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Dear Mr. Rolley:
When I first read about Otis Rolley of Baltimore, Maryland, he seemed to be a sterling example of the American dream of personal discipline and success. (http://www.otisrolley.com/about-otis)
His campaign bio is impressive, and it would seem he represents an exemplary case of the laudable actualization of the American ideal of self-determination. A man who grew up in a working class neighborhood of crime-ridden Jersey City, Mr. Rolley overcame, graduated college, and built a career of public service and civic engagement.
I salute you for your accomplishments, Mr. Rolley.
You now seek election to mayor of Baltimore, a city where you say that “Gun crime is a plague … with literally hundreds of people being shot, and many killed, every year.” Indeed, the FBI crime statistics for 2009 rank Baltimore 5th in violent crime in the country (based on crimes per 1000 residents).
The problem of violent crime in Baltimore will obviously need to be addressed by any serious candidate for mayor.
However, in response to this somber reality, you have now come out with one of the most idiotic “gun control” schemes just about anyone, anywhere, has ever floated: a bullet tax of $1.00 per bullet, a measure you claim will decrease crime in that it will “substantially increase the cost of its’ [sic] commission.” You claim that a bullet tax will work but that “Increasing the cost of guns won’t work because many criminals don’t purchase new guns and they can be borrowed or even rented in some areas.” (http://files.www.otisrolley.com/platform/Safer_Neighborhoods.pdf)
I’m curious, Mr. Rolley, at whom your proposal is aimed. Do you really expect to reduce crime with a bullet tax? Do you think that a murderer purchases his ammunition legally – and thus will incur this tax? Do you think that paying an extra $20 or $50 for a box of ammo will stop such a murderer? Make him reconsider? Are you foolish enough not to recognize that criminals get their ammunition the same way they get their guns? They steal them or buy (and sell) them in an uncontrollable network of other illegal sales.
Or perhaps, Mr. Rolley, your tax is aimed at further disarming and penalizing Baltimore’s law-abiding citizens. As you know, over 60% of Baltimore’s residents are Black. As in many other cities – including your own hometown Jersey City – these residents are disproportionately poor and live disproportionately in crime-ridden areas. While there are bound to be some criminals among them, the vast majority are no doubt law-abiding working poor who are struggling to make a living and to protect their families from the violence that surrounds them.
An honest, law-abiding, patriotic American parent who wants to prevent the violence of the street from entering his or her home has a variety of choices for personal defense. One of the least expensive and most effective options is the purchase of a firearm.
Another Otis – Otis MacDonald – taught this lesson to the City of Chicago, and the Supreme Court agreed with him. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald_v._Chicago
What’s particularly ironic about your proposal is that it will hit hardest at Baltimore’s working poor – those most in need of the tools of self-defense, and those least able to pay your bullet tax.
By the way, Mr. Rolley, ideas like yours have been tried before. In the post-Civil War South, one way of preventing freed slaves from owning firearms was to make them too expensive. This was done by imposing taxes or permit fees and by outlawing so-called “Saturday night specials” – the only inexpensive handguns that the impoverished freed slaves could afford to purchase and use in self-defense. See: “History of regulation attempts” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_night_special
In fact, “gun control” in America has its roots in the racist climate of the post-Civil War South. In many states, it was simply illegal for freed black slaves to own firearms. I assume you would not return your people to those Jim Crow days, to that denigrating level of second-class citizenship. Can’t you see that your bullet tax is a step in exactly this direction?
Mr. Rolley, despite your notable educational achievements and public service to date, you sadly seem to have been duped by the backers of the hidden racist agenda of “gun control.”
Would you like to learn more about the racism that lurks behind this hidden agenda? The civil rights organization under which I serve as Rabbinic Director, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), has produced “No Guns for Negroes,” a film which exposes the racist roots of “gun control” and explains the upside-down thinking of liberal Black politicians and activists who would disarm their own people. You can view this film for free on JPFO’s web site.
As JPFO’s Rabbinic Director, I would also like to offer you some spiritual insight. Your campaign bio declares you and your family Christians who attend Huber Memorial Church in Baltimore. You and I therefore share a deep respect for the Ten Commandments.
One of the key reasons so many Jews and Christians have been so misguided and/or confused on the fundamental, G-d given and unalienable right to self defense is because of a crucial mistranslation of the Sixth Commandment.
The proper translation of the Sixth Commandment is “Thou shalt not murder.” There is a world of moral and ethical difference between killing and murder. Should you want to delve into this issue further, JPFO has also produced “No Guns for Jews”, also available on our web site.
What would I suggest as solutions to Baltimore’s crime problem? First, severe punishment for those convicted of violent crime. Eliminate the murderers, rapists, and muggers from your city’s society. Slap-on-the-wrist law enforcement and revolving-door prison sentences have been a failure for decades.
Next, I would advocate placing many more guns in the hands of honest and law abiding Baltimore citizens. While your advocacy of “gun control” would return Baltimore’s Black citizens to the days of Jim Crow laws, my proposal would instead empower these good and decent citizens of Baltimore to protect themselves.
According to the National Institute of Justice, 58% of convicted felons stated that they feared an armed (intended) victim more than they feared the police. Want to reduce crime in Baltimore? Encourage your law-abiding citizens to arm themselves – and watch the criminals flee, in search of easier prey.
To that end, I would also advocate unlicensed Constitutional Carry in Baltimore. I would encourage the good, law-abiding citizens of your city who choose to do so to carry firearms, whether openly or discreetly. This is already permitted by law in four States in America – Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, and Arizona. All of them have significantly lower crime rates than Baltimore, and in not one of them has a “Wild West” environment of vigilantism emerged – despite the hysterical cries from the Violence Policy Center and other deceitful advocates of citizen disarmament.
Mr. Rolley, I would also encourage your Baltimore residents to know how to use their defensive arms safely. That means practice, and practice means they need bullets – and imposing a $1 tax on each round will discourage them from this self-empowerment.
I would of course encourage firearms safety training, not hysterical, politically-correct gun phobia, in all of Baltimore’s public schools. Teach kids the sport of marksmanship and they will both gain a deep respect for the seriousness of firearms and understand the honorable and pragmatic reasons for an armed citizenry. They will recognize the world of difference between a murderer and a righteous defender.
I would stand up for the Bill of Rights and not desecrate the “Guardian” of the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment.
In short, Mr. Rolley, don’t be suckered by the liberals who have brainwashed you about “gun control.”
Learn the history of “gun control” and how it has been used as a tool of oppression against your people. Teach your people to empower themselves against the criminals who oppress them. Then you will be not only Baltimore’s mayor but a true leader and role model for all African-Americans.
Rabbi Dovid Bendory
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
Rabbi Bendory is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor.
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