Wednesday’s investigation of fatal shootings in Maryland and Delaware and the subsequent arrest of the suspect and revelations about his criminal background unintentionally demonstrate yet another failure of gun control laws and the court system.
Various news agencies have reported that the suspect, 37-year-old Radee L. Prince, had a criminal history that included burglary convictions and jail time, and subsequent firearms charges in 2015 that were later dropped. He could have spent 25 years behind bars after pleading guilty to 15 counts, but the court suspended all but two years of the sentence, published reports said.
According to an account in USA Today, “Prince has an extensive criminal history in Delaware. Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said at an afternoon press conference that Prince has been arrested 42 times in Delaware alone.”
The newspaper said Prince’s criminal record “includes 15 felony convictions, four misdemeanor convictions and numerous arrests for violations of probation.”
Yet, Prince was on the street and the gun laws of both states did not prevent him from being armed. From the perspective of gun rights activists, those laws actually prevent law-abiding citizens from being able to defend themselves from a rampage of the type Prince allegedly committed.
Prince had once been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a handgun in a vehicle. There was also a restraining order against Prince, according to the Baltimore Sun, which also should have kept him disarmed.
But criminals don’t obey gun laws, a fact that has been repeated countless times by Second Amendment activists.
According to KOMO News in Seattle, Washington, Prince lived in the Puget Sound region for several years, where he also had trouble with local police. He was reportedly cited for leaving the scene of an accident, and later a warrant was issued for failure to appear in court. He had four traffic violations in 2012-2013.
In March 2015, the Sun reported, he was stopped by a police officer for having a headlight out, and there was a verbal confrontation. At that time, police found a gun under the center console, leading to the felon-in-possession charge.
Maryland is a state with very restrictive gun control laws. Law-abiding citizens with no criminal background have difficulty obtaining such a permit, and courts have so far declined to strike down the discretionary concealed carry law in that state.
Delaware’s gun laws are equally restrictive, and getting a carry permit there is also difficult.