THE NRA'S FOSS
Gary Smith's article on National Rifle Association president Joe Foss (Top Gun, Aug. 7) reminded me that there are two kinds of men: those who talk, dream and write about things, and those who do them. Thanks for a wonderful piece about a gifted doer. I am sending in my application for membership in the NRA today.
As a member of the NRA, I agree with Foss. Gun-control advocates are attempting to ban the weapons used in violent crimes in the mistaken hope that this will eradicate the violence.
Firearms may be the most expeditious way for criminals to express their violent emotions. However, systematically eliminating one type of firearm over another will only encourage those prone to violence to seek other readily available avenues of destructive expression. When there are no more firearms to control, gun-control advocates will most assuredly lobby against knives, lead pipes, baseball bats, spiked golf shoes, screwdrivers...the list goes on.
RICHARD H. RIEHL
South Pasadena, Calif.
Maybe if the justice system weren't so easy on second-, third- and fourth-time offenders, we wouldn't have the problems we have with guns getting in the wrong hands.
The burglar who terrorizes my unarmed neighbors may one day break into my home. If that should happen, I am prepared, through training and practice, to end that criminal's career. I am protected by Rogers & Spencer, by Colt, by Mossberg, by Smith & Wesson and by the NRA. Try hitting a mugger with a piece of legislation. I think you will find that it is no more effective than hitting him with a rolled-up issue of SI.
KENNETH B. WHOMSLEY
Thumbs-up to Joe Foss the war hero, but thumbs-down to Joe Foss the NRA president. Even if I had had a handgun, it wouldn't have protected my daughters or any of the other kids at Hubbard Woods Elementary School here in Winnetka on May 20, 1988, the day Laurie Wasserman Dann raised her legally purchased pistols and fired away. One child, Nick Corwin, died, five others were wounded, and before Dann killed herself in a nearby house, she shot a young man who tried to reason with her.
We can all spin scenarios about how and when a handgun might protect us, but in the real world the unforeseen happens. The real world provided Dann, Patrick Purdy and too many others like them with handguns or assault rifles. Our sad record of murders, suicides and accidental shootings shows a lack of responsibility. Ban handguns and assault rifles, and require background checks and licenses for all gun purchasers. It's something we can live with.
The greatest asset to stronger assault-weapons legislation is the twisted logic of Joe Foss. To argue that AK-47s and Uzis are traditional hunting and sporting weapons is laughable.
By initially opposing a ban on both cop-killer bullets and terrorists' plastic guns, and by advocating repeal of the 1986 machine-gun ban, the NRA's lobbyists seem more interested in direct-mail solicitations than in effective crime control. Hunters and sportsmen nationwide have been done a grave disservice by Foss and the dozen or so NRA lobbyists in Washington.
U.S. Representative (D., Calif.)
Joe Foss may well be the most dangerous man in America.
PAUL R. HELFT
Jack McCallum didn't mention the most unusual and, I think, the most interesting fact about Spearfish, S.Dak., in his account of An American Summer (A Vacation from a Vacation, July 31). Spearfish experienced the steepest rise of temperature in the shortest period of time ever recorded. On Jan. 22, 1943, at 7:30 a.m. the temperature was—4° F. By 7:32 a.m. it had risen to 45°. At 8:45 a.m. the temperature was 55°, and within 42 minutes it had dropped again to -4°. According to a weather observer on that day, Roland R. Hamann of the U.S. Weather Bureau in Rapid City, the wildly fluctuating temperature was the result of an "air-mass discontinuity," or a strong change in wind direction. That day's weather graph (left) is on display at the Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., a few blocks from the Spearfish fish hatchery.
R.L. TUNSTALL Trumbull, Conn.
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