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Roger Simon

But He Only Fired in Jacuzzi-Defense

June 29, 1988|Roger Simon

We now know what Carl Rowan means by gun control: Holding it with both hands.

Carl (Guns Don't Shoot People, Newspaper Columnists Do) Rowan is a syndicated columnist who shot a teen-ager the other day for climbing over a fence, using his Jacuzzi and, he says, "lunging" at him.

Which solves the problem of what to do when guests drop by unannounced. And that's where the story might have ended except that Rowan has been a vigorous proponent of gun control. And has written that nobody should have a gun.

So it was more than a little embarrassing for him when everybody found out that Rowan had a gun around the house all the time.

And gun nuts are howling with glee.

"Scratch a gun-control advocate," they are saying, "and you will find Rambo underneath."

Rowan is upset at this, but he need not be. Because he is the best argument for gun control I know of. He should not think that he has let the cause down. On the contrary, he has helped it.

All Carl Rowan got from his gun was trouble, controversy and embarrassment. He sure didn't get any protection from it.

Examine what happened:

Carl Rowan has a nice house in a nice neighborhood of Washington, D.C. And it seems that this bunch of spoiled rich kids have a habit of going around and using other people's pools at night, smoking dope and, for all I know, having safe sex.

Rowan knew kids used his pool and Jacuzzi. And that made him angry. I don't blame him.

If I woke up and found somebody using my pool--actually I don't have a pool, but let's say I woke up and found somebody running through my lawn sprinkler--I'd be angry, too. Maybe even angry enough to shoot him.

Which is why I don't keep a gun around. If I did, I might shoot 12, 13 people a week. Depends on how my week was going.

Which is why it's a bad idea to have a gun around the house. Because shooting someone to protect your life or the life of your family is one thing. But shooting someone to protect your Jacuzzi is another.

So Rowan wakes up, calls the cops and reports some disorderly conduct in his pool area. Then he finds and loads his gun, which turns out not to be registered. Then he opens this sliding door so he can go out and open a gate to let the cops in, he says.

To which I say: Huh?

I keep reading that part of his story and it still makes no sense to me. I drove out to Rowan's house the other day. And you don't have to open up any gates to let the cops in. They could have just walked up the gate-less front steps and rung the doorbell.

And if I was afraid that a dope-crazed maniac assassin was out there trying to get me and leave rings around my pool to boot, I'd stay inside until the police knocked on my door.

But Carl Rowan, he opens up this sliding door. And sees this kid dripping in his underwear, and Rowan gives him a warning, but the kid "lunges" at him and Rowan fires a warning shot into the kid's wrist.

And then what happens? What does this "lunger" do then? He goes back and sits in the Jacuzzi. Which does not sound to me like the actions of a raging home invader. It sounds to me like the actions of a rude, dumb and possibly stoned kid.

But look what happened because Rowan had a gun:

He shot a kid. The kid may sue. Rowan may be charged criminally. He may have to incur huge legal fees. He is being ridiculed by gun nuts, whom he hates. The gun control people, whom he likes, are embarrassed. And this incident will stay with him for years and years if not forever. He ends up with anger, humiliation, pain, defensiveness and injury to another person. That's what a gun got him.

Now look at what would have happened if he had not had a gun:

He sees a bunch of spoiled-rotten, overgrown brats using his pool. He calls the cops and waits safely in his home. The cops come and ring Rowan's doorbell and he lets them in and they go out to the pool and arrest the kids. Or they find the kids fleeing the scene and grab them. The kids get arrested, charged, have to suffer humiliation and legal fees, and their parents take away their Suzuki Samurais for a week. End of story.

So which looks like a better idea to you? Having a gun or not having a gun?

The gun did nothing to protect Rowan. He got "lunged" at only when he left his house. If he had stayed inside, he would not have had to use the gun at all.

What's more, the gun imperiled Rowan's life. And I'll tell you how: The stupidest thing you can do is go out to greet the police with a gun in your hand. This is a terrific way to get yourself shot.

Cops don't like to see people coming at them with guns in their hands. Makes them a little nervous. And when they get a call at night and arrive at the scene and all of a sudden a guy appears with a gun in his hand, there's no telling what's going to happen or who is going to get shot.

And that's what Rowan risked by getting that gun out of mothballs.

Rowan wrote a column defending his actions and ended it by saying: ". . . I will protect my family."

And I say: Do that. Lock your doors at night. Call the cops when you think you are in trouble. And wait for them. Wait for them behind locked doors.

If Rowan had done that, he'd be a lot better off today.

Which is why Carl Rowan is the best argument I know for gun control. All his gun did was get him in trouble.

So on behalf of all those who believe in gun control, I say:

Thanks, Carl. And keep up the good work.

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