ustxtxb_obs_1973_03_02_50_00023-00000_000.pdf

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The 1973 gun control editorial Austin Lay-deez and Gentlemen! It is, it is, it’s true, it’s here, it’s time again for the Observer’s glorious, festive, bi-annual Gun Control Editorial! Whoopee! Huzzah, huzzah! All stand and cheer. Calliopes, parades. Here we are again, back for another crack at the old Legislature and welcome again to all you old dudes and to all you new dudes in the 63rd. Undeterred by proof positive of our perennial inefficacy, undiscouraged, toujours gai, we are once again advocating gun control. Now, for iteration’s sake, let us again remind you that the only limitations placed by state law on the purchase of firearms are that the purchaser be 18 or over and sober. In Texas, it is legal for an infuriated drunk to buy a gun, provided a salesclerk with a financial motive thinks Texas, it is legal for a blind person to buy and use a gun \(it has happened, folks, it has convicted felon, convicted two or seven or X times over, to buy a gun. In Texas, it is legal for a certified lunatic to buy a gun. On the philosophy front, we are still operating on the simple-minded but cheerful theory that if people didn’t have guns, they wouldn’t shoot one another so much. We once again, unashamed of being repetitious, remind you that 85 percent of all murders occur within families or between friends.’ There is a fight. There is a gun. Someone uses it. That’s 85 percent of all murders. \(“Oh, God, I didn’t mean to do it. Oh, God, I didn’t mean to do it. He was my son. I only meant to scare him. I only meant to scare him. Oh, God, I didn’t mean to do it. Oh, please, dear God, he was my only son!” a 50-year-old Minneapolis machinist, in a police station, after having On the progress front, J. Edgar Hoover died and his acting successor as head of the FBI Patrick Gray actually believes in gun control. No pussyfooting. He is deadset against handguns and says, “They ought to be banned totally, completely and thoroughly.” He also said that firearms have been used in so many murders that we should try to control them. He doubts they can be banned completely but urges control, including the licensing and registration of all firearms. The head of the FBI. 0 frabjous day. THERE HAVEN’T been too many good assassinations this biennium, but a man named Arthur Bremer did give it the old college try with several shots that have 1. The figure was given by Ramsey Clark when he was U.S. attorney general under President Johnson. permanently crippled Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Mississippi Sen. John Stennis, who is agin’ gun control, was shot and seriously wounded, apparently by garden-variety robbers, in front of his home in Washington. On the statistics front, things are better than ever. Our ol’ buddy in Public Health’s Vital Stats section is still a year behind, but was able to give us the ’71 breakdown. In 1971, in Texas, 1,164 people were murdered with firearms. The runner-up category was again knifing, 194; Other and Unspecified came up with 114 corpses, mostly kids abandonment or criminal neglect plus some manslaughter; 10 folks got stomped to death; two were poisoned; one died of acid burns;’36 were strangled or suffocated; six were drowned and two got pushed from high places. Interestingly enough, 10 people were shot and killed legally, by the police, that is; that’s a new category. The DPS gave us some national numbers for ’71: 2 51 percent murdered by handgun; six percent by rifle; eight percent by shotgun; 20 percent by stabbing; nine percent by stomping and six percent Other. Even we are getting bored with comparing Texas’ gun murders to England’s, so our friend in Vital Stats came up with some new stuff. Actually, it dates back to ’67, but at least it’s not the English gig again. In the first place, he notes that nationally, 62 percent of all murders were committed with guns. But, in California, where there are some gun controls, 52 percent of the murderees were done in with guns and in New York, where there are strongish gun control laws, 39 percent. The comparable figure for Texas is 73 percent. In the suicide field, our friend suggests we use the figures for men only: women, for some reason, are prone to poison themselves \(probably the Mme. Bovary this is ’67 it with guns: in New York, 29 percent. Obviously, if you are sufficiently determined to do away with someone else or yourself, the lack of a gun isn’t going to deter you. But to quote Gary Cartwright’s line from the Observer’s vintage ’69 Gun Control Editorial, “You don’t have to catch a man to shoot him, knives don’t 2. The figures are taken from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for 1971. ricochet and people seldom get killed cleaning their knives.” Which brings us to accidents. Again, the only figures available are from ’67. Of all the people in the country who died by accident that year, 2.5 percent died from gun accidents. In California, it was 1.4 percent, in New York it was 1.2 percent and in Texas it was 3.5 percent. Speaking of accidents, this biennium’s headline collection is pretty poor. Nothing but your run-of-the-mill “4-year-old Boy Killed by Gunshot” type stuff. None of the good, “Man Mistakes Wife for Burglar Shoots Her” jobs, or even the, “Boy Shows Off Gun Playmate Dies” types. We haven’t been clipping carefully. On the enemy front, the National Rifle Association is still terrorizing politicians and we look forward to our bi-annual crop of hate mail from those patriotic worthies \(Hi, fellas: you’re just a bunch of fascist WHILE WE’RE waiting for the mail, I’d like to tell you a little story. There was a young man named Hoyt Spurlock. He was, in point of fact, a beautiful young man, but not obnoxiously so. He had very black hair and very blue eyes. He had a tough, muscular, medium-sized body and was usually much-tanned. He was not a freak, but he was sort of into the freak life style: he smoked dope, wore his hair medium long and liked to bum around. He got into a good business for that he was a reporter. Hoyt roamed out to Hawaii for a while, came back, went to work for the Austin American Statesman, then he went to Colorado for a while, but came back and then he moved on, as reporters will, to the Dallas Times-Herald. While he was here, he used to play with the Sunday Afternoon Volleyball Team and Good Time Group. He wasn’t the best player on the team, but he was one of the best. He used to show up in an old March 2, 1973 23 Personal Service Quality Insurance ALICE ANDERSON AGENCY INSURANCE & REAL ESTATE 808A E. 46th, Austin, Texas 465-6577 Bookkeeping & Tax Service 503 WEST 15TH, AUSTIN 78701 Q OFFICE HOURS: 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M. AND BY APPOINTMENT ANYTIME