Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Guess whose not doing the shooting

Boston and Beyond

Guess who’s not shooting up the South End?
(This article appears in the August 16th edition of the South End News, on news stands in Boston Massachusetts. The web link is

by Kevin John Sowyrda

contributing writer

Thank God that gun permits have plummeted by25 percent in the Bay State and 30 percent in Boston, as recently reported by the Boston Globe. Quincy Police Chief Robert F. Crowley thinks we should be celebrating: "Fewer firearms on the street makes life safer for everyone. The average citizen who has a gun 24-7 I don't believe has the experience, knowledge, and training to know when and if they should use a firearm."

Really? We’re all safer since fewer law abiding citizens — who’ve been fingerprinted and background-investigated — have firearms in their homes, holsters or pocket books? After all, these are clearly the criminal minds of intent, the scum of society who’ve got one hand on the steering wheel of their Ford F 150's and the other out the window shooting up Blue Hill Avenue.

Yup, we're all better off.

Who’s kidding who? Angel Ortiz was just 23-years-old when he was gunned down on East Brookline Street June 10 by someone with no sense of shame or value for life. Think the shooter was a licensed gun owner? Doubt it.

With a tablespoon or so of our sarcasm tucked away, we called the brain trust at the Schroeder Plaza Police Headquarters for comment. We got Officer Dotten on the phone, God help us. We asked Ms. Dotten for her first name for purposes of this column, and she said, "It's Officer." I guess that means her title is Officer Officer Dotten.

Anyway, our “Q&A” with Officer Officer Dotten went as follows:

Q: Is there any correlation between crime in the city and licensed firearms owners?

A: [Long pause.] I'd have to research that.

Q: Have there been any gun shootings linked to licensed gun owners?

A: [Another long pause — longer than the first.] I'm not aware of any … ah … but there may be information on that. That would have to be researched.

Q: Can you tell me how many people in Boston have firearm permits?

A: You'll have to submit a Freedom of Information Act Request for that.

By the way, that's public agency speak for, "Go take a hike!" I knew the answer anyway. It’s a little over 4300 according to the police source I frequently use when the Boston Police media office is acting like, um, the Boston Police media office.

And with that, our very special quality time with Officer Officer Dotten had come to an end. Now I know how the White House Press corp feels.

Anyway, since there are no tomorrows in my life but only today's deadline, I'll just proceed with the obvious theme of this column, that being that as long as the perpetually misguided continue to celebrate meaningless statistical facts like a drop in the numbers of licensed gun owners in our midst and attribute them to reductions in crime, real criminals will continue to enjoy a great belly laugh at our lack of a working, public policy compass.

Only God knows why the political leaders of our day work so hard, each and every day, to not find the solution to rampant crime. At least Mayor Menino got it right. "We're pleased that the number of gun owners has decreased in our city, but the real issue is illegal guns, and we need more laws to deal with illegal guns in our cities,” the Mayor told the Globe.

Good. Now let’s get the focus back on what really reduces the rates of crime in the city. Which is, well, I’m not sure. And that, I think, is the point. We don’t know. No one knows.

What we do know, however, is that the idea that a reduction in gun permits by law abiding citizens reduces crimes rates is absurd.

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