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The District Attorney’s Office was among the agencies appearing before the Erie County Legislature last month during midyear budget hearings to control spending.

I’m no fiscal expert, but I know one way the DA can save taxpayer money: Don’t waste a lot of it probing gun owner John R. Hunt Sr.

Hunt is the Minnesota Avenue father who was washing the family car in his driveway Sunday when a pair of gun-toting miscreants decided it was easier to steal than apply for a job. One put a gun on Hunt’s son and stole expensive jewelry and $800 before Hunt went into the house, retrieved his own registered 9 mm and shot both when he says they turned their weapons on him.

Granted, some of the victims may not have been priests; carrying $800 while washing the car could give new meaning to money “laundering.” The DA must do his due diligence.

But this also wasn’t a case of an unarmed 17-year-old with iced tea and Skittles being shot after minding his own business.

Rather, the Hunts apparently were minding their own business when the gunmen swooped in, creating chaos. Watson’s Law says when an armed robber creates chaos, he’s responsible for whatever results from it. Case closed.

In fact, for all of the mocking he took after his Newtown news conference – much of it deserved for his tone-deafness – this incident makes NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre look prophetic when he said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

It’s an example of what gun-rights advocates claim are 2.5 million annual uses of guns in self-defense to thwart criminals and save lives. They even have their own cadre of criminologists who write books with titles like “More Guns, Less Crime.”

Gun-control advocates counter with their own numbers, roundly dismissing the 2.5 million figure, which was based on a 1993 survey of gun owners. Instead, they point to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victims Survey, which found guns were used to thwart crime about 82,200 times a year. That’s nowhere near 2.5 million – but still a lot.

But once you cut through the dueling statistics, it comes down to this: Do you choose to be helpless when armed trouble walks up your driveway?

In many neighborhoods, residents have the luxury of not having to make that calculation. They can look at the fact that firearms suicides and accidental deaths far outnumber the times guns are used for self-defense, and conclude the risk is not worth the potential cost.

But in other neighborhoods, they’re not that lucky. When they factor crime rates into the equation, it’s easy to conclude that owning a gun is the sane thing to do.

That’s why there’s so much outrage over New York State’s roadblocks, like the ridiculous waiting period for a handgun permit or the arbitrary restrictions imposed by the SAFE Act. (If the 9 mm was a semiautomatic, I hope Hunt didn’t put more than seven rounds in it.)

Unless Hunt’s account totally falls apart upon investigation, he should get a good citizenship medal – not hassles from the law. Prosecuting him would send entirely the wrong message – both to thugs like the two he shot, and to legal gun owners who might otherwise be dead by the time police arrive.

email: rwatson@buffnews.com