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October 18, 2002

DAVID GELERNTER WRITES:

After September 11, many American liberals pointed out that, no matter how enraged you felt, it was an especially good time for Americans to underline their unshakable belief in religious toleration and their acceptance of Muslim Americans. The liberals were right; many Americans duly sounded off. The unsolved D.C.-area murder spree is another fine opportunity for principled people to put themselves on record.

Anyone who has read John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime"--a cool, calm, collected, unanswerable proof that widespread gun ownership leads to lower crime rates--please stand up. Owning a gun is no help whatsoever in fending off a hidden sniper. It is plenty of help if a criminal breaks into your bedroom, and in certain other unpleasant situations.

Last January, a lone gunman on a killing spree at a Virginia law school was stopped by three brave students--two of whom had run for their cars, grabbed their guns and rushed back to point their weapons at the killer. (Mr. Lott himself points out that of the 280 news stories he had turned up on this law school shootings, all but four had somehow forgot to mention that the heroic students had been armed with guns.)

All you rational, honorable, facts-not-emotions Americans who spoke up for Islam last September--and more power to you!--how about a big rousing cheer for gun ownership right now?

Well, I was one of those Americans. (Here's an example). But I note the hypocrisy that Gelernter points out, and I doubt that many of the people he refers to will answer this particular call. As Peter McWilliams said in his fine book Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, it seems that after a shooting spree they want to pass laws punishing everyone but the actual shooter. If liberals would begin displaying some of that vaunted "tolerance" toward gun owners, perhaps gun owners would quit being so "paranoid." After all, it's not paranoia when people really do want to get rid of guns through means fair or foul.