Inmates serving time in state
prisons during 1997 said they
purchased 8.3 percent of their
guns from retail stores, 3.8 percent
at pawn shops, one percent
at a flea market, 0.7 percent at
gun shows, 39.6 percent from
family or friends, and 39.2 percent
on the street from an illegal
source, according to a release
last month from the U.S. Department
of Justice. In 1991, according
to the report, 34 percent got
their gun from a friend or relative.
The number of state prisoners
who used guns to commit crimes
rose from 16 percent to 18 percent
from 1991 to 1997, and the
number of federal prisoners who
used guns increased from 12
percent to 15 percent.
Fresno, CA District Attorney Ed
Hunt is suing the state attorney
general to overturn the regulations
behind California’s stringent
1999 ban on so-called “assault
weapons.” Hunt says the rules
are so vague that police, gun
dealers, prosecutors and gun
owners cannot figure out which
weapons are banned. “It’s a matter
of due process,” said Hunt. “If
I don’t understand the law, how
can Joe Sixpack?” The 1999 act
bars the sale or import of weapons
loosely known as “assault
weapons,” almost all of them civilian
semiautomatic rifles and
shotguns of various types.
“Widespread possession of
guns is justified by consideration
of public safety,” wrote nationally
syndicated columnist
George F. Will last month in The
Washington Post and other
newspapers. “Public safety because
law enforcement personnel
can never be numerous
enough to guarantee safety.
(Remember this test: Call for a
cop, an ambulance and a pizza.
Which will get there first?) Personal
dignity implies, among
much else, readiness for selfdefense.
And the health of democratic
culture is implicated in
the general public’s involvement
in public safety.”
Gov. Jesse Ventura of Minnesota
says the better part of valor
in this age of sneak-attack terror
is to keep secret until the last
moment where you will make
your next appearance, notes
The New York Times. Gov. Mike
Foster of Louisiana agrees that
these are dangerous times for
public figures. But he doesn’t
hold with lying low. He said in
October, “I probably should be
scared from time to time. But
I’m not. Why so? Life is full of
dangers. My help is well armed,
and so am I. That’s the best I
can do. If somebody comes after
us, we’ll take a few with us.”
A national survey commissioned
by the Allied Pilots Association
and United Seniors Association
and conducted by the
Winston Group shows that 75 percent
of Americans favor arming
pilots, 49 percent would switch to
an airline that armed its pilots, 78
percent of married women with
children support arming airline pilots,
and 77 percent of adults 55
and older support arming airline
pilots. The survey was conducted
Oct. 9-10 with 800 registered voters
across the nation. Margin of
error is plus or minus 3.46 percent.
“Though gun control groups
have tried to capitalize on the
Sept. 11 attacks,” states Glenn
Harlan Reynolds of the Fox News
Channel, “those attempts have
misfired. Tom Diaz of the Violence
Policy Center tried to claim that
Barrett Firearms had sold .50 caliber
sniper rifles to Usama bin
Laden. Not many in the media
bought this, which was a good
thing since it turned out that those
rifles had actually been sold to the
United States Government.”
Anti-gun Sen. Carl Levin of
Michigan authored the controversial
provision in the Defense Authorization
Bill (S. 1438) that would
require owners of military rifles and
other military surplus items to render
them inoperable. Levin added
the provision, “…to ensure demilitarization
of significant military
equipment formerly owned by the
Department of Defense,” while it
was under review in the Senate
Armed Services Committee, which
he chairs.