- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2019



It’s hard to imagine guns off the bloodied streets of the District or any other crime-overwhelmed town or city of the United States.

Perhaps that’s because the one-word mantra remains the same, whether the bloodletting follows a mass shooting, a violent attack or the gun-related death or maiming of a young person.

The word? Handguns.

Well, moms, dads and sweeties everywhere, there are signs that a new D.C. sheriff is in town, and her name is Muriel Bowser, but the name on her badge is “Sheriff Snitch.”

That’s right, snitching of gun owners will become as vogue-ish as hashtags if Mayor Bowser turns her passion to rid the city of illegal guns into a reasonable policy.

Here’s what’s up: An 11-year-old was fatally shot Thursday during a dispute among several young people and adults. The suspected gunman said he fired his illegal gun because he thought someone was going to shoot him. Now 29-year-old Tony Antoine McClam is charged with murder and rightly is in jail, and, unfortunately, Karon Brown’s family is planning a funeral for the 11-year-old boy.

The mayor and police department offered a $50,000 reward, word spread and someone snitched on Mr. McClam. After police nabbed him, he said he shot in self-defense and had a gun because someone had recently shot his brothers.

Snitching is not a common occurrence in urban areas or where violent gangs and crews live among peaceful neighbors.

Indeed, seizing on the death of young Karon and capitalizing on the fact that 10-year-old Makiya Wilson was struck by gunfire a year earlier were a stroke of political creativity. Still, it mustn’t become commonplace.

Using rewards can too easily become commonplace entitlements — indeed indistinguishable from an entitlement or right. Also, what factors decide the life of the victim. Age?

Is greater weight given to gun deaths vs. stabbing deaths? Strangulations? Fires or deliberate drownings? Starvation?

How about shooting opioids into someone’s veins?

In other words, who and what butters the bread of potential reward recipients.

For sure, city officials’ quick thinking channeled their outrage over Karon’s killing efficiently and effectively. It’s just that much of the political rhetoric of the other shootings, gun deaths and gunplay remain unchanged.

“My heart goes out to the seven families who are grieving the sudden and tragic murder of a loved one,” one D.C. lawmaker said. “There are thousands of families living in neighborhoods where shootings are all too common.”

Another lawmaker also offered condolences, and he said that following other recent shootings, including one at the shooting the Brentwood Recreation Center in Northeast, where several victims were wounded: “I am pleading with residents to stand up, speak out, and make the people who commit gun violence in our city agonize over the collective voice of our outrage.”

Outrage can be a springboard for good. However, lawmakers and policymakers must also remember that retaliation’s favorite disguise is masked in outrage.

Revisiting a 2010 D.C. case paints a clear picture. A young black man was gunned down by rivals. The day he was buried, friends and family attended a wake-like gathering. Gunmen, outraged by the man’s death, sprayed bullets at the gathering. Retaliatory bloodshed without a doubt.

Offering rewards for killers is a complex gambit. The same goes for the other aspects of the mayor’s anti-gun plan, including asking parents, sweeties and ex-sweeties to turn in gun-holding relatives.

⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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