Bill Smith suggests that the reason so little comment followed the acquittal of the jeweler who killed the thieves escaping from his shop was because the public was "satisfied" with the verdict {Letters to the Weekly, Jan. 10}. I submit that "resigned" is a better word.

Most people I've talked with feel what Vahag Babayan did was wrong. He did not act in self-defense, and no amount of property loss justifies taking a life. (A sound insurance policy provides better protection for property than does a gun.) He had no right to set himself up as judge and executioner. After all, barbaric as the American justice system is at times -- such as when it imposes capital punishment -- even here, thieves are not sentenced to pay the ultimate price.

We are resigned, however, that Mr. Babayan not serve time in jail. We can only hope his own conscience provides justice enough and ultimately leads him to eschew the dog-eat-dog, eye-for-an-eye mentality.

However, the case and Mr. Smith's letter bring up another point. Mr. Smith challenged a letter writer, who denounced the acquittal {Letters to the Weekly, Jan. 3}, to see how she'd react if she were confronted by a criminal. He said "many of us would respond immediately in a way ... counter to our ... philosophies."

And that's the best argument I've heard yet for strict gun control! Prior to a confrontation, no one really knows if he is mature enough to handle a weapon. Therefore, we should all abide by the entire Second Amendment of the Constitution and not just one clause. In other words, if you want a gun, join the militia.

As to Mr. Smith's comment that "the message has been passed on to all potential perpetrators," I think the fact that no decrease in the area's crime rate followed the incident suggests otherwise. If criminals got any message from the case, it is simply this: "Merchants may be armed, so shoot first and run fast." BONNIE NELLE DUNCAN Rockville