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Letter - Self-defense is a "reality"!
Monday, February 18, 2008

Dear St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

Leonard Pitts sounds like a reasonably bright guy with whom I would enjoy exchanging ideas. Regrettably, his column, "Both sides - - recognize reality" [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, 2-17-08, p. B-3] fails to do what he appears to advocate, and exhibits a disturbing level of ignorance and prejudice.

News-professionals rarely consult scientific data or scholarly research. For the record: (1) The Supreme Court case Leonard alluded to, U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), says, "all Constitutional sources show plainly enough that the militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for defense. These men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves of the kind in common use (by the military) at the time." (2) Current self-defense is overwhelming supported by all credible scientific data, even unlikely sources as Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia (1994), which confirm guns, rather than causing deaths, reduce both
crime and medical costs - citing data which proves "as many as 75 lives are protected by a gun for every one lost to a gun, as many as 5 lives (are) protected per minute." (3) Ongoing analysis over 20-years by the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University, confirms roughly "2-5-million crimes are stopped or
deterred each year in the U.S., most with no one being shot, and in fewer than one in a thousand resulting in the death of anyone." [See Point Blank, Prof. Gary Kleck, Ph.D.] (4) A Harvard Medical-Practice Study and several other sources confirm Americans are 5-times more likely to die from "medical misadventures" than from a gun. (5) Economist John Lott's 15-year analysis of F.B.I. crime-data of every county (3,054 counties) in the United States confirms all counties which permit legal concealed-carry of firearms by the law-abiding experience significant reduction of crime at all levels - the biggest reductions in the cities - and the cost of denying legal self-defense
is measurably higher violent-crime - as many as 1,500 additional murders, 4,000 rapes, 11,000 armed robberies, and some 60,000 aggravated assaults. [See analysis in More Guns, Less Crime, and the later Media Biases Against Guns, both by Dr. Lott.]

What are the "realties" of crime and violence in America? There are countless causes, but all scientific data confirms the two most important are: (1) breakdown of the family, with up to 70% illegitimate-births in some communities, and (2) media-glorification of violence - "if it bleeds, it leads" - encouraging the current spate
of copycat-killings, and scientific verification that some types of movie and television violence, and violent computer-games, encourage senseless violence among some young people.

Leonard argues against "ideological purity" with the Second Amendment. To be consistent, he must also argue for "reasonable restrictions" of First Amendment rights of his industry. As Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and they is us."

Robert G. Heinritz, Jr., J.D.