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 have proposed laws restricting so-called assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons on the grounds that these weapons 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?

Violence is a problem that lurks in the shadows of most major cities in the United States. Many jurisdiction have enacted legislation similar to the "Saturday night special" law in Maryland, that is intended to reduce the number of guns on our streets. We must stop the violence that controls our streets, however, I am a member of this society and I am against legislation prohibiting sale of so-called assault rifles and comparable weaponry.

If we are to solve this epidemic, we must take the problem into perspective. Is this problem caused by the gun or by the person pulling the trigger? The answer is quite obvious, the majority of the problem is more than the gun itself, it is the person behind the gun and the motivation of that person to take another person's life. BRIAN MESHKIN Glenelg

Gun control laws are necessary to protect the citizens of our country against themselves. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution provides Congress with the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for the carrying into execution the foregoing powers" granted by the Constitution. The Supreme Court has decided numerous times that the Second Amendment does not provide individuals with the unrestricted right to bear arms; this amendment only provides the military with that power.

Congress is given the authority to safeguard our country against anarchy and the Maryland legislature did so by enacting a gun-control law. Citizens are still allowed to protect themselves with handguns. They are just not allowed to do so with "Saturday night specials." BRIAN CHWIEROTH Hammond

Perhaps future generations will develop a utopia in which peace and happiness reign supreme. For now though, the majority of us are stuck with a world where crime and war are an unfortunate reality.

In a time when we must look over our sholders when walking a dimly lit path, we should expect that many people want security. Guns are an obvious choice.

Others from this same society want to take this source of security away. They feel that passing laws to restrict firearms will make crime go away. Let us remind them that many drugs are illegal, yet millions of dollars must still be budgeted to fight an apparently desperate battle.

Still others would say that guns are unnecessary. Let them be mugged by some who, strangely enough, has a gun. Will they still want a police office to run up and only say "Stop that right now or I'll have to yell at you!"

I truly wish guns were not needed, however they are. Criminals will always find a way to get weapons. By disarming the good, we would be arming the bad. RYAN BAVIS Mount Hebron

Suppose you are a middle-aged woman and you want to protect your family. Do you get a small handgun or an M-16?

Suppose you are a hunter and you need a new gun. Do you buy a shotgun or an Uzi?

The truth is, when an ordinary citizen buys a gun for a sensible reason, a semiautomatic is not the best choice. Semiautomatics are the choice of those who are looking, not for protection or sport, but for killing.

The Second Amendment protects our right to bear arms. However, the First Amendment protects our right to exercise any religion, yet human sacrifice is not permitted. We have the right to life, liberty and the property, but we may not steal from our neighbor.

This country guarantees our rights, not just for one person, but for everyone. Automatic weapons infringe on the rights of others -- specifically, their right to live. ELEANOR WILKINSON Howard Students Speak Out

To suggest future topics for Students Speak Out, call 202-334-5369 or write Weekly High Schools, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.