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All Fired Up Over Guns

May 22, 1988

As a street cop of more than 10 years experience in a major Los Angeles area city, I must take issue with Paul Dean's article "Armed and Ordinary" (May 11). I must especially disagree with the anonymous woman who claimed in the boldface caption that "most cops will tell you . . . carry the thing!"

The last thing I want to see is the logical extension implied by the article--that each citizen carry a gun for personal protection. How many people are really trained in their use? How many practice? How many know the consequence of error? Or the truly limited circumstances justifying deadly force? Would the Santa Monica woman in the article be justified for killing a youth who, maybe, was going to snatch her purse?

I would suggest that Dean interview some homicide detectives and find out how many shootings take place between families, friends and "ordinary" citizens in a burst of anger or drunkenness. The recent spate of freeway shootings should demonstrate that the average person is not as cool-headed and rational as he or she likes to think.

The majority of police officers spend their entire careers without firing a gun in the line of duty. For every citizen to pack a six-shooter is a return to the lawlessness of the Old West, where, according to another recent Times article, violent death was the rule. Do we really want to take this step backward?

GARY D. McAULAY

Long Beach

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