Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Destroying "Crime" Guns

I don't do a lot of links to news stories, but every now and then I read a story that provokes outrage, disgust, or anger. I read one this morning that evoked all three emotions at once. New York Times writers have little use for guns and thus write biased stories. I expect that from them, but here's a story (registration probably required) that goes beyond their usual boundaries of hoplophobia.

Maine recently passed a law that police departments must destroy handguns used in crime. The article's writer, Pam Belluck, certainly doesn't question why a state would do this. She does include a quote from a police chief in another state whose department sells guns to buy more equipment. Departments in Maine used to do that, but now must destroy "crime" handguns.

Belluck's hook is the fact that many police departments in Maine allow survivors of a crime victim to witness the gun's destruction (such arrangements are not part of the law). Kelly DeCambra's son was killed and she wanted to witness the gun's destruction, in this case a Ruger Super Blackhawk revolver in .44 Magnum. She was looking for closure or whatever. The gun was sawn into four parts as she watched.

Have we as a society sunk so low that we must use objects as totems? What possible healing can there be found in watching the destruction of an object? What's next, are we going to have a town square destruction of a car once driven by a drunk driver who killed a family of five? Are we going to publicly burn a baseball bat used in a murder? No, the law is limited to handguns because of certain segments of our society hates guns. They confuse the object with the actor.

Maine's law came about because a crime victim's outraged mother, Debbie O'Brien, didn't want the police to sell a gun that a criminal used to kill her son. She and those who she convinced don't understand that it's not the gun's fault. The gun can't receive blame because it's nothing but a collection of metal and a little wood or polymer.

DeCambra's son was not a Boy Scout and she admits it. He was killed for seeing another man's ex-girlfriend and then that man killed himself. She hopes to come to terms with her grief. She won't do it through destroying objects. Further, if police departments must destroy "crime" handguns then by the same logic let's have them destroy "crime" baseball bats, knives, hammers, and anything else used in a crime.

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