I confess, my blood started boiling when I saw the headline “Scott County Attorney: Community Must Reject Gun Culture” in the Quad-City Times, but it turns out folks should be ticked off at the paper, not local prosecutor Mike Walton. As it turns out, Walton expressly talked about the good people of Davenport, Iowa rejecting a culture of criminality involving firearms, not a culture of legal gun ownership at all.
Walton echoed Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski, who has repeatedly said greater community involvement and communication is only way to reduce gun crimes Davenport.
“The only way this can be addressed is for the community to be vocal about rejecting the illegal gun culture, rejecting those who use guns, and encouraging cooperation where guns have been used in crime,” Walton said.
I’ve got news for the journalists at the Quad-City Times; there’s a world of difference between an illegal gun culture and the culture of responsible gun ownership, though they might not care to highlight the ways in which the two cultures differ. The paper’s insinuation that it’s a culture of law-abiding gun owners driving crime in Davenport isn’t just off base, it’s shoddy journalism indicative of an anti-gun bias in the newsroom. As it turns out, prosecutor Mike Walton isn’t blaming legal gun owners at all. He’s blaming young criminals, and a court system that’s letting too many offenders off with little to no punishment.
Walton acknowledged his office sees many young defendants in cases involving guns.
” … Many (are) even under the age of 18. The current trend is not to incarcerate more young men, but fewer,” Walton explained. “Therefore we see many of these offenders get probation and are back out on the street. Unfortunately, many are involved in weapons crimes again.”
Walton also says it’s tough to get people to come forward as witnesses and testify against the individuals committing violent crimes.
In neighborhoods where shots have been fired, many residents said they feel “intimidated” and are afraid to talk with anyone other than family and friends.
“One common problem is gun crimes often involve young men. The victims are also often young men,” Walton said. “It is not unusual for a defendant in one shooting case to be a victim in another shooting case.
“We experience a serious lack of cooperation in many of these cases, which results in a lack of evidence to go forward.”
The lack of cooperation is two-fold, and it leads to a vicious cycle. There are the young men who are both victims and perpetrators of violent crimes who won’t say anything to police, but then there are the witnesses who are afraid to cooperate because they see the lack of punishment for many of these young offenders even when they do speak out. Who wants to risk their own personal safety testifying against a gang member, if the gang member is going to be back on the streets in a matter of weeks? That’s the culture that Walton is talking about changing, not the legal gun owners in Davenport, Iowa.
I do want to point out that Tom Loewy, the reporter for the Quad-City Times, wrote a decent story. The headline writer and the editor who let the story go to press with such a deceptive headline should be ashamed, however. Not only did they completely misrepresent the views of the local prosecutor, they failed to acknowledge the real source of violence in a pathetic attempt to blame those legally exercising their Second Amendment rights for the gang and drug related crime in the city.