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From the week of July 19, 2001

Fire When Ready!

Taking aim at ammo: In his July 12 "Attention, Kmart Shoppers," Alan Prendergast did an amazing job of ignoring the real issue surrounding guns: people who abuse their usage and why they do it. Congrats.

Angel Shamaya, executive director
KeepAndBearArms.com

Freak show: I have to wonder whether the same frothing freaks who have "questioned the appropriateness of a family store dealing in firepower" are concerned by the fact that the Kmart Super Center family stores also sell alcohol, tobacco and drugs? Or are they just frothing freaks? Will the surviving victims feel happy the next time, knowing the ammunition came from Wal-Mart instead? Please, paranoid gun-hating freaks, grow up. Address the issue, not the symptoms.

Mike Williamson
Indianapolis, IN

What's in store: I want to express my support for anything that can be done to stop the sale of gun ammo within the Kmart stores.

I was very close to this incident at Columbine. My son attended that school. I knew the teacher. I knew some of the students. I am still struggling with the effects, as is everyone else concerned. I know Brooks Brown, and I support his every effort to make a difference. I will not shop at Kmart stores until this is accomplished.

March on.

Sherrie Neri
via the Internet

Out of here, with a bullet:In your shameful story about Kmart being blackmailed to remove "handgun ammo" from its sales, Alan Prendergast says that "many kinds of handgun ammo can be used in rifles." That is an astounding statement. Having used handguns and rifles for many years, I am at a loss as to what these "many kinds" might be. To my knowledge, there are three: .22 caliber, 9 mm and .45 caliber, and the only one of those that really fires in rifles is the .22 caliber; the others are in rather specialized carbines. I assume from the use of the words "many kinds" that Prendergast is referring to a dozen or more that can be used in this manner. I would certainly be interested in knowing about these new types of handguns that fire rifle ammunition, or vice versa.

Using these people from Columbine to prevent legal sales is blatantly wrongheaded. The types and origin of ammunition or types and origin of guns used by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are immaterial: The problem was caused by the perpetrators, not their choice of implement. You have not cried out against portable propane tanks, and yet these same people had rigged several in that school as bombs. Why are you not out campaigning to get stores (Kmart among them) to stop selling these? They are certainly much more potentially dangerous than a box of ammunition.

Gordon Martin
via the Internet


Sign Language

Chump change:David Holthouse's "Signs of the Times," in the July 5 issue, was a very good piece of reporting. I've been curious whether those people standing on the street corners with their signs could possibly be legit. I doubted it, but I still was curious.

Now I now better. They may work hard for their money, but so do I. I've handed over my last dollar.

Judy Lombardi
via the Internet

Money for nothing: I always wondered where "sign flyers" came from, and after reading "Signs of the Times," now I know. They come from neighborhoods not so different from anyone else's. That, I suppose, is what makes abusive behavior toward them so curious. I hope that the driver of the convertible BMW, who so flippantly littered downtown with generosity, gets what he deserves.

When I was in college, a group of us were approached by a "bum" at a free outdoor concert who asked us for spare change. The typical pangs of discomfort arose as everyone patted his own pocket as an indication that there was nothing to donate. Well, in the spirit of the moment, and under the influence of certain mood-altering substances, I reached in my pocket and pulled out a $20 bill I had earned by acting as "middleman" before the concert. The homeless man took it without much commotion until he looked closer and realized what it was he had been given. He hugged me and jumped around like a child on Christmas morning. With my egotistical sense of altruism fully inflated, I did not care how he spent it. Eventually we left the concert and headed off into the night. At about 3 a.m., in a campus greasy spoon, this same homeless man was making his way up and down the aisle asking for handouts. When he reached our table, it was very apparent that he was drunk. Leaning over me, he asked for anything we could spare.

"Don't you remember me?" I asked. "I gave you $20 about ten hours ago!" Unfazed, he turned his attention to another table and then stumbled his way out at the prompting of the restaurant owner.

I cannot tell you how callous toward the "homeless plight" this event caused me to become. I never again gave even a nickel to one of the many and familiar beggars that lined the campus.

Well, after reading "Signs of the Times," I have a renewed sense that there are people put into situations and predicaments not always under their own control and of their own volition. Granted, there are those sign flyers who are victims of addiction and substance abuse, but there are also those who are simply unlucky. There was one such man alongside an I-25 exit ramp with a sign reading "Smile. There's no excuse not to." Well, I did and waved. He waved back. You don't have to roll down the window of your Excursion and give the guy a twenty, but you don't have to go out of your way to insult a person's dignity, either. God forbid the shoe were on the other foot.

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