- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 4, 2000

Amid the recent spate of shootings, the media has focused on the ghastly attack in which a 6-year-old boy, leading a "life of chaos," shot a female classmate, and on a Pennsylvania case in which an apparently racially motivated black male gunned down two white persons and wounded three more. There is no question about the newsworthiness of these horrifying incidents. But the selective approach to reporting on gun violence in these cases, perhaps not coincidentally, invites viewers to infer that the sole end of firearms is mayhem and violence not self-defense and further that the mayhem and violence would disappear if only guns would, too.

The victims hadn't even been buried before President Clinton decided to use the carnage as a backdrop for a photo-op on the need for gun control. "I think it's long, long past time to license purchases of handguns in this country," the president said. He added, "These two incidents were very troubling and they have individual causes and explanations," he said. "But they do remind us that there is still too much danger in this country, and for eight months now Congress has been sitting on … common-sense gun safety legislation."

There are other cases, though, that you are less likely to hear about in the press. One such is the case of A.D. Parker, who awoke one night last month to what he thought was the noise of an unruly neighbor. Unfortunately for the 83-year-old San Francisco man, it was not a neighbor, but, as the police reported later, an armed intruder. The intruder was within inches of the terrified Mr. Parker, who might easily have wound up as just another homicide statistic but for one thing: He had a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson stashed under his bed. Happily for him, it had no gun lock on it. He aimed and fired. "If I had waited a second longer," he told the San Francisco Examiner, "I don't think I'd be around to tell my story."

Mr. Clinton was referring to the kind of safety gun locks that would have kept Mr. Parker from using the gun to defend himself. Mr. Clinton and his fellow gun-control advocates perhaps consider Mr. Parker, and countless other citizens who have used firearms to defend themselves, expendable in the pursuit of their political agenda.

Mr. Parker's story, and life, aside, it is not at all clear that licensing or gun locks or anything else would have stopped the more publicized shootings. Partly that's because criminals and the deranged don't always OK their plans with the anti-gun folks at Handgun Control, Inc. In the case of the 6-year-old Michigan boy, law-enforcement officials say he apparently got the .32 caliber revolver he used in the shooting from the bedroom of a fugitive being sought on drug charges. Another man in the house, identified as the boy's uncle, was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant for concealing stolen property and is also being held on drug and weapons charges. They don't sound like the kind of people who would handle firearms according to the ever-so-good intentions of distant lawmakers in Washington.

Likewise, 39-year-old Ronald Taylor, accused in the Pennsylvania shootings, probably wasn't much concerned about the status of gun locks. A black witness to the crime told a local television station the suspect explained his motive bluntly to her. " 'I'm not going to hurt any black people. I'm just out to kill all white people.' That's exactly what he said," she said.

Mr. Clinton is wrong in supposing that gun control would have stopped either of these killings. What it might easily have stopped, however, is Mr. Parker's attempt to defend himself. As is invariably the case, gun control is off target.

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