Sunday, April 27, 2008

Would Not Take It Away as a Preventive of Crime

Would Not Take It Away as a Preventive of Crime.

To The Editor of The New York Times:

It is not pleasant to take up what seems to be the unpopular side of a matter under discussion, but your editorial article of the 17th and Mr. Goldberg's letter on carrying firearms seem to me to be based on wrong premises.

When a man has made up his mind to set so far at defiance the laws of his country and all considerations of right and wrong, how much consideration is he likely to give to a city ordinance prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons? And if he could not buy the firearms here, would it be much trouble for him to run up to some of the towns in Connecticut or Massachusetts, where they are made, and where no such restrictions can ever prevail? Or, worse yet, if he couldn't get firearms, think of the numerous and (to the average man) far more certain implements he could buy in any hardware store! A butcher's cleaver, a reaping hook, a knife, or a sharpened icepick would make a more deadly weapon in the hands of most assassins than a revolver, for the simple reason that accurate shooting with the latter weapon is next to impossible after a long period of practice or at very close range. If Mayor Gaynor had been hit in the neck with a sharp cleaver he would not be recovering.

Of all the short-sighted notions, this idea of blaming the instrument for the crime seems to me the worst. It is a good deal like a dog which is struck with a stick biting the stick instead of the person who attacks him. What is needed is more prompt and certain punishment for the murderers, and the closing of the avenue through the insane asylum to liberty, the road that is so easy to tread when the murderer has wealth.

The trouble with legislation ahainst carrying weapons is that the law-abiding citizen pays attention to it, while, as before pointed out, the criminal does not. I should think the hold-up man and murderer would be highly in favor of having his victim thus disarmed. The criminal would be careful never to have a "gun" about him except for the brief time when he was "on the job," so that the chances for causing him annoyance by a rigid enforcementof such a law would be slight. On the other hand, a citizen whom circumstances made a likely object of attack would have to go armed all the time, in order to be prepared when the time came.

But there are few persons who would find it necessary or agreeable to go about continually with a revolver in their pockets. The smallest revolver that is really an effective weapon makes a heavy and uncomfortable lump in one's pocket, and in any event it is probable that one whose business puts him in constant danger of attack would not have a great deal of trouble in getting a permit. But there are frequent occasions when you, or I, or our sisters or daughters, may be exposed for brief periods to situations where attack might mean the loss of money, life, or honor. Having no permit, nor time to get one, is it right for us or those dear to us to walk unarmed into such perhaps - unavoidable situations?

Finally, I am not a lawyer, but I cannot understand how such ordinances stand in court, in view of the Constitutional provision regarding the carrying of arms. The Constitution does not say that "the right of citizens to carry arms shall not be abolished," but even says this right "shall not be infringed." If these city ordinances do not infringe that right, then I don't know what would.

New York, Aug. 22, 1910. .38 COLT.


The Right to Bear Arms. Thinks It Should Be Admitted In New York City


Thinks It Should Be Admitted In New York City.

To the editor of The New York Times:

As it strikes me, " .38 Colt" has scored a bull's-eye on "The Right To Bear Arms." Present regulations with respect to pistol-carrying as a habit in this city are more than sufficient if properly enforced. I say "more than sufficient" advisedly, because the ordinary peaceably inclined citizen cannot now lawfully, even if constitutionally, avail of the protection afforded by a pistol on his person without a red tape process of doubtful issue, while the criminally inclined sets those regulations at defiance, as he does the law generally. Get a pistol he will, despite restrictions on the sale of firearms.

Here was recently instance of an affray in an eat side neighborhood between the police and a gang of "toughs," in which a policeman was shot and seriously wounded while "frisking" one of the "gangsters" for his weapon. Now, suppose you or I, Mr. Editor, had had business in that spot a while before the affray, would either of us, as decently dressed men, have been allowed to pass unmolested? And what chance would either of us have had unarmed and defenseless?

I know that there is a theory in "wild and woolly" communities, where the inhabitants are "quick on the trigger," a "tenderfoot" is safer unarmed, the supposition being that no mean advantage will be taken of an unarmed man. That, however, does not apply to New York, where in certain neighborhoods even police protection seemingly exists in name only. The gangster is a born coward or he wouldn't be a gangster, and he will take all the mean advantage he can get. A defenseless citizen is "meat" to him. But let an apparently defenseless citizen "flash a gun" on him and chances are he and his gang will "beat it" precipitately. The police are at a discount with this element because it is known that their orders are not to draw their revolvers except in extremities.

What we need particularly is a severer court handling of those of known criminal proclivities, and even of those of disorderly tendencies.

There is no necessity for further encroachment upon the American citizen's right to bear arms.


New York, Aug. 24. 1910.