I am certain that you're remembering the case of the late Carl Rowan,
a prominent gun-control advocate and Washington Post columnist who
shot and wounded a teenage trespasser on June 14, 1988. Rowan was
brought to trial for having used an unregistered gun, but the jury
became deadlocked, and the judge declared a mistrial. The case was
I have gathered some online references for you:
"The fate of being charged with illegal gun possession was not escaped
by Carl Rowan when the pro-gun-control columnist used a .22 pistol to
shoot a midnight intruder, who turned out to be a teenage
skinny-dipper using his backyard pool. Mr. Rowan's sensational 1988
trial ended in a hung jury and he was not retried.
In his autobiography, Mr. Rowan said he still favors gun control but
admits being vulnerable to a charge of hypocrisy."
Montgomery Citizens for a Safer Maryland: Despite Risks, More Use Guns
In Self Defense
"[Wall Street Journal, June 24, 1988]
Rowan Case and the Need to Bear Arms
by Dave Kopel
Syndicated columnist Carl Rowan, who last week wounded an intruder who
had taken a dip in his swimming pool, said he was forced to shoot the
young man in self-defense before the police arrived. The U.S.
Attorney's Office said yesterday that Mr. Rowan will not be charged
with assault. Instead, prosecutors reinstated charges of unlawful
entry against two of the intruders. The U.S. Attorney's office said it
would let the District of Columbia authorities decide whether Mr.
Rowan should be charged with possession of an unregistered firearm.
Many people charged Mr. Rowan with hypocrisy because he has been a
longtime advocate of strict gun control. In a 1981 column he advocated
'a law that says anyone found in possession of a handgun except a
legitimate officer of the law goes to jail -- period.' In 1985 he
called for 'a complete and universal federal ban on the sale,
manufacture, importation and possession of a handgun (except for
authorized police and military personnel)."
Dave Kopel: Rowan Case and the Need to Bear Arms
"[Carl] Rowan, who had advocated strict handgun control, found himself
in the center of a gun controversy during the 1980s when he was
arrested and charged with using an unregistered weapon to wound a
teen-ager who intruded into his backyard. Rowan argued that he had the
right to use whatever means necessary to protect himself and his
family. The jury deadlocked and the judge hearing the case declared a
mistrial. Source: 'Columnist Carl Rowan dies at age 75', CNN, 23
In 1988, Rowan shot and wounded in the wrist an intruder who had
trespassed on his property in Washington and used his swimming pool.
Rowan said he had fired because the youth was trying to break into his
house and refused to stop when ordered to do so. He also said the
pistol he used was exempt from the District's strict gun-control laws
because it belonged to his older son, a former FBI agent. District
officials disagreed and charged the columnist with violating those
laws. A highly publicized trial ended with a hung jury. Source:
'Columnist Carl Rowan Dies at 75', The Washington Post, 24 September
Rowan was 'a towering presence' in Washington -- and a hell of a
song-and-dance man, writes fellow Sun-Times commentator Robert Novak.
Novak adds that Rowan's 1988 run-in with teenagers skinny-dipping in
his pool (he shot one of them in the wrist) 'led to the only really
negative publicity in his career.' " Source: '...AND SO IS CARL
ROWAN', USC Annenberg - Online Journalism Review, 26 September 2000"
Personal website for Rex Tincher: Carl Rowan used illegal handgun to
shoot at children
"In The Coming Race War in America, Carl Rowan issues anew a call for
complete disarmament of civilians. Throughout his career as a
columnist and television commentator, Rowan has stridently defended
radical gun control. In October 1985, for example, Rowan declared in a
column that there should be a 'universal federal ban on sale,
manufacture, importation and possession of handguns.' In a 1981 essay
he argued on behalf of a gun control regime in which 'Anyone found in
possession of a handgun except a legitimate officer of the law goes to
jail -- period.' However, on June 14, 1988, the public learned that
Rowan would exempt himself from this prohibition. On that date, Rowan
shot and wounded -- with an unregistered .22 caliber pistol -- Neil
Smith, a young intruder who had trespassed onto Rowan's property to
take a dip in his swimming pool.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Rowan offered several
conflicting accounts regarding the provenance of his handgun. He
originally stated that he had purchased the gun himself in response to
threats on his life (which he later claimed had been made by the Ku
Klux Klan). He also initially claimed that the gun had been properly
registered. However, when DC police disclosed that the gun had not
been registered, Rowan changed his story, claiming that the gun
belonged to his son, who 'was an FBI agent and did not have to
register it [because it was] properly registered federally.' This
claim was deflected by DC police authorities, who pointed out that
under DC law, all guns must be registered locally; failure to do so
was punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine."
The New American: Fanning the Flames of Rage
My Google search strategy:
Google Web Search: "carl rowan" gun
I hope this is precisely on target. If not, please request
clarification, and I'll gladly reload and take another shot at it!