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American Journalism Review
Journalists and Guns  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   June/July 2004

Journalists and Guns   

As a reporter during the Boer War, Winston Churchill carried and used a gun. In both world wars, correspondents wore officers' uniforms and were armed. By the end of World War II, the American correspondents who appeared in Tokyo were similarly attired and accoutred.

I agree with those who say that the media should not be armed (Drop Cap, April/May). If one is armed, there's always the chance that one may kill or wound someone. Whether to have bodyguards is not such an easy question.

I went into Ian Smith's Southern Rhodesia in the mid-'60s with Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU guerrillas, to write an article for Foreign Affairs. The ZAPU unit commander asked me to carry a gun. I refused, so he gave me a young guerrilla with an AK-47 as a bodyguard.

In 1968, General Bonesteel authorized me to visit the misnamed "demilitarized zone" between South and North Korea but insisted that I carry a loaded weapon. When I protested, he said the young officer driving me couldn't be expected to protect both of us if we came under attack; so I agreed to carry a pistol.

When we reached the U.S. checkpoint at the entry to the zone, I copied that officer-driver in pulling out the chamber to show that my gun, like his, was fully loaded. As we drove on, I placed my gun beside him and said: "Have mine as well."

Russell Warren Howe
Washington, D.C.

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