Outrage: Why America’s Gun Laws Need to Change
By Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman
By all accounts, Robert Byland, a resident of New York’s Canarsie neighborhood, was a good man. A youth basketball coach, father and husband, Byland was caught in a hail of gunfire just blocks from his house, looking to get his 8-year-old daughter and her 13-year-old cousin off the street after he heard shots.
He died on Father’s Day, doing what a father is supposed to do: Watch out for his kids. His widow is nine months pregnant with twins that will never know their dad.
Mr. Byland was killed in the same city that recently tried to jail two other men who used unlicensed guns to defend their homes. Airman First Class Manuel Falquez, 22, killed a burglar in his mother’s Queen’s-area home. The man he shot was armed with a knife and a .38-caliber revolver. Navy veteran Ronald Dixon, 27, also a Canarsie resident, shot a career burglar he discovered in his baby’s bedroom.
In both cases, the men defending their homes were persecuted (that’s not a spelling error) by zealous New York prosecutors. Public backlash, and support for the men, caused some hasty back-pedaling. Charges against both men were dramatically reduced. Neither man’s criminal record is permanently tarnished. They should not have been charged at all. New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, but they do not prevent criminals from getting firearms. They only restrict honest citizens. Yet, gun control extremists want to enact such laws across the country.
Robert Byland was a victim of the same gun laws – and the same crackpot justice system – that victimized Dixon and Falquez while doing nothing about real criminals; a system that recently allowed Federal Judge Jack Weinstein to throw out the 1994 murder conviction of one Rodney Cox, who gunned down Eric Copeland in 1993. Weinstein, in a tortured stretch of logic, noted that Cox had admitted shooting Copeland in the head, but “he did not concede that in doing so he intended to kill him rather than injure him.”
Weinstein also presided over the case of Hamilton v. Accu-Tek in which he reportedly pushed the jury to hold gun makers responsible for negligence because of criminal misuse of their products. A federal appeals court rejected that decision.
Alas, Weinstein now presides over the NAACP lawsuit against the gun industry. In an unbelievable exercise of judicial activism, Weinstein placed the jury in an advisory role, vowing to issue his own verdict, even after the jury cleared 45 of the gun industry defendants and deadlocked on 23 others. Weinstein once again appears to be setting himself up for reversal by a higher court, but it’s presumably alright because at some point, a “statement” will be made about guns.
It is not surprising in a society with judges like Weinstein – who coddle killers while demonizing gunmakers for crimes over which they had no control – and prosecutors who go after people like Dixon and Falquez, that a good and decent man like Robert Byland could be shot dead on Father’s Day, in broad daylight on a corner near his home.
All of this has to do with firearms and the irrational effort to prevent honest citizens from owning, carrying and – if the need arises – using them, not only for self-defense but, in the broader sense, the common good. When a criminal loses, the rest of us win. It is an outrage that career criminals often get a free ride through turnstile courts while bungling prosecutors and judges hound decent citizens whose only crime is that they did not obtain the government’s permission to exercise a Constitutional right.
That’s why this nation’s gun laws need to change. In many states, that is happening, to the predictable wails of gun-control fanatics. Common sense has prevailed as lawmakers in New Mexico, Minnesota, Colorado, North Carolina, Alaska, Arizona and Virginia have either passed concealed carry statutes, or reformed gun laws already on the books.
The next reasonable step is to pass legislation in all states that protects, rather than persecutes, citizens who are forced to defend their homes and families. Gun laws that only regulate honest citizens with registration and licensing requirements, like the ones in New York, must be scrapped. Criminals do not obey them.
People want their lives back; they want their streets and neighborhoods safe again. If this causes distress among the liberal elite well, that’s just too damn bad.
When criminals realize that people can and will fight back, our neighborhoods will be safer places for people like Robert Byland, and good citizens like Ronald Dixon and Manuel Falquez will no longer be punished for their courage
Alan Gottlieb is chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Dave Workman is senior editor of Gun Week, a publication owned by the Second Amendment Foundation.