Monday, March 11, 2013

Today's New Journal makes it clear: our laws are only for you and me ...

... and not for ex-cops, politicians, or bankers ...

So Delaware is having (sort of--most of the real talking as usual will be done behind closed doors) a debate on gun control.

Mayor Dennis Williams (a former Wilmington cop) has a concealed carry permit, and has used it even in Legislative Hall.  You see, state legislators are exempt from the rules that keep other people from carrying weapons there.

Ironically, Pete Schwarzkopf, who is shepherding through legislation in HB 35 that will dramatically curtail your rights with regard to firearms, has no trouble with Mayor Williams' concealed carry:

While saying there may be a loophole for state lawmakers because the screening policy pertains to “visitors,” Schwartzkopf said he was fine with Williams keeping the gun in his office. 
A former state trooper, Schwartzkopf said he does not carry a gun anymore and believes Capitol Police provide adequate security for lawmakers. Still, he did not want to judge Williams for carrying a firearm from Wilmington to Dover, he said. 
“That’s Dennis. He comes from inner-city Wilmington, and it’s a lot of things going on up there,” Schwartzkopf said.
So is this the self-protecting brotherhood of former cops, or is this just plain hypocrisy?  Wilmington is a rough place, and Mayor Williams has old enemies (like New Castle County Exec and former cop Tom Gordon, who also sometimes carries), so it is okay for him to carry his weapon while applauding the increased restrictions for others.

What's the distinction?  It couldn't be the "have enemies" thing.  Lots of people have enemies or others who want to do them harm:  women with abusive spouses/boyfriends who won't obey restraining orders is one category that comes to mind.  Lots of people feel unsafe in parts of Wilmington--just like Mayor Williams and NCC Exec Gordon.

But that's not what sets them apart, apparently.  It seems that they get a pass just because they are former cops.  Presumably, the argument would run, former cops have all had background checks, and training, and have displayed the judgment necessary that we should keep trusting them with any weapon they choose to carry (Mayor Williams won't specify) because they've earned it.

(Here I will resist the urge to talk about Delaware cops placed on suspension for bigamy or the multiple sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints that have dogged First State law enforcement over the past few years--or even about a number of Constitutionally questionable Wilmington Police policies or controversial deaths/injuries of suspects.  After all, police are our heroes and we shouldn't criticize them--especially when so many of them take up a second career making laws for the rest of us to follow.  See how well I resisted that urge?)

But if training and judgment are the deciding factor, what about the hundreds if not thousands of combat veterans living in Delaware (including many former Military Police)?  Shouldn't they all be exempted from statutes restricting firearms, just like former cops?  Somehow you know that's not going to happen because the question here is not about sane public policy, it's about privilege.

When you belong to a privileged class (that constitutes a significant percentage of our legislators and government officials), you can employ a standard of "Do what I say, not what I do."  You can exempt yourself from the laws that you write for others, and smugly tell people that the more difficult it is for average citizens to own guns, the safer they will be (while carefully re-adjusting your holster so the bulge doesn't show in your coat).

That's at the State level--and what's happening at the national level is just as upsetting:

Attorney General Eric Holder, made a startling admission to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He pretty much said Dodd-Frank isn’t going to work anyway. Some financial institutions are not just too big to fail, they are too big to jail in the event they break the law. 
He testified: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”
If I were to miss several mortgage payments, the bank would foreclose, and the (armed) police would come and force me out of my house because--you know--that's the law.  Not so for banks and other financial institutions:  like certain cancers they have become inoperable, according to the Obama administration.

When we have an Attorney General who admits openly to Congress that he does not intend to prosecute crime based on his assessment that doing so could hurt the economy, we no longer have a nation of laws--at least not for anybody except you and me.

It seems that what's true in Wilmington is also true in Washington.


kavips said...

Simply put. If the mayor didn't bring his firearm into Legislative Hall, Wilmington would get shorted funds in both the budget and the bond bills...

I'm sure Dennis is good at persuasion.

Anonymous said...

Here's my suggestion. Write the toughest and most restrictive gun laws in the world and enact them only in the city if Wilmington and see how much the murder rate and gun violence drops. If it drops in half, then enact it for the whole state.