Letters to the Editor. Defense, gun, health issues

Three cheers for Dina Rasor and her book ``The Pentagon Underground'' [``Blowing the whistle on waste, mismanagement at Pentagon,'' Nov. 14]. The more we hear of the cupidity (another way of saying greed ) of contractors who do business with our government, the more we should come up with a solution to the problem. The Office of Procurement needs to overhaul their procedures. But what about contractors who are taking advantage of government's bungling?

Why not take a leaf from a department of the government -- the IRS -- and give these contractors an immunity period to come forward? Norma T. Jenkins Ventura, Calif.

According to the article ``Court's verdict on handguns: Let the seller beware!,'' Oct. 17, Judge John C. Eldredge of the Maryland State Appeals Court claims: ``The manufacturer or marketer of a `Saturday night special' knows or ought to know that he is making a product principally to be used in criminal activity.''

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Judge Eldredge should take the trouble to find an acceptable definition of a ``Saturday night special.'' The National Coalition to Ban Handguns uses the term inaccurately as a derogatory reference to all handguns.

There are 80 million gun owners in the United States. In any given year there is a criminal misuse of firearms of only 0.19 percent, and less than 0.4 percent of all handguns become involved in ``handgun crime.''

No statistics currently exist which reflect the number of crimes prevented or stopped in progress by citizens using guns for self-defense, although 576,000 handgun owners say they have successfully used guns for self-defense. Dana Smith Newton, Mass.

``Dozens of AIDS-related laws take shape'' (Nov. 4), distorted state legislatures' responses to complex issues raised by the spread of AIDS.

More than half of all US AIDS victims live in California and New York. Both states have developed innovative AIDS-related programs to serve as models for the nation. Unfortunately, the article ignored these efforts.

More than two years ago the New York Assembly established the AIDS Institute and has appropriated a total of $7.3 million to promote research, public education, community outreach, and patient support programs. Recently, the California State Legislature appropriated $20 million to design a comprehensive AIDS prevention plan. Public education, a statewide mental health program, and a study of AIDS expenses are three main features. This program will also assess additional services that might be necessary in the future. Thomas Smith Nat. Conf. of State Legislatures Director of Public Affairs Washington

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