Saturday, September 12, 2009

John Martini and Marilyn Flax reports on the death of John Martini, former death row inmate in New Jersey. In 1989 he went on a nation-wide killing spree ending with the kidnapping and murder of Irving Flax in New Jersey. After spending about 15 years on death row his sentence was changed to life without the possibility of parole when New Jersey abolished Capital Punishment.

Denied her wish to see her husband's killer executed when the state abolished the death penalty two years ago, Marilyn Flax sent John Martini, the man who kidnapped and murdered her beloved Irving, an anonymous letter.

She wrote that God created heaven -- and hell for a select few.

"And I know that when you die, that's where you will be going. I know your soul will be tormented forever and ever," Flax, 63, said yesterday, recalling the letter she wrote late last year. "I wanted to have the last word."

This seems to be the normal reaction. Those few who can actually forgive are the rare lucky ones.

Martini who was suffering from a number of ailments, died in the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton the other day. "That's the only comfort I can get" out of his death, Flax said in a telephone interview from her home in North Jersey. "It's finally over."

What's your opinion? Do you think Mrs. Flax will really experience comfort now that the killer is dead? Do you find her attitude one of vengeance-seeking or justice-seeking? How do you think you would react in her situation?

Please leave a comment.

Michael Littlejohn's Flintlock

The New York Daily News reports on the fascinating case of an antique flintlock owner in Brooklyn who had an encounter with the police.

A Brooklyn Revolutionary War buff can keep his antique rifle and his good name.

Turns out it was legal all along - just as 50-year-old Michael Littlejohn told cops who knocked on his Sheepshead Bay door to tell him he needed a permit.

Cops wanted Littlejohn to surrender the historic flintlock rifle, complete with ramrod, when they confronted him.

But like the first Patriots did to the Red Coats, Littlejohn stood his ground.

Does anyone else find that comparison a bit dramatic? Do gun enthusiasts really think in those terms, picturing themselves like the 18th century colonists who fought the British?

To the police, Mr. Littlejohn, insisted he didn't need to register his rifle, because its design is so outdated it's considered an antique. In fact, City law is on his side. Antique firearms, defined as rifles that require the bullet and gunpowder to be loaded separately, are exempt.

I was very curious as to how the police came to knock on his door. A partial answer is found in David Codrea's article in the Examiner.

We learn the cops found out about Littlejohn's purchase when he left a receipt at a Staples copy center. Wouldn't it be nice to find out who the enuretic authority-worshiping snitch is, if for no other reason than to put the same public spotlight on them that they felt justified to anonymously put on a fellow citizen?

I'm all for reporting serious crimes to the police, but I must admit this sounds more like some busy-body butting in where they don't belong. I could understand if the receipts left at Staples referred to those evil AK-47s or something like that, but any reference to a flintlock should have seemed more like a collector's item.

David Codrea put forth an interesting idea.

One last item: When you go to the Daily News article I used as the source for this column, be sure and take the poll. You just have to shake your head in wonder at the slave mentality that voted "No. Since he does not have a license, the police have a right to take it away."

Do you agree with that? Is it "slave mentality" that accounts for the majority of folks in New York favoring gun control laws? Don't those people deserve a little more credit than that? Aren't they entitled to have this opinion without having been enslaved or brainwashed by the government?

What's your opinion? Why should these weapons be excluded from the ones covered by various laws? Aren't some black powder weapons quite functional and as deadly as your average semi-automatic?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What Makes a Real Man?

Convicted Felons With Guns

CBSnews.con reports (scroll down to the bottom of the article) on the decision in North Carolina to restore gun rights to a convicted felon.

Barney Britt is a longtime outdoorsman and hunter who once claimed a trophy for shooting the third largest deer in North Carolina history. Now the resident of the town of Garner, a short drive south of Raleigh, N.C., can claim a different type of trophy: he faced off against the government over gun rights, and he won.

Some background: Britt pleaded guilty to felony possession of methaqualone (aka quaaludes) in 1979, when he was 20 years old. Now he's 49 years old, has no subsequent criminal history, and there's no evidence he's violent or dangerous today. In fact, he peaceably owned firearms from 1987 to 2004.

What exactly was the right that had to be restored? What did he lose by becoming a convicted felon? If he "peaceably owned firearms" after his conviction and became a famous hunter and outdoorsman, what was lacking?

In 2004, the North Carolina General Assembly rewrote the law to deny possession of any firearm to anyone convicted of a felony, even if the guns were kept at their homes or businesses. So Britt filed a lawsuit claiming his rights -- not his Second Amendment rights, but those protected by the state constitution -- were violated by the new law.

Is that to say that prior to 2004 convicted felons in NC were not subject to losing their right to bear arms? Does that mean that during those years all the convicted felons who weren't able to turn their lives around like Mr. Britt were able to own guns? I'll bet that resulted in some repeat offenders, what do you think?

What's your opinion? Is this a good law, that convicted felons should be deprived of their rights? Did the State of North Carolina do good in making an exception in the case of Mr. Britt?

Please leave a comment.

D.C. Upholds Gun Licensing reports on the decision in the District of Columbia to uphold its requirement for licensing gun owners who want to carry outside the home.

An appeals court in Washington, D.C. has upheld the city's extremely restrictive law requiring residents to obtain licenses to carry handguns outside of their homes.

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year in the high-profile D.C. v. Heller Second Amendment case did not invalidate the District of Columbia's licensing requirements, and even appears to have endorsed them, the appeals court ruled.

Was this decision ever in doubt? Only Alaska and Vermont allow such a thing. I'm surprised the motion wasn't thrown out at a lower level.

"While the statute indisputably imposes a regulatory restriction on the right to bear arms, on its face it does not stifle a fundamental liberty," the D.C. Court of Appeals concluded in an opinion dated August 27.

What's your opinion? Does the requiring of licensing for folks who want to carry guns violate the spirit of the 2nd Amendment? The Court said no. What do you think?

If such licensing can be considered Constitutional, what's to prevent the further requirement of demanding ALL gun owners to be licensed? What's wrong with regularizing the chaotic hodgepodge mess we've got now?

What's your opinion?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tyler Heinze on his Brother Guy Jr.

Big thanks to Gage46Bstn for the tip. The site has the fascinating story.

He wondered if it were even possible for a single person to carry out so many killings without help and all the things that don't make sense.

"I want to see fingerprints on a murder weapon."

He also said Guy Heinze Jr. had nothing to gain from killing anyone in the house and that he believed his father, Rusty Toler Sr. and West were all fighters who could defend themselves. His brother didn't have a scratch on him, another indication he didn't kill anyone, Tyler said.

To Err is Human, To Forgive Divine

The Indiana News reports on a fascinating story of forgiveness, a story which includes a number of interesting facets.

The family of a man shot to death when he tried to help a woman who was being robbed said they have forgiven his killer.

The teen responsible for killing Mario Gonzalez, 72, was sentenced to 80 years in prison Wednesday in Marion Superior Court.

Mr. Gonzalez came to the aid of a woman being robbed at gunpoint by the then 16-year-old Dominique Staten.

Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Courtney Curtis said, "He aimed the firearm that he had a right to carry and then he lost his life."Gonzalez died from a single .357-caliber bullet to the abdomen. His gun was found at the scene, but he did not get off a shot.

The forgiveness angle is good. It occurs to me that perhaps this is one place where Christians have got it right. But, I suppose there are many vengeance-seeking Christians out there. What's your opinion? Is forgiveness of this type a Christian thing?

Another interesting aspect of the story is the fact that Mr. Gonzalez was a concealed carry permit holder, and as such was armed when he intervened in the robbery. What do you think went wrong? Isn't it strange that he didn't even get a shot off? Would he have approached a robbery in progress so unprepared? What's the point of carrying a gun if that's what happens?

Is it possible that many concealed carry permit holders are untrained and unprepared? Do some of them think the gun itself gives them some kind of protection? What do you think?

Of course, I was interested in the provenance of the gun. "Dominique Staten, then 16, had just bought a stolen gun from a friend," the article said. I couldn't help but wonder if the gun had been stolen from its legitimate owner and how easily that had been accomplished. Besides straw purchases, it seems that stolen guns are one of the main sources. Do you think that's right? Isn't there any way we could encourage gun owners to be more careful with their weapons? If the monetary damage of having a gun stolen is not enough motivation, would legal sanctions help? What if all guns were registered to specific individuals and those individuals had to be accountable for their weapons?

One other observation is that apparently the young shooter has made some efforts to turn his life around in spite of the fact that a good portion of it will be behind bars.

Staten's attorney, Eugene Kress, said his client wants to better himself.

"He's done a lot of work since he was initially incarcerated, furthering his education," Kress said. "His goal is to continue that. He's going to, I hope, use his time wisely."

How common do you think that is? How many young prisoners truly make an effort to turn their lives around? Does rehabilitation work in some cases?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Abolish the Death Penalty

The Workers World site published an article entitled "Another Reason to Abolish the Death Penalty."

The death penalty in the United States should be abolished because it functions as a potent agent of racism and class oppression. African Americans and Latino/as represent the majority of those on death row. And executions are reserved almost exclusively for the poor. Ninety percent of those awaiting execution could not afford to hire a trial attorney.

In addition, death penalty abolitionists have known for decades that many of those executed are also innocent.

The article goes on to mention the highly publicized case of Todd Willingham, in which the arson experts proved he was innocent after he'd been executed. The thrust of the article is that the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic prisoners on Death Row, like Wllingham, is due to racism and poverty.

I'm not sure why they call this "another reason." I thought this was one of the main reasons right along, as we've discussed before.

Of course, Texas appeared prominent in the article.

As Shaka Sankofa lay strapped on the gurney in Huntsville on June 22, 2000, he said, “They know I’m innocent. They’ve got the facts to prove it. ... But they cannot acknowledge my innocence, because to do so would be to publicly admit their guilt.”

Sankofa continued, “Slavery couldn’t stop us. The lynchings in the South couldn’t stop us. This lynching will not stop us tonight. We will go forward . ... It’s state-sanctioned lynching, right here in America and right here tonight. Our destiny in this country is freedom and liberation. We will gain it by any means necessary. We must avenge this murder and continue to move forward to stop all executions of the poor and of Black people.”

We must put Shaka Sankofa’s words into action and abolish the racist and anti-poor death penalty.

What's your opinion? Do you agree that capital punishment is racist and anti-poor? Does the fact that a disproportionate number of minorities are executed prove anything? Do you think it's fair to call the death penalty "modern lynching?"

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Miami Shooting, Over a Parking Space?

The local CBS station in Miami reports on the shooting that took place outside a popular Miami nightclub.

A young woman was shot and seriously wounded early Tuesday morning as she and a friend parked their car near a Miami night club. Her attacker first had to pry his hand and gun free from the power window of her car.

Nineteen year old Charlene Zatroch of Cutler Bay and 19 year old Chelsea Whitaker, also of Cutler Bay, had been making the club scene on South Beach, then made their way to the White Room nightclub in the 1400 block of Miami Avenue. As Zatroch maneuvered her car toward a parking space, witnesses say she was blocked in by a white, Cadillac SUV.

Words were exchanged and the driver of SUV came out holding a handgun. A witness, who declined to give his name, said Zatroch attempted to drive away, but the driver of the SUV ran his car into hers, trapping it. The witness said the gunman "got out of the car, went straight to the (victim's) window and just started shooting."

Another possible motive is that it was an attempted robbery. To me that sounds plausible because according to the witnesses, "The girl in the driver's seat put up the window, catching the offender's hand inside the window, with the gun in his hand. He was able to pull his hand from the window and then he started shooting through the window and the door."

Most likely the shooter was not a lawful gun owner or holder of a concealed carry permit. Probably he was not an off-duty police officer. In all likelihood he was a criminal, probably a person already prohibited from having a gun. So what does this have to do with the lawful gun-owning public?

I say it has everything to do with it. I say you cannot have one without the other. The more guns we have in the country the more trouble we have with them. Not only is the huge body of legally-owned firearms seeping into the criminal world through gun flow, but we have that fringe element of the lawful guys who keep going bad.

So, I don't accept that pro-gun argument that it's not their responsibility, that only the criminals are responsible for their actions. The easy access to guns, which if the gun rights crowd has its way will get continually easier, is ensuring that incidents like this are continually more frequent and more deadly.

What's your opinion?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Taxi Driver Kills Armed Robber reports on the incident which took place in Charlotte NC.

Police are investigating a deadly shooting in southeast Charlotte Sunday night, after a taxi driver shot and killed a man trying to rob him.

Police were called out to the 11000 block of John Price Road just before 9:45 p.m., Sunday night. The cab driver told police he was called out to the Colonial Village at Stone Point apartment complex to pick up a fare.

Thats when the cab driver told police he was flagged down by a man, who got into the right front passenger seat. As the cab was driving away from the complex, the man pulled out a gun and demanded money from the cab driver.

That's when the cab driver pulled out his own handgun and shot the man, killing him.

Has anyone else noticed an increase in the reporting of this type of incident in the main stream? I certainly have. There have been more of these defensive stories in the news over the last couple months than over the entire year previous. Why would that be? Are they happening more frequently? Has the main-stream media been listening to the complaints of the pro-gun folks who have claimed all along that these situations are not that rare and have been underreported? What do you think?

As usual, though, I have some doubts about this one. Perhaps the investigators do too, as evidenced by their call for witnesses.

My question is this: if you're driving and the passenger has a gun on you, how fast do you have to be to pull your gun and shoot him without getting shot yourself? You'd have to be faster than the guy we saw on Breda's blog.

What's your opinion? Does the cab driver's story make sense to you? Please leave a comment.

Guy Heinze Jr. and the Motive

This is the case in which I first wrote that it was a shooting. Of course I wasn't the only one to say that, in fact I linked to the news outlet which reported it that way. Nevertheless, a few of the commenters took me to task for that, so I made a couple attempts to edit the original post. I think those guys focus on the gun too much. What do you think?

This CNN video describes the investigation into this horrific crime and the ultimate arrest of the eldest son. He's denying it all. Why do they always do that? Is the spontaneous dishonesty and convincing lying lost in comparison the bigger crimes? Do you think these murderers who lie about their actions were already practiced liars before killing? Or did they learn to do it quickly when arrested.

As Raskolnikov described himself , maybe Guy Heinze Jr. was "shattered by poverty." Or maybe he thought he was one of the "extraordinary" people for whom the rules don't count.

What's your opinion? Could there be any mitigating circumstances in a crime like this? The CNN announcer emphasized that $25,000 was a lot of money to these people. What if it were only $20, or much more, say $1M, would that change anything?

Please leave a comment.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Louisiana Man Kills his Family and Himself

Yahoo News reports on another tragic shooting which took place near Baton Rouge Louisiana.

HOLDEN, La. – A man shot his estranged wife, son and 2-year-old grandson to death and seriously wounded his pregnant daughter-in-law at their rural Louisiana home, then killed himself as police tried to pull over his car 20 minutes later, authorities said.

The pregnant woman later gave birth, about three months early, her father said.

The shootings late Saturday appeared to stem from an ongoing dispute between 50-year-old Dennis Carter Sr. and his wife, Donna Carter, who had a restraining order against him, Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office Chief of Operations Perry Rushing said Sunday.

The story as reported by the Associated Press contains what I find to be a strange attitude on the part of the authorities.

"It's very unusual to have this many victims," (Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office Chief of Operations Perry) Rushing said. "This is an anomaly by any stretch of the imagination."

"We won't ever know what happened inside that house," he said.

I thought the forensics investigators could piece it together from what's left. Maybe it's not important.

What is important is the fact that once again we have an angry man with a gun, killing his entire family, or at least most of them. We discussed this before in a post entitled Guns and Women. That's the one in which I tried to support my statement "guns are bad news for women." The support came in the form of statistics showing the shocking difference between high-gun states and low-gun states of men killing women with guns. The source of those stats was CDC WISQARS 2003, but of course the usual commenters couldn't accept that and continued to accuse me of not backing up my statements and not providing legitimate statistics. One person actually dared me to say these things to the very popular female gun bloggers, Roberta X, Tamara K, and Breda.

Well, to them and to everyone else, I say guns are bad news for women. Those three great bloggers are the exceptions to the rule. The rule is, in America, too many women are at the mercy of too many men with guns.

What's your opinion? Do you think the extremely easy access to guns in Louisiana may have been a factor in this case? Dennis Carter Sr. was clearly a prohibited person. Shouldn't we make it harder for such a person to get his hands on a gun?

Please feel free to leave a comment.

We Can Be Together

We can be together
Ah you and me
We should be together
We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fuck hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together
Come on all you people standing around
Our life's too fine to let it die and
We can be together
All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is
We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Up against the wall
Up against the wall motherfucker
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls
Come on now together
Get it on together
Everybody together
We should be together
We should be together my friends
We can be together
We will be
We must begin here and now
A new continent of earth and fire
Come on now gettin higher and higher
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls
Won't you try

Sunday, September 6, 2009

San Marcos Texas and the Castle Doctrine

Local news on reports on the double fatal shooting which very well may have been justified. The action took place a couple blocks from Texas State University.

A fatal San Marcos shooting may fall under the castle doctrine. Two Luling teens are dead, one is in the hospital and another is in jail.

"Three of the suspects were armed, one with a handgun, two with what we were later to find out were pellet guns, but very realistic looking,” San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams says the teens burst inside the home. There were three people inside; a college student, and two men, one of which was armed.

"He opened his bedroom door. When he did, one of the suspects in his living room pointed a weapon at him. He fired on the suspects in his house,” Williams said.

Two 16-year-olds died, another is now at Brackenridge Hospital with serious injuries. Williams says 17-year-old Frank Castro escaped uninjured, but is now in jail charged with aggravated robbery.

I have to admit, this type of crime seems to justify some of the tough talk the pro-gun folks often use about criminals, "it's an occupational hazard" and "they asked for it." When people barge into some else's home with guns in hand and get killed for their trouble, I see absolutely no fault with the shooter.

What's your opinion? Does this "occupational hazard" extend to all criminals, even fleeing ones, as discussed here and here, and unarmed ones?

What about that castle doctrine law, which the article said was new? What did Texas have before?

Why do these crimes seem to happen more in Phoenix and Houston than in similar cities in New York and New Jersey? Is that why they adopted the castle doctrine law in Texas, because they need it more?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.