Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gun Play for Real Men

via Daily Gun Pictures, via Say Uncle.

Jayson Williams Taking the Deal

The Associated Press reports on the Jayson Williams' plea deal, agreed upon in the fatal, accidental shooting of his driver.

Retired NBA star Jayson Williams has agreed to a plea deal that would send him to prison for up to three years for accidentally shooting a driver at his New Jersey estate in 2002, a person with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Williams, who retired in 2000 after playing nine seasons in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets, was to face a retrial in January on a reckless manslaughter count.

The person, who was not authorized to speak about the case, told the AP on condition of anonymity that Williams is to plead guilty Friday to aggravated assault. Because a gun was used in the crime, Williams must serve at least 18 months in prison, the person said.

So, instead of the manslaughter charge he'll plead to aggravated assault which in New Jersey requires some time in jail if a gun was involved. That sounds like a normal plea deal. But what did he actually do, what was his crime?

Witnesses testified that Williams was showing off a shotgun in his bedroom in February 2002 when he snapped the weapon shut and it fired one shot that struck driver Costas Christofi in the chest, killing him. They also testified that Williams initially placed the gun in the dead man's hands and instructed those present to lie about what happened.

The defense has maintained the shooting was an accident and that Williams panicked afterward.

During his trial, the jury deadlocked on the reckless manslaughter count, acquitted Williams of aggravated manslaughter and convicted him of covering up the shooting. He was never sentenced for the cover-up counts, pending the outcome of the retrial, and has remained free on bail.

What is it with these guys who don't know about The Rules? It reminds me of Breda in that video she posted recently in which she clearly violated at least two of the four rules, yet all her supporters ignored that in their enthusiasm to praise her. Shouldn't gun owners, whether they're retired NBA stars or pro-gun bloggers be held to a higher standard of gun comportment?

What Jayson Williams did, unless anyone thinks he really wanted to murder his driver, was nothing more than a stupid accident. What do you think? Is spending a few years in jail a fair sentence for an accident? Do you think the attempt to cover it up should be considered another crime and add to his punishment? Wasn't that nothing more than a panicked reaction?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

What is Terrorism?

Liberal Viewer questions the use of the word terrorism in the Ft. Hood case. The incredible ubiquity of these references in relation to Maj. Hasan's attack to me suggests some type of manipulation. My opinion from the beginning was that Hasan was a mentally ill crackpot, nothing more, and attempts to paint his act as terrorism are driven by other motives, as explained in the video.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Death Penalty for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

America Magazine published a post in their blog which I found very interesting. (via The Deacon's Bench)

From our friend Camille D'Arienzo, RSM, who works with those on death row.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try the accused 9/11 perpetrators in a civilian court near Ground Zero has ignited a national debate over whether the accused Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his companions should face a military or civilian court. Other concerns include the safety of the city, the opportunity for propaganda and the possibility of acquittal, based on waterboarding the men experienced in Guantanamo.

One matter not being debated is Mr. Holder’s determination to urge the prosecution to seek the death penalty for these mass murderers.

If the destruction perpetrated here had occurred in London, Paris, Rome or any other European city, the death penalty would not be debated either. It is not allowed in nations that form the European Union.

If the death penalty were forbidden here, life without parole would at very least deprive these mass murderers of presenting themselves as martyrs and us as their killers.

Now those are pragmatic considerations that even the most blood-thirsty vengeance seekers should consider. Upon execution, Sheikh Mohammed becomes a martyr and The United States becomes more the oppressor in the eyes of the world. Is that what we really want?

What do you think?

Sebastian W. Olivares-Coster Pleads Guilty

The Independent Record reports on the guilty plea entered by Sebastian W. Olivares-Coster. We talked about him before here and here.

[He] admitted Wednesday to intentionally shooting and trying to kill three teenage boys in a seemingly unprovoked attack that left one of the boys dead.

“I shot and killed one person and I shot and seriously injured two others, and I don’t know why,” Olivares-Coster said in District Court, after entering guilty pleas on one deliberate homicide charge and two counts of attempted deliberate homicide.

What could possibly have motivated him to do something like this? In the report there was something about an argument or some jealousy or something. But what kind of rage is that, which is sustained long enough to decide to do it, to get the gun, to travel to the site of the incident and still shoot three people?

As soon as transportation can be arranged, Olivares-Coster will be taken to the state mental hospital in Warm Springs for a two-month evaluation. Gallagher said he found out two days prior to the Wednesday hearing that the defense could argue that their client is guilty but mentally ill.

According to his plea agreement, Olivares-Coster will be allowed to present evidence and testimony during his sentencing that he was suffering from a mental disease or defect at the time of the shooting that made him unable to know he was committing a crime or to be law abiding.

I find it difficult to understand how a young man could do something like this and still be considered of sound mind. To me the two are mutually exclusive. That doesn't mean I necessarily think he should be released or that he should receive a short sentence. He may be too unstable and dangerous for release.

An interesting aspect of this case was the investigation into where the gun came from and the eventual prosecution of the man who supplied it.

A Helena man who has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of transferring a handgun to a juvenile for buying the .45-caliber pistol used in the shooting will be sentenced Monday. Jared T. Cox, 21, said Olivares-Coster gave him money to buy the gun and ammunition in May.

Court documents say Olivares-Coster told Cox he wanted the pistol for “home protection.” Cox faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

There's the gun culture for you. An underage person wanted a gun for home protection, sure thing. What could be more American than that?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

It Was the Dog's Fault

Mercury News reports on an incident which took place in San Luis Obispo, California.

A man is blaming his dog for his wife's shooting death in San Luis Obispo County.

Twenty-five-year-old John Norris is charged with involuntary manslaughter for shooting his wife in July as she say on a couch in their San Miguel condominium. A sheriff's deputy testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing that Norris claimed he was standing on the stairs with a handgun when his dog tripped him and caused him to shoot his 24-year-old wife Tasha.

Norris says he had the pistol because he planned to remove the ammunition before fire inspectors arrived to examine new sprinklers. His attorney says Norris, who has no criminal record or history of domestic violence, loved his wife.

Norris has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and possessing an illegal weapon.

I know we've talked about it before, but shouldn't that last line be, "illegally possessing a weapon" instead of "possessing an illegal weapon." I dislike those sloppy renderings of the story because the pro-gun folks like to point them out as evidence that the media and the liberals and the gun control crowd don't know what they're talking about. The fact is, we do know what we're talking about and the way it's worded in the article perfectly communicates the idea, which is the main point. Ideas matter. When people derail the entire argument over minor miswordings that does not interrupt the flow of information, I have to wonder why they do that.

What do you think about John Norris? He had a gun in the home that for some reason he shouldn't have had even though he'd had no history of crime or domestic violence. What if he was just exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms in order to protect himself in the home? That wouldn't make him a bad guy, would it? The way I see it he's mainly guilty of having had a terrible accident.

Some say gun control laws don't work, that this guy is proof. California has strict laws, Norris disobeyed them. What I say is the strict gun control laws are not aimed at guys like Norris, who are willing to disregard them. The laws are aimed at the law abiding. There is a point at which a gun passes from the possession of a lawful owner to that of a criminal. The laws are aimed at the lawful gun owner and they should be made strict enough to better encourage that lawful gun owner to not allow the gun to pass to the criminal.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2nd Amendment Theory

Up till now I've mainly asked questions. It's time I stated what my theory is and why.

I'd first like to point out that I've read thousands of posts and comments, for the most part from pro-gun writers, numerous articles and several books including ones by Professors Lott and Kleck. Although I don't think of myself as an expert by any stretch, this is what I've concluded, at least this is my opinion at this point. Feel free to consider it a work in progress.

In the late 18th century the 2nd Amendment was understood to guarantee the right to bear arms in order for small communities of men to band together, forming a militia, in order to protect themselves from standing armies, invading forces or federal government oppression. There was no such thing as the right to bear arms in order to protect oneself or one's home. The purpose was a collective one.

It's difficult to compare that society with today's. The factors at work back then have no relevance today except for extreme Libertarians and those referred to as "threepers." These are folks who really believe in protecting themselves from the federal government. Even they are wrong, however, they're really operating out of paranoia, grandiosity and fantasy, but at least for them it makes some sense. For the rest, the 90+% of gun owners, claiming the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is nothing more than a manipulation, a wilful distortion in order to enjoy their "defense of last resort," as Denis Henigan calls it.

What's your opinion? Am I on the right track? Please leave a comment.

Dying on Death Row

Capital News Service reports on the aging death row population in Florida.

Inmates on Florida’s Death Row have an equal chance of dying from old age as they do from lethal injection. Since 1993, 74 death row inmates have gone to their maker, but only half of them died from execution.

Florida has four death row inmates over age 70. William Cruse, who opened fire in a grocery store, is 82. 54 others sentenced to death have already turned 60.

Some have been on death row more than three decades. Larry Spalding used to run the agency credited with keeping many of them alive and he says those with a lengthy stay will likely never be executed.

“They really have all but gone insane,” Spalding said. “Those cases are being resolved the way that live without parole is being resolved, they will die in prison.

Since 1993, Florida has executed 37 people. But just as many death row inmates have died of other causes.

Frank Valdez died at the hands of guards. The other 36 from bad health.

Prosecutors are livid.

“In my opinion, the governor ought to sit down and sign about 60 or 70 of them today,” Meggs said. “And let’s get started and do a couple a week, until we get caught up.”

But those who have fought the state and won say the backlog will never be cleared.

“Even if you got serious about the death penalty and we started executing one or two a month, you’d still never catch up,” Spalding said.

And even prosecutor Meggs concedes the way the death penalty is applied now makes it “totally Ineffective.”

At least one of the 37 who died from cancer on death row was posthumously exonerated by DNA after spending more than 15 years facing death.

Wow, what a mess! Mr. Meggs sounds like a swell guy. He wants to "do a couple a week till they get caught up."

What's your opinion? What should be done about the death penalty?

Be Prepared for Meteorites

The Associated Press reports on an incident that, although not all that common should be taken seriously because the consequences are so devastating.

LIBERAL, Kan. — A father and son have an extraterrestrial explanation for the strange rock that recently landed in their backyard in southwest Kansas. They are convinced it's a meteorite.

Chandler Harp, 10, was playing in the backyard of his Liberal home when he heard what sounded like an explosion about 15 feet from where he was standing. He looked over to see a plume of dirt and debris shoot 5 feet high.

At the bottom of a foot-deep hole, he found a 2-inch rock and showed it to his dad, Lee.

Once Lee Harp got a look at the metallic rock, he was certain it wasn't from this world. He said, "I knew he had a meteorite."

What's your opinion? Do you take any common sense precautions against being hit by a meteorite? Or do you think it's the government's job to ensure safety for its citizens from this ever-present danger?

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Isaac Zamora Pleads Guilty

The Associated Press reports on the guilty plea entered in the case of Isaac Zamora who killed 6 in a Washington State shooting spree last year. When we discussed this at the time of the arrest, Bob S., who runs a wonderful blog of his own, asked, "How do you want to treat mentally ill people? Wrap them in cotton and let them walk the streets?"

A man who killed six people, including a sheriff's deputy, in a northwest Washington shooting rampage last year pleaded guilty Tuesday and will spend the rest of his life in a mental hospital or prison.

Isaac Zamora entered the pleas to 18 charges, including aggravated murder, attempted murder and burglary, after prosecutor Rich Weyrich agreed he would not seek the death penalty.

"Mr. Zamora won't ever walk the streets again," Weyrich said. "From a public safety standpoint, we've accomplished that."

Zamora, 29, began his rampage Sept. 2, 2008, near the town of Alger, 70 miles north of Seattle, and continued it on Interstate 5. Described by his family as mentally disturbed, he was captured after a police chase and later told investigators he killed for God.

One thing this story clarifies is that killers are not all atheists. Some of them are cracked believers.

In answer to Bob's question, no I don't want to treat the mentally ill offenders gently and let them offend again. I want them to get the mental health care they need just like any other sick person. To me the State of Washington is doing this exactly right.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rough Weekend in Michigan reports on two separate murder-suicide incidents which took the lives of six.

Six people died in separate murder-suicides in Oakland and St. Clair counties over the weekend, police said Monday.

In Milford, investigators said money problems are believed to have led Joe Valentino, 61, to shoot his wife, Lucille Valentino, 60, and the family dog sometime last week before turning the rifle on himself three days later in their upscale subdivision.

Their bodies were found Sunday evening when a daughter went to check on them.

On Sunday morning, Phillip Parsons, 35, killed his wife, Gina Parsons, 32, son Sean Parsons, 14, and stepson Andrew Davis, 14, at their home in rural Columbus Township in St. Clair County, then shot himself with the same large-caliber handgun, St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon said Monday.

Gina Parsons and the boys, who were from the couple's previous marriages, were shot in their beds at the ranch home on Short Road. She also had an older son who did not live at the home, the sheriff said.

These are people who had guns at home, legally. They had no previous difficulty with the law. So how can we stop incidents like these?

I'll tell you how. We start moving away from the gun-culture mentality which pervades American life. We start recognizing that guns do more harm than good. Guns are too efficient a tool for killing and for killing quickly. We need fewer guns in the homes of people like this.

What's the pro-gun response to this? They continue to say there's nothing you can do about it, there's no way to predict it. They say, not only is this the small price we must continue to pay for our "gun rights," but we should strive to increase the proliferation of weapons in the society because of all the good they do, regardless of the fact that incidents like these are guaranteed to increase.

To me that is unconscionable.

What's your opinion?

The Guns Flowing into Mexico

The site called Mexico's Drug War posted an interesting article about the suggestion recently published in the Washington Post that reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban would help the problem of Mexican war violence. It was Jerry Seper, former Bush aide, who stated that the AWB should be reinstated. I suppose gun control folks like this, but besides the never-ending problem of defining an assault weapon in such a way as to include the ones we want and not include others, semi-automatic weapons used for hunting and home protection, there's another problem.

As most anyone can tell, most of the weapons on the original 1994 ban list are not the ones going to Mexico.
This is based on the same ATF trace data that has often been described as "90% of the weapons traced." While we've been so busy arguing over the 90%, no one thought to consider what those weapons actually were and how they compared to the AWB list.

The article goes on to discuss the practice of reconstructing AK-47s and other weapons out of parts which are legally and cheaply sold. Sometimes these parts are the result of weapons seized and destroyed by being cut in half. The two halves yield many reusable parts. But I think this is another discussion for another day.

The main point of the article is that the weapons flowing into Mexico from the U.S. are for the most part not the ones formerly referred to on the Assault Weapons Ban. Where does that leave us?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Sullum vs. Pennington

After the Ft. Hood shooting there were so many articles and blog posts flying around it was hard to keep them straight. Both sides of the gun argument were represented. I posted here about the comments made on the Brady Blog by Doug Pennington criticizing Jacob Sullum. I hadn't been aware of the response until just yesterday I thankfully received it in my inbox.

Hasan Had a Carry Permit (and Other Irrelevancies)

A couple of responses to my column about the Fort Hood massacre are notable for their red herrings.

Doug Pennington, assistant director of communications at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says his boss, Paul Helmke, is not "breathtakingly inane"; I am. So there. The Helmke comment I so labeled, you may recall, was his insistence that "more guns" can only make things worse in a situation like the Fort Hood massacre, when in fact it was "more guns" (in the hands of two police officers) that put a stop to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's shooting rampage. Pennington responds with a series of irrelevancies.

First Pennington implies that I want to override the decisions of business owners who decide not to allow guns on their property. I've never advocated that; in fact, I have faulted the NRA for doing so. In my column I did not even argue that people have a constitutional right to carry guns on public property, let alone on a military base. I merely questioned the wisdom of "gun-free zones" as a crime-fighting tactic.

Next Pennington notes that Hasan qualified for a Virginia concealed carry permit in 1996, since at that point he had a clean record. I'm not sure what that's supposed to prove. Is Pennington suggesting that the lack of a permit deters mass murderers from carrying their weapons in public? The general problem with legal restrictions on gun possession (as I'm sure Pennington has heard) is that criminals do not obey them, while their law-abiding victims do.

Pennington reiterates that Hasan used 20-round magazines, meaning that he had to reload less often than if he'd used 10-round magazines. True enough, but as I said in the column, the extra few seconds did not matter much until Hasan was confronted by people who also had guns. Sgt. Mark Todd shot Hasan while he was reloading. Not surprisingly, none of his unarmed victims tried to rush him during the two seconds it takes to change magazines, although given the number of rounds he fired they would have had four or five opportunities to do so.

Pennington also reiterates that Hasan used a pistol capable of firing armor-piercing rounds, although "the ammunition type that the Fort Hood killer used has not yet been reported." I'm still not getting why this matters, since the special capability Hasan's ammunition may or may not have had apparently played no role in his crime.

Over at True/Slant, Chris Thomas concedes that the Fort Hood massacre could have been cut short by a gun in the hands of someone who was on the scene when the shooting started. But he faults me for failing to consider the impact that letting people carry firearms in more places would have on fatalities from gun accidents. "The death toll from [gun accidents] far outstrips the body counts at Fort Hood and Virginia Tech," Thomas writes. But this comparison is meaningless. The total number of fatalities from gun accidents in 2006, the latest year for which the CDC has data, was 642. That is indeed greater than the fatalities at Fort Hood and Virginia Tech combined, but so what? The total number of homicides by gun in 2006 was about 12,800*. If arming more victims and bystanders prevented even 1 percent of those deaths, the benefit would far outweigh any deaths from additional accidents.

According to Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck, most gun accidents occur at home. Furthermore, since 1987, when Florida began the trend toward "shall issue" carry permit laws (which 39 states now have), the number of gun-accident fatalities per year has fallen by more than 50 percent. In other words, the rising prevalence of people legally carrying guns in public has been associated with a decline in fatal gun accidents. On the face of it, there is little reason to think that letting people with carry permits bring their guns to more locations would lead to a noticeable increase in fatal accidents, let alone an increase big enough to outweigh the self-defense benefit.

Mr. Sullum devotes a good part of his rebuttal to refuting the idea that by arming people the increased accidents would be a serious problem. I believe this gets to the heart of the question, but it is deceptive. The question to which this discussion points us is, generally stated, do guns do more good than harm. The deception is in addressing the pro-gun argument to the increase in accidents and leaving out the increase in murders and suicides.

No one ever said that accidents are the biggest concern. As tragic as they are, and as sure as it is that they would greatly increase on military bases if the young men were armed, accidents represent a tiny fraction of the problem which is intentional gun violence.

In other words, if all the soldiers and marines on all the bases were armed all the time, we'd have more frequent incidents like the Maj. Hasan meltdown. Granted they wouldn't be able to enjoy five or ten minutes of uninterrupted shooting, they'd be stopped sooner, but the increased frequency of these incidents would more than make up for that.

This is all conjecture, of course, but it's exactly the same kind of conjecture the pro-gun folks engage in when they say "IF only the others could have been armed, this would have been stopped sooner."

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Old Crossfire Episode with Jon Stewart

Naomi Klein - The Shock Doctrine

Thanks to Laci I saw this wonderful interview with Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine. About a year ago, Il Principe wrote about it. What do you think?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Are Gun Sales Going Up or Down?

The Times Online published an article about how gun sales are going up and expected to continue rising.

Smith & Wesson, the famed American gun maker once owned by Tomkins, the British conglomerate, expects to nearly double its annual sales in the next three to five years as demand for its firearms soars in the recession. It is not alone.

All over America demand for firearms and ammunition is rising amid concerns that rising unemployment, which passed 10 per cent this month, will lead inexorably to higher rates of crime. Fears of terrorism have also helped to lift demand, as have concerns among gun owners that the Obama Administration may introduce restrictions on gun ownership and impose additional taxes.

The article goes on to describe the great good fortune of Sturm and Ruger and Glock. All over the gun-producing world, business is booming.

Tulsa World reports on the difficulty experienced in this year's Tulsa Gun Show.

A frenzy of gun buying after the election of President Barack Obama seems to have slowed as collectors and buyers find themselves susceptible to the nation’s economic struggles.

Exhibitors and attendees of the Wanenmacher’s Tulsa Arms Show on Sunday said sales were down slightly this year and pistols and small rifles appeared to be more popular than larger, military-type machinery that dominated last year’s show.

“We’re down a little,” said Vice President Mark Wanenmacher. He added that part of the slowdown is likely because of deer hunting season.

The event, dubbed the largest gun show in the world, was hosted Saturday and Sunday at Tulsa’s Expo Square.

Brian Holtsclaw of Dixon, Mo., said he and some buddies have come to the show in Tulsa every year for the past five years. He buys and trades for hunting and recreational shooting, he said.

Worries that the Obama administration would usher in restrictive gun control laws have ebbed some in the president’s first several month in office, Holtsclaw said.

“Not this time,” he said. “That’s kind of slowed for now.”
How can we reconcile these two stories? I mean, either business is good or it isn't. You don't think a proportion of the Glock and Smith and Wesson production is going immediately into the criminal world, do you? They're certainly not singing the same tune as they are in Tulsa. Something must account for that.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Civil Disobedience in Seattle

Seattlepi local reports on the gun owner who protested the local ordinance banning guns in the local Community Center.

A Kent man who announced Friday that he intended to carry a pistol into a West Seattle community center to trigger a lawsuit challenging Seattle's ban on guns in public spaces did just that Saturday, and was promptly asked to leave.

Bob Warden, 44, announced his intentions in an e-mail Friday morning to media as well as to the city of Seattle, including the police and city attorney.

On Saturday, Warden walked into the Southwest Community Center at 2801 SW Thistle Street with a Glock-27 .40-caliber sub-compact pistol under a black jacket in a holster strap over his left shoulder. Parks Department employee Lisa Harrison asked him to leave, and he did.

What's your opinion? Is this type of protest going to help the cause? I personally don't find it very attractive. To me it seems like adolescent rebellion.

What was the idea of leaving when asked? What kind of protest is that anyway? What do you think?

"I'm not here as a Second Amendment activist," Warden said. "I'm here as a citizen who believes in the rule of law."

"As a courtesy, this is advance notice that at noon tomorrow, Saturday, November 14, I plan to exercise my legal right to bear arms in Seattle's Southwest Community Center, 2801 SW Thistle Street,"

I'm not sure I understand the difference between "a Second Amendment activist," and one who simply wants to exercise his "legal right to bear arms." Do you? Can you be the latter without being the former? Why would you want to make the distinction?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jim Ryan for Governor of Illinois

The Daily Herald reports on the complete turnaround made by gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan on capital punishment.

On Thursday there was a bit of shock in the political world as former state Attorney General Jim Ryan for the first time expressed sorrow for cases he oversaw as a prosecutor that put two innocent men on death row.

In the email from his long time spokesman, Ryan also staked out his new position on the death penalty, stances that in at least one key area contrast those from his previous run for governor in 2002.

Here’s what Ryan said yesterday about the death penalty moratorium still in place more than a decade after then-Gov. George Ryan declared it.

“If I am elected governor, I will not lift the moratorium on capital punishment until we have created a more limited and accurate system of capital punishment.”

What's your opinion? Isn't that the sensible approach? Or is it like Obama saying we'll not commit more troops to Afghanistan until there's a stable government there? What do you think?

Is it possible that the people of Illinois have come to agree with the moratorium imposed almost a decade ago and this announcement by the hopeful governor is nothing more than a political strategy?

What about Texas? When do you think we'll hear something like this coming out of the Lone Star State? I think it'll be a while, what about you?

Based on this, I like Jim Ryan very much, but before deciding to root for him from afar, I wondered how he stands on gun control. After reading this, he's got my vote, so to speak.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Tony Alamo Sentenced to 175 years

Fox News reports on the sentencing of Tony Alamo. We discussed him at the time of his trial.

Evangelist Tony Alamo was sentenced Friday to 175 years in prison for taking little girls as young as 9 across state lines to have sex with them.

The decision punishes him for the rest of his life for molesting children he took as "brides" in his ministry.

Alamo, 75, had denied the charges, claiming they came from a Vatican-led conspiracy against the church he led, called the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.

During Friday's hearing in Texarkana, Ark., some of Alamo's victims testified about how their families were destroyed while the evangelist took over their lives.

Alamo was convicted in July on a 10-count federal indictment. U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes said Alamo used his status as father figure and pastor and threatened the girls with "the loss of their salvation."

This guy seems even worse than Warren Jeffs. Alamo is older than Jeffs and Alamo's "wives" are younger. Even by his own description that the onset of puberty is the point at which young women can marry, he did wrong taking girls as young as 9.

Does the fact that Tony Alamo used religion as a justification make the crimes worse? Many men force themselves on women, even very young ones. But, do you think these pseudo-religious organizations that do it make the crime even more despicable?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

also posted at Man With the Muck-Rake