NRA: controlling guns or Congress?

Regarding the article ``NRA Came Close to Backing Brady Bill,'' Dec. 3: As a member of the National Rifle Association, I've been taught that the NRA is actually America's oldest gun-control institution.

I have taken and passed the NRA's certified pistol-training course. Our instructors took several hours just to explain the basics of safe, disciplined handling of firearms, and to cover laws regarding licensing and penalties for misuse or negligence. The trainers cautioned strongly against using guns for self-defense without special combat training.

The NRA opposed the Brady bill because waiting periods for gun buyers have failed to reduce violent crime. California, New York City, and Washington, D.C., are cases in point. If Congress gave high priority to the nationwide system of instant background checks to weed out felons - a method that the NRA has long pushed for and that a number of states already have - the system could be implemented soon.

It's crucial that Brady's background-check provision be enforced and then replace the waiting period - or we could be on a slippery slope to penalizing law-abiding citizens. Jim Hastings, Boston

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