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New Jersey's "smart guns," dead kids

By Ted Lang
web posted January 13, 2003

As continued gun control aimed at law-abiding citizens proves to be a horrible failure in reducing crime as demonstrated in England, Australia and Washington, D.C., the new rage is no longer "crime control," but "child safety." In New Jersey, "smart gun" technology is now the latest government oxymoron. While gun controllers brag of this outstanding achievement to set an example for the rest of the nation to follow, gun safety "for the children" will now progress throughout America via liberal legislative compassion.

As gun control leads the way in "zero tolerance" suspensions of due process and trial by jury, along with expunging "innocent until proven guilty," educrats and teachers' unions lead the way in drugging our children with mind-destroying Ritalin. This is also touted as "for the children," although it seems to lean more realistically to accommodating lazy teachers who cannot cope with youthful exuberance and nervous energy.

Although school shootings and "massacres" take many lives in their singular occurrences, they hardly match the unbelievable deaths and suffering an increasing number of America's children are facing at the hands of child welfare and protective services across the nation.

In Maryland, an audit showed that social workers lost track of half the cases they were assigned to, reports Ted Sherman in The Star-Ledger on January 10th. Sherman offers: "A growing number of abuse and neglect deaths occurred in Indiana even after child welfare workers checked out allegations of mistreatment…." Sherman continues: "And in Georgia, 13 year-old Rhiannon Gilmore was found starved to death…despite repeated calls by teachers and neighbors to the state's Division of Family and Children Services over concerns for the disabled girl…." In Washington D.C. alone, The Washington Post reports that 229 boys and girls died between 1993 and 2000 after coming into contact with the child protective/welfare system.

These cases parallel the tragedy of 7 year-old Faheem Williams here in New Jersey this past week. And the usual suspects, "government officials," from the Governor on down, are all horrified to discover that failure to do their jobs can result in child deaths. The Star-Ledger states that some 1,200 children died in 2000 from child welfare/protective service incompetence similar to the Williams case. "Smart gun" legislation was passed "for the children" in spite of the fact that not one single child fatality with a handgun occurred in New Jersey in the last five years.

As usual, the "officials" and the union decry a "lack of funds." They also cite an "insurmountable caseload." The original claim by Division of Youth and Family Services that the caseworker had 107 cases was changed downward to only 53 cases, and then again to only 25 families. A national standard of 25 cases is generally advocated, but aren't 25 families 25 cases?! Is it not possible to visit 25 families over the two week visitation period prescribed using a case urgency priority standard?

Although "a lack of funding" is offered as an excuse putting the burden of guilt on the already overburdened taxpayer, a lack of basic case management skills seems to be the problem. Former Governor Whitman added $28 million to the DYFS budget and current Governor McGreevey added an extra $3.5 million. Yet, McGreevey and the legislature just passed a "ballistic fingerprinting" law for gun control which has a price tag of $5 million. Consider this against the backdrop of a state with huge budget deficits that added an income tax in 1976, gambling casinos around the same time frame, a state lottery, all created to raise money for education.

New Jersey children are amongst the worst educated and most costly per capita in the nation while our property taxes to fund education are also the highest. Add to this the number of children killed on our antiquated roads and in hold-ups of small stores and gas stations where kids usually work, and New Jersey and kids are anything but "perfect together."

Ted Lang is a political analyst and a freelance writer.

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