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Maryland Governor’s New Proposal Targets Bullet Limits

I remember from my childhood a song lyric that read, “Once you trade magic for fact there are no trade-backs.”  Have we now entered a point in our political evolution where the reverse has happened and we are now trading fact for magic? In my home state of Maryland, a state where a Democratic super-majority in the state legislature and a Democratic governor have unfettered political control, law-making is seemingly guided by an allegiance to magic.  I want to highlight a new proposal on Governor O’Malley’s agenda: a gun-control measure in the form of a bullet limit regulation on magazines.

The tragedy in Newtown has sparked a long-overdue, national conversation regarding targeted violence in our society. A conversation that, in my experience as both a former law-enforcement officer and Secret Service agent, should have been focused on cultural issues and mental health treatment, rather than  a war on our God-given right to protect ourselves and our families in a dangerous world.

Despite any evidence that established regulatory measures have curbed targeted violence, and despite the obvious fact that having a firearm enables you to stand a fighting chance when confronted with one, our governor continues to push for more restrictions based on media sound bites. I single out magazine size because in my sixteen-years-plus of experience with firearms as a Secret Service agent, I have never come into contact with a criminal who felt that magazine regulations on the number of permissible bullets was a barrier to him; it is only the legal gun-owner who now is limited in his ability to defend himself.

The data has been rehashed for weeks by a variety of outlets, and the arguments are ongoing.  My goal here is just to speak to you from the perspective of a father, a husband and a former Secret Service agent who spent his life designing plans to prevent violent acts from occurring.  I am not a member of the National Rifle Association, and, despite the ability to do so for the majority of my adult life, I rarely have carried my firearm off-duty.

Most political commentators and elected officials I have heard recently speaking on the issue have never made an arrest for a gun crime, have never investigated a gun crime, have very little (if any) experience handling weapons, and most importantly, have never seen the horror of a gun crime up close and personal. Yet, the aforementioned individuals comment freely, unabashedly expressing their feeling that your ability to protect yourself should be curtailed because they know “what you need” and what you don’t.

The criminals I have investigated and interviewed, who have been in possession of weapons, all have a common story to tell regarding firearms: laws do not matter. Yes, this is tragic and unfortunate to write, and there is nothing I would like more than for Pandora ’s Box to be retroactively closed and for gunpowder and the human propensity for violence to be banished, but that is magic.  Limiting a firearm magazine to ten bullets or to seven bullets, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo did recently, is law-making based on magic– the magic of intentions, and not the reality of results. Criminals, whose entire livelihood centers on the ability to use force against you, will not follow this law and will likely not even be aware of it.

There are millions of thirty-plus bullet magazines in circulation that, due to both the ease of construction and durability, will continue to be readily available to lawbreakers eager to use them on you. Yet, law-abiding citizens will be subject to a ten-bullet limit and in the tragic circumstance that a weapon is used against them, the numbers are not in their favor.  Making matters worse, the value of these magazines acquired through home theft and illegal trafficking, which will continue, will rise dramatically and create a black market. Either way, you lose. I wish all of this were not so, but I live in a world of facts. Having been a firsthand witness to the horrid aftermath of deadly violence brought to bear on a victim, I owe my family a fighting chance.  That is my right.

Daniel Bongino

Daniel Bongino began his career with the NYPD in 1995 as a Police Cadet while attending The City University of New York full time. During his tenure in the Cadet program, Daniel was a member of the distinguished pattern identification unit which specialized in the identification and apprehension of serial criminals. Daniel proudly joined the ranks of the U.S. Secret Service in 1999 as a Special Agent where he graduated the Secret Service training academy with honors. Beginning his career in the New York Field Office, he was assigned to investigate federal crimes, including but not limited to, computer crimes, bank fraud, credit card fraud, protective intelligence and counterfeiting. His early career was marked by a number of investigative successes. Although the details of his signature investigation are still for official use only, it involved over 300 million dollars in potential financial fraud and a nexus to international terrorism. This joint investigation in cooperation with the FBI, IRS, SSA and a number of local police agencies, was responsible for collapsing a major international fraud ring. The investigation earned Daniel the Department of Justice recognition award, along with other agency specific awards, for excellence in federal investigations. Daniel left the New York Field Office in 2002 to become an instructor at the Secret Service Training Academy in Beltsville, Maryland. He was the project manager for the re-design of the investigative tactics training program which he subsequently taught to incoming trainees. Daniel was awarded a number of commendations for his work in researching and re-designing the investigative curriculum to reflect current trends in federal crime. In 2006, Daniel entered into duty on the elite Presidential Protection Division in the administration of President George W. Bush, graduating at the top of his class in the difficult detail training program. Daniel distinguished himself early by becoming one of the earliest tenured Special Agents to be given responsibility for an operational section of the protective detail. Daniel remained on protective duty during the change in administration to President Barack Obama and again distinguished himself by quickly becoming the highest ranking member of his operational shift of agents. With this distinction came greater responsibility and Daniel quickly rose to the challenge. He was designated as the lead agent responsible for the coordination of the President’s trip to Prague for the signing of the START treaty, his visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, among a myriad of terror threats, and finally as the lead agent responsible for the President’s visit to an active war zone in Afghanistan. With the successful coordination of these historic events, Daniel was awarded a series of commendations and left the protective detail as one of the most distinguished agents in their history. Daniel transferred to the Baltimore Field Office in 2010 where he immediately made an impact on the community, breaking up one of the largest fraud rings in Maryland’s history.

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