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It’s Very Hard to Counter A Bullet To the editor:The current drive to add additional gun control laws to the books and ultimately ban firearms altogether will not abate with new technology ["Set to Stun," Jan. 28, Page 60]. Those who support gun control feel that only the government is capable of protecting its citizens, and even “phasers on stun” would seem too lethal to them. As evidence, consider the resistance to current stun gun technology by these same groups. No matter how advanced the technology gets, it will never satisfy them. I would question if the Founding Fathers would approve of this nonlethal option either. The point of the Second Amendment was to give citizens a right to defend themselves not only from muggers but also from rogue governments bent on total control. Nonlethal measures might be fine for stopping the mugger, but they are less than adequate against an armed soldier. Might the mugger change his thinking process if he knew nothing the victim could do would really harm him? Numerous interviews with convicts on how they select their targets suggest that unarmed (therefore nonlethal) victims are much preferred. And police officers who have used current stun gun technology say that someone pumped up on drugs is almost impervious to a stun gun. Technology works both ways, as any computer hacker will tell you. You invent it, they will counter. But it’s very hard to counter a bullet. Jim Gallagher Sacramento, Calif.
Nonlethal Phasers Won’t Deter Muggers To the editor: In his Jan. 28 commentary ["Set to Stun," Page 60], Robert Rogers wrote, “With the gun bans in District of Columbia v. Heller, the harms of most concern arise from the particularly lethal nature of today’s firearms. .�.�. [M]odern guns are much more formidable weapons — they’re easily concealable, they don’t depend upon physical strength, and they work from a distance. .�.�. One can understand why modern politicians might wish to restrict or ban today’s guns despite the Second Amendment.” Handguns being easily concealable, not depending on strength, and working from a distance may make them more of a threat in the hands of criminals. But these are virtues in the hands of defenders. It is clear that the purpose of the District’s gun ban is not to restrain criminal violence (against which the law does nothing), but rather self-defense — particularly, effective self-defense. Rogers also wrote, “[W]hen people can easily defend themselves with nonlethal technologies, the choice to own a lethal firearm for self-defense will become more of a deliberate choice to kill. That choice may not attract much constitutional sympathy from courts, particularly when nonlethal alternatives might be just as effective for self-defense.” Once again, the passage reveals that the primary concern of opponents of the right to keep and bear arms is the welfare of violent criminals. I look at it from a different perspective. Let’s suppose (and here I am guessing) that if I pull a gun to shoot a mugger, I have a 90 percent chance of succeeding and defeating the mugger, and a 10 percent chance of failing and being killed. Because of my determination and the determination of others like me, the vast majority of would-be muggers are deterred from even trying it. Therefore, despite the 10 percent risk of death per mugging, my overall chance of being killed in a mugging remains small. Now consider if I have one of those phasers. There is a 10 percent chance that I will be killed and a 90 percent chance that the mugger will fail, be arrested without harm, and plea-bargain down to a trivial charge with a nominal penalty. Muggers will not be deterred, and that 10 percent risk per mugging, combined with the high rate at which I will continue to face mugging attempts, makes the phaser an unacceptable means of protection. As long as the criminal puts my life in danger should I resist, he should also be in danger of losing his life. And anyone in government who protects the criminal’s life at the moment when he puts my life at risk is, in my opinion, an accessory to the crime. A government that does this is morally illegitimate. Frank Silbermann Memphis, Tenn.
The Real Issue Isn’t Technology, But Law To the editor: The issue is not technology ["Set to Stun," Jan. 28, Page 60]. It’s the fundamental purpose of constitutional law. Is the Constitution a means by which the people grant power to government, or does the government somehow (magically, mystically) have all power, giving back to the people “rights” and “power” as it sees fit? The Bill of Rights recognizes areas where the government is not allowed to trespass. It was written in the shadow of a great war of liberation. Those who wrote it had witnessed oppressive government. They had not been secure in their homes or papers. They had seen people carried across the ocean to be tried. Troops had been quartered in homes. Printing presses were destroyed. There are arguments about individual rights versus the power of the states to arm militia, but the utilitarian aspects of specific arms are really not the issue. If “utility” were the determining factor, then constitutional government would no longer exist. Rights would become a matter of whatever those in power thought was useful at some particular moment in time. The balance of power between people, states, and central government would be moot, and the whims of nine black-robed justices with lifelong tenure would be all that mattered. Walter Lee La Grange, Texas

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