Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Gun Nut Legally Determined Mentally Incompetent - the News on Jared Loughner

Jared Loughner is Mentally Incompetent, but so far not quite legally defined as insane, a literal gun nut.
This will presumably simply be a delay of the proceedings against him for the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords and the numerous other victims of this gun violence (both direct and indirect).

Per the excellent site
Jared Loughner Incompetent to Stand Trial
Jared Loughner is incompetent and will not stand trial for now, a federal judge ruled at Wednesday's mental incapacity proceeding. Loughner was arrested in the fatal Tucson shootings that wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people.
Loughner had to be removed from the mental incapacity proceeding after an outburst. A reporter said he heard Loughner lower his head and say, "Thank you for the freak show. She died in front of me," reports CNN.
After his removal from the courtroom, Loughner watched the rest of the proceeding on a TV screen in a nearby room.
Loughner had spent the last five weeks undergoing a mental health evaluation. Prosecutors had ordered the mental health evaluation after they saw YouTube videos of Loughner wearing a hood, garbage bags and burning an American flag, reports The Houston Chronicle.
Loughner will now be sent to a federal facility for up to four months, at the end of which he will be evaluated to see if he is now competent to stand trial, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Is Jared Loughner incompetent? District Judge Larry Burns has ruled he is. If after more treatment and evaluation he is still deemed incompetent, his stay at the federal facility can be extended. If he is deemed competent, the trial against him will resume.
Let's be clear: the court did not find Jared Loughner insane.
A determination of mental competency is not the same as a determination that a person is legally insane. If a person is determined to be legally insane, they cannot be convicted and found guilty of the crimes that they are accused of because of their mental defect. The methods to prove insanity vary between states.
If a person is mentally incompetent to stand trial, the accused is simply unable to understand the legal proceedings. There is no judgment on the guilt or innocence of the party, and the trial against them may proceed when they are deemed competent.
Of course, if Loughner is found to be competent to stand trial in the coming months, the defense might mount an insanity defense. Defendants that are found to be legally insane in many states will still be committed to a mental institution.
So while Jared Loughner is incompetent now, this by no means that he will not stand trial for the Tucson shootings at some point.
There were oeople present at the site of the shooting, at least, nearby, who were armed.  It it worth repeating that it made not the slightest difference in the outcome of this tragedy, despite the insistance by gun nuts that being armed prevents this kind of violence from occurring - or at least from occurring so extensively.  There was nearly an additional shooting of victims, by armed bystander Joe Zamudio.
"I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready," he explained on Fox and Friends. "I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this." Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. "And that's who I at first thought was the shooter," Zamudio recalled. "I told him to 'Drop it, drop it!'"
But the man with the gun wasn't the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. "Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess," the interviewer pointed out.
Zamudio agreed:
I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.
When Zamudio was asked what kind of weapons training he'd had, he answered: "My father raised me around guns … so I'm really comfortable with them. But I've never been in the military or had any professional training. I just reacted."
The Arizona Daily Star, based on its interview with Zamudio, adds two details to the story. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio "grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall" before realizing he wasn't the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn't pull out his own weapon was that "he didn't want to be confused as a second gunman."
This is a much more dangerous picture than has generally been reported. Zamudio had released his safety and was poised to fire when he saw what he thought was the killer still holding his weapon. Zamudio had a split second to decide whether to shoot. He was sufficiently convinced of the killer's identity to shove the man into a wall. But Zamudio didn't use his gun. That's how close he came to killing an innocent man. He was, as he acknowledges, "very lucky."
That's what happens when you run with a firearm to a scene of bloody havoc. In the chaos and pressure of the moment, you can shoot the wrong person. Or, by drawing your weapon, you can become the wrong person—a hero mistaken for a second gunman by another would-be hero with a gun. Bang, you're dead. Or worse, bang bang bang bang bang: a firefight among several armed, confused, and innocent people in a crowd. It happens even among trained soldiers. Among civilians, the risk is that much greater.
Loughner was arguably dangerously mentally ill; it is likely that will be his defense. He wasn't in any Arizona data base, and he certainly was not in the NCIS data base - Arizona is one of the worst states for supplying names to the NCIS.  Joe Zamudio got lucky, very lucky.  He could easily have drastically compounded this tragedy.

And now, as Giffords gets better, and Loughner sits in a mental institution.  And too many other people are also recovering, wounded both physically and psychologically.

The answer to gun violence is NOT more guns, or more violence - so called 'good violence'.  The answer is LESS violence, and fewer guns, less accessible guns.


  1. Dog gone, you have two contradictory premises here. One is that since no CCW person stopped the shooter in this case, it means carrying a gun was useless. You are basing your conclusion on the facts of the case, and not speculation. Fair enough. But then you do the exact opposite when discussing Joe Zamudio. You ignore the facts, and base your conclusion on pure speculation- a bunch of “what ifs”. The fact is even without formal CCW training he made the right decision- and yes, in a matter of seconds. It’s remarkable what the human brain can do. If we are going to play the “what if” game, then we can say “what if Joe Zamudio had gotten there in time to do something?”, or “what if Loughner’s gun didn’t jam?”, or “what if Loughner didn’t drop his fresh magazine on the ground?”…

    So do you want to talk about “what ifs” or just talk about what happened?

  2. Oh, dear, poor TS:

    His heeero ain't really, after all. Just another person who happened along, with or without a gun, and got involved, luckily--as it turns out--doing the right thing on what, the second try?

    Wanna play what if, TS? What if Zamudio had, in his zeal, tackled the guy and knocked the gun that the guy had taken from Loughner out of his hands and Loughner had gotten his hands on it and it was unjammed from the whackin' around? Well, shucks, I 'spose this game is no fun when the scenario might not be the one YOU would like it to be.

    Loughner's a crazy son-of-a-bitch or an absolute piece of shit (he could be both). Zamudio IS very lucky that he didn't shoot the wrong person.

    For those that think that nonsense that was being spewed by the reichwing in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, here's more insanity:

    Yep, iffen you can't justify it, just insist that it's a hoax.

  3. Democommie, Zamudio is not my hero. His presence did not really affect the outcome. He didn’t save the day, but he also didn’t cause any problems- as much as the gun control side would have wanted him to. So instead they have to make up scenarios that didn’t happen. I know he used the word “lucky”, but I wouldn’t call it that. He used proper judgment and made the right decision. Luck would be if he drew his gun and fired at the wrong person but missed. That would be lucky.

    I am not saying speculation does not have its place. We can approach this fleshing out the various possibilities, or we can approach it purely based on the facts of the case. However, mixing them for your own agenda gets you nowhere. The facts are that his carrying was a wash for either side. At the best we can say he would not have run to the scene to help had he not had a gun- so that brought an extra person to help restrain him. That is not much (and it is speculating anyway). I doubt Loughner would have gotten away or retrieved his gun had Zamudio not been there. Speculation will never be that clear cut, but the gun control side makes a weak case. Their case is based on Zamudio changing his thought process to make the wrong decision. And when you listen to his account, there were reasons why he made that decision based on his observations- it wasn't random. The points I brought up were based on fluke events of timing, mechanical failure (gun jam), and the fumbling/dropping of the magazine.

  4. "despite the insistance by gun nuts that being armed prevents this kind of violence from occurring"

    Perhaps deter though there's no automatic way of stopping an ambush that occurs instantly within a crowd of presumably unarmed people. I would argue CCW holders are there to STOP such an event, though having a CCW doesn't obligate one to jump in, or race toward gunfire.

    Were it me alone at a mall, I'd just as soon retreat to the doors, have a smoke with security and wait for SWAT to arrive. I'm not a hero and know it.

    " - or at least from occurring so extensively.

    You do realize mass murder and many of the worst school shootings are in Europe where restrictions are more stringent then they will ever be here? Google John Lott and Mass Murder for a handy list.

    "Zamudio had released his safety and was poised to fire when he saw what he thought was the killer still holding his weapon."

    How is one 'poised' to fire when by his own statement the gun never left the holster? Is having one's hand on their holstered gun the same as pointing in? And how does one 'almost' shoot another with a holstered gun?

    I don't think Zamudio himself is sure of what he stated.

    "He wasn't in any Arizona data base, and he certainly was not in the NCIS data base."

    NCIS doesn't work that way. It gathers information, runs the background check, then after a period of time, the information is destroyed. Its not kept as a data base by design.

    Do we even know when he purchased his firearm? Was it 2 years prior when according to his journals he first started to plan Giffords's death? Was it sooner? Did he even buy said gun at a store or gun show? Or was the purchase made paperless via Craig's list, a buddy, his girl-friend, or at a garage sale?

    Answers to things we may never know. You can't reason with crazy so i'm not sure what is gained by trying to understand it.

  5. While accounts are contradictory, it does appear that his gun did have the safety off and that he was prepared to shoot. Depending on the holster that may or may not have entailed the gun being taken out of the holster.

  6. The internet's stupidest denizenMay 26, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Joe Zamudio did not almost shoot the wrong person, no matter how many time it is said or written, it is not true. He never drew his weapon.
    Maybe instead of reading what people wrote about Joe you would like to listen to his experiences on that day in Tucson and the days after; in his own words. This podcast was recorded during 40 hours of firearms training that Joe attended of his own volition. He is a smart and competent young man who made the correct split-second decisions on that fateful day.

  8. My guess has been from the very beginning that there were a number of other armed citizens there besides Zamudio. This is based on the simple fact that in a public political gathering in the gun friendliest state of Arizona, among let's say 200 or 300 people nearby the epicenter, it's impossible that it could have been otherwise.

    These other gun owners, some perhaps enjoying the permitless carry privileges of Arizona, were just like Mr. Zamudio, absolutely powerless to help. The reason they didn't come forward with the fact they'd been carrying is obvious: embarrassment.

    The fact that they didn't, or that Zamudio didn't shoot the wrong person or cause collateral damage is small comfort. These people are a menace to free society.

  9. "Depending on the holster that may or may not have entailed the gun being taken out of the holster."

    By all accounts I can find, he disengaged the safety while the firearm was holstered (not the standard prescribed method). Kept his hand gripped on said holstered sidearm for retention.

    He came about as close to 'shooting' someone as every police offer does disengaging the retention strap on their holster during most traffic stops.

    He did the right thing with the proper judgment. Not bad for a 24 year old. Restraint not always seen by 'trained' police officers in similar situations.

    "My guess has been from the very beginning that there were a number of other armed citizens there besides Zamudio.

    Bingo. I took a handgun class recently with a CCW holding survivor from Tuscon. Both had left their sidearms in their car as they considered it inappropriate when having a discussion with the congresswoman (whom they disliked). George was shot in the arm; his wife killed by Loughner.

    George says he won't be making that mistake again.

  10. So Mike, you are assuming that there must have been many others with guns in the crowd who caused no problems whatsoever during an active shooting, and therefore they are a “menace to free society” and should be stopped. Is this your contention?

  11. "Google John Lott and Mass Murder for a handy list."

    Using John Lott as an authority is pretty much a "tell" for anyone being gunznutz.

    If Mikeb is correct about the statistical probability of other persons in that crowd being armed (a fair bet, imo) and they did NOTHING then I guess the notion that having people armed will prevent crimes of this sort is just nonsense.

  12. Well, TS, I'd go a bit further than democommie. He says if there had been others armed in the crowd who did nothing that this proves "that having people armed will prevent crimes of this sort is just nonsense."
    For me, the problem is it's from among these people that guns are stolen and negligently discharged. It's from among these folks that domestic violence with guns and suicides happen. Every once in a while, one of these people make it easy for their toddlers or school-age kids to get ahold of the guns.

    That's the downside. The upside, as we saw in Tucson, nothing.