Syndicated columnist Carl T. Rowan, an outspoken supporter of stricter handgun controls, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he used an unregistered pistol to shoot a teenager who took an unauthorized dip in his backyard pool.
Rowan, who entered his plea before Hearing Commissioner Kaye Christian in D.C. Superior Court, was released on his own recognizance. A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 25. A trial by jury was set for Sept. 22.Rowan, 62, a longtime advocate of gun control, shot one of several intruders in the wrist June 14 and was charged with violating the city's gun-control ordinance. The trespassers were swimming uninvited in Rowan's backyard pool.
Following Monday's 10-minute arraignment, Rowan said he is a "pawn in a brutal game between those who favor and those who oppose handgun control."
If convicted, Rowan would face a sentence of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each charge.
"I want to make it clear that I still favor a strict national law to control the availability of handguns to those who are not law enforcement officers," said Rowan.. "But we do not have such a national law and therefore we must live within the boundaries that exist.
"There is no hypocrisy in advocating a national (gun control) policy, which no one seems to be able to get through Congress, and then living according to the laws and the policies that exist."
The wounded intruder, Ben Smith, 18, of Chevy Chase, Md., was shot in the wrist. Rowan said the young man lunged at him.