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Hoods keep guns, others pay price


I could have sawed off my shotgun, turned it in under the mayor's buyback plan and made myself a quick hundred bucks. I could have, but I didn't. In fact, not only will I not turn in the shotgun, I'll probably buy a handgun to go along with it.

At last count the mayor's buyback plan had netted some 1,100 guns. The only ones who should feel reassured by this are Baltimore's criminals, who probably did not give up their guns.They are now secure in the knowledge that there are 1,100 fewer handguns they won't have to worry about. That there are 1,100 more homes they can burglarize in which homeowners or renters have no firearms with which to defend themselves.

The gesture by Schmoke is that of a typical liberal Democrat. Liberal Democrats possess the unique worldview that while people can't be evil, handguns surely can.

I regard my shotgun as strictly amoral. It is strictly ethically neutral. It's around because I'm one of those silly Americans who take seriously that I have to defend my home and that police, prosecutors and judges can offer me only limited protection.

If city leaders provided truth in governing, they would admit as much. Schmoke, police Commissioner Thomas Frazier and State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy should hold a news conference and admit that, through no fault of theirs, police can't catch all the criminals on Baltimore's streets and that assistant state's attorneys can't successfully prosecute the ones who are caught.

In addition to the assortment of thugs, reprobates and miscreants who haven't been snared, there are violent criminals who are being paroled all the time. So there will always be an ample supply of criminals on the streets and hence an ample supply of guns. Those of us who oppose gun control laws do so on the basis that gun control laws aren't foolproof. Nothing is foolproof, the saying goes, because fools -- especially criminals -- are ingenious. Criminals will always find a way to get guns.

That sobering reality leaves average, law-abiding citizens in a quandary: Should you protect yourself or should you let the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland do it? If you plan to live to a ripe old age, you'd better take the do-it-yourself approach.

Am I advocating citizens arming themselves with handguns and carrying them on the streets here? Do I want a right-to-carry-a-handgun law here in Maryland? It doesn't matter. The reality is there are still plenty of handguns on the streets. And criminals aren't the only ones carrying them. There must be dozens of otherwise law-abiding citizens who are.

I suspect from chatting with attorney David Solomon, who defended my son in two handgun possession cases, that the profile of such citizens would be young, black and male. Solomon claims he's handled more than one such client who's been charged with handgun possession. They're packing not for criminal mischief, Solomon contends, but to protect themselves from those who are. Some have been robbed at gunpoint at least a half-dozen times. How many times does someone stick a handgun in your face and demand money before you start carrying one?

These young men -- some more boys than men -- have given up putting responsibility for their safety with folks named Schmoke, Frazier and Jessamy. They're putting their faith instead in a couple of guys named Smith and Wesson.

So there can be only one result of Schmoke's proposal made last week to have citizens report anybody they see carrying a handgun: Young black men who are only guilty of trying to protect themselves against those hoodlums police can't catch and prosecutors can't jail will be arrested and charged with handgun possession. That will result in more guns being taken off the streets, but the truth is we won't be one wit safer. The young men arrested will, in fact, be disarmed and put in harm's way by posturing public officials who know deep in their hearts they can't really protect them.

On Thanksgiving Eve four or five years ago, I almost had to use the shotgun when a psycho known to me only as "Pee Wee" stabbed some guy on my front lawn -- in full view of my son and a friend of his who were standing on the porch. My son's friend fled. My son burst through the front door with the stabbing victim close behind. Both managed to close and lock the door before Pee Wee the Ripper barged in.

If he had, I'd have shot him. And given myself a pat on the back for ignoring the pleas of public officials to sell them my shotgun.

Pub Date: 2/08/97

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