Saturday, October 10, 2009

Understanding the 2nd Amendment

Thanks to Laci the Dog, I had the opportunity to watch this wonderful video. It's a lecture by
Prof. Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law School given about two years ago.

It's long so I'll just mention a few highlights.

Early on he says, the individual right to bear arms reflects an extremely resourceful social movement and has much less to do with good standard legal arguments than appears.

In the early 1990s, Chief Justice Warren Berger, conservative Republican, said the claim that the 2nd Amendment creates an individual right is one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special interest groups in his lifetime.

Later the professor uses phrases like "2nd Amendment revisionism" and he speaks at length about the founding period idea of militia being necessary to prevent a standing army of the government from harming the citizens.

He says the thought that citizen soldiers in the 21st century are needed for this purpose is just "ridiculous" and the idea of citizens fighting against government armies, "preposterous."

Guy Heinze Jr. Revisited

I received the following comment yesterday by e-mail. The author had some difficulty accessing the blog to post it directly. He expressed very eloquently what we've discussed before, especially after viewing that video of the younger brother. Here and here are my other posts about the case.

For all of you who already have Guy Heinze tried and convicted; please let me remind you that in The United States of America a man is innocent until proved guilty.

While the media seems to have jumped to the same quick conclusion as the District Attorney I believe that Guy Heinze is innocent.

There are far too many questions that have not been answered not the least of which is the murders he is charged with would be physically impossible for one person. Guy did not have a mark on him.There were many people in that trailer of an age and size that they could defend themselves against one person or at least get out of there. There are windows as well as the door to the trailer. And whoever committed this awful crime ( at least 2 maybe more) could not be the son, uncle, brother that Guy is. He states himself, as does his brother Tyler, that "he is no Saint" (who among us are ?) that does not make him the mass murderer of his own family. I want the facts and proof of this monstrous act to come out and I believe that Guy Heinze will be found innocent. All the while this rush to judgment is going on mass murderer(s) are loose.

Look for the real killers.

What's your opinion? Is it possible the police have the wrong guy and are insisting he's the right one? Do they do such things? Here's what I said before.

Don't the police always say that? Isn't that exactly what they said in every single case in which someone was exonerated after spending years on death row?

Please leave a comment.

Ellen S. Alberding on Youth Violence

The Chicago Tribune published an article by Ellen S. Alberding, President of the Joyce Foundation. The title: "When children with illegal firearms rule."

Ms. Alberding begins by recalling the recent murder of Derrion Albert, which, because it happened to be caught on video, created an international sensation. One result was that President Obama sent Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to Chicago this week to talk with students and school officials.

We welcome the opportunity to talk about a comprehensive strategy to combat youth violence. But let's remember that the beating death of Derrion is in some ways unusual.

Every week young people here and in other cities are slain. Some are beaten like Derrion but in the great majority of cases the weapon of choice is a gun. In the last two years, more than 500 Chicago Public School students have been shot.

From January through August, 152 young people have been murdered in Chicago and 80 percent were killed by guns. Any effort to reduce violence has to recognize that easy access to firearms is inextricably linked to violence involving youth.

How is it possible that pro-gun folks continue to deny that "easy access to firearms is inextricably linked to violence?" Why is it not possible for them to admit that firearm availability is a major factor, not the only factor, granted, but a major factor in violence? I would have more respect for people who say although gun availability is a problem, too bad, we have our 2nd Amendment rights. I'd have more respect if they said, I realize gun availability is bad news, but it's the price we must pay so the rest of us can enjoy our guns. But when they argue that gun availability is not a factor or not a significant factor, I find it hard to believe they really think so.

What's the solution then? Here it is according to Ellen S. Alberding.

We have to insist that anyone who buys a gun must pass a background check, so we can prevent criminals, minors and those with mental illness from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

We should increase the regulation and oversight of licensed gun dealers and call on law enforcement to trace the flow of illegal handguns and assault weapons that end up in the hands of street gangs or drug dealers.

We should stop tying the hands of federal law enforcement agencies by forbidding them to require dealer inventory checks and forcing them to destroy background check records that could be used to investigate gun crimes.

What's your opinion? Are they pretty much the same suggestions other gun control folks talk about? Is there anything wrong with these ideas? Do you think Ms. Alberding has a hidden agenda? Is she really striving to incrementally take away your rights with the eventual plan of total bans and confiscation?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Ken Pagano Resigns from the Ministry

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports on the latest news concerning Rev. Ken Pagano, the one who promoted the gun rally in church last June.

Ken Pagano, who drew world attention to his small Valley Station church by hosting a rally celebrating God and guns in June, has resigned from his ministry to promote gun rights and church security.

He’s working part-time at a local gun range and has helped form a group called the International Security Coalition of Clergy, along with a New York rabbi and others who are promoting the use of armed and trained security at houses of worship.

Pagano said that although New Bethel Church in Valley Station supported his organizing of the “Open Carry Celebration,” he felt he had become “maybe a little too much of a liability” and brought notoriety to the small congregation.

The Courier-Journal story contains the video we saw earlier this year with that incredible interview he gave. This is the one in which he said such amazing things as the gun carriers are mainly "shooters," it's not about self-defense. He said, "without a deep-seated belief in God and firearms, this country would not be here." He said, "a belief in the 2nd Amendment gives people the right to the 1st Amendment." And finally, the thing that even pro-gun folks questioned, he provided security personnel at the door of the church to "inspect the firearms" to make sure they were unloaded.

The video was a barrel of laughs, but for something really funny, you have to see that picture of Pagano with Rabbi Gary Moscowitz and the martial arts trainer David Goldenberg. Could those guys have looked any more ridiculous posing like that?

What's your opinion? Is Rev. Ken Pagano one of those pro-gun guys who may not be all that helpful to the cause? Or, do you find his contribution valuable. Please tell us about it.

Feel free to leave a comment.

The Gun-Toting Zombie Killer

Woody Harrelson stars in a new movie, which made me wonder about something. After all the thousands of comments about why the pro-gun crowd insist that carrying guns is a good thing, not one of these guys ever mentioned zombies, not even once.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Queens Man Charged With Selling Guns reports on the indictment of a Queens New York man who ran a multi-state gun smuggling ring.

Juan "Junior" Leon, 30, of Astoria, sold as many as 30 firearms, on some occasions while the weapons were loaded with live rounds, to undercover New York City police officers posing as buyers, authorities said.

Leon met with the officers 20 separate times over the course of a year, police and prosecutors said. He was indicted by a Queens grand jury on 107 counts, including criminal sale of a firearm and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Eleven of the weapons confiscated were originally procured by Corey Odle, 31, and Bryan Brown, 22, both of Newport News, Va., who stole them from households in Virginia and Pennsylvania, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday.

The weapons were then trafficked via Interstate-95 - which authorities have nicknamed "The Iron Pipeline" - and sold in Queens by Leon at a profit, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

"A small caliber handgun, for example, can be purchased on the streets of Virginia for as little as $75," said Brown. "It comes to New York, it can go up for as much as $1,000."

Now wait a minute, did they just say the guns were stolen from homes? What does that mean for our theory about the differing gun laws in Virginia and New York? Guns can be stolen anywhere, right? But, the District Attorney also said that guns are cheap to buy on the street in VA and worth so much more in NY.

So, I suppose what it means is this. Guns are so common in the homes of Virginia and Pennsylvania residents that burglars can make a nice profit stealing them. Guns are also so prevalent and cheap on the streets of Virginia, that enterprising folks make a business of buying and selling after a nice drive up the New Jersey Turnpike.

What's your opinion? Is the "iron pipeline" a myth invented by the evil gun-banners? Or, given the tremendous disparity in gun laws and attitudes between states like Virginia and New York, is there a continual flow of weapons up that "pipeline?" Which do you think it is?

What about the sting operation that Junior Leon fell for? Is that as distasteful to pro-gun folks as the undercover operators who went to the gun shows at Bloomberg's behest? Are these victimless crimes, as has been said about the gun show sales?

What' s your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison Joins the Fight

The Dallas Morning News reports that Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has renewed her opposition to certain gun control measures in anticipation of a major case on the issue coming before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hutchison, a Republican, announced that she and other lawmakers would file a brief urging the high court to rule that Chicago's strict gun control ordinances violate an individual's right to keep and bear arms.

The upcoming test of limits on gun control laws follows last year's landmark District of Columbia vs. Heller decision, in which the Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment applies to individuals. In that case, the court narrowly limited its decision to Washington.

Hutchison said she'd awaited an opportunity to apply the Heller ruling to states and local governments.

Lots of political maneuvering is going on these days, folks are taking sides. I have the feeling, though, that the pro-gun side is stronger - it's just my feeling.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign commented that, "the Heller ruling says that outright bans are unconstitutional but reasonable gun control laws are acceptable."

"It's not that worrisome," Helmke said. "The court, in Heller, took the extremes off the table."

I'm not sure I understand that, do you? If the Supreme Court rules that handguns cannot be banned in the city of Chicago, wouldn't that be an "extreme" situation from the gun control standpoint? Wouldn't such a decision be a terrible setback for the gun control movement? I would think so. What's your opinion?

On the other hand, in spite of the conservative makeup of the Supreme Court and some of its recent past history concerning guns, what if the decision goes the other way? What if for the first time the Supremes write something against the modern accepted interpretation of the 2nd Amendment? Isn't it possible, as Mike Licht said yesterday that this has been a willful misinterpretation of the intent of the 2nd Amendment, and it's about to end?

The Supreme Court of the United States has another chance to willfully misinterpret the 18th century prose of the 2nd Amendment this session.

What's your opinion? Is the decision coming up a "done deal?" Or is it something that could go either way and which will have far-reaching ramifications?

Please leave a comment.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Problem With Gun Shows

Thanks for the tip, Microdot, and a big tip o' the hat to Crooks and Liars.

I guess it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a convincing exposé. The gun crowd were all so dismissive about what Prof. Wintemute came out with recently. But, Mayor Bloomberg has provided us with what to me looks like indisputable evidence of what everyone has known all along. Private sales at gun shows are a source for criminals to get guns.

What gets me is the attitude demonstrated on the video, the laughing, the nonchalance, the admitting that the seller wouldn't pass the background check either.

I find it filthy dirty and I can't understand how otherwise honest law-abiding citizens continue to turn a blind eye, continue to defend this activity and continue to pretend it has nothing to do with them.

What's your opinion? Here's what Sebastian had to say about it.

What’s really disgusting about Bloomberg’s tactics, is none of these transactions and dealers shown here have anything to do with gun show loophole. It’s illegal to operate as a gun dealer, for livelihood and profit, without a Federal Firearms License. It’s illegal to knowingly sell guns to criminals. In all of these cases shown, they could be prosecuted under current laws. But he’s not going to tell you that, because the goal is to get rid of gun shows.

I wouldn't go so far as to call the tactics "disgusting," but I do admit to a certain disdain of the proverbial undercover or sting operation. But how this can be said to not qualify as the "gun show loophole" seems a bit of a stretch to me. The fact that existing laws are being broken has nothing to do with it. You can't throw out the entire argument by saying there are already laws which cover that. The laws which cover these activities are obviously inadequate.

Another quibble I have with Sebastian's take on it, and it's not just his take I realize, is the presumed intention in the mind of Bloomberg. I cannot see any reason to not believe that he wants to do exactly what he says. I see no reason to think that the real objective is to "get rid of gun shows."

What do you think? Are Bloomberg's tactics disgusting? Do you think that requiring background checks on all gun transfers would accomplish something good? What about those gun sellers who admitted they wouldn't pass the background check either. Shouldn't they be put out of business?

Please leave a comment.

Meleanie Hain, Gun-Totin' Soccer Mom, Killed

The local ABC News has the report.

A Lebanon woman who gained national attention when she openly-carried a handgun at a children's soccer game last year was shot and killed Wednesday night, according to police.

Police say Meleanie Hain and her husband, Scott Hain, died of gunshot wounds they sustained at their home on South Second Avenue.

The couple's children were home when the shooting occurred and are staying with family, according to police.

Hain's concealed weapons permit was revoked after she openly wore a holstered pistol to her daughter's soccer game in September 2008. A county judge later overturned the decision and returned her permit.

I saw the sad news first on Snowflakes in Hell. It's a terrible blow for the gun-rights crowd, besides being an unspeakable tragedy for the people directly involved. Sebastian said, "No doubt Brady will be exploiting this tragedy to the max by tomorrow."

Is that fair? Is it exploitation when someone points out that this incident perfectly illustrates several of the points we make? Is it wrong to show the sad irony in timing that only the other day the Univ. of Penn came out with a report showing that carrying a gun makes you more likely to suffer a gun tragedy? Is it taking advantage of a senseless crime to show how well it supports my theories that "guns are bad news for women" and that "10%" of legal gun owners should not have guns in the first place?

I'm deeply saddened by this, but I don't accept that it's wrong to say the things I've been saying all along. I honestly don't believe it amounts to exploitation.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Rasmussen: 50% Oppose Stricter Gun Control

The latest Rasmussen report about gun control is making quite a stir. The headline and the first sentence of the article are already flying around the gun blogs like so many stray bullets.

50% Oppose Stricter Gun Control Laws

Just 39% of Americans now say the United States needs stricter gun control, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to review the constitutionality of state and local anti-gun laws.

Do those stats make sense to you? Do you really believe they accurately reflect what Americans think? I certainly don't, and not because they challenge some of my theories, but simply because they seem suspiciously slanted. What is the agenda of the Rasmussen Group? What kinds of questions were asked in the "telephone survey?" Would a slight rewording of the questions have produced a different result?

What's your opinion? Do you place a lot of stock in reports like this? Why is it that different opinions can always come up with surveys and statistics to support their argument?

Please leave a comment.

University of Penn Study

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an op-ed piece by Monica Yant Kinney entitled "A downside to carrying a gun."

... University of Pennsylvania researchers released the results of a study seeking evidence that having a gun protects the holder from peril.

To the contrary, the epidemiologists found in the first-of-its-kind investigation: People with a gun on them were actually 4.5 times more likely to be shot than those who were unarmed.

One fascinating thing is the academics all seem to agree. We've discussed Prof. Wintemute, who put a spotlight on gun shows, Dr. Hemenway, who was the inspiration for my famous "guns are bad news for women," and now we have Charles C. Branas, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Univ. of Penn., saying that carrying a gun can be bad for your health.

The study investigated shootings in Philadelphia, which number 5 per day, and concluded that carrying a gun makes you 4.5 times more likely to suffer a gunshot yourself.

Now, even I, who struggle with bias and the deep desire to win these arguments, can see that there's a big difference between young gang members who carry guns and your average responsible gun owner. Even allowing for my 10% theory, I can see that in the latter group the numbers would be very different than in the former. Nevertheless, 4.5 times more likely is a compelling statistic, wouldn't you say?

Ms. Yant Kinney described the difference between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Carry laws differ greatly between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, mirroring the states' wildly opposing views on gun sales and ownership.

In New Jersey, where I live, 25,753 handguns were purchased last year, but only 580 people received carry permits.

"And the vast majority of those," notes State Police Det. Glenn Ross, "are for employment reasons," such as private detectives, armored car drivers, and security guards.

In Pennsylvania, 208,436 handguns were sold in 2008. And the bulk of those buyers - 150,840 - received licenses to carry.

Where do you think all those guns used in Philadelphia, the ones used in the 5 shootings a day, are coming from? Maybe the gun flow from that incredible number of 208,000 in a single year accounts for them. Maybe, so many guns are flowing from the good guys to the bad guys in PA that there are some left over for Camden and Newark, ah but this is just idle speculation.

What's your opinion?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk

You know everything has to do with guns. The references come at about 3:30.

Capital Punishment in Ohio

CNN reports on the situation with Ohio's death penalty.
Ohio's governor granted temporary reprieves to two death row inmates just hours after a federal appeals court blocked the execution of one of them -- adding to the mounting confusion over the state's capital punishment system.

Earlier Monday, the state's attorney general's office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Thursday's execution of Lawrence Reynolds Jr. to go forward as scheduled.

However, Gov. Ted Strickland announced he would delay Reynolds's execution until March, at the earliest. Another death row inmate, Darryl Durr, scheduled to be executed in coming weeks, also was granted a reprieve until at least April 2010.

The conflicting moves came after the botched execution attempt of Romell Broom last month, which raised serious questions about the state's lethal injection procedures.

"Additional time is needed to fully conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of an alternative or backup lethal injection protocol that is in accordance with Ohio law," Strickland said in his announcement.

That is complicated but at least the governor is showing some good sense. I guess no one's surprised that the State's Attorney General is trying to get executions carried out against Governor Strickland's wishes.

What do you think is the problem with the "lethal injection protocol?" I've never understood this one. I'd bet any street junkie could devise a system that works every time. Why can't the states?

Perhaps we need to add botched executions to the list of reasons to oppose capital punishment. The other major reasons seem to be the possibility of executing an innocent person, the exorbitant cost and the racial disparity.

For me the main reason has always been a desire to avoid the moral contradiction of telling the people "do not kill," and then killing them if they do. That's pre-meditated murder by the government.

Another thing that occurred to me is that Governor Strickland may be trying to move Ohio into the confederacy of enlightened states, states like New Jersey and California to name just two, places where the death penalty has been abolished either de jure or de facto. Then you have guys like the Attorney General who want to keep Ohio in that other group headed up by Texas. You know the one, it's got Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and many others.

What's your opinion? Is Ohio progressing towards a better future? Would abolishing the death penalty be part of that progression?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The site reports on the neighborly struggles that led to a shooting.

A Randolph man shot his neighbor in the stomach after the two quarreled about dumping leaves, police said.

Christopher Leonard pleaded not guilty yesterday to armed assault with intent to murder. The 38-year-old was released on $25,000 cash bail following his arraignment in Quincy District Court, according to a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating.

Doesn't that sound inconsistent to you, charged with attempted murder and out on $25,000 bail?

To me the inconsistent thing is the charge in the first place. It should have been armed assault, period, or armed assault due to getting angry.

Leonard and his neighbor, John Rota, were bickering about a property dispute at about 10 p.m. Friday, police said. Leonard allegedly told Rota he would like to dump leaves on Rota’s lawn, according to police.

One of the neighbors tossed a beer can in the middle of the fight, and Leonard shot Rota with a 9mm handgun, police Lieutenant Richard Crowley said. Crowley said he did not know whether the men had been drinking.

Leonard called police to report the shooting, Crowley said. Rota was transported to Boston Medical Center and has been released, police said.

Police found “quite a few guns,’’ including a 9mm, in Leonard’s home, Crowley said. Leonard has a license to carry firearms, Crowley said.

Aha! There we have it, another concealed carry guy who shouldn't have had a gun in the first place. Or, does someone what to dispute that? Should a guy who can get so angry over an argument about the leaves, that he pulls a gun and shoots his neighbor be permitted to own guns? I'm not talking about how we might enforce such a thing, I'm just asking should a guy like that be armed?

I say NO. I say the more people there are with guns the more people like this there are with guns. And that's bad news for everybody. That's why sensible people don't want guns in national parks and schools and any other place for that matter. We don't trust the gun owners. We can't distinguish between the vast majority of responsible gun owners and characters like this who can lose it over the leaves.

The Gun Guys agree with me, of course.

What's your opinion? Is this just another anomaly, another anecdotal rarity which has nothing to do with gun ownership? Or is this an increasingly prevalent part of American society?

Please leave a comment.

Vacaville Couple Charged in 2-year-old's Death

Mercury News reports on the Vacaville California couple who are being charged in the death of their 2-year-old daughter who was accidentally shot by her 8-year-old brother last month.

Solano County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Kauffman said today that his office had filed felony child endangerment charges against Michael and Daniela Shanahan of Vacaville in connection with the Sept. 23 shooting death of their 2-year-old daughter, Ayana Shanahan.

Each parent faces two counts of child endangerment resulting in death or injury — one count each for the endangerment of their 8-year-old son, identified only as "A.R.", and one count for the endangerment of the little girl.

In addition, both will be charged with first-degree criminal storage of a firearm accessible to a child.

Daniela Shanahan also was charged with being a previously convicted felon with firearms and ammunition in her home. She reportedly had suffered a prior conviction for felony drunken driving in Napa County.

Why didn't they charge the 8-year-old boy? Isn't that what they do in Arizona? Wouldn't that be more consistent with all the personal responsibility theories I keep hearing about?

Perhaps it's because in California they're enlightened enough to realize that gun owners have to behave more responsibly than this. Perhaps in California they realize anything an 8-year-old does is the result of his education and training and the example of his parents.

What this boy did, presumably the first time he got his hands on a real gun, which to an 8-year-old must feel a lot heavier than any of the plastic toys he'd have been used to, was to point it at the head of the nearest female and pull the trigger. It could all be a coincidence, kids learn some of this stuff from television, but it is a type of sad metaphor for the country at large, don't you think. Guns are bad news for women.

What do you think about the prior drunk driving conviction that Mrs. Shanahan had and the fact that it made her a prohibited person? Is that a good law? Should felony drunk drivers lose their rights to own guns and have them in the house?

A subsequent police search of the home reportedly turned up several firearms, some of them believed to have been previously inherited from other family members.

What's a normal healthy family in California to do when they inherit guns from their relatives? They'd have sentimental value in addition to being useful in case of a home invasion.

What's your opinion? Should people like this be entitled to leniency because they've already paid such a heavy price in losing a child?

Please leave a comment with your opinion.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Presidential Approval Rating

Rasmussen has Obama's.

Cognoscenti has Carter's and Reagan's.

Great food for thought. What's your opinion? I say, good thing Obama hasn't taken on the gun lobby. Things look rough enough for him as it is.

Please leave a comment.

Paul Krugman on the Politics of Spite

Paul Krugman wrote a wonderful op-ed piece for the New York Times called The Politics of Spite. Citing the highly publicized conservative reaction to the Olympic decision, in which right-wing leaders actually cheered when the U.S. bid lost out to Brazil, Mr. Krugman draws the following conclusion.

... the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

I think he's hit the nail on the head. We've seen example after example of this, perhaps without naming it as such. In reading his description it seems to fit the current political situation perfectly. The biggest, and perhaps the most important example is the health care debate.

How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.

For example, Krugman points out, during the Clinton years, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder, Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting Medicare cuts and the Republican-driven obsession with President Clinton's indiscretions and lies captivated the entire world.

The only difference now is that the G.O.P. is in a weaker position, having lost control of Congress. Furthermore, the public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; "the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern."

The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the G.O.P. will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration.

It’s an ugly picture. But it’s the truth. And it’s a truth anyone trying to find solutions to America’s real problems has to understand.

What's your opinion? Does Paul Krugman make sense? Has the entire Republican Party fallen into the trap of vilifying their opposition even at a terrible cost to themselves? Does this remind you of the gun debate?

Please leave a comment.

The Only Real Mayor in Texas

In the Star-Telegram's Editorials and Opinions, there a short section about Mayor Richard Ward of Hurst Texas. We've discussed him before but at that time it wasn't clear that he was the only member of MAIG in the entire state of Texas.

Mayor Ward credits the MAIG for stopping national reciprocity for concealed handgun licensees. He's stated that the "bullying tactics" of the NRA simply did not work on him. One of those tactics is to continually describe the so-called gun-show loophole as something other than what it is.

Gun-show loophole legislation is gun control disguised as crime control. A Department of Justice study of federal prisoners convicted of gun-related crimes found that only 2 percent of the guns were purchased at a gun show.

The truth is the term "gun-show loophole" refers to any transfer of a firearm done privately without a background check. Sometimes this happens at a gun show, but not always. It has nothing to do with a gun show specifically, it has to do with the lack of background check on the person buying. So the above quote is extremely misleading. The fact that only 2% of guns were purchased at a gun show has nothing to do with the "gun-show loophole."

It seems to me Richard Ward is the only mayor in Texas with the courage to admit this practice is wrong and needs to be stopped. But, I can't believe he's the only one who feels that way. Maybe others will be encouraged by his example and come forward.

Alice Tripp, legislative director, Texas State Rifle Association had some interesting comments about Mayor Ward.

Today our freedoms are under attack. Liberals have attacked the Constitution and the Bill of Rights with vigor, usually through misdirection and hiding the liberal agenda behind some innocent-sounding program or legislation. The latest is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s "Mayors Against Illegal Guns."

Now, where have I heard that before? It sounds awfully familiar, that blah blah blah about the liberal agenda and the paranoid notion that gun control folks have more in mind than crime reduction.

I believe the mayor of Hurst has been duped. MAIG is nothing more than a liberal anti-gun lobby that has attacked the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding citizens at every turn. You can understand my shock when I saw my hometown mayor as a member of this socialist anti-American group. Strong words but yet accurate words.

And of course, here are the real buzz-words, "socialist anti-American." That should rouse the troops. And apparently it does. Not one other mayor dares to stand up, at least so far.

What's your opinion? Is Mayor Ward being duped? Is he that gullible? Or do you think he's a remarkable man who can stand up for what he believes even against overwhelming disapproval?

Please leave a comment.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Real Supremes are not Justices

Gun Accidentally Fires By Itself

The Miami Herald reports on a truly amazing gun incident. The title of the article says it all:

3 hurt when gun mysteriously fires at Fla. range

A Tampa couple and an Irish tourist were shot at a Lakeland gun range after a handgun accidentally fired.

Polk County sheriff's deputies say it's not entirely clear how many times Michael and Sherri Thourot's 9mm accidentally went off Saturday, or what caused the handgun to fire. The pistol was a Jennings make.

The man in an adjacent stall, 29-year-old Gary Flynn, of Ireland, was most seriously injured. He underwent surgery after being hit in the shoulder and throat, and was listed in stable condition.

Michael Thourot was shot in the left hand, and Sherri Thourot was hit in the left arm. Both were also listed in stable condition.

Now, I've been told more than once by folks who know a lot more than I do about guns that they can't do that. Rule number 3 of the 4 Rules of Gun Safety states that you must "Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot." Presumably that's because the only way for the gun to go off is by pulling the trigger. Or have I missed something?

Is there such thing as a malfunctioning gun that goes off by itself? Has such a thing been documented? If not, what could possibly be behind this article in the Miami Herald? "Mysteriously fires," and "accidentally fired," leave little doubt about what they're saying.

What's your opinion? Is this another thing we have to worry about, guns going off by themselves? Or is the thing to really worry about the fact that the Miami Herald is spinning it like this?

Please leave a comment.

More Straw Purchases at Badger

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the latest allegations concerning the beleaguered Badger Guns. This is the gun shop whose owner, Adam Allan, took the offensive last week by posting a sign warning his customers that the cops were watching and would probably stop them as they left the store.

The handgun used to shoot a Milwaukee police officer last week has been traced to Badger Guns, making that store the sole supplier of all the guns used to wound six officers in two years, police said.

Nine of 10 straw buyers prosecuted since 2007 made their purchases at Badger Guns or its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, a review of court records shows. In the past five years, the store accounted for 21 of the 27 cases prosecuted.

Three miles away there's another gun shop, The Shooters Shop in West Allis. It accounted for 3% of the crime guns recovered by Milwaukee from 2006 to Sept. 1 of this year. Badger accounted for 30% of crime guns during the same time. Of course volume has something to do with it.

The Shooters Shop's owner, Kevin Nugent, disputed Badger's argument that its high numbers are explained by its sales volume and proximity to Milwaukee. Nugent said he prevents straw purchases by closely questioning everyone who comes in his business.

"It's called a conscience," Nugent said. "When you are selling a firearm, you have to take personal responsibility to know that you are selling an instrument that could be used for harmful purposes."

Now there's a quote for you, "It's called conscience." When the crime guns traced to a particular store are as many as this, one has to question the "conscience" of the owner. Nugent also said, "you have to take personal responsibility." I like this guy.

What's your opinion? Does the mounting evidence against Badger make you wonder about their practices? What can be done to prevent a gun shop owner from having the shoulder-shrugging, it's-not-my-fault attitude about straw purchases? Why do lawful gun owners get defensive about guys like this? If I were a clean and honest gun owner, I wouldn't touch a place like Badger guns with a ten foot pole. How about you?

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Big Brother in Sacramento

How is it possible that surveillance like this does not help fight crime? I've heard this claim before that the reports indicate no benefit, but I have to say I find it hard to believe. What do you think?

What exactly is the danger of this kind of thing? Is the lack of privacy something to be feared? Why? Is it part of the overall trend towards fascism in America, as we discussed before?

Actually, I tend to believe everything the Liberal Viewer has to say. But, this one makes me wonder. Do you think there are reports that come to the opposite conclusion, ones that show the benefit of surveillance?

The Fascinating Murder Trial of Alvaro Rafael Castillo

They say he was obsessed with Columbine and with guns. In the original report on MSNBC, they printed the e-mail he'd sent to the principal of Columbine right before his crime spree.

“Dear Principal,” the e-mail read. “In a few hours you will probably hear about a school shooting in North Carolina. I am responsible for it. I remember Columbine. It is time the world remembered it. I am sorry. Goodbye.”

To me that's enough right there to prove diminished capacity, but I'm afraid it won't be that easy. In the original reports and in the trial, fatherly abuse was mentioned as a factor, too.

The letter described a father who was verbally abusive and sometimes hit members of his family. The letter ends with, “I will die. I have wanted to die for years. I’m sorry.”

His other obsession was with guns. In the CNN video report, he's said to have slept with a shotgun and named two of his guns. He named them! Is it possible for a teenage boy to act like that and the parents not be aware of it? Do you think the dad, who ended up dead, was himself a gun enthusiast? That's the only way I can understand young Alvaro's having been allowed to keep his guns in spite of the fact that he'd been hospitalized already for threatening suicide. What do you think?

So, yes, I blame the father. I blame the whole system that allowed this sick boy to get to this point. And especially I blame the gun culture in America, the sick gun culture which encourages people, even sick people like this one, to keep guns.

What's your opinion? Do gun owners have nothing to do with this? Do gun owners have nothing to do with the 50 or so gun suicides that take place every single day in America? Is this just a small price we pay for the sacred "right?"

Please leave a comment.