The Post has it wrong ["Mad Gun Disease," editorial, Sept. 9].

First, the expiration of the assault weapons ban tonight will not "allow a flood of assault weapons into the wrong hands." It has always been illegal for "the wrong hands" to own a firearm. And President Bush is not allowing anyone to buy a gun and commit a crime when the ban expires. If the ultimate goal is to reduce crime, the focus must be on the criminal, not his weapon of choice.

Second, bayonets are not outlawed by the ban. Instead, bayonet mounts are outlawed if they appear on a firearm along with one or more other outlawed features, such as a pistol grip or a flash suppressor. A rifle with a bayonet mount alone would be legal.

This illustrates how strange this ban was to begin with. Would a criminal prefer a rifle with a bayonet lug and a pistol grip over one with just a pistol grip?

Instead of spreading fear, let's enforce existing laws, put criminals behind bars and keep them there for their entire sentences.

TERJE AASLAND

Vestal, N.Y.

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In a time when many more of our citizens are killed every year by guns than died on Sept. 11, 2001, it's shocking that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and his congressional colleagues will let the assault weapons ban expire at midnight tonight ["Frist Defends Refusal to Extend Weapons Ban," Washington in Brief, Sept. 9].

As a sportsman, I appreciate the effort to preserve Americans' rights to own weapons for sporting uses, but there is no way to defend the sale or purchase of semiautomatic, military-style assault weapons. They are the tools of terrorists and should be banned from the streets and neighborhoods of America.

CRAIG CULP

Gaithersburg