Your paper continually calls for gun control, the latest instance an editorial on Oct. 8. But this city is not safe, and the media are downplaying that fact, except when whites are affected. In my neighborhood, people are afraid.

Two weeks ago, for example, as I watched TV in the comfort of my bedroom at about 2:30 a.m., I heard gun shots. They sounded louder than usual -- that meant they were closer than usual. I say usual, because in Congress Heights, shooting and killing are common.

I remember the first time I heard gun fire several years ago. My daughter and I ran to a window to see what had happened. My daughter saw a muzzle blast and a man running down Savannah Street toward our home. Then he fell in the street.

I went out to try to help him, although my family didn't want me to go. They feared for my safety. While I tried to comfort the shooting victim, a young man in a green Volvo pulled up, got out of the car, flashed a badge and told me he would take over.

Something didn't seem right. I asked to see his badge again and told him my family had reached the police and that they were on their way. Again he assured me that he could take care of the situation, but I asked again to have another look at his badge. Instead, he jumped back in his car and sped away.

When the police arrived, I told them that my daughter had witnessed the shooting and might be able to help them. A female sergeant warned me that I might want to consider my offer of assistance more carefully. My family was afraid of reprisals. I considered the situation. Had I placed my daughter or family in danger by offering to assist the police? I looked at the gun rack on my bedroom wall, which contained two stocks, and thought about how defenseless my family was. If the gunman came back, what could I do -- club him with the gun stocks?

For the first time in years I was afraid in my own home. I thought about the D.C. Court of Appeals's decision in the Carolyn V. Warren case, which held that police are under no obligation to provide protection to individual citizens, except under witness protection programs, and I wondered again about protecting my family.

I thought back to the time when a .45-caliber bullet had come crashing through a storm window and lodged in the frame of my bedroom window. If it had been a half inch higher, it would have struck one of my daughters.

Now I was afraid again and wanted relief from that fear. The banal argument that extending gun controls on a national level would reduce gun-related deaths fails to consider that we have federal laws against drug importation, yet our streets are flooded with cocaine and heroin. If we can't stop criminals from getting drugs, how can we stop them from getting guns?

Gun control is no magic solution to our crime problem. Citizens of the District should be able to own firearms to protect themselves, their families and their homes. Who else will protect us and make us feel safe when the police don't have to? -- Absalom Jordan