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Outrage of the Week - Crossing the Line

Friday, February 1, 2008

This week’s outrage comes from Pasquotank County in North Carolina.   

If you want a gun permit in Pasquotank, you can go to the new Pasquotank Public Service Building in Elizabeth City, but you must stand in line.  The only problem is that you, a law-abiding citizen, may have to stand in that line with convicted sex offenders.  That’s because if you’re there to get a gun permit, there’s only one line you’re allowed to stand in; and the sign at the head of that line reads, “Gun Permits/Sex Offender Registration.” 

That’s right.  In the county’s public service building, law-abiding citizens are forced to mingle and wait with some of the worst criminals in our society.  As Bob Halbert, a 26-year retired Navy officer who was recently humiliated by standing in the line said, “I feel they’re putting me or a person coming in for a gun permit in the same category as sex offenders.  If someone comes by who knows you and sees you, all it takes is one bad rumor and bam, you’re marked for life.”  

Halbert went on to say, “A close friend of mine’s son recently visited us after his return home from Iraq, where he served for 15 months as a military policeman.  And yes, he did put himself in harm’s way as I did numerous times in my career ... with 26 years of honorable service to this great country of ours.  But in Elizabeth City, we are grouped with sex offenders if we want to apply for a gun permit.” 

Commenting on the sign that requires that the two groups mingle, Pasquotank Sheriff Randy Cartwright said, “I don’t know where (else) we would put it.”  

Did they ever consider having two lines? 

As you know, law-abiding gun owners are some of the most upstanding citizens in our society.  Yet in Pasquotank County, if you want to get a gun permit, you must endure the possibility of fraternizing with convicted felons, and the ensuing anger and public humiliation that would entail.  The sign, publicly announcing and requiring the commingling of the two incongruent groups, showcases the contempt that many government officials still have for lawful gun owners.  

Forcing law-abiding citizens to wait alongside sex offenders in order to exercise a constitutionally protected right is not only shameful; it’s outrageous.

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