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PBS: Public Broadcasting System. Public meaning it is subsidized with MY tax dollars. When my tax dollars are used to broadcast a one sided viewpoint of guns dubbed "junk" by those with an agenda hostile to private firearms ownership, I am offended. My second amendment right is an individual right which I have and which you have. I value that right. It is just as important as the other individual right which we all value so much: the first amendment right to free speech. When that right is abused by those with an agenda contrary to mine and I'm forced to pay for it; that speech is no longer free, nor am I.

Scott Odenbach
Sioux Falls, South Dakota


No, I do not believe our gun laws make it easy for criminals to get guns. First of all it must be realized that a law, any law, means nothing to the criminal mind. Laws to these people are, at best, minor inconveniences that are to be circumvented. Look at the murder rate in Wash. DC. which has the most restrictive gun laws in the country.

J. Talley
Post Falls, ID


The criminals have always had easy access to guns. Every new gun law only hinders the honest/ law abiding person. Since majority of homes have firearms, home firearm safety training should be look into.

The national conceal carry permit should be approve, for the criminals know that 'out of state' travelers are easy prey. CDC should not be using federal funds to study firearm deaths as a disease. Brady Bill should be replaced with 'Instant Check', for the 'Brady' hinders and restricts the honest person from acquiring a handgun when he/her desires to, therefore it places a restriction on the second amendment. You can not place restrictions on your rights, you can on state privileges.

Elkview, WV


No, Our gun laws make it easier for no-criminals to get guns. Criminals never have and never will have a problem getting firearms. Our gun laws make it difficult for the authorities to track a gun. Congress doesn't want to use computers to track guns because of some sort of privacy issue (that's stupid) . It's not tougher guns laws that we need. The laws just need to be realistic and fair to our policemen.

Alvin House
Huntsville, Al


After watching your program on Tuesday night, I became even more frightened at the prospect that ANYONE can be carrying a weapon and will be able to use it whenever they want to. The cheap guns were cheap because the owner of the business skimped on such things as security. If he would have had qualified personnel watching his business (he had one, but that poor guy had to file a discrimination suit) then he would have to charge more for his product. As it is, he is losing so many guns through theft at his plant, that he will have to recoup his losses somehow, someday. I was particularly disappointed in the cliché he used "guns don't go off by themselves", but you put a gun in the hand of a child or someone who is not responsible and the gun can't help but "go off by itself". It was a cop out on his part.

Linda M. Johnson


Being a police officer and chief of police also having a federal firearms license for 6 years. I have never arrested a suspect with a legally owned firearm nor have I ever had a criminal try to purchase one from me .guns laws only affect law abiding citizens the criminal element are going to obtain there firearms just as they do every thing else ILLEGALLY when is the media going to point this out ...instead of scarring the hell out of the American citizen??

Rick Sheldon


After watching your show, I am amazed that Lorcin has not been sued for ignoring security problems that lead to thousands of guns being stolen from their gun factory over a prolonged time period. According to your show, some of these guns were later used in violent crimes including carjacking, robbery, and murder.

If Lorcin devoted some of the resources and attention that Smith and Wesson does to site security, some of these crimes may have been averted. Lorcin is knowingly manufacturing a product which is just as deadly as Smith and Wesson's. The company is aware of the lucrative trade in, and proliferation of ownership of unlawfully held guns in the US. Lorcin should therefore be held accountable for its apparent lack of concern for the security of the weapons while the guns were in their possession. The company and its officers should be hauled into court by a consortium of its victims.

By the way, I am not a frothing anti-gun nut. In fact, I enjoy shooting a lot. But I do not expect my fellow citizens to become crime statistics through casual and illicit trafficking in firearms. Guns are not toys. Lorcin knows that.

Khalil J. Spencer
Honolulu, HI


Under the illusion that most cheap handguns are used for self-defense, Lorcin boasts a 40% market share for sales of their L380. Under what illusion do they apply a special coating to the L380 that won't retain fingerprints? Is this an engineering coincidence or another marketing scheme aimed at our inner-cities' underbelly, from a company with a Teflon conscience?

Geoff Mumford
Baltimore, MD


There are thousands of gun laws on the books in this nation currently. However, any criminal who wants a gun can easily obtain one and when criminals are arrested with illegal guns; these gun violations are rarely prosecuted. For example, President Clinton bragged that his Brady Law prevented thousands of gun sales. He failed to mention, however, that only seven people were prosecuted in the four years of the law. Any criminal willing to violate laws prohibiting murder or rape, which carry the stiffest penalties in our justice system, certainly will not be afraid to ignore any piddly gun law. We must punish criminals who will use guns, knives, baseball bats, fertilizer bombs, or their bare hands to harm people; not prohibit honest citizens from obtaining the tools needed to defend themselves. It is easier to indict "scary" inanimate objects than to address the reality that there are evil people in our society who must be stopped. A gun is a tool that allows the vulnerable to defend themselves. A gun can be the equalizer for the 4'11' woman being attacked by a 200lb would-be rapist. A gun can allow the elderly woman to drive away the young home invader. It amazes me how anti-gunners persecute guns like the 18-shot 9mm Glock 17 as an "evil instrument designed solely for human destruction that nobody has any business owning" when a private citizen owns it, but that same gun on the hip of a Washington DC. police officer is merely a tool used to protect the officer and others. We must control our criminals, not our guns.

Peter Park
Baltimore, MD


Definitely. Check the statistics. England has very strict gun control laws and the result is a very low gun related death/injury rate. Yes it is true that guns don't kill people. People kill people, but guns make it a lot "easier" to kill people. Guns make the job very easy and impersonal. If the only weapon available to modern man was a knife there would be a lot less murders as most would be killers would not have the stomach to pull it off. Plus it would be much easier to track the suspect.

As far as the "Right to bear arms" goes...well that was a long time ago when that right was written and the country/world has changed dramatically since then. One typically does not have to fear of a bear attack while strolling through the neighborhood these days or a call to arms by the government to defend one's home. The people who authored these rights were brilliant, but they were not Gods. Even people in this century with new knowledge of the world and it's people can improve on work of the past. How about if we give people the right not to live in fear of their neighbor and his arsenal of weapons. Outlawing firearms is the best solution. The price will then go way up causing availability to drop and the number of related deaths, both accidental and inflicted to go down. Or, as an alternative, instill moral principals into the hearts and minds of mankind. Of course since evolution is a slow process and sometimes tends to go backwards, laws will have to work for now.

"Guns don't kill people, they just make it a lot easier to kill people."

Phoenix, AZ


Let me get this straight:

Three years ago, the US. Congress bans sale and manufacture of expensive, well made, and reliable firearms such as the M1A1 and AR-15 because the are successfully but falsely labeled the "gun of choice" for criminals.

Today, the US. Congress and the well oiled dis-information machinery of Frontline are back for another bite. This time the targets are inexpensive, low end, less reliable firearms. Again the argument is that these are the "guns of choice" for criminals.

The hypocrisy is astounding.

Jeffrey G. Wilson
Kennesaw, Georgia


Lack of enforcement of laws already on the books is the biggest problem. Just look at the incredibly low number of prosecutions under the Brady law. In the majority of criminal cases, illegal gun use and possession charges are dropped as part of a plea bargain. You may not agree with the NRA, but their "Crime Strike" program is designed to ensure that criminal misuse of firearms does not go unpunished.

John Norcross
Pylesville, MD.


NO! Just as drug laws don't stop illegal drugs from entering the country, gun laws don't stop criminals from obtaining guns from illegal sources. Criminals aren't about to submit to background checks and waiting periods. These laws only burden the law abiding citizens who seek to buy a handgun to protect themselves or their families, or for recreation. What we need to do is demand that the Federal government prosecute criminals under federal law (i.e., US. Criminal Code, Title 18) which would put the average felon who illegally procures, uses, handles, or sells firearms away for several lifetimes without possibility of parole. Because the Justice Department fails to do its duty by prosecuting under federal law, 17 murders, 14 rapes, 57 robberies, and 22 assaults are committed every day by criminals on parole! Clinton bragged about using the Brady Bill to keep 60,000 criminals from buying guns, but how many were actually convicted for making a false statement on the application? Seven. And of those seven, only 2 were real gun runners, and they were given no jail time. What a terrible hoax to play on the American people.

No, laws don't make it easy; the failure of the Justice Dept. to prosecute criminals under federal law makes it easy, and allows criminals convicted of violent crimes back on the streets to commit more. Which is why law abiding citizens should not be unduly hampered from purchasing firearms for their own protection. Research gathered by professors James Wright and Peter Rossi, co-authors of "The Armed Criminal in America, " points to the armed citizen as perhaps the most effective crime deterrent in the nation.

Art Aramino
Lockport, NY


As a lifelong PBS watcher, I would like to add my support to letter-writer J. Neil Schulman, who sent you an e-mail in which he noted his interest in seeing Frontline "produce a complementary documentary looking at the 2.45 million times each year that firearms are used defensively in the United States."

This is a classic case of what Frederick Bastiat called "the seen and the unseen." What we see are the thousands of gun-related assaults every year. They are bloody, tragic, and shocking. What we do not see -- mostly because people fear to report the incidents to a victim-disarming police force -- are the millions of times that guns are used by people to defend themselves against assault. This includes a large number of situations in which the gun is not even fired! What could seem less interesting than the mugging that did not occur, the rape that was stopped, the murder that never happened? I suggest, however, that at least part of the recent decline in crime is due to the rapidly increasing number of guns in the hands of \good\ people who now carry them regularly. We may be reaching a saturation point where criminals more often encounter victims who are armed or within shouting distance of someone who is.

This is a stunningly under publicized story of women fending off rapists by flashing a pistol, of home-alone children protecting themselves from home-invaders with a small-caliber rifle, of the weak and good stopping otherwise overwhelming physical force using a tool that is not inherently evil, but rather a tool like any other: terrible when placed in the hands of the evil, a lifesaver in the hands of the good.

I look forward to FRONTLINE examining this untold tale of the empowerment of the otherwise defenseless in an upcoming report. Is this a story I -- and others who watch your program -- may expect in the near future?

Sincerely yours,
Victor Koman


I have several comments about the "ring of fire" program.

First, the real crime here is not that Lorcin produces and sells inexpensive handgun. The crime is that they allowed 14,000 handguns to be stolen from their factory and sold illegally on the street. Banning inexpensive guns simply because they are inexpensive is wrong. Pulling Lorcin's license to manufacture handguns would be much more effective and could be done UNDER EXISTING FEDERAL REGULATIONS.

Second, your example of a Lorcin gun jamming was very misleading. All firearms, especially small ones, are sensitive to the brand of ammunition. Specifically, bullets vary in shape and it is very difficult to make a feed ramp that can accommodate ALL brands and bullet shapes without jamming. Several very high quality expensive guns tell you "use only XXXX brand ammunition" Simply because Frontline found a brand of ammunition that did not feed reliably in a Lorcin is not unusual, in fact its to be expected.

Third, the state of Maryland has had a Saturday Night Special ban for many years. As a requirement each gun is tested for accuracy, utility and safety. Why did Frontline not report that the "ring of fire junk guns" were tested by Maryland and found totally acceptable? A member of the Maryland gun test board being a self proclaimed handgun abolitionist was quoted in a Washington newspaper years ago saying the board was unable to ban these guns because they passed all of the accuracy, safety and utility tests defined by the board.

Fourth, ATF itself admits that just because a gun has had a trace request does not mean it was used in a crime. Therefore, the use of ATF trace requests to reflect the use of firearms in crime is a dubious assumption at best (ATF's own opinion).

Fifth, I would like to see Frontline rework it's crime statistics. The factory theft route to the black market can be easily shut down (threat of license revocation). If the 14000 guns stolen by a single person were not included, how do the remaining Lorcin handguns compare statistically in criminal misuse?

Finally, inexpensive guns may be much more attractive to illegal gun runners simply be basic high school economics. A gun bought for $50 and sold on the street for $100 yields a 100% profit margin. A $500 Smith&Wesson sold on the street illegally for $600 yields only a 20% profit. Also, out on the street there are a lot more criminals willing to part with $100 than $600 just like there are a lot more $12000 Chevys on the road than $50000 BMWs.

Annandale. VA


Your Frontline Report was biased with the usual overload of liberal slant. The program opens with a murder and attempted murders but focuses on the tool of the crime rather than the criminal who committed it. When the people behind these crimes are put in prison and kept there or given capital punishment and receive it quickly, then crime will fall dramatically. Remember, if guns cause crime then matches cause arson. Think about it.

Herbert Fiedler
Dallas, Texas


What I think it shows is that the Brady Act and the Assault weapons Ban are ineffective. They hinder law abiding citizens, but criminals can easily skirt the system. Law abiding citizens who buy handguns from law abiding dealers fill out tracing paperwork. Even shipping a firearm from one place to another requires tracing paperwork. Firearms may not have the Consumer Safety Commission behind them, but I don't recall ever filling out tracing paperwork or waiting five days to purchase a Teddy bear. I am also sure that black market teddy bears probably don't comply with the Consumer Safety Commission regulations either.

The bottom line is this: Criminals will commit crimes. Lock them up for very long times if they use weapons in the commission of those crimes. Don't let them out on parole. Put illegal gun traffickers in prison for very long times. Don't let them out on parole. All of the acts depicted on your show were illegal. From murder to theft. Punish the people who are guilty but don't simply make it harder for law abiding citizens to defend themselves from these criminals.

I speak for myself and not Intel.

Tim Beatty
Mesa, AZ


Current gun laws are more than adequate to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. In my opinion, the lack of enforcement of current laws, particularly the inadequate prosecution of those committing crimes with guns is the main reason for rising use of guns in criminal activity. Since law enforcement entities are not able to protect the populace from armed criminals, it is vital that no new laws be enacted which proscribe gun ownership by law abiding citizens.

Bernard E. McLean
Crystal Lake IL


Criminals are always going to be able to obtain guns, this is fact. More anti-gun laws will only place limitations on law-abiding gun owners who want to be able to defend themselves. As with the tobacco industry bashing, I'm frustrated by the recent trend of blaming manufacturers for the irresponsible actions of the consumer. Can we realistically child-proof the entire country? I believe the focus should be being placed on why people are shooting each other undaunted by the criminal justice system.

Inexpensive, short-lived, hand guns are useful as car guns because of the increased likeliness of having them stolen from your car. Personally I see no other use for them, but regardless, I'd oppose any further anti-gun laws based on the logic that it's a step closer to an all out ban. (that won't impact criminals.)

I don't believe that my right to defend myself should be compromised as a result of the criminal justice system's failure to instill fear in those who chose to misuse firearms.

Chris Mackrory
Phoenix, AZ


Our Gun laws are irrelevant to the accessibility of firearms if you think any different you should examine the gun laws of Mexico , they are much more restrictive yet guns, most of which were smuggled in from our country abound. Since the distribution network already exists for stolen and smuggled firearms into the United States it is a foregone conclusion that any laws will not stem the flow. All that any attempts to "ban" any thing have proven is that if market desire exists suppliers will accommodate. All any legislation will do is make small time illegal gun dealers into wealthy and powerful gun cartels. Have we forgot the lessons of drug and alcohol banning. The problem is not with the machines but with the minds that willed them.

David Stanton
Charleston SC


I wish your show had been more balanced with interviews of other gun companies such as Glock and Smith & Wesson. I think you should have stuck to the issue of irresponsible gun makers and users and left the cost/criminal allusions out of the show. The graphics and narrator got a little lurid sometimes.

Bob Billa
San Antonio, Tx


Your program of June 2nd, sadly influenced by the prevailing hysteria over the destructive power of firearms, requires balance by a less superstitious, more principled, and more pragmatic view.

The superstition to be avoided is that an inanimate object can be "evil." Primitive peoples have always blamed such objects for bad consequences in their lives: broken mirrors are claimed to cause bad luck; voodoo dolls are claimed to cause disease and pain; and guns are said to cause crime and violence. The fact is, life's disasters are caused by two things: physical laws behaving chaotically, and living beings taking actions. Criminals alone are to blame for crime and violence.

The indispensable principle here is that there's no substitute for self-protection. Except in rare cases in which police just happen to be on the scene when a crime is committed, they can only draw chalk lines around the bodies and hope to find the culprit. When they ARE present during the commission of the crime, long-standing legal precedent holds that they have no responsibility to intervene on the victim's behalf. This principle lies at the heart of the Second Amendment, whose purpose is to guarantee forever our ability to defend ourselves against crime and tyranny.

The pragmatic issue is simply this: Disarming victims increases crime. It's logically unassailable, and all the crime statistics bear witness to it. How does the Second Amendment protect us?

There are two modes of protection offered by the Second Amendment, and only one gets much attention: the obvious benefit of being prepared to defend oneself with arms when need be. This benefit, while necessary and important, has risks attendant to it -- for one can't engage in an act of self-defense without some risk of failure.

The other mode of protection that our natural right to bear arms, unimpaired by unconstitutional restrictions on HOW one carries arms (concealed or openly), offers a general, systemic benefit that is undiluted by the risks of actual self-defense. That mode consists in the expectation of would-be criminals: "Is my intended victim armed or not?"

When a criminal has no way of knowing whether someone is unarmed, and has good reason to suspect that person could be carrying a concealed weapon, there is a much more difficult psychological barrier to overcome in order to carry out an act of violence. That barrier protects the armed and the unarmed alike. It also protects the armed from the risks of actual self-defense, simply by reducing the likelihood that a criminal will have the guts to attacked a potentially armed individual.

This second mode of protection is, in pragmatic terms, probably more valuable to society than the primary mode of self-defense. It is truly mistaken to risk losing it through unconstitutional legislation, however appealing the declared motivations for doing so might be.

Kent Van Cleave
Phoenix, AZ


Just when I get all excited about the quality of your journalism in your recent piece regarding the child abuse case in NC, you go and do what has the trappings of a "political" piece. In fairness, I must commend your efforts to give equal time to the Lorcin representative. Yet, I feel that this effort could have gone further. Two recommendations might be considered. First, since the manufacturer had clear vested interests, any rebuttal to their opponent's sweeping generalizations about the legitimate uses of their product would clearly be undermined. Several credible authorities on the subject (some of whom you cite in your "pro/con" references) should have been interviewed as well. Second, perhaps more critical attention should have been paid to the BATF's recent boasting of a decline in Federal Firearm License holders and their stated desire to continue discouraging this legal commerce. Afterall, if you open a Pandora's box like this, you should be prepared to go all the way and find out the real essence of the story. I think you missed it this time. It seems clear to me that the essence of this story was and is the mismanagement of Lorcin's operation and the BATF's seeming unwillingness to enforce their own regulations while rapidly pursuing small time, home operated, collector oriented businesses. Rather, you apparently enjoyed titillating the viewer with suggestions of mass marketing (of legitimate commercial enterprises) and unsubstantiated and unchallenged statistics on violent crime. I've seen you do better work. Please keep your standards high.

Seattle, WA


Your treatment of both sides of the issue was pretty fair, but I failed to notice any mention of how many peace officers lives have been spared, due to the malfunction of a criminal's "cheap" handgun. I have read many accounts of such occurrences.

Also, there was little (if anything), mentioned about the "crime deterrent" value of the law-abiding sector of our "armed" public. How many crimes were avoided because a criminal believed the potential victim was armed?

Michael Roser
Yucaipa, CA


The facts presented about illegal gun sales and use is no different than the debate over the sale, use, and danger of tobacco. Look how long it has taken the government and the public to come to terms with the fact that a socially accepted drug was harmful to users and innocent bystanders. Just now, the tobacco industry is being brought to accountability. Bringing the gun manu- facturers to accountability will not happen until the public becomes convinced that personal firearms do not make one's family safer. I think the self-protection argument is a myth. I don't hear of very many cases in the news where someone has defended their home successfully with a firearm. I usually hear of someone being gunned down by a criminal. Someday I hope to see our govern- ment getting serious about gun control so that the rest of us who do not own guns will feel safe.

Terry Hackney
Milton-Freewater, OR


I really think that we need to take more serious actions in ridding the guns from society. Selling them to the public is even stupid. Cause a lot of these guns end up being used against the owner or are stolen and used in crime. Gun manufacturers should be shut down. There are enough guns on this planet now. The only people who should be allowed use of them is the police and affiliates. The more guns that find their way to the street, the more crime that will be committed. It's time to end this ignorance!

Phoenix, AZ


Several years ago I had a conversation with Jim Waldorf, president of Lorcin Engineering, in which I suggested to him that his company would be subject to relentless attacks if he did not find a way to quantify the number of times each year that his products were being used to stop crimes and save lives. We discussed various different methods of obtaining such information from purchasers of Lorcin firearms, such as survey forms being placed into the boxes of each firearm sold which offered some sort of recognition or incentive for Lorcin purchasers who were willing to tell Lorcin about an incident of using a Lorcin firearm in a gun defense.

After your show tonight, partly financed by the loudly anti-gun Wellness Foundation, featuring the loudly anti-gun Garen Wintemute, and which focuses only on those of Lorcin's guns being used for criminal purposes, I'll bet that Jim Waldorf wishes he had taken my advice.

I'm sure that in the spirit of the First Amendment, which hopes for a free and fair inquiry in all matters of public policy, that I can count on Frontline seeking grants from the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA in order to produce a complementary documentary looking at the 2.45 million times each year that firearms are used defensively in the United States.

Meanwhile, I strongly suggest that anyone interested in the other side of the gun issue take a look at the World Wide Web Gun Defense Clock at , which calculates a gun defense once every thirteen seconds in the United States -- and points to the criminological literature that proves the reality of the widespread protective value of privately held firearms.

J. Neil Schulman

(both available for download from


Yes, I think the current laws make it extremely easy for criminals to get guns...any guns. I personally do not want to be penalized of my right to purchase and own a gun, but I certainly would like to see criminals find it extremely difficult to obtain them. This company Lorcin, should be very heavily penalized for the "loss" of 14000 guns, that is absolutely horrible. How can we allow this to continue?

That man you interviewed should be shot(with one of his own lost guns!!!), or at the very least put away behind bars forever...he's extremely dangerous and just using the legal system for his own benefit and "entertainment" while making lots of money. The fact is that he should be held directly responsible for his company's slackness and loss of these guns. He should be held (at least indirectly) responsible for every crime that has been committed with these lost guns. I am absolutely appalled (sp?) that he's allowed to get away with this. I am extremely tired of the criminal society (of which society I put this person into)getting away with not being held accountable for their actions, while the average American citizen has no rights, and is usually the innocent victims of the crimes committed by these people with these guns. I am also a nurse, and I am getting weary of taking care of the people who have no care for human life, shooting others as well as being shot themselves frequently, and costing us many, many dollars in health care costs because they aren't employed or even insured. Something has to change, or we are ALL going to be at the mercy of these criminals.

Charlotte NC


Never, anywhere, has any gun law reduced crime or violence. The "evidence" leans toward the opposite, showing, at the very least, that less restrictive legislation has no negative impact on crime or violence. Gun laws, like all laws, apply only to the law-abiding which, by definition, are not the problem. Gun laws typically "create" criminals from otherwise peaceful citizens by outlawing otherwise legitimate behavior, such as possession of some such "evil" item. Guns are used some 2-2.5 MILLION times per year in the US. in legitimate self defense. This dwarfs the criminal misuse of guns, but the liberal politicians and media, such as yourselves, never let the public hear about how those "evil" guns are really so properly useful and safety-providing! Such blatant lies, distortions, ignorance, idiocy, and presumption of "evil" and "uselessness" is why PBS will never get a nickel of my charity contributions. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going out to practice shooting.

Jeff A. Pittman, P.E.
Jackson, MS

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