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posted: 4/26/2013 4:40 AM

Disarming public skirts real issues

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Disarming public skirts real issues

Today we are debating the impact guns have on our society. With the murder rate in Chicago hovering around 16 per 100,000 residents and other cities having actually reached the mid-30s, there is a significant problem. The preferred approach is to reduce, or even eliminate gun availability. Based on history, this approach is misdirected.

During Prohibition in the 1920s children belonging to rival street gangs brought guns to school and fighting in classrooms frequently occurred. Organized crime openly sold a controlled substance. These gangsters would carry two or three guns and frequently used a fully automatic machine gun with a rate of fire higher than today's comparable weapons. They used high capacity drum magazines with as many as 100 rounds. At first, they could even buy this gear from sporting goods stores.

Yet Chicago's murder rate was about half what it is today, averaging about 8 murders per 100,000 people. In the Wild West the statistics are even more dramatic: in the five wildest cow towns the murder rate was just one per 100,000 people.

Guns were readily available to anyone with the price at the local general store. Modern Switzerland has a high level of gun possession, including rapid firing weapons, but its murder rates are a fraction of ours. Clearly gun availability or even the capacity of the magazines is not the reason for our dangerous cities.

Rather than focusing on the symptoms, we need to look at the causes. Poorly conceived drug laws, the lack of opportunity in our inner cities (though this point is also at odds with history; the inner city in the 1920s was equally dismal if not more so), and mainstreaming the dangerous mentally ill must all be discussed, rather than disarming the public.

John Schreiber

Glen Ellyn

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