Double-Barrel DC Duplicity
Anti-Second Amendment politicians have a high-caliber hypocrisy second to none.
And when the worst happened Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, authorities said the Special Police Officers on duty were ready.As they investigate the shooting, in which James W. von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Annapolis, is charged with firing a rifle and killing one of the officers, authorities said yesterday that if it weren't for the quick response of the private guards on duty, more people could have been killed or wounded.At a news conference yesterday, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) said the officers' efforts "to bring this gunman down so quickly literally saved the lives of countless people. . . . This could have been much, much worse."It started out as a normal day. Dozens of visitors, including school groups, were passing through the museum as the beginning of the summer tourist season began in earnest. Then, police said, a red Hyundai driven by von Brunn double parked on 14th Street outside the museum's entrance. When he got to the museum's door, Stephen T. Johns, who had been posted at the museum for six years, opened the door, police say.Von Brunn then lifted his rifle and shot Johns in the chest at close range, officials said. Two officers immediately returned fire, hitting Brunn in the face, and he fell backward out the door, police said.All of the officers were employees of Wackenhut Services, a large private security firm that provides protection for several government buildings, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. At the museum, the guards look just like police officers, with crisp uniforms, .38-caliber revolvers on their hips and silver badges with an image of a lion on a scale on their chests.The Special Police Officer is different from a regular security guard, who "is a civilian who has no police authority," said D.C. Police Lt. Jon Shelton. SPOs, by contrast, are commissioned by the D.C. police chief and have "full police authority," including arrest power on the premises they are assigned to protect, he said.To carry a firearm, SPOs must compete a 40-hour training session and go through an eight-hour recertification program every year to stay active, Shelton said. About 5,000 SPOs are licensed to work in the District.
An editorial in the Washington Times (3/27/96) quotes Lt. Lowell Duckett, president of the Black Police Caucus and a special assistant to Washington DC's Chief of Police, as telling a group of citizens they were right to arm themselves: "Gun control has not worked in DC. The only people who have guns are criminals. We have the strictest gun laws in the nation and one of the highest murder rates. It's quicker to pull your Smith and Wesson than to dial 911 if you're being robbed." [Gun Owners of America].