“What to Do About Crime”
To the Editor:
Having labored more than 30 years for strict gun control . . . (I helped organize the National Council for a Responsible Firearms Policy and was its executive director from 1968 to its dissolution in 1989), . . . I was more than disappointed to find that James Q. Wilson [“What to do About Crime,” September 1994] made only passing reference to the highly destructive weapons he describes as “almost certainly contributors to the lethality of American violence.”
Almost certainly? Guns in the wrong hands are certainly, absolutely, significant contributors to the lethality of American violence. More than shying from such categorical certitude, Mr. Wilson shuns the whole policy issue by claiming “there is no politically or legally feasible way to reduce the stock of guns now in private possession to the point where their availability to criminals would be much affected.” Nor does he see any way of curtailing availability to criminals without denying law-abiding people “a means of protecting themselves long before criminals lost a means of attacking them.” While there is no way absolutely to deny criminals access to firearms (just as there is no way absolutely to prevent violence), politically and legally feasible ways can be devised greatly to lessen the easy accessibility of guns to criminals without denying such weapons, or even significantly curtailing their accessibility, to law-abiding citizens.
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