* In response to "Yes, Guns Kill (Young) People," editorial, June 27:
Our law enforcement agencies are underfunded and understaffed. Our court system is immensely overburdened. Defense and plaintiff counsel seemingly conspire with the judiciary to emphasize efficient rather than effective legal process. If a person is found guilty of a jailable offense, prisons overflowing their capacity await, and with them the likelihood of early release.
Until our justice system can, and does, enforce the firearms laws already on the books, "truly effective gun control" is but another oxymoron.
The answer you seek is at hand. All that is required is public support of adequate budgets for police, prosecutors, courts, and prisons. And a community that says, "We're fed up and we won't take it any more." Are we truly ready for gun control?
DAVID C. BRITTON
* Let me get this straight. California has a 15-day waiting period and background check on (legal) firearms transactions, and all rifles, shotguns and handguns are covered by this legislative order. We have a law in place to punish errant gun owners who leave guns available to children. So-called assault weapons are virtually banned. A gun safety training course will be required for first-time gun buyers in 1994. And The Times is still asking for "a truly effective gun control law."
Since it appears that every reasonable gun control concern has already been addressed in California, and violent crime continues to increase every year, the obvious question is: What other restrictive measures would The Times advocate now that we know existing laws don't work?
* Again you ask the question "just what . . . will it take to pass a truly effective gun control law?" And again you offer no solution. Well, here's an offer for beginning an effective gun control law.
There should be required gun registration, annual licensing at $100 per year per weapon, required $250,000 liability insurance on each weapon, automatically given to victims (or family) of misused guns, and also required training and education courses for gun use. Of course, there would be much evasion and noncompliance at the beginning of this new system but the penalties for same must be severe, starting with immediate confiscation, so that those who want to own guns, just like those of us who own automobiles, must pay to prove we are responsible citizens.
* I implore you and your readers to seriously consider the legislation proposed by Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) called the Public Health and Safety Act of 1993, S-892.
This bill will prohibit the possession, sale or manufacture of handguns. During a six-month grace period, handguns may be turned in to any law enforcement agency with impunity and for reimbursement. Exceptions are allowed for military and law enforcement governmental agencies, collectors, sporting clubs and security guard services; in addition, licensed dealers, importers and manufacturers who service the above. Criminal violations of the act provide for substantial monetary fines or imprisonment, or both.
No need here to recite the statistics provided by Sen. Chafee's office--your editorial amply presents some of the gruesome facts. Suffice it to say, it is estimated that there are over 70 million handguns in private use in the United States.
We all know about the grief--murders, gunshot wounds, paralysis, physical impairment for life, destruction of families, shooting of doctors and public safety employees, parents and children fearful of going out at night, and on and on. The health care costs, borne by the taxpayers, of all this mayhem are staggering.
R. JEFFREY SCOTT