Austin Rotary Club Remains White KTBC, is a past president of the downtown club, and 0. P. Bobbitt, vice president and business manager, also is an active member of the club. The KTBC news department was told in no uncertain terms that the segregation issue was not news; so, on the 6 p.m. broadcast, KTBC showed several minutes of film footage of Christmas caroling at the Rotary meeting, but neglected to mention that a black man had been refused membership. Austin Austin’s Downtown Rotary Club by a secret ballot last week refused to amend its constitution to admit a Negro. The constitution, established in 1913, uses the word “white” to describe its membership. Another attempt to change the rules was expected for the next meeting. KTBC-TV, the Johnson family’s television station, covered the Rotary meeting, as it normally does. J. C. Kellam, the station manager at Register Females, Not Firearms Washington D.C. Like a lot of people, I reject the use of violence myself and oppose it in principle. But I also try to make the best of a bad situation. Like a dedicated dentist who abhors tooth decay, I figure that so long as we have violence anyway I might as well make some money out of it.. So last September I accepted a staff position on the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, and I am pleased to report that the situation is steadily improving. Armed robberies, homicides and aggravated assaults while at an all-time high, show no signs of falling off and throwing me out of a job. The summer riots of 1968 were something of a disappointment, but our special task force on civil disorders has a real dilly scheduled for next July. My bag, however, is firearms. We on the firearms task force are hard at work presently documenting our chilthat there is a relationship not only between firearms and violence, but also between the use of firearms in violence and the severity of the violence. How does that grab ya? I cannot yet leak to the press our astonishing statistics on the role of firearms in crime, except to hint that “the pistol is the curse of the nation,” as it was in 1910, 1921, 1934 and periodically s ince then. My own unofficial findings indicate that the “gun problem” in America today is no worse than it ever was; and in fact has improved, at least in homicides per capita. The real problem is that Americans are getting soft and are not so tolerant of violence as they used to be. At the commission I find myself surrounded by bleeding heart do-gooders w h o can’t sleep at night because some 20,000 people in this country got their heads shot off last year in homicides, accidents and suicides with firearms. I try to point out that this is only one citizen out of 10,000, but still they gripe and worry. The trouble with anti-gun people is that they refuse to view the matter in proper perspective, to look for the silver lining. I have examined hundreds of homicide reports in the last couple of months, and it is quite clear to me that firearms generally and handguns in particular should be regarded as our most convenient and effective means of improving the national breed. Contrary to the popular notion, the chances of a respectable white middleclass American getting himself shot are extremely low; meteorites constitute almost as great a danger. The fact is, the Mr. Helmer is an Observer contributing editor who, until recently, lived in Austin. His master’s’ thesis at the University of Texas at Austin on the history of the Thompson submachine gun will form the basis of a book to be published in the spring of 1969 by Macmillan. vast majority of gunshot deaths occur in slum neighborhoods, in certain types of taverns and among certain classes of people. Without promiscuous pistol-packing and shooting to maintain our sociological balance of nature, this country soon would find itself overrun by drunks, faithless wives, paramours and other undesireables. IF THE United States has any real gun problem today, it is the rather exciting arms race currently going on between right wing extremists, black nationalists and a few left-wing radicals. As usual, only the liberals lag behind in their military build-up. The bad thing about the current arms race is that it has run the price of machine guns up to the point where they Bill Helmer are virtually out of the reach of middleincome moderates and low-budget liberals. A couple of years ago anybody who knew somebody could pick up a. good Thompson for under $300, and Sten guns and M3’s were selling briskly for as little as $75. Since then prices have doubled or tripled, and the $5 hand grenade now belongs in a class with nickel beer. Now and then you find somebody running a spec i a 1 on full-automatic carbines for $150, but in 1966 you could still get M2 conversion kits for an even $25. Contributing to the problem is the current machine gun drain into Mexico. The big market there is not, curiously enough, the aging revolutionaries, but Mexican policemen who have taken a romantic fancy to automatic weapons and are willing to pay premium prices. This has resulted in an unfavorable balance of machine gun trade between Mexico and the S t a t e s, and Texas has been hardest hit. And all this on top of spiraling ammunition costs. Penny-a-round surplus ammunition is a thing of the past; today for about seven cents a round, and surplus .30 carbine and 9mm are unobtainable. Machine guns get such t e r r i b l e mileage that only a rich right-winger can afford to maintain one anymore. Typically and traditionally, right-wing extremists have more money than leftwing extremists; also they usually can shoot a lot better. With a good scope r i fle properly sighted in, your serious Klansman can “put one in his ear” at 200 yards. But your average Che Guevara radical leftist might be dangerous up to 10 or 15 yards, and the typical liberal would probably shot himself in the foot. \(This is the only thing tactically wrong with confrontation politics. It counts too heavily on the willingness of the opposition to act with some measure of restraint. Confrontation politics did not work well in Mexico City, where the bodies went into a mass grave uncounted Considering his potential, the native American redneck has been remarkably non-violent. The Newark North Ward Citizen’s Committee may be armed to the teeth, but hasn’t shot a soul. The only shots fired so far have been at NWCC leader Tony Imperiale at the Newark police station and naturally they missed everybody. But then a bomb like to obliterated the local black nationalist headquarters and several people in it. At the same time, however, the black nationalists are spending their Saturday afternoons at the rifle range, and may be catching up. In terms of firepower, shooting skill, weaponry and willingness, the black man has never been a match for the Klansman. But the soul brother who uses an M-16 in Vietnam may soon be coming home, and he probably won’t go back to using anything as Uncle Tom as a straight-edge razor. THE PRESIDENT’S Commission on Violence would like to avert a bloodbath, and of course I try to do my December 27, 1968 5
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