Anti-gun crusade obscures real issues

April 24, 1999|By Gregory Kane

THE DEAD in Littleton, Colo., weren't even buried before the anti-gun nuts all but named the National Rifle Association as co-defendant in the Trenchcoat Mafia/neo-Nazi shooting and bombing spree that left 15 dead.

The yelping of the anti-gun nuts -- no, let's call them what they are: anti-self-defense fanatics -- was as constant as it is irritating. There are too many guns, they screech. Kids get their hands on guns all too easily, they whined, as if dying by pipe bomb is some kind of honor compared to being shot to death.

The media made sure to tell us that Coloradans will vote soon on whether to legalize carrying concealed weapons. The implication was that the Columbine High School incident should be ample reason to vote against it. Actually, 15 dead bodies is a reason Coloradans should vote for it. Had a faculty member at Columbine been carrying a concealed handgun, the carnage might have been stopped before it even started.

Gun-control nuts are fond of the argument -- weak and pathetic though it is -- that because there are all kinds of nuts out there, we should control guns. There are two weaknesses to the logic. First, guns are inanimate objects and hence are neither in control nor out of it. What needs controlling is the person using the gun, not the gun itself.

The second weakness is that because there are all kinds of nuts out there, the nuts won't harm us if they can't get guns. But a proliferation of nuts is precisely the reason law-abiding citizens need firearms. That's something the anti-gun nuts will never realize: The state can't protect us. That's the main lesson of what happened in Littleton. The state can't protect us from the muggers who prey daily on law-abiding citizens, and it can't protect us from the wackos who would walk into a school and start shooting everyone in sight.

But with a concealed-handgun law, we just might be able to protect ourselves.

Race in background

All this talk of gun control may be a red herring, however. There are other issues not being discussed in light of the Littleton murders.

Kevin Lynch is a black Montgomery County attorney who is for gun control and anti-NRA. He also feels gun control is not the only issue in the Littleton shootings. Lynch posted a 4.0 average at Princeton University and worked 40 hours a week to put himself through Georgetown Law School. He has little patience with excuse-making blacks or racist whites. The media, Lynch charged, are guilty of portraying Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold -- the two Trenchcoat Mafia members Littleton police believe shot up Columbine High School and then committed suicide -- as wayward youths in need of help.

"They tend to criminalize the behavior of black youth," Lynch said of the media. "But these guys [Harris and Klebold] are not thugs or racists but `troubled youth.' "

Lynch also wonders "what kind of parents would not notice kids stockpiling weapons" and believes the anti-black and anti-Hispanic attitudes of Trenchcoat Mafia members may have come from their elders. Lynch has visited a friend in Denver a few times and figures he has gotten a feel for the area, in terms of racial attitudes.

"That type of [racist] mentality is kind of prevalent out there," Lynch said of Denver and its suburbs. He has a hunch that some of the whites move from California to the Denver area in hopes of getting away from blacks and Hispanics and aren't too inclined to roll out the welcome mat when ethnic minorities show up.

Equal judgment

Lynch wants white suburban kids and inner-city black kids judged by the same standard. He expresses little sympathy for "troubled" white suburban kids. Or black ones, for that matter.

"They have computers, cell phones, luxury cars and no values at all," Lynch said of today's teens. "Kids are screwed up across the board."

As may be their elders, who have since Tuesday been plastered across our television screens asking in pitiful moans how mass murder could occur at a place like Columbine High School in affluent, middle-class Littleton, Colo.

What we don't say often speaks volumes. The unasked question is probably, "Why didn't this happen at Douglass or Carver high schools in West Baltimore or at Dunbar High School in East Baltimore or at some other inner-city school that serves poor minorities, who are supposed to be at high risk for this sort of thing?"

The poor souls have been trained to think of violence as an urban thing, with class and racial factors that somehow put those in suburban and rural areas at less risk.

History and current events suggest otherwise. American violence has more to do with age and gender than race and class. If you attend a school that has boys in the 14-to-18 age range, then you're at risk.

It doesn't matter if you live in the inner city or the suburbs.

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