Two recent contributors to the Readers' Forum - Eric Frost, "Stand tall, gun carriers," April 9, and Tom Nelson, "Lawless to blame, not guns," April 13 - maintain that the use of firearms for self-defense is central to the Second Amendment. I take issue with this contention.

The only thing central to the Second Amendment is national defense: A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state . . . All other aspects of firearms use are loosely rooted in the history and tradition of this country, not in our basic governing documents. Sportsmen buy guns because they enjoy them - not to respond patriotically to the Second Amendment.The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791 when Madison, Hamilton, Franklin and others could clearly remember English soldiers being quartered in private colonial homes and that most of the weapons available to George Washington were those owned by his part-time soldiers. Militias as the Founding Fathers knew them have evolved into modem armies.

The National Rifle Association should stop using the Second Amendment as a red herring to distract people from its original intent as well as from the need to confront the outrageous firearms abuse that grips this country.

It's time for NRA leaders to wake up, reorder their goals and become part of the solution. Firearms ownership is not in jeopardy because most sportsmen and hobbyists are responsible people.

With the strength and cooperation of the National Rifle Association and other groups, this country might someday be able to reduce the reruns of The Gunfight at the OK Corral showing up daily around highways, schools, neighborhoods and convenience stores across the United States. Effective control of firearms abuse will take a strong approach, a lot of time and a second look at the Second Amend-ment.

Russell Olson