Officer’s case demonstrates how gun laws hurt wrong people, says CCRKBA

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003

BELLEVUE, WA—The case of Upper Southampton, PA police Lt. David Johnson is a text book example of how gun laws hurt the wrong people—law-abiding, productive citizens instead of career criminals—the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

And the disposition of that case, with Lt. Johnson winning back his gun rights, is a slap in the face to every other law-abiding citizen who has lost his or her gun rights based on a past misdemeanor conviction, not the felony arson for which Johnson was convicted in 1959, CCRKBA added.

Johnson’s conviction did not prevent him from becoming a police officer in 1966, or keep him from rising to a position of responsibility in his department and his community. But because the state Uniform Firearms Act was amended to include arson as a disqualifying crime, even if it happened years ago, Johnson nearly lost his job.

“What happened to David Johnson was disturbing,” said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron, “but not nearly as repugnant as the way citizens who have been convicted of far lesser crimes are treated by police and the courts, due to oppressive anti-gun laws passed as panaceas to crime. Thousands of law-abiding citizens all over the country, none of whom was convicted of a crime as serious as arson are suffering, and the common denominator in all those cases is a gun control law designed to make increasing numbers of good citizens ineligible to own firearms.

“Because these laws are written to work retroactively,” Waldron stated, “they have made criminals out of people who may have made one mistake years ago, and have since led exemplary lives. Johnson appears to have gotten special consideration because he is a police officer. That doesn’t wash. While we’re glad Johnson has his gun rights back, this does not address the troubles being experienced by tens of thousands of other citizens whose civil rights are still being trampled.

“But anti-gun extremists don’t care about that, and never did,” Waldron continued. “The Centers for Disease Control released a study recently that proves gun laws do not effectively reduce crime. Johnson’s case is an example of what gun laws are really all about: disarming people who pose absolutely no threat to the public safety.”

“Unless, and until, every other citizen ensnared by unjust, retroactively-enforced laws is granted the same kind of relief provided Lt. Johnson simply because he is a police officer,” Waldron stated, “these laws and their enforcement remain a black mark against equal justice. Johnson’s circumstances are really no different than anyone else who has been legislatively disarmed by a zealous gun law. The bottom line here is that the law in Pennsylvania, and similar laws everywhere, need to be changed or repealed, not just for Johnson’s sake, but for the sake of every other law-abiding gun owner whose rights have been trampled for something that may have happened decades ago, and for which he or she has repaid the community many times over by becoming a productive citizen who learned a lesson from a bad experience.”