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October 3, 2012

Lock 'N Load, Up in Arms

Norman M. Covert

All of a sudden it would seem we are living in Cochise County, Arizona, hard by the US/Mexico border, not bucolic Frederick at the Mason/Dixon Line.


We have guns “ablazing” at the “O.K. Corridor” on Bentz and South streets, a stone’s throw from the serenity and ambiance of Carroll Creek Promenade and Frederick City Police headquarters. It is time to fight back!


This is fast and furious, not to be confused with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms improbable program, which armed Mexican gangs and may be involved again in the death Tuesday of another U.S. Border Patrol agent.


The latest shooting victim here has been identified as Lamont George-Lee Ellis, of Urbana, a 36-year-old man whom Frederick News-Post reporters Brian Englar and Bethany Rodgers quoted one friend saying, “He’s not someone who would ever be shot…there’s no reason!”


Another described Mr. Ellis as a “cool cat.”


I didn’t know the unfortunate Mr. Ellis, nor can we reconstruct with certainty the events surrounding his untimely and cruel death, which police say was caused by multiple gun shots to the upper torso, probably early Sunday.


Within hours of a bereavement demonstration for Mr. Ellis Monday on DeGrange and South Streets – not far from where his body was found – more shots were fired by an unknown interloper, terrifying mourners. A man is being treated at Shock Trauma in Baltimore for multiple stab wounds, apparently related to overall events.


It is a no-brainer that the gun used to shoot Mr. Ellis was probably not on any recorded sale books of handgun retailers. Too, it is unlikely the shooter underwent the 10-day waiting period and necessary FBI background check so the Maryland State Police could declare he/she is “Not Disapproved” for gun ownership.


The assailant probably acquired the handgun on the street with little difficulty, its serial number filed off.


Concealed Carry is another issue. Having such a license and a handgun may or may not have saved Mr. Ellis’ life. It appears he was confronted while headed home after the South Market Street area pubs closed. It isn’t known if robbery was the motive or something more sinister was at play in the neighborhood, where gangs and drug dealers run rampant.


Odds are Mr. Ellis would have been denied a concealed carry permit under current “may issue” rules. He might legally have carried a mace/pepper spray device, but bullets from a pistol or semi-auto handgun laugh at the spray, which the law says may only be carried with “defensive intent.”


We await a decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on future availability of concealed carry by citizens of Maryland. The court will hear arguments October 23 on U.S. District Court Judge Benson E. Legg’s ruling that Maryland’s “may issue” policy for concealed carry infringes on the citizens’ 2nd Amendment rights. The order has been stayed once again pending the state’s appeal.


No time period has been set for the court’s ruling nor would affirmation of Judge Benson’s decision make it possible for more citizens to legally carry handguns for self-defense. Opponents could milk this to the U. S. Supreme Court, making concealed carry permits for Maryland citizens out of reach for perhaps another year.


The litany of gun fights includes the arrest last week of Derrick Welmon Nash, 23, of Clarksburg, charged with reckless endangerment, discharging a firearm within city limits (Bentz Street), carrying a handgun and transporting a handgun in a vehicle.


We are seeing, it would appear, the legacy of gun control advocates, who are strangely quiet since they cannot blame legal handguns in the hands of “out of control National Rifle Association members” for the shootings.


What a week this has been! Consider police investigators are working overtime to identify criminals and get guns off the streets. They also contended Monday with a destructive burglary and robbery of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.


The church has been victimized three times this summer and no arrests have been made! This time, burglars brought along their tool kit, gained entry through irreplaceable stained glass windows; the pre-school was trashed and tuition and fund raising cash taken from a cash drawer ripped from the cabinet. They took office and classroom doors off their hinges. It could have been worse.


The church is located on West Seventh Street along that new crime corridor from Rosemont Avenue to Heather Ridge and Thomas Johnson Drive, where last year the church and a neighbor were victimized by an arsonist.


Many residents of that Villa Estates neighborhood admit they have taken up arms in an effort to exercise their “Castle Doctrine” rights. They have the “right to carry” only within their own property, but better not shoot without unimpeachable “cause.”


It must be an all-out effort in the South Frederick neighborhoods, which we have resisted reformation. Unemployment is rampant, perhaps due to inadequate education, more likely due to an unwillingness to seek work. In any case, we see generations of welfare families in our troubled neighborhoods.


Crime was reduced dramatically uptown when the Taney and Hanson housing project on Bentz Street was razed in 2006. Unsavory characters picked up their guns, drug paraphernalia, and government freebie cards and moved to Heather Ridge, Hillcrest and other Section 8 housing areas. Crime just changed its address.


Handgun sales to private citizens have soared, not just because of a liberal federal government, but because we have decided to take a stand against crime and to protect our own.


As national handgun instructor Masaad Ayoob is quoted, “The reason I carry a handgun is because I can’t carry a policeman!”


Mr. Ellis had neither.


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