The meaning of the 'right to bear arms' I wish to briefly address a point mentioned in your Sept. 10 editorial "The way to control guns." That the right to keep and bear arms is meant within the context of a "well regulated militia" is a common method of obscuring the fact that this right applies to individuals.

Gun control advocates argue that the "militia" clause means that the right applies not to individuals but to some amorphous state collective such as the National Guard. This is an incorrect interpretation, and a reading of the Second Amendment, its context within the Bill of Rights, the writings of the authors of the Constitution, and the vast majority of recent refereed legal scholarship (for example, see Van Alstyne, Duke Law Journal, 1994) all clearly indicate that the "well regulated militia" is predicated on the individual's right to keep and bear arms.

It is the militia that is to be regulated, not the right.

David Mechem, Norman, Okla.

I read your gun control editorial with some sadness and even some anger. As a law abiding citizen, a veteran, and gun owner, I am dismayed at the position taken by the Monitor supporting gun registration.

The great fear our forefathers had was that a federal government would eventually overstep its authority and assert its will on a defenseless people. There was heated debate on this until the Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights as a guarantee that the people would not be defenseless. Only then would the individual colonies support the Constitution.

I don't know anyone who is not appalled by the recent examples of gun violence. But let's put this in proper perspective.

The numbers of victims from gun crimes pale compared to the numbers of victims of drunk drivers, violent parents, and swimming pools. Let's face the fact that gun control is not about safety, saving children, or even keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. It is about gaining control of the American people. Robert R. Majors, Ash Fork, Ariz.

Dress codes in school In "Dress codes and the Spice Girls" (Sept. 8) the author, a school teacher, writes that she believes school uniform advocates are intent on creating a colorless society. Perhaps she misses the point.

Dressing students alike has the advantage of enabling them to compete with each other on equal footing. Isn't that better than having families compete with each other based on their unequal ability to clothe them?

As one of our presidential candidates said recently, "Teaching is imparting values." According to the article, the author's six-year-old been taught two such values: 1) Be very conscious of your clothes (the girl was even concerned about what her mother would wear to a birthday party). 2) Disposal of a dead mouse is worth twice as much if you are a girl. Perhaps this author/teacher should be listening to a wider range of views. William Brewster, Chester Springs, Pa.

Beyond image in 2000 elections In your Sept. 13 issue, the article "Why image matters more in 2000" cites political theatrics, and candidates' style and image as highly important in the 2000 elections because of an "absence of burning issues." A back-page news brief says "rich Americans are benefitting far more than the poor from the booming economy."

Why has "image" become more important than socioeconomic justice? I wonder what would happen if people refused to contribute to candidates who lack a solid plan for socioeconomic justice.

Celia Hastings, Ellsworth, Mich

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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