Closing the Yorktown High School rifle range in Arlington is a classic example of stupidity and ignorance about human nature [Metro, July 15]. One board member says it is because of the Columbine shooting.

A rifle range takes the mystique out of guns and gives children appreciation and respect for the gun. I don't own a gun, but I did have a rifle range at my high school. The problem at Columbine wasn't the guns -- it was the parents. This is another example of a school board trying to take over for children's parents. Yes, access to guns allowed the tragedy in Colorado to happen more easily, but it wasn't the cause.

The .22 caliber weapons these Arlington kids use are safely locked away. At Columbine, they didn't use a single-shot .22. They used weapons from home. What is next? Remove the baseball team because somewhere a baseball bat was used violently?

They also used pipe bombs in Columbine. Will the Arlington school board move the shop class out of Yorktown High? By making participation logistically prohibitive, the board effectively has removed the sport of marksmanship. This is no way to prevent violence in the schools.

JAMES KLINE

Alexandria

The Arlington School Board decision to close a school rifle range constitutes yet another offense against schoolchildren in the guise of ensuring their safety. Children on a rifle team are engaged in a recognized, healthy sport. They are taught gun safety and responsible use of firearms. Marksmanship competition also offers an outlet for those kids who cannot compete in other sports.

The most damaging result of this ill-conceived, hysteria-driven decision is to feed ammunition to the gun lobbyists who claim that those who seek to increase controls on gun traffic are really aiming at ending their availability altogether.

EDWARD J. MARTIN

Rockville