Keep guns out of criminal hands in the first place

John R. Lott Jr.'s advocacy of increasing gun ownership ("One case for guns" Aug. 21) is disturbing. Both he and Senate majority leader Trent Lott continue to argue that the more guns we're carrying around, the less crime there will be. Can people in such positions be serious about returning the US to a "Wild West" mentality?

I have no idea where the numbers cited came from, but before we begin stocking up with more firearms, I would like to hear a response to the question: "How many crimes would not have been committed if the perpetrators had not had guns?" Mr. Lott should consider that the criminals in his anecdotes probably would not have done what they did if their access to weapons had been blocked, or at least made more difficult, in the first place. The whole point of "gun control" legislation is to make it more difficult for criminals to own firearms. As long as the "gun in every pocket" advocates have their way, we will never have the chance to attack the problem at its roots.

Steven K. Vernon Havertown, Penn.

Puppies behind bars

Thank you for running the Aug. 16 article "New leash on life" about inmates training Seeing Eye dogs. The revelation that many inmates are anxious and willing to "give something back to society" needs to be widespread. Prison officials should be giving inmates an avenue, but most of them are more interested in profits and punishment. Corruption is rampant, and many inmates are literally starving for education.

I run an Inmate Literacy Program, and have found that 30 percent of the prison population cannot read or write. Often those illiterates have no way to learn, unless another inmate chooses to teach them. With the billions we spend on prisons, this is astounding. Money should be spent "correcting" instead of punishing. Is it any wonder that the return rate is so high?

Rev. Franci Prowse Anza, Calif.

Measuring change for the better

Regarding the Aug. 7 Home Forum "The measures of a man's life, taken": I found it quite interesting that Christopher Andreae calls his native system of measuring "enormously complicated" and "nonsensically complex," and labels the pre-decimal British coinage a "totally incomprehensible arrangement." Why would someone defend systems with these attributes? The change to decimal currency and metric measuring may be uncomfortable during the transition, but it's called innovation. Just because we've always done things a certain way is no reason to resist a change for the better.

Don Hillger Fort Collins, Colo.

Which college men?

Regarding the Learning section's Aug. 15 "Chalk Talk" column "No more 'big men on campus'?": Would you have done a similar item if a white supremacist magazine had done an article on "Top 10 campuses most friendly to whites?"

If the point was to highlight what Men's Health was highlighting - why not focus on what this says about the magazine? Or what this says about the men who responded to the survey (Men's Health may have "polled their readers" but what does that mean exactly)? I know there are undergrad men out there who think that going to a campus with an active feminist presence (or active minority presence or active 'activist' presence) is a good thing - and they know they will have a richer undergrad experience as a result.

Today's generation of women and men coming to school aren't all bringing an "Animal House" sensitivity to their experience. It's not all "Rock the Vote," but it's not as caveman-esque as depicted either.

Jennifer Joslin Iowa City, Iowa

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