There has been a great deal of ballyhoo here in southern California lately over the perceived rightward drift of the Los Angeles Times. Reacting to criticism of the paper’s liberal leanings (and to declining readership), the Times recently completed an overhaul of its op-ed pages, with the aim of presenting a more balanced sampling of opinion. Cast adrift was hard-line leftist columnist Robert Scheer, a true throwback to Sixties-era, Cal Berkeley-style, radical rabble-rousing. Now appearing regularly in the Times is NRO’s own Jonah Goldberg, whose inclusion in the lineup, coupled with the sacking of Scheer, prompted Barbra Streisand to cancel her subscription to the paper.
That Babs should have been brought to such a fit of pique is a healthy sign for the Times, but the old habits are hard to break, and an editorial appearing in Tuesday’s edition revealed that the voice of the paper is still reliably liberal. The editorial, Two mayors, one issue, packs a load of leftist canards into its 382 words, most glaringly among them the views that inanimate objects cause crime, and that gun violence can be legislated away. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Times says, should be applauded for his tough stance on gun control, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa should take up Bloomberg’s challenge to campaign for gun control state by state and city by city.
“Taking the gun-control fight national could well reap political benefits at home for both Bloomberg and Villaraigosa.” the Times says. “But there are better reasons than that for doing it. As states such as California, New York and Massachusetts have expanded their gun laws in recent years, the flood of illegal guns to their streets from bordering states has grown.” The Times offers no supporting evidence for this conclusion, but worse than that, it ignores the empirical evidence suggesting that mere access to guns does not increase a given city’s or state’s level of violent crime.
The Times trots out another old liberal horse in its antigun message: a sneering, elitist disdain for people living out there in the howling wilderness between Beverly Hills and the Hudson River. “Bloomberg’s message will be a tough sell in many states,” it says, “especially those south of the Mason-Dixon line . . .” And there you have it: If it weren’t for all those backwards, grit-eating rednecks down south–who voted for Bush, don’t you know–what a tranquil, blessedly gun-free country we might be living in.
But let’s take a look at the experience of one such state, the one so roundly reviled on both coasts for having given us George W. Bush. In 1996, the state of Texas enacted Senate Bill 60, known as the Concealed Handgun Law, which restored the rights of law-abiding citizens who obtain the proper license to carry concealed handguns. When the bill was being debated, the antigun Cassandras predicted bloodbaths, envisioning pistol-packing Texans settling their disputes in roadside shootouts.
The exact opposite has come to pass. Writing on the Dallas Blog, Jerry Patterson, author of S.B. 60, says that rather than turning into the Wild West, Texas is now the Mild West, with falling crime rates and streets safer than ever. Since the bill’s passage, handgun murders have fallen 18 percent, and the handgun murder-per capita rate has fallen 13 percent. As of December 2005, there were 247,345 active handgun licenses in Texas, and a study by the National Center for Policy Analysis has shown that the licensees are 5.7 times less likely than the average Texan to be arrested for a violent offense and 14 times less likely for a nonviolent one.
Patterson writes that he authored the law because he trusted his fellow Texans. “Contrary to opinions expressed on almost every editorial page across the state,” he says, “I knew that when law-abiding Texans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms was restored with the passage of S.B. 60, they would exercise good judgment and behave responsibly.”
What a blow that must be to the editorialists at the Los Angeles Times, who must feel that Texans should neither be trusted with their guns or their votes.
–Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. “Jack Dunphy” is the author’s nom de cyber. The opinions expressed are his own and almost certainly do not reflect those of the LAPD management.