Contrary to Joe Friend's statement {Free for All, Aug. 8}, Ann Landers is not a member of the board of directors of Handgun Control, Inc. But regardless of any official status with my organization, I fail to see any conflict of interest in her column of July 23, which urged readers to help in our efforts to pass rational handgun control laws.

Landers believes, as do millions of Americans, that handgun laws will save lives. Like other prominent Americans, she has endorsed the goals of an organization with which she agrees. Her efforts on behalf of other causes are well known.

We are proud to count Landers among the majority of Americans, police and private citizens alike, who support better handgun laws. Her commitment to ending the handgun slaughter, which claims more than 200,000 lives each year, is not motivated by self-interest. Instead, Landers has the courage to speak out on behalf of millions of victims and concerned citizens. We are grateful for her support.

-- Sarah Brady The writer is vice chair of Handgun Control, Inc.

I was fascinated by Joe Friend's accusing Ann Landers of distorting facts. Certainly the gun lobby should be the ultimate authority on fact distortion.

For instance, I am surprised the gun lobby found only 13 million American households in which at least one member has used a gun for self-defense. I would have thought it would have found many more; certainly I used a gun in self-defense back in 1944 and 1945, as did several million of my contemporaries. Then there were the millions who used guns in self-defense during the Korean and Vietnam wars. They may have been wars, but believe me, we were defending ourselves.

If guns remain one of the most effective weapons people have to fight crime, why don't crime-fighting professionals give the gun lobby more support? Most of the people who spend their working lives fighting crime also seem to be opposing the gun lobby.

Of course, the greatest distortion in the gun lobby's propaganda is its consistent failure to cite the entire Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." (Emphasis mine, of course.) How can there be a well-regulated militia if the government is not to be allowed to know who has -- and is trained to use -- arms?

The gun lobby hit its peak with this distortion some time ago when the National Rifle Association published a full-page ad featuring a Swiss-born actor. The actor pointed out that in his native Switzerland every adult male was required by law to keep a rifle. The ad omitted to add that every adult Swiss male citizen also undergoes military training and is a life-long member of a "well-regulated militia."

When the gun lobby tells you someone is distorting something, listen to the masters! -- W. E. Stephenson