Fear of Crime and Gun Control
Your editorial “Fear of Gun Crime: Deeper Than Any Set of Statistics” (May 22) hits very wide of the bull’s-eye.
Though criminal usage of firearms is up, so is successful civilian usage in justified self-defense, to over 2 million per annum.
Regarding the meaning of the Second Amendment, you’re only half right. The constitutional framers were rightly afraid of a dictatorial central government; however, the Second Amendment does in fact confirm an individual right to own arms. “Militia” is quite clearly defined by extant federal law as all men between the ages of 16 and 45 who are not convicted criminals. It has nothing to do with an organized militia or the National Guard, as the Founding Fathers were afraid of standing armies--something that the National Guard clearly is.
In every other article of the Bill of Rights the phrase “the people” has been construed to confirm individual rights (as interpreted by the Supreme Court). There is no reason the Second Amendment should be an exception, particularly as it is the only amendment assuring all the other rights by force of arms. In fact, James Madison wanted it to be the first, not second, as force of arms was more important than freedom to criticize.
You have revealed your politically correct bias by indicating your preference for “an America that is intolerant of guns.”
* I wanted to thank you for your editorial on gun control. It is time we begin to take back control of our cities and our country. The day of the National Rifle Assn. setting the agenda for all Americans is over.
During the past decade we have witnessed two major actions that were once thought impossible: Strong action on drunk driving--saving lives; and strong action to control smoking--again saving lives. It is now time to remove handguns from the general population and begin to get some control on this issue. Too many young people are dying. Also, not getting control of the guns is standing by and doing nothing while the large part of a generation of black youth are wiped out. Maybe we cannot do much to help other countries with internal problems, but I sure hope we can do something to save all these valuable young lives. I was born and raised in the area and the last couple of years I have begun to fear for my safety as I am on the streets.
I fully realize it is not the only area necessary to solve in crime, but it is a very important area and we must begin. Thank you for bringing the issue up for public debate.
JAMES L. RAMSEY
* You first state that “crime is a complex problem--with roots in the social and economic system.” Then you refer to the “gun-driven crime problem” which is swamping police. Which is it?
Perhaps in your editorial remarks about “roots in the social and economic system” you have inadvertently alluded to the real causes of crime. Perhaps some of The Times’ editorial energy would be put to better use focusing on real problems rather than scapegoating inanimate objects.
JOHN A. SCHMIDT
* If guns were stopping crimes and protecting our safety, we should be the safest country in the whole world.
How come then, that in spite all the guns we possess, we are the most crime-ridden country in the world?
* I propose the following measures for gun control:
* All guns in homes or places of business be exempt from controls.
* Guns must be registered to be outside of a home or place of business.
* Convicted felons and other categories of persons be ineligible for registering guns.
* Police permitted to search, with or without cause, persons and vehicles outside of homes and places of business.
* Unregistered guns found outside of homes or places of business be confiscated and destroyed. No other penalty for possession, per se. No other evidence other than a gun found in the course of the search admissible as evidence of a crime.
The searches pose a constitutional problem, but we already search at airports, schools and other public places. Other checkpoints could be established with citizen cooperation.
* The headline of your editorial, “Fear of Gun Crime: Deeper Than Any Set of Statistics” really says it all. The Times’ endless stream of anti-gun editorials both contain and pander to ignorant emotionalism with little or no regard for the actual, readily available facts.
This editorial, however, sank to a new low by saying the pro-gun letters you receive are the result of “the organized letter campaign that inevitably stalks any gun-control proposal” and only the anti-gun letters are from “the unorganized voices of ordinary, concerned readers.”