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The Annual Gun Control Editorial By Molly Ivins Denver Hey-o, sports fans, it’s time again for the annual Gun Control being the Observer, has been letting down the side in this regard in recent years, showing a tendency to let more than a twelvemonth show up between G.C.E.’s. But past and current editors are agreed that the great tradition should not be allowed to develop arteriosclerosis, so here we are again, back at the old stand, pushing our favorite commie plot gun control. Our favorite commie plot had the support of the late J. Edgar Hoover, has the support of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and, for 60 years now, according to the public opinion polls, has had the support of over 70 percent of the American people. Experts on law enforcement, without any exceptions of which we know, believe that the single, most effective step we can take to curb crime in the US of A is gun control. So why, you may ask, has this simple, effective measure not been taken? It is to this point that we address this year’s Gun Control Editorial. The answer, friends, is that a well-organized, highly effective, single-issue lobby group called the National Rifle Association terrifies politicians, thwarts the will of the vast majority and makes all our lives shorter and more dangerous by its stupid, stubborn, simple-minded refusal to consider even the most basic and logical forms of gun control. Do we dislike the NRA for doing this? Of course not. We admire the NRA, if we have any sense. Stoutly and strongly does the NRA defend and protect the interests of its members, all of whom have minds riddled with boll weevils. \(We are angry this year, and any NRA member who writes in threatening to shoot us for holding this opinion So rank and so poisonous has the fear of the NRA’s political clout become that it threatens not only our lives with a flood of cheap handguns, but also our hopes for a sane criminal justice system. To wit, in the fall of 1978, the Carter administration did nominate for a high Justice Department post one Norval Morris, professor of law at the University of Chicago and a muchrespected authority on criminal justice, particularly the penal end thereof. Now Prof. Morris was not slated to have anything to do with gun laws. He was to have administered something called the Justice System Improvement Act: he is qualified, energetic and full of good ideas on this subject. The Senate hearing to approve his nomination was slated for a Thursday. On the Monday before, the National Rifle Associa Molly Ivins is an Observer contributing editor and chief of the Rocky Mountains Bureau of the New York Times. tion noticed that Prof. Morris is co-author of a pamphlet entitled “The Honest Politician’s Guide to Gun Control.” It is a pithy work, chock-full of straight information. The NRA Xeroxed some pages of this booklet, distributed them to the members of the relevant committee and commenced to use its political muscle. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, was prepared to die rather than vote for someone of whom the NRA disapproved; Sen. John McClure, R-Idaho, was no better: both were up for re-election. The Justice Department and the White House, showing all the courage of pusillanimous pissants, did nothing within three days, Norval Morris was forced to withdraw his name from consideration for the post. The White House gracefully managed to show its relief. The pernicious influence of the NRA did not begin there and does not end there: the lobby now challenges those nominated for judges’ posts, should they favor gun control. To the best of our knowledge, they have not yet succeeded in knocking off a potentially good judge, but we place no great faith in the continuance of this happy state. What do we do? The NRA has 1.6 million dues-paying members. In comparison, there are two lobby groups that favor gun control the National Coalition to Ban Handguns and Handgun Control, Inc., with, respectively, 80,000 and 70,000 members. We suggest to you that until the pro-gun control lobbies have the same political clout as the anti lobbies, the NRA will continue to work its measly, miserable will on the rest of us. In other words, join, contribute, work. Don’t just sit out there. favoring gun control and speaking up whenever Mr. Gallup comes by dammit, do something. Now, in a less heated vein, let us consider the latest record of carnage. The Texas Department of Public Safety informs us that in 1979, 124 people in the state died by means of firearms of an unspecified nature, 1,167 people were killed with handguns, 118 by rifle and 159 by shotgun. Police killed 44 felons, the DPS says, and another 38 were knocked off by private citizens. Further, 452 Texans met their Maker last year due to knives or other sharp instruments and another 78 bought it from blunt instruments. What do we conclude from all this? As we have explained before, the Observer is not really anti-gun; it is merely proknife. We all want to make murder a more sporting proposition, right? Well, you have to catch a person before you can stab him, knives don’t ricochet and people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives. Knives really have it all over guns. For that matter, long guns have it all over handguns it’s hard to hide a rifle in your pocket while going in to stick up a Jiffy Mart. Some people say to us, “What about cars? Sixty thousand people die on the highways every year, aren’t you concerned about that?” Of course we are concerned about that! Great heavens, when did a bleeding heart liberal ever suffer from shortage of concern? We stay awake nights over highway THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3