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GUN SUITS ARE USEFUL WEAPON To the editor: I appreciate Susan Peschin’s response to my ” Blind Eye for the Killers” commentary [Oct. 13, 2003] for pointing out that the gun industry needs to be much more tightly regulated to curb gun crime [" Regulation Is Only Answer for Gun Crisis," Oct. 20, 2003], but let me set the record straight regarding the Smith & Wesson Agreement and the importance of litigation. Litigation forced Smith & Wesson to sign an agreement that went far beyond company or industry practices by requiring the company to impose distribution safeguards on anyone selling its guns. Smith & Wesson never carried out these changes because the industry and the gun lobby brought extraordinary pressure to bear on the company and pushed it to the brink of extinction. At the moment the agreement was signed in March 2000, the gun industry was at a crossroads. It could join Smith & Wesson and institute reforms in the way it sells firearms, thereby ending litigation by acting responsibly, or it could continue to do nothing to self-police the scofflaw dealers within its midst. Unfortunately, the gun industry chose the latter course, and scofflaw dealers continue to supply the crime gun market with guns that injure innocent victims. For making this irresponsible choice the gun industry should not be rewarded with blanket immunity from Congress. Brian J. Siebel Senior Attorney, Legal Action Project Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Washington, D.C. GAY DEBATE GOES BEYOND LAW To the editor: Thanks for Kenneth Jost’s book review of Marriage and Same-Sex Unions: A Debateon the subject of gay marriage in the Oct. 6 issue [" Debating Gay Marriage"]. I hope the book contains something the review omits any reference to, namely, the history and views of mainline U.S. churches. As is well known, the Episcopal Church is going through considerable turmoil over its decision this summer, in which I participated, to approve the election as Bishop of New Hampshire of a man who is in a relationship with another man. The church also acknowledged that Episcopal clergy are already blessing same-sex unions (not marriages) when that is pastorally appropriate and said that these actions “are within the bounds of our common life.” Many other Protestant and Jewish faith communities are currently wrestling with these subjects. The debate over “gay marriage” is not merely a constitutional or legal matter. John Vanderstar Arlington, Va.

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