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Banning Guns Gives Thugs the Advantage

January 09, 1994

* It was only by suspending my belief in reality that I could read the Times editorial titled "Lesson of Chatsworth Shooting" (Dec. 17).

Gabriel Gettleson, 17, was shot and wounded outside Chatsworth High School when he defended himself against robbery. Your solution was the near total ban on guns.

What's the connection? If Gettleson had been stabbed, would you have called for a near total ban on guns? If he had been beaten unconscious with a box wrench, would you have called for a near total ban on guns?

Maimed is maimed, and dead is dead. Banning guns shifts the advantage from honest citizens to criminals.

Look, let's get real. Anytime someone is surrounded by three thugs, that person is in trouble. It doesn't matter what arms the thugs have--they are going to do whatever they want to the victim.

And in general, even one thug with a knife or a wrench can be a very real threat to one honest citizen. Civilization is supposed to enhance the power of honest citizens versus thugs. To date, the best that has been obtained is a one-on-one equality: The protection afforded a citizen by a gun equalizes the threat from a group of thugs armed with lesser weapons. Thugs avoid confrontations in which their personal danger equals their intended victim's.

That's why armed citizens are avoided by thugs. It's not that the group of thugs would not succeed, but that at least one of the thugs would get shot.

No, I didn't forget the role of the police. They are not personal bodyguards. They just plain are not around when you need them. They catch thugs--sometimes--after the crime has been committed. The sad truth is that the small minority of armed private citizens does a better job of preventing crime than is done by the designated guardians of our lives and property.

A disarmed citizenry can be set upon with impunity and at will by roving bands of thugs. Is that what you want? A general revival of thuggery? A kind of highwayman's paradise?

WILLIAM O. FELSMAN

Woodland Hills

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