What To Solve Gun Violence? Get Rid Of All Gun Laws.

Today’s Trace contains a very important and must-read article by the Armed With Reason crowd, a.k.a. Evan DeFillippis and Devin Hughes, concerning the single, most hot-button issue in the gun debate.  I am referring to whether it makes any difference whether we regulate guns, since gun violence is mostly the handiwork of criminals and criminals don’t follow laws.  Of course the NRA would never be so brazen as to publicly promote the idea that guns shouldn’t be regulated at all.  What they do instead is to go through the back door by saying that when guns are used by ‘good guys,’ criminals fear to tread; hence, we should make it as easy as possible for all the good guys to get their hands on guns.  And since the only thing that criminals understand is a good, swift kick, let’s punish gun-wielding criminals as quickly and harshly as possible and let everyone else enjoy unfettered 2nd-Amendment rights.

Evan and Devin take issue with this nonsense by pointing out right at the beginning of their well-researched essay that there’s a difference between how criminals react to strong laws as opposed to how they react to weak laws or no laws at all.  And the fact that most states have little or no legal barriers to the bad guys acquiring guns isn’t an argument for refusing to enact or strengthen current gun laws.

A perfect example of this false argument proferred by the gun industry is their opposition to expanded NICS background checks.  Since every gun is initially purchased by a law-abiding consumer, you would think that creating a system of secondary background checks would be a no-brainer when it comes to keeping guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’  But expanding background checks to private transfers means, if nothing else, expanding regulations per se.  And while Evan and Devin cite multiple studies which show that qualifying people to own guns invariably leads to less gun violence and less gun crime, the gun industry can always point to this or that example of someone like Vester Flanagan in Virginia who passed a background check and still committed mayhem with a gun.

chris2                I can actually absolve The Donald for pandering to his red-meat audience by saying that we don’t need any more gun laws because he’s never been a public official responsible for enforcing any laws at all. But when Bridgegate Christie negates the need for gun laws and ascribes New Jersey’s low gun violence rate to the fact that he’s a tough governor, he’s simply saying something that’s not true. In fact, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives Jersey an A- rating on its gun laws, one of only 6 states to achieve this grade.  Christie can pretend to be as tough as he wants, but he happens to be enforcing some pretty strict laws.

After Dick Heller and his attorneys got the Supreme Court to rule that the 2nd Amendment gave citizens the right to keep a loaded handgun in their home for self-defense, Heller went back into Court and challenged what he considered to be the overly-restrictive licensing process that was put into place. The District of Columbia argued that their licensing regulations were necessary in order to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, but this argument was challenged by none other than Gary Kleck who stated in his deposition that “only the law-abiding will register their guns.”  To which the Federal District Court, in rejecting this argument “with prejudice” responded: “According to Plaintiffs, it seems, municipalities should be limited to enacting only those firearms regulations that lawbreakers will obey – a curious argument that would render practically any gun laws unconstitutional.”

You got that one right.  The strategy of the NRA is exactly to make all gun laws unconstitutional.  Such efforts and the stupidity they reflect are illuminated by the clear and forceful research of DeFillipis and Hughes.  As I said at the beginning, this is a must read.

 

 

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Thank God Our 2nd Amendment Rights Are Being Protected By Kasich, Walker And Bridge.

Okay, it’s time to play gun nut quiz.  And here’s the gun nut question today: What do the following states – California, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey – have in common?    And the answer is – actually they have two things in common.  Each state contains at least one city with a murder rate at least four times the national average – Oakland, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Newark;  and each state is home to a Republican Presidential candidate: Fiorina, Carson, Kasich, Walker, Christie.

chris2                Right now the national murder rate per 100K is somewhere slightly above 4.  The murder rate in Oakland is 22, in Detroit it’s 45, Cleveland’s rate is 14 (oops, that’s only 3.5 times the national average), Milwaukee rolls in at 17 and peaceful  Newark sits at 40. Now you would think that Fiorina, Carson, Kasich, Walker and Christie would know something about gun violence, given the fact that they come from states with cities that have murders happening as if it were Mog.  And if you don’t know where Mog is, take a look at a map of Somalia – it’s what our Airborne guys call Mogadishu, the place we lost a couple of Black Hawks back in those heady days before the Twin Towers came crashing down.

kasich                Before I get into this issue too deeply, I’m going to give Carly and Ben each a pass, because they come from California and Michigan respectively, but they don’t live there any more.  On the other hand, Kasich, Walker and Bridgegate are the friggin’ governors of their states.  They live there, they work there, and they are ultimately responsible for public safety there.  And since most murders occur with the use of guns, and these guys need to show they are doing something about murder rates that are beyond belief, let’s see what, if anything, they have to say about guns.

I’ll start with Kasich.  “I believe in the 2nd Amendment.”  That’s from a 2010 webcast during his successful gubernatorial campaign.  What was Kasich supposed to say?  I love how all these red-meat politicians ‘believe’ in the 2nd Amendment.  Duhhh, it’s part of the Constitution.  What are they supposed to day?  That they don’t believe in it?  In 2011 Kasich signed a bill that allows Ohioans to bring concealed weapons into establishments that served liquor, including nightclubs, restaurants, stadiums, malls and, of course, restaurants.  He really believes in the 2nd Amendment.

walker               Scott Walker also believes in the 2nd Amendment.  He believes in it so much that he says it’s his duty as Governor to “protect and preserve our Constitutional freedoms.” To prove how important the 2nd Amendment is to our freedom, he recently signed a bill that ended a long-established 48-hour waiting period to purchase a handgun in Wisconsin.  The fact that the bill’s supporters used a fabricated tale about a woman who ended up being killed by her husband because she couldn’t get her hands on a gun is further proof of Walker’s commitment to Constitutional rights, in this case the right to tell a lie protected by the 1st Amendment’s defense of free speech.

As for Bridgegate, he began huffing and puffing after the Roanoke shooting with the standard bromides about the ‘terrible tragedy,’ his condolences to the families, the usual crap.  But then he cut to the chase and reminded the interviewer that we didn’t need any new gun laws, we just needed to enforce the laws we already have.  And in case anyone was wondering who would do the enforcing, I’ll let Bridgegate tell you himself: “New Jersey has a Governor who enforces the law.”  Christie enforces laws so well that the only person who didn’t get fired after millions of commuters were unable to get to work was the guy who should have been fired – Christie himself.

When it comes to your 2A rights, you’ll have nothing to fear from Kasich, Walker or Chris.  As for the cities withgun violence rates through the roof, let’s not worry about a few bodies here and there when the Constitution will be defended by all those armed citizens and their guns.

Don’t Get Rid Of The Guns, Get Rid Of The Nuts. Thank You Donald, Chris, Bobby, Et. Al.

So it’s official.  The Republican Party, or at least its putative Presidential candidates, has decided that the key to eliminating gun violence is to get rid of the nuts, not the guns.  The idea that gun violence has nothing to do with the gun and everything to do with the crazy people who on occasion use guns, has been floating around for a long time.  But after last week’s Virginia ambush, first The Donald and then every other red-meat Republican (a redundancy if I ever wrote one) fell into lockstep proclaiming that the real culprit was a mental health system that still needed to be “fixed.”  Here’s Bridgegate Christie explaining it to dopes like you and me who actually believe that stricter gun regulations should be in effect: “We need to have more information about people’s mental health background, but we don’t need new laws to do that.”

trump                Just for a moment I’m going to pretend that these jerks know what they’re talking about and go along with their stupid and pandering idea that ‘fixing’ mental health will ‘fix’ the problem of gun violence.  So let’s take three instances of horrific gun violence and see if the ‘fix mental health’ bullshit has even the slightest connection to reality or not.  The three instances I’m going to mention involved three shooters named James Holmes, Adam Lanza and Elliot Roger.  Together, these three ‘nuts’ shot 126 people, of whom 41 died either at the scene or in a hospital following the attacks.

What did these three young men have in common besides their ability to use a gun?  They not only had documented histories of some degree of mental distress, but had all been seen by mental health professionals in a short period of time before the actual shootings took place.  The official report on the Sandy Hook episode indicates that Adam Lanza’s mother dragged him hither and yon for mental health consultations; Elliott Roger’s diary contains numerous references to treatment by shrinks.  In the case of Holmes, who committed the worst massacre of all, his psychiatrist actually reported threats he was making to the University of Colorado Neuroscience Department because he had flunked out of school, reports that were forwarded to the campus police who took no action at all.

chris2                When we look at instances of individual shootings, we find a similar pattern wherein the shooter made contact with professional caregivers prior to the event, expressed concern about what was going to happen, disclosed the possibility of violence, but then was allowed to go about his business as if the discussion had never taken place.  I cited a case earlier this year in which a severely-agitated young man visited no less than seven different medical facilities in and around Fargo, ND, complaining that his room-mate was trying to poison him but was told in every visit to go home and take previously-prescribed psychiatric meds.  The cops then encountered him wandering in front of his apartment at 1 AM, but after he told them that his room-mate had a gun they decided that no crime was about to be committed and told him to go back home.  Three hours later, this young man shot his room-mate to death.

jindal                Every single state has a system whereby certain designated individuals must report suspected child abuse.  And once reported, the agency designated to deal with the problem must take action to see if the report is true.  The Federal Child Abuse and Prevention Act defines abuse as: “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” And notice the word ‘must.’  Not maybe, not perhaps, must.

We don’t need to cop out on the issue of gun violence by pretending that the NICS system should get better reports on which nuts are walking around who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.  We need to acknowledge that anyone who expresses anger or possible violence becomes an imminent threat if he has access to guns.  And the guns must be taken away.  Not maybe, not perhaps, must.

Drugs And Guns: The Latest From Camden

New York Shipbuilding Yard

New York Shipbuilding Yard

The last time anyone got a good job in Camden, NJ was during World War II, when the city, located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, was the location of  the largest shipyard in the world, the New York Shipbuilding Yard, which turned out more than 500 naval vessels before it closed after the war.  Camden is still the headquarters of the Campbell Soup Co., but the corporate executives stay in a gated building out of habit since nobody even remembers when the plant turned out its last can of soup. The irony is that Camden’s waterfront sits directly across from Philadelphia, where waterfront property values  have skyrocketed because of an influx of luxury hotels, high-end restaurants and trendy boutiques.

In Camden, on the other hand, the word ‘blight,’ which is usually how poor neighborhoods are described, would probably apply to the entire town.  And while Camden isn’t quite as dangerous as East St. Louis, the city recorded 57 homicides in 2013, which puts its murder rate up there with places like Cali and Medellin, the location of the world’s most active and vicious narcotics cartels.  That should hardly come as a surprise, however, because the one industry which seems to be thriving in Camden is the drug business, whose chief gang, headed up by three brothers, – Omar, Edwin and Edgar Urbina – have been running an open-air drug market for years in Camden’s North End. The November raid that resulted in the arrests of the gang leaders and nearly 50 suppliers, deliverers, baggers and other gang associates, also brought about the seizure and requisite display of a stash of cash, six guns and five ounces of cocaine.

Even if a lot of drugs sold by the Urbinas and other Camden gangs go into the hands and veins of local residents, what has always made Camden a center for the drug trade is its location adjacent to many wealthy communities whose residents and police departments find it convenient to encourage drug purchases in another town.  The drive-by nature of Camden’s drug business encouraged local law enforcement to begin stopping, searching and occasionally arresting non-residents who drove a little too slowly through the town.  But when the Camden PD laid off half its officers following a budget standoff with Chris Christie, what had been a badly-managed effort to control the local drug market only got much worse.

What I find interesting in this situation is the fact that nobody seems to find it unusual or unsettling that the products sold by the drug gangs in Camden come from thousands of miles away.  In fact, whenever a major dope dealer is arrested, there’s always some mention of a connection to a drug cartel in Mexico, Colombia or somewhere else.  But the same law enforcement experts who tell you that it’s impossible to interdict the movement of drugs into and through the United States, will also tell you that if we extend NICS background checks to private transactions, we’ll be able to put a real dent in the movement of illegal guns.

When I was a teenager living in Staten Island, NY, we knew about Camden, and it was rumored that some of the drugs that came into my neighborhood had been purchased in drive-buys by some of my friends. That was fifty years ago and it’s clear that the situation hasn’t really changed.  If anything, the growth of affluent suburbs around Philly has made Camden even a bigger and better hot-spot for illegal drugs.  If the drug gangs have no trouble going to Mexico for cocaine, how difficult could it be to get their hands on a few guns?