Effective Gun Control?

Regarding the article "L.A. Gun Sales Take Off After South-Central Riots," May 22: Does Handgun Control Inc. actually believe that criminals buy their guns legally at stores that keep track of their sales?

The reality is that criminals buy their guns on the street at anytime of the day or night they want them. They also buy the best quality, most reliable weapons - quite often better than a law-abiding citizen or the police department can purchase.

So please explain how enacting more laws that make law-abiding citizens have problems obtaining guns, without addressing how to disarm criminals, is going to stop gun crime? John J. Seaton, Rome, N.Y. Administration in Panama

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The articles "Panamanian Banks Recover Strength" and "Shipping Firms Concerned About Canal Administration After 2000," both of April 23, offer a very interesting update on the Panamanian situation.

Regarding banking in Panama: Additional enforcement and regulations will only make handling legal transactions less competitive. Measures such as a more thorough review of currency transaction reports, as suggested by a United States official in the article, will only divert government resources from social programs required by a country in reconstruction.

Panama showed more willingness in fighting laundering than the US by ratifying the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. The Assembly postponed discussion of more-pressing matters, such as the abolition of the Army, social security reform and other economical matters to speedily ratify the treaty, while the US Congress has not acted on it.

As for the future of the Panama Canal, the subsistence of a civilian, elected government is essential to avoid the canal and related activities from being used as cash cows. Only a government where checks and balances and the rule of law are upheld can maintain the canal of the year 2000. The education, work ethic, and dedication of working Panamanians will do the rest to ensure efficient administration. Alvaro Aguilar A., Washington Presidential sincerity

In the Opinion page article, "Bush's Human Rights Gap," May 19, the authors make a comparison of approaches to human rights violations around the world by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Somehow, Mr. Reagan is portrayed as having a more positive effect on human rights problems than Mr. Bush, even though Reagan may have been no more sincere than his successor. I wish the authors had provided at least one instance in which Reagan's concern, sincere or not, improved a human rights situation in a f oreign country, or at home, for that matter. William V. Kelly, Austin, Texas

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