I blogged earlier about the prosecution of Shaneen Allen, a working mom of two who legally owned a gun and voluntarily declare its presence when she was pulled over in New Jersey, where having a loaded gun in a car is a crime. Despite the availability of a diversionary program, the prosecutor has elected to charge her with a felony and the trial is going forward.
What struck me about Balko’s latest write-up was this:
“Fortunately, the notoriety of this case will make it less likely Pennsylvanians will carry concealed and loaded handguns in New Jersey, thereby making them and the Garden State safer from gun violence,” said Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God’s Call, a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence.
The people responsible for the gun violence in New Jersey are not residents of bordering states who have gone through the trouble of obtaining a legal permit in their home states. The people responsible for gun violence in New Jersey don’t volunteer to police that they’re carrying a weapon. And the people responsible for the gun violence in New Jersey are not going to be deterred by a story about a single mom sent off to prison for an honest mistake. Sending Shaneen Allen to prison will ruin Shaneen Allen’s life. It will also ruin the lives of her children. And that is all it will do.
But I would add something. That quote gives you a peek into the mind of the gun-control advocates. The certainly must know that getting rid of guns would make some people more vulnerable to violence. They certainly must know that harmless people like Shaneen Allen get swept up in these things. But when you have persuaded yourself that guns are evil talismans that make people do bad things, anything becomes justified. Allen is just collateral damage in the long twilight struggle to pull guns out of the hands of our citizens. Subtleties of the debate don’t matter — as shown in Everytown’s manipulative commercials and garbage stats. What matters is getting rid of those damned guns.
We see this attitude in other contexts, of course. A girl texts a picture of her boobs to her boyfriend and she’s prosecuted for kiddie porn to “set an example”. A crippled man has a few too many pain pills, so we prosecuted him to “set an example”. A hacker commits a fairly minor violation and we hound him into suicide to “set an example”.
But people aren’t examples to be used by ambitious prosecutors and political hacks, least of all to people who have a pathological fear of an armed citizenry. They are individuals, with lives of their own and families who need them.