How guns save livesHouse Editorial
Published January 26, 2003
Thanks to Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John M. Glynn, justice finally prevailed Thursday, as two businessmen were acquitted of first-degree murder charges for killing a weapon-toting hoodlum who broke into their warehouse. Just seconds after defense attorneys finished their closing arguments, Judge Glynn pronounced Darrell Kifer and Kenny Der not guilty in the June 30, 2001, slaying of Tygon Walker, who was holding a hammer and threatening to kill them. Judging from the facts of the case—which was obviously a killing in self-defense—Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia Jessamy blundered badly by prosecuting Messrs. Kifer and Der to begin with—especially on first-degree murder charges.
On a hot summer night 19 months ago, Messrs. Der and Kifer were repairing a table on the first floor of their two-story furniture refinishing warehouse in East Baltimore when they heard noises upstairs. The pair were already on edge because their business had been broken into repeatedly in recent weeks. Mr. Kifer, carrying a shotgun, and Mr. Der, holding a handgun, made their way to the second floor. When the pair got upstairs, they were confronted by Mr. Walker, who threatened to kill them. Before Mr. Walker could make good on his threat to bludgeon them to death in their own warehouse, Messrs. Kifer and Der fatally shot the intruder. Then, they called police.
"This case was an injustice that challenged the foundation of the right to defend yourself," Mr. Kifer told the Baltimore Sun following the verdict. "I am hoping that people will now be able to defend themselves and not be prosecuted."
Which brings up the following question: In a city like Baltimore, where hundreds of homicides occur each year, (many of which go unsolved) why is Mrs. Jessamy squandering taxpayer dollars by persecuting small-business owners like Messrs. Kifer and Der, who were merely defending their lives and their property?
The question is critical, since guns are used far more frequently by law-abiding citizens defending themselves than misused by the criminal element. American Enterprise Institute scholar John Lott, for example, has found that guns are used five times more frequently to prevent crimes than to commit them. Florida State University Professor Gary Kleck recently estimated that Americans use firearms at least 2.5 million times a year for self-defense.
Judge Glynn sent a forceful message to the state's attorney with his decision to acquit the duo. We hope Mrs. Jessamy and her assistants are paying attention.