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'Stop and Frisk' gets guns away from bad guys

Steven Kurlander Florida Voices
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:10 PM

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You know the gun-control debate sparked by the movie massacre in Aurora, Colo. But have you heard the controversy over the "stop and frisk" policies being carried out in some major cities as a result of the shooting?

The same people who want to regulate gun ownership also want to promote the unfettered right of criminals to walk around with illegal guns. It doesn't make sense.

The debate has taken center stage in one of the nation's most progressive cities: San Francisco.

After Aurora, and because of a spike in local shootings, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee asked the city's police department to implement a "stop and frisk" policy that calls for police officers to confront and pat down suspected criminals on the streets, even if there's no suspicion of a crime being committed at the moment.

"I am as, if not more, committed (to the idea) ... especially in light of the massacre that occurred in Aurora," he said.

Lee has the right plan.

Maybe if a security guard had stopped and frisked the absurd-looking James Holmes — gas mask and all — before he approached the Aurora movie theater, lives would have been saved.

Yet, civil rights advocates vehemently argue that proactive police measures such as "stop and frisk" violate individual rights and promote racial profiling. This despite their efforts to try to limit our constitutional right to own guns.

Before Aurora, the main battleground for the "stop and frisk" debate was New York City. There, though 90 percent of stops lead to no arrests, the proactive policy has resulted in the seizure of thousands of illegal handguns and significantly reduced the murder rate, especially compared to cities that have not implemented the policy, such as Chicago.

The answer to tragedies like Aurora, the Gabby Giffords shooting and the Virginia Tech massacre is not to try to restrict gun ownership. The answer is a more proactive approach in addressing criminals and psychopaths who possess weapons, illegally and legally.

In terms of eliminating the acts of "lone wolf" terrorists and psychopaths bent on becoming footnotes in history, there's no way to totally stop them. In a country of more than 300 million people, some lunatic is going to act out from time to time, with or without more gun control.

But "stop and frisk" is a good start to addressing the underlying problem, which is that too many criminals and deranged people have and misuse guns.

Yes, legitimate questions have arisen about overly aggressive implementation, and those questions should be addressed to discourage police abuse.

But while freely enjoying our Second Amendment rights, we also should be encouraging our police departments to get more aggressive about getting guns out of the hands of the bad guys.

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly's Kommentary, writes a weekly column for Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel and is a South Florida communications strategist.

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