Among conservative activists in and around the National Capital Region, few are more vocal on the issues of gun control and crime than David A. Keene, chairman of the high-profile American Conservative Union (ACU).
“People rather than guns commit crimes,” Keene wrote in April, 1999, in support of the National Rifle Association’s legislative program to toughen laws on crimes involving guns. “The way to reduce crime is to enact and enforce laws that send criminals who see guns as but the tools of their trade to jail.”
Besides his chairmanship of the ACU, Keene sits on the NRA board and often praises the organization’s legislative efforts in his column that runs on the ACU web site and in their publications. Along with the NRA, ACU lobbied heavily to restrict record keeping on gun purchases and to arm commercial airline pilots after the 9-11 terrorist hijackings and attacks.
ACU is, in large part, a family operation. Keene’s wife handles the association’s business affairs. His son, 21-year-old David M. Keene, until this week, served as ACU’s Director of On-Line Communications.
But young David M. Keene is suddenly missing from ACU’s staff roster and his father isn’t saying much right now about guns or the need to get tough on those who use them.
On Wednesday night, U.S. Park Police arrested the younger Keene and charged him with firing a gun into another car during a road rage incident on the George Washington Parkway in Northern Virginia over the weekend.
Police say Keene was in a BMW that got into an on-road altercation with the driver on a Mercedes while both were heading northbound on the Parkway on Sunday afternoon. Keene, they say, fired a handgun out the window of the BMW. The bullet shattered the rear window of the Mercedes and lodged in the driver’s seat headrest, just inches from the head of the driver.
The driver of the Mercedes wrote down the license number of the BMW and Park Police traced it to Keene.
“If the bullet had been a few inches higher, we would be dealing with murder, not a charge of use of a firearm to commit a crime of violence,” a Park Police spokesman said. “This is a very serious matter.”
Park Police sources say the younger Keene went “to extraordinary lengths” to hide his association with ACU, saying he was “a consultant” and not listing the association as his place of employment. Sources within ACU say the younger Keene quit his job before his arrest to try and avoid any public connection with the association.
When Washington television stations reported the arrest on Thursday, they noted that Keene was the son of a “conservative activist” and “NRA board member,” but failed to make the ACU connection. The elder Keene is not talking about the incident.
I already knew of Keene’s job with ACU because a company I own provided web hosting for ACU’s Internet site for the past two-and-a-half years. Last month, however, I told ACU to find another web host because I felt they had dishonestly claimed a widespread Internet denial of service attack that affected their server was a targeted effort aimed at ACU (it was, in fact, a widespread, non-specific attack that had nothing to do with the association).
My staff gave ACU the facts but they issued a press release anyway that said “ACU was hit with a malicious and targeted, ‘denial of service attack’ on its E-mail server.”
When I asked ACU to correct the inaccuracies in a press release, the elder Keene refused, saying he would not “allow anyone to dictate” what he should or shouldn’t do. That told me a lot about how ACU presents itself to the public.
“Getting press attention is what we do,” the younger Keene said in defense of his father’s actions.
As the old Mongolian proverb says, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.