Toy guns aren't the problem

In reference to Devon Marsh's opinion piece "Disarming children: Start with toy guns" (March 20): I agree with Mr. Marsh that the child in question certainly lacked respect. However, when my first son displayed an interest in guns, although I had already made the decision never to buy a gun for any of my children, my husband and I decided to get a play gun.

Later we taught him how to respect a "real" gun when we allowed him to target practice. We made the same decision with our second son. However, he made the mistake of aiming the "toy" gun at me in a moment of anger. I responded by grabbing the gun and throwing it behind the water heater.(Years later when we remodeled, I was startled to find it.)

This son, now a father, still likes guns. He has a target in his backyard for his pellet gun, and also enjoys skeet shooting. His guns are kept in a locked safe away from his young children. Respect for adult authority is not something that can be taught just by the types of toys you choose not to buy.

Lois Waterman Newport, Wash.

Regarding "Disarming children: Start with toy guns": It's not toys or the parents that buy them that are to blame. It is criminally lax behavior among adults around children that permits them easy access to adult weapons. A six-year-old will know that the authentic handgun in his hand is "real," but he may not yet be in a position to know what that means.

Take away "real" guns and you take away the problem. Lock up the handguns, rifles, and shotguns in secure cabinets, put triggerlocks on them, and keep the ammunition in a separate, securely locked cabinet. Leave the kids' toys alone.

Todd Spindler North Miami, Fla.

L.A.'s rising population

Your March 17 article "Why 12 new people are settling in L.A. each hour" crediting Los Angeles with a miraculous reversal of its population loss during the early 1990s was off the mark.

First, the assumption that population increase is healthy is disputable, especially in an over-built location like Los Angeles. As a nation, our future requires that we change our focus to population stability.

Second, although it is correct that the Los Angeles population is again increasing, that doesn't result from attractiveness for Americans to move there, or even from the mega-metropolis being able to keep its own residents there. The latest Census Bureau data, which were the basis for your story, clearly show a net one-year loss of over 88,000 more residents moving away from Los Angeles County than persons from elsewhere in the country moving in. A net loss of residents of that magnitude is not a healthy sign.

The only reason for the population increase was the high birthrate of the current population and the net increase of nearly 92,000 immigrants. Although employers, realtors, and others will welcome the effects of population increase, local planners and politicians would be wise to study what is prompting the net exodus of local residents from Los Angeles.

Dan Stein Los Angeles Executive director Fed. for American Immigration Reform

Hard to compare India and Pakistan

Irfan Hussain's March 20 opinion piece "Will South Asian leaders get real?" fails in projecting the facts. Unfortunately all the comparisons between India and Pakistan are based on them being equal. Any comparisons stop when one sees that India is a country with its size, maritime boundaries, and industrial infrastructure in a totally different league than Pakistan.

Samuel Beera Attleboro, Mass.

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