Columnist aims at guns, misses the target

Columnist aims at guns, misses the target
(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

Don’t you love it when a gun control advocate pens a screed that they just know is going to put gun owners and Second Amendment activists in their place, only to have it blow up in their face?

The latest example of this comes from the pages of the Baltimore Sun, where writer Dean Minnick declares that “guns are the core of what ails us as a nation,” only to end up documenting the failures of the criminal justice system instead of any supposed flaws in our right to keep and bear arms.

Most of Minnick’s column is the written equivalent of a wilted piece of celery used as a garnish for an unappetizing dish. There’s not a lot to actually chew on, but here’s what amounts to the meat of his argument.

It’s too easy to get the weapons and use them, and too hard for good people to actually do the work that really defines the freedom we like to believe is our American birthright.
Just witnessing a crime can make you the victim of another in some neighborhoods; just being from other neighborhoods makes other people think they’re immune from the consequences of their misjudgments.
Years ago, I was sitting on a bench in a suburban mall when I noticed a young woman whose purposeful course toward my location told me she was trying to elude someone. I looked beyond her and saw a man and a woman who were obviously in a hurry, looking for someone.
As the fleeing woman turned a corner and headed for the exit, she took something from her bag and tossed it against a wall. She went out the doors to my right just as the pursuers turned the corner and saw her.
Moment later, they had her in tow and were walking back to whatever store they had left. As they passed the discarded article, I spoke: “She ditched that item there, if you’re looking for that.”

Minnick never says what exactly the woman dropped from her bag, but I guess we’re supposed to get the impression that it was a gun. Regardless, Minnick ended up giving his name and information to police, only to become alarmed when two of the woman’s associates eyeballed him afterwards.

Month or so went by. I was subpoenaed to appear in a Baltimore County court at 8:30 a.m. and was there on time. The defendant arrived late, noticed me, conferred with her attorney, and her hearing time was postponed several times before they took one last look at me, sitting there, and huddled with the prosecutor to make a plea deal.
When I got home early that afternoon, I said to my wife, “I spent more time in the system than the perpetrator.”
But because I live on a different street, a different planet, I was not paid a visit by her two friends from the mall.
The mall no longer exists; the problems do. We have more guns now.
Here’s my question for Dean Minnick: let’s say you didn’t live in a nice suburban neighborhood, and that this didn’t happen in a now-shuttered suburban mall. Let’s say this went down in East Baltimore. Would you have cooperated with the police at all in those circumstances, or would you have been too afraid that the woman’s associates may have retaliated against you?
Here’s another question: if you did decide to cooperate with police in those circumstances, wouldn’t you have felt even a smidgen safer if you could carry a firearm in self-defense? No, it wouldn’t guarantee your personal safety, but it would at least give you a fighting chance if you were the target of witness intimidation… or worse, witness disappearance.
One final thought for Minnick: Maryland already has plenty of gun control laws on the books, including a ban on modern sporting rifles, universal background checks, and “may issue” carry laws that prevent the average citizen from bearing arms in self-defense outside of their home. If none of those gun control laws have been effective at curbing violence in Baltimore, what gun control law does he think will do the trick, especially if, as he himself believes, eyewitnesses to crimes like himself are spending more time in the system than perpetrators?
Minnick inadvertently hit on the real issue, even though he blew right past it in order to bemoan the fact that we have more guns now. More guns doesn’t equal more crime, as was evident for nearly 30 years when crime rates were dropping and millions of firearms were being purchased every year. The real problem is that our criminal justice system is largely broken, and adding another gun control law to the books only makes it worse. We need to be focusing on the most violent and prolific offenders in our society, not law-abiding gun owners, but Minnick and other gun control fans are so myopically absorbed by the idea of somehow getting rid of all the firearms in the United States that they’re oblivious to what is obvious to the rest of us.