Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dennis A. Henigan on the 2nd Amendment

From his fairly recent book, Lethal Logic, Dennis A Henigan, Vice President for Law and Policy at the Brady Campaign, dedicated an entire chapter to the 2nd Amendment.

He opens the chapter with a wonderful description of what I suppose is the origin of the famous statement, "from my cold dead hands." Charlston Heston is addressing the 2000 NRA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. To the ecstatic audience, holding a colonial musket above his head, he shouted what would become the NRA battle cry. Or perhaps he was repeating an already accepted statement, I don't know. Here's the youtube video I'm sure you've all seen.

I really can't believe anyone takes that rhetoric seriously. The self-aggrandizing talk which exaggerates the "peril" in order to all the more exaggerate our role in facing it, to me, is embarrassing. "When freedom shivers in the shadow of true peril, it's always the patriots who first hear the call." That sounds like a joke. The only thing funnier is that some people buy into it.

In Lethal Logic, Henigan maps out the history of the "militia" interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.

"Prodigious historical research," he writes on page 191, "into the origins of the 2nd Amendment confirms that it was intended to address the distribution of military power in society, not the need to have guns for self-defense or other private purposes."

"Indeed, the judicial consensus on the meaning of the amendment had grown so strong that. in 1991, former Chief Justice Warren Berger - a conservative jurist who also was a gun owner - accused the NRA of perpetrating a "fraud on the American public" by insisting that the right to be armed existed apart from service in an organized militia."

And on page 193, "Heller in fact, is the new paradox of the gun control debate. In Heller, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court engaged in an unprincipled abuse of judicial power in the pursuit of an ideological objective. Not quite Bush v. Gore, but close."

Recently we've had occasion to hear these same points from another lawyer, a well known law professor actually, Cass Sunstein. And let's not forget Laci the Dog, who's covered the same material, albeit in a more controversial way.

What's your opinion? Are Henigan and Sunstein completely wrong? Is it not possible to disagree with their interpretation without denigrating them as either liars or idiots? Are they not educated men trying to share their ideas just like everybody else?

Please leave a comment.

Thank God for Guns

One of the best.

Another Accidental Shooting Death of a Child

The Los Angeles Times reports on another accidental shooting death, this time a 12-year-old from Gardena.

A 12-year-old Gardena boy died this morning after he accidentally shot himself in the head Wednesday with his parents' handgun, police said.

The boy and his two younger siblings were being watched by a 14-year-old cousin when the shooting occurred about 5:45 p.m., according to police. The boy was alone in an upstairs bedroom.

"The gun was properly secured by the parents. ... Somehow the child was able to get to it," said Lt. Steven Prendergast of the Gardena Police Department. At the time, one parent was working, and the other was running errands, police said.

Prendergast said the investigation was still ongoing, but he added that initial evidence indicates that no criminal charges will be filed."It was just a tragic accident," he said. "It's just terrible."

After officers arrived at the home in the 14600 block of South Berendo Avenue, they began administering CPR while they waited for an ambulance to arrive. The boy was taken to UCLA-Harbor Medical Center. His name was not released.

How do you think the police could have determined the gun had been properly secured? Wouldn't a dead 12-year-old itself cast a certain doubt on that? We've had this discussion before about what actually qualifies as "properly secured." What do you think?

Consistent with that comment is the fact that no charges will be filed. How can that be? How do you think the cops determine in one case that the parents are liable and in another, not?

What's your opinion? Is talking about this case and using it to ask questions about guns and gun control the same as "dancing in the blood of the victim?" What would the passionate pro-gun person have us do, not talk about these at all, never mention them? Should they remain hidden?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Buying Ammo in Arnold's California

The local Fox News in Fresno California reports on the reaction to the new Ammunition Bill. A lot has been written about this law which Governor Arnold signed last week. Basically it prohibits on-line and mail-order sales of ammunition, which is believed to be valuable source for criminals and gang members.

The public safety bill, signed by Governor Schwarzenegger Thursday, stops all online ammunition sales, requires that all face to face ammunition sales be recorded and made available for the Department of Justice and requires the buyer to provide a driver's license and their fingerprints.

To me that makes perfect sense, but of course the pro-gun crowd are up in arms about it.

At The Range Pistol Club in Fresno, news of Assembly Bill 962's passing triggers some doubt.

"It's not going to do anything to directly prevent ammunition from falling in the hands of people who are under the age of 21 or possible criminals," Will Ayres, sales associate at The Range, said.

How does that work, exactly? How is it not going to directly affect sales to criminals and minors?

But over at The Range, they say they already require valid id's to buy ammunition. And without doing background checks, the new bill won't really change much except demand more work from employees, and possibly lead to higher prices.

"If they have a valid driver's license and they're over the age of 21, anybody can purchase handgun ammunition. Even now," Ayres said.

Mr. Ayers' argument makes as much sense as you'd expect from someone blindly arguing against something with no regard for the facts. Doesn't it make perfect sense that prohibited persons would benefit from the anonymity of the internet? Wouldn't it be wise to eliminate that option? Of course it would. Arnold is again right on the ball.

What's your opinion? Sebastian makes some good points on his blog, mainly that legitimate buyers of difficult-to-find ammo, sports shooters who can't find the supplies they need in the local shop, and regular gun owners who depend on internet sales for their supplies will be unduly hindered in all these efforts. Sebastian remarked:

And guys like MikeB still want to insist there’s no hidden agenda here? Hell, it’s not even really that hidden!

Part of the hidden agenda that's not very hidden is the idea that certain supplies are also included in this bill, supplies used for reloading ammunition, a practice that Sebastian points out is probably not done very much by criminals and gang members. Well, I certainly can't argue with that, but overall these regulations seem to be a perfect example of what I often talk about.

Legitimate gun owners need to be willing to be inconvenienced in order to assist in the efforts to minimize crime. Gun owners should be willing to do their part, otherwise how can they say they have no responsibility for the problem of gun violence?

What's your opinion? How can gun owners be so upset about this when just a few short years ago there was no such thing as internet sales of ammunition? Do you think this is an example of pro-gun folks resisting any and every gun control law regardless of its merits? Both sides do this, but it's not helpful if we want to find common ground.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Guns on Trains

On The Hill site the Congress Blog reports on the legislation proposed to allow passengers on Amtrak to transport weapons in sealed checked baggage. Our frequent commenter, Il Principe has given his unequivocal endorsement of this proposal.

Currently, sportsmen who choose to travel by rail for a hunting trip are left in an impossible situation because of Amtrak prohibitions against checking an unloaded gun with their luggage. Conversely, these same gun owners are legally allowed to check guns in their luggage on our nation’s airlines. Why should federally-subsidized passenger rail lines be different from U.S. airlines? The Amtrak Secure Transportation of Firearms Act would require Amtrak to enact regulations similar to those the U.S. airline industry uses to regulate firearm transport on airplanes. The requirements would apply for any year that Amtrak receives a federal subsidy.

I agree that it's quite ridiculous for Amtrak to prohibit what is allowed on the airlines. What's your opinion? Do you think there might be a concern among the opposition of this bill that on trains the checked luggage is not as securely separated from the passengers as on an airliner? To me that makes sense, but overall I could support this bill myself.

Do you think this legislation might lead to the conductors and brakemen wanting to work armed? Remember the case of the airline pilot who allowed his weapon to discharge during a flight?

Do you think the major gun control groups tend to oppose any and every law which has to do with guns? Do they lose credibility for doing that? I would think so, but perhaps they're really concerned about that access question on the trains and about the increased possibility of accidents if the train workers do what the pilots did.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Laci Ponders the NRA

Laci the Dog posted an interesting essay first questioning the NRA's role in maintaining the status quo and then sliding into an analysis of Bloomberg's sting operation. And in covering these sweeping subjects, I can assure the faint of heart there are no death threats or profanity anywhere to be seen.

For shock value, they may not rank with the videos released last month showing ACORN workers giving tax advice to a couple of undercover investigators posing as a prostitute and her pimp. But New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's covert recordings of what really goes on at gun shows are appalling nonetheless

Not to quibble, but I thought Bloomberg's videos were extremely shocking.
New-gun retailers are closely regulated, with laws forcing them to obtain licenses, keep transaction records so that guns used in crimes can be traced, and perform background checks on buyers to ensure they aren't legally barred from owning guns. Convicted felons, drug addicts, the mentally ill and illegal immigrants are among those who fall into that category. Meanwhile, nonprofessional used-gun traders are subject to none of those requirements, although even resellers are forbidden from transactions in which they know the buyer couldn't pass a background check (something Bloomberg's investigators caught on tape repeatedly).

I really hate to quibble, but I really don't see how Laci can say these guys are "closely regulated." Aren't they the ones that the ATF can only inspect once every ten years or something like that, due to lack of manpower. Aren't they the ones whose inventory goes years without anyone wanting to match it to the sales receipts.

In other words, I say the problem exists even before we get to the gun show. These shady gun dealers are covered by my Famous 10% theory.

What's your opinion? Is Lacy right in pointing out that prohibited persons can easily take advantage of the system the way it works? Is it therefore a fair conclusion that the NRA and the rest of the gun owners who fight so hard to keep the status quo are to blame? Laci explains this, at least according to the title of the post, by the fact that the membership base is made up of criminals. I thought the actual criminals were a fairly small percentage, but it's the law-abiding who enable them that I see as the real problem.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

45 Years for Shooting a Cop

The Chicago Tribune reports on the stiff sentencing of a Berwyn man for having shot a police officer in 2004.

A 24-year-old Berwyn man was sentenced to 45 years in prison today for shooting an off-duty Chicago police detective during a dispute over admittance to a bar.

Jonas Haro was found guilty by a jury in 2008 of attempted murder of a police officer for shooting the detective after Haro had been refused admittance to Fuggedaboudit in Berwyn on Dec. 5, 2004, because there was a private party in progress.

Haro later returned to the bar at the corner of Home Avenue and 16th Street yelling profanities and indicating he had gun. That prompted the detective and a Chicago police colleague, who were also armed, to follow Haro outside where they indicated they were police officers and wanted to talk to him.

But Haro led them to a nearby alley where he opened fire along with some of his fellow gang members who were waiting. The detective was shot through the hand but has since recovered and returned to duty, said Assistant State's Attorney Joe Keating.

Haro was eligible for 20 to 80 years in prison. Keating asked for a 60-year sentence citing Haro's juvenile and adult criminal record for possession of a stolen motor vehicle, aggravated battery and unlawful use of a weapon.

What's your opinion? I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I find the sentencing a bit excessive, yet I agree with the need to protect society from violent criminals. I feel it's wrong to sentence people more harshly because their crime was against the police, but in this case, maybe it's best. With the minimum 20-year sentence, he'd probably get out a fairly young man and even less equipped to live in society. Yet, 45 years seems like a lot. If you give a sentence like that for shooting someone in the hand who recovers completely, where do you go from there? You don't leave much room for punishing worse offenses.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

San Mateo Det. Kurt Rodenspeil not Liable in Shooting

The Associated Press provides the following report on the decision made in the case of Det. Kurt Rodenspeil.

Prosecutors won't file charges against a California police detective after determining he accidentally shot a suspected gang member with a submachine gun after tripping on a curb.

San Mateo County District Attorney James Fox says Det. Kurt Rodenspeil is not criminally liable for shooting 24-year-old Joseph Ortega in the heart in August.

A report on the investigation released Wednesday says Ortega was shot when the detective lost his balance and his gun discharged.

Police say the shooting occurred as two men tried to flee in a car, with Ortega being shot as he tried to ram a police car.

Ortega remains in custody on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery on a police officer.

Compare that to one of the original reports.

Police officers and SWAT team members tried to stop that vehicle but the driver, 24-year-old Joseph Ortega, wouldn’t yield and instead allegedly rammed an occupied police car, Szelenyi said. At that point a San Mateo detective shot Ortega.

Now, I'm all for people putting the best spin on things and trying to present themselves in the best light, but leaving out the part about "tripping on the curb" is a bit much.

And that's not the only interesting aspect of this story. Ortega was "shot in the heart" with a machine gun and survived? Is such a thing even possible?

And last but certainly not least, a police officer who loses control of his weapon and allows an accidental discharge, in my opinion, should be riding a desk from now on. A man like that should not be on the street handling guns where people might get hurt. Imagine if he'd shot a pregnant school teacher instead of a gang member like Ortega. Would he be back on the job then, do you think??

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

More on the Bloomberg Sting has an article by Tom Schaller which covers the Bloomberg videos, which we've already discussed at length, but Mr. Schaller provides a slightly different take on it.

To preempt the tide of angry comments and emails, let me clarify that, despite the ambiguity of the leading clause, I support Second Amendment rights. But one of the favorite arguments used by staunch advocates of the Second Amendment is some variant of the "we don't need more guns laws, we just need to enforce the current laws." Ya think? The recent undercover operation conducted by New York City blows a giant hole in the idea that we're enforcing the current laws.

Do you think his opinion is more valuable because he's not the typical gun control advocate? I do. But I couldn't help but notice, in our previous discussions not one of the pro-gun commenters took this position.

Mr. Schaller runs down the tactics utilized by Mayor Bloomberg's investigators, as well as the reaction by Tennessee, all of which we've read before. As a closing remark, though, he provides something interesting.

Of course, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Well, sure, but they're killing a lot more people in red states than blue states. Holding DC aside, the ten states with the lowest per-capital gun death rates all voted for Barack Obama, and seven of the ten high highest voted for John McCain.

I don't know if I've heard that way of looking at the stats before, by red states and blue states. It makes you think, doesn't it?

What's your opinion? Although we occasionally hear claims that all pro-gun folks are not Republican, it does seem that way. Why do you think that is? How rare are liberal gun owners? Do they perhaps make up a large segment of the gun-owning population, but are less vocal about it?

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Laci Opines about the Dred Scott Decision

Laci the Dog again provides us with a wonderful post, this time concerning the incredible Dred Scott Case. It seems that some of the commenters have mentioned this case in reference to the 2nd Amendment.
I have to admit to a bit of curiosity about this since it is one of the Supreme Court's most infamous cases!

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court that ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States. This was despite whether or not the descendants were slaves. It also held that the United States Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories. The Court also ruled that because slaves were not citizens, they could not sue in court. Lastly, the Court ruled that slaves—as chattel or private property—could not be taken away from their owners without due process.

In one of the weirdest aspects of the Second Amendment debate, it has become acceptable to quote Dred Scott as a legitimate constitutional authority. This is one of the most thoroughly discredited cases in Supreme Court history, there is a tie between this case and Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), for most disreputable Supreme Court Case. The District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ___ (2008) decision comes in there for sheer poor practise as does Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)

What could such a case possibly have to do with the 2nd Amendment? Says Laci:

Justice Taney did make a brief reference to the right to travel armed, but he never actually discusses the meaning of the Second Amendment. How remarks made by a judge in the most universally reviled decision in American history could provide a solid foundation to over-turn seventy years of precedent on the meaning of the Second Amendment is truly baffling.

What do you think? Is Laci barking up the wrong tree? Or is there something to these remarks that makes sense?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Government paid-for Heroin

Is it too late to add this to Obama's Health Care Reform?

In Defense of Christina Korbe

We discussed this case before in which Christina Korbe was charged with homicide in the shooting death of FBI agent Sam Hicks who was entering her house to serve a warrant on her husband. She will face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Today there's an editorial defense on the Seton Hill site written by

In all the reports surrounding this case, no one took the side of Christina Korbe. I do, and I think she was unjustly punished. If I were writing an editorial piece on this case, I would write something like this:

Imagine it's a cold November night, perfect for sleeping. You're curled up in your bed, safe and sound with your children sleeping softly in the next room. At 6:30 in the morning, before the sun has even peaked it's rays above the horizon, your front door is smashed in and you are wrenched from your sleep. You look for your husband in the bed next to you so he can go find out what's happening. He isn't there. Your heart is pounding. Someone is breaking into your home and you can't find your husband.

You know there is a shot gun kept in your room. It was put there in case something like this would happen, but you never truly thought it would. You grab the gun and creep to the head of the stairs.

As you peer down, you see a figure in the darkness climbing the stairs. The door to your children's bedroom is at the head of the stairs and you panic. My babies! You have to stop this intruder. You have no other choice. Your children are in danger. You fire the gun.

What do you think? Is that not more or less what some of us did say? Is that not more or less what some of us always say in cases like this? When considering life-in-prison cases, shouldn't every possibility be explored thoroughly? Of course it should.

What's your opinion? Do you think Ms. Korbe might have done what any gun owner would do? Does the fact that her husband was a drug dealer and the gun was not legally owned enter into it?

Please leave a comment.

R.I.P. Al Martino

For me he'll always be Johnny Fontaine, but did you know he was wounded in action on Iwo Jima?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bloomberg's NYC - Safest Big City in America

The Gotham Gazette reports on the falling crime in New York City, asking how and at what cost.

"Crime is down," is a phrase New Yorkers are getting used to hearing. The notorious peeks in crime during 1970s and '80s, when the city was thought of as dangerous and neglected, gave way in the late 1990s to a steady decrease that has given New York's politicians something to crow about. Mayor Michael Bloomberg certainly hasn't been shy about taking credit for the increased perception of safety on city streets.

"At the end of 2001 the consensus was that crime could not go any lower," said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne, "but now we are down 35 percent lower than any of the Giuliani years, and the Giuliani administration built its reputation around crime fighting."

In fact, Browne said, if current trends continue, New York is on track this year to have the lowest homicide rate since 1962, when modern record keeping began.

The Deputy Police Commissioner credits Bloomberg's crusade against illegal guns. His organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has waged a full-out assault on the influx of guns into New York from out of state, and Browne said the impact can be felt on the street.

"Stopping the flow of illegal guns into the city has been extremely important," said Browne.

The Gotham Gazette article expresses concern on two fronts. Police on the streets have increasingly used a controversial policy called "stop and frisk." It's controversial for the obvious reasons, blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately selected for the treatment. Yet, supporters say it gets results. The other concern is the ever-increasing electronic surveillance present in the city. Privacy is not what it used to be.

What's your opinion? Are these small prices to pay considering that New York can now boast of being the safest big city in the country? Do you think Bloomberg deserves credit for this? Are his questionable sting operations paying off in his home territory?

Do you agree that the strict gun laws in New York are partly responsible for the improvement?

What's your opinion?

Concealed Carry Criminals

The Brady Blog reports on what appears to be a growing trend. The article links to investigations in Texas and Florida which have uncovered thousands of people who've been issued concealed carry permits in spite of having prohibitive criminal records.

But it's the Indianapolis Star investigation that has most recently joined the parade.

Examining just two counties in the Hoosier State, the Star found 456 examples of people with concealed carry permits granted by the state whose applications were actually recommended for disapproval by local Indiana police.

The report found permit-holders with convictions for battery, resisting law enforcement, felony DWI, criminal trespass, and other crimes.

After receiving their permits, some went on to hold their families hostage at gunpoint, threaten police officers during a domestic disturbance, be convicted for selling cocaine, and be convicted for felony criminal confinement and battery, among other incidents.

What's your opinion? Is something wrong in a country that allows this kind of thing to go on? What could account or it?

How does this impact upon the requirement of doing a background check before buying a gun? Is a concealed carry permit holder excused from that? Is it presumed that if he has a license to carry a gun he must be able to pass the background check?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Laci Speaks

The other day Lacy the Dog wrote a wonderful post entitled "A Simple Second Amendment question and answer."

We are not going to discuss whether this is an individual, collective or civic right. We are going to analyse the sentence that is the Second Amendment. We will also look at it in light of what the Constitution says.

Why is there a "the right of the People to keep and bear arms" that "shall not be infringed" using the words above? What is the scope of this right?

I think I know the answer to that. The answer lies in the first 13 words. These are the 13 words that Justice Scalia left out in order to come to his "majority decision" in Heller. Is that right?

If your answer is self-defence, then you are wrong since the phrase self-defence is not plainly written in the text.

Figthing government tyranny is not mentioned in the Second Amendment.

What is mentioned is a "militia."

So, using the text above and the Constution, The right to "Keep and bear arms" has something to do with "a well regulated militia" since that is mentioned in the text of the Second Amendment and is a purpose tied to "providing for the common defence" which is a purpose stated in the Constitution. It has nothing to do with self-defence since nowhere in the text of the Second Amendment or the Constitution is the phrase "self-defence" present or even hinted at.

What do you think about that? Does it make sense that, in spite of the Heller decision, the first meaning of the 2nd Amendment could not have been about individual self defense?

The way I see it, owning guns for personal protection may very well be necessary and acceptable, depending on the situation, but that has nothing to do with the Constitution. To elevate the desire to own guns to the level of Glorious Divine Rights protected by the Sacred Document is manipulation and distortion.

What's your opinion? Is that Laci the Dog great or what?

Mikeb and the Illegal Guns

Here's the famous statement, thanks to Weer'd for doing the research. His preface is this: "Well Mike has made himself an embarrassing little admission. He's done it multiple times across a number of blogs, but his very own blog is most damning:"

"To sum up, I did Parris Island Marine Corps training when I was 17, in the summer of 1970. I didn't have to go to Viet Nam, thank goodness. After the military I owned guns both legally and illegally over a period of about 15 years. I was never passionate about them back then and over the last couple of decades have become strongly anti-gun, especially since I started writing this blog."

Recently, I declared that Weer'd is a liar for saying things like I "brag all over the internet" or "boast openly that I'd owned illegal guns." Saying that I've "done it multiple times across a number of blogs" is simply not true. When I called him a liar, I had a vague sense that it was an ambiguous statement which could be taken as a denial of my original admission, but I was getting so annoyed at his ridiculous comments that I just wrote it. I admit, in doing so I was violating one of my own rules, name-calling.

The fact is, as far as I can recall, the quote "I owned guns both legally and illegally" was the only time I ever mentioned it. Maybe there's another one out there somewhere, but there's been no "bragging" or "boasting" and certainly not "across a number of blogs."

Yesterday beowulf, who now admits to being 45superman wrote a lengthy comment about my running the risk of losing what little credibility I might have. I guess that's a fair response to the ambiguity of my calling Weer'd a liar. But it's a bit ironic coming from one who's been using a pseudonym.

About my having owned legal and illegal guns, I don't plan to expand on it. Sorry to disappoint. My personal life's experiences, including my experience with firearms, all contribute to making me who I am today. The same is true for everyone. My choice to remain anonymous and to keep my private life off the pages of this blog, to the extent that I do, is my choice. You can respect it or not, that's your choice.

That famous quote of mine was made about six months ago in response to this from commenter Michael:

Do you have any experience handling guns? Have you had any training, even of the informal "this is how it works, this is how not to shoot yourself" type?

[I promise I'm not waiting to spring a "THEN YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO QUESTION US!" line if you say no]

I wanted to answer the question, but no sooner had I done so than the attacks began.

What's your opinion about all this? Is Weer'd right to be so obsessed about this issue that he'd spend many hours on it and hijack numerous threads because of it? Don't I have a right to share with you what I feel comfortable doing and no more?

About illegal ownership of guns, do any of you admit to that? Isn't it possible to qualify as having owned guns illegally without categorizing yourself with the murderers and crack dealers?

What's you opinion? Please feel free.

Officer Brian Lilly to be Sued

The United Liberty site reports on the law suit filed by the Phoenix man who survived six police bullets.

Tony Arambula, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona, is suing police due to an incident in September of last year where he was accidentally shot six times after he was mistaken for being robber.

We discussed the case before, when incredibly Officer Brian Lilly was cleared of charges.

The complaint alleges that police confined the family for several hours, interrogated Arambula’s spouse, Lesley, leaving her bruised by the force of officers moving her around.

The police also conspired almost immediately after the incident to cover-up what had happened. The complaint alleges that after Lilly had shot Arambula, Sgt. Sean Coutts, told the officer, “That’s all right. Don’t worry about it. I got your back…..We clear?” The complaint points to the recording of the 911 call as proof (audio at the bottom of the page).

Arambula will lose some use of his hand and wrist and may face additional surgeries and skin grafting. He is seeking $5.75 million from the city.

What's your opinion? Does Mr. Arambula have a good case? Is Officer Lilly going to be another O. J. Simpson, cleared of criminal wrong-doing but found liable in huge civil settlements?

Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Laci Says

Although the title of the post is "Turtles all the way down," and uses this very enjoyable Stephen Hawking story to make a point, I'd call this essay "How the Supremes can be Mistaken."

The argumentum ad populum. Something is true because many or all people believe it. There is a converse to this the argumentum ad verecundiam, the argument from authority or appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative.

But, if the people or the authority is wrong, then that does not make the proposition true. So, even if 5 out of 4 of the Supreme Court justices rule that something is the law, that does not make it proper law.

The question is how does one educate the people that the popular beliefs about the Second Amendment, in particular it's being an "individual right" are The Emperor's New Clothes. There really isn't anything there. Heller was pure partisan politics which is the only reason that piece of intellectual dishonesty could have been written.

Everyone who has read the decision has found it wanting, with the exception of some gun control groups who are happy that it allows for reasonable restrictions. I have to admit that it is a harbinger of ill when I think of this in light of Cass Sunstein: "The Second Amendment: The Constitution's Most Mysterious Right", but I am not sure how the ill will come about.

It certainly is interesting how Laci points out that "some gun control groups [who] are happy that it allows for reasonable restrictions." I never noticed that, I've been so busy listening to the pro-gun crowd praising Heller to high heaven.

What do you think about calling it "partisan politics" and "intellectual dishonesty?" Do you think there's anything to those accusations?

Of course if it is true, if the Heller decision was a departure from the true juridical ideals we expect from the Supreme Court, we may be in for more of the same. But sooner or later, the possibility exists that a Court, one perhaps lacking Justice Scalia, might straighten this all out.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Another Rough Night in Newark reports on another violent night that transpired in Newark.

The first shooting took place around 9:30 p.m. Sunday on South 11th Street. a city man suffered multiple gunshot wounds in that incident, authorities. said.

A few hours later, shortly after 1:30 a.m., a caller informed police of a shooting at Frelinghuysen and Victoria Streets. The exact site of the shooting was established by the city's gunshot detection system, said Det. Todd McClendon.

Police found the unidentified victim suffering a gunshot wound to the stomach, and he was taken to University Hospital in critical condition.

A third person was shot in the stomach at about 2:30 a.m. near the corner of Clinton Avenue and Van Ness Place. The 23-year-old man was taken to University Hospital in stable condition, authorities said.

What's wrong with that city? They've got what must be some fairly sophisticated equipment in that "gunshot detection system," yet the violence keeps rolling along.

Where do you think the guns come from? I realize we don't know, but I'm just asking based on common sense, where do you think they come from?

My guess is they come from out of state, where, number 1, they're easier to buy, and number 2, they're easier to steal because more homes contain weapons than in NJ. We saw it recently in Queens NY. What this means, very simply is the strict gun control laws in New Jersey work extremely well, because they force criminals and young gang members to get there guns from outside, and it means that if the other states with lax gun laws would get in line, there would be a major lessening in gun violence.

What's your opinion? Does that make sense to you?

Please leave a comment.

The MAIG Pushes Obama

The published a commentary article by Tom Teepen, which I liked very much.
A new organization has urged President Barack Obama to confront firearms violence, particularly by strengthening the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Here’s hoping that he doesn’t take up the challenge set out by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Obama’s plate already is heaped. But here’s also hoping the president keeps the pitch floating near the top of his to-do pile, to be taken up as soon as time allows.

That's a very good description of my feelings on the matter. Can you still refer to the MAIG as a "new organization," though?

According to Mr Teepen, the great thing about the mayors’ approach is that it calls for no new laws.

Instead, almost mischievously, the mayors play to the gun lobby’s own standard-issue retort to any proposed new firearms control laws or regulations -- the argument that there are enough already and all we need to do is enforce them.

(A phony pose, by the way. The gun lobby works steadily to undermine enforcement by limiting the reach of current laws and chipping away at enforcement budgets. It is pleasant nonetheless to see the lobby skewered by its own debating point.)

Don't you find that interestingly ironic? The MAIG is turning the old NRA weapon around and using it on the NRA.

Why is there so much resistance, then? Who would be opposed to beefing up the ATF and other law enforcement organizations in order to better curtail criminal activity? The way it is now, the agency is able to inspect gun dealers, on average, only once every 11 years. No wonder we have gun dealers getting away with murder, figuratively speaking.

The report also notes that of 67,713 cases referred by the FBI in 2005, federal prosecutors pursued only 135 and recommends that the FBI alert local authorities whenever a would-be gun buyer fails a background check.

Is this what pro-gun folks want? Is this what they're fighting so hard to maintain?

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports that 276 Americans are shot daily, 100,400 every year. And small wonder. Gun shows and private sales remains essentially unregulated, amounting to nearly half of all annual sales. There is little push even against the 1 percent of licensed dealers who account for nearly 60 percent of the crime guns that law enforcement can trace.

What's your opinion? Are some of the other 40 suggestions the mayors are making so unacceptable that even the most critical one, the strengthening of the ATF, should be blocked? What do you think?

Please feel free to leave a comment.

New Perspective on Capital Punishment ran a story on capital punishment that really caught my attention. First, I liked it because the site itself is fascinating. I suppose it's aimed at Iranian Americans due to the bi-lingual presentation, but I couldn't tell for sure. Secondly, I found it fascinating because the sub title is "nothing is sacred." I'll bet they love that one in Tehran.

Today, October 10th, is the World Day Against the Death Penalty. Morbidly ironic, Behnoud Shojaee’s execution on this day is a stark reminder of the brutality of Islamic Republic of Iran’s policies in executing its citizens on a whole host of criminal and belief-based charges.

The judicial system in Iran has proven time and again to be unfair, discriminatory, and perversely criminal itself in dealing with social maladies inflicted upon its own society through implementation of barbaric laws.

It almost sounds like Texas. The judicial system is "unfair, discriminatory, and perversely criminal itself in dealing with social maladies," could easily apply to any jurisdiction in the U.S., but down Dallas way, this description fits to a tee.

Perhaps I'm being too flip, though. The graphic provided on the site is most illuminating for putting things into perspective. When turning the death penalty stats into per capita numbers, we see a very different story than what we're used to.

Recently we discussed a report from Amnesty International which put China on top and the U.S. fifth. That was total numbers of executions. The Iranian stats show that Iran is tops with Saudia Arabia a close second. China is much lower than both of those in a per capita comparison, and the U.S. much lower still.

I don't feel this information changes much, since of the countries ahead of the United States, there is not a single one that I'd want to live in. The U.S. is still associated with a group of countries that it should be ashamed to be aligned with.

What's your opinion? How do you feel about that company we're keeping in the capital punishment lists?

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Karl Rove on Afghanistan

The way Karl Rove spins his answer into a question of whether Obama was being honest last March is pretty slick. But not slick enough for the Liberal Viewer. He points out that Rove himself was not being honest. Now, where have I seen this exact type of strategy before?

Keith Olbermann is into Zombies too

I had to post this video in its entirety, for one reason to show that I'm overcoming my ADD. This is the second hour-long video I've posted (and watched) lately, and secondly because at 3:50 he says the word "zombies."

Actually, I pretty much agree with everything he says.

Accidental Shootings

Every single day people die from accidental shootings in the United States. This is America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, the country that all patriotic citizens consider the greatest country in the world. How can this continue?

The Examiner-Enterprise from Bartlesville Oklahoma reports on another tragic accidental shooting death of a teenager. The deaths of young people his age are usually written off as being gang related, as if that makes some kind of difference. But, this one sounds like a straight accident.

A Bartlesville teen is dead following what police believe was an accidental shooting Thursday evening.

Reports indicate Tyler James Teague, 17, was killed when he was accidentally shot at a residence in Bartlesville.

According to a press release issued by the Bartlesville Police Department, the BPD Communications Center received an emergency 911 call at 6:44 p.m. Thursday. The caller reportedly stated that there had been an “accidental shooting” and that his friend was lying on the floor of a garage.

The problem is that accidents, which would be the first class of gun violence to benefit from fewer guns, are only a small drop in the bucket. Suicides are in first place, closely followed by homicides. Only then do we have gun accidents accounting for comparatively few of the total approximately 30,000 lives lost per year.

How people can continue to say that more guns make us safer is mind boggling to me. Are the pro-gun folks so short-sighted that they cannot see the whole picture? I agree with them that in certain circumstances it's good to have a gun, but the furious proliferation that they demand is doing more harm than good. Can't they see that?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Monica Yant Kinney on the Hain Tragedy

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an op-ed piece by Monica Yant Kinney, which I found to be especially respectful as well as informative. She says the terrible tragedy in the Meleanie Hain home indicated that "firearms are the real unindicted coconspirators."

There's certainly nothing new there. Here's the informative part.
Years ago, I applied for a firearms purchaser's permit for a column comparing gun laws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In the Garden State, where I live, officials take the right to bear arms so seriously a detective knocked on the door to ask my husband if he knew and approved of my plans.

I blanched at the implication, but came around after the president of the National Organization for Women told me spousal-notification laws help abuse victims muster the strength to flee.

The Keystone State has no such provision, because in Pennsylvania guns are a way of life. And death.

In 2006, 50 of the 92 Pennsylvanians who were killed in domestic violence were shot. Last summer, 50 people across the state (victims and their abusers who then committed suicide) were killed in bursts of domestic violence; unsurprisingly, more than half were felled by a bullet.

Can anyone claim that gun laws don't save lives after reading that? I don't think so, at least not in good faith. Please explain if you disagree.

What's your opinion about writing about Meleanie Hain? Is it only acceptable to use her name if what we're saying is pro-gun? Isn't it possible to respectfully comment on her final experience as it pertains to the gun debate without being accused of "dancing in her blood" and all the rest? I think so. And I think Ms. Yant Kinney has done just that.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Is the U.K Really More Violent than the U.S.?

I've heard it so many times I'm starting to believe it myself. But it just doesn't make sense. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it. There's no comparison. The United States wins hands down. Before we go any further, I'd like to point out that disparaging Wikipedia as an unreliable source is sometimes an empty criticism. The articles there usually link to bona fide statistical sources, as in this case.

What then can be the explanation for so much pro-gun rhetoric about this? They say gun laws don't work and the U.K. is proof. They say when there are fewer guns, the people use knives and do the same amount of damage or more. When they provide statistics, they must be taken with a grain of salt, a big grain, because, unfortunately, they just don't make sense.

Recently we've had the pleasure of meeting Laci the Dog. On Laci's blog there is a treasure trove of gun control information, something that is sorely lacking on the internet. There you can find legal analysis as well as moral commentary. It's truly wonderful. But I couldn't find anything on this particular issue. Why do you think that is? Is it because Wikipedia is wrong and the pro-gun guys are right? Laci, please, come to the rescue.

For me it seems clear that violent people who use guns do more damage than violent people who use knives or baseball bats. I find it awfully tedious reading the opposite. But, respond to it I must. Since guns are so much more lethal, minimizing their availability cannot fail but bring about a lessening the in damage caused by violent confrontations. When people come up with statistics that disprove that, I'm sceptical.

What's your opinion? Is the violence worse in the U.K. than in the States? Whatever your opinion is, how do you know? I guess this is the philosophical exercise Joe Huffman refers to as knowing truth from untruth. I wonder if we could get a comment from him?

Please leave a comment.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zombie Snails

Thanks to Kottke. Now you know I'm not the monomaniac you thought I was; I'm also interested in zombies.

Sharonville Ohio's Response to the Bloomberg Tactics

WKRZ Cincinnati Local 12 News reports that the town of Sharonville, one of the sites of the Bloomberg exposé, is none too happy with the New York Mayor's efforts.

The city of Sharonville today released a statement in response to an undercover investigation by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg into illegal gun sales. The investigation, which covered seven gun shows in three states, including the Sharonville Convention Center, allegedly showed how easy it is for criminals to buy firearms at gun shows.

When we discussed this the other day, there was certainly no shortage of critical comments. Some pro-gun guys however did admit that the transactions highlighted in the report were illegal and should simply be prosecuted. The Sharonville complaint seems to be that Bloomberg had no authority to do what he did and as a result what his team discovered cannot be pursued legally. But the article goes on to simply deny that wrongdoing occurs.

Our Convention Center has provided the venue for these and many other events over the past 15 years without a single violation being reported by any law enforcement agency.

It should be noted that federal agencies are actively involved in monitoring and enforcing these gun shows including the one represented in the investigation. The violations referred to are federal and not state. The City of Sharonville does not have jurisdiction over federal laws, but does take any violation very seriously.

To our knowledge no federal agency was informed of this private investigation and, therefore, makes enforcement of these particular incidents impossible.

Is the author of the Sharonville response saying that no crime has ever taken place, as far as they know, but if it has, it's not their concern because it would be federal, and besides, Bloomberg messed up the whole thing anyway by not informing the proper authorities? Is that about it?

Wha's your opinion? Do you think the Bloomberg investigation succeeded in showing how easy it is to buy guns at gun shows, even if you're a prohibited person? Don't you think that was the point?

What's your opinion? Is the Sharonville Ohio response representative of the "turning a blind eye" which I've accused the pro-gun folks of doing? To me it seems like a perfect illustration.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Five Leading Death Penalty Countries

The Christian Science Monitor reports on a new wave of pressure on the United States to abolish capital punishment, this time from the EU.

The United States does not often find itself in a league with China, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

But as international human rights groups and a number of countries, particularly in the European Union [EU], prepare to mark World Day Against the Death Penalty Saturday, that list of the five countries where nearly all of 2008's executions were carried out is where the US finds itself.

Proponents of abolishing the death penalty worldwide say the global trend is in their favor, and they claim the march of countries putting an end to executions is accelerating.

But even though a large majority of known executions carried out last year were in China, the US remains a key target of the abolition campaign as a country that in most other instances is seen sharing values with other Western powers.

Mud_Rake recently did a post on the very thing, although I couldn't find a direct link. His point, if I remember correctly is how shameful it is to be in that company. As an American I find it embarrassing and disgraceful that we keep such company. What's your opinion?

Do you think the trend is away from the death penalty in the U.S. It certainly was more popular when George W. was governor of Texas. Should we be satisfied with the progress? Is the fact that China executes thousands while we only execute dozens supposed to be a comfort?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Zombies are Everywhere

As many of the commenters said, references to zombies are practically ubiquitous. But what intrigued me about this video is O'Reilly's attitude towards Beck. What do you think?