If Arming People Deters Violence, Then Why Do So Many Americans Get Killed?

Jonathan Hoffman raised some interesting points in his recent opinion piece (Guest Commentary, Dec. 27, 2007). The upshot of his reasoning is that the "gun-free" status of the UA did not prevent murders from happening there. He goes on to assert that if more people had more guns, there would be fewer murders, presumably since the people doing the killing would be deterred.

The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world (according to the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies). Something that Hoffman might find unsettling is the fact that the United States also has a higher murder rate than almost all Western countries: 5.7 per 100,000 versus 1.4 per 100,000 for England in 1999. See the Institute's Web site.

If more guns are the answer, why is the U.S. murder rate so high?

Lars Ewell

The Current Border Status Quo Can't Stand, No Matter the Solution

John Cafiero's critique ("Democrats Should Disregard 'Border Security' and Focus on What's Really Important," Mailbag, Dec. 22, 2007) of Tom Danehy's column (Nov. 29, 2007) makes the error of lumping all opponents of a given policy together and assigning them the opinions of the most extreme faction.

While I am not going to claim that illegal immigration is as important of an issue as the war in Iraq and our total failed policy in the Muslim world, it is important because it is killing people in two different ways.

Because people are being encouraged to cross our border illegally, they are engaging in risky behavior that causes hundreds to die every year, through exposure to the elements in the desert and exposure to criminals. The second way is harmful to both U.S. and Mexican society, as well as to the immigrants: The immigrants are increasingly relying on criminal gangs for "safe" passage across the border. The growth of these gangs and their merger with the larger international drug cartels increases the firepower of the criminals as well as their financial ability to corrupt the police forces on both sides.

However, nothing is so corrupting for a society than to have laws on the books which are widely ignored and differentially enforced. That is what makes this a top-tier national issue. The power for police to raid some businesses while ignoring the same violations at others is incredibly dangerous for liberty, and for liberals to essentially blindly advocate the corporate agenda (allowing unlimited importation of disempowered illegal laborers)--because the only part of this complex issue they are focused on is the plight of the poor Mexicans--is foolish in the extreme.

Everyone who is in favor of a continuation of the status quo is complicit in the continuing death toll along the border. I can live with any solution that ends illegal immigration, ranging from a total lockdown of the border combined with draconian enforcement to ending all border restrictions and work restrictions.

Don Arkin

People Need to Stand Up and Counter Misinformation About Migrants

Popping Peter Meis' bubble: Two of the statistics which he quotes in his letter published in the Jan. 3 issue ("Welcome to Bubble-Popping Corner With Peter Meis, Guest-Starring Dubious Statistics") are not only dubious; they are false.

In e-mail correspondence with Rep. Russell Pearce in 2006, Pearce quoted the same statistics that "95 percent of all outstanding homicide warrants" and "up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants" in Los Angeles are for illegal immigrants. Finding these same statistics on anti-immigration Web sites but without confirming references, I contacted the Los Angeles Police Department. A spokesperson told me that the LAPD did not release such statistics. A follow-up e-mail from the LAPD Detective Bureau stated that statistics on immigration status are not kept or provided for such warrants, and such data was not distributed or supported by LAPD.

The unrelenting campaign against illegals being waged by Pearce and others--supported by a lot of misinformation, bias and prejudice--is creating an atmosphere of suspicion and hatred directed toward all Hispanic people in Arizona. The public is being convinced by such tactics to oppose many of the actions which have been proposed to solve problems which have been created by illegal immigration.

I sent the LAPD response on alleged crime statistics to the entire Arizona Legislature in 2006, and received three replies. We need people in positions who will counter such misinformation when it arises, and say, "Enough."

Bob Bowers

Conservation Is Not a Matter of Speed; It's a Matter of Vehicle Size

Just for grins, let's say it only takes a portion of our vehicles' horsepower to keep them humming along at 75 mph (Guest Commentary, Jan. 3). Then why is it that vehicles get such horrible gas mileage on the highway? It's simple, really: engine, curb weight, tire size and poor aerodynamics. In short, large, gas-guzzling pigs get poorer mileage, regardless of the speed they are traveling at.

How expensive does gas have to get before consumers make better vehicle choices? That is the real question, not, "How slow can you go?" Besides, maybe we could actually see the beautiful scenery if the gas-guzzlers weren't blocking the view.

David Barger

More on Danehy, Vegetarianism, Etc., Etc.

The media has a duty to tell the truth, of course, but also to not promote falsehoods, so I am compelled to set the record straight regarding Tom Danehy's reply (Dec. 6, 2007) to my letter ("Danehy Needs to Re-Review the Data on Vegetarianism," Nov. 29, 2007) about his "cascading" column (Nov. 1, 2007).

First, Danehy had it wrong in his rebuttal--I didn't tell him not to eat meat! I said that vegetarianism is not extreme. What is extreme is the raising of livestock in quantities that are wreaking havoc on the environment and our health (and the rest of the world, as it foolishly follows in our footsteps).

This is important, because it is known that raising livestock is causing more environmental damage than all world transportation. D.J. Anthony, in his recent letter (Dec. 20, 2007), is right on the money, but this is not addressed by the mainstream "meaty-a," much like the Dennis Kucinich campaign for president. Kucinich is vegan, by the way, and so were/are Leonardo Da Vinci, Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and "the fastest man alive," Carl Lewis.

Danehy also disputes the info I found. There have been more than 250 studies on the health of Seventh-day Adventists, and I averaged the first few lifespan results I found. Additionally, I found a study that suggested vegetarians may live even 10 years longer than meat-eaters, but I chose the more conservative numbers. Again, this kind of stuff is old news, and it baffles me that Danehy would dispute the plethora of studies that show vegetarians have more robust health than meat-eaters.

And Mr. Danehy thinks meat is good for us because the Atkins Diet worked for his friend? What he didn't mention is that the good doctor had (another) heart attack a few months before his death, and weighed more than 260 pounds.

Edited from my first letter was mention of my grand-slam vegetarian advocate group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Dr. Neal D. Barnard, the president of the group, hit the nail on the head when he said: "The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of 'real food for real people,' you'd better live real close to a real good hospital."

Mickey Matz

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