Letters to the Editor

The Hair Apparent

Crossing the line: Regarding Laura Bond's story "Raw Power" in the September 18 issue, I was wondering about her statement that "Matthew has to register with law-enforcement agencies in some states before he can legally enter them." Are these "states" in this country? How does this work, exactly? Does Matthew Helm have to stop at the state line to "register"? What if there's no one there who he can "register" with? I received a lot of firearms training in the Army -- does this mean I have to do the same, or are the grenade-launchers and automatic weapons I used considered less of a threat to public safety than a "spear-like staff" or "nunchakus"?

The problem with an obviously idiotic statement like this is that it calls into question the accuracy of everything else in the article -- and for all I know, some of what Bond wrote was actually true.

Dick Fisk

Catch a rising star: I saw Laura Bond's story on Matthew Helms and really, really liked it. I've had the pleasure of somewhat knowing Matt for a few years now, and really think he's a big star waiting to break. He just knows how to hold his own. We have even featured him on the cover of our band's CD 12 Days After Youth. I see him as a friend and a little brother. I also maintain his official Web site.

When I first saw Matt, I knew he was something special. His parents sent me a videotape of him, and I was blown away. For me, the cherry on the top is how nice he is. For someone who has done as much as he has at his age, he could easily be a huge jerk about it, but he isn't. He stays down to earth, and to me, that shows how great he is. I hope you run more stories on Matt.

Kevin Batres
via the Internet

Think positive: First, I'd like to say that I think it is wonderful to read about children/ teens who can show positives in the community. Things like respect for parents and adults, avoidance of following crowds for acceptance, avoiding drugs and alcohol and yet still being able to "find yourself" are not really rare qualities; they're just not mentioned in the press often enough. I was pleased to read the article.

I did have one question, though. I may not be a thirteen-year-old superactor, but I do have a fourth-degree black belt. I've been in the arts for over twenty years, won championships and have mastered many weapons, including those mentioned, and adding canes, broomsticks, bricks, car antennas, keys, any joint in my body, and any object that can be placed in my hand or found nearby. So I need to ask: In which states in the U.S.A. would I need to "register with law-enforcement agencies" before I could "legally enter them"? Being an American citizen born and raised here, it would be of great interest to know where I would be an illegal just because of my knowledge and abilities.

This information would not only be beneficial to people like myself, but also to the ex- military. After all, they, too, not only learned how to make weapons of themselves, but are proficient in firearms. Are you telling me that it is "illegal" for them to "enter states" in our union without first "registering with law enforcement"?

Phranque Wright
Wheat Ridge

Nice guys finish first: I enjoyed reading your story on Matthew Helms. I think he is a wonderful up-and-coming star, and I wish him all the best. I got the pleasure of meeting him. I was a cashier at Goodwill in Golden, and Matthew and his parents came into my store. He's a very nice person, plus his parents are great. I would like to also say he is a very good-looking young man. Well, I hope all of his dreams come true.

And just a small note to Matthew: Way to go, little man.

Amy Pontious
Wheat Ridge

Tae kwon d'oh! I just got done reading the story about Matthew Helms. Being a martial artist myself, I am highly skeptical about some of the things printed. How does a nine-year-old win nine consecutive world titles? Was his first competition at the age of one? Perhaps he and his entourage could come to our open Saturday sparring class at Martinez Brothers Tae Kwon Do and share his vast worldly experience; most of the other fighters are only state and national champs. Perhaps after he gives them a lesson, he could sign some autographs?

See you there.

Drew Harrison
via the Internet

Laura Bond replies: When Matthew Helms was his student, Andy Watford of the Andy Watford Tai Karate School in Aiken, South Carolina, would encourage him to check in with local law enforcement whenever he traveled for tournaments. "It's a courtesy, because technically, when you're a black belt, you are a loaded weapon," Watford says. But he also says that absolutely no state laws require martial arts or weapons experts to register their hands or their weapons. Apparently he didn't inform Matthew's mother, Becky Helms, of that (or if he did, she's not talking right now); in more than one interview, she told me that her son had registered his hands in several states while working the sport-karate circuit. I should have checked that out; my apologies.

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