Dangerous culture, not dangerous toy guns

Regarding your Jan. 2 article "New York's latest crime-buster: muzzling toy guns": While a total ban on toy guns may seem like a great idea to some people, there will of course be drawbacks.

The person brandishing the toy gun, not the gun itself, is the root of the problem. A ban will not decrease the number of violent - or potentially violent - crimes. A person who is desperate enough to commit such an act will simply find some other "weapon" instead.

Violent crimes in this country start at younger and younger ages, and a child can use whatever is available. The problem starts at home. We need to get back to basics and teach our kids respect, love, kindness, and humility.
Marcie Phillips
Stedman, N.C.

In response to "New York's latest crime-buster: muzzling toy guns": Please don't refer to pellet guns as toys. These guns can be fired; a toy cannot. There are toys that project items such as ping pong balls or water. But none of these is dangerous.

Do not advocate taking away the joy of playing G-men against the bad guys using toy guns. The loss of freedom is far more dangerous than the possible accident by someone using the toy improperly.
Edward G. Ogle Sr.
Orange Park, Fla.

At first, I thought I was reading a parody. As proof of the "toy gun scare that's sweeping the country," your article cites three laws that limit the sale of guns. But the claim that New York is "the site of many toy-gun fatalities" and that "the impact of deaths from toy guns is ricocheting across the country" is substantiated by neither statistics nor facts. That this claim has any basis whatsoever is offered only in the photo caption, which refers to the impact as "a fatal misunderstanding in 1998."

The real danger posed by a toy or imitation gun is not the gun's ability to harm, but that the perpetrator runs the risk of putting himself or herself in the face of a greater danger. This fact was utterly ignored in the article and is not addressed by the bill.

New York's proposed ban on toy guns will do nothing to eliminate this danger or realistically protect people from becoming victims of crime.

Exposition of this fact would have lent your article more credibility.
Joan Furlong
Upper Montclair, N.J.

US slouches towards Bethlehem

Regarding your Dec. 24 article "A subdued Christmas in Bethlehem": Thank you for a poignant piece.

The essays written by Susan Atallah's students reflect creativity as well as a constructive way to deal with the emotions of Palestinian children who are witnessing death and destruction all around, and who suffer virtual house arrest for weeks at a time.

However, Capt. Jacob Dallal of the Israeli Defense Forces reacted absurdly.

Referring to what the Palestinians suffer as "inconvenience" compared with the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem completely overlooks the fact that the sustained brutal Israeli military occupation is the underlying cause of the attacks.

Palestinian children are murdered, arrested, and detained almost daily, and young men are tortured. Homes are demolished, and there is a 24-hour lockdown on Palestinians who are unable to go to work, school, or the hospital. All this as Jewish settlers move freely and expand settlements and roads on Palestinian land.

Double standard? It is apartheid. Americans, we are subsidizing this immoral and racist situation.
Sister Miriam Ward
Burlington, Vt.
St. Michael's College

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