We at Realco dispute the allegation that our store is in any way responsible for the flow of "crime guns" ["Md. Investigates Firearm Sales at Forestville Store," Metro, Sept. 9]. Some in the media have quoted figures without realizing that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) traces guns for a multitude of reasons that do not necessarily involve criminal use. Jeff Roehm, a spokesman for ATF, has said, "The fact that crime guns come back to a dealer is not a definitive indicator of criminal activity. Some have been inspected and are operating perfectly legally."

Realco sells quality, legal products in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations. Background checks of buyers are performed by Maryland State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We have turned down and will continue to turn down suspect sales. If for any reason it is suspected that an illegal transaction is being attempted, the sale is terminated. The buyer is informed that he may not purchase a gun in our store.

Maryland, unlike other states, requests ATF traces of all recovered guns, not only those used in crimes. For example, guns that are reported stolen and those used in self-defense are traced. We suspect that those reasons for traces, coupled with our high volume of sales, may account for the "higher than average" number of gun traces attributed to our store.

We at Realco have operated a legitimate family business for 27 years that has never been cited for violations of federal, state or local laws. We are proud of our record of cooperation with law enforcement. The hundreds of sales that we have refused to make over the years are not reflected in any statistical report.

GREG DEL REAL

President

Realco Guns Inc.

Forestville