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The Silliness of a Gun Offender’s Registry

Baltimore Sun columnist Gregory Kane is becoming a favorite of mine (see here and here). His ability to cut through the vaporous bravo sierra emanating from the administration of Mayor Sheila Dixon is simply uncanny and he applies logic to many areas with all the subtlety of a two-by-four to the forehead.

Today he takes a shot at the silly “gun offenders registry” proposed by Mayor Dixon.

Kane’s cousin was murdered. He was murdered in his own home by a man who had been convicted of a firearms offense, released on probation, sent back to prison as a parole violator, and released early from the parole violation sentence. As he says:

Gulliver was my first cousin. Murder in Baltimore is now very personal for me. And personally, I don’t see how a gun offender registry in Baltimore helps me.

The Dixon administration is placing form over substance with this silly registry. They are trying to play off the moderate success of sex offenders registries in order to give the illusion that they are taking action. But there are critical differences.

First and foremost, there is a public opprobrium associated with being a sex offender. That stigma, admittedly, is not strong in many areas of society, generally vanishing, and completely gone from some segments. But the stigma still attaches. The sex offender’s registry is a Scarlet Letter to be sure. But what goes with that registry is a regime of restrictions upon the lives of sex offenders. They can’t hold certain jobs, they can’t live within a defined proximity of a school or playground, etc. As a parent you have a tool to possibly help keep your child a bit safer.

Does the gun offender’s registry accomplish this?

Hardly.

Not only does this registry not restrict the activities of those on it, it actually serves as a way of establishing one’s bonafides in some quarters. The gun offender’s registry is nothing more than a help wanted service for criminals. Need a stick up man? Need someone who isn’t afraid to use a gun in the commission of a felony? Then look no further than the gun offender’s registry.

Maybe it does have a use, though, as a way of dealing with the city’s perennial budget problems. I suggest that the city allow non-offenders, for a price, to buy their way onto this list. Instead of a pencil-necked, twenty-something liberal, who would be dead meat if their home was burglarized you would be allowed to add your name, address, and the details of your offense to the database. You could be a fearsome gang enforcer with a dozen bodies to your credit. You could be a crazed shooter who randomly maimed a handful of perceived enemies. At least your home would be safer and that would do more for the problem of gun violence in Baltimore than this registry is going to do.






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