The firing on two Harvard coaching launches by the Coast Guard brings us face to face with an intolerable state of affairs. Setting out to enforce one law we have virtually abrogated other laws, in glaring violation of the whole principle of law enforcement. The blame cannot be laid directly on the Volstead law. There is nothing in that act which directs reckless firing on boats, regardless of whether there is evidence of law-breaking. The Coast Guard has created this situation on its own motion. Charged with a certain duty, it has made its own rules as to how to proceed and has placed in jeopardy for his life every innocent navigator on the Atlantic Coast.
As the protest of the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce shows, anxiety has become widespread, and, as Senator Edge of New Jersey gives warning, casualties may be expected to follow. In that event, the Coast Guard in the eyes of every sane person will be guilty of nothing short of murder. It lies in its power to forestall any such eventuality and modify its tactics to restore rights of citizens. Its duty perhaps includes the stopping of many boats, but there must be ways of stopping them without shooting at them. And even if it means a few boats get away, the order to shoot should still he rescinded. The New York World.