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L.A. riots blow to gun control.

One of the most common assessments following the Los Angeles riots in April was that, "This has set the gun control movement back 25 years."

While that may be an exaggeration, there can be no doubt that the riots highlighted the fact that when the government is unable to respond, the individual must protect himself, his family, and his property.

California residents have taken this lesson to heart. The state's Justice Department reported that Californians purchased over 23,000 firearms in the eight days following the riots -- a jump of 26.3 percent over the same period a year earlier.

Following the riots, Gun World and The Target Range Inc. ran advertisements declaring: "The government won't protect you. The police can't protect you. It's your life. Your family. Your responsibility. Next time, be prepared!"

Lee Frankle, a range officer at the Beverly Hills Gun Club, told Associated Press that the club's 17 firing lanes have been jammed since the riot with "men, women, families, and children, as long as they're 4 1/2 feet tall."

Sgt. Dennis Zine of the LAPD said, "People are afraid and I can understand why. Many people have told me they are carrying a gun; that they are not going to be a Reginald Denny -- the truck driver who was pulled from his truck and beaten."

Some of the most memorable video taken during the riots was of store owners who drove off looters at gunpoint. "We went through hell -- no police, no National Guard. We called for help and they said we were on our own," said shop owner Richard Rhee.

The NRA indicated it was receiving 1,000 telephone calls a day following the riots -- 33 percent more than it normally gets. Jim Baker, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, defended the actions of individuals who listened to what the police were saying and concluded it was up to them to defend themselves.

"That's what we believe the Second Amendment is all about -- you have the right to defend yourself," he said.

Meanwhile, police have been attempting to recover an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 firearms stolen during the riot.

Pro-gun spokesmen say that many people who previously supported California's 15-day waiting period for firearms purchases now understand that there are times when customers don't want to wait -- when they fear for their lives.

From safe neighborhoods far away, the anti-gunners pointed fingers of shame at those law-abiding Californians who sought to protect themselves. "There was a general loss of sanity. People were scared. Inject guns into that? That's exactly the situation you don't want people to have deadly force," said Luis Tolley of Handgun Control Inc.

Perhaps the anti-gunners were especially upset because they realized that their old argument that "private citizens don't need guns for protection -- that's the job of the police" went up in the flames that consumed much of Los Angeles.
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Title Annotation:1992 Los Angeles, California riots
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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