LTE: Useless gun law wasn't applied to Clarett

Buckeye Firearms Association volunteer John Litle spreads a little common sense with readers of the Columbus Dispatch...

August 20, 2006
Columbus Dispatch

I have been following with great interest The Dispatch's coverage of Maurice Clarett's ongoing troubles. From his descent into criminality through his most recent arrest, The Dispatch has noted criminal charge after criminal charge against the former Ohio State University football player.

Interestingly, one crime The Dispatch has not mentioned and one for which Clarett has not been charged is a violation of Columbus' assault-weapons ban. Sure enough, I saw an "assault weapon" sitting in Clarett's car in the front-page photo ("Clarett's arrest deepens descent," Aug. 10). I recall City Councilman Mike Mentel pushing that law through with much fervor last year, claiming it would make Columbus' streets safer. Clarett's actions and the subsequent charges only prove how ill-conceived and ineffective Mentel's notions are.

The reason Clarett is not charged under Mentel's ban is that the City Council only has authority to create misdemeanor crimes, whereas Clarett, if he possessed the weapon while under indictment and, further, had it loaded in his vehicle, would have committed several felonies. Misdemeanor sentences are always concurrent with felony sentences, thus there would be no reason to charge Clarett under Mentel's pointless law.

On the other hand, the law does serve to make criminal the rightful possession of a whole swath of firearms by law-abiding and noncriminally minded individuals. The law is perverse; it is simply useless as a charge against those who have the mind-set to commit a crime with their weapons, and it criminalizes the nonculpable act of possessing a firearm that "looks scary."

It is unfortunate that crime on our city's streets has become so rampant that we are willing to try "solutions" that have no prayer of success; it is even more unfortunate that we are willing to make criminals of the innocent to achieve that end. I guess reason seldom conquers fear.

John Litle

Related Story:
Clarett arrest shows Columbus is still Mentelly challenged

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