Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Cost of Gun Violence

Laci again provides us with a thought-provoking post.

I was curious as to how much this "Freedom" and "right" costs the American public and found John Rosenthal's December 15, 2009 post Health Care Costs and Gun Violence. He's a businessman, not a public health professional, but even being in business would give him an ability to assess the costs. He gives the figure that:

On average, guns kill or wound 276 people every day in America. Of those, 75 adults and 9 children will die. In the US there are more than 30,000 deaths and over 100,000 injuries related to gun violence each year.He also states that:

According to the Public Services Research Institute in 2008, firearm homicide and assault cost federal, state and local governments $4.7 billion annually including costs for medical care, mental health, emergency transport, police, criminal justice and lost taxes. They also state that when lost productivity, lost quality of life, and pain and suffering are added to medical costs, estimates of the annual cost of firearm violence range from $20 billion to $100 billion. According to the National Center for Disease Control, the cost of firearm fatalities is the highest of any injury-related death. In fact, the average cost of a gunshot related death is $33,000, while gun-related injuries total over $300,000 for each occurrence.

What's your opinion? Do you find those numbers compelling? What's Laci's conclusion?

Rights come with responsibilities. I think that the sale of firearms, ammunition, reloading supplies, and other gun related items should be heavily taxed to defray the cost to society since it is society that must bear the burden of their "right". But why should society be burdened and why has society allowed itself to be burdened by those who claim this right, yet are not willing to shoulder their responsibilities?

If they can't exercise their right in a responsible manner, then this right should not exist in the matter of public interest.

I wish I'd said that.

Death Penalty in Review - 2009

The New York Times reports on a fascinating phenomenon taking place in the administration of capital punishment.

Death Sentences Dropped, but Executions Rose in ’09

More death row convicts were executed in the United States this year than last, but juries continue to grow more wary of capital punishment, according to a new report.

Death sentences handed down by judges and juries in 2009 continued a trend of decline for seven years in a row, with 106 projected for the year. That level is down two-thirds from a peak of 328 in 1994, according to the report being released Friday by the Death Penalty Information Center, a research organization that opposes capital punishment.

“This entire decade has been marked by a declining use of the death penalty,” said Richard Dieter, the executive director of the group.

It must mean that each year there are fewer people on death row than the year below. But killing them off doesn't seem like the right way to do it. If the use of capital punishment is declining as reflected by the sentences handed down, the incidents of carrying out those sentences should also decline. Hopefully we're heading towards abolition and these guys who are being executed in increasing numbers won't be around to have their sentences changed to life without parole.

The sentencing drop was most striking in Texas, which averaged 34 death sentences a year in the 1990s and had 9 this year. Vic Wisner, a former assistant district attorney in Houston, said a “constant media drumbeat” about suspect convictions and exonerations “has really changed the attitude of jurors.”

Whatever the reason for the sentencing drop in Texas, doesn't the fact that it went from 34 to 9 indicate that some of those 34 got a bad deal? Isn't that a sort of proof in and of itself? If in 2009, the juries decided in 25 or so capital cases that a life sentence was the right punishment, what does that say about the ones who received the death penalty before?

I say the administration of capital punishment is so broken it should be halted immediately.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

New York Helps Indiana reported on the appointment of Frank Straub as Public Safety Director of Indianapolis.

Straub has a doctorate in criminal justice. He became commissioner of Public Safety in White Plains, New York in 2002.

Before going to White Plains, Straub was a special agent with the United States Department of Justice. He was also the New York Police Department's Deputy Commissioner of Training, responsible for developing and implementing the New York City's Police Department-wide, first-responder training.

Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Vane told 24-Hour News 8 police will be on board with the selection of Straub because of his experience.

Vane said, “At the same time as the attacks as the September 11th attacks at the World Trade Centers, commissioner Straub was a member of the executive staff of New York City Police Department and in charge of training. New York has a population of about 8 million.”

This could be of enormous importance in the struggle to stem the flow of guns from Indiana to other states like Illinois and New York. The Indy Star had this as one of Dr. Straub's priorities:

Controlling gun trafficking

"My own personal perspective is we have way too many guns on the street and way too many people that own guns," Straub said, adding there is no clear national policy dealing with guns.

"The policy has to start at the federal level and then work its way down to the states and to the local level. Until we control the flow of guns between states . . . you have a problem."

Did it take a New Yorker to come in there and say that? What's wrong with the State of Indiana that something as obvious as this has to be pointed out by an outsider? Of course the pro-gun crowd, threatened by Straub's common sense observations, do not see it that way.

Roberta X says "Dr. Straub doesn't look to be likely to fit in." Caleb cites the Constitution in reference to Straub's assertion that there "no clear national policy."

I guess time will tell how well Dr. Straub fits in. And perhaps Caleb will stop pretending that he doesn't understand what is meant by the "national policy." The obvious idea is to get all the States on the same page as far as interpreting the Constitution. Heller, so often cited as a gun-rights victory, left the door wide open for reasonable restrictions which, some people think need to be applied everywhere.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Assault Weapon Use by Criminals on the Rise

USA Today reports on the increase in assault weapon use by criminals. Via Southern Beale.

Criminals increasingly are choosing high-powered firearms such as assault weapons, a new survey of 166 U.S. police agencies shows. Nearly 40% of the departments reported an uptick in the use of assault weapons, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank.

In addition, half reported increases in the use of 9mm, .40-caliber and 10mm handguns in crimes — among the same types of weapons that police use. The survey offers one of the broadest indications of officers' concerns about the armed threat from criminals involved in murder, assault and other weapons-related offenses.

I like the comment by Southern Beale about this.

Nobody could have anticipated that allowing the federal assault weapons ban to expire in 2004 would have resulted in criminals’ increasing use of assault weapons.

Who indeed could have anticipated such a thing?

The two sides in the gun debate were represented in the USA Today article.

National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says officers' concerns are largely misplaced: "The real issue is the high-caliber criminal, not the high-caliber firearms." He says repeat offenders are overwhelming the system and could increase as states send fewer to prison to cut costs.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says the high-powered weapons endanger officers. If police say there's a problem, "public officials should be listening."

Now, I admit I have a soft spot for Paul Helmke. As a short time resident of Fort Wayne Indiana, the city which he presided over as mayor, I've always felt a connection with him. But, in the light of that tired old NRA line about "guns don't kill people, people kill people," I think Paul makes great sense when he urges lawmakers to listen up when police departments are talking.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

What Obama Should Do

Via The Existentialist Cowboy.

Obama should get off his butt and insist upon war crimes trials of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condo Rice. That Iraq had WMD was a bald faced lie to justify the seizure of Middle East oil fields! Ergo --every Iraqi death following is one count in a WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT on the scale of those charged to Adolph Hitler and high mucky mucks in the murderous Third Reich.

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 14


The Likelihood of Lethal Threat

We often hear the expression "lethal threat" in gun discussions. Almost everyone seems to agree that "lethal threat" is the major criterion, among others, for determining whether a defensive gun use is justified. But, how frequent do these occur?

My contention is they are not frequent at all, and here's how I arrived at that.

Without offering autobiographical details, I can safely say I've been around the block a few times. I've lived in a number of places, some of them not so savory. I've associated with many different types of people, some of them not so savory. I've been in some of the most dangerous places in North America, Harlem, Newark and Tijuana. I'm 56 years old, and looking back, do you know how many incidents of lethal threat to myself or someone in my vicinity I've seen? None, not a single one.

The problem is however, I have experienced first-hand about 10 or 20 situations that could have been interpreted as such. If I had always carried a concealed weapon and had always been prepared to protect myself and others from serious danger, there would have been bloodshed on a number of occasions, not one of which, I now see, truly merited that response.

This is the problem with concealed carry permits. The folks who have them, for the most part are not capable of making the lightning fast decisions which are necessary in a critical situation. They will err on the side of caution, not wanting to endanger their own lives, and they will get away with it especially if the only other witness is a wounded or dead criminal.

A good example is Caleb who writes Gun Nuts Media. When confronted with a knife-bearing criminal, he diverted the man's attention, drew his gun and the would-be mugger ran off. My hat's off to Caleb for demonstrating exactly the restraint and cool-headed response that was called for, nothing more. But how many gun owners can do that? What if the threat had been slightly greater? What if Caleb had shot the guy dead?

So, my conclusions are these. DGUs are rare and legitimate DGUs are even rarer.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Gun Confiscation in Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune ran a fascinating story about the fears some of the gun owners are facing in the State of Utah.

Utah gun-rights defenders are sounding an alarm about a proposed ethics-reform ballot initiative that never mentions guns but, they believe, could lead to a gun registry for lawmakers.

At issue in the Utahns for Ethical Government proposal is a conflicts-of-interest section that would require legislators to disclose property that could be subject to government regulation. To vigilant gun owners, that's code for a gun registry because few objects are more regulated, said Charles Hardy, public policy director for the Gun Owners of Utah (GOUtah!).

The Utah gun owners have been solicited by e-mail to reject the petition.

An attorney who helped draft the initiative asserted the gun-registry interpretation is absurd. "They said that with a straight face?" asked Utahns for Ethical Government attorney David Irvine. "If there are people out there doing that, I cannot imagine the world of paranoia in which they operate."

Irvine goes on to explain that the ethics commission could only have an interest in property that carries a potential financial entanglement. An example, he said, might be real estate that a lawmaker conceivably could sell to the Utah Department of Transportation for a highway right of way. The gun owners' reaction seems even more paranoid and absurd than the claims that health care reform might end up hurting them. At least that one had some vague basis in reality. There has been talk about considering guns in the home as a health risk.

What's your opinion? Are gun owners sometimes a little paranoid? Do they sometimes read too much into things seeing opposition were none exist?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

More on the Essex County Gun Buyback

The New Jersey Herald reports that the gun buyback program which had been suspended after running out of money is now back in business.

Essex County authorities say more than 400 guns were turned in Thursday as the prosecutor's office resumed a gun buyback program.

The program was suspended last month after local authorities burned through the $50,000 allocated for it in the first two days.

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow, recently nominated by Gov.-elect Chris Christie to be state attorney general, said she reallocated $75,000 seized from criminals to reinstate the program.

Those turning in guns could receive up to $200.

The program is to continue today.

Now there's an interesting piece of information. "...reallocated $75,000 seized from criminals to reinstate the program."

That should take care of one of the major complaints we hear about these programs, shouldn't it.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The People Who Ruined the Decade

The Guardian has compiled a very interesting list of dubious characters who've contributed to the first decade of the 21st century in a negative way.

Dan Brown

If conspiracy theorists didn't have enough fuel this decade what with 9/11 being an "inside job", the non-arrival of the millennium bug and the possibility of Jedward being a situationist prank, along came a man looking like a bad Whose Line Is It Anyway? panellist to convince millions of airport novel-reading simpletons that if only they pushed the right stone in the floor of the Louvre, the roof would open revealing irrefutable evidence that Jesus was a blood-sucking alien in cahoots with the Freemasons.

Rebecca Farnworth

In 1948 loony lefty George Orwell imagined a Britain wherein novel-writing machines banged out indistinguishable works of soft porn for a nation of hopeless proles. Crazy bastard, right? Then again, in September 2007 Katie Price's Crystal, ghost-written by Rebecca Farnworth – a former radio producer and magazine writer – outsold the entire Booker Prize shortlist. Farnworth hadn't published a single book at the time of agreeing to write Price's works, and Price herself said she wasn't keen on reading them. Yet these setbacks never prevented the pair from machining the kind of "sassy" prose that set gender equality back 40 years, nor did it stop them from using the kind of celebrity marketing strategy that had already reduced the music industry to a cash-poor game of Celebrity Squares.

The others make for good reading too. What's your opinion? Was it a good decade or a bad decade? What was good about it? What was bad?

Another entry on the Guardian list reminded me of one of the best things that happened in these years, The Wire.

DAVID SIMON For ruining any TV drama that isn't The Wire

At first, The Wire seemed like a cop show. Then it felt like a really good cop show. Then we realised we were watching David Simon pulling apart the very fabric of late American capitalism with a forensic, Dickensian masterpiece and pretty much everything we've watched since just seems a bit, well, unambitious.

I'm sure there were other things that happened in this closing decade. For me, letting go of my wishful thinking about Obama was like breaking the final thread securing me to the optimistic and hopeful side of life. But the bright side is there's still a lot to discuss.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Colbert on Beck on Gold

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 12

Here's the explanation.

Munir Hussain

The Times Online reports on a fascinating case in Great Britain.

A businessman who fought off knife-wielding thugs after his family were threatened has been jailed for 30 months.

The case prompted renewed debate over the level of force that house-holders can use against raiders.

Munir Hussain, chairman of the Asian Business Council, was praised by a judge for his “courage” in defending his wife and three children from an attack — but then jailed for the violence of his response. One of his attackers was spared a jail sentence.

I don't know about you, but I find those opening paragraphs a bit misleading. Maybe that's why FatWhiteMan used this case as an example of how bad things are in England.

Actually, what happened is Mr. Hussain, quite courageously, got the intruders to flee the house. Then he and his brother and some other neighbors gave chase, caught one of them and beat him nearly to death with bats and metal pipes. The attacker who "was spared a jail sentence" is the one who'd had his brains bashed in and was incapable of going to court.

This is something which although very understandable, has nothing to do with protecting one's family or defending one's property. This is a case of taking the law into one's own hands and meting out justice, vigilante-style. The prosecution called it a "revenge attack."

Another thing illustrated by this case is one of the major problems with people arming themselves for home defense. In a dangerous situation when facing what could be lethal threat it is next to impossible to react properly. What Mr. Hussain did was a grievous departure from what is acceptable, but imagine how many lesser examples there are, especially the ones in which the gun owner shoots prematurely or unnecessarily. These dreadful examples must far outnumber the clean legitimate ones. It's plain common sense.

Don't miss Laci's comments here.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Holding the Gun Sideways - Gangsta-style ran a very informative article tracing the history of the increasingly popular style of shooting a gun sideways. (Thanks for the tip FishyJay).

To look Hollywood, of course. Journalists and gun experts point to the 1993 Hughes brothers film Menace II Society, which depicts the side grip in its opening scene, as the movie that popularized the style. Although the directors claim to have witnessed a side grip robbery in Detroit in 1987, there are few reports of street gangs using the technique until after the movie came out. The Hughes brothers didn't invent the grip, though. In 1961's One-Eyed Jacks, Marlon Brando used it, as did Eli Wallach in 1966's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Directors may prefer the style because it makes it easier to see both the weapon and the actor's face in a tight camera shot.

So, it seems it's nothing new, it's certainly not been invented recently by rap singers. The article goes on to explain that the claim that the gun jammed in the Times Square Martinez shooting last week is false. Guns do not jam because of that. It would mean that the pull of gravity on the weight of the shell casing is significant compared to the force of the ejection. In spite of what one so-called expert has said, in addition to the newspapers that everyone realizes know nothing, he was just wrong about that.

Here's some more history.

During the first half of the 20th century, soldiers used the side grip for the express purpose of endangering throngs of people. Some automatic weapons from this era—like the Mauser C96 or the grease gun—fired so quickly or with such dramatic recoil that soldiers found it impossible to aim anything but the first shot. Soldiers began tilting the weapons, so that the recoil sent the gun reeling in a horizontal rather than vertical arc, enabling them to spray bullets into an onrushing enemy battalion instead of over their heads.

Nowadays, the only time professionals use the side grip is while holding riot shields, which limit their field of vision. Turning the gun and raising it up make the sight slightly more visible.

What's your opinion? Is this nothing more than a popular trend that Hollywood and music videos have popularized? Why do so many people go in for these trends? Isn't it embarrassing to be so trendy?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Man Sentenced for Halloween Shooting

The Associated Press reports on the sentencing on gun charges of a man who shot a trick-or-treater on Halloween.

Quentin Patrick will spend at least the next 16 years in prison because the convicted drug dealer, paranoid of being robbed, answered a Halloween knock on his door with a barrage of bullets from an AK-47, killing a 12-year-old South Carolina boy.

But the 16-year, eight-month sentence handed down Monday was just 20 months more than the minimum Patrick could have faced after pleading guilty to a federal charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon.

"We wanted to see a life sentence, or at least something more than this," said Daphne Grinnell, who was in the family van when the shooting broke out Halloween 2008 and tried in vain to save her dying son T.J., hit by 11 bullets.

But Patrick still faces murder and assault charges in state court, and prosecutor Kelly Jackson said he will decide what to do about that case later. Jackson said Patrick could face 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.

The shooter, Quentin Patrick, expressed remorse for the incident but claimed he is not a murderer. What's your opinion? Is it right to charge someone with murder for killing a person they think is there to rob them? Isn't this what all the pro-gun folks are always demanding as their right, the stand-your-ground right?

Or does the fact that he was a convicted felon still selling drugs make all the difference? If these rights we keep hearing about are "inalienable," shouldn't they apply to everyone, even the bad guys? Shouldn't everyone have the right to protect themselves in their own home?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Great Fun with Palin and Shatner

Via Osmoothie.

The Difference Between Precaution and Paranoia

Via BlueGal at Crooks and Liars.

The Year in Review

The New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence published an article about the successful year the NRA has had, what I recently called Gun Rights Star on the Rise. Via The Gun Guys.

A recent Associated Press story highlighted the push by the NRA to loosen gun laws across the country.

Kowtowing to the pressure of the NRA, legislators in a number of states have passed laws that work against the interests of public safety and well-being.

Then, as if we needed more examples of incidents that are in the news daily, they list a few good ones.

Isn't it extremely telling that these kinds of stories are the daily fare of the main stream media while the so-called DGUs are extremely rare? And from there, isn't it obvious that more and more guns is not the answer?

Gun violence has real world results that, sadly, are measured in injury and death. Shame on these legislators who have moved to put more guns into our communities and onto our streets. The results will predictably be more gun injuries and more gun deaths.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Stand Your Ground

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence published a wonderful article which Laci tipped me off to.

Earlier this year, an interesting study was published in the University of Miami Law Review by Zachary Weaver. Entitled “Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law: The Actual Effects and the Need for Clarification,” it raises some serious questions about the expanding parameters for the use of lethal force in our country.

On April 26, 2005, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed “Stand Your Ground” (aka “Shoot First”) legislation into law.

The law eliminated the state’s common law duty to use every reasonable means available to retreat prior to using deadly force, which the Florida Supreme Court had legitimized by explaining, “human life is precious, and deadly combat should be avoided if at all possible when imminent danger to oneself can be avoided.”

The law states that any individual who is in a place where he/she has a legal right to be, and who is “not engaged in an unlawful activity ... has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” Individuals using lethal force in this manner are immune from criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.
To me, that's a sick law which is indicative of the sickness that is taking over America. When state after state is abandoning the common sense of using "every reasonable means available to retreat prior to using deadly force," we're heading in the wrong direction. When laws are enacted which encourage people in their macho, never-back-down confrontative attitudes, we're moving away from civilization not towards it.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

The Right-Wing Smear Campaign reports on the FCC official who spoke out about the tactics of the right-wing.

Mark Lloyd, the chief diversity officer and associate counsel at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), says he is not carrying out a “secret plot funded by George Soros” aimed at getting rid of conservative talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

Lloyd, the keynote speaker at a Monday forum sponsored by the Media Access Project (MAP), also said that there was a “right-wing smear campaign” against him.

Well, I don't think he's the only one. But, do you think there's a difference between the way the conservatives do this and the way the liberals do?

“Andy Schwartzman [president and CEO of MAP] was the first to warn me about an obscure, right-wing blog that was distorting my views about the First Amendment,” Lloyd said. “The blog continued and spread different exaggerations and distortions.”

“Those were picked up by radio and cable and then YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia,” said Lloyd, and “then by so-called news services and newspapers, the National Rifle Association and other association news letters, e-mail blasts from church groups and then on to certain public officials.”

That does seem like a perfect description of the way they do it. What's your opinion? Is this just political activism at work? Is this just what everyone does to their opponents? Or do you think this mechanism so popular with the right sometimes goes too far?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 11

More Gun Buy Back Programs reports on a Worcester buy-back program which netted 85 guns.

In a program that Worcester doctors and police hope will reduce injuries from gun accidents, residents of that city can turn in guns today and next Saturday in exchange for gift cards.

The UMass Memorial Medical Center, in conjunction with the Worcester Police, is holding its eighth annual Goods for Guns buyback program. The program allows gun owners to relinquish their guns at the police station in exchange for Wal-Mart gift cards of up to $75.

The hope is to limit the accidents in which weapons kept for protection accidentally injure family members or friends. Dr. Michael Hirsh, the program's founder, said he sees the aftermath of such accidents in his role as chief of pediatric surgery and trauma care at the hospital.

Live5news reports on a similar program in Charleston South Carolina which took in 127 weapons.

North Charleston Police teamed up with Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and St. Matthews Baptist Church to collect 127 guns in a no-questions-asked gun buy-back Saturday.

"All of us have a right to bare arms in a legal way," A.D. Robinson Jr. of Mt Moriah Baptist Church said. "We don't want to take that right from anyone. These weapons that have been turned in is people that had them and didn't know what to do with them. They didn't know how to dispose of them."

Police destroyed all rifles, shotguns, pistols and other assault weapons they collected. In exchange for the guns they gave retail gift cards worth $100.

I still don't understand the passionate opposition to these initiatives on the part of pro-gun people. In both of these articles, the goal was to afford folks a legal way of disposing of weapons they don't want. Doesn't that make sense? Not everyone would feel comfortable throwing a gun in the river under cover of darkness to get rid of it.

I believe there's another hidden benefit to these programs. Some of the participants are probably surrendering guns that illegally belong to their sons or grandsons who are budding criminals. Naturally those young people can rearm themselves with little difficulty, but even temporarily disarming them has got to be a good thing.

So what's the problem with these programs? I don't buy that complaint that they cost too much taxpayer money. For these buy-backs we're talking nickels and dimes. I don't buy the complaint that they harvest only broken down worthless weapons. The picture from the Worcester police doesn't seem to contain rusty unserviceable guns. So what is it?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Jon Stewart on Glenn Beck's Gold Rush

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 10

"Common sense is contagious."

The Times Square Shooting

The Associated Press reports on the latest findings in the Times Square shooting incident.

A machine pistol used by a street hustler and aspiring rapper shot dead in a Times Square gunfight was purchased from a Virginia gun shop by a woman who reported it stolen 10 days after she bought it, authorities said.

One thing I noticed is that New York not only has strict gun laws, but apparently they know how to investigate a gun's history. The tracing of this Mac 10 was done almost immediately. Which brings up a question that I haven't seen addressed: is that a pistol that can fire on fully automatic? Do the restrictions against "machine guns" not apply to pistols?

Jordan Kelsey-Stewart, 25, bought the weapon Oct. 18 from Dale's Guns in Powhatan, Va., chief NYPD police spokesman Paul Browne said Friday. Officials with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are trying to find her and are investigating whether she had any connection to Martinez; a telephone listing for her could not immediately be found on Friday.

Ms. Kelsey-Stewart reported the gun stolen from her car? Shouldn't that in itself be a crime? Isn't leaving a gun in a car like asking for it to be stolen? I know I would never leave anything of value in a parked car. How about you?

Investigators also were trying to determine whether Martinez had other weapons. They said they found a .22-caliber handgun during a police search of Martinez's home on Friday.

Well, what about Jordan Kelsey-Stewart? Had she purchased other weapons which ended up missing? That's what I'd want to know.

What's your opinion? Are the loose gun laws in Virginia contributing to the gun violence in cities like New York?

Because buying a firearm is so difficult in New York, people barred from owning pistols here often travel south to shop at gun shows where there are no required background checks for people buying secondhand weapons. Martinez didn't have a license to own a firearm.

So there we have it. Aside from the questions about this particular Mac 10 pistol, and whether its original owner was a frequent straw purchaser or associated with Martinez in some way, we have the question of continuing to allow people to buy second-hand guns without background checks. Things need to change and in spite of the successes the gun-rights folks have enjoyed lately, I think eventually enough people will become fed up with the laxity and demand the much-needed changes.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Hawaii Man Shoots Wife in Hospital

The Honolulu Advertiser reports on a shooting incident in the hospital.

Castle Medical Center has banned a 71-year-old man who allegedly shot his terminally ill wife at the hospital from visiting the facility.

Robert Yagi, of the Olomana neighborhood in Kailua, was released on $50,000 bail yesterday. He is charged with second-degree attempted murder.

Leatrice Yagi, also 71, remains at the hospital. She suffered minor injuries in the Tuesday night shooting.

Robert Yagi is accused of firing a shotgun round from a flare gun at his wife in her room on the third floor of the hospital.

In a statement, Castle said it has informed Yagi that he is "prohibited from entering the Castle Medical Center campus. Should he violate this restriction, he will be subject to criminal trespassing and arrest."

The statement also said, "The safety of our patients, staff and visitors is our top priority. Castle Medical Center remains committed to the health and safety of our community."

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm all for lenient treatment of criminals and for considering all manner of mitigating circumstances when looking at crime, but is it really safe to let this guy out of jail? Were they so quickly able to determine this was an attempted euthanasia? Is that so acceptable in the State of Hawaii?

What's your opinion on this bizarre case? Please leave a comment.