Last year, Maryland enacted a law submitting the sale of all handguns to review by a panel of experts, legislators and citizens to determine whether the guns are "Saturday night specials" and should therefore be banned from sale in Maryland. Other states around the country have proposed laws restricting so-called assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons on the grounds that they serve little sporting function and are used primarily in the commission of crimes.
The National Rifle Association and other organizations argue that these laws are infringements on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which stipulates the right of the people to bear arms and maintain a militia. Others say that this amendment only applies to those serving in the military and not to the civilian population.
Do you think gun control laws are necessary? What should those laws say? How does this relate to the Second Amendment?
People are expected to conduct themselves in a positive and reasonable manner. We are regulated by laws, which are supposed to make our lives better. Gun control laws are necessary because without them, people would cause problems. These laws should definitely require that all guns be registered.
According to our Constitution, we, as Americans, have the right to bear arms. The Second Amendment prohibits the national government from limiting the right to carry weapons. This amendment was adopted so that Congress could not disarm the state militias. Assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons are the tools of drug people and the underworld. They use these weapons against our society, which goes against the laws of the land. KEITH BREVARD Spingarn STAY
Gun control has been a recurring issue in the news media. It has been debated, pro and con, based on the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
People who argue for gun control are, in my opinion, taking the Second Amendment a bit too literally. The amendment basically gives citizens the right to take up arms against infringements and intrusions in time of war. Those who say we should use guns only in the military are being outrageous. I strongly disagree with them.
I think that since we are in a world in which protection and security are luxuries, we must protect our possessions. Gun control is a big waste of time, as well as a waste of money. ERIC DYSON Roosevelt
I think that gun control laws are necessary because the use of guns for illegal acts has gotten out of hand. People are constantly killing one another, so something must be done to limit the possession of guns right away.
The only way to resolve the problem is to enact strict gun control laws. One law should state that anyone caught with a gun should be confined to jail for a specified time. Although the Second Amendment states the right of the people to bear arms, it is obvious that this amendment no longer works and must be changed. Since we are not confronted with intrusions from other countries, we don't need to be armed.
D.C. would be a safer place to live if illegal guns were not permitted in the city. ALICIA DOUGHTY H.D. Woodson
I do not think gun control laws will solve our crime problems. If guns are made illegal, that will not stop criminals from obtaining them; innocent people who use guns responsibly will be penalized, as well.
What should be done is stricter monitoring, stricter licensing and mandatory training in the use of firearms.
As for semiautomatic weapons, their production and distribution should be limited to military use. Why would anyone else need a semiautomatic? None of these ideas would deny a citizen rights protected by the Second Amendment. NELOFUR AHMED Georgetown Visitation
Gun control is necessary because we cannot function if something is out of control. We need to stop letting guns get into the wrong hands. The only reason for guns is to kill and we need to stop killing each other. We need to compromise -- then there would be no need for guns. BREONA BRENT McKinley
Gun control laws are not necessary. Gun control takes away the rights of citizens to protect themselves. Laws to control the sale of guns are a breech of the Second Amendment to the Constitution and take away the freedom of the people to make their own choices. The citizens of D.C. should have the right to own guns for whatever reason, and that right should not be controlled, although I do feel there should be a minimum age limit for the sale of guns. AIMEE YRLAS Bell Multicultural
Because of the high incidence of crime in the nation, I believe there should be tougher gun control laws. Many claim the primary reason for someone in a city such as the District of Columbia to possess a gun is for "protection." Yet many of the gun owners in the city use weapons for strictly criminal purposes. Two of the main concerns of the inner city are the widespread use of drugs and the role that guns play in drug distribution. In addition, innocent bystanders are often the victims of fatal shootings between feuding parties in drug-related incidents.
Of course, many other incidents of gun-related crime occur; some are domestic disputes or youths gaining possession of guns and harming themselves or someone else.
I believe that gun control laws should be strict and enforced. There should be a mandatory age limit for those possing guns and a law which states that all guns must be registered at the point of sale. This requirement would help to decrease some of the negative activities in which guns play such a major role. DAYMON AUSTIN Ballou Students Speak Out: Topic for Dec. 20
It has become a common complaint that the holiday season has become too commercialized and too prolonged. Stores often begin to show Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza displays before Halloween. Community groups begin celebrating year-end holidays before the Thanksgiving turkeys are gone. The day after Thanksgiving has become known for the holiday shopping frenzy.
Do you think the holiday season has become too commercialized and too long? What do you think is the "true meaning" of the holidays?
Written responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. We are also interested in receiving political-style cartoons on the topic. Cartoons should be drawn on posterboard.
Students should submit their responses by Dec. 10 with name, age, grade and school included on the work to: High School Honors, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071
We will publish selected responses in Dec. 20 editions of the District Weekly.