The National Rifle Association's full-page ad {Oct. 28} raises some interesting questions. For example, we are asked, "Should You Shoot a Rapist Before He Cuts Your Throat?" Not many "Nos" to that question, I'll bet!

A more reasonable question might be: "How many potential rape victims are faced with the situation portrayed in this ad?" We are shown a menacing figure, with a stocking over his head, obviously intent on doing evil deeds. Given ample notice and adequate distance, an easily accessible gun might well be a lifesaver in this situation. However, since rapists are not generally noted for their thoughtfulness and courtesy, one suspects that this scenario is not too likely. In real life, isn't it much more likely that the gun would be turned against the victim?

Indeed, as more and more people arm themselves, chances are good that potential rapists will simply respond by being more alert and by arming themselves. -- David E. Siltman

Without question, there is very little possibility that any woman who is attacked by a man with a gun (or any weapon, for that matter) has time to pull a handgun from her purse or other location in the event of an unprovoked attack. Having been grabbed and threatened by an unknown assailant myself, and being familiar with other women who have been held by gunmen, I find the argument in the NRA ad ridiculous. At no point before, during or after the incident in which I was involved was there even one second when I thought I could "take responsibility for {my} own self-defense." That is because I would have been killed instantly by my attacker if I so much as moved. At what point does the NRA think I could have grabbed hold of a gun to "shoot a rapist before he cuts your throat"?

Your newspaper has let me down by accepting the advertising dollars it must have cost the NRA to run that full-page ad. I only hope that the organizations arguing for handgun control are allowed the same opportunity to argue their case, in as powerful a manner. Though notoriously underfunded, handgun control advocates are doing the right thing in pursuing legislation and education that will keep us all alive -- not potential victims of a shooting. -- Mary Lavelle

The NRA's Oct. 28 ad concerning Americans' right to defend themselves says, in part: "One choice is a firearm, a deeply personal decision that requires deliberation, knowledge and maturity."

The NRA itself has managed to make that statement a glaring fallacy. On Page A14 of the same issue, there is an article about Arthur H. Kane, the stock investor in Florida who shot two brokers with a handgun, then killed himself. The article says that "he bought the revolver only 45 minutes earlier. He was able to walk out of the store immediately with the new weapon because of a new gun law passed this year in Florida." It is no secret that the law was passed, not because of public sentiment in its favor, but because of an intense lobbying effort by the NRA.

Kane apparently did not intend to use the handgun for personal protection and obviously was not compelled to consider his action with knowledge and maturity. The new law clearly eliminated the requirement for that. This is not to say that Kane would not have acquired a weapon elsewhere had the new law not been in effect, but it is certain that he would not have used that gun at that moment. It is just as certain that the brokers would not have had the opportunity to defend themselves with handguns -- unless, of course, they had been carrying the guns in their hands during Kane's visit.

Kane might not have done what he did had there been a waiting period required before purchasing the gun -- a period in which to exercise "deliberation, knowledge and maturity." Thanks to the NRA, the decision to own a handgun no longer requires that. So why do its ads say it does? -- Gregory Tinius