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November 06, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-11-06

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, November 6, 1985

The Michigan Daily

4

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Gun control won't curb crime

Vol. XCVI, No. 45

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Paving the way

THE UNIVERSITY has recen-
tly announced a proposed
"preferred admissions" program
aimed at attracting high school
seniors who have predetermined a
career which requires a graduate
degree. Intended to ease academic
pressures and thus free students to
take classes that are unrelated to
their chosen field of study, the
program would secure placement
,in a University graduate school for
:about 150 LSA freshmen. LSA Dean
Peter Steiner points out,
professional schools here and at
other Universities are looking for
well-rounded, broad minded in-
dividuals.
It is true that graduate schools
want motivated, thoughtful studen-
ts. However, it is not the role of the
University to supply professional
schools with a preselected group of
primed candidates.
Pressuring high school seniors to
formulate a career plan in the mid-
st of A.P. credits, placement tests,
and college application anxiety
only perpetuates an already per-
vasive problem: incipient pre-
professionalism.
Preprofessionalism is a serious
and pervasive problem in the
academic community, which is in-
creasingly manipulated by our
economically stressful society.
Students feel compelled to prepare
themselves for financially rewar-
ding careers.
But the University should'not be
used as a ticket to graduate school.
The University is a place for ex-
ploration and discovery, for

discussion and critical analysis.
With the rich cultural resources,
diversity of courses, professors,
students, and organizations the
University offers tremendous
potential for individual growth.
A student who enters the Univer-
sity pre-programmed for graduate
school will be even less likely to
pursue an interest in one of those
'unrelated' classes. The myth per-
sists that if a student steps off the
main track he will be forever lost-
stranded without a marketable
skill in a highly competitive job
market.
The University ought to provide
students with ideas and en-
couragement so they will be
unafraid to set out on a less
traveled path, or blaze their own
trail. Too few high school seniors
are confident that they will be a
great playwright or anthropologist
or epidemiologist. .
Prematurely channeling studen-
ts toward a "rewarding"
professional destination does not
permit them the opportunity to ex-
plore the roads that are available.
Instead of encouraging in-
dividuality, the "Preferred Ad-
missions" program only reinforces
what incoming freshmen think they
already know that a few deviations.
from the main track are okay, but
that extended travel on backroads
is both unacceptable and imprac-
tical.
The University should avoid en-
couraging short-cuts and under-
score the value of an un-
dergraduate liberal arts education.

Bradley J. Foster
The proposed handgun ban in Ann Arbor
has been heralded by its proponents and the
press as a wonderful solution to all sorts of
social problems. As is usual during debate
over such measures, the bill's sponsor and
supporters have publicized a number of so
called "facts" about handguns with which
they hope to influence public opinion. Most.
of their "facts" are, however, merely
falsehoods and distortions. It is the purpose
of this article to correct the public record
and to add a few salient observations for
public consideration. Since gun-control sup-
porters rarely cite the sources of their "fac-
ts," it is difficult for the average reader to
check their validity. I have consulted a
number of resources, and will do my best to
provide more than unsupported assertions.
The often-heard statement that handguns
are six times more likely to result in ac-
cidental death than the death of a criminal
is based on a 1975 study in Cleveland by
Rushford et al, (American Journal of
Epidemiology 100, pp. 499-505). This study
included firearms suicides in the category
"accidental deaths," which greatly distorts
the comparison. The ratio of handgun
suicides to accidental handgun deaths is on
the order of 44 to 1. (see Silver and Kates,
"Self-Defense, Handgun Ownership, and the
Independence of Women," p. 152, in the book
"Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skep-
tics Speak Out"). It is evident that if
suicides are not included in the comparison,
the probability of killing a criminal is ac-
tually several times higher than the
probability of an accidental death.
The claim that there are 3000 accidental
handgun deaths per year in the U.S. is false.
The total number of accidental deaths for all
firearms may be on the order of 3000. For
1971-1973, the figure was 2500 accidental
deaths per year, of which only 10 percent
were due to handguns (National Safety
Council, Safety Education Data Sheet #3,
1974). Advocates of handgun control
routinely ascribe all firearms-related ac-
cidents to handguns in their public
statements, which grossly distorts the facts.
I do not know the source of the assertion
that a victim of robbery or assault who is
armed is eight times more likely to be in-
jured than a victim who is unarmed. Con-
sider, however, that a study by Yeager et al
("How Well Does the Handgun Protect You
and Your Family?," p. 32) indicates that
robberies are less likely to be completed if
the victim used a weapon for self-defense,
and that robbery victims who resist with a
Foster is a resident ofAnn Arbor.

weapon are no more likely to be injured than
victims who do not resist. They are, in fact,
even less likely to be hurt than those who
follow the oft-recommended tactic of
yelling, hitting, or kicking.
Another widely-cited figure is the percen-
tage of homicides which are commited by
relatives or acquaintances of the victim (57
percent is the figure currently being tossed
about). Of what significance is this fact? It
merely points out that criminals are more
likely to kill people they know than people
they don't know. The intended implication is
clear, and is related to another falsehood
which is widely quoted by gun control ad-
vocates: the myth of the non-criminal killer.
Many killings are crimes of passion, they
say, so if only there was no gun for them to
grab, they would not kill. There are several
false assumptions at work here. The most
egregious is the implied belief that violence
occurs unpredictably and at random
throughout the population, and that most
crimes of passion are commited by other-
wise sane, peaceful people with no record of
prior violence. On the contrary, a study of
killings in Kansas City (Wilt et al,
"Domestic Violence and the Police: Studies
in Detroit and Kansas City," Wash. D.C.
Police Foundations, 1977) found that 90 per-
cent of the homicides had been preceded by
disturbances at the same address for which
the police had been called, and that the
median number of prior calls was five. The
probability of a person committing a violent
act is a function of their personality and
their tendency toward violence. The vast
majority of people would never consider
such an act.
Gun control advocates are fond of
claiming that the protection provided by a
gun is an illusion. Consider the following
results of a survey of prison inmates by
Prof. Peter J. Rossi of the University of
Massachusetts. Prof. Rossi was an advisory
board member for the National Alliance
Against Violence, a group opposed to
private handgun ownership. In 1983 he and a
colleague published "Under the Gun:
Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America."
They concluded, much to the dismay of the
anti-gun crowd, that there was not enough
data to suggest any link between crime,
guns and gun laws. Prof. Rossi subsequently
interviewed 1874 felons at prisons around
the country. He found that:
.82 percent said only law-abiding citizens
obey gun laws.
.88 percent said criminals could easily get
guns regardless of gun laws.
.69 percent said the reason they did not
carry or use firearms to commit a crime
was because of harsh mandatory jail terms
for doing so.
.74 percent said "smart criminals" avoid

occupied dwellings because they might get
shot by occupants.
*57 percent said criminals are more
afraid of armed citizens than the police.
*69 percent said they knew at least one
peer who had been shot or scared away by
an armed citizen.
These findings (quoted from Guns & Ammo,
Dec. 1985) clearly indicate that guns have
definite value in deterring crime.
Additional evidence for the efficacy of
private ownership of handguns in deterring
crime is provided by the results of a
program undertaken by the Orlando, FL
Police Department in 1966-67. In response to
a rapidly rising rate of rape and sexual
assault in Orlando and other urban areas of 4
Florida, the Orlando Police Department
organized a program to train women in the
use of handguns for self-defense. Between
Oct. 1966 and Mar. 1967, they trained several
thousand women to use handguns, and
issued handgun permits to those women in.
the program who wanted them. The
program was widely publicized in the
media. Data on crime in Orlando was later
examined (Kleck & Bordua, "The Factual
Foundation for Certain Key Assumptions of
Gun Control," Law & Policy Quarterly 5,
August 1983, pp. 271-298). They found that
the rape rate in Orlando fell from 35.91 per
100,000 inhabitants in 1966 to 4.18 per 100,000
inhabitants in 1967, while the national rate
was increasing and the rate for surrounding
areas and for Florida as a whole were con-
stant or increasing over the same period.
The last falsehood I would like to ad-
dress is the statement that "Handguns have
no purpose other than to kill people." This is
not true at all. They are widely used to hunt
large and small game. This sport is very
challenging because of the difficulty of get-
ting close enough to the animals, and is
becoming more and more popular every
year. Another popular handgun sport is
practical shooting. Organized by the U.S.
Practical Shooting Association and various
other groups, the sport demands a high
degree of skill with a pistol, good physical
conditioning, intense concentration, and
split-second timing. It has gained a great
deal of popularity in recent years, and was:
brought into the national spotlight when the
"Bianchi Cup" tournament was televised.
In addition, many peaceful, law-abiding
citizens enjoy simply going to the range for
a day of target shooting.
There is no denying the fact that a small
number of people will use handguns to
commit crimes. This is not a valid reason
for taking away the right of non-violent, laW-
abiding citizens to own handguns. There are
more effective and legitimate ways of
dealing with violent criminals than disar-
ming the rest of society.

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Missile envy

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I

L AST FRIDAY President
Reagan outlined a proposed 50
percent missile reduction in offen-
sive weaponry. Responding to
similar Soviet initiatives last mon-
th, Reagan stated that such an
agreement could only pertain to
strategic, or intercontinental
ballistic missiles. The Soviet
proposal, in contrast, encompassed
the entire nuclear arsenal, in-
cluding bombers, air launched
cruise missiles, and short-range
and medium range ballistic
missiles. Both initiatives are
designed to directly confront the
oppositions' strength. Unfor-
tunately the proposals are neither
fair nor realistically negotiable.
Because the Soviets maintain a
,decided advantage in land-based
missiles, Reagan's proposal con-
centrates particularly on Soviet SS-
18's and SS-19's which the U.S. con-
siders especially dangerous
because of their "accuracy and ex-
plosive power." Reagan argues
that "reduction must be applied to
systems which are compatible, and
especially to those systems which
would give either side a
destabilizing first-strike advan-
tage."

proposal is disadvantageous
because non-land-based U.S.
missile forces would be reduced
while the Soviets would maintain
their capability to destroy our land
based forces.
The Soviets, on the other hand,
contend that the present U.S.
proposal is unfair because of
Reagan's unwavering insistence on
deploying the Strategic Defense
Initiative. In response, Reagan
fails to recognize that U.S. defense
in the form of SDI is a precarious
proposition. Although Reagan has
assured the Soviets that the "Star
Wars" missile defense system is
not a threat and has promised to
share star wars technology, the
Soviets remain unconvinced.
Since the turn of the century, the
Soviets have been invaded on four
separate occasions, losing in ex-
cess of 60 million citizens. Since
Hitler's devastating surprise at-
tack in June 1941, Soviet leaders
have pledged never to be
vulnerable again.
U.S. insistence on "Star Wars",
given the threat it poses to Soviet
national security, would force the
Soviets to initiate massive military
reform at the expense of pressing
annnni n ~~and mnial nn1 nr

LETTERS:

Critic incorrect on S.

African issues.

To the Daily:
Last Monday there appeared in
the Daily a disgraceful letter on
the situation in South Africa,
written by a Mr. Edward C.
Freier ("Idealist Misguided on S.
African Issues, Daily, Oct. 28).
This letter was shocking in its
arrogance and stupidity and
made it quite clear Mr. Freier
cares little and understands less
about the situation in S. Africa.
All that seems to upset him are
the actions in this country of a
few "idealists" whom he calls
hypocrites, and who, apparently
"feel unfulfilled unless they are
protesting something." The
notion that there might be a
justification for these protests
does not even occur to him.
Mr. Freier, the issue in S.
Africa is not the level of violence,
which is remarkably low when
one considers to what extent the
blacks have been provoked, and
for how long. The issue is not the
preservation of civilization,
especially when that
'civilization' treats the majority
of the population little better than
animals. The issue is not one of

otherwise through destruction
and violence.
Surprisingly, there is one point
on which Freier and I agree,
although he believes he is gracing
us all with his insight. Yes, Mr.
Freier, you are quite right, it is
extremely unlikely that there will
be a peaceful sharing of power af-
ter the blacks take over.
In the first place, since the

whites form a small minority,
came from outside and stole the
land by force, they have lost any
rights they conceivably may
have had to a share of power.
Quite apart from this is the fact
that the whites have shown
again and again and quite unam-
biguously that they do not want to
share power. They want it all,
and are willing to kill to keep it.

Therefore they must die, or
leave. It's that simple. This is the
choice the blacks are presenting
to them in the riotings, burnings
and lootings. The whites them-
selves have long rejected the
third option - to hand over power
(and their wealth) and to live in
peace as a minority.
-Howard M. Scotto
. October 30

Motley Crue as celebration of youth

To the Daily:
Your recent "critique" of the
Motley Crue concert, with its
sarcastic view of the band, the
concert, and the fans was totally
unnecessary.
Heavy Metal fans are not all
braless, 15 year old girls and
their insecure 19 year old
boyfriends. There are also heavy
metal fans who are Christians,
good students, and responsible

adults who find a release in the
music.
Rock such as Motley Crue,
AC/DC, Kiss and other performers
doesn't aspire to being anything
other than what it is, party
music. It's not the pseudo-
intellectual music that Richard
Williams listens to, but that is no
excuse for him to stereotype that
fan of another type of music.
Heavy metal fires you up, it's

fun, and it's a glaring,
unapologetic, joyous celebration
of youth, in all its brash, crude'
and wonderful glory.
Motley Crue and other heavy
metal bands give their listeners,
all of them, from the worst bur-
nout to the highest scholar, just
what they are seeking, a good
time.
-Deborah Beers:
October 30
by Berke Breathed

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