Firearms Advocates and Opponents Face Off Over Weapons Ban

The article "Brady Gun-Control Bill Gains Ground in Congress," March 25, attributes two quotations to me that are misleading.

A National Rifle Association representative told the author that the NRA has the support of 200 congressmen and 42 senators. I commented (and was indirectly quoted as saying) that this margin is a few votes short of the number required to guarantee a defeat of all firearms legislation; however, that the further the administration gets from a seven-day waiting period on handgun purchases (such as passed the House in 1991), the more difficult it will be to get it through Congress.

The present "Brady Bill," H.R. 1025, goes beyond the original "Brady," and, when fully implemented after five years, would apply to all guns.

The article directly quotes me as saying, "It is reasonable to ban ... semiautomatic rifles if they are frequently used in crimes as HCI claims." I never said any such thing, nor would I. I said that all data on criminal use of firearms show that only a minute percentage of crimes are committed with rifles. If the majority of crimes - or as many as are committed with common handguns - involved military-style semiautos, those who wish to ban them would at least have a reasonable argument. But it is prepos terous to try to ban a type of gun that is used in only 1 percent or 2 percent of armed crime.

Even without the constitutional protection of firearms, I would never suggest that it is reasonable to ban any firearm on the basis that some are criminally misused. Though handguns are most commonly used in crime, only about one-half of 1 percent of all the handguns in this country are misused. That's not a reason to ban the 99.5 percent that are not. Neal Knox, Rockville, Md. Director, Firearms Coalition

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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