The Justice Department recently reported that 69,000 applications to buy handguns were denied in 1997. Great. This raises one question, however. One that should rain on the Clinton administration's victory parade when it starts bragging about this "success."

The question that demands an answer is this: Why are these 69,000 criminals not in jail?It is a violation of federal law for a convicted felon to posses or attempt to possess a firearm of any sort. It seems rather obvious that a convicted felon who attempts to commit another crime (buying a handgun) does not belong on the streets. If the Clinton/Gore administration wants to get serious about stopping violent criminals, this is a great place to start.

The instant background checks provide a wonderful tool if used properly. When else does a career criminal present himself, application in hand, saying in effect, "Hi, I'm Bob, and I wish to commit a felony"?

Before we, as a state or nation, call for more laws to control firearms, why not insist that existing laws be enforced that effectively control criminals?

Drew L. Allen

West Valley City