But Joan Campbell of the NCC defendedrnthe publicity. “We shouldn’t secondguessrn[the President],” she said. “Hernneeds help. He knows that.”rnOne hopes that Clinton’s religiousrncounselors will provide that help. But allowingrntheir support for Clinton’s politicalrnpolicies to cloud their view of hisrncharacter will not aid him. PerhapsrnClinton’s spiritual triumvirate should listenrnto Wisconsin Public Radio for an occasionalrndose of moral indignation.rnMark Tooley is a research associate at thernInstitute on Rehgion and Democracy inrnWashington, D.C.rnGUNSrnDisarming thernVictimsrnby David B. KopelrnMore guns, more murder? Thisrncentral tenet of the anti-gunrnmovement has found strong new supportrnfrom the movement’s intellectual superstar.rnUniversity of California law professorrnFranklin Zimring. In Crime is not thernProblem: Lethal Violence in America,rnZimring and long-time collaborator GordonrnHawkins make the most persuasiverncase ever for guns as the fundamentalrncause of America’s high murder rate. Atrna 1998 symposium sponsored by thernUniversity of Colorado Law Review,rnZimring very effectively took on all challengersrnto his thesis.rnSo, is it time to follow Zimring’s planrnto ouriaw handgun purchases by anyonernwho cannot prove a special need, and tornconstrict sharply the boundaries for usernof lethal force in self-defense? Before answering,rnlet’s examine the evidence presentedrnby Zimring and his critics.rnZimring develops his thesis from comparativerninternational statistics. Usingrndata from all over the developed world,rnZimring aims to refute the argument thatrnAmerica’s high murder rate is merelyrnone facet of an overall high crime rate.rnAcknowledging the limitations of internationalrnstatistics (for example, what onernnation classifies as a serious assault mightrnnot be so classified by another nation).rnZimring shows that America does havernrelatively high rates of robbery and assault.rnBut these rates only place Americarntowards the high end of the range of developedrncountries, not ofiFthe charts. Forrnmurder, however, America’s rates are farrnout of line—putting the United States inrna class by itselfrnFrom this evidence, Zimring concludesrnthat the main difference betweenrnAmerica and other nations is not therndensity of criminals, but the density ofrnhandguns. Americans don’t get intornbrawls at a higher rate than their counterpartsrnin other developed nations (atrnleast those nations with relatively highrncrime rates). But brawls that in other nationsrnmight end in injurv are much morernlikely to end in a fatalit)- in the UnitedrnStates because one or both combatantsrnhas a handgun. American robberies arernalso much more likely to end in therndeath of the victim, in large part becausernAmerican robbers are more likely to haverna gun.rnFurthermore, the widespread presencernof handguns spurs more and morernpeople to acquire their own guns as a defensivernmeasure, thereby creating a viciousrncircle which increases the odds ofrndeath rather than injur)’.rnZimring’s and Hawkins’ answers tornthese problems are sketched out in thernconcluding chapters of Crime is not thernProblem. They suggest that more criminalrnjustice resources be devoted to murderrnand preventing murder, and thatrnresources be transferred from the pimishmentrnof lesser crimes. (Zimring is particularlyrncritical of California’s “threernstrikes” law, which imposes long sentencesrnon relatively low-level offenders.)rnAs for guns, Zimring proposes that thernfederal government adopt a handgun licensingrnsystem, and that almost all citizensrnbe deemed unqualified to possessrnhandguns. Zimring also suggests changingrnlegal standards regarding the use ofrndeadly force to resist a felony. MostrnAmerican jurisdictions allow the use ofrndeadly force against home burglars; Zimringrnwould repeal these laws and requirernhomeowners to flee their homes ratherrnthan shoot the burglar.rnCrime is not the Problem also includesrnarguments that television violence doesrnnot cause crime, that drugs per se cannotrncause violent crime, and that Americansrnshould not think of their shared crimernproblem in racial terms —despite thernlarge gap between black and white violentrncrime rates in general and homicidernrates in particular.rnZimring is a very capable debater, as isrnevident in his answers to his critics in thernUniversity of Colorado Law Review symposium.rnBut for all of Zimring’s eruditionrnand verbal skill, his case for a nearrnban on handguns and for major restrictionsrnon self-defense is a failure. Hisrnstatistics do show what common sensernwould suggest: An angry, irresponsiblernperson with a gun is much more likely tornkill someone than is an angry, irresponsiblernperson without a gun. The phenomenallyrnhigh murder rate in America’s innerrncities is definitely a consequence ofrnhow many irresponsible young men inrnthose cities are armed with guns. Theirrnfragile sense of their own manhoodrnmakes them ready to explode at slightrnprovocations—add a gun to this rage andrnthe result is often death rather than injur}’.rnSimilarly, the availability of handgunsrnmeans that teenagers or small adults whornmight not be able to use muscle to overpowerrntheir victims can escalate a robberyrnto “your money or your life.” Sincernso many of these young predators havernslight regard for their own lives, it is notrnsurprising that many robbery victims arernkilled even when they submit.rnSo far so good. But from these insights,rnZimring proceeds in exactiy thernwrong direction. He urges that societyrnsolve the homicide problem by crackingrndown on the potential victims. Zimring’srnnational gun licensing proposalrnwould disarm many law-abiding people.rnBut given the failure of nearly a century’rnof heroin prohibition, there is no reasonrnto expect that gun prohibition will disarmrnpeople who are determined to get arnhandgun. Criminals, who have the bestrnaccess to the black market, will be thernleast likely to be disarmed.rnZimring’s blindness here is the blindnessrnof the American gun prohibitionrnmovement. Zimring seems unaware ofrnthe difference between a handgun in thernhands of a hoodlum and a handgun inrnthe hands of an elderly woman who livesrnin the same neighborhood. One gun underminesrnpublic safety; the other enhancesrnit.rnWhile disarming potential murderersrnis a reasonable objective, changing nationalrnhandgun ownership rates cannotrnbe expected to affect homicide significandy.rnAccording to Gar)’ Kleck’s bookrnTargeting Guns, in 1971 there were 169rnhandguns per 100,000 persons in thernUnited States. By 1994, the per capitarn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn