Environment and Immigration Entwined

I am compelled to write concerning "Sierra Club Schism: the Limits of Sharing," (April 21) the opinion piece on the turmoil over the Sierra Club's position on immigration as it relates to US population.

The advice to fellow environmentalists "to dispense with numbers" is incredible. The writer expects us to evaluate her opinions in the absence of fact or data. This betrays a lack of objectivity and an endorsement of policy based solely on emotion.

The article states that "there are so many ways to lie with data." I would suggest that there are many more ways to lie without them. Perhaps the real reason to avoid data is that they often do not support the extreme positions that many environmentalists take. For example, despite the increase in population since the first Earth Day, air quality has improved significantly for most Americans. For this we can thank a better informed public, progressive environmental legislation, and technological innovations in pollution control.

The author asks for proof "that life in a large dense city is ... as acceptable as life in a small city ...." Census data for the last 100 years document the exodus from village and farm to large cities. Given the freedom, many Americans choose to live in large metropolitan areas. These people apparently do not share the romantic view of pastoral life. In fact, I've heard numerous transplants from big cities lament the lack of diversions in rural communities.

Finally, it is well documented that as living standards increase, birth rates decrease. The developments that environmentalists like the author oppose would actually bring about three desired results: improved living standards, reduced birth rates, and reduced pollution (through further innovation).

Keith Emery

Athens, Ga.

Legitimacy of guns

I beg to differ with the opinion-page article "Assault Weapons Ban" (April 16).

I've been a gun enthusiast for 40 years. My hunting accomplishments are limited to shooting ground squirrels (considered pests on the ranch) as a teenager. Hunting rifles occupy only a small section of my gun safe. And even those high-power rifles are converted from what were originally military rifles.

My interest is in accuracy, functionality, and history, and in shooting military rifles of proven merit. As a prudent person, I believe in the right to bear arms and self defense. And to many shooters the "hunting" argument is really irrelevant in defining what is an acceptable and legitimate form of firearm. These shooters are people who you would likely accept as neighbors or fellow workers, without reservation.

With reservation, I do support author Robert Spitzer's opinion that legitimate guns in legitimate hands is important. But the term "legitimate" has often been used as just another legal ploy to separate law-abiding firearms-owners from their guns with no effect on crime rates.

Emmett Van Reed

Tucson, Ariz.

I take extreme exception to the article concerning the recent "assault weapon" import ban. It seems as though the author, along with our fearless commander in chief, believes that the Second Amendment is about hunting. It is not.

The truth is that it is about defending "the people" from a tyrannical government. As a political science professor, the author should know that all of the Bill of Rights has to do with protecting the individual from the government. The article tries to justify banning weapons based on their "cosmetic," "military" design. If it ever came down to defending the people from tyranny, wouldn't these "assault weapons" be the proper weapons to use? They would then indeed be weapons of war.

Jonathan Lee

Ruston, La.

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