To the Editors of The Crimson:
The recent article on gun control (Crimson, October 25) shows a striking lack of logic and careful thought. It is true that there are reasonable and fair arguments against handgun control, but Peter Ferrara carefully manages to avoid discussing any of them. Most of what he says is either false or a convincing argument for, rather than against, gun control.
Take this statement in the second paragraph: "A free, liberal society is supposed to adhere to the principle that people should be free to do as they please with their own lives as long as they don't agress against others." It is difficult to do anything but agress with a handgun, although it is admirably suited for just that. Ferrara wants us to believe that's not true--he denies that a handgun's only purpose is to kill people. Admittedly, there are secondary functions of torturing and maiming, but American society does not condone these either.
Ferrara also lists "alternative" functions of the handgun, and this is where his muddled thinking shows through. The second big function, according to the article, is self-defense. The distinction between self-defense and killing must be a very fine one--unless one doesn't consider a criminal to be a living thing. The other claims of handgun functions are ridiculous. Handguns are too inaccurate for target practice, neither powerful enough for big game hunting nor accurate enough for small game, and certainly not rare enough to be desirable to collectors.
To support his suggestion of the handgun's use for self-defense, Ferrara declares that "There are no statistics on...how many potential muggers, rapists, and murderers are frightened away when their victim shows his gun, and how many potential crimes are never attempted because the criminal suspects his victim has a gun." That's true, and until those statistics appear I will suggest that the picture of a mugger, gun in hand, saying, "Gimme yer wallet" and being scared off when the citizen pulls forth a cleverly concealed .45 is a rerun from "Wild, Wild West." The idea is also inconsistent; could Gerald Ford have pulled a gun on "Squeaky" Fromme after he saw the barrel of her handgun pointed at him? I doubt Ford is that quick on the draw.
The article dodges the problem of assassination by telling us that the criminal, not the gun, is responsible for the crime. Actually, the final cause of death is the bullet, and so by this logic bullets should all be made of sponge rubber so as to not hurt anyone. But what's the use of the "Psychology of the Killer" theory anyway, since the man can't be caught until the crime is committed? By then it's a bit late for people like Robert Kennedy and George Wallace. In contrast, I doubt if Oswald could have killed John Kennedy from a third-floor window with a knife or a sharp piece of glass.
Ferrara's assertion that guns and crime are not related is defeated by the experience of nations like Britain. Handguns are illegal in England--not even police carry them. And the number of murders, violent crimes and gun-related crimes is less than one percent of the number in America--a difference certainly not explainable in terms of population. British experience also disproves the idea that a ban of handguns is not socially feasible--there are simply very few handguns in Great Britain.
The entire article returns again and again to the tired idea that gun control violates the Second Amendment. And yet nowhere in Sheriff Buckley's proposal is there any suggestion that we take away the guns of the "militia" mentioned in the Constitution. The raising of minutemen has been replaced in America by a standing army, and except for the use of rifles for hunting there is no condoned use of weaponry for civilians. Admittedly a gun cannot kill people unless someone fires it, but the logical solution that idea poses is the elimination of people. Elimination of the guns they use is certainly more feasible than that. John Jarcho '79