Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chris Matthews on Guns at Political Events

In this one, Ron Reagan made the point very clearly that the Secret Service officers might be busy watching one of these protesters when they should be watching something else. Don't you think that's a serious concern? (h/t The Gun Guys)

David Sirota on Guns at Public Political Events has published an article by David Sirota on the recent events of people carrying guns at the political rallies.

Those of us living in the Rocky Mountains are steeped in America's famous gun culture - and we therefore know well the binary debates surrounding the Second Amendment. Firearm enthusiasts - the vast majority of whom use weapons responsibly - believe the Constitution protects their right to bear arms. Gun control advocates counter that the Constitution doesn't give anyone the inalienable right to wield automatic weapons that can kill scores of people in seconds.

This is the stultified freedom-versus-safety quarrel that seemed to forever define gun politics - that is, until anti-government activists started bringing firearms to public political meetings.

Sirota goes on to describe what we've all seen over the last days. He mentioned the New Hampshire man who wore a sidearm and carried a sign reading, "It is time to water the tree of liberty," and of course he described the man in Phoenix carrying an AR-15. The conclusion, I found very interesting.

These and other similar examples are accurately summarized with the same language federal law employs to describe domestic terrorism. The weapons-brandishing displays are "intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population." Yes, the gun has been transformed from a sport and self-defense device into a tool of mass bullying. Like the noose in the Jim Crow South, its symbolic message is clear: If you dare engage in the democratic process, you risk bodily harm.

What do you think about that? I must admit, the "bullying" idea often comes to my mind. It's fascinating to consider that people who are motivated by paranoia, fear and insecurity conceal those characteristics and become intimidators themselves.

His conclusion is what a lot of people have concluded but have been reluctant to say. Everyone knows "firearm-free zones" is another way of saying "banned."

One option is willful ignorance: We can pretend the ferment is unimportant, continue allowing the intimidation and ultimately usher in a dark future where "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Better, though, is simply making public political events firearm-free zones, just like schools and stadiums. That way forward honors our democratic ideals by declaring that politics may be war, but in America it is "war without bloodshed" - and without the threat of bloodshed.

What's your opinion? Do you think there's an element of "bullying" in the open carry of firearms? What about the "threat of bloodshed," do firearms inherently carry that? I think they do. Aren't partial bans and other local restrictions allowed under the DC vs Heller decision?

Please leave a comment.

Cop Fired for Sexy Gun Photo

(picture credit AP)

The Daily News reports on an incident that cost one deputy his job and three others a suspension.

An embarrassed Sheriff Gary Painter fired one Midland County deputy and suspended three others without pay after a scantily dressed waitress holding a rifle posed for photographs on the hood of a patrol vehicle.

Round Rock officers were dispatched to the restaurant after someone reported the waitress with the weapon, which had been given to her by one of the deputies who had been attending a training session near Austin.

The incident occurred last week in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant, which promotes its "fun, friendly and sometimes flirty atmosphere!"

The deputies told Painter that they had about three to five beers each.

A fifth deputy who remained inside the eatery got a letter of reprimand.

Now, I'm the last one to want to give the cops a break. I believe they should be held to a higher standard. But losing your job over a stupid stunt like this, to me seems ridiculous. What is wrong with these people? Every day in the news there are reports of cops abusing their power, even shooting people in the back, and for the most part they get away with it. But in this case one guy is fired and three suspended without pay. Does anyone else think something's wrong with that?

They admitted drinking "about three to five beers." That means they probably drank more than that, who tells the truth to that question in that situation? Then they started playing around with the gun and the waitress. Very stupid, very irresponsible, but is it criminal enough to get fired over?

On the other hand, maybe this is exactly the way we can weed out the least qualified cops. If a guy demonstrates such poor judgment as this in a fairly innocuous situation, perhaps he's a risk when things get dangerous. What's your opinion?

Salt Lake City Policeman Justified reports on the decision to exonerate Officer Louis Jones of all wrongdoing in the shooting death of Christopher Joseph Tucker on August 6th.

The low-speed chase ended on I-80 near the Great Salt Lake. When officers tried to take Tucker into custody, he reportedly rammed a patrol car and then pointed the car at officers who were on foot. Officer Louis Jones opened fire, fatally striking Tucker in the neck and torso.

Additional details about the incident are found in this article from The Salt Lake Tribune.

Salt Lake County sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson said UHP joined the chase to stop Joey Tucker as the man drove on State Road 202. Joey Tucker continued driving erratically at about 30 mph and got onto Interstate 80, where police used a pit maneuver, forcing Tucker's vehicle to turn sideways and stop against a highway barrier.

Hutson said Joey Tucker tried to resume driving, moving the truck forward and backward. As the Salt Lake City police officer walked toward Tucker, he observed Tucker fiddling with the steering column, Hutson said.

"[Tucker] looked like he was going to put the vehicle toward the officer and that is when the shots were fired," Hutson said.

That's a pretty shabby justification for shooting the guy, in my opinion. I realize there may be more to it, but based on the description of Sheriff Hutson, I find it hard to believe Officer Louis Jones was cleared.

What's your opinion? Are there too many of these police shootings? Do you think this could be an example of what the pro-gun guys often say, that civilian concealed carry permit holders are better trained than your average policeman? Is that what accounts for these shootings, a lack of training?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Paterson NJ Curfew

The Newark Conservative Examiner has published an article by Joe Luppino-Esposito which contains an interesting take on the controversial initiative proposed in Paterson.

Most officials in New Jersey, including Governor Jon Corzine, do not seem to recognize the concept that people commit crimes. Corzine, a beliver in the overused, but still comedic, maxim "Guns kill people," instituted a one-gun-a-month law which he and the state Democrats insist will reduce crime.

Senate President Richard Codey claimed that "This is not about penalizing law abiding gun owners... It's about stemming the flow of illegal guns on our streets, keeping them out of the hands of gang members and drug dealers, and protecting innocent children and families.'' How Codey and others make that ludicrous leap is a mystery.

The city of Paterson, on the other hand, has recognized that perhaps it may actually be people who are out on the street that commit the crimes and rather than objects that do not fire on their own. Paterson's consideration of a curfew on all residents, not just juveniles, has found its way into national and international news, and for good reason.

Mr. Luppino-Esposito makes very strong statements, a bit on the sarcastic side. He says the governor believes in the "still comedic maxim "guns kill people."" And he says Senator Codey makes a "ludicrous leap" when he says the intent of the New Jersey gun control laws is to stem "the flow of illegal guns on our streets, keeping them out of the hands of gang members and drug dealers, and protecting innocent children and families."

I don't agree with those characterizations of the governor and senator, but I am fascinated by Luppino-Esposito's view of the proposed Paterson curfew. Do you agree that this drastic and controversial proposal in Patterson is a confirmation that "guns don't kill people, people kill people?"

The proposal would certainly be challenged as a civil rights violation, and it would probably lose. But it is important to realize what Paterson officials are saying by even entertaining such an extreme proposition. The city, the third largest in New Jersey, may finally be willing to confront its problem with crime without blaming outside forces. Instituting such a massive control over the streets would be a clear assertion of power over the thugs that have come to power and put people in fear for their lives.

"Without blaming outside forces," I suppose is a reference to the false but frequent refrain of the pro-gun crowd as they try to denigrate the gun control argument. Gun control folks don't blame the gun, they don't think an inanimate object has power of its own, and they certainly don't think all crime would disappear with the disappearance of all guns.

Joe Luppino-Esposito is praising the city of Paterson for finally suggesting a solution that focuses on the person not the gun. But doesn't it bring up another famous question? If criminals are already willing to break laws like possessing guns illegally and committing murder with them, are they expected to comply with the curfew law?

No, they won't, and that's the problem.

What's your opinion? Please tell us.

Concealed Carry Increasing in VA

The Greene County Record reports that applications for concealed carry permits have doubled in recent months.

The number of county residents applying for permits that will allow them to carry concealed weapons doubled between January and July of this year, compared to the same time last year.

In the first six months of 2008, 101 people applied for such permits through Greene’s courts. In the first six months of this year, 200 made application.

That's quite a jump. What do you think accounts for it? Isn't open carry already permitted in Virginia? Why would people also need the concealed carry permission?

Folks applying gave the usual reasons.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s because they’re afraid President Obama is going to take their right to carry weapons away,“ says Circuit Court Clerk Marie Durrer.

Others don’t mention Obama; they just say they’re concerned about crime, and protecting themselves against it.

“I travel alone with my children, a lot,“ says Susan Rankin of Stanardsville. “If I’m driving, I don’t want a gun on the seat beside me where my children can see it. I would rather have it locked in the glove box.“

It's certainly a fascinating business. Whatever fear-based rationale the individual applicant may have, whether it's the quite reasonable "wanting to protect the family from crime" or the completely unreasonable "Obama's going to take the guns away," one thing is for sure. The gun manufacturers and the gun dealers are laughing all the way to the bank.

What's your opinion? Do you think the Brady statement makes sense?

Doug Pennington, assistant director of communications for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says: “The problem with allowing the public to carry concealed is that “you don’t know if someone has the judgment to only draw a weapon in self-defense.“

I'm in complete agreement with that. We've already got far too many people with guns who are inadequately trained and who don't have the proper temperament to successfully manage a lethal weapon. Less is what we need, not more.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Jon Stewart on the Gun-Carrying Protesters

Jon Stewart is always funny, but this clip also includes some interesting comparisons to the Bush Administration. Via The Gun Guys.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Paul Helmke on the Gun-Carrying Protesters

The Brady Blog has published a post concerning what's become the hottest topic in the gun control debate.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs answered questions yesterday about people bringing loaded firearms to protest events attended by President Obama, and Gibbs apparently gave the green light to this crazy practice.

Gibbs said, "There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally. Those laws don't change when the president comes to your state or locality."

I personally find it hard to believe that the Secret Service is allowing this. The instructions must be coming for the President himself. Certainly his Executive Privilege could handle something like this.

As for the Secret Service, their response to gun carrying protesters yesterday was also strange: "We're well aware of the subjects that are showing up at these events with firearms," a spokesperson reportedly said. "We work closely with local law enforcement to make sure that their very strict laws on gun permits are administered."

Strict gun laws in Arizona? This is the state where two men openly carried assault rifles at a Presidential event and didn't get detained. It's harder to get a job at a fast food restaurant than it is to get a gun in Arizona.

Gun permits? In most cases, people openly carrying firearms don't need permits, meaning that open gun carriers have no requirement to have their criminal backgrounds checked before they carry and no requirement even to have weapons training.

What's your opinion? What do you think these gun-carrying protesters hope to accomplish? Do they think their protesting is attractive to the fence-sitters and the non-convinced? Or are they more like school children, prohibited from doing something, then learning they can get away with it?

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Josh Horwitz on the Resistance Efforts

The Huffington Post published a wonderful article by Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
On Monday, it was national news when a man (identified only as "Chris") appeared at a health care rally in Phoenix, Arizona, openly and legally carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and a semiautomatic handgun. He was not alone. While President Obama addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) convention directly across the street, Phoenix police and Secret Service agents actively monitored "Chris" and twelve others who openly carried handguns (it is unknown how many of the protesters were carrying concealed handguns, which is also legal in Arizona with a permit).

Mr. Horwitz links to the same video we looked at yesterday in which, when asked about the AR-15, "Chris" states that "it aids me in my resistance efforts."

He goes on to say:
If the burden of all this thievery gets too thick and you can't make it anymore, if that's what's necessary, that's what's necessary. What do you think we did in the revolution, in the American Revolution? The British weren't stealing money from us for health care. They weren't taxing us the way they are now back then. And what did we do? We forcefully kicked them out of our country, and we will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote. Just because you sick a government on people doesn't make it morally OK to steal money from them. Taxation is theft--all taxation, all taxation.

It was revealed later that the appearance of the black man they called "Chris" and his interviewer was a put-up job for a local conservative talk radio station. This explains one question I had, which was the words themselves seem much stronger than his tone of voice and delivery of them. He seemed oddly calm to me on the video, even while saying very strong things.

Now that we know it was contrived, why do you think they used a black guy? I'm sure there are several good theories about that.

Josh Horwitz sums it up pretty well.

Today's self-styled "patriots" are eager to recall 1776, but fail to understand the tempering influences of the Constitution. Armed health care protestors have made it clear that individual safety is not their primary concern--instead their show of force at these events is a reminder to elected officials that, in their view, armed citizens have the final say. This elevation of "individual sovereignty" over the Constitutionally-mandated democratic process is the antithesis of what our Founders fought for.

Do you agree with Horwitz when he says, "Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution states that one of the purposes of the Militia is to "suppress Insurrections," not to foment them."

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Alonzo Heyward of Chattanooga Tennessee

The Associated Press reports on the continuing controversy surrounding the killing of Alonzo Heyward by the Chattanooga police.

Alonzo Heyward carried a rifle around his low-rent neighborhood one day last month, ranting about suicide and ignoring the pleas of friends for hours before six Chattanooga police officers surrounded him on his front porch and decided it had to end.

His father says Heyward told the officers, "I'm not out here to hurt anybody."

But the police, who tried unsuccessfully to disarm Heyward, fired 59 rounds to kill him on July 18. The medical examiner found 43 bullet wounds in his chest, face, arms, hands, legs, buttocks and groin. Police contend Heyward was a danger to others and threatened the six officers.

Chattanooga police spokeswoman Jerri Weary described the case as "suicide by cop."

To me, this sounds quite excessive. I can understand the police acting with this kind of force after a hair-raising chase when the adrenalin his pumping, but this sounds different. This sounds like those cops were itching to blow him away. Even if Mr. Heyward pointed the rifle at them, 59 shots fired sounds like a lot. What do you think?

Heyward, a 32-year-old moving company employee, was black. The six officers are white. They were temporarily placed on administrative leave but have since returned to work.

What's your opinion? Was this a racially motivated shooting? Does "temporary administrative leave" and being returned to work sound about right to you?

Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Guns at the Obama Rally

I don't know about anyone else, but I find it surprising to hear a black guy talking the same kind of talk usually associated with white gun owners. I'm sure some of the pro-gun guys will now tell us how many blacks are into guns just like they are. The same thing happens every time I try to say something about women and guns, they insist there are so many women arming themselves, that I'm all wrong. What do you think? Is this guy with the AR-15 representative in some way of black American men?

What about all that talk of revolution? Do you think it makes sense to compare the current situation in America with the 18th century relationship between the Colonies' and England?

Please leave a comment.

Glenn Beck and the Advertisers reports on the latest.

Glenn Beck's Fox Show continues to hemorrhage corporate sponsors. Yesterday eight more companies, including retail giant Wall Mart, dropped sponsorship of Beck's program. That makes over 20 companies that have pulled their advertising from Beck's show in the past 2 weeks, after a Color of Change petition urged advertisers to cease sponsorship of Beck's program when the talk show host said Obama had a "deepseated hatred for white people".

I was a bit surprised that the repercussions were so great over that racist remark. I really don't find it much more offensive than the rest of his daily fare. What's your opinion?

Last week when this sponsor-dropping business just began, I said, "whenever one sponsor drops Beck's show another will fill the spot. I think as long as he's popular, reports like this about sponsors dropping him, will just make him more popular." But, now I'm wondering if the tide hasn't turned into a tidal wave. What do you think? Can Glenn Beck survive this?

Well, one thing for sure, he won't go down without a fight.

Rather than apologize or stop spewing divisive hate speech, Beck seems to be responding by tapping his vast, creepy army of "912" followers to wage a counterprotest.

They're compiling a petition of loyal supporters. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be quite big. But can it turn the tide, that's the question now?

My opinion is we should never underestimate the appetite of the extreme right for this kind of "entertainment." Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart can certainly be sarcastic and cutting, but the words of Beck are often far beyond that. He sells hate and divisiveness.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2nd Student Sentenced for Gun Smuggling reports on the sentencing of the 2nd North Dakota student caught up in a gun smuggling ring between the U.S. and Canada.

A North Dakota college student looking for some extra spending money admits he made a "stupid'' decision to smuggle nearly two dozen high-powered guns into Winnipeg.

Curtis Rolle, 20, stood solemnly before a U.S. federal judge Monday to admit his role in an international drug and weapons operation.

He was sentenced to 366 days in jail and three years probation under a plea deal that rewarded him for co-operating with justice officials.

Rolle pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.
He is the second of three accused to be sentenced.

We discussed this case before when Rolle's partner Thomas Scher received the same sentence. The ringleader of the conspiracy, Gokhan Ozturk, 24, a Winnipeg resident, will be sentenced in October.

What's your opinion? Do you think the two younger boys, who actually did the gun running and turned the weapons over to Ozturk, were sentenced appropriately? I think so, although I find a one-year sentence surprisingly light considering they not only moved 22 guns into Canada, but were sometimes paid in ecstasy tablets and had become drug dealers back home.

Assuming it's not too late already for these two 20-year-olds, this kind of light sentence could prove to be a turning point in their lives. Longer sentences tend to make young criminals worse not better upon release, at least that's my opinion.

Shouldn't the gun shops and pawn shops be held responsible for selling so many guns to young boys like this? Do you think they bought the 22 guns in 22 different locations? Don't they have to be 21 to buy guns anyway?

What do you think? Do you think 90% of the illegal guns in Canada come from the U.S.? Poor Canada doesn't have all the other sources that Mexico has, they have to rely on their southern neighbor. What do you think?

Please leave a comment?

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

An editorial in the Leader Telegram of Eau Claire WI, written by Don Huebscher, describes my position exactly.

One side argues it is counterintuitive to think the solution to gun violence is more guns, and at the very least government should try to control access to firearms and who has them. The other side argues that an armed thug may think twice about attacking others if he believes the would-be victim might shoot back.

Both sides make legitimate points. Giving up and making our country a free-for-all for weaponry doesn't make sense.

We should at least try to curb the flow of firearms to the bad guys through serious background checks and being able to trace guns sold illegally to those who aren't supposed to have them.

The incident which triggered this op-ed piece was a grisly triple-murder and suicide which happened over the weekend. Three brothers died together in the incident and the shooter had a felony record.

This is the message I hear from gun control folks. I believe it's an exaggeration to say gun control advocates want to ban guns or eventually confiscate guns. I believe what we want to do, at least most of us, is find a way to "curb the flow of firearms to the bad guys," as Don Huebscher said.

What's your opinion? Why would pro-gun people oppose attempts to do this? Doesn't common sense dictate that we should work together on this? Rather than gun control proponents fighting against pro-gun people, it could be gun control people and pro-gunners against the criminals. Wouldn't that make more sense?

What do you think?

Supreme Court Finally Rules on Troy Davis

USA Today reports on the wonderful news which I first read on TalkLeft.

USA TODAY's Supreme Court correspondent Joan Biskupic reports that the high court, in an exceptional move, has ordered a U.S. district court in Georgia to hear new testimony in the case of Troy Davis, who was convicted of killing an off-duty police officer nearly two decades ago.

Over the dissent of two justice, the Supreme Court said a lower court judge should determine whether new evidence "clearly establishes" Davis' innocence.

Since his jury conviction 18 years ago, seven of the prosecution's witnesses have recanted their testimony about what happened in a Savannah parking lot the night officer Mark Allen MacPhail was shot dead. Some individuals have also said the prosecution's key witness was the shooter, not Davis.

Judge Scalia and Judge Thomas wrote the dissent, which will surprise no one. What is it with those guys?

Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, calling the court's action "extraordinary ... one not taken in nearly 50 years" and asserting that "every judicial and executive body that has examined (Davis') stale claim of innocence has been unpersuaded."

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that Scalia and Thomas were wrongly assuming, despite the new information, that Davis was guilty. He said the risk of putting an innocent man to death provides "adequate justification" for a new hearing.

What's your opinion? Is it possible for not one but two Justices of the Supreme Court to be "assuming guilt?" Isn't the whole idea of an appeal like this to not assume anything and look at the facts? It seems like the dissenting judges look more at the facts of the earlier court rulings than the facts presented in the appeal, namely that so many witnesses have recanted.

What do you think? Is Troy Davis on his way to being a free man? What does the fact that he's been within hours of execution say about the capital punishment system?

Please leave a comment.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Legitimate Shooting in Houston

Our frequent commenter Reputo, who runs a wonderful blog replete with elaborate charts and in-depth analysis, has pointed out that I rarely (never?) post about a defensive shooting that I think is legitimate. Well, I plead guilty as charged and in an attempt to correct matters I visited another wonderful site called Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog, run my Clayton Cramer.

Clayton's most recent post comes from Houston Texas,

It was amazingly fast. Security video released to 11 News showed Iqbal behind the elevated counter, when the would-be robbers rush the store.

Two men with bandanas covering their faces, the leader gun in hand, vaulted over the case.

But in the five seconds that it took, Iqbal was already around the corner in the back, gun in hand.

“I see that guy come in the back pointing a gun. I just started shooting,” Iqbal says.

The two men were just inches apart, arms and guns extended. Iqbal fired three times, hitting 34-year-old Bryan Thorn.

Now that's what I call a legitimate shooting. One bad guy dead, the other got away, store owner and his family, who were in the store at the time, all safe and sound. It turned out that Bryan Thorn had been in and out of prison, a repeat offender. Naturally Mr. Iqbal was not charged with anything.

But, how common is this? Gun enthusiasts claim it's very common. Some believe there are 2.5 million incidents of defensive gun use per year. Even considering that the majority of those incidents do not involve shots fired, the simple brandishing of the weapon, they say, frightens off the would-be rapist or murderer, I don't believe the numbers could possibly be that high.

Clayton Cramer's site, which is often referenced as the unofficial repository of these stories, contains many which I don't think qualify. This one for example, is a case in which the victim takes the gun from the criminal and turns the tables on him. I wouldn't include that on a site dedicated to showing how armed civilians protect themselves. The hero in this story wasn't armed until he took the gun from the stupid crook, a manoeuver which probably fails more often than it succeeds.

Another recent entry was this one, coincidentally also in Houston, in which the store owner shot unarmed assailants, killing one. I had plenty to say about it, basically that I wouldn't consider it as qualifying for a list of legitimate defensive shootings.

But, even if every entry on the Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog were legitimate, how many are there? An average of two or three a day makes less than 1,000 per year. Are the other 2,499,000 all incidents of brandishing? Does Mr. Cramer only publish one out of every 200,000 such incidents?

My opinion is that these defensive incidents are much rarer than our pro gun friends would like to believe. I think our gun friends suffer from the very human tendency towards self-justifying rationalization. My own surfing of the internet, which includes twenty or thirty sources of news, almost never uncovers these stories, while every single site has multiple stories of gun violence. Although not a scientific survey by any means, I think the reason for this is simply that defensive incidents happen at a ratio of 1/100 or even 1/200 of the misuse of guns.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Las Vegas Detective Cleared in Fatal Shooting

The Mercury News published this story about Officer Jeremy Hendricks of Las Vegas.

A Las Vegas police detective has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a sexual assault suspect during a foot chase last month.

A coroner's inquest jury deliberated for about 90 minutes on Friday before returning the unanimous verdict in favor of Jeremy Hendricks, an 11-year veteran of the force.

Hendricks shot John Paul Hambleton in the back as the 32-year-old suspect ran from the detective and his partner in northwest Las Vegas on July 1.

Hendricks and they wanted to question him about his two-year sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl. Police intended to charge him with nine counts of sexual assault.

The first thing I noticed, besides the "shot in the back" part, is the little girlfriend was 16 years old not 6. Does anyone think a consensual relationship with an underage teenager and molesting a 6-year-old should be considered the same? Should they both be called sexual assault?

But, of course, the real question is how can shooting an escaping suspect in the back be considered legitimate?

Interestingly, the Las Vegas sites don't have this story out yet. The information above comes from neighboring California. I guess the Vegas papers are trying to figure out how they want to present the story.

Last month, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published this story on the past history of Officer Hendricks.

When Las Vegas police Detective Jeremy Hendricks testifies before a coroner's inquest jury in August about the slaying of a sexual assault suspect, it won't be his first inquest experience.

Hendricks, who fatally shot Paul Hambleton, 32, in the back as he fled police earlier this month, was called as an inquest witness in 2005.

The case involved the death of 47-year-old Russell Walker, who was shocked with a Taser multiple times by police, including while strapped to a gurney.

Hendricks, then an officer, helped restrain Walker during the incident, which is now the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court.

The inquest jury cleared two officers in the death of Walker. Autopsy results showed the man had been high on cocaine during the confrontation with police in front of the Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.

I think I'm beginning to get it, if they're high on cocaine or thought to be sexual assailants, anything goes. I realize the police have a very difficult job, but shouldn't this kind of thing be discouraged?

What's your opinion? Is holding a man down while other officers taser him to death the kind of behaviour you want from your police? Is shooting a fleeing suspect in the back sometimes justified?

Please leave a comment.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who's More Violent, Americans or Brits?

One of the standard claims of the gun enthusiasts when trying to downplay the role of guns in violent crime is that the U.K. is worse off than we are, and they have strict gun control. I've been told countless times that if guns are not available, criminals will use other "tools." In England they use knives, for example. And what's more, the gun folks say, crime goes up not down when guns are banned. I never bought any of these suggestions, needless to say.

Recently, it became more specific. Bob S., one of our most faithful and passionate commenters started claiming that violent crime in the U.K. is four times greater than in the U.S. Now, Bob has often criticized me for not doing research and not trusting statistics, but can you blame me? Last week on his blog I called him on a comparison he'd made between non-fatal gun injuries and all automobile accidents. It wasn't gun injuries compared to car accidents in which someone was hurt, which I would have had a problem with, it was all car accidents, even little fender benders. Despite the absurdity of the comparison, his loyal fans, to a man, complimented him on the astute post.

Well, finally I looked at the famous U.K. link which supposedly "proves" the unbelievable four-times-the-US idea. Here it is.

Indeed, the British web site called Mail Online, which was emphasizing how violent England is, said that in Britain there are over 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 population while in the United States there are only 466 per 100,000.

I compared that to the FBI stats shown here. According to them, in recent years the U.S. number has dramatically fallen to 2,000 per 100,000, just about the same as in England. Note that a few years ago it was more than double that figure.

So, as it turns out, both countries are extremely violent, but ours is more lethal. The big difference comes in the murder department. According to the Mail Online site, England has less than 1,000 per year. We all know how that compares to the good old US of A.

What's your opinion? How did the British researchers come up with only 466? The FBI considers violent crimes to be "rape, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, and homicide." And with only those, they come up to about 2,000 per.

Here's an idea. What if we forget about all the statistics, quit cherry-picking the ones that support our argument and just use common sense. If there are fewer guns available, then only the most determined criminal will get one or use something else. Many will not. The spur-of-the-moment crimes and the less determined crooks will simply do without.

Please leave a comment.

Obama's Health Care and the Death Panels

Finally I've seen something which helps me understand this debate. (via One Utah)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Healther Skelter - Obama Death Panel Debate
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Arizona Cracking Down

The Arizona Star reports on a new initiative sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Government officials are hoping a blitz of billboards and public service announcements will help slow the flow of guns bought in Arizona and smuggled into Mexico to arm the warring drug cartels.

The message in the "Don't lie for the other guy" campaign that has hit Tucson is clear: Buying a gun for somebody else in what is known as a "straw purchase" could land you in prison for 10 years.

What strikes me about this is, although there's no mention of what percentage of Mexican guns are coming from The States, the folks behind this campaign must think it's enough to worry about. Rather than insisting the problem is not as big as some say it is, or focusing entirely on what the exact extent of the problem is, the National Shooting Sports Foundation is taking action.

That's why the ATF, along with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona and the Arizona Attorney General's Office, is teaming up with the National Shooting Sports Foundation to bring the campaign to Tucson.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is spending $500,000 to roll out the campaign this summer in the four Southwest Border states, said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the foundation.

About half of the $4.3 million spent on the program since it started in 2000 has come from the foundation, he said, with the other half coming from Department of Justice grants.

I say "hats off" to the NSSF. Not only are they going beyond the petty arguments and denial, but they're spending a good bit of money to do so.

What's your opinion? Do you think, like I do, that the National Shooting Sports Foundation is a good example for the rest of the pro-gun community?

What about this, is there a difference between the NSSF member, the one who is primarily interested in guns as sport, and the average gun owner who is more concerned with self-defense? Could there be three distinct categories, which of course overlap with each other but basically are comprised of three different types of gun owners: sports shooters, hunters and the self-defense guys?

What's your opinion? Are they on the right track in Arizona?

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Kansas City Gets Tough on Crime

The Kansas City Star reports on the sentencing of man for shooting at police and running a meth lab in his home.

A Platte County man has been sentenced to life in prison for shooting at police officers as he fled from an explosion in 2007.

Bryan G. Leonard, 33, of Riverside, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Thursday in Platte County Circuit Court, two days after receiving another life sentence on multiple federal charges for manufacturing methamphetamine.

Authorities in Platte County charged Leonard in September 2007 with three counts of first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer for shooting at three members of the Kansas City Metropolitan Drug Task Force.

Talk about getting tough on crime, this guy received not one, but two life sentences. And he pleaded guilty. What do they do with people who actually harm others in the commission of their crimes?

Officers went to the residence just north of Park Hill South High School. They were acting on a tip that stolen construction materials and a meth lab were at the property.

Officers knocked on the door, but no one answered. However, music was playing inside and officers detected a strong chemical odor.

Leonard came out of the house shooting.

An explosion then caused the house to burn to the ground. Leonard was arrested after a car chase through English Landing Park. No one was injured in the shooting or the explosion.

What's your opinion? Does this sound like an excessive sentence to you? In spite of what some people say about me, I'm not really soft on criminals. I would like it to be fair, though, and reasonable. Sentencing guidelines like this are bad news for everybody. Locking people up and throwing away the key is not the solution to the problem; it's part of the problem. Using this case as an example, what do you think they do with murderers in Kansas City? What about pot smokers?

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