During the administration of Gov. Ed Herschler, the entrance of an armed man to the Capitol Building alarmed state employees.

Christopher (Kip) Crofts, then director of the state Division of Criminal Investigation, visited Herschler, a three-term Democrat, and asked him if he wanted a detail of armed agents assigned to protect him, like officials in Washington. D.C. and big city mayors have.

Herschler, A World War II Marine who won a Silver Star in the Pacific theater, opened his desk drawer and pulled out an old GI .45 auto pistol.

“‘I appreciate your concern, but I can take care of myself and I prefer it that way,” the governor said.

Herschler’s attitude is one that Crofts wishes more people would adopt as a one way to combat mass shootings

He makes his case in his book, “A Few Common Sense Gun Laws —Is There Such a Thing? Can They Work?”

A Wyoming native, lawyer, judge, police officer, former army officer in Vietnam and Dept. of Justice adviser in Iraq, Crofts, who served as U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, has the background to deal with these issues.

He know first-hand the ineffectiveness of some federal laws and the bewildering vacillations of the courts on Second Amendment cases.

The cases include a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said the Second Amendment to the Constitution gave ordinary citizens the right to own guns for self-protection, a right “to keep and bear arms.”

This was counter to an earlier 1939 ruling from the same court saying there was no individual right apart from military duty to bear arms.

Well-written with plenty of personal stories that give it texture, the book is timely as the debate heats up more and more over gun control laws.

Crofts identified himself as a Democrat but is sharply opposed to the national party’s position on gun control and tougher gun laws.

“I think people should think more about taking care of themselves and relying less on government,” he writes.

In the event of an active shooter on the loose, the police cannot respond within seconds and meanwhile, the deranged killer is gunning down people young and old.

As an example of ineffectiveness, he cites the rules of the Transportation Security Administration affecting airline passengers — shoes off, pat downs, limited liquids etc.

“We accept huge intrusions on our privacy and gained little,” he writes.

The government should concentrate on prosecuting the “violent” use of firearms.

Some other excerpts from the book:

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—“People are badly mistaken in their belief that banning guns will prevent violent crime.”

—“Those laws have little or no affect on criminals, but do affect law abiding citizens.”

—Instead, the laws should be targeted against people who use guns to commit violent crimes — common sense laws.

—The laws need to be changed because total gun control will never happen in the U.S.

—“We cannot have a gun-free America anymore than an alcohol-free America”

—Gun free zones have never to prevented anything, nor will universal background checks.

As for what should work, he recommends arming teachers who are volunteers and are well-trained to handle school problems.

He cited the success of Multi-Disciplinary Child Protection Teams that work on issues with children at risk for physical or sexual abuse.

That model could be adopted for schools to find the kids who are likely to cause harm.

The concept of “red flag laws” could work, he said in an e-mail last week, but not as presently written “where all they do is send a SWAT team to ransack a person’s home looking for guns on the say so of a mad ex-girlfriend. That solves nothing and probably causes harm.

“In the worst case, it can trigger a confrontation. In the best case the gun owner is left seething because officers confiscated his weapon, which could prompt him to go out and get another one.

“The law might work if it were rewritten to focus not on the gun but on the person holding the gun through counseling, commitment to mental health if needed or using an intermediate negotiator.

“We need to abandon the idea that we can manage violent crime by controlling guns. That has not worked and cannot work. Instead we need to concentrate on the human actor. We need to find better ways to identify and intervene with people who intend harm — especially the mass shooters,” Crofts wrote in the e-mail.

Crofts knows his weapons and the last part of the book deals with various kinds, including automatic weapons.

In the current hysteria over guns, this is a “must-read” book for everyone, including advocates for stiffer gun control and those against any gun control.

For me, a non gun-owner, it is an education on what doesn’t work and why.

Copies of the book are available at Amazon.com.

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Joan Barron is a former longtime capitol bureau reporter. Contact her at 307-632-2534 or jmbarron@bresnan.net.


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