Published in The Arizona Republic on March 29, 1991.


A good friend of Winston Churchill's once remarked that "Winston was often right, but when he was wrong, well, my God." Such was my reaction to George Will's March 21 recommendation that we repeal the "embarrassing" Second Amendment.

Mr. Will accuses conservatives of applying their traditional practice of "applying cost-benefit analysis" to the Constitution and adopting a reckless, all-or-nothing approach to gun control. Yet it is exactly the level-headed utilitarianism which Mr. Will has so long espoused, which should make one realize that gun control is to our time what Prohibition was to the 1920's.

Just as the "noble experiment" of Prohibition was ended after it brought about a marked increase in crime and alcoholism, the two cities with the strictest anti-gun laws -- New York and Washington, D.C. -- have the highest murder rates. In fact, Mr. Will recently pointed out that since 1960 (when there was far less gun control) New York's homicide rate has skyrocketed and the rate of homicides caused by handguns has risen from 19 to 70 percent. Bernhard Goetz was sent to jail for carrying the gun that may well have saved his life, while many parts of major cities with tough anti-gun laws are veritable killing fields where drug dealers outgun the police.

More than 99 percent of handguns are not used to commit crimes. America's crime plague stems from rampant moral degeneracy and from a justice system so obsessed with the rights of defendants that it increasingly neglects the primary duty of government in a civilized society: protecting innocent citizens from violent death.

Douglas F. Newman


Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman

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