Gun-control movement needs clearer message

Your July 16 report of strong public support for gun registration and licensing noted correctly that these reforms were not included in the Gun Control Act of 1968 ("Once taboo, gun registration gains ground"). It should be added, however, that they were major provisions of the firearms bill presented by President Lyndon Johnson.

When the reforms were excluded from the bill passed by Congress, they were sustained by the organization that pioneered the gun-control movement and advocated for Johnson's bill - the National Council for a Responsible Firearms Policy.

The new gun-control groups that entered the fray in the 1970s, and came to dominate the gun-control movement, adopted as their sole objective the banning of handguns - a preoccupation that has fragmented the whole movement. Their subsequent proposals were more reasonable but far short of a comprehensive set of ultimate aims.

Because the ultimate intent of the gun-control movement is less than clear, gun interests object even to modest proposals out of fear the ultimate aim of incremental measures is the confiscation of handguns.

The gun-control movement, which targets the National Rifle Association as the main obstacle to stricter gun control, should be no less attentive to its own shortcomings on the other side of this explosive issue.

David J. Steinberg, Alexandria, Va.

Stop slamming sports fans

Over the past three years, I have seen your writers degrade and insult both sports and the reader - the latest example being "Home-run hitting contest is a joke" (July 16) by columnist Douglas Looney.

The article says the kind of people who would be excited over this kind of event would also be "ecstatic over the Rolex watches they can buy on the streets of New York for $28." I will admit I am not a baseball "purist" like the author, but I did find this event exciting. The contest is a way for major league baseball to showcase its talent, similar to the way the NBA does with 3-point and slam-dunk contests.

Mr. Looney demonstrates everything that is wrong with the media today by insulting the readers' intelligence and passion with his condemnation of their excitement about a particular event. I would rather be a gullible fool than a bitter columnist who can so obliviously miss the point of an event such as the home-run contest.

Tad Gutelius, Boston

Hope for peace in India

Regarding "India's 'Clint' feels ethnic limits" (July 23): The Monitor has done well in bringing attention to the right-wing Hindu intolerance of Muslims in India, using the instance of movie star Dilip Kumar [a Muslim who was forced last year to return a lifetime award given to him by Pakistan].

Many Muslim movie stars, TV script writers, artists, and poets have assumed Hindu names, lifestyles, and ethos. Yet these well-connected Muslims did not escape the wrath of Hindu fanatics during the Bombay pogrom of 1992-93. Since the conflict with Pakistan, the Muslim situation has again taken a turn back to the bad old days of the early 1990s. Your story was about well-connected Muslims like Mr. Kumar who cannot escape the wrath of Hindu fanaticism; however, it also should have pointed out the fate of the ordinary Muslims rather than leaving it to the imagination of the readers.

Still, it must be acknowledged that the Hindu hawks' views are not shared by all Hindus. Many have come forward to defend their Muslim neighbors. This is where the hope lies for India.

Omar Khalidi, Cambridge, Mass.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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