Crime victim persecuted for being gun owner

by Tim Inwood

It used to be in this country that if you were arrested for a crime you were presumed innocent until trial. Now if you are a crime victim you may be perceived as a criminal if you are a gun owner. After reading an article about a burglary in the Land of Lincoln, my blood went to a slow boil.

In the wee hours of an August morning, Rockford (IL) police were called by the victim's neighbors to report a burglary. What the police found was the disorganized and cluttered home of a gun owner. The burglar had fled, but the police were surprised to find a collection of about three hundred firearms. The 67 year-old homeowner was out of town. Research by police showed he is a legal FOID cardholder in Illinois and the guns apparently were registered. Nevertheless the police proceeded to stack his firearms outside his home and then take the guns into custody. I have to ask, since when is the property of the victim confiscated as suspect?

The comments from the neighbors were equally disturbing to me. Coley Woods who lives across the street said, "Even if he's a registered gun owner or not, that just seems like its too many rifles." Oh really! Says who? Since when is there a set number on what any American can own? It used to be a free country, Has that changed?

"It's just un-real to see this many guns involved a regular residential neighborhood," says concerned resident McArthur Tennin."

From the article:

"At the current time we're taking the firearms for safe keeping as evidence until we can further investigate this," says Deputy Chief Lindmark.

Neighbors say even though the weapons may be legal, they still pose a security threat to their neighborhood.

The story concludes by noting that, as of late Wednesday afternoon, "police haven't charged the homeowner."

Charged with what? Gun ownership? That is appalling!

I find it disturbing that there is an automatic assumption that something is wrong because someone owns firearms. The fact that someone has a large collection suggests nothing more to me than a hobby or investment. Are we concerned if we find a large collection of baseball cards or stamps? No, of course not. But because of the "culture of sheep" mindset drummed into so many people in this country, there is often an automatic assumption by some that something is fishy if you own guns. The comment that the firearms being in the neighborhood is some sort of security threat is ludicrous and ignorant. I have little patience with such thinking. I note that nowhere in the story do any of the neighbors suggest any issues or problems with their gun owning neighbor. Yet now he is a "security threat."

The events in this story happened in Illinois, a state that has produced anti-gun politicians like Mayor Richard Daley and President Barack Obama, and still lives in the dark ages of denying their citizens any form of law that allows the carrying of arms for defense. So I suppose I should not be surprised by the anti-gun bigotry exhibited. I can only pray things improve for the citizens of Illinois. But it also reminds us that it is up to all gun owners to do our part to educate the public on the fact that our hobby of gun collecting is as natural as collecting sports memorabilia, coins, tea pots or any other hobby pursued by other law abiding Americans. We gun owners are not a threat to anyone except to politicians who wish to ban our guns and that threat is only carried out at the ballot box.

Make no mistake, friends, we may have the Heller and McDonald decisions behind us, but those who wage war on gun ownership are not deterred or going away. They are as determined as ever to take your guns and vilify you in the process. Join the fight to protect your gun rights today.

Tim Inwood is the current Legislative Liaison and Past President of the Clinton County Farmers and Sportsmen Association, an Endowment Member of the NRA and Life Member of the OGCA, Republican Central Committeeman for Chester Township A, in Clinton County, Ohio, and a volunteer for Buckeye Firearms Association.

UPDATE: August 25, 2010

It has been announced that a 40mm grenade was found in the collection of Mr. Barber, the owner of the large collection confiscated by police after his home was broken into, and that Mr. Barber has been arrested.

However, I note in the latest news story this statement:

During their search two weeks ago, Rockford detectives discovered a military grenade round in Barber's home. The (sic) did so while removing guns from the property due to calls about a burglary. (emphasis added)

If the story is correct, the police were not rounding up the guns because the grenade was found, but rather they were collecting the firearms and, during that process, the grenade was found. I still find the mindset of gathering up the guns to investigate them very troubling, as it appears initially it had nothing to do with the grenade.


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