Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mr. Schulman, you're not getting it

Update Aug. 2: Unfortunately, the Repository reversed itself in an editorial July 29, in which it attacked the "outsiders" and backed Council President Alan Schulman. In this outsider's opinion, this second editorial did Canton more harm than good (and this only a week before the weekend Canton supposedly welcomes the world for the Hall of Fame Festival!). It also inadvertently explains why attempts to use reason in Canton city politics can be such a maddening experience.

I am not a great enthusiast for concealed carry, or gun rights of any kind. Speaking strictly for myself, I think my life with a gun would be far more dangerous than my life without one. But I do understand why the Second Amendment was written the way it was, and I do agree with the right of individuals to own weapons. In the right hands (and part of the reason for concealed-carry laws is to ensure that the guns are in the right hands), they provide an extra layer of protection for honest citizens who have to travel in dangerous places.

So I just want to cover my face and shake my head when I read articles like this from the Buckeye Firearms Association:
Perhaps now we know why police officer Daniel Harless thought it was acceptable behavior to unleash his violent, profanity-laced tirade on a concealed handgun license-holder in Canton, Ohio, saying "People like you don't deserve to @#$%#$ move throughout public. Period!" before threatening to murder the CHL-holder.

Canton City Council President Allen Schulman has unleashed his own version of that same tirade against law-abiding concealed handgun license-holders. After explaining that he would not be making any comments about the deplorable behavior of Harless, which were exposed on the dash cam video that has been seen across the country, Schulman said this:

"I did want to make a comment, uh, reflecting the out of town emails that we have all received from people who do not live in this community, do not know out police, do not know the firefighters, do not know our public servants, our employees, know nothing about the City of Canton. But because a video went viral on the Internet they're excu - excoriating the City of Canton out of this particular incident. And they're excoriating our police force, its conduct, and our city. I take very strong exception to what I've read, uh, what I've heard, from out-of-towners, uh, making comments abour our city.

"This is, in my judgement, a symptom of this arming, literally the arming of our population, with handguns, and the flooding of handguns into our communities."
Got that? Alan Schulman believes the violence and profanity-laced tirade from one of his city's police officers, who told a CHL-holder he "shoulda taken two steps back, pulled my Glock 40, and just put ten bullets in your ass and let you drop" is the fault of the Second Amendment, and not the angry cop.
I am embarrassed for another reason. I spent much of my adult life as a resident of Canton. In fact, in 1983, I ran for the office Mr. Schulman currently holds. (I lost heavily, but I was then a Republican running in a heavily Democratic city against the legendary Ray Denczak.  Mr. Denczak was Council President for around thirty years, until he died in office a few years ago.)

Rather than to defend the outburst of Officer Harless in the heat of passion, Mr. Schulman should have been quietly urging the Canton Police to deal with the officer's anger issues. This is not professional conduct by a police officer, and the Canton Police deserve better than to have this incident represented as such.* Just as importantly, the citizens of Canton deserve better from their Council President.

Of course, Mr. Schulman and the Canton Police have the perfect right to ignore the out-of-town e-mails and this post, for that matter; but they also need to think about just what kind of a city they want to live in, and whether their behavior in this incident is consistent with the vision they want to follow.

* In fairness to the Canton Police, The (Canton) Repository reported on Tuesday that "Police Chief Dean McKimm has described Harless’ behavior as 'wholly unacceptable' and in violation of many department rules." Officer Harless has been on paid administrative leave since June 20. The Repository issued an editorial July 23 in support of the police internal investigation and showing concern for the damage the video has done to the city's reputation.

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