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CLARA JEFFERY’S “COLD Glocked” (4/7) advanced the interests of Josh Sugarmann’s Violence Policy Center at the expense of the public’s right to objective journalism. In the past, Washington City Paper has managed to cover the gun issue without advocating the agenda of the gun-control lobby. For example, Eddie Dean’s clear-eyed chronicle of Riddick Bowe and Rock Newman’s self-promoting gun-turn-in extravaganza (“Brother, Can You Spare a Derringer?,” 1/21/94) raised serious questions about the efficacy of the event in doing anything to stop gun violence. Hopefully, the departure of Jack Shafer won’t be the end of objective journalism at the City Paper.
Jeffery’s article is based on the claims of “gun-control advocates” that Glock is “circumventing the intent of the assault weapons ban” by obtaining the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) pre-ban high-capacity magazines. The so-called assault weapons ban exempted all magazines made prior to November 1994, and has driven up the market for pre-ban magazines. To argue that Congress would not understand the law of supply and demand is ridiculous. In any case the so-called assault weapons bans will most likely be overturned legislatively in the very near future, so MPD was smart to take advantage of Glock’s offer while the getting was good.
I was surprised that the article acknowledged the earlier media scare over Glock pistols. Jeffery writes, “Jack Anderson penned an article claiming that the Glocks were undetectable by metal detectors, and that Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi was trying to purchase more than 100 “plastic weapons.’ Neither allegation turned out to be true.” This is the only acknowledgement I have ever seen in the press that the debate over the “plastic gun” was a fraud.
The dubious claim of the anti-gun lobby that D.C.’s 1976 handgun ban would work if it weren’t for Virginia’s “notoriously weak” gun laws is uncritically reported. Jeffery offers no explanation on why D.C.’s homicide rate has increased nearly 200 percent since 1976 while Virginia’s homicide rate has decreased. Logic would indicate that Virginia would have a rise in homicides if its gun laws were the cause of D.C.’s homicide explosion.
It would be simplistic to assign the entire blame for the District’s homicide problem on the District’s gun control laws, but I believe that these laws have been a significant contributing factor to the rise of witness intimidation in the District. It is not hard to understand the reluctance of citizens to testify in criminal cases when the District government has unilaterally disarmed the honest citizen. Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy has called for the repeal of the District’s handgun ban and the issuance of concealed weapons permits to the honest citizens of the District. I wholeheartedly agree. The citizens of Washington should have the same right to defend themselves as members of Congress (who can obtain special permits to carry weapons).
Director, Northern Virginia, Citizens Defense League, Alexandria, Va.