There is an old saying in rhetoric that if you cannot answer your opponent's arguments, abuse your opponent. Sadly, The Post's editorials vilifying the National Rifle Association (of which "The NRA's New Killer Instinct" on Sept. 24 is just the latest) are an excellent example of that old saying in action.

The fact of the matter is that The Post has been advocating "gun control" for years based on an argument that more shootings will result unless there are fewer guns. The NRA's latest ads merely point out that an armed individual is in a better position to protect himself (or, more likely, herself) and less likely to be injured by criminal aggression. Either of these arguments can be fairly debated. The Post, however, finds all that very tedious, so it criticizes the persons making the opposite argument.

Not only does The Post have a closed mind on the gun control issue, it's also getting lazy.

Dennis B. Wilson

As is so often the case, The Post uses selective recall in commenting about the National Rifle Association and its programs. If your purpose in writing about our new advertising campaign had been to explain or clarify rather than to pillory NRA, you would have reported on the entire ad, not just the dramatic headlines and photographs.

The "NRA's New Killer Instinct," to which you referred in the editorial Sept. 24, is a responsible series of paid communications to alert law-abiding citizens to their constitutionally guaranteed rights to firearms ownership and self-protection.

I'm not sure whose point of view The Post represents -- I doubt it's the victims of the 151 rapes, 120 murders, 6,273 burglaries, 936 unarmed robberies, 1,594 armed robberies and 2,763 assaults that were reported to the Washington, D.C., police department between Jan. 1 and July 31 of this year. Unfortunately, these 11,837 victims can't legally protect themselves with a firearm in the District of Columbia because acquisition of firearms has been banned since Feb. 5, 1977.

The NRA is on the side of the victims. They call us every day asking us to tell them about their rights under the Constitution to own and use firearms to protect themselves, their families and their property. They speak with great concern and in many cases feel violated and helpless. Has the editorial board ever interviewed members of The Post staff who have suffered the role of the victim to see how they felt?

In your ongoing attempt to propagandize the myth that NRA and law enforcement are no longer allies, you totally ignore the message in the ad that specifically asks, "Why can't a policeman be there when you need him?" and NRA's sympathy and understanding for this problem. It's too bad you didn't quote the copy, which states, "He's somewhere else, responding to crimes already committed." And: "Police know they're outnumbered by criminals 20 to 1. As much as they'd like to, America's police can't always be there to defend you the moment you need them."

The membership of the National Rifle Association (particularly the 122,327 members in D.C., Maryland and Virginia) respectfully disagrees with your position.

J. Warren Cassidy The writer is executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

On Sept. 24, The Post ran an attack against advertisements being run by the National Rifle Association. However, The Post failed to provide any reasonable answers to the questions posed by the NRA about when a man or woman is faced with a life-threatening situation. Additionally, The Post appears determined to foster the myth that the police are responsible for protecting individual citizens. Unfortunately for the editors of The Post, the judicial system has already stated, in Bower v. DeVito, that there is "no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.'' Further, in Warren v. District of Columbia, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in 1981 that the police have ''no duty to the individual citizen . . . only to the general public.''

There have been numerous additional decisions by the courts that clearly show that the state is not responsible for protecting the citizen. Further, they also show that it is the responsibility of the citizen to protect herself from attacks upon her person. Thus, while it can be argued whether the state has the right to regulate firearms, it is quite clear that each citizen is granted the right to defend herself when faced with a potentially life-threatening situation.

The modern firearm is the only weapon that will allow a woman or an elderly citizen a reasonable chance to protect herself from a stronger or younger attacker. Given that possession of a firearm is thus the only reasonable way that a woman may ensure her safety, the position of the NRA becomes the reasonable one. The NRA has not fought every form of legislation to control firearms. On the contrary, they were the principal supporters of the 1968 Gun Control Act. Rather, the NRA has fought and will continue to fight every form of legislation that threatens to make access to firearms by honest citizens more difficult.

-- David L. Ramsey