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COMMUNITY VOICE

Allow police to have proper tools to determine who the real outlaws are

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 12:01 am

I am a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, law enforcement and common sense. Since the Newtown tragedy last year when Adam Lanza, armed with a .Bushmaster XM15.223 caliber rifle, walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughtering 20 children and six adults, each of these three issues have been heavily scrutinized as to the how and whys such things happen.

In the countless debates that seem to follow every school shooting, emotions often erupt whenever the discussions turn to gun control, teachers carrying firearms, putting armed security officers in every school, cyber bullying or placing metal detectors at the front doors. It seems that little is ever resolved, leaving us seemingly inept at protecting our own children from the crazies.

Recently, I was made aware of how issues concerning the right of gun owners and police capabilities can clash leaving many to wonder if common sense has been exiled from the equation altogether.

As several elementary aged children gathered at a local bus stop awaiting the arrival of their school bus, both the kids and their parents suddenly became aware of an adult male standing off to the side while openly displaying a holstered .9mm handgun. Since it was at the start of the new school year with new students riding the bus, no one was sure who he was and what if any was his intent. And none of the other adults at the stop (mostly young mothers) felt completely confident in approaching the gentleman.

Instead one of the parents contacted school transportation security who in turn contacted the police. When a request was made for an officer to be at the bus stop the next day to check out the man with the gun, the school official got a surprise. A police officer could go to the bus stop, but the officer could not by law require the man to present his identification nor his gun permit.

Keep in mind that aside from the Newtown killings, just last January an individual in Alabama shot to death a school bus driver before kidnapping a young girl. With schools and school buses becoming potential targets of those with violent

intents including gang bangers, estranged parents, foreign and domestic terrorists or those deranged persons simply seeking to get noticed, it seems odd that an officer of the law is prevented from simply checking an individual's identification, especially when that person is within an immediate area of school children.

As it now stands, an officer can only demand identification if the person in question acts out in a suspicious manner. What does that potentially mean? A police officer can't approach until that person has already started shooting?

In fairness, as was later learned the man at the bus stop was in fact a parent. And when approached by the school official who simply asked if he could at least conceal the gun so as not to scare the children, he agreed and the matter was settled, even though some of the children who had previously seen the openly displayed weapon had expressed anxiety.

But what about he next person who is seen with a firearm around our youngest citizens? What I've also learned is that more extreme elements of the open carry crowd have purposely set up police officers who in their attempts to establish legal identity, have ended up getting complaints filed against them.

I am not questioning an American's right to carry a handgun. But would it be so much to suggest that when you hold a gun permit, that in essence it carries with it the provisions that you are required to show it whenever requested to do so by a law enforcement officer.

There is a popular saying, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” I believe that. I am only suggesting that we allow our police the proper tools in determining who the real outlaws are.

Maybe it won't prevent the next school shooting. Then again maybe it will.

Bob Rinearson is a resident of Fort Wayne.