Friday, September 25, 2009
Blog Break - 3 Days
Have a good weekend.
Philly Gun Shop to Close
Philadelphia gun-store owner James Colosimo plans to close his decades-old shop, which has been targeted recently with antiviolence protests and federal inquiries into its business practices.
Since protests this year, the Buruea of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has filed a notice to revoke Colosimo's federal license to sell firearms, said Colosimo's attorney, Joe Canuso.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office accused the store of selling 10 guns to people employees "knew or had reason to believe" were illegal straw buyers.
How common is that, do you think, the gun shop policy of turning a blind eye or actually assisting in straw purchases? Remember Iknadosian, who although eventually acquitted, was caught actually advising people how to smuggle guns into Mexico. Why do supposedly legitimate gun owners support people like this? I would think they give a bad name to the whole gun-owning world.
Do you think it's standard operating procedure for gun shops to do this, or is it a rare occurrence? Do you think Mr. Colosimo is the victim of oversealous gun control people?
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.
Baltimore's Shooting Stats
The 107 people charged with murder last year had accumulated a combined 1,065 prior arrests - 380 related to guns and 99 related to drugs.
The 234 people killed last year had a combined 2,404 prior arrests - 162 related to guns and 898 related to drugs.
That's an average of 10 arrests per suspect and 10.3 arrests per victim.
The numbers, from city police logs, are virtually identical for the first nine months of this year, with suspects averaging 11.1 arrests and victims 9.6. And the numbers are virtually identical to statistics from a decade ago. That might help explain why Baltimore, even with a much-heralded 20-year low in slayings last year, is still the nation's second-deadliest city in per-capita homicides, behind only Detroit.
This perfectly supports what several commenters have pointed out, that the problem is an inner city one. It also proves what others have said, most frequently Bob S., that what's needed is to keep these dangerous people in prison. Over at Man With the Muck-Rake, uptheflag wrote a bold piece about this very subject, pulling no punches about who's committing these murders.
I agree with all that, but I also feel gun access plays a part. If so many bad boys in Baltimore didn't have access to so many guns, the bloodshed would have been less.
Since the social and cultural conditions which lead to such abominable violence in cities like Baltimore are not going to be relieved overnight, I believe stricter gun control laws, applied nationally, would cut down on gun flow into the criminal world, which would then cut down on the numbers of murders.
What's your opinion? Is there anything wrong with addressing the social issues at the same time as we address the gun control problem? Can't we do both?
Police repeatedly complain that the people they put in handcuffs only return to the streets to do more harm.
I'd bet the police also complain that as soon as they confiscate a gun from one of these people they put in handcuffs, upon release he quickly gets another gun.
What do you think? What's the solution for cities like Baltimore?
Please leave a comment.
Let's Blame Beck and Hannity and Limbaugh and Michele Bachmann
This latest shock to the national system will inevitably lead to yet another discussion about the influence incendiary broadcasters, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, have on the minds and hearts of those who would commit such a horrible act.
But it’s not only the radio and TV talkers. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann recently bragged about how she was going to refuse participation in the census because she "does not wish to assist the president in his effort to create what she charges are ‘re-education’ camps where children would be indoctrinated in the Obama government’s official philosophy. According to Bachmann, such internment camps are the direct result of the national census, as she explained in an interview on FOX News."
If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.
The folks who irresponsibly scream "fire" in the crowded theater that is America need to be held accountable for this. Some say the person who commits the crime is 100% responsible for his or her actions, which leaves no part of the responsibility for anyone else. I look at it differently. The killer can be held responsible as well as the Becks and Bachmanns who incite them, call the percentages what you will. Don't forget Mr. Adkisson's Manifesto.
Nobody ever intended our public airwaves to be turned over to irresponsible voices. Maybe the time has come for the FCC to worry a bit less about wardrobe malfunctions and a whole lot more about those who would use our airwaves to make a name for themselves at the expense of the public they are suppose to serve – particularly when the expense comes in the form of blood.
What's your opinion? Many say Beck is in it for the ratings, what about Bachmann then? What's her motivation? Isn't the idea of shared responsibility something that makes sense? The ones who spout this poison are highly intelligent, talented people. On the receiving end you've got either extremely uneducated and unsophisticated people, Jim Adkisson for example, or the ones who are already cracked and just need a little encouragement, Timothy McVeigh for example.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Census Worker Hanged in Kentucky
The FBI is investigating whether anti-government sentiment led to the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker near a Kentucky cemetery. The word 'fed" was scrawled on the dead man's chest, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
The body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old part-time Census field worker and teacher, was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky. The Census has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Investigators are still trying to determine whether the death was a killing or a suicide, and if a killing, whether the motive was related to his government job or to anti-government sentiment. An autopsy report is pending.
That last paragraph is pretty funny. Of course they have to explore every possibility, but to me it seems extremely unlikely that someone scrawled "fed" on his chest after the guy himself committed suicide. What do you think?
Even as illustrated in town hall meetings today, there is a distinct hostility in a large segment of the population toward people who work for their government.
This fits in perfectly with some of our recent discussions of the influence people like Glenn Beck have on the kinds of folks who live in rural Kentucky. The oft-repeated claim that the federal government was going to take their guns away, which has proven to be laughably mistaken, as well as the suggestions of FEMA concentration camps and death panels for the elderly, has driven many people over the edge.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.
Plaxico Gets 2 Years
Former Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress apologized to his family and tearfully kissed his wife and young son goodbye Tuesday before he was led away to prison to begin serving a two-year sentence on a weapons charge.When we discussed this last time I suggested that he not be sent to prison. I think this confused some of our pro-gun commenters who think I'm unreasonably against guns and anything to do with them. Actually, I don't think all gun crime should be punished severely and certainly not with prison sentences.
Burress, at the time a star receiver with the New York Giants, was at the Latin Quarter nightclub in Manhattan last November when a gun tucked into his waistband slipped down his leg and fired, wounding him in the thigh.
The gun was not licensed in New York or in New Jersey, where Burress lived. His license to carry a concealed weapon in Florida had expired in May 2008.
I think Plaxico was stupid, he made a stupid mistake. Although what he did endangered others, he himself was the only one hurt. To me it seems a terrible waste to put talented behind bars if heavy fines and strict supervision would accomplish the task of ensuring they don't do it again.
What's your opinion? What's accomplished by his incarceration? Phuck Politics said it was racial. Do you think that could be the case?
His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said previously that Burress was thinking of his family — including his wife and young son, Elijah — in taking the plea, but Brafman questioned the fairness of the recommended prison sentence.
"This was not an intentional criminal act," Brafman said the day of the plea. "In my judgment, a two-year prison sentence is a very severe punishment."
Before sentencing Tuesday, Brafman called Burress "a fundamentally decent man."
"This is a very real tragic case in many, many ways," Brafman said.
Defense attorneys will say anything. "This was not an intentional criminal act," is pretty funny, but calling the 2-year sentence "very severe punishment," seems right to me.
What do you think? Please leave a comment.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Murder / Suicide - 90-Year-Old Man Charged
A 90-year-old retired physician has been charged with killing his terminally ill wife at their Southern California home but remains hospitalized after turning the gun on himself.There's certainly a big difference between this case and the frequent incidents of abusive male gun owners shooting their wives. I find it almost hard to believe this man will be charged with anything.
Dr. James Fish was charged Monday with voluntary manslaughter and could face 21 years in prison if convicted.
Authorities say Fish apparently wanted to end his wife's suffering when he allegedly shot 88-year-old Phyllis Fish on Sunday at their Leisure World home in Laguna Woods.
District attorney's spokeswoman Susan Schroeder says Fish gave the bedridden woman morphine and first used a gun that didn't fire. A caretaker called 911, but prosecutors claim Fish got another gun and shot both his wife and himself in the head.
On the other hand, I realize we cannot allow people to decide willy-nilly when euthanasia is appropriate. I would never condone people taking guns out of their closets to address medical emergencies, but in this case I feel only sympathy for Dr. Fish.
What's your opinion? Although this is an extreme twist on "doctor assisted suicide," do you think what he did is morally acceptable? Does this present more evidence of my own confused stance? I'm opposed to capital punishment, pro-choice on abortion and pro-euthanasia in certain cases.
What do you think?
(Cross posted on Man with the Mud-Rake)
Isn't it fascinating that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that much? Does this poll show that 36% of Democrats believe there is no constitutional guarantee? I wonder how many of the Democrats who made up the 64% think although there is a constitutional guarantee, it's a bad idea. What do you think?
The polls, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, asked whether the Constitution guarantees the right to own a gun and what was behind the recent increase in gun sales.
Among Americans polled, 75% said the Constitution guaranteed the right to own a gun. The percentage of "yes" answers was higher among Republicans (92%) and lower among Democrats (64%). Among others, 71% answered yes.
Here's another good one.
Republicans and Democrats were evenly divided as well: 63% of Republicans polled said they opposed stricter gun laws while 62% of Democrats said stricter laws are needed.
I'm not sure if I would call that "evenly divided," but it is interesting. I suppose you could say that Republicans who oppose stricter gun control are 63%, while Democrats who oppose stricter gun control are 38% or less assuming there are some undecided. Let's say the undecided ones are only 8%. That means in the question of opposing stricter gun control laws the difference is 63% to 30%. Does that sound about right to you?
Why do you think there are such great differences between Republicans and Democrats. My own idea, very unscientific and totally without proof, is that among the Republicans you've got the mindless close-minded masses who cannot think outside their pre-conceived notions of how things should be. These are the millions who listen to Beck and Limbaugh and O'reilly for their inspiration. Among the Democrats, on the other hand, you've got the open-minded, the seekers, the idealists, folks who are generally better educated and better able to distinguish right from wrong.
What's your opinion? Please feel free to leave a comment.
Speaking Truth to Power - Amonasro
At 2:20 begin the lines I'm talking about, the culmination of his address to the king.
Ma tu, Re, tu signore possente,
A costoro ti volgi clemente;
Oggi noi siam percossi dal fato,
Ma doman voi potria il fato colpir.
But you, O King, are a mighty lord.
Look with mercy on these captives.
Today we are laid low by fate:
tomorrow, such might be your lot.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Capital Punishment and Murder
The FBI’s annual crime report – Crime in the United States, 2008 – which was released Monday reveals that, like death sentences and executions, murder rates in the U.S. declined slightly in 2008. This has been the trend for a number of years, as has been the fact that homicide rates vary from state to state, with the states of the Deep South generally having the highest murder rates.
As usual, states without capital punishment generally had lower homicide rates than the states that execute. In fact, all but one of the 14 states with no death penalty in 2008 had murder rates below the national rate of 5.4 per 100,000. The lone exception, Michigan, had a homicide rate of 5.4, equal to the national rate.
Homicide rates in the U.S. are of course still way too high. That 1 in every 20,000 Americans was murdered last year is nothing to be proud of, but by now it should be clear to all that, as the consensus of criminologists agree, the death penalty has nothing to do with solving this problem.
It's interesting that they conclude from the fact that States with fewer executions have fewer murders that capital punishment is not a deterrent. What do you think the reason is? Some say the reason is there are more guns, but in spite of the fantastic chart constructed by Linoge, I think there are various interpretations.
I enjoyed the observation about "states of the Deep South generally having the highest murder rates." Now, why would that be I wonder? What do you think? They certainly have a lot of guns down there.
What observations can you come up with from this report?
Please leave a comment.
Another Mayor Against Illegal Guns
Essentially, it is a front group for a handful of rabidly anti-Second Amendment mayors who founded it, which in fact lobbies for gun control and misrepresents itself as a "reasonable" group going after illegal activity.
Of course he mentions the sting operation, supposedly sponsored by Bloomberg to investigate straw purchases of guns in other states. Jennings says "they acted illegally and were guilty of a felony crime." Well, I doubt that's true since they were never charged with a crime in spite of the gun crowd's tireless efforts at repeating the incident.
There's the mandatory rehashing of the failed attempt at concealed carry reciprocity.
Currently, some states do not even allow non-residents to carry a gun for protection. New York is one such state. It is impossible for any nonresident of New York to carry a handgun in that state legally, and in much of that state, close to impossible for residents.
One of the commenters, of which there are several good ones, pointed out something that struck me about that above description. "Some states don't even allow..." It made me laugh.
What's your opinion? Do you agree with Mr. Jennings' description of the MAIG? Do you think they acted criminally in the famous undercover incident? Do you think the reciprocity law is still a possibility, that we haven't heard the last of it?
Please leave a comment.
More Domestic Violence With a Gun
I ask you, isn't it true that most gun owners are men? And isn't it true that most domestic violence happens man to woman and not vice versa? And isn't it true that there is a lot of domestic violence? Is it not just common sense then, that guns are bad news for women? There have been reports and surveys, you can follow the above link, but simple common sense should settle it.
A Poulsbo man was arrested after his fiancé said that he pointed a loaded semi-automatic pistol at her the previous week.
The woman called police just after midnight Sunday, alleging that her 25-year-old fiancé pinned her against a wall, according to Kitsap County sheriff’s reports. He had left the house. She alleged that on Sept. 9, he had pointed a loaded pistol at her and said he was “going to murder someone tonight.”
The 9mm pistol had since been taken to a friend’s house, reports said.
In this story, in which thank goodness no one was killed, we have the typical scene, one which is repeated daily. Unlike stories of defensive gun uses, you don't have to go to blogs specially dedicated to that subject to find stories about domestic abuse with guns. They are everywhere.
Many of the perpetrators are formerly lawful gun owners. In some places they continue to possess their precious firearms after committing such offenses, so lax are the laws.
What's your opinion? Is it right for a domestic offender to lose his right to own guns? How exactly should that law be carried out? Do deputies come to the home to search for weapons? Does the criminal turn them in to the police voluntarily? Do you think these laws are poorly designed and fail to accomplish what they purport to?
Please leave a comment.
Monday, September 21, 2009
More on Glenn Beck
With all due respect to Jimmy Carter, the racist component of Obama-hatred has been undeniable since the summer of 2008, when Sarah Palin rallied all-white mobs to the defense of the “real America.”
He goes on to point out that Congressman Joe Wilson's crying out "You lie," which sparked the debate on race, was shocking not so much in its presumed racism but in the fact that it breached a previously secure barrier.
It was the first time that the violent rage surging in town-hall meetings all summer blasted into the same room as the president. Wilson’s televised shout was tantamount to yelling“Fire!” in a crowded theater. When he later explained that his behavior was “spontaneous” rather than premeditated, that was even more disturbing. It’s not good for the country that a lawmaker can’t control his anger at Barack Obama. It gives permission to crazy people.
Isn't it a fascinating concept that what we do and what we say may influence others? I would say that unspoken in that acknowledgment is the fact that we bear a certain responsibility for the results. This is especially true if we enjoy the public spotlight. That's is where Glenn Beck comes in.
Beck has notoriously defamed Obama as a “racist,” but the race card is just one in his deck. His ideology, if it can be called that, mixes idolatrous Ayn Rand libertarianism with bumper-sticker slogans about “freedom,” self-help homilies and lunatic conspiracy theories. (He fanned Internet rumors that FEMA was establishing concentration camps before tardily beating a retreat.) It’s the same crazy-quilt cosmology that could be found in last weekend’s Washington protest, where the marchers variously called Obama a fascist, a communist and a socialist, likening him to Hitler, Stalin, Castro and Pol Pot. They may not know that some of these libels are mutually exclusive. But what they do know is that they need a scapegoat for what ails them, and there is no one handier than a liberal, all-powerful president (who just happens to be black).
Beck likes to say he predicted 9/11 and that another Timothy McVeigh is on the way. Among his audience of millions, one presumes many hang on every word. But the point Frank Rich makes in conclusion is something to ponder.
For all our nation’s unfinished business on race, racism is not Obama’s biggest challenge during our unfinished Great Recession. He — and our political system — are being seriously tested by a rage that is no less real for being shouted by a demagogue from Fox and a backbencher from South Carolina.
What's your opinion? Is that rage which is sometimes fuelled by Glenn Beck and others, the real problem?
Please feel free to leave a comment.
Another Florida Family Slaughtered
The bodies of Guerline Damas, 32; Michzach, 9; Marven, 6; Maven, 5; Megan, 3; and Morgan, 11 months, were discovered Saturday, Rambosk said.
Authorities have been unable to locate Mesac Damas, who possibly left the country Friday morning and may be in Haiti, Capt. Chris Roberts of the Collier County sheriff's department said Sunday at a news conference.
The Damas family had had its share of domestic problems. There had been a "handful" of domestic disturbance calls to police since 2000 involving the Damas couple, with the latest resulting in the arrest of Mesac Damas in January. He pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor battery against Guerline Damas in June.
The police wouldn't release the cause of death information, which I'm told is standard operating procedure. I'm curious to learn what it was. Unlike the Heinze family murders, this one could have been done by a single person using any number of weapons, since the kids were all too young to defend themselves.
Regardless of the means with which he dispatched his family, if indeed he did do it, this case brings up a bigger question. What is wrong in America that we have so many of these cases? Is the male dominance and right to abuse his family so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that we can't overcome it? Did women's liberation and the feminist movement not correct this situation? Who are these guys who think they can slaughter their families if they like?
This is where I agree with the many commenters who keep pointing out that it's not only about the gun availability. Of course, they say it has nothing to do with the gun, but what I'm willing to accept is that gun availability is not the only factor. It's the frequent occurrences of "men are bad news for women" and "men are bad news for their own families" that are the problem. When those things are added to the gun availability we have, the situation is dramatic.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.
What do you think?
Sunday, September 20, 2009
"But if you want money for people with minds that hate,
All I can tell you is brother ya have to wait"
John Lott on the Swiss Gun Debate
The main protagonist of the video is a Swiss man who explains the law in his country under which young men are required to do military service and keep their rifles at home after being discharged. He describes a moving experience he'd had while visiting one of the Jewish holocaust sites, after which he became more convinced than ever of the need for an armed citizenry in order to prevent tyrannical government actions against them. He sounded amazingly like many American gun owners, same rationale, same world view.
I wondered if in spite of the estimated 500,000 men who keep their military rifles at home, if the passionate ones, the ones who participate in the shooting event shown in the video, for example, are actually a small percentage. I think that's probably the case, just like it is in the U.S., a small but very vocal minority.
The opposing view was presented by a man active in an organization called Group for Switzerland Without an Army. He said they have studies that show the connection between the readily available firearms in Swiss homes and the acts of abuse of those firearms, referring to the 300 or so deaths per year, many by suicide. He goes on to say gun availability is not the only factor, but it is a significant one.
It is fascinating that they have the exact same discussion over there that we have here.
What I didn't understand is Professor Lott's comment, "Someone should really do some serious research on the questions raised here." Is that to say the Swiss studies are not serious? Is that to say the fact that Swiss guns in homes do far more harm that good is not as important as being prepared for fighting against the government if that becomes necessary?
What's your opinion? Is it realistic to think that armed citizens could prevent government abuse if the government really wanted to abuse? I really don't think so. I call this type of thinking, grandiose victimism. It's a fantasy in which one imagines oneself bravely fighting against overwhelming odds, perhaps winning like the fabled American colonists did against the British oppressors, but more likely losing, but going down in a wonderful blaze of glory. What's your opinion?
Please leave a comment.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels Wants Gun-Free Parks
Mayor Greg Nickels has proposed a ban on guns in city-park facilities, specifically to protect children, and the move has already drawn fire from gun-rights advocates and questions about its legality.
The prospective ban, announced Friday, would cover playgrounds, community centers, sports fields, swimming pools and water-play areas.
The new proposal is not as far-reaching as Nickels' failed effort last year to ban guns from all city facilities after a shooting at Northwest Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. Nickels said signs would be posted notifying the public about the gun ban.
"These are the places where our children and families gather, and it is common sense that community centers, playgrounds and swimming pools are safer without guns," he said.
This is where the gun-rights people always say if you prevent the law-abiding from having guns then only the criminals will have them and the situation will be worse. I must admit I find that a compelling argument, one to which I often have difficulty responding. What do you think Mayor Nickels thinks about that? Do you think he, and the other Mayors who belong to Bloomberg's group, are irrationally afraid of guns and want them out of their sight. Often that's the accusation, that gun control people fear guns and think they're "icky," and all that. I don't find those comments credible at all.
I think the explanation of why reasonable and intelligent people would want guns banned from certain places, or from every place outside the home for that matter, is that we don't trust the gun owners. We realize there's a significant gray area of so-called lawful gun owners who are dangerous and irresponsible people and who cannot be trusted with guns in spite of the fact they haven't yet been caught breaking the law. Why responsible gun enthusiasts would take offense at that is a mystery to me.
What's your opinion? What do you think motivates people like Mayor Nickels?
Please leave a comment.
Este Gobierno de Criminales
Mexican authorities deployed more than 1,000 additional police officers to reinforce security at the capital's 175 subway stations on Saturday, a day after a shooting inside a station left two people dead and eight injured at the height of evening rush hour.
The shooting at the Balderas station in central Mexico City happened after police stopped Luis Felipe Hernandez Castillo, 38, from writing graffiti on the wall of one of the subway platforms.
Five of the injured suffered gunshot wounds, and three others were hurt by the stampeding crowds, officials said.
Hernandez Castillo was writing "Este gobierno de criminales," or "this government of criminals," Mexico City district attorney Miguel Angel Mancera said. As police tried to stop him, Hernandez Castillo drew a .38 special handgun and began firing.
I partly agree with the commenters who say, who cares what happens in Mexico. But several things came to mind when reading this story.
I wondered if the police who "tried to stop him" from writing the graffiti were objecting to the fact that he was writing or to the content of what he was writing. What do you think? Is the accusation that the government is a bunch of criminals something the police might take personally?
The fact that he had a gun on him is also of interest. I'm sure it probably came from a gun dealer in Phoenix or Houston - that's really a joke, although it could be the case. Certainly there's nothing in the story to indicate it. But, the fact that he had a gun is interesting because of the conflicting arguments I hear from the pro-gun crowd. Sometimes they say the strict gun control laws in Mexico don't work and this case would be proof. Other times they say the strict gun control laws in Mexico accomplish disarming the people and preventing them from defending themselves. Mr. Hernandez Castillo certainly disproves that one.
It turns out that Felipe Hernandez Castillo has obvious mental problems.
Hernandez Castillo also told investigators that he believed a great famine would come, and he travelled to Mexico City to relay a message.
Hernandez Castillo said he opened fire because he saw the police as a threat to his task of writing on the wall.
The other thing that comes to mind is the all-too-frequent disaster that happens when people have guns, when gun availability is like it is. In spite of the laws, like in the U.S., if someone wants to carry a gun in Mexico, I guess they can. The results this time, two dead and eight wounded.
What's your opinion? Why do the Mexican gun laws not work? Is there a different reason there than here in the United States? What's your opinion?
Please feel free to leave a comment.