Sunday, August 15, 2004


Which is what the media would like people to believe

The late actor Robert Stack was right on target when he said, "You meet the nicest people at a shooting range." But the general public doesn't know that because many people have never touched a real gun, let alone shot one or been to a range. And as John Lott Jr. points out in his most important book "The Bias Against Guns," the media have a heavy negative bias against gun owners and firearms manufacturers. People need to understand who gun owners and manufacturers really are in order to make reasonable decisions about gun issues and see through the anti-gun hysteria.....

In "Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Culture," (Oxford University Press; $29.95) anthropologist Abigail A. Kohn uses ethnographic research with recreational shooters to shed light on America's gun culture. Kohn paints accurate portrayals of those who she interviews and demonstrates that the core values of gun owners are freedom, independence, individualism and equality.....

To Kohn's credit, she admits she was not a shooter when she began her research and she expected to find people fitting the popular negative stereotypes. However, when she met so many friendly, safe and sane people as you tend to find at shooting ranges, she was transformed. Kohn has not only has written a much-needed study about who firearms owners really are, she has ended up becoming a cowboy-action shooter herself.

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Recent years have been bad for anti-gun freaks

"Old stereotypes die hard and the vision of Britain as a peaceable kingdom, America as "the wild west culture on the other side of the Atlantic" is out of date. It is true that in contrast to Britain's tight gun restrictions, half of American households have firearms, and 33 states now permit law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons.

But despite, or because, of this, violent crime in America has been plummeting for 10 consecutive years, even as British violence has been rising. By 1995 English rates of violent crime were already far higher than America's for every major violent crime except murder and rape.

You are now six times more likely to be mugged in London than New York. Why? Because as common law appreciated, not only does an armed individual have the ability to protect himself or herself but criminals are less likely to attack them. They help keep the peace. A study found American burglars fear armed home-owners more than the police. As a result burglaries are much rarer and only 13% occur when people are at home, in contrast to 53% in England."

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