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Jewish World Review May 22, 2000/7 Iyar, 5760

Suzanne Fields

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Consumer Reports


Pistol packin' mamas -- THE MILLION MOM MARCH looked like fun. A glorious sun was shining on the Mall. Moms pushed babies in strollers, held hands with adolescent children, sang and laughed as though they were pilgrims on a religious outing, feeling good about themselves.

The message, however, was all wrong, a downer about the dark side of life. It was emotional and naive, short on facts and long on sentiment. The emphasis was on death, not life; on control, not freedom; law, not liberty.

It was enough to rankle even a dedicated feminist. Says sharp-tongued Camille Paglia in Salon "Webzine:'' "It doesn't take a weatherman to figure out that the average citizen doesn't want national policy determined by packs of weeping women led by a shrill dim-witted talk show host (Hillary sycophant Rosie O'Donnell).''

Nobody defends bad people who shoot people, whether adolescent gangsters who kill each other over drug turfs, careless men and women who leave guns around for children to find, nuts who ignore their meds to look for someone to murder because they hear crazy voices in their heads or instructions broadcast by the CIA through the fillings in their teeth. Nearly all of us know someone hurt or killed by a gun.

The nation's capital, where I live, has the toughest gun control laws in the country and the rate of gun crime is among the highest. In states that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons, murder, rape, truck and carjackings are down, along with other kinds of violent assaults.

Pistol Packin' Mama, as the song goes, is not the most feminine image for a woman, but packing heat is beginning to make sense in a world where a woman is often defenseless without a man at her side. Criminologist Gary Kleck estimates that 2.5 million men and women successfully defend themselves every year against a burglar or mugger with a gun.

Most of the murders wouldn't have happened if gun laws were enforced. Criminals don't give a fig for the law -- that's why they're criminals. Ban gangs, not guns.

Focusing on the disintegration of the family and fixing what causes goons who shoot up schools, day care centers and even churches is what you might think the Million Moms would be doing. Alas, that's not media-sexy.

Fatherless families breed criminals. Law-abiding gun users don't. Neighborhoods devoid of adults during the day allow certain adolescents to sink to their basest instincts. The most creative political idea for mending these problems is to support faith-based organizations in the community, enabling them to reach out to troubled youngsters. Men and women who work in these organizations have the structure and the motivation to take over when parents are gone.

The rich and privileged celebrities who led the Million Mom March are the least likely among us to have a personal knowledge of the rudderless young people growing up in cities. (If they're scared, celebrities hire bodyguards.) Celebrities get their information from songs their colleagues write, from the movies and television shows they perform in. (They never look for the causes of crime in artistic violence.)

They're like the administrators in a school in New Jersey who suspended a kindergarten boy for pretending to make a gun with his index finger and shooting at his schoolmates at recess. (Will finger locks follow trigger locks?)

Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, insists that George Bush will lose big on guns. After all, she and others point out, he's the governor of a state that permits adults to carry concealed guns.

But women aren't stupid, nor do all of us play follow the sheep. Women can recognize a complex issue when they see one. After the march, lo and behold, the polls showed women to be fairly divided on the gun control issue. Al Gore does only slightly better with single women, George W. attracts a large majority of married women and mothers.

Carrying a gun is a good feminist issue. The Second Amendment Sisters who counter-rallied to the Million Mom March display a picture on their Web site depicting a tough looking blond pointing a gun at the viewer. Caption: "As seen by would-be rapist, for about O.2 seconds.''

Talk about bang for a buck.


05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate