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Atty. Ralph D. Sherman

130 West Main Street • New Britain, Connecticut 06052

tel. (860) 229-0213 • fax (860) 229-0235 • e-mail


Legal Opinion

March 1998

"Suitability" and the Violence Policy Center

Last month I said I'd talk about "suitability" as a requirement for obtaining a pistol permit. I'm going to ease into the subject with a story about a public-relations failure.

If you follow the politics of gun control, you probably have heard of the Violence Policy Center (VPC). It's one of the most rabid, radical, and irrational organizations of the anti-gun crowd; recently it tried to convince the mainstream press that NRA's Eddie Eagle, the gun-safety mascot, is really "Joe Camel with feathers." (Even the Boston Herald didn't buy it.)

In January, VPC published a "report" entitled "License to Kill." (You can find it on the Internet at The VPC claimed that its own analysis of statistics from Texas showed that more than 940 permit-holders had been arrested since 1996, when the state's new "shall-issue" law took effect.

The VPC report gives a few horrible anecdotes about some permit-holders who were arrested, but one statistic is glaringly absent from the report: What percentage of the total permit-holders is 940? Or, just how many permit-holders are there in Texas anyway?

Around January 13 the VPC issued a press release to promote the report. United Press International (UPI) covered the story—and uncovered the missing figures. According to UPI, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said that 114,809 people obtained permits during 1996. Of that number, 399 permit-holders—not 940—were arrested. That's about 0.3 percent of all permit-holders.

Those figures are consistent with a story published April 13, 1997, in the Hartford Courant. That story said that of Hartford's 1,400 permit-holders, only three were arrested in 1996 for "misusing their weapons," according to Hartford Police Sgt. Gary Dumas. (Note that the Texas figure includes all arrests, not just those involving guns or violence.)

Now you're ready for my column next month on "suitability."

By the way, if you have access to the Internet, you should take a look at the anti-gun web sites. For some links, go back to my home page.

Copyright 1998 by Ralph D. Sherman

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