anti-U.N. bill), or a step in the wrongrndirection (it’s dumb to force Congress tornobey bad civil rights laws, and the lineitemrnveto gives unconstitutional powerrnto the Executive).rnGrover Norquist tells us that the Contractrnwill have two lasting effects. Therernwill be another Contract “in 1996 andrn1998 and on into the future” and “allrncongressional elections will be nationalrnelections.” That means a coercively unifiedrnparty for the foreseeable future: veryrnbad news indeed.rnLet the Republican leadership “takerncredit” for its first 100 days. It’s a publicrnrelations gimmick to cover up for suchrnacts as the Mexican bailout, whichrnGingrich and Dole orchestrated in thernonly memorable action of this Congress.rnA real American revolution will have torntake place outside the Beltway.rn—]effrey TuckerrnCONCEALED GUNS were the topicrnof a recent marathon hearing in thernTexas State Legislature. In the middle ofrnthe hearing, one Suzanna Gratia suddenlyrnmarched over to Senator RoycernWest, pointed her index finger at him,rnand cocked her thumb. “Tell me. Senator,”rnsaid the good-looking chiropractorrnabout a fellow nearby, “would you likernhim to have a concealed weapon at thisrnpoint or not?”rnThe Lone Star State’s lawmakers wererndebating a law allowing “ordinary” citizensrnto carry a gun, and viewing thernscene on television might have led one tornbelieve Gratia was a distraught woman inrnfavor of stiffer gun-control laws. But thatrnwas not the case at all. Gratia and herrnparents were eating at a Luby’s Cafeteriarnin Killeen, Texas, in October 1991 whenrna gunman walked in and started blastingrnaway. Her folks were among 21 peoplernmurdered. Gratia had left her Smith &rnWesson .38 caliber revolver in the trunkrnof her car because Texas law prohibitsrnmixing guns with vittles. Obeying thernlaw, she lamented, “was the stupidestrnmistake of my life.”rnGratia is just one of the many iraternAmericans tenaciously pushing staternlegislatures to allow citizens to carryrnfirearms for protection, and for the mostrnpart, politicians are giving the peoplernwhat they want. But gun owners hadrnbetter realize that the good times mightrnnot last if the gun grabbers ask Congressrnto strike down right-to-carry gun laws.rnMoreover, they had better be prepared tornmake an argument that does not rely onrnstatistics if they want to keep the right torncarry guns.rnThe states that allow citizens to defendrnthemselves or are debating the issuernare legion. As of this writing, Virginiarnwas one of many states that liberalizedrnwhat Time magazine calls “carryingconcealed-rnweapons laws,” a term thatrnmakes one who carries a gun sound like arnriverboat card cheat with a derringer uprnhis sleeve. Arkansas, Utah, Texas, andrnIdaho are just four more of at least 16rnstates that were prepared to liberalizernright-to-carry laws a few months ago.rnThe impetus behind this restorationrnof the right to defend oneself is fear ofrncriminals who may strike anywhere atrnany time. If you believe television, guntotingrnthugs rule the streets of majorrnAmerican cities, where crime affects notrnonly the quotidian routine but also therntourist business. With that in mind,rnFlorida became the testing-ground for arnright-to-carry law in 1987. Opponentsrnsaid minor traffic accidents and trafficrnjams would erupt into gunfights betweenrnirate motorists, but that WildrnWest scenario never came to pass. Indeed,rnever since Floridians reassertedrntheir right to pack a mohaska, handgunrnmurders have dropped 29 percent. Onernlawmaker who opposed the law said hernsees no reason to change it.rnEDr those who publish statistics aboutrnhomicide and accidental shootings torngin up fear of guns, the numbers fromrnFlorida are not encouraging. And it’s nornsurprise that the National Rifle Associationrnand other groups are using Floridarnas a model for other states where lawmakersrnhave been pushed into acting.rnYet crunching numbers will not win thernbattle. For one thing, Florida’s right-tocarryrnlaw may have no bearing on therndecrease in homicides. For another,rnhomicides could quite easily increase afterrna right-to-carry law passes. If thatrnhappens in Virginia or anywhere else, therngun lobby will have a difficult time arguingrnthat right-to-carry laws are not as illconceivedrnas the antigun crowd says theyrnare. Furthermore, it had better be preparedrnfor a fight at the federal level whenrnSarah Brady and her minions at HandgunrnControl Inc. begin loading up forrnbear. After all, if Congress can pass lawsrnregarding the ownership of certain kindsrnof firearms, it can also pass laws forbiddingrnthe right to carry them.rnWhatever happens, action on thernstate level is a welcome developmentrnprecisely because numbers are not thernpoint; principle is. The state legislatorsrnwho have shown some spine on this issuernhave ignited a philosophical and legal debaternover firearms that will either bringrnmore states to the Jordan or prompt federalrnCaesar’s usual antigun edict or evenrnboth. Such a confrontation between thernfederal city and states will force a gunrnowner to make a choice: either carry arngun for self-defense or obey an unjustrnlaw. That has always been the choicernwith gun-control laws, but the issue wasrnnever as clear as it is now, when crimernand its effects are rapidly spreading fromrnurban nuclei of random violence to thernyuppie white suburbs, whence much ofrnthe agitation for gun-control emanates.rnAmericans desire a social order thatrnplaces a premium on liberty, yet untilrnrecently they have been unwilling tornaccept the dangers that accompany it,rnwhich include those associated with thernright to own and carry guns. They havernbeen all too willing to look to the governmentrnfor protection. Now that state legislaturesrnare passing right-to-carry laws, itrnseems Americans have rediscovered notrnonly the right but also the duty to defendrnthemselves against the depredations ofrncriminals. Perhaps they understand thatrncomprehensive police protection requiresrnrevoking the right to self-defensernand erecting a totalitarian state, or perhapsrnrapists and murderers have a way ofrnfixing the mind on something besidesrnPower Rangers.rnWhatever the truth, Suzanna Gratiarnintuitively understands her right to ownrna gun and what exercising it means: yourncan defend yourself. LInhappily, shernpaid a high price for the lesson shernlearned. She is unlikely to leave her .?8rnin the car ever again, even if packing it inrnher purse means breaking an unjust law.rn—R. Cort KirkwoodrnMICHAEL WESTERMANS memorialrnservice was held on March 4, appropriatelyrnenough on Confederate FlagrnDay. My friend and fellow SouthernrnLeaguer, Jack Kershaw, and I arrivedrnshortly before noon at the designatedrnmeeting-place in Goodlettsville, Tennessee,rnjust north of Nashville on 1-65.rnThe sky was late-winter pale blue, andrnagainst it, from the throng that had alreadyrngathered in the shopping centerrnparking lot, swelled a sea of batde flags.rnThe atmosphere was festive, like a familyrnreunion long delayed. Everywhere strainsrn6/CHRONICLESrnrnrn