Saturday, December 05, 2015

Daniel Kovacevic: The Absurdity of U.S. Gun Laws

Akron, Ohio's open carry zealot Daniel Kovacevic, 25
With the decision yesterday by the editorial board of The New York Times to publish a scathing op-ed piece right  smack dab on the front page of the paper ('End the Gun Epidemic in America'), it's clear that the national debate on the rampant firearm culture in America has reached a new level.

As the cynic in many of us would acknowledge, it usually does after one of the horrific mass shootings that now incredibly seem to be a 'normal' part of the landscape of this nation.

But with this latest incident in San Bernardino, something has shifted in the American zeitgeist where guns are concerned.

It wasn't just San Bernardino. The reality is "It's not the one thing." - to quote the disillusioned veteran El Paso Texas sheriff trying to come to grips with unspeakable violence in Joel and Ethan Cohen's 2007 Oscar-winning masterpiece No Country For Old Men.

There's a palpable sense that the collective public outrage, terror, pain, sadness and anger have started to spill over the sides of the bucket of American apathy, awakening a growing sense of the absurdity of the prevalence of guns in this country - and what it's doing to the fabric of our culture, our streets and our people.

There's no better recent example that illustrates this better than 25-year-old Daniel Kovacevic (pictured above, left). I was about to leave work when I read about this story on and had to blog about it.

Outraged Akron, Ohio business owner Deone Slater
As reporter Bob Sandrick reported on Thursday on, Deone Slater (pictured left), the owner of a barbershop located in a predominantly black neighborhood in Akron, Ohio not far from the University of Akron, confronted Kovacevic on Thursday morning after seeing the 25-year-old white man standing on the sidewalk with what appears to be a semi-automatic rifle slung across his back and a handgun in a holster on his belt.

The police were called to the scene and Slater angrily confronted a police officer talking with Kovacevic on the sidewalk right in front of Slater's barbershop.

He's pretty pissed and there are a few f-bombs in the video but you can click this link to watch the video of the confrontation that was posted on Facebook.

Now of course, it's rather unsettling to watch a guy wearing sunglasses with an assault rifle slung on his back and a handgun in his waistband simply standing on the sidewalk silently staring into space - look at the above picture of Kovacevic and try to picture how you would feel if you saw him standing in front of your place of business, your home, or your child's school with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder and a handgun in his waistband.

But what's more interesting to me is how the members of the Akron PD (I'm assuming they were Akron, PD, it was hard to tell from the video) react as they arrive on the scene.

Slater is standing in front of the business that he owns, but the cops seem more concerned with him than with the guy openly carrying a loaded assault rifle and a handgun - like it's perfectly normal to do such a thing.

The level of Slater's anger is understandable and even though he's throwing the f-bomb at the cop and Kovacevic, my sense is that he's channeling a legitimate anger over the absurdity of U.S. gun laws that make it legal for a person in Ohio to simply stroll around the streets with loaded weapons designed to kill people.

It's not like this is Road Warrior and we're living in some post-apocalyptic waste land.

My sense is that Slater's anger isn't just based on the nut-bag (watch the video and listen as Kovacevic starts asking an African-American bystander if he's a Christian and begins talking about the Bible) standing in front of his place of business with guns.

A man prays at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado
This is happening after Paris and Colorado and the cops in Akron seemed rather nonchalant considering how edge people are about guns right now.

Now I've had a long day so I'm going to wrap this up by simply observing that Ohio's laws do permit someone like Kovacevic to carry a rifle and a handgun around openly - he's not breaking any laws by being there.

But viewed in the context of the rampant gun violence going on in this country and elsewhere around the globe, his decision to flaunt his right to do so in a predominantly black neighborhood is unnecessarily confrontational and puts innocent people at risk - at best.

At worst it's bat-shit crazy.

As Slater points out to the police officer in the video, if it was him, a black man, walking around an Akron street with an assault rifle, the cops wouldn't have stopped to speak with him; they would've had their guns out or tased him - or worse.

Remember, people in the neighborhood had already seen Kovacevic walking around the streets back on Monday; dude wasn't just out for a stroll.  By the time he walked up to the barbershop, he'd been doing it for a few days

Residents called the police to report a man carrying an actual assault rifle and a handgun around on a public street - the cops did nothing.

When residents in nearby Cleveland, Ohio called cops to report a kid playing with a toy gun in a park on November 22, 2014, they pulled up and shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice dead within seconds of arriving.

Oh and by the way, according to recent conclusions based on an expert's review of  the video of Tamir Rice being shot, the boy did not even have time to remove his hands from his pockets to put them on the pellet gun he was carrying before he was shot - so he wasn't even reaching for what was not actually a real gun.

So I guess one person in Ohio had the right to carry loaded weapons in public openly and the other didn't?

Same state, same law, remarkably different reaction by police.

Thank God our 2nd Amendment rights are safe though.


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