- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Maryland's Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, has been hinting that restrictions on firearms ownership might have prevented the recent string of shootings that have terrorized the region and left at least six people dead. Although careful not to appear to be making political hay of the carnage, Mrs. Townsend nonetheless quipped not-so-elliptically the other day that there must be a new debate "about how best to protect our citizens," and that existing gun control laws "save lives."
Given Mrs. Townsend's well-established record of support for disarming and heavily restricting the right of law-abiding citizens to possess firearms, it is not at all difficult to parse the true meaning of her comments. She has, for example, acidly criticized her Republican opponent in the race, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich, for his recent suggestions that gun control laws be evaluated on their merits and if they aren't doing anything to curb the criminal misuse of firearms, but rather subjecting peaceable citizens to endless ukase, revoke them. She also has portrayed Mr. Ehrlich as an "extremist" for endorsing the constitutionally-correct position that Americans have a right to self-defense that includes the right to possess firearms until and unless they forfeit that right, that is. Mrs. Townsend would deny the rights of millions of Americans because of the criminal actions of a small minority. Mr. Ehrlich takes the opposite position: Punish severely those (and only those) who commit crimes using firearms, but do not use the criminal actions of some to deny others, who have done nothing wrong, their constitutional right. For this position, he is considered "extreme" by Camp Townsend.
Mrs. Townsend's sly exploitation of the recent shootings only reflects poorly on her judgement and taste. The notion that disarming ordinary citizens who pose no threat to anyone will somehow deter a psychotic who is gunning down total strangers, apparently for no reason at all, is as ridiculous as the idea that "controlling" hunting knives would have saved Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman or that a ban on box-cutters would have stopped the September 11th hijackers.
The person responsible for the recent spate of killings probably did not buy his weapon over-the-counter. It's doubtful he patiently filled out the reams of paperwork required of law-abiding gun purchasers. No background check would have impeded his dastardly agenda. Such a person will always obtain the tools of his trade, regardless of what the law says. That's why they are called "criminals," after all.
It's a distinction Mrs. Townsend seems utterly unable to grasp.


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