Posts Tagged ‘Gun control’

Like Clockwork

February 18, 2018

It happens every time, like clockwork. There is a horrific mass shooting somewhere in America and right away the Democrats are exploiting the tragedy to promote “common sense” gun control.

Friend —

Yesterday afternoon, a 19-year-old with a weapon of war walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire, killing 17 people and injuring many others.

We have seen this happen too many times. This is not normal. This is not acceptable. This is not inevitable. It’s long past time for our leaders to stop pretending we are helpless in the face of such tragedy.

Let’s be very clear about something. The vast majority of Americans support common-sense solutions to prevent this type of gun violence. But the special interests that stand against measures like universal background checks are ruthless — and they’re also better organized.

Each election cycle, the NRA spends tens of millions of dollars to defeat candidates who will stand against their extreme agenda — and as a result, many Republican elected officials owe their election in part to support from the gun lobby. So it’s no surprise why gun violence prevention legislation never makes any progress in Congress.

Enough is enough. What we’re letting happen right now in America is madness. Our children and our country deserve better.

We deserve a Congress that is willing to take up this debate. We deserve more than thoughts and prayers when these tragedies happen. We deserve leaders who understand the urgent need to take action on this issue.

Changing our gun laws won’t stop every mass shooting — but it will stop some of them. And we have to try.

There are solutions that can address our nation’s epidemic of gun violence — such as expanding background checks and closing the gun-show loophole. Now we just need to elect a Congress with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby.

We must not become numb to these horrendous mass shootings. We must keep fighting.

Tom

Tom Perez
Chair
Democratic National Committee

P.S. It is up to all of us to demand action on this issue. Add your name to tell Congress it’s past time to take action to address our country’s gun violence epidemic: https://my.democrats.org/Address-Gun-Violence

Before we have this discussion yet again, there are some questions that need to be answered.

First, why didn’t the Democrats enact “common sense” gun control during the first half of President Obama’s first term when they had control of both houses of Congress? For a short time, they even had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. They were able to get Obamacare through on a strict party line vote, why not the gun control they say they wanted? Probably because they had some idea of how unpopular such legislation would be in “Flyover Country”. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 may well have been a contributing factor in the Democrat’s loss of their majority in both houses of Congress for the first time in forty years.

Speaking of unpopular gun control measures, what about this idea that gun control is favored by a vast majority of Americans with only the nefarious NRA and their Big Money standing in the way, presumably because the NRA just loves to see people shot? Well, American public opinion on guns and gun control is complicated. Most Americans do indeed support some form of restrictions on gun ownership, in the abstract. When you ask about detailed proposals, though, opinion gets more polarized with less public support. And, how does the NRA have so much political clout and money? Could it possibly be because it has a large number of members and supporters who mostly agree with the NRA’s positions on gun control? Isn’t it possible that the NRA is less extreme and more mainstream than Tom Perez, at least outside the more liberal coasts and in rural areas?

What gun control legislation is actually likely to be effective? How effective are universal background checks, closing loopholes and the like actually going to be at preventing the next tragedy? This is not to say such legislation is not a good idea, it might or might not be, but will it really have much of an effect. And, how well are current laws to prevent people with mental illness or a criminal record being enforced? It is no good putting laws on the books if they are not enforced with some rigor. I think, that the only thing likely to really affect the level of gun violence in the United States would be to greatly curtail the private ownership of guns, even an outright ban on gun ownership. This is undesirable for many reasons and is politically impossible, at present. If the Democrats were honest, though, this would be what they would be proposing.

Would such extreme measures be necessary? Contrary to the impressions you might get from the media, crime rates have been declining in the United States for the last two decades. Mass shootings, while always tragic, comprise only a tiny minority of the crimes in this country. It is not clear whether the number of mass shootings has been rising in recent years. Everyone seems to have a different definition of what defines a mass shooting their particular agenda seems to affect the way they interpret the data. Mass shootings get a lot of attention, but they are not typical of the violent crimes committed in the United States.

One more question. Guns have been around for a long time. They were probably even more ubiquitous back when most Americans lived in rural areas. Why have we only seen mass shootings, especially in schools, in the last few decades? We didn’t have these shootings in the 1960’s, or the ’50’s or the ’40’s. Why not? Andrew Klavan has an answer that I mostly agree with, though the fact that violent crime has been decreasing might undermine his theory, and I am not sure I want to point the finger of partisan blame just now.

It was after a school shooting near Spokane last September that Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich addressed a clutch of reporters:

When I was in high school, every one of those rigs in the high school parking lot had a gun in the gun rack. Why? We went hunting on the way home. None of those guns ever walked into a school, none of those guns ever shot anybody… Did the gun change or did you as a society change? I’ll give you odds it was you as a society. Because you started glorifying cultures of violence. You glorified the gang culture, you glorified games that actually gave you points for raping and killing people. The gun didn’t change, we changed.

It seems clear to me the sheriff was speaking about rap music with its hateful, violent and misogynistic lyrics, and video games like Grand Theft Auto, where you can have sex with a prostitute then strangle her or pull an innocent person out of a car, beat him, then steal his vehicle.

I am a First Amendment purist and don’t want to see expression censored in any way. And I don’t argue that there’s a straight line between any specific cultural creation and bad acts. But surely, a culture in which those in authority approve of and argue for things like gangsta rap and GTA — and indeed for the use of violenceto silence speech that offends them — well, such a culture becomes a machine for transforming madness into murder.

For fifteen years and more, I have been complaining that the right is silenced in our culture — blacklisted and excluded and ignored in entertainment, mainstream news outlets, and the universities. But the flip side of that is this: the degradation of our culture is almost entirely a leftist achievement. Over the last fifty years, it’s the left that has assaulted every moral norm and disdained every religious and cultural restraint.

The left owns the dismal tide. They don’t like the results? They’re looking for someone or something to blame? Maybe they should start by hunting up a mirror.

Maybe the fault is not in the guns, but in ourselves.

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Dilbert and Gun Control

July 15, 2016

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, took some time away from praising Donald Trump’s abilities at persuasion to explain why “commonsense gun control” isn’t getting anywhere in America.

On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime.

On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense.

If you don’t believe me, you can check the statistics on the Internet that don’t exist. At least I couldn’t find any that looked credible.

But we do know that race and poverty are correlated. And we know that poverty and crime are correlated. And we know that race and political affiliation are correlated. Therefore, my team (Clinton) is more likely to use guns to shoot innocent people, whereas the other team (Trump) is more likely to use guns for sporting and defense.

That’s a gross generalization. Obviously. Your town might be totally different.

So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”

Scott Adams is being humorous but his observations are essentially correct. Gun control has become yet another one of those intractable culture war issues. People’s opinions on this matter are a reflection of their own values and experiences and since different people have different values, this is not an issue that it is easy, or even possible, to come to any sort of national consensus on policy.

The people who support stricter gun control laws tend to live in urban areas. For them, guns are weapons wielded by the bad guys to commit violent crimes. They probably do not own any guns and have only seen guns used in the movies and on television. Gun use is not a part of their lives and guns are strange and alien to them. For some of the better educated, guns may symbolize the violence which they believe that they believe that they have evolved beyond, forgetting perhaps that they are protected from violence by armed policemen and soldiers and maybe even private security. Guns are “icky” for them and we would all be better off if they would all go away.

The people who oppose stricter gun control laws often live in rural areas and small towns. For them, guns are essential tools for self defense and recreation. In place where response time to emergencies may be many minutes or even hours, it seems foolish not be able to take care of yourself. They may have grown up around guns or may have a military or law enforcement background so guns are familiar to them. For many, guns may symbolize freedom and self-reliance and they reinforce their self image as rugged individuals descended from frontiersmen. They may have an instinctive feel for the medieval concept that a free man is an armed man so when someone says, “we must control guns to prevent crimes”, they hear, “we must take away your guns to take away your freedom”.

When two sides are talking past one another, speaking practically different languages, it is almost impossible to come to any solution that satisfies both sides. As Scott Adams puts it.

Let’s all take a deep breath and shake off the mental discomfort I just induced in half of my readers. You can quibble with my unsupported assumptions about gun use, but keep in mind that my point is about psychology and about big group averages. If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine.

So let’s stop acting as if there is something like “common sense” gun control to be had if we all act reasonably. That’s not an option in this case because we all have different risk profiles when it comes to guns. My gun probably makes me safer, but perhaps yours makes you less safe. You can’t reconcile those interests.

Our situation in the United States is that people with different risk profiles are voting for their self-interests as they see it. There is no compromise to be had in this situation unless you brainwash one side or the other to see their self-interest differently. And I don’t see anyone with persuasion skills trying to do that on either side.

If we had a real government – the kind that works – we would acknowledge that gun violence is not one big problem with one big solution. It is millions of people with different risk profiles voting their self-interest as they see it.

In fact, it is very difficult to come to a consensus on almost any really divisive issue in a diverse country that spans a continent and has a population of more than three hundred million. All of those culture war issues; abortion, gay marriage, gun control, etc might be more easily resolved if the people in each state or region were permitted to find their own solutions to these controversial issues. If California were permitted to enact strict gun control laws and Utah could ban abortion, while Massachusetts encouraged gay marriage and Tennessee forbade it than the residents of California, Utah, Massachusetts, and Tennessee might be happy with the outcomes, even if the people of other states might not. At least if such decisions were made democratically on the state and local level, people would feel that they had some say in whatever compromises were adopted. As it is, with the left insisting that every problem must have a national, one size fits all solution, enacted by the court if the legislature is not cooperative, people feel as if policies are imposed on them by a distant and unresponsive federal government.

If we had a government that works, it would leave people alone to live their lives as they see fit. It would allow us to cling to our guns and our religion.

Open Carry Follies

October 11, 2014

I happen to be a staunch supporter of the second amendment right to bear arms, and naturally I oppose strict gun control laws. This is not because I have a great love of guns. I have never owned a gun of any sort and I don’t have any plans to acquire any sort of firearm. I have never even shot a gun in my entire life. I am certain that if I did happen to have a gun, I would be more dangerous to myself than to any potential enemy. My support for the second amendment is entirely on libertarian grounds. If you want to own and carry a gun, that’s your right and I wouldn’t want to stop you. I have no use for guns, but I respect your right to have one.

Having said all that, I must confess that I find that the thinking of some of the more enthusiastic gun lovers to be a bit, well, dumb. What I mean is the idea some of them seem to have that they will happen upon the scene of a crime in progress or will be confronted by a mugger and they will whip out their trusty sidearm and take care of the situation. I think they must have a scene rather like this one playing in the theater of their minds.

I wish I could have found that clip without the commentary. Anyway, this story relates a somewhat more likely outcome.

A Gresham, Oregon open carry enthusiast was robbed of his weapon on Saturday by another man with a gun.

According to KOIN Channel 6, 21-year-old William Coleman III of Gresham was standing and talking to his cousin shortly after 2:00 a.m. on Saturday when another man approached him and asked for a cigarette.

The other man — described as a black male around 6 feet tall with a lean build and wavy hair — asked Coleman about his weapon, a Walther P22 pistol.

He then pulled a pistol from the waistband of his pants, pointed it at Coleman and said, “I like your gun. Give it to me.”

Coleman did as he was told and the man then fled on foot. He was reportedly wearing gray sweatpants, flip flop sandals and a white t-shirt and had a small patch of facial hair on his chin.

Coleman told police the suspect appeared to be between 19 and 23 years of age.

Now, concealed carry makes sense in that if the bad guy doesn’t know you are armed, you can give him a nasty surprise. That element of uncertainly whether a potential victim is armed may act as a deterrent to a criminal. Openly carrying a gun makes less sense, since a criminal can see that you are armed and take precautions, such as pointing his own weapon at you and disarming you, or even deciding to shoot first.

But the real lesson in this particular story is that it is easy to concoct fantasies about what you might do in a dangerous situation but the simple truth is that none of us can possibly know what we might do until the situation is actually occurring. Unless you are specially trained or have actual experience, chances are that you will not engage in a shootout with a criminal. You will not stop a madman shooting up a shopping mall. You will be running and hiding like all the other people. Carry a gun, either openly or concealed if you wish, but don’t take for granted that you will be a hero when the time comes.

I should say that I am likely to prove a bigger coward than most if I were confronted with an armed attacker. Since this is not something that occurs in my environment, I would have no idea how to react and would probably freeze and stand looking at the shooter stupidly, not even being able to panic. I say this in case anyone reading the previous paragraph might imagine that I am trying to make myself look braver or smarter than others. I know myself better than to imagine that would be the case. (Although, the one time I was robbed while working the night shift at a convenience store, I was not afraid but irritated. I do not know whether they were actually armed. One of them had his hand in his jacket pocket as if he were holding a hand gun, but I think he was bluffing. They tried to open the cash register but it locked and when they told me to open it, I told them I couldn’t because they had messed it up. A customer entered the store and they fled with nothing for their trouble. I cannot say I was especially brave, just irritated because they really had messed up the cash register.)

I should also say that looking over the comments of this story is a really depressing experience. I don’t know whether the ignorant and the vindictive are drawn to the comments section of stories like this, or commenting on such stories brings out the worst aspects of human nature. Either way it is depressing.

Sheriffs Against Gun Control

December 18, 2013

I read in the news this week that there are some county sheriffs in Colorado and New York that have decided to refuse to enforce the stricter gun control laws that their state legislatures have passed. The story can be found in the New York Times, but I first read about it in Charles C. W. Cooke’s article on National Review Online. Here is an excerpt from the New York Times story.

When Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County explains in speeches why he is not enforcing the state’s new gun laws, he holds up two 30-round magazines. One, he says, he had before July 1, when the law banning the possession, sale or transfer of the large-capacity magazines went into effect. The other, he “maybe” obtained afterward.

He shuffles the magazines, which look identical, and then challenges the audience to tell the difference.

“How is a deputy or an officer supposed to know which is which?” he asks.

Colorado’s package of gun laws, enacted this year after mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., has been hailed as a victory by advocates of gun control. But if Sheriff Cooke and a majority of the other county sheriffs in Colorado offer any indication, the new laws — which mandate background checks for private gun transfers and outlaw magazines over 15 rounds — may prove nearly irrelevant across much of the state’s rural regions.

Some sheriffs, like Sheriff Cooke, are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights. Many more say that enforcement will be “a very low priority,” as several sheriffs put it. All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.

The resistance of sheriffs in Colorado is playing out in other states, raising questions about whether tougher rules passed since Newtown will have a muted effect in parts of the American heartland, where gun ownership is common and grass-roots opposition to tighter restrictions is high.

In New York State, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed one of the toughest gun law packages in the nation last January, two sheriffs have said publicly they would not enforce the laws — inaction that Mr. Cuomo said would set “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” The sheriffs’ refusal is unlikely to have much effect in the state: According to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, since 2010 sheriffs have filed less than 2 percent of the two most common felony gun charges. The vast majority of charges are filed by the state or local police.

In Liberty County, Fla., a jury in October acquitted a sheriff who had been suspended and charged with misconduct after he released a man arrested by a deputy on charges of carrying a concealed firearm. The sheriff, who was immediately reinstated by the governor, said he was protecting the man’s Second Amendment rights.

I really hate to say it but Andrew Cuomo is right and these sheriffs are wrong. While law enforcement does have some discretion in making priorities and allocating resources in  enforcing the law, they do not have the authority to decide what laws they wish to enforce, nor may they refuse to enforce laws duly made by the legislature. In our republic  it is the legislature’s job to make the laws and the judiciary’s job to decide on their constitutionality. If the people do not like the laws that the legislature makes, they can petition the legislature to change the laws or they may change the legislators, as has already been done in Colorado. By acting as they are, the sheriffs, however well intentioned, are setting a precedent for the replacing of a country governed by laws and the constitution into a country governed by the whims of despots. I might add the fact that the chief law enforcer of the country, the President, has been deciding for himself what laws to enforce may well be considered grounds for impeachment, however politically impossible it may be at this time. These sheriffs are making themselves part of the problem rather than the solution.

Good News

April 20, 2013

There has been good news lately. First, the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing has been captured alive.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was discovered by a homeowner lying in a boat in the man’s backyard around 7 p.m. The man noticed blood on the boat, spotted a body inside the boat and called 911, according to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

According to police, a helicopter with infrared technology then located Tsarnaev in the boat and noted that he was moving about within it. The helicopter directed officers on the ground to the boat, where they briefly exchanged gunfire shortly before 7 p.m.

Police halted their gunfire and sent hostage negotiators to try and talk Tsarnaev out of the boat Davis said.

But the suspect was not responsive, and after about an hour and 45 minutes, officers went to the boat and took Tsarnaev into custody.

His arrest sparked a spontaneous celebration in Watertown with people high fiving police, chanting Boston strong and USA.

“We got him,” Boston Mayor Tom Menino tweeted immediately after Tsarnaev was arrested. “I have never loved this city & its people more than I do today. Nothing can defeat the heart of this city .. nothing.”

The Boston police department also sent out a tweet in the aftermath trumpeting, “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”

Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, are believed to be behind the bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday that killed three individuals and injured more than 170.

Tsarnaev was then transported away from the scene in an ambulance, as law enforcement officials and onlookers clapped and cheered.

The alleged bomber had been shot by police during gunfire nearly 24 hours earlier, when he and his brother allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer and then engaged in a shootout with cops.

Police said tonight that there were some 200 rounds of ammunition, as well as improvised explosive devices and homemade hand grenades found at the scene of the shooting. Tamerlan was killed in the gunfire, but Dzhokhar fled on foot into Watertown.

Police locked down a 20-block section of Watertown today and searched door-to-door with heavily armed SWAT team members.

But police said at a press conference after the standoff ended that Tsarnaev had escaped their manhunt and hid himself in the boat just one block outside of the perimeter they were searching.

“We know he didn’t go straight to the boat,” said Watertown police chief Edward P. Deveau. “We found blood in the car he abandoned and we found blood in a house inside the perimeter. We had no information that he had gotten outside the perimeter, but it was very chaotic this morning. We had a police officer who was shot and bleeding.”

“We had a perimeter that we thought was solid and we did that but we were about one block away,” Deveau said.

Tsarnaev is in “serious” condition at a hospital tonight, Davis said.

A senior Justice Department official told ABC News that federal law enforcement officials are invoking the public safety exception to the Miranda rights, so that Tsarnaev will be questioned immediately without having Miranda rights issued to him.

The federal government’s high value detainee interrogation group will be responsible for questioning him.

The Miranda exemption exists to protect the public safety from another attack, according to the official.

The capture was quickly followed by a press conference with a host of law enforcement officials, ranging from the Boston police commissioner to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney who will ultimately prosecute the case, all of whom praised the work of officers and the public.

President Obama condemned the actions of the bombers today, though he warned the public not to jump to conclusions about motivations.

“In this day of instant reporting, tweets, and blogs, there is a temptation to latch onto any bit of information, sometimes to jump to conclusions, but when a tragedy like this happens, with the public safety at risk and the stakes so high, it important to do this right,” Obama said. “That’s why have an investigation, that’s why we relentlessly gather the facts, that’s why we have courts.”

“Whatever hateful agenda drove these men cannot, will not prevail,” he said, “and whatever they thought they could achieve failed because the people of Boston refuse to be intimidated, and we as Americans refuse to be terrorized.”

I am not sure if it would have been better if Tsarnaev had been killed. I hate for him to have the publicity of a trial, but on the other hand it must surely be worth interrogating him. I like what the president said about not jumping to conclusions about his motives. I take it, he does not want us to speculate on whether the Tsarnaev brothers might possibly have been inspired by the teachings of the Religion of Peace. If the bombers had been anti-government Tea Party/militia fanatics, as so many of the left wished, President Obama wouldn’t hesitate to speculate on their motives, and blame the Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and whoever else was even remotely conservative.

The other good news was earlier this week. The Senate easily defeated Obama’s gun control proposals, marking a clear victory for the cause of liberty. This report from the Washington Post seems to be even more biased than usual.

President Obama’s ambitious effort to overhaul the nation’s gun laws in response to December’s school massacre in Connecticut suffered a resounding defeat Wednesday, when every major proposal he championed fell apart on the Senate floor.

It was a stunning collapse for gun-control advocates just four months after the deaths of 20 children and six adults in Newtown led the president and many others to believe that the political climate on guns had been altered in their favor.

The national drive for laws that might prevent another mass shooting unraveled under intense pressure from the gun rights lobby, which used regional and cultural differences among senators to prevent new firearms restrictions.

One by one, the Senate blocked or defeated proposals that would ban certain military-style assault rifles and limit the size of ammunition magazines.

But the biggest setback for the White House was the defeat of a measure to expand background checks to most gun sales. The Senate defied polls showing that nine in 10 Americans support the idea, which was designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.

“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” a visibly angry Obama said as he delivered his response to the nation.

The president was flanked by Newtown families, a scowling Vice President Biden and former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in 2011 in Tucson and limped from the Oval Office to join Obama in the Rose Garden.

Anytime Barack Obama is upset and angry is a good day for America. The president and his minions in the media are confused by this defeat, but the matter is not really very complicated. There never was any strong ground swell in public opinion for stricter gun control despite the efforts of Organizing for America and the New York Times. Most Americans have more important things to worry about at the moment, like whether the economy is ever going to get any better or whether they will have a job.

Even when Americans do think about gun control, they are far less likely to support the idea than in past decades. There has been a real change in American public opinion, at least since 9/11 and probably before that. Americans are less likely these days to passively sit back and let the authorities and the experts take care of things. In part this change is the result of a growing realization that the experts don’t really know what they are doing. Compare how many attempts at terrorism have been foiled by Homeland Security as opposed to private citizens paying attention to their surroundings.

Walter Russel Mead has similar thoughts and has manged to tie together these two seemingly separate news items.

Millions of Americans listening to the bulletins on the developing manhunt were either glad they had guns in their homes or thought seriously about getting them. Yet for many professional journalists, and maybe especially those in the Acela corridor in the Northeast, this reaction is incomprehensible.

Put simply, millions of Americans don’t want to depend only on the police for protection. They think about the inevitable interval between calling 911 and the arrival of the cops, and they don’t want to wait helplessly for the good guys to arrive. Events like this one reinforce deeply held public beliefs about the dangerous world we live in and the limits of the state’s ability to protect the people from the bad guys.

This may not strike enlightened and well credentialed Acela liberals as sensible or rational, but that’s not the point. Without understanding the visceral belief that many Americans have, that their “right to bear arms” is about self defense and the right to take care of your own when the State fails you, it’s impossible to understand the politics of gun control in the United States.

The chances of getting 60 votes in the Senate for serious gun control remain slim to none.

I think this is a good thing. The police and Homeland Security cannot be everywhere and as the Tsarnaev brothers, and 9/11, has shown in the War on Terrorism everywhere is potentially a front and everyone is potentially a front line soldier. Rather than trying to take guns away from people, Obama and company would do better to encourage more Americans to be armed.

 

Message from Maryland’s Martin O’Malley

April 8, 2013
Martin O'Malley, Governor of the U.S. state of...

Martin O’Malley, Governor of the U.S. state of Maryland. Enemy of freedom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bit of alliteration there. Anyway, I recently received a fund raising e-mail from Martin O’Malley, the governor of Maryland. He wanted to inform me of Maryland’s recent success in curbing gun violence and urged me to support the Democrats.

David

Throughout my career as a prosecutor, city councilman, mayor of Baltimore, and now governor of Maryland, I’ve had to attend too many funerals for men, women, and children who have lost their lives to gun violence.

I’ve spent my career working with law enforcement to drive down violent crime, and I am happy to say that today, we are taking another step forward toward curbing gun violence.

Yesterday, our state legislature passed a comprehensive public safety package that will make sure fewer mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters will lose a loved one to gun violence in Maryland.

What is this comprehensive public safety package? He doesn’t say. Here are some details, courtesy of Fox News.

The measure would require people who buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to state police, bans 45 types of assault weapons, and limits gun magazines to 10 bullets. It also addresses firearms access for the mentally ill.

Maryland will become the first state in nearly 20 years to require potential handgun buyers to submit fingerprints to state police. Only five other states have a similar requirement: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Gun control advocates say the fingerprinting requirement will help keep guns away from criminals, because it will make people reluctant to buy firearms for those who are not allowed to have them. Opponents say the bill erodes Second Amendment rights and ultimately penalizes law-abiding citizens without focusing on lawbreakers.

Although the measure bans 45 types of assault weapons, people who own them now will be able to keep them. People who order the weapons before Oct. 1, when the law would take effect, also would be able to keep them.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility won’t be allowed to have a gun.

The first question that should be asked about all of this is will this legislation actually reduce crimes committed with guns and will the public be any safer as a result. In general, criminals will likely be less affected by any tougher gun control laws than law abiding citizens for the simple reason that being criminals, they are not likely to obey any particular laws. This is not necessarily an argument against the Maryland legislation. It may well be that the benefits will outweigh the costs. The costs have to be considered, though. Is Governor O’Malley prepared to divert law enforcement resources to suppressing the illegal and semi-legal trade in firearms that will develop? Are these measures worth the irritation and aggravation they will cause people with a legitimate need for guns? Will they actually prevent enough crime to make it worth the trouble?

I notice that Governor O’Malley describes the legislation he signed as “a comprehensive public safety package”, without mentioning the detail that this safety package seems more designed to make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to obtain firearms. Why doesn’t he just openly and honestly say something to the effect that he thinks that private possession of firearms causes gun crime and that it is a matter of public safety to discourage such ownership by making the process of obtaining them by private persons as onerous as possible? Why are the Democrats pushing “gun safety” and not “gun control” as they used to? I imagine because they can’t afford to be so honest. American public opinion has been becoming more libertarian in the past few decades, and Americans are less impressed with the idea of government controlling much of anything they were  half a century ago. Note that our recent economic recession did not push American public opinion towards favoring bigger government as liberals had hoped it would. Public opinion has also shifted against the government telling people what guns they can own. So, the Democrats have had to change the slogan.

Here is more from Governor O’Malley.

Even though the proposal is supported by a large majority of Marylanders, we had to work harder than ever before to pass it into law. The interest groups who oppose actions to reduce gun violence are powerful, entrenched, and well-financed, and they fought us every step of the way in Maryland — just as they’re fighting tooth and nail to block any action at the federal level.

The governor does not cite any polls so I have no idea how many Marylanders actually supported the legislation. It would probably depend on how the questions were framed. If asked, “Do you support the proposal to limit gun violence?’, an overwhelming number of people would say “yes”. If the question was, “Do you support a law that will make it more difficult and onerous for citizens to acquire firearms with the ultimate intent of prohibiting gun possession altogether?”, then even in deep blue Maryland an overwhelming majority of people would expression their opposition.In any event, the number of people who support the governor’s proposal is irrelevant. Our constitutional rights are not decided by popular vote, nor is any law a good idea, just because a large number of people support it.

The comment regarding the powerful and well-financed interest groups is a curious one, if you stop to think about it. The idea seems to be that there is one course of action that is obviously the right one and which is best for the common good and anyone who opposes this action can only oppose it because they are selfish and uncaring of the common good. Hence, the unnamed special interests (the NRA or Gun Owners of America) oppose Governor O’Malley’s proposals not because they may think they are bad ones or that they have better ideas, but because they are selfish and maybe even want to see more gun violence. In practical terms this idea of special interests versus the common good means that the persons who are most affected by any proposed legislation, the ones with an interest so to speak, are the same persons who ought not to have any influence on that legislation.

What will happen next in Maryland? I have no idea. It is likely that the new laws will be tested in court and there is an even chance that they will be overturned. Gun stores in Maryland will be making record sales and profits until the new laws go into effect. Crime may well increase and this will be taken as a sign that Maryland’s gun control laws are not tough enough and need to be strengthened. Maybe they will end up banning knives and clubs. Or, maybe politicians like Martin O’Malley will someday learn to leave people alone.Well, I can dream.

Continuing the Conversation

March 29, 2013

A while back, I noted how the liberals wanted to have a conversation on gun control. I was wondering how the conversation was going when I came across this story, courtesy of Jammie Wearing Fools.

State Rep. Joe Mitchell, D-Mobile, had an outlandish exchange via email with a Jefferson County man who asked him and other lawmakers not to pass any laws that would restrict gun ownership.

Eddie Maxwell sent a mass email to state legislators at 10:54 p.m. on Jan. 27, warning them that even attempting to introduce a gun control bill was, in his opinion, a violation of state law.

Here is the full exchange.

From: Eddie Maxwell

Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:54 PM

To: (all members of state legislature)

Subject: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Can the officers of our state government change our constitution when the change is forbidden by the people? The Supreme Court of Alabama has ruled that it cannot in an opinion dealing with another matter where change is forbidden. You have sworn to support our constitution. You have defined a violation of an oath in an official proceeding as a class C felony (C.O.A. Section 13A-10-101 Perjury in the first degree).

Do not violate your oath of office by introducing additional gun control bills or by allowing those already enacted to remain in the body of our laws.

From: Representative Joseph Mitchell

Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:59 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Hey man. You have used the word ‘except’ when I think you mean somethin’ else.

Hey man. Your folk never used all this sheit to protect my folk from your slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed, imported criminal-minded kin folk. You can keep sending me stuff like you have however because it helps me explain to my constituents why they should protect that 2nd amendment thing AFTER we finish stocking up on spare parts, munitions and the like.

Bring it. As one of my friends in the Alabama Senate suggested – “BRING IT!!!!”

JOSEPHm, a prepper (’70-’13)

Mobile County

From: Eddie Maxwell

Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 2:23 PM

To: Representative Joseph Mitchell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Rep. Mitchell and other members of the Legislature of Alabama,

That’s not the type of reply I expect to receive from a state legislator. The lack of response to your racist comments from your fellow members speaks volumes about the state of our legislature as a whole.

I’m not a racist and I find your reply to be especially offensive considering the position you hold.

My parents and grandparents taught me to love God and my fellow man as myself. My father was threatened by members of his church back in 1954 for inviting a black family to attend the church he pastored.

My father-in-law was threatened when he hired a young negro man to work in his shop back in 1968 in a community where several neighbors were members of the Ku Klux Klan. He didn’t allow those threats to keep him from treating people of all races equally.

In 1969, I was a draftee in the US Army and bunked with a young negro man named Earl Shinholster at Fort Benning. Earl later became a prominent leader of the NAACP back home in Georgia after serving with me in the Army. When I received numerous racist threats from negroes who knew I lived near Birmingham, Earl warned me of the knives they carried and cautioned me to be more careful around them. Earl had been watching me and he had come to know and respect me for my Christian values. Earl and I became friends and he helped me get through some tough times there.

Racism is not exclusive to my own people. I learned that before 1955. It is just as ugly now as it was then, regardless of the race of the person who is consumed by it.

I love my country and my state, and I vowed to support and defend our constitutions. I expect you and all of our representative to do the same.

Sincerely,

Eddie Maxwell

From: Patricia Todd

Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 4:41 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

Cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Mr. Maxwell:

I am Patricia Todd, a member of the house. I just received this chain of emails and wanted to let you know that I am with you on the gun issue and am saddened by the tone of my colleagues email. All of us have suffered from the racism of the past and I thank you for your civic and thoughtful response.

We all have different life experience that shapes our values. I pray that we can all respect, and, celebrate, our differences. That is what make America the greatest country on earth, scars and all.

This member hears you loud and clear.

From: Representative Joseph Mitchell

Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 5:09 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Eddie. I grew up in Albany Ga. I was a military brat for most of my youth. Air Jump Master and DI USMC. Because I preference my issues with the values that I learned in ‘the heat of battle’ during the mid-fifties through the ‘70’s and into today might tell you what and who I am. I find no need to define it or explain it to you because you can identify with the threats of reprisals against your folk for helping somebody of African Descent. I know ol’ Ft. Benning and Columbus like the palm of my hand.

Where were you during the Albany Movement? Oh…. You shoulda been there. I am certain that your experiences through how your kin folk ‘helped’ colored folk would have helped us a lot when we were bombed in Albany, Leesburg, Newton and Sylvester.

I apologize for the restless nights your folk endured out of fear of the Klan. At least as they stood on the sidewalk watching my cousins and me get beat up by some of your neighbors they were able to push you out into the street to physically intervene. They did do that didn’t they? Oh …. Well, I rear where you were one of the first to integrate the all-colored school to prove your parents point.

Do you that your fathers ‘black’ friend was unable to get FHA benefits? Knowing about those knives and stuff were of benefit but did you know that colored military typically carried knives to protect themselves from folk who looked like your father? Historically, violence on Black folk was committed by White folk. It’s a fact but is it ‘racist?’ It is ‘racial.’ I had seven uncles and three aunts who served in three different ‘encounters. My father was Regular Army.

Eddie, a person without the power to exercise a threat cannot be a racist because he or she will be eliminated. A person who can, by merely stepping back on the sidewalk’ ore being quiet can support racism and benefit from the ‘first hired,’ affirmative action, preferential treatment fostered by systemic racism and bigotry.

It is unlikely that I, through sharing my many experiences on the receiving end, will convince you of your errors. For that matter, you will never convince me that our discomforts were comparable. Let the next generations resolve this continuing story.

Lock and load.

jmitchell

I guess that is the new civility everyone is talking about. By the way, note how State Representative Mitchell declared that he cannot be racist because a person without power cannot be racist while Eddie Maxwell can be racist, despite his attitude, because he benefits from systemic racism. If being a State Representative does not give one power, what does? I have been hearing the argument that Blacks (and other minorities) may be prejudiced but cannot be racist because they lack the power to enact their prejudices since I was in college, twenty years ago. Whatever validity this argument might have had in the past, it surely cannot be true today, in a time in which we have elected a Black president and Blacks are found at the highest levels of power in this country. Besides, whether you have the power or not, racial prejudice is an ugly thing and State Representative Mitchell has revealed an ugly side to his character.

 

Chicago Murder Rate Higher Now Than in Capone’s Day

February 4, 2013

While not at a record high, that was in the 1990’s, the present murder rate in Chicago exceeds that of the fabled days of Al Capone and the Chicago gangs. The details are here in this piece from the local ABC affiliate.

In this I-Team report, Chicago’s rising murder rate in a new context, how the numbers of shooting deaths compare to the city’s most notorious crime era, the one that has tarnished Chicago’s reputation around the world for a century.

The surprising stats show the city is worse off now in the category of murder than at the height of the era that has driven Chicago’s reputation for almost a century, Capone’s “gangland” Chicago.

Let’s compare two months: January 1929, leading up to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and last month, January 2013. Forty-two people were killed in Chicago last month, the most in January since 2002, and far worse than the city’s most notorious crime era at the end of the Roaring Twenties.

Even though the image of Chicago, perpetuated by Hollywood over the years, was that mobsters routinely mowed down people on the streets, the crime stats tell a different story. January 2013’s bloodshed has caught the attention of Chicagoans, politicians, the White House and people around the world.

In January 1929 there were 26 killings. Forty-two people were killed in Chicago last month, the most in January since 2002, and far worse than the city’s most notorious crime era at the end of the Roaring Twenties.

Even though the image of Chicago, perpetuated by Hollywood over the years, was that mobsters routinely mowed down people on the streets, the crime stats tell a different story. The figures from January 2013 are significantly higher than the January of Al Capone’s most famous year.

With Friday’s fatal gunshot attack on a vehicle on a Lake Shore Drive, February is starting as January left off. But if the current murder rate continues, February 2013 will far exceed February 1929, when there were 26 killings, and that number includes the attack known around the world, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. In that single slaughter, seven people were lined up against a warehouse wall on North Clark Street and gunned down. It was a bootlegging dispute between North and South Side mob gangs.

That hasn’t changed between then and now, as police today cite street gangs and drugs for the rise in killings.

The 42 murders in January is nowhere near the most ever in a month, but even that figure is not from the rat-a-tat-tat years. It is from the early 90s, when police also said a mix of gangs and drugs fueled the tremendous number of killings.

I am at a loss as to how this could be. Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. The murder rate there should be the lowest in the country, unless, there is only a tenuous link between gun control laws and the crime rate. No, that couldn’t be true. No doubt those gun nuts have weakened the laws since Capone’s day. But wait, the article goes on.

There was no real gun control back in Capone’s day. The first national firearms act wasn’t signed until 1934. It required approval of the local police chief, federally registered fingerprints, federal background check and a $200 tax.

Could it be just barely possible that strict gun control laws have little or no effect on the murder rate? Could it be that disarming the law abiding citizens of a given jurisdiction might actually increase the crime rate since the risk to criminals is lessened? No, it must be some sort of strange anomaly.

 

American Human Rights Violations

January 31, 2013

Last may, The People’s Republic of China released its report on the human rights violations committed by the US government. I suppose that this was some sort of response to the US State Department‘s annual report on the human rights violations committed by the Chinese government. The Chinese report makes for interesting reading. According to them, America is a country that routinely suppresses the rights and aspirations of its citizen, practices institutionalised discrimination against minorities, and locks up thousands of people for no reason. The press and Internet are subject to censorship and the police routinely abuse suspects in custody. Millions of Americans are desperately poor and the gap between rich and poor is widening. In other words, America is the sort of country China is.

I don’t know whether the authors of this report really believe what is written in it or if they are skilled propagandists. I suppose it really doesn’t matter much. This reminds me of the old argument the Soviets used during the Cold War. Sure, they would say, the Soviet Union doesn’t allow it’s people freedom of speech or religion, but we guarantee rights, such as the right to housing, education, medical care, that the Americans don’t, so each country is free, but in different ways.

I notice that the writers do not seem to be native English speakers. They write, and presumably speak, English fluently, and there are few obvious grammatical errors, but there seems to be odd word choices here and there, subtile hints that English is not their first language. I shouldn’t say anything though. Their English is much better than my Chinese which is nil.

But to get to my point, what would you think might be on the top of the list of American civil rights abuses? I would never have guessed the right to bear arms, but according to the Chinese, the fact that the US government allows private citizens to possess firearms is an example of how little the government cares for the lives of its citizens.

The United States prioritizes the right to keep and bear arms over the protection of citizens’ lives and personal security and exercises lax firearm possession control, causing rampant gun ownership. The U.S. people hold between 35 percent and 50 percent of the world’ s civilian-owned guns, with every 100 people having 90 guns (Online edition of the Foreign Policy, January 9, 2011). According to a Gallup poll in October 2011, 47 percent of American adults reported that they had a gun. That was an increase of six percentage points from a year ago and the highest Gallup had recorded since 1993. Fifty-two percent of middle-aged adults, aged between 35 and 54, reported to own guns, and the adults’ gun ownership in the south region was 54 percent (The China Press, October 28, 2011). The New York Times reported on November 14, 2011, that since 1995, more than 3,300 felons and people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors had regained their gun rights in the state of Washington and of that number, more than 400 had subsequently committed new crimes, including shooting and other felonies (The New York Times, November 14, 2011).

The United States is the leader among the world’s developed countries in gun violence and gun deaths. According to a report of the Foreign Policy on January 9, 2011, over 30,000 Americans die every year from gun violence and another 200,000 Americans are estimated to be injured each year due to guns (Online edition of the Foreign Policy, January 9, 2011). According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Justice, among the 480,760 robbery cases and 188,380 rape and sexual assault cases in 2010, the rates of victimization involving firearms were 29 percent and 7 percent, respectively (www.bjs.gov). On June 2, 2011, a shooting rampage in Arizona left six people dead and one injured (The China Press, June 3, 2011). In Chicago, more than 10 overnight shooting incidents took place just between the evening of June 3 and the morning of June 4 (Chicago Tribune, June 4, 2011). Another five overnight shootings occurred between August 12 evening and August 13 morning in Chicago. These incidents have caused a number of deaths and injuries (Chicago Tribune, August 13, 2011). Shooting spree cases involving one gunman shooting dead over five people also happened in the states of Michigan, Texas, Ohio, Nevada and Southern California (The New York Times, October 13, 2011; CNN, July 8, 2011; CBS, July 23, 2011;USA Today, August 9, 2011). High incidence of gun-related crimes has long ignited complaints of the U.S. people and they stage multiple protests every year, demanding the government strictly control the private possession of arms. The U.S. government, however, fails to pay due attention to this issue.

I would say that right now the government is paying too much attention to this issue. Notice how they have nothing to say about the fact that large numbers of Americans support the right to bear arms and much of the reason that the US government is unable to enact significant gun control is precisely because it is so unpopular. I don’t imagine that public opinion means very much to the people running China.

I wonder what the crime rate in China is and how it compares to America’s. I am not at all sure they keep accurate statistics. I also wonder if certain events in China’s recent history might have turned out differently if the Chinese had the right to bear arms.

tiananmenbig tiananmen_square24_1416006i

 

Mayor Bloomberg is an Idiot

January 19, 2013

We already knew he was a committed nanny-stater and control freak, but now he has shown that he is an idiot in this piece at The Daily Caller.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed pro-gun advocates while encouraging America’s other mayors to pressure Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s gun-control proposals, during a lunch gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Friday.

“Most people I know don’t even have a gun,” Bloomberg said, claiming America is “the only industrialized country in the world” that has a gun “problem” where there are more guns than people.

What about his security detail? I would imagine they carry guns. Is the mayor not aware of this, or are they just not the sort of people he knows? What about the officers of the NYPD? I am sure many of them have guns.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

Idiot

I think that Mayor Bloomberg needs to get out of the bubble he is living in.

Also, I really don’t think that having more guns than people in America is actually a problem., at least not to the honest and law-abiding among us. If Bloomberg really wants a gun problem in this country than he should disarm every citizen and render us all helpless from the criminals.


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