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Jewish World Review August 13, 1999 /1 Elul, 5759

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Econophone

Shooting the helpless

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- WITH ALL THE RACIAL BEAN-COUNTERS around, you might think that someone would have noticed that the shooting sprees that have shocked the nation this year have all occurred in white, middle-class settings. Despite the violence in low-income minority communities, no one seems to burst into schools in ghettos and barrios to spray the place with bullets.

There may be a reason -- and that reason could tell us something about the notion that "gun control" laws will curb shooting sprees.

One of the big differences between white, middle-class settings -- whether schools or office buildings -- and inner city schools is that the former are likely to be unarmed and the latter often have armed guards on the premises. Start shooting at random in a school in the ghetto or the barrio, and you are likely to find bullets coming back your way.

In more genteel settings, the shooter is likely to be the only one on the scene with a gun, at least until the cops arrive. That is usually when the shooting stops.

What does this tell us? That even supposedly "crazed" gunmen prefer helpless victims to people who can shoot back.

Yet what conclusion do the media and the politicians draw from these shooting sprees? That we need to make more law-abiding citizens helpless through stricter "gun control" laws.

Of course so-called "gun control" laws do not control guns. They control law-abiding citizens, but not criminals. It is unilateral disarmament.

One of the most ridiculous and irresponsible actions stemming from the gun-control mind-set was a recent 5 to 1 vote of the San Francisco school board banning policemen from being armed when they come on school grounds. Even in politically correct San Francisco, that was too much. After protests and pressures from the mayor and other city officials, the board backed down.

However, the very fact that such an idea could have been taken seriously by adults in responsible positions is yet another sign that gun control is not about facts or consequences. It is about ideology and political posturing. Ringing calls for more gun control laws go out from the Clinton administration, which has done practically nothing to prosecute violators of existing gun laws. The mass media are not the least bit interested in empirical studies that have been done on the actual consequences of having citizens empowered to carry concealed weapons. Gun control is a crusade -- and crusaders don't stop to look at statistics.

The largest and most thorough study of the effect of laws which readily grant permits to law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons was done at the University of Chicago. Its title -- "More Guns, Less Crime" -- summarizes what it found in studies of communities all across the United States.

Back in the 1980s another survey, by professors at the University of Massachusetts, studied criminals behind bars in ten states. The great majority of these criminals agreed that it is smart to try to find out if a potential victim is armed and that the fear of being shot is one reason for not committing burglary when someone is at home.

More than four-fifths of them also agreed that getting a gun is not a serious problem for them. Most of these criminals who were behind bars for a gun-related crime said that they can get a gun the very day they get out of prison -- and half admitted that they planned to.

All the political dust kicked up about regulating gun shows has nothing to do with the safety of the public and everything to do with scoring points. Does anyone seriously believe that professional criminals depend on gun shows, when there are so many other places where guns are readily available year around?

Limiting each person to purchasing one gun per month is more political posturing. This may stop a gun collector who wants to buy a matched pair of derringers used by some 19th century dandy, but it is not going to stop some hoodlum who wants to hold up a gas station or fast-food place today. Most real criminals do not use the "Saturday night specials" that get liberal gun-controllers frothing at the mouth. Inexpensive guns like this are used by low-income people for self-protection.

Stripping them of that protection is the ultimate in "making a statement" at the expense of other people's lives.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate