In regard to Tom W. Smith's July 13 op-ed article, "Well Before Littleton": I won't waste time arguing whether the National Opinion Research Center's surveys are valid, but I will argue that most Americans are uninformed about gun law. Even Vice President Al Gore's lack of knowledge of the law was apparent when he commented that 18-year-olds can walk into a gun store and buy a handgun.

Most Americans think a person can go to a gun store or show and buy a machine gun. Sorry, but that was restricted in 1934. Most people supposedly think we need gun registration, even though we already can trace firearms bought legally, thanks to the Gun Control Act of 1968. Most Americans seem to think that a 15-year-old can buy a pistol or rifle legally -- nope, the 1968 law as well as laws in all 50 states prevent that. Also, most Americans seem to think that laws that punish the criminal use of guns are categorized as "gun-control laws." No. Laws that get tough on criminals are classified as anti-crime laws, not gun control. If they were, the NRA would be the one of the biggest supporters of "gun control" in the country.

Members of the public need to learn a lot about the laws that are already on the books before they take part in polls.

DAVID LAURO

Daytona Beach, Fla.