would require that the test ammunition and the ammunition used in a crime be of the same type and brand, preferably the same lot number, and fired in very close proximity to the test round.

WILLIAM R. MOORE

Ladysmith, Va.

Gun control prevents citizens from defending themselves

Unfortunately, your editorial does not really capture the agenda of the anti-gun forces. It's not that they want better controls on the guns in this country, it's that they want all guns banned.

Every new law they can get passed to restrict legal gun ownership is a step in that direction. If you look carefully at their efforts, you see how they keep referring to the United Kingdom as the example that the world should follow a total ban on firearms for self-defense.

Didn't any of the news media notice that there were two kinds of signs at the Million Mom March: one that referred to common-sense gun laws, and the other that asked for total gun bans?

It is obvious to anyone who is willing to do the research that mass shootings such as those in Massachusetts are virtually eliminated when a state passes a "shall issue" law. Such a law allows law-abiding citizens, who are willing to go through a background check, to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense.

The model for this type of law is Florida, which the gun-control advocates try to dismiss because the crime statistics prove the law helps stop violent crime.

We are faced with a reality, however, that the anti-gun biased political environment and news media will never let the whole truth get out. I live in New York state, which has laws as strict as Massachusetts (even worse if you look at New York City), where laws against gun owners were just recently beefed-up, only to lead to even more gun crime in this state.

A small handful of us sportsmen in New York have been doing everything we can to get the word out, but the forces against us are just too large.

When will people wake up?

DAVE RIVERS

Hicksville, N.Y.

Gun control prevents citizens from defending themselves

Perhaps Massachusetts could adopt Vermont state representative's proposal to register all non-gun-owning citizens in the state and charge a $500 fee.

The Vermont Constitution states that the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state, and that persons "conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms" should be required to "pay such equivalent."

This is the embodiment of the idea that unarmed people benefit from living in a society where self-defense and defense of nearby innocents, by arms if needed, are encouraged rather than frowned upon. Vermont has the third lowest crime rate in the nation, without unduly infringing on the freedom of gun owners.

Perhaps there is a correlation.

ANDREW CURRIE

Alexandria

Don't confuse debt reduction with tax cuts

Outgoing Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers argues that federal debt reduction is essentially the same as a tax cut ("Summers predicts 'moderate' growth," Jan. 1). Clearly, he's taking aim at President-elect George W. Bush's desire for an across-the-board tax cut.

Either Mr. Summers is amazingly ignorant, or profoundly dishonest. Reducing the debt is of course important. But one need not be an economist to figure out that there's a crucial difference between tax cuts and debt reduction.

Cutting taxes means the government will take less money from U.S. citizens in coming years than it did this year. It means allowing individuals to keep more of what they earn.

Debt reduction means continuing to take tax money from citizens because of past deficit spending by the government. In the past, the government (in order to be popular) wanted to spend more money than it was able to take from the population. To that extent, today's taxpayers are now forced to pay for these past decisions.

Of course, there never would have been any deficit spending in the first place had the government adhered to its constitutional functions of limited government.

What's done is done, and it is true we are now forced to pay down the debt. Political officials, however, should at least be honest about why we're in this situation. They also should admit that the only real solution, economically and morally, is to limit government to its proper constitutional functions in the future.

MICHAEL J. HURD

Chevy Chase

Photo op not worth more death in the Middle East

Efforts to ink a peace deal between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak in the waning days of the Clinton and Barak administrations will lead to increased bloodshed in the region ("Arafat won't budge as deadline arrives," Dec. 27). More Palestinian and Israeli casualties is too high a price to pay for one last photo op for President Clinton, Mr. Barak and Mr. Arafat.

In the past eight years, we've learned critical lessons about Middle East peacemaking. An agreement lacking enthusiastic support in the streets of Gaza, Nablus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa will not be worth its paper. Democratic processes respecting their peoples' aspirations must be the foundation of peacemaking exercises.

Whether it takes days, months or years to persuade a restless citizenry to trust their neighbors and give up radical hopes, that process is a prerequisite to any significant treaty.

Israelis and Palestinians do not handle disappointment very well. The Palestinians react to dashed hopes by filling the streets with explosive emotions; Israelis become increasingly cynical, hopeless and head for voting booths to send proponents of failed policies into a cold political wilderness.

The incoming Bush administration can save lives and advance America's strategic interests in the region by replacing the pursuit of hurried deals with policies that promote democratic principles.

Without a common vision shared by the peoples of the region, their leaders will do little more than deliver empty headlines along with painful images of more mothers burying fallen sons.

SETH EISENBERG

Weston, Fla.

The writer is the former national executive director of Likud-USA.


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