By Paul Helmke
From sunrise to sunset. In cities, suburbs, and rural areas. In climates both hot and cold. Every day, somewhere in America, people disagree over the littlest things. One person mistakes another person’s expression or gesture for an insult. And if one of those persons has a gun, then that littlest thing might lead to that gun being used.
This is what seems to be the case involving murder suspect, gun enthusiast, and self-appointed “Open Carry Spokesman” Jesus C. Gonzalez, of Milwaukee. For the past two years, Gonzalez, 25, had made it clear that he was ready for a fight. Gonzalez posted frequently on the site opencarry.org, suggesting that it was time to challenge Milwaukee’s ban on the open carry of firearms. “I’ve noticed that there seems to be no one in Milwaukee willing to get OC (open carry) started, but I was never one to wait for others,” he’s quoted as saying by the Milwaukee Sentinel. He filed two federal civil rights lawsuits over his disorderly conduct arrests while carrying a loaded weapon at Menards and Wal-mart stores. His suits were dismissed and he was never charged in the cases.
However during his depositions in the federal lawsuits, Gonzalez reportedly went toe-toe with the government’s lawyer, while trumpeting his in-depth knowledge of gun possession laws. And on May 9, Gonzalez took his zeal for open carry to its most lethal extreme. In what police are suggesting was a confrontation over a parking space, Gonzalez shot and killed tribal dancer and singer Danny John, as he was sitting in his car. John’s nephew, Jered Corn, was paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet blast (one of seven Gonzalez fired at both men) through his neck. Gonzalez faces a first-degree intentional homicide charge for the death of John, age 29, and an attempted first-degree intentional homicide charge for shooting Corn, age 21.
Police later confiscated additional artillery from Gonzalez’s home: three more handguns, three rifles, a shotgun and 1,300 rounds of ammunition.
Americans have for far too long settled minor disputes with lethal firepower, and it’s one of the reasons that we continue to reject the vision of America, held by gun rights extremists, as a place where anybody can carry and display any gun, anywhere, and at any time. The NRA’s push to deprive state and local law enforcement authorities of the discretion to fully evaluate applicants for concealed carry licenses has resulted in licenses being issued to just about anyone who can pass a minimal criminal background check. And to make sure we don’t learn about the problems caused by giving away these permits so easily, the NRA bosses have taken steps in a number of states to hide this information from the public.
Many law enforcement agencies share our concern about this dangerous trend. “ ‘It is my view, shared by the California Police Chiefs Association, that ‘open carry’ is an unnecessary threat to the safety of our officers and the public whom they serve,’ ” Ken James, a Bay Area police chief, recently wrote in an op-ed to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Whether it’s open carry for everyone, without a permit or training, or concealed carry with little oversight, the American people feel less safe with these guns being in public places. Jesus Gonzalez is the poster child for why those feelings are justified.