Wrongfully accused, wrongfully imprisoned, and held for days without even being charged, Matthew Corwin is now a sad testimony to a climate of fear.
In this post-9/11 era, and especially after the recent tragedies at Virginia Tech, it is perhaps natural for people to be afraid. Fear can be a good thing. It keeps us alive and unhurt, prompting us to use another ATM machine, for example, when a group of thugs hangs around your first choice after dark, casting furtive glances at you as you walk by. But fear can consume you, too, and it can grow into a monster. If you were frightened by a young black man in baggy pants outside your ATM machine, would it be right for you to attack - or arrest - a black student on his way to class in the middle of the day? What if he were wearing baggy pants? Can you justify doing that to someone, just because you were frightened by the way they looked? What if this young man, who turns out to be the class president and had committed no crime, were arrested by the police? Would you be angry? Would you feel a sense of injustice? If you wouldn't, you need to have a long talk with yourself.
Yet this is exactly what was done to Matthew Corwin. President of the Associated Student Body at East L. A. College, military veteran, and part-time MP in the US Army Reserve, Matthew was arrested last week on suspicion of having illegal weapons. You see, in addition to his other interests, Matthew is also a gun-rights advocate. That's right, he has guns. He likes guns. He has lots of friends who like guns, and they go target shooting together on weekends. He is no brooding loner or psychopath. He is just different enough to get noticed. And get noticed he did, when he posted pictures of himself and his friends holding their guns on myspace.
Liking guns is not a crime. Having guns is not a crime. Wearing baggy pants is not a crime. It's true, there are some guns that we, as ordinary citizens, are not allowed to have. But Matthew knows these laws. He knows what is and is not legal, and he and his friends work hard to stay within the law. What they do not do is hide. They are not "in the closet" about their hobby. With them, what you see is what you get.
Last Thursday night, Matthew paid for that honesty, that openness, with his freedom. He didn't hurt anybody. He didn't threatened anybody. He just frightened somebody by being himself.
And now he is in jail. His bond is set at $365,000, so he will not be leaving any time soon. Adding insult to injury, he is prohibited from going within 100 yards of his school's campus, if he manages to get out of jail, or from contacting anyone there. How will he pass his classes and finish the term? Who will do his duties as student body president? Was he a threat to anyone, the next Virginia Tech shooter? Of course not. Ask any of his numerous friends, and they will tell you he was not.
Don't let this fear grow into a monster. Free Matthew Corwin.
-Wolfmans Dad from www.calguns.net