Anti-gun Columbus judge's comment elicits no outrage from sympathetic media

by Gerard Valentino

The Columbus Dispatch ran an article this past week that included a quote which illustrates the insidious nature of the anti-gun mindset.

The article in question covered the sentencing of two men who were convicted of having a gun in a bar. While letting the two convicted criminals know their fate, Common Pleas Judge John F. Bender stated:

"If I had my way, handguns would be illegal for everyone in this society except police officers. ... It destroys society."

For a judge, such a view is clearly prejudicial, and by inserting his unenlightened and ignorant view of private gun ownership into the courtroom he is setting a dangerous precedent. Because Judge Bender was sentencing men with a criminal past, his statement didn't elicit outrage.

Regardless of the context, the judge's statements put in question his impartiality when a law-abiding mother of three, or an elderly man robbed in his own home appear in his courtroom.

His words are an admission of a willingness to insert his biased view on private gun ownership when considering the facts of a case -- a viewpoint that is out of step with the legal system after the United States Supreme Court twice ruled that the right to bear arms is a fundamental individual right.

The American judicial system is predicated on impartiality, an adherence to the rule of law and the protection of individual rights as affirmed in the United States Constitution. When one of the pieces breaks down it not only threatens the system, but also threatens individual liberty.

Even criminals should expect a judge to set aside personal views when the time comes for sentencing and when decisions are called for during a legal proceeding.

Until we can sweep the likes of Judge Bender out of our legal system the battle to protect gun rights will never end. But, the judge isn't the only hypocrite exposed in this case.

Once again we are left to point out the hypocrisy of the mainstream media who let Judge Bender's comments slip by without comment. If he had said only the government and police should have control of newspapers, television programs and the apparatus of free speech, The Dispatch would be up in arms.

In America, the establishment media like to claim they are in place to protect the people by exposing governmental corruption and the bad actions of big business and by acting as the advocate for individuals without a voice. Such a claim is not only dripping with self-righteousness, but is also dripping with hypocrisy. By refusing to expose Judge Bender's unconstitutional view on gun rights, the establishment media become part of the problem.

By picking and choosing what rights to protect, establishment media outlets have lost their place as America's conscience. It is one reason many Americans are turning to nontraditional news sources.

This case also reminds us that our true enemies aren't just the anti-gun legislators who try to take away the right to bear arms through legislation, or the few private citizens still pushing the anti-gun fraud on America. There are judges, police chiefs, government bureaucrats, school board members and other people in positions of authority who insert their misguided anti-gun bias into the professional arena.

The sad fact is that when gun rights are attacked openly by a government official, regardless of the situation, we all lose because it sets a dangerous precedent.

Comments like those made by Judge Bender encourage other misguided anti-gun jurists to do the same, and when The Columbus Dispatch, or any media outlet, refuses to expose his actions, it sends a message that doing so is acceptable.

Gun rights advocates need to remind Judge Bender, and The Dispatch, that we won't stand idly by while they try to tear down our gun rights. They are hoping gun rights activists won't notice, and that is something we can't let happen.

Our silence in this case condones the viewpoint that gun rights aren't equal to the other rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and that is simply unacceptable.

Gerard Valentino was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, is a member of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Board of Directors and the author of "The Valentino Chronicles – Observations of a Middle Class Conservative," available through the Buckeye Firearms Association store..

[UPDATE: An alert reader notes that "Judge Bender's term is up January 2011. For those that would like to e-mail him concerning his anti-gun statement: [email protected] ."]

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