In the Opinion page article "US, UN Face Opportunity for Global Peace," Dec. 15, the author provides cogent reasons for changing the way of dealing with the breakdown of civil order in future Somalias.
Instead of sending in dominant United States forces only tangentially under United Nations auspices, he calls for a more multinational force under UN command, utilizing national contingents from selected countries. This strikes me as a suitable interim measure.
However, to reduce the chance of political opportunism by certain governments in deciding whether to commit troops, and to avoid the political acceptability of having national contingents suffering casualties, one should work for a different goal: to establish - sooner rather than later - a truly multinational force of volunteers from any country.
Recalling the effective Mogul armies whose polyglot soldiers used the military language of Urdu, the UN forces would be trained together and would use the international language of English. John O. Sutter, San Rafael, Calif. The right to bear arms
The editorial "Regulating Weapons, Saving Lives," Dec. 22, targets lax gun control with chilling precision. Those demanding the right to bear arms might be allowed a muzzleloading flintlock Kentucky rifle, including powderhorn, but nothing more. This was the most advanced weapon known when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Our Founding Fathers could not possibly have imagined modern repeating guns, much less automatic rapid-fire weapons, made possible by metallic cartridges with percussion caps.
The editorial grimly notes: "The estimated 13,000 murders a year committed by gunfire in the United States constitute too large a disaster to fob off with casual insistence on the guaranteed right of an individual to carry an Uzi in his pickup on the Interstate." I agree. By no stretch of twisted fantasy can the Bill of Rights be the excuse for continuing this dreadful, needless carnage. James Tracy, Livermore, Calif.
The editorial describes the firearm used in a recent shooting as "a Chinese-made semi-automatic weapon" and later as "an assault weapon." The description is in error, as assault firearms have a selector switch that permits single shots or fully automatic operation. United States law permits private ownership of such a gun after investigation of the applicant, and payment of a $200 tax. Massachusetts does not allow citizens this privilege. More than 25 other states do.
The term "assault weapon" is a buzzword to connect military weaponry with civilian firearms to frighten those who choose not to own firearms. Warren R. Kremske, Chicago Laboring over labeling
Regarding the editorial "A New Age in Food Labeling," Dec. 8: Under the new law, food manufacturers will be required to replace all of their labels at an estimated cost of $2 billion, which we as consumers will eventually pay.
I never read labels. I spent a lifetime in the food business and know that our foods are safe and wholesome - the best in the world. Also, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture do a commendable job of surveillance.
This label fiasco could have been avoided had the government simply furnished a booklet on nutrition for every household. All of the common foods are standardized. Also, it is much easier to read from a booklet than to decipher the fine print on a label. E. R. Gustafson, Tucson, Ariz.