Upon reading the article "Modified Versions of Banned Assault Weapons Cleared for Import," {news story, July 23}, I wonder what has happened to last year's proposal by the Bush administration to ban large-capacity bullet magazines?

For criminals, the most appealing feature of semiautomatic assault weapons is their ability to accept large-capacity magazines. In other words, a criminal feels safer when he does not have to reload as often: when he has a gun with a 30-bullet magazine as opposed to a six-shot revolver. President Bush proposed a ban on all magazines that can hold more than 15 cartridges. Such a ban would help neutralize domestic as well as imported firearms. Most state hunting regulations do not allow rifle magazines with capacities higher than five shots. Even National Rifle Association-sanctioned shooting competitions do not allow more than 10-shot pistols.

As a member of Maryland's Handgun Roster Board, I have proposed disapproving handguns that are factory equipped with high-capacity magazines, although I was not successful in convincing other members of the board that Maryland's law allows this.

In any case, a nationwide ban of high-capacity magazines will be much more successful than individual state laws in protecting police and civilian bystanders from the firepower of today's drug criminals. Could it be that the president, a lifetime NRA member, has not pushed his proposal because of opposition from the NRA?

MATTHEW C. FENTON IV Baltimore