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January 11, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-01-11

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al

OPINION
Sunday, January 11, 1981

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

Americans ar

JU~

>The rekindled debate over gun control, set
off by the death of John Lennon, comes at a
timne when record numbers of Americans are
buying handguns for self-defense.
According to the US. Treasury Department,
2.1 million guns were produced in the United
States in the last fiscal year, compared to 1.8
million the previous year. The National Rifle
Association, the principal anti-gun control lob-
by group, reports an "incredible" increase of
membership from 1.2 million to 1.8 million.
THE GUN CONTROL debate has sharpened
lately with the rise in crime, especially the ap-
parent increase in random or senseless killings
of the sort that took the life of the neice of for-
mer Sen. Abraham Ribicroff in Los Angeles
and the brother of author David Halberstam in
Washington, D.C. It has also escalated with an
anticipation of civil disturbances in a declining
economy.
"If they start cutting social programs you
might have a buildup of frustration and hatred.
There are 40 million more guns out there than
there were in the late 1960s. It willbe worse,"
predicted Charles Orasin, executive vice
president of Hand Gun Control, Inc., an 80,000-
member group started by handgun victims and
based in Washington, D.C.
Gun control advocates maintain that no
country in the world is so permissive with han-
dguns as is the U.S. Pro-gun people point to that
same situation with pride, seeing it as evidence
that this is a free country..
ALMOST ANYONE can buy a gun, legally,
over the counter or by mail. There is almost no
official record-keeping or control over how
many are sold, to whom, by whom and under
what circumstances. "We don't track sales, the
law does not give us authority to do so," said a
spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
And Firearms Control in the Treasury. Reports

are received from manufacturers on a volun-
tary basis.
Mail order sales are technically restricted,
under the federal Firearms Control Act of 1968,
to gun dealers. But to become a dealer, "the
primary qualification is to have $10 to pay for
the license," the Bureau's spokesman said.
Among '170,000 licensed dealers are many
private individuals.
To buy a gun over the counter, federal law
requires only the filling in of a form statihg that
one is not a felon, not mentally ill, does not use
dangerous drugs, is of legal.age, and resides in
the state where he or she is making the pur-
chase. These forms are not passed on to an of-
ficial agency for verification but are merely
filed with the dealer.
A STUDY CONDUCTED by the Treasury
Department in 16 cities, tracing guns used in
crimes, found a flow of firearms from states
with weak laws to states with strong ones. A
major source for guns used in New York, which
has one of the tougher laws, was South
Carolina. That state has since tightened its gun
laws. But now Florida is a major source. It has
lenient laws and is also the entry point for
Saturday night specials, cheap guns that are
brought into this country in parts and assem-
bled in Florida shops.
Every 50 minutes, by one estimate, someone
in this country is killed with a handgun. Bet-
ween 1963 and 1973, when 46,121 Americans
died in Vietnam, nearly twice that
many-84,644-were killed at home with
firearms.
A recent Lou Harris poll conducted for ABC-
TV showed that 67 percent of respondents want
some gun regulation. Gun control advocates
have pressed for a federal law that would at
least apply to handguns the kinds of controls
now applied to cars: a license to show com-

e arming to tme
By Rasa Gustaitis the San Francisco police department.
ByTo be useful in case of attack, a gun has to be
petence to use, registration, and records that readily available and its owner must be skilled
would allow tracing from manufacturer to in its use. Otherwise it can easily be turned
seller. against him.
THE ANTI-GUN control groups, however, have Guns bought by law-abiding citizens with
been such effective lobbyists that no legislation self-protection in mind often find their way into
of substance has managed to get through the hands of criminals. Up to half the guns used
Congress, or through most state legislatures. in crimes are stolen.
This explains an anomoly in California: A han- IN SAN FRANCISCO, said Sgt. Shaw, there
dgun can be bought after simply filling out a are up to 1,500 burglaries a month, and guns
form and waiting 15 days. But to buy nonlethal are among the first items to be stolen. If half
teargas requires a permit and passing a course the burglarized homes contained guns, that
of instruction. Only certain kinds of gas are could mean around 700 new weapons out in the
permissible, and possession of illegal teargas is streets each month, he estimated.
a felony, as is its use for anything other than Guns in the home are seldom used for self-
self defense. defense and far more often become instrumen-
"Our basic belief is that firearms laws do not ts of tragedy, according to Orasin. "A woman
reduce crime, do not have any effect on the might buy it for riding through the city in a car.
criminal, and only serve to restrict or disarm But then she might have a fight with her
law-abiding citizens," said John Adkins, husband and instead of throwing something at
spokesman for the NRA. "You give gover- him she might shoot him."
nment power and some way or other that power However, with faith in institutions that
will be abused." provide for public safety crumbling, many are
Anti-control groups have gone to great deciding they need firearms.
lengths on occasion. An Ohio gun group once "Police protection is getting less-things are
distributed a poster on Abner Mikva, then a going to get worse and people should know how
Congressman from Illinois, with a bullseye to defend themselves," said Vern Truesdale, a
superimposed over his face for apparent use at Canadian who has written and published a
rifle ranges. Mikva had authored some of the book, How to Choose A Survival Weapon for the
strongest gun control legislation and was a Coming Bad Years, which he sells through the
highly active anti-handgun spokesman. mail.
WITH CHANCES NOW strong that even such "I FIRMLY BELIEVE there is an economic
laws that exist may be weakened further in collapse coming and I wrote the book with that
Congress, citizens are in the position of having in mind," he said. More people would be
to decide for themselves whether a handgun in- likely to crack under the strain, said Truesdale,
tended for self-defense is a safeguard or a "and if they have a gun, you better have one
hazard. too. The only defense against a gun is a gun."
"We do not condone the purchase of han- Quite a different view of self-defense is held
dguns. In many cases it's a mistake," says Sgt. by Terry Dobson, who is writing a book to be
Bernard Shaw of the crime prevention unit of titled Safe and Alive. It is based in part on prin-

ciples derived from the martial art of aikido,
which he has studied and taught for many
years.
Dobson turns around the gun advocates'
favorite argument, which is that "guns do not
kill people, people kill people." That is so, he
agrees. Consequently, self-defense should be a
matter of people dealing with people rather
than a matter of guns.
The possession of guns "reinforces
paranoia," says Dobson. "If you are faced with
a gun, don't resist it."
THE FORM OF self-defense that Dobson
teaches.requires a person under attack to seek
to protect not himself but his attacker-from
the harm that would come to the attacker from
commission of the act. The byproduct is self-
protection.
Instead of being based in resistance, this
process calls for an acceptance of the on-
coming force, a blending with it, and its
redirection in such a way that no injury occurs.
Says Dobson: "No gun law will stop a person
who is determined to lay down his life to kill
somebody." However, he holds, many deaths
could be avoided by stemming the proliferation
of handguns.
Though gun control advocates are not op-
timistic about chances for federal legislation in
the coming Reagan years, Orasin notes: "No
one is safe in this country. The randomness of
killing is increasing and it has spread nation-
wide. The next administration will have to face
that somehow."
Rasa Gustaitis is an editor of the Pacific
News Service, for which she wrote this ar-
ticle.

teeth

0

61

al

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol. XCI, No. 87 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Another Bullard success

Weasel

....r

When the state House of Represen-
tatives meets next week, Perry
Bullard will take over the reigns as
chairman of the judiciary committee.
It' is reassuring to see this able
legislator as chairman of what is con-
sidered to be the second most powerful
committee in the iouse. The commit-
tee also handles more bills than any
other.
As chairman, we hope that Bullard
will continue to work to provide
legislation consistent with student in-
terest, such as the Truth in Renting
legislation for which he has fought in
the past. (Landlord/Tenant issues is
ore concern of the judiciary commit-
tee.)
Bullard seems to be a well-qualified
representative for the post, having
served on the committee throughout
hid 12 years in the House and also being
ode of that body's senior attorneys.
;Bullard has also served as chairman
of both the House civil rights and labor
committees, expanding his experience

and influence to cover a wide range of
issues.
Throughout his tenure in the House,
the Ann Arbor Democrat has proven to
be a conscientious and spirited law-
maker with the interests of both the
state and the community he serves in
mind. He has fought for passage of the
Consumer Protection Act, the
Freedom of Information Act, the
prohibition of throw-away bottles, and
Truth in Lending for student loans
legislation.
Bullard also introduced legislation
that would require public institutions
to divest their holdings in South Africa,
a country notorious for its rigid system
of apartheid.
In the past we have found Bullard to
be very responsive to his constituents
-an important asset ' for any
lawmaker. In past chairmanships, he
has shown himself to be an adept ad-
ministrator. We are confident he will
follow suit in his new role as judiciary
committee chairman.

LET'S SEE,
CLASS ON CM
SCMkiE-.-
00
0
The mention of El Salvador
among North Americans often
provokes either responses of in-
difference or -a slew of misin-
formation. However, no one can
any longer ignore what is going
on in this tiny Central American
country of five million people.
Furthermore, no one should be
confused about current
Salvadorean events-it should be
made clear that these are easily
understood given the historical
and present realities of El
Salvador.
The United States hashad
.much to do with shaping these
realities, particularly in the past
year. For the first 25 years or so
following World War II, El
Salvador was like any other
"banana republic"-subject to
U.S. intervention at any time
without notice. However, as anti-
imperialism grew at home and
abroad during the Vietnam ad-
venture, the United States was
forced to adapt.. Although El
Salvador continued to purchase
arms, it received no U.S. aid for a
number of years.
JIMMY CARTER reversed this
policy following the military coup
against the dictatorship of
General Carlos Humberto
Romero (no relation to the
assassinated Salvadorean Arch-
Bishop) on October 15, 1979. The
Carter Administration, caught
between the Nicaraguan
Revolution and the upcoming
presidential campaign, endorsed
the seemingly reformist civilian-
military junta which followed
Romero. In case the planned
reforms failbd to "pacify" the
population, the administration
supplied the military with so-
called "non-lethal" counterin-
surgency equipment such as
night vision apparatus, combat
communications systems and
riot control gear. Counterin-
surgency training teams con-
sisting of Marine advisers were
sent to El Salvador along with
American Institute of Free Labor
Development personnel, who
serve to undermine extra-legal
nent unions in various ways.

C hE I LLF~N
.K 0TGA
1
Lige

b0
TISMS

obert Lence
TKERO AR
STttA ..som
* Z LET

othe conflict
in El Salvadc
By Louis Head

RONALD REAGAN and his
advisers have stated clearly they
have no qualms about sending
more arms to the Salvadorean,
government. At this point,
however, the strength of the op-
position seems so great that these
arms could have little qualitative
effect on the situation. What ap-
pears just as likely is that the new
administration will choose to in-
tervene directly with troops. If
this seems a bit far-fetched, one
should be reminded that many of
the Reagan people actively called
for such a move against the
Nicaraguan people a year and a
half ago. They view popular
movements in Latin America as
something of a new strain of in-
fluenza to be stamped out, and
they see Third World adventures
as "noble causes," as challenges
to "communist subversion."
Of course, revolutions are not
exportable; the Salvadorean
example arises from
Salvadorean problems involving
land, labor, and general living
conditions. Three million
people in El Salvador live on the
equivalent of ten dollars a month.
Since the mid-nineteenth cen-
tury, two percent of the
population-the so-called "Four-
teen Families," or oligar-
chy-have owned more than 60
percent of the arable farmland,
on which sugar cane, cotton, and
coffee are grown. Peasants farm
their small plots and then must
work on plantations to sup-
plement their meager incomes. If
they have no land at all, they are

after military governmen
won election by violenc
fraud. All have been
financed by the oligarch
well-supplied by the U
States (and recently by;
and Argentina).
The electoral oppositior
up after 1972. In that
Christian Democrat
Napoleon Duarte was defea
a fraudulent election andf
to leave the country. One b
opposition parties wens
derground and armedI
selves or began to form
roots organizations a
students, workers, and p
ts. In addition, many sect
the Roman Catholic C
began to work extensivel
the poor. Slowly but sure
small middle ground dropp
of Salvadorean politics-th
gave the rest of the peop
solutely no choice.
THE OCTOBER coupo
was promoted by the U.S
Department in an attem
redistribute some of the la
to create a "centrist"I
nment. More importantly
was an attempt to underm
strength of the po
organizations, which we
allowed access to the newI
nment despite their
whelming numbers. While
of the junta members wer
reform-minded, they hadn
the social base nor the st
necessary to effectively de
those officers allied wi
oligarchy. One by one,i
«,.«... - .., 4 44.,::-- -

of an "extreme-right" and an
"extreme-left," with a
"moderate" government caught
in the middle. Tfhe "right" is -sup-
posedly composed of
paramilitary groups that operate
outside of the security forces and
are funded by the oligarchy. In
fact, these groups are nothing but
soldiers in street clothes who
operate off-duty. They are nor-
mally commanded by military
officers and operate with total
impunity, often in full
cooperation with military units.
nt has IN RESPONSE to this, the
e and great majority of Salvadoreans
well- have joined either the mass
y and based Democratic Revolutionary
Jnited Front (FDR) or its military ex-
Israel pression, the Farabundo Marti
National Liberation Front
gave (FMLN-Farabundo Marti was a
year, leader of the '32 uprising). After
Jose successfully resisting a gover-
ated in nment offensive this fall, the
forced FMLN is now gaining the upper
)y one, hand against the regime.
t un- In thinking about El Salvador,
them- it is important to realize that the
grass people there are living under a
among constant state of siege, where the
easan- security forces are the law. To be
tors of young can be a crime; parents
hurch fear that their sons and
y with daughters may not return from
ly, the work or school. Peasants can
)ed out never be sure when the army or
he rich the Death Squadron (one of the
ple ab- paramilitary groups) might ran-
sack their villages on search and
of 1979 destroy missions. On top of all
State this, the people are barely able to
npt to survive. They have managed this
nd and far partly because of the tremen-
gover- dous international solidarity they
y, this have received.
ine the They are also managing
opular because they are fighting back as.
re not members and supporters of the-
gover- FDR and the FMLN. These
over- groups are those which deserve
some the support of the people of the
e quite United States, and such support'
neither is growing daily. We must make:
rength it clear to Carter and Reagan that
al with we refuse to stand by and let
th the either of them continue to aid the
in res- current Salvadorean gover-
,a * .n r o n an n o -te a , ,.c.-

6

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~LL.

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