updated 05/10/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/10/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Among correspondents writing to express their anger and distress over the death of actor Brandon Lee (PEOPLE, April 19) were several who urged more careful handling of guns on film sets. Readers responding to our story on Ellie Nesler, the California woman who shot and killed the man accused of molesting her son, were almost unanimously on the side of rough justice.

Your story on the death of Brandon Lee perpetuates an extremely dangerous myth. Despite two statements to the contrary in your story, blank cartridges are not harmless. In my 20 years as an actor, from my days as an amusement-park stunt-man through my current role as Detective Gaddis on NBC's Reasonable Doubts, I have used blank-loaded guns in hundreds of shoot-out scenarios. I speak from experience. A standard .38-caliber blank will blow a soup can in half at five feet. You mentioned Jon-Erik Hexum's death from a blank round. What killed him was unstoppable exploding gas ripping through his head, not what you call "harmless wadding." Please don't ignore this warning. Every day young actors come on our set and want to play with blank guns. Those of us who know try to set them straight. Obviously, Brandon Lee's demise proves there's no such thing as a nondeadly firearm.
JIM BEAVER, Van Nuys, Calif.

As the mother of a daughter who was molested at age 12 and watched the accused go free at the trial, all I have to say to Ellie Nesler is: I wish I were as brave as you. For those who condemn her for taking justice into her own hands, all I have to say is thank God you were not in her shoes.
NAME WITHHELD, Albuquerque, N. Mex.

The real criminal in the Ellie Nesler case is the U.S. judicial system. Instead of holding Nesler accountable for murder, the courts, the judges and the lawyers should be tried and convicted for not protecting innocent children. The murder of a child's soul is a much worse crime than what Ellie Nesler did.
KAYES. HAHN, Brentwood, Term.

Ellie Nesler is way ahead of the medical community in the study of pedophilia. She has come up with the cure.
JENNY SINGLAIR, Sabattus, Maine

As a member of a law-enforcement family with a college degree in criminal justice, I only have one thing to say about Ellie Nesler's taking the law into her own hands and ending the life of Daniel Driver: Where can I send money to aid in her defense?
JIMMIE S. BOWMAN, Susanville, Calif.

Donations may be sent to: Ellie Nesler Defense Fund, Box 1171, Account number 0111323201, Sentinel Savings, Sonora, Calif. 95370.—ED.

If Keith Ham gives cults "a bad name," who gives them a good name? Hitler?
HILARY GOLDSTINE, Berkeley, Calif.

I deeply resent the implication that I, as an attendee of Greater Grace World Outreach, am a nonthinking individual. Let me assure you that I am very much my own person. I am not, nor have I ever been, "mesmerized" by any individual. My church is a group of believing Christians, not a group of "sleep-deprived, food-deprived" nonthinking robots.
SUSAN M. NOVAK, Baltimore

Your article "The Strangers Among Us" is the kind of slanted sensationalism that inspires fear and prejudice rather than tolerance and cooperation. I'm not a member of any group you mentioned, but when no distinction is made between an armed paranoid group like the one in Waco and those that are authentic nonviolent spiritual cultures, you are doing your readers a great disservice.
SHARON GILBERT-Camarillo, Calif.

In reference to your article, we at Piecemakers deem it an honor to be numbered with the humble and the lost.
MARIA KOLASINSKI, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Someone should tell Kristen McMenamy that referring to a person as "like a big retard" is cruel, disrespectful and damaging to people with mental retardation. She claims she was ridiculed as a child—how dare she feel so free to mock anyone? How dare you print her careless remarks?
ELLEN V. STEWART, Naperville, Ill.

Re Leah Rozen's cranky review of Indecent Proposal: So what's wrong with Robert Redford "looking all of his 55 years"? A lot of us find his face far more appealing than the snipped, nipped and tucked masks of a majority of actors onscreen, younger or older.
JEAN MORTENSON, Sioux Falls, S.Dak.

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