Saturday, July 11, 2009

ATF New York Trace Data 2008

The ATF released trace data for the guns recovered during 2008 in New York, providing several interesting points.

On page 9 of the pdf report, there's a map showing the state of origin of the traced guns. Virginia heads up the list with 372 followed by New York itself with 345. The other big sources of weapons confiscated in New York were Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina and Georgia.

In page 11 of the report there's a very interesting statistic. By a vast majority, the guns traced in New York had three years or more from their original sale. The standard cut off for considering a gun trafficked, is either one year or two years, depending on who's defining it.

What do you think about the gun flow that takes place between states with easy gun laws and New York? By far, most of the guns examined came from outside.

What about that three-year-or-more idea? What do you make of that? Do you think it means that most crime guns are not the result of intentional trafficking but rather the slower moving but inexorable gun flow? How do you think those guns got into criminal hands? I can think of only two ways. They were either stolen or their owners turned criminal during that three year period. Can you think of any other way?

How is it possible for the ATF to release this data? Doesn't it violate the Tiahrt Amendments?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hey Joe

This song tells a story which perfectly illustrates what we've been talking about lately - guns are bad news for women. Wikipedia has some interesting details (about the history of the song, not the abuse of women). What I want to know is, if Joe really "shot his woman down" and fled to Mexico, and he brought his gun with him, that would make him part of the problem, wouldn't it?

Really Cool Time Capsule in Qunicy Mass.

The out of Qunicy Massachusetts reports on a fascinating time capsule.

Whoever finds a time capsule that will be buried on Saturday will need to dust off an old computer to view what’s inside.

The capsule, which will be buried at the Abigail Adams Cairn on Penn’s Hill, will contain portable flash drives and CDs that contain scans of historical documents and video messages.

The formats may be outdated by the time the items are unearthed, but those involved in assembling the capsule aren’t too concerned about it.

The place of burial for the copper time capsule will be where Abigail Adams and 7-year-old John Quincy Adams watched the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. On that spot in 1896, the Adams chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution buried their own capsule which was recently discovered.

The 1896 capsule contained yellowed newspapers, a book, a poem, and other documents. The new capsule will contain colorful brochures about Quincy’s history created by fourth-graders and several documents that were scanned and loaded onto a portable hard drive and burned to CD. It will also include print and electronic copies of The Patriot Ledger with stories about the cairn and its hidden treasure.

As FatWhiteMan pointed out once, a proper time capsule needs to be in the ground for a good while in order to have the greatest impact. I think these qualify.

What do you think? Why are they always made out of copper anyway?

Please leave a comment.

8-Year-Old Murdered in South Carolina

The Associated Press carried the report of one of the most ghastly shootings to hit the national news lately.

A man put an 8-year-old girl in a headlock Wednesday and shot her to death, then shot himself in the stomach, authorities said.

The girl's father is dating Ricky Lee Blackwell's estranged wife. Spartanburg County deputies said Blackwell shot the girl twice in the driveway of a home where he had taken her and his estranged wife to swim and play. The home is in Chesnee, about 60 miles southwest of Charlotte, N.C.

Several adults and children saw the shooting and pointed officers toward Blackwell, investigators said.

Blackwell shot himself as police closed in. He was taken to a hospital but his condition wasn't released.

The coroner's office identified the girl as Heather Brooke Center of Woodruff.

I have to agree with the sheriff who said it's hard to understand how someone can get that angry. What I would add to that is, it's hard to understand how pro-gun folks can fight so hard to maintain easy availability of firearms when this is the result. Any person who wants one can get one, which necessarily includes the millions who make up the famous 10%. Some of these are the folks with anger management problems, who, for the good of everybody, themselves included, should not have guns. The only way I can see to prevent some of them from getting guns is by reducing the availability. The people who need guns or want them for legitimate purposes will still have their rights, but some of these problem people won't.

What's your opinion?

Mass Shooting in Miami - Again

The Miami Herald reports on the shooting which took the life of one and wounded twelve, two of whom are critical.

Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones admitted the solutions she offered were all too familiar.

''The reality is we must all take responsibility to face this madness,'' she said. ``No more excuses. No placing the blame.

''We already played this story on Jan. 23,'' she added, referring to a January mass shooting in Liberty City in which two died and seven were wounded.

Spence-Jones urged residents not to retaliate against suspects and to send letters supporting a federal ban on assault rifles, one of which was used in Monday's shootings outside a birthday party that attracted hundreds. She also asked police to implement zero-tolerance practices in Overtown, saying small infringements of the law lead to bigger crimes.

In the video, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz repeats the Commissioner's plea. "Until we have a Federal Government that is willing to do something to get these weapons off of our streets, unfortunately we're going to be right back here or somewhere else talking about the very same thing."

What's your opinion? Are the Mayor and the City Commissioner misinformed, are they ignorant? When we discussed the Liberty City shooting in January, which left two dead, it seemed the local politicians, the local residents and even Al Sharpton were all in agreement that the easy availability of weapons in Miami is the problem. Yet, I don't see anything being done about it.

It's a sad state of affairs when the gun control folks can boast of a success only in the "guns on campus" fight, but the inner cities continue to be war zones. The AK-47 and the 9 mm pistols used in this shooting were probably purchased legally from a licensed gun dealer at some point. Then, somehow they passed into the criminal world. There are only so many ways that can happen, all of which can he stopped or severely diminished by proper gun control. When this type of gun flow takes place, there are so-called lawful gun owners involved, one way or the other.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sebastian Olivares-Coster Pleads Not Guilty out of Great Falls, Montana ran the story about an unusual court appearance in which the teen charged with murder in the June 3rd shooting pleaded not-guilty.

The Helena teen charged in a shooting that killed one and injured two others has pleaded not guilty.

Seventeen-year-old Sebastian Olivares-Coster pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and two counts of attempted deliberate homicide in district court Wednesday morning. He’s accused of killing 16-year-old Cory Andrewski and injuring 16-year-old Joey Wohlers and 15-year-old Kahner Leary on June 3.

Court records suggest Olivares-Coster inserted himself into an argument between two boys over the affections of a 15-year-old girl. Events leading up to the shooting included organizing a fight through text messaging and meeting at a park.

Olivares-Coster made his plea by teleconference from a juvenile detention center in Great Falls before Judge Dorothy McCarter.

A trial has been set for Sept. 21.

Last time we discussed this case it seems I offended some of our friends in Montana. It was unintentional as I explained to them in my several apologies. This time I'll try to be more careful.

Where did the gun come from, has anyone heard that? What was the real reason for the shooting? According to one of the commenters, it wasn't exactly what's been reported in the press.

This seems like speedy trial. Is it normally that fast? Isn't that one of our constitutional rights?

What's your opinion? Do you think it was a squabble over a girl? Is this just another case of a young man who has under-developed conflict-management skills reaching for a gun?

Please leave a comment.

The Johns Hopkins Study

I extend big thanks to our frequent commenter, Thirdpower, for tipping me off to the latest study which supports the gun control movement. Science Daily has posted an article about the study.

Comprehensive regulation of gun sellers appears to reduce the trafficking of guns to criminals, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Preventing the diversion of guns to criminals is important because 85 percent of guns recovered by police were recovered from criminal suspects who were not the original purchasers of the guns according to prior research from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Of course the pro-gun bloggers are all taking the study apart. Most of them begin by pointing out that the Joyce Foundation partly funded the research. I don't think that proves anything since we already put a sceptical eye on these things anyway.

Another problem some people had with the report is the fact that in some cities where gun trafficking was low, crime is very high. What I think they conveniently overlooked is that the study differentiated between in-state and out-of-state trafficking. Where gun control laws are in effect, in-state trafficking is very low, proving the laws are effective. Crime may still be high due to out-of-state trafficking, as well as all the other problems that contribute to crime in inner cities.

According to the study, cities with the lowest levels of in-state gun trafficking were Santa Ana, CA; Camden and Newark, NJ; New York, NY; and Boston, MA. Each of these cities was in a state that regulates private sales of handguns, four had strong gun dealer oversight and four had discretionary handgun purchase licensing systems. Cities with the highest levels of in-state gun trafficking were Gary, IN; Tucson, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; Albuquerque, NM; and Indianapolis, IN. None of these cities had any of the gun sales accountability measures examined in the study.

What that means is places like Phoenix are not only supplying their own state's criminals but also those of New Jersey and California. This cries out for a state-wide national policy on gun control.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Guns on Campuses

Freedom States Alliance sent out its July 8th message containing the latest situation on allowing guns on campus.

Gun Lobby Loses 34 Bills In 22 States in Three Years; NRA's Agenda to Hijack Universities' Authority to Keep Deadly Weapons Off Campuses Squashed In Red States Such As Texas; Many Students To Shift Focus to Closing Gun Show Loophole.

As state legislatures across the country gaveled their sessions to a close, it signaled the culmination of a long, unanimous rejection of one of the worst ideas in modern political debate - the notion that state lawmakers should force colleges and universities to allow students to take loaded, hidden handguns into classrooms.

I had to laugh reading that. The language is so exaggerated, phrases like "hijack universities" and "force colleges and universities to allow students to take loaded, hidden handguns into classrooms." I understand what they're saying, but I can see why pro-gun folks would take issue with that way of saying it.

Nevertheless, the point is an interesting one. The Brady Campaign has recently posted a map showing the states which have rejected this legislation.

What's your opinion? Is this an example of the gun-control movement gaining some momentum? Although these laws would only affect those who already possess a license to carry firearms and wouldn't "force" anybody to do anything, don't you think the universities themselves have the right to determine this kind of thing?

Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do The Right Thing

Spike Lee's great movie celebrated its 20th anniversary last week. No one wrote about it better than Steven Hart.

Paul Helmke on the 90%

Thanks to kaveman for tipping me off to this latest post by Paul Helmke, in which Paul addresses the very popular question of what percentage of the Mexican guns come from America.

Mr. Helmke presented excerpts from the hearing in the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee about the Government Accountability Office report on American guns being trafficked to criminals across our southern border into Mexico.

That hearing included an exchange between Ranking Member Connie Mack, Jr. from Florida and Jess Ford of the GAO.

First Paul had this to say:

Rather than argue about percentages, let's focus on the fact that 20,000 trafficked guns from America have ended up at Mexican crime scenes.

With that kind of information, I hope our opposition will now acknowledge there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed:

In the exchange between Connie Mack and Jess Ford, it was made perfectly clear that the original ATF report which said 90% was misleading. The original citation was cleverly worded to say "90% of the guns traced." (Kudos to Mike W. and the others for pointing that out and I apologize for being so difficult about it.) Now, for the first time that I've seen, it's being clarified that only one-quarter of the guns seized were traced. If the other three-quarters contain no guns from America, which I think is unlikely, the true percentage would be less that 20%, a figure I've seen from commenters on this blog.

Were these unconscionable lies and manipulation? I don't think so. I'd call it spinning a bit or taking advantage of slick wording. Paul Helmke said what I've been saying all along, the real point is too many guns are going to Mexico. If 17% of the Mexican weapons are coming from the United States, and they number 20,000, I say that's too much. I echo what Paul said, this "is a serious problem that needs to be addressed."

What's your opinion? Do you think 20,000 weapons is so small a percentage that we shouldn't worry about it? Some people say that about the 30,000 gun deaths a year, percentage-wise it's small. What do you think?

Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bryan Miller on Plaxico Burress has a post up by Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Ceasefire New Jersey, about NY Giants receiver Plaxico Burress. Pulling no punches, Bryan quotes himself when he wrote that Plaxico should be inducted into the "Stupid Gun Owners Hall of Shame." How did he earn such distinction?

given his incredibly dumb and dangerous behavior, namely shooting himself in the leg with an illegally carried handgun in a Manhattan nightclub

In all fairness, I must say the fact that it's all true should not excuse the fact that Bryan's resorted to a little name calling and sarcasm, things which I continually strive to eradicate on my blog.

Having become aware of rumors that the Manhattan District Attorney's office is possibly going to go easy on Plax, Miller has this to say.

I also called on the Giants and the NFL to suspend Plax until his trial is complete and permanently expel him if convicted. I renew these calls today.

I tend to agree, but I wonder if there's another way. I wonder if there might be a way for the NFL to communicate the message that illegal guns and the gangsta persona are not cool. By not suspending him, do you think they sent the opposite message?

I don't follow American football so I don't know this guy. Is he as talented as Michael Vick? When I saw some of Vick's videos, all I could think of is what a shame for a guy like that to have to go to prison. Is Plaxico that great? Should that matter anyway? What's your opinion?

Please leave a comment.

Al Franken

Monday, July 6, 2009

Guns and Women (updated twice)

From the book by Prof. David Hemenway, Private Guns Public Health, here are some statistics which support my very unpopular comment that "guns are bad news for women." The following chart describes female deaths.

High gun states: Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, South Dakota, Arkansas, West Virginia, Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and Kentucky - total population 100.6 million

Low gun states: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut - total population 100.6 million.

You can click on the chart for a clearer version. But what it shows is that where there are guns there are more incidents of gun violence. It's a sad fact that in America, women are brutalized by men too often, but what this chart shows is that when there's a gun in the house, it becomes lethal. The total figures on suicides indicate that the gun is especially effective. Where there are fewer guns, there are fewer successful suicides. (source is CDC WISQARS 2003)

Busy Weekend in Buffalo

The Buffalo News reports on several shootings which took place over the weekend leaving two dead.

Two young men were killed Saturday in separate shootings in Buffalo.

In both cases, gunfire appears to have been used to settle a dispute.

David D. Price, 18, of Dartmouth Avenue, was fatally shot early Saturday during an argument on the first block of Schreck Avenue in the city’s Bailey-Delavan area, police said.

More than 12 hours later, Jamal Palmer, 22, of Bissell Avenue, was fatally shot in the head while sitting on a porch in the Genesee-Moselle area.

In addition to the two fatalities, there were a couple others wounded.

Shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, two young men were wounded while sitting on a porch at 59 Emerson Place, between Michigan and Masten avenues in the Masten District.

DeGeorge said Eric Hemphill, 20, who was struck in the upper body, remained in critical condition Saturday in ECMC. Marcus Young, 19, also of Buffalo, was treated in ECMC for a wrist wound.

To me it sounds like there are too many guns in the hands of too many people who shouldn't have them. What do you think? If gun control people had their way, and the availability of firearms were severely diminished, do you suppose the results would have been the same? Would these bad boys have done as much damage with knives, as has been suggested around here?

Where do you suppose the guns are coming from? Don't you think they started out in the legal market, owned legitimately by some lawful gun owner and then somehow transferred into the criminal world? Isn't that how it happens? Wouldn't that implicate the foolish gun owners who allow their guns to become part of the black market? Would this sharing of guilt and responsibility only apply to those who exercised negligence, for example, the guy who doesn't secure his guns properly and as a result they get stolen too easily?

What's your opinion?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Louisville Police Officer Charged with Domestic Violence out of Louisville Kentucky reports on the domestic violence charges of one of their policemen.

The wife of a Louisville Metro Police Lieutenant who says he beat her two weeks ago while on vacation in Florida has filed for divorce. Sheri Fifer filed the papers for dissolution of marriage in Clark Superior Court on Monday.

WAVE 3 has obtained a copy of the petition for dissolution of marriage and it shows that Shari Fifer as asking for full custody of their three children including child support.

Jerald Fifer is being charged with false imprisonment, domestic violence and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

The story brings up some questions for me. When we talk about 50 million or 80 million lawful gun owners, are we including cops? Are we including security guards? How does that work?

If they're included, a guy like this, if he's guilty, would be a good example of the 10%ers who so often go bad. Wouldn't he?

Another question occurred to me about this. Are policemen held to the same standard as other citizens as far as losing their right to bear arms, and therefore their jobs, when convicted of domestic violence? In some states even a misdemeanor of this type can result in the loss of rights. What about for the cops?

One part of the article made me sceptical. It sounded so outrageous as to be incredible.

According to court documents he allegedly pulled out a weapon and then hit, kicked and strangled his wife while she was driving.

What do you think? What's your opinion? I think the normal procedure is for the department to conduct an investigation to determine if there is merit to the charges, then to decide on suspension or some other administrative interim solution. It's during that process that they erect the "blue wall of silence" and strive to find a way to circumvent the usual and sensible conclusion. Or, do you think that doesn't happen at all and I'm just biased against cops?

Maybe it would help if Officer Jerald Fifer attended religious services at Pastor Pagano's church. What do you think?

Please leave a comment.

Gun Flow into Mexico - Part 3

The New American site reports on the latest efforts in Houston to stem the tide of weapons flowing from that city into Mexico.

At the behest of the Mexican government, federal agents are scouring the streets of Houston in search of guns and information. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently sent 100 agents from around the country to do the job. The plan is part of the ATF’s project Gunrunner, the agency’s battle plan to slow the flow of American guns into Mexico.

I couldn't help but notice the famous 90% figure was missing. Why do you think that is? Is this New American site known for more accurate and non-inflammatory reporting? Or could it be that finally the claim that 90% of the Mexican guns come from America is being recognized as too high? For me it's much preferred because in any report which contains the 90% claim, the pro-gun commenters immediately become more concerned with it than with the substance of the report, which is basically the same. Too many guns are moving from America to Mexico.

As an example of the kinds of leads these 100 additional ATF agents are following up on, the article offered this.

One of their targets, according to the Houston Chronicle report, was a police officer. “He said he bought a few military-style rifles, left them in his car and — on the same night — forgot to lock a door. He couldn’t explain why he didn’t file a police report or why he visited Mexico the day after the alleged theft.” Another tip led them to a pastor’s house who said he bought two pistols for target practice.

What's your opinion? Do you think it's right to investigate situations like these? Wouldn't stricter controls such as background checks for all transactions eliminate much of this problem?

Is it all a big waste of time, given the Iknadosian case? Even when overwhelming evidence that a particular FFL gun dealer is supplying this market, convictions are not forthcoming.

Please tell us what you think?