Gun-packing security

Many thanks for coverage I never thought I'd see ("Women face down fear," Homefront, Aug. 22). I rarely meet women who have taken self-defense classes. Maybe some will do so as a result of this coverage. I, too, took the Model Mugging basic course and found it a life changer. Since I was over 40 and a little clumsy, I also decided to check out firearms. Ultimately, I had more than 100 hours of training, just to feel safe.

The use of a firearm in any situation - no matter how dire - risks injuring innocent bystanders. If possible, I would avoid or evade before resorting to a gun. But, I will use a gun if I have to. If I ruled the world, I'd get every little girl into a basic self-defense class and advance her training as the years went by. The main benefit is freedom from the mantle of fear nearly all of us wear because we have "target" stamped on us at birth. That fear is a terrible, unacknowledged drain that saps energy and creativity at every turn.

Claire Lomax Oakland, Calif.

Regarding "A grandma with a pistol in her purse" (Aug. 22): Yes, sir. I am 63 years old, and my sister is 68.We came out of the library one afternoon, and a man attempted to snatch our purses.He found out we were gun-toting grandmas.I vowed I would never put myself under a criminal's thumb again. The rest of my family does not know about it, but we took a course, and received our gun permits. Funny, we just feel safer.

B.K. Taylor Casa Grande, Ariz.

The story "A grandma with a pistol in her purse" (Aug. 22) left me dumfounded. To present the practice of carrying guns as a mere lifestyle choice - without pointing out the tremendous risks these women take - is a serious disservice to your readers. It is a gross mistake to believe that the best remedy for fear is to arm ourselves with the very weapons that threaten us. This is a spiral that fuels the abhorrent number of gun deaths and accidents in the US. Most handgun deaths are not crime related - rather, they occur because loaded guns are available and used in the heat of passion against family, friends, or oneself. The handgun is a failure when it comes to self-defense. As one who has dealt with danger firsthand, I know a gun would be of little help - rather, it would mean constantrisk for my family and for me. This is the reality of gun ownership - not John Wayne fantasies of self-defense.

L. Reed Vashon, Wash.

Fallingwater memories stream to mind

It was good to see two pages of pictures for "Living and Learning at Fallingwater" (Aug. 21) and to read about the high school program there.

I was an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin East and West. Mr. Wright was very active, available, ever-dignified, surprisingly humble, and there was a twinkle in his eyes. He saw architectural principle in everything - planning a building, mowing the hay, making a pudding - and we learned by doing, in quietness, with no radios or TVs. He taught us the love of nature, self-reliance, and the value of a creative idea. To one who had to leave the fellowship, he said of the creative life, "Just click your heels and you'll be there."

Dee Treacy Babcock Santa Monica, Calif.

Missile defense shoots for dominance

It astounds me that even astute analysts accept the claim that missile defense will be intended only to intercept missiles from rogue states (Daniel Schorr's Aug. 17 column, "To Asia, an inscrutable West"). I believe its purpose is to gain total military dominance of space, to spread an umbrella of terror over the planet, and to enforce our policies in regions that might otherwise be hard to persuade.

Richard Taylor Interlaken, N.Y.

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