The Post has carried another attack on firearms ownership by Colman McCarthy {op-ed, Nov. 28}; one feels that McCarthy will not be content until he has successfully blamed firearms in general and handguns in particular for the AIDS epidemic, cancer and the U.S. budget deficit.

McCarthy rails against firearms, citing suicides, accidental deaths, homicides and crime in general as justification for banning them. He, like most members of the media, is good at listing numbers and arbitrarily assigning blame. But what solutions does he propose?

Gun control laws haven't been the success their advocates would have us believe. D.C. is a good example. According to an article that appeared in Washingtonian magazine a couple of years ago, after passage of the 1976 law, which virtually prohibits handgun ownership, crime in Washington drove the city from 17th to 7th in high-crime rankings, exactly the opposite of what the proponents of the law promised. "But guns come in from Maryland and Virginia," they cry. What of federal laws, the Gun Control Act of 1968, also billed as a great anticrime measure, which makes it a felony to cross a state line to obtain a handgun, and of Maryland's mandatory police check and waiting period, in force since 1969? Maryland, according to the Treasury Department, supplies slightly more guns to crime than Virginia, which has no restrictions. If restrictions and bans are the salvation their proponents claim, why these discrepancies?

The evidence suggests that, in spite of what its advocates claim, a position against guns is actually pro-crime. Are guns used in crime? Sure. Does banning guns reduce crime? Not so far. If you doubt it, look at crime statistics from across the United States and compare them with gun control laws; the higher crime areas have the most restrictive gun laws. Does this mean that gun control laws cause crime? No, but they do have a negative effect.

Crime will not go away by banning guns; it will end when we have ensured good education and opportunity for our citizens, a means by which they can lay claim to a part of our society and succeed on their own; suicides will stop only when those in despair find help and encouragement to resolve problems with their own strengths; firearms accidents will cease when we treat guns not as forbidden fruit but as machines to be understood and regarded with a healthy respect.

-- Peter H. Gookins