The Sun's position on the gun issue is all too easy to predict — support all laws restricting firearms, then fail to make a distinction as to who's doing the shooting ("Attack on Md. gun laws," March 7).

As always, you concentrate on the few people who are victims of gun crimes without taking into account the large number of people who use firearms successfully for defense. And what about cops who shoot innocent people, including other cops and spouses? Did you know that lawful permit holders have, per capita, fewer accidental or intentional murder-suicides than police officers?

It would be dumb for the state to take guns away from the police, but the truth is, law abiding citizens need firearms for the same reason cops do. People are being mugged and shot in Chevy Chase as well as Baltimore City, and residents there have as much right to keep and bear arms for defense as any cop on the beat.

And why do you insist on saying the Second Amendment is a "collective" right belonging to states? Don't you realize that the court cases supporting an individual right to keep and bear arms are based on documented evidence of the intent of the people who wrote the Second Amendment?

Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe said years ago that it doesn't matter if the Second Amendment was intended to protect an individual right; the American people think it's an individual right. And he's correct.

Thomas Jefferson said that "on every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."

And Noah Webster declared in 1787: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops."

Our history is an open book on this issue, so how can you continue to insist the Second Amendment refers only to a collective right? Cite your sources, gentlemen!

John R. Iler, Bethesda