THE QUESTION put to Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran was as close-ended as any query could be: Do residents of crime-ridden inner city communities have "legitimate security needs" that justify their owning handguns?"
The question was inspired by Curran himself, who issued a 58-page anti-gun propaganda report last week in which he advocated a ban on handgun ownership. Curran -- it must have been the liberal Democrat in him -- was magnanimous enough to allow that only a privileged few should be allowed to have handguns: law enforcement personnel, gun collectors and those with "legitimate security needs."
So how did Curran answer when the question "do inner city folks who live in high crime areas have a legitimate security need to own handguns" was put to him? It required a simple yes or no, but the attorney general has been a politician far too long to respond to inquiries directly.
"The exceptions must have a demonstrated need [for a handgun], approved by the police," Curran said. "But I hope there wouldn't be too many exceptions."
That must come as quite a revelation to us Second Amendment gun nuts who figure the government already gave such approval when those politically incorrect white guys wrote in the Constitution that "a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
We can hear Curran and the rest of the liberal gun-banning horde now, screeching that the Second Amendment pertains only to a "well regulated" militia and in no way legalizes handgun ownership. They had best scroll down the Bill of Rights until they reach the two most ignored items therein: Amendments Nine and Ten.
The Founding Gun Nuts must have figured that somewhere down the line a Joe Curran would be turned loose on the populace. That's why they wrote the Ninth Amendment to say that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In other words, nothing in the Second Amendment should be interpreted to mean that private citizens can't own handguns.
The Tenth Amendment says "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." It might be this amendment that has inspired more than 30 states to pass laws permitting citizens to carry concealed handguns. Curran and the gun-banners would have you believe this state of affairs would lead to blood flowing in the streets of these states. Curran said as much on the WEAA radio talk show in which he flubbed so badly the yes or no question put to him.
"The more guns you have, the more violence you have," Curran intoned. "Violence begets guns, and guns beget violence."
You would expect such nonsense from a man who can't admit that citizens in Baltimore's high crime areas have legitimate security needs. But before Curran embarks on his banning binge, he might want to talk to some of these folks first.
The attorney general's first stop might be in the West Baltimore community of Rosemont, along Poplar Grove Street between Edmondson and North avenues. A man named James Mears has lived there 47 years. He has seen Rosemont deteriorate from a safe community to one where drug dealers arrogantly sell their wares on the front steps or porches of law-abiding citizens, especially the elderly.
"They're intimidating the good, old people who can't protect themselves," said the 64-year-old Mears, who added that he has received death threats because of his anti-drug crusade.
Mears said that when the rabble isn't dealing drugs in front of homes, they're drinking, shooting craps and blocking people from getting in and out of legitimate businesses. Senior citizens who call the police might find the tires on their cars slashed or see a brick come sailing through their windows.
"Sure there are some people here who have a legitimate security need," Mears said when asked the amazingly simple question Curran couldn't answer. "If a person has a gun, he should be allowed to protect himself. Probably plenty of people here feel they need a gun inside the house."
Mears dismissed Curran's gun ban proposal as another unworkable political proposal.
"Whatever you do to take the guns out of the legal people's hands," Mears said, "it's not going to take the guns out of the hands of the people killing each other."