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Posted: 9/30/2004 8:14:57 AM EDT
Found this while contributing to another thread. It's a little dated (Dec, 1993), but it shows that, besides the few big name poeple, there are a few folks in college-land with their heads outside their ass.

[side note] Tom Burckhalter passed away a few years ago. He and I used to take turns repelling the anti articles in one of our local papers. Two of the proudest moments of my life wer when he complimented me on a letter to the editor, and, when I called to offer my condolences, his widow told me he "thought highly" of me, and "hoped I'd keep up the fight" after he was gone.[/side note]

(from http://www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/ii931211.html. Warning - pretty staunchly anti article)

But not everyone buys the public health argument.

"Our perception is that it's bogus," says Tom Burckhalter, secretary of the Illinois State Rifle Association. "We see it as a failure of the criminal justice system, but they're trading off the respect doctors have earned."

"It's a packaging issue, isn't it?" asks Northwestern University law Professor Daniel Polsby, who pointed out that he is not a member of the National Rifle Association and does not own a gun. "Call it a criminal justice issue, a public health issue ... the way one thinks about handgun control shouldn't be changed by how it's packaged. You have doctors' groups organizing around this, and their obvious peg is the public health peg. But it's still politics. These people have an agenda. It's just talk ... it's white people from Winnetka. It doesn't advance the substantive discussion of the issue ... which involves why people have guns in the first place."

Aside from hunters and sportsmen, people have guns for protection or to promote a criminal lifestyle, he says. Gun control laws will not convince the criminal element to turn in their handguns, he says, pointing to Chicago as an example. Ordinances there effectively ban assault weapons and handguns, yet there were more than 15,000 shootings in the city in 1992 resulting in 700 deaths.

Polsby says he sees what amounts to political hypocrisy on the issue all the time. "It annoys me to hear people like [Illinois] Atty. Gen. Roland Burris and President Clinton advocate gun control while they're surrounded by Secret Service people with guns!" he says. "There's a reason they're carrying guns, and there are thousands of people who don't have armed guards at their sides but feel they need to be protected. There are thousands of gun control laws on the books, and they don't seem to alter people's behavior. Why pursue more? I mean, isn't that a little bit neurotic?"

A realistic solution to the violence wrought by handguns would tackle the reasons people turn to crime or the reasons they feel a need for protection, Polsby says. In his view, the solution will not stem from debate over whether guns are a public health or a criminal justice issue.

Hope he's still teaching.

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