ARMS AND THE PEOPLE
It was refreshing to read Martin Kane's article on the firearms issue (Bang! Bang! You're Dead, March 18). Undoubtedly the hue and cry from both sides of the controversy will arrive at your mailbox.
I suggest very harsh penalties for crimes committed with firearms, or any other dangerous weapon for that matter. Let's place the burden on the criminal, not on the sportsman-citizen. Sportsmen provide millions of dollars per year, via excise taxes and hunting licenses, toward wildlife conservation and the upkeep of public lands that are available to all citizens for recreational use.
Perhaps, in this especially sophisticated age, we need not know how to shoot. Perhaps, too, we need not know how to throw a ball or sail a boat or climb a mountain. The skills to teach our sons may well be to live with smog, to enjoy traffic jams and to admire politicians who seek to ride on "popular" causes.
I wish to convey a little historic background in the defense of the Second Amendment and perhaps promote a better understanding of it, especially for your nonshooting sports readers. "Citizen soldiers" were early identified with democratic government. In about 340 B.C. Aristotle noted that oligarchies prevailed in lands where there was cavalry or heavy infantry (as only the rich could afford horses and heavy equipment), while democracies existed in lands whose strength depended upon the light arms owned by most citizens. Rousseau wrote that "all the victories of the early Romans, like those of Alexander, had been won by brave citizens who were ready, at need, to give their blood in the service of their country, but would never sell it."
In early America there was justifiable dislike for large standing armies, as mercenaries and professional soldiers historically have been inclined to ignore the rights of citizens. The constitutions of Vermont, Kansas, Ohio, North Carolina and Massachusetts state that "as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be [shall not be] kept up; and that the military should [will, must] be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power...."
Thomas Jefferson stated that for the security of the country the only alternate to a large standing army was a source of ready reserves. Thus in the U.S. we have the militia, which Webster defines as "all able-bodied male citizens between 18 and 45...divided into two classes, the organized militia of the individual states and the reserve militia." The "organized militia" is commonly called the National Guard. If Congress had accepted the original draft for the Second Amendment as submitted by the Pennsylvania delegation in 1789, we would be having a lot less trouble today with interpretation and the understanding of the "right" to bear arms. It read: "The people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves, their state or the United States, and for killing game, and no law shall be enacted for disarming the people except for crimes committed...."
Mr. Kane cites Switzerland's history of armed neutrality as the exception among European countries that have become involved in the wars that so often spread across the Continent. This leads one to wonder what effect the right to keep and bear arms might have had on the development and preservation of self-determination and self-government by the peoples of those other European countries.
CHARLES L. WARNER
Los Alamos, N. Mex.
Martin Kane did a superior job, in my estimation, and stands virtually alone in treating this controversial subject fairly and objectively. One point should be added, however. Lawful gun owners and users almost unanimously believe that the "problem" of firearms could be handled simply and easily without additional legislation if the courts would only get tough with those who commit crimes with weapons. Included in this category are rocks, pokers, chair legs, guns, knives and fists, to mention a few. Why discriminate? We think those criminals should be put away for real terms, instead of being freed on the excuse that they didn't have a platoon of legal talent present when they made their first few confessions. Or, if they are imprisoned, they certainly should not be paroled a short time later to repeat their crimes. We see it as a problem of enforcement and suitable punishment rather than one of legislating to the detriment of lawful gun owners, in a vain attempt to remove only one type of weapon from undesirable hands.
JOHN W. HAINES
Salt Lake City
I want to set the records straight regarding the 12-hour race at Sebring. There has been a great deal of controversy about a ridiculous claim by my fellow driver, Paul Hawkins, who was in a Ford GT-40, against the driving of Miss Liane Engeman of Holland, who was in a Javelin (The Birds, the Bees and the Porsches, April 1). Driving a Porsche myself, I passed Liane in the race many times and never had any trouble. I've raced against her on other occasions at such circuits as Sebring and Brands Hatch, and if there is any woman driver who deserves an award for fine driving and fair play it's Liane. I wish there were more men and women in professional racing like her.
My friend Paul, in his Australian way, lost his temper, and I don't blame him for that human fault. However, after he sleeps on it, I know he'll think differently about it and realize that what he said concerning the girl drivers was a lot of rubbish.
After reading Mr. Kirkpatrick's article (An Answer to the Bradley Riddle, March 18) I am really amused that he or anyone else feels that Bill Bradley's relatively disappointing rookie season is a riddle. The answer should be obvious to anyone knowledgeable in pro basketball. Bill Bradley is another highly publicized, highly touted All-America who couldn't miss, but did.
The press (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED included) made Bill Bradley a demigod. And now, because he isn't eating the NBA alive like they hoped and possibly thought he would, everyone is scurrying to find alibis for him. Let's face it, Bill is just not an Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Sam Jones or Hal Greer. Nor is he Dave Bing or Earl Monroe.
PLATO W. JONES JR.
Thank you so much for the article on Bill Bradley, but I think it is hardly a riddle as to why he is playing like he is. Everyone is aware of the circumstances surrounding his return to the sport, and yet Bradley is being criticized for doing what other pro rookies do every year. If only people would stop asking so much of Bill and start looking at him as an unusually talented college player having normal difficulties breaking into the pro ranks, they might understand.
As for those who say Bradley is only using pro basketball as a steppingstone to fame and fortune—ridiculous! Anyone who knows anything about him recognizes a sincerity that could never be doubted. The problem here is that a Bill Bradley is rare in our society today and, so, cannot be fully appreciated at first glance. I for one am proud to be part of a generation in which there are people like Bill Bradley.
LOIS VON HOENE
Joe Jares' article on Iowa basketball (A Winner Where the Tall Corn Grows, March 11) didn't do much for the university, which lost to Ohio State. But his references to Iowa girls' basketball were interesting. I just witnessed the state championship in which the No. 1 team, Everly, and the No. 2 team, Union-Whitten, met in an incredible shooting duel that culminated in a 113-107 overtime victory for Union-Whitten. Everly's Jeanette Olson, a 5'10" jump-shooting senior, tallied 76 points, but it was Union's 5'11" Denise Long and her 64 points, while being double teamed, that decided the action. In one semifinal game Denise hit on 28 of 30 field-goal attempts with modified hooks, jump shots and drives. Everly's Olson, in four games, hit 72 of 79 from the free-throw stripe. Too bad our Iowa universities don't have coeducational teams, because Iowa is the girls' basketball capital of the world.
Over the years I have been a loyal reader of your magazine. I have often disagreed with many of your boxing articles. Particularly the ones written by Tex Maule, which are always filled with controversy. However, the article (His Workman's Compensation, March 18) on the Frazier-Mathis bout was superb. I feel, just as Mark Kram does, that Buster Mathis is a fine boxer and his only downfall was in his handlers. At first they brought him along slower than the Staten Island ferry, and then they rushed him into a fight that he was far from ready for.
Buster Mathis will decide to stay in the ring and, within three years, with the right handlers, he will become the champ.
Bay City, Mich.
Where did you get that Hooterville Chronicle reject, Mr. Mark Kram, the man who wrote the appalling article His Workman's Compensation? Either Mr. Kram is a sore loser or else he is the "typical" Philadelphian he depicts in his article.
Being a native of Grand Rapids, I realize I am a little prejudiced on behalf of Mathis, but I honestly didn't think Joe Frazier would win. I was wrong, and so were many other people who have come to recognize the many abilities of Joe Frazier. But the cruel slam Mr. Kram issued Bus, a man who still holds a 2-1 series lead, was totally uncalled for and unsportsmanlike.
I am in total agreement with Mark Kram about Joe Frazier's praiseworthy approach to work. He's a true paragon of honesty in business, rendering full service for his part in a contract. Kram himself continues to make his reports a treat in entertaining prose, but I'm afraid he slips in substance here and there. Thus, while he criticizes a Mathis handler—rightly—for subjecting sensitive Buster to ridicule, his own story of the fight contains the hardly diplomatic or tasteful expression "staggering dumbness" to describe a fault in the boxer's strategy and tactics.
About this Mark Kram (LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER, March 18): I thought he'd look like something between an A.J. Liebling and an H. L. Mencken. I sure blew that one. With his talent, though, I guess it doesn't matter.
ROBERT F. MITCHEL
ONLY A TKO?
Thanks for the favorable article on college boxing (College Boxing's Last Round, March 11). When I was an intramural boxer at Cal in 1966 we all boxed for the fun of it. As for the intercollegiate program, the good sportsmanship of the competitors and the caution displayed by the coaches and the referee were impressive. Let's hope college boxing can get off the canvas.
USC Medical School
Strangely enough, at about the same time boxing was expiring in California it was getting annual approval at the U.S. Air Force Academy. About 4,000 persons were jammed into the gym as they are every year. Next year the crowd will be even larger, because the Academy will by then have its new field house ready for use.
Boxing is not an intercollegiate sport at the Academy. It is strictly intramural, and it is carefully supervised so that there is no chance of a contestant getting hurt badly. Bloody noses, yes! But that's about it.
It is a highlight of the sports program at the Academy—and it is immensely popular with everyone.
EARL E. HOVEN
Colorado Springs, Colo.