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There will never be enough agents, nor can all the danger be eliminated by passing strict gun-control laws. Such legislation would certainly help counter the rising rate of street crime, but psychiatrists point out that a person who is crazed enough to want to kill a national political figure would somehow find a way to get his hands on a weapon. Ford's proposed gun legislation, now lying fallow in Congress, is aimed mainly at curbing the spread of "Saturday night specials"−cheap, small-caliber pistols. The .45 Colt automatic operated by Squeaky Fromme is not covered by the proposal.
Harrowing Warning. Faced with these harsh facts of political life, Jerry Ford still plans to carry on his work−and his election campaign for 1976−just as before. "You can't shut down the presidency," notes one White House aide. This week Ford will visit New Hampshire to campaign on behalf of Republican Senatorial Candidate Louis Wyman, and on Friday and Saturday he will fly off on another trip blending politics and presidential affairs, touring St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo., and then ending in Dallas. His aides expect that, as always, Ford will be making his handshaking forays into crowds of Americans. "It's a dreadful thing to contemplate," says one top White House assistant, "but every time the President steps off a plane, he risks his life. Yet he can't just put himself behind barriers. That would indicate a complete lack of confidence."
Ford will be going on the trip with more on his mind than Squeaky Fromme and the sight of her .45 coming up through the crowd. Last week, almost unnoticed in the flurry about the incident in Sacramento, federal authorities in Santa Barbara, Calif., jailed two drifters on charges of threatening to kill the President. When police arrested Gary S. DeSur, 31, and Preston M. Mayo, 24, for stealing a television set, they discovered notes outlining a plot to assassinate Ford during his visit to Sacramento. Santa Barbara Detective Robert A. Zapata reported that the notes told how the two men had planned to break into an armory in San Francisco "and get guns, a sniper scope and dynamite."
As the presidential campaign begins to quicken, and the candidates become more prominent, the threat can come from anywhere at any time. Some of the worst products of American society can suddenly lash out at some of the best. The most harrowing warning came from Squeaky Fromme herself. In the documentary Manson, she coolly pointed out: "Anybody can kill anybody."