investigations that were eommonplace in the past. With thernexception of a few elite units, such as SWAT and Metro, moralernhas badly deteriorated on the LAPD. A changed political climaternhas transformed the once vaunted, highlv disciplined, andrnaggressic force into a reactive body. There was an old sayingrnon the force that two cops could handle any problem andrnmake all needed decisions on the spot. Now, as 21-year veteranrnand senior detective Kevin Rogers says, “Decision makingrntakes a committee.” John Mead, a Metro sergeant with 25 yearsrnon the force, notes that the department is now so afraid of doingrnthe wrong thing, or the politically incorrect thing, that atrntimes it “has been immobilized.” Police on the street sufferrnfrom the lack of firm and forceful leadership and clear and unequivocalrndepartment policy. The riots of 1992 certainlyrndemonstrated the paralysis. For several days it seemed that thernonl- ones defending the city were Korean merchants and theirrnsons, perclied on the rooftops of their businesses and doingrnwhat eerone else should have been doing: shooting looters onrnsight. Such a practice had a salutary effect and saved those fewrnwell-defended businesses. The rest of south-central L.A. wasrnpillaged with impunity, and dozens of innocent citizens werernkilled or savagely beaten.rnThe message in all this is clear: it is up to individual citizensrnto defend themselves. For generations Americans did justrnthat, and the- were highly effective. Today, we talk a lot aboutrnthe right to self-defense, and politicians certainly make all thernright gestures to such a sacrosanct notion, but then we make itrnvirtuallv impossible to obtain a concealed weapons permit andrnprohibit carrying a loaded gun in the car. Bucking the trend,rnFlorida in 1987 passed a eoneealed-carr law. Since then thernstate’s homicide rate has fallen by 17 percent while the nationalrnrate has risen by 18 percent. Has this made headlines? Instead,rnwe hear about tourists being gunned down. But that is just thernpoint. Florida’s criminals can count on tourists being unarmed.rnTourists are soft targets.rn”Carjacking” has become quite eommonplace in Los Angelesrnbecause the perpetrators of the crime know that Californiarndrivers cannot legally carry loaded firearms and will nearlyrnalways be unarmed. Occasionally, earjackers make poorrnchoices. Three such earjackers followed a friend’s son as herndrove home. Little did they know that the youthful lad, Jason,rnwas a reserve police officer who was well armed and an expertrnmarksman. When he pulled into the familv driveway and gotrnout of his ear, one of the earjackers also exited his vehicle and,rnapproaching from behind with gun in hand, told Jason, “Freeze,rnyou motherf !” Jason, having anticipated just such a scenario,rnspun about and emptied the contents of his .45 into therncarjaeker. The earjacker’s partners sped away as fast as their carrnwould take them, leaving their partner very dead on my friend’srnfront lawn.rnNot too long afterwards an off-duty police officer in plainclothesrnstopped on his way home to make a phone call. Whilernhe stood talking on an outdoor public phone, two muggersrnrushed up to him. One of them brandished a gun and demandedrnhis wallet. Instead, the officer drew a gun and sent thernarmed mugger to the morgue.rnThe Los Angeles Times usually describes such incidentsrnalong the lines of: “That’s one robber who certainly picked onrnthe wrong person.” Why shouldn’t every person be the wrongrnperson? Ironically, the same Los Angeles Times regularly editorializesrnagainst an armed citizenry and has never seen anrnanti-gun piece of legislation that it didn’t like. Somehow thernpaper believes that disarming peaceable, law-abiding citizensrnwill affect criminal behavior.rnI have often wondered what an Auroran or Bodieite wouldrnthink of America today, if he or she were suddenly transportedrnto the late 2()th century. I think he would be shocked tornlearn that sometime and somewhere between then and now wernlost our way and our will as a nation and a people. It wouldrnboggle an Auroran’s or a Bodieite’s mind to be forced to abandonrnhis weapon of choice and then to be told by the authoritiesrnthat when confronted by a robber he should meekly surrenderrnhis poke of dust or that he should feign sleep while arnburglar pillages his home. It would be incomprehensible for arnNixon or a McDonald to abandon, without a fight, his home inrnthe city and flee to a suburban hamlet or to stand idly byrnwhile women are ravaged. What malaise, what weakening ofrnthe personal and national will has caused America to come tornthis, he might ask. We do not seem to be able to summon therncourage to defend our persons, our homes, our culture, our borders,rnour language. While today we hand the barbarians thernkeys to the gates, an American in the Old West would haverndrawn a deep breath, aimed carefully, taken up the slack on therntrigger, squeezed, and treated them to a good dose of lead.rnAve Atque Valernby Peter RussellrnA sickly child in creaking cradle.rnThey fed me syrup from a ladle.rnIn infancy I lived in dreams.rnWas never shown the sun’s bright beams.rnAt three or four I gathered force,rnI mounted on my rocking horse.rnI rocked and galloped all the dayrnTill soon they took my horse away.rnI grieved and grieved till nine or ten—rnI’ve ne’er been the same since then.rnMy kindly elders gave me rope—rnIt’s strange that that should rhyme with hope.rnI did my best. I gave each childrnStrict instructions, to run wild.rnThere is a sadness in our livesrnWhich is infectious, kills our wives.rnSomething, it seems, all sweetness banishesrnWhen childhood’s bitter sorrow vanishes.rnI’m glad now, near the House of Murk—rnFor all they talk of here is work.rnJANUARY 1994/19rnrnrn