Archive for the ‘#guncontrol’ Tag

The Myth That the US Leads the World in Mass Shootings   Leave a comment

It’s a slam dunk case except for one thing: it’s not true.
To understand the misleading narrative, we must look to the era of narrative-driven journalism and the politicization of society, both of which subjugate truth to ideology and politics.

 

If you asked me this morning which nation has the most mass shootings in the world, I would have said, with perhaps a flicker of hesitation, the United States.

This is a tad embarrassing to admit because I’m pretty familiar with shooting statistics, having written several articles on gun violence and the Second Amendment. Below is a basic overview of gun violence in America. While gun homicides have been steadily declining for decades in the US, mass shootings have indeed been trending upward.

This fact alone probably would not have led me to believe that the US leads the world in mass shootings, however. An assist goes to the US media and politicians.

“Let’s be clear,” President Obama said in 2015 after a shooting in North Carolina. “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

Sen. Harry Reid echoed this sentiment. “The United States is the only advanced country where this kind of mass violence occurs.”

Media headlines have left little doubt that the US leads the world in mass shootings. In fact, according to CNN, it isn’t even close.

The comments and data seem to conclusively say that the US leads the world in mass shootings and the violence is unique, a product of “America’s gun culture.”

It’s a slam dunk case except for one thing: it’s not true.

Statistics on global mass shooting incidents from 2009 to 2015 compiled by economist John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center show that the US trails many other advanced nations in mass shooting frequency and death rate.

As Investor’s Business Daily noted on these findings, “Yes, the U.S. rate is still high, and nothing to be proud of. But it’s not the highest in the developed world. Not by a long shot.”

If this is true, how did the narrative that the US leads the world in mass shootings become the conventional wisdom? The myth, it turns out, stems from University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford.

Lankford’s name pops up in a montage of media reports which cite his research as evidence that America leads the world in mass shootings. The violence, Lankford said, stems from the high rate of gun ownership in America.

“The difference between us and other countries, [which] explains why we have more of these attackers, was the firearm ownership rate,” Lankford said. “In other words: firearms per capita. We have almost double the firearm ownership rate of any other country.”

Lankford’s findings show that there were 90 mass public shooters in America since 1966, the most in the world, which had a total of 202. But Lott, using Lankford’s definition of a mass shooting—“four or more people killed”—found more than 3,000 such shootings, John Stossel recently reported.

Who is to say Lankford doesn’t have it right and Lott is wrong? There’s just one problem: Lankford isn’t talking.

When findings do not mesh, scholars, in pursuit of truth, generally compare notes, data, and methodology to find out how they reached their conclusions. After all, who is to say Lankford doesn’t have it right and Lott is wrong? There’s just one problem: Lankford isn’t talking.

Lankford refuses to explain his data to anyone—to Stossel, to Lott, to the Washington Post, and apparently anyone else who comes asking, including this writer. (I emailed Lankford inquiring about his research. He declined to discuss his methodology, but said he would be publishing more information about mass shooting data in the future.)

“That’s academic malpractice,” Lott tells Stossel.

Indeed it is. Yet, it doesn’t explain how one professor’s research was so rapidly disseminated that its erroneous claim quickly became the conventional wisdom in a country with 330 million people.

For that, we must look to the era of narrative-driven journalism and the politicization of society, both of which subjugate truth to ideology and politics. Media and politicians latched onto Lankford’s findings in droves because his findings were convenient, not because they were true.

This is an unsettling and ill omen for liberty. As Lawrence Reed has observed, the road to authoritarianism is paved with a “careless, cavalier, and subjective attitude toward truth.” Yet that is precisely what we see with increasing frequency in mass media. (Need I reference the Covington debacle and the Smollet hoax?)

More than a hundred years ago Mark Twain noted, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Lankford’s erroneous research had free rein for two years and was disseminated to tens of millions of viewers and readers before the truth finally got its shoes on.

Twain’s quote remains true even in the age of the internet. Lankford’s erroneous research had free rein for two years and was disseminated to tens of millions of viewers and readers before the truth finally got its shoes on.

If you ask most Americans today which country leads the world in mass shootings, I suspect a vast majority would say the US. And there’s always a price for the erosion of truth.

Source: The Myth That the US Leads the World in Mass Shootings | Jon Miltimore

Posted December 27, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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Are AR-15 Rifles a Public Safety Threat? Here’s What the Data Say   Leave a comment

From Parkland, Florida, to San Bernardino, California, the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and its variants have seemingly become the weapons of choice for mass shooters in the United States.

Many people simply cannot believe that regular civilians should be able to legally own so-called “weapons of war,” which they believe should only be in the hands of the military.

According to Pew Research, for example, 81 percent of Democrats and even 50 percent of Republicans believe the federal government should ban “assault-style rifles” like the AR-15. Given the massive amount of carnage AR-15s and similar rifles have caused, it makes sense that the civilian population simply cannot be trusted to own such weapons, right?

Perhaps, but is it really true that the AR-15, a popular firearm owned by millions of Americans, is a unique threat to public safety, so dangerous that it deserves to be banned or even confiscated by the federal government?

It cannot be emphasized enough that any homicide is a tragedy, but in order to get a sense of how dangerous to public safety “assault-style” rifles are, it’s useful to compare their usage in homicide to other methods.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are the two authoritative sources for homicide statistics in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the CDC reports “produce more accurate homicide trends at the national level” because they capture less under-reporting than the FBI statistics.

However, the homicide data recorded by the CDC includes all homicides committed by civilians regardless of criminal intent. The FBI data instead focuses on intentional homicides (i.e murder) known to law enforcement and excludes non-negligent homicide (i.e manslaughter.)

According to the BJS, the FBI data is “better suited for understanding the circumstances surrounding homicide incidents.” This is especially true given that the FBI, but not the CDC, records the type of firearm used in a given homicide. For the purposes of this analysis, the data from the FBI will be used.

There are two further limitations of FBI data worth noting.

Firstly, the FBI reports do not look at “assault-style” rifles specifically, but rather, murders involving all types of rifles, whether they are committed with an AR-15 or a hunting rifle.

Between 2007 and 2017, nearly 1,700 people were murdered with a knife or sharp object per year. That’s almost four times the number of people murdered by an assailant with any sort of rifle.

Secondly, each year there are a few thousand homicide cases where the type of firearm used goes unreported to the FBI. This means that some murders listed under “unknown firearm” may, in fact, be rifle murders.

To account for this under-reporting, we will extrapolate from rifles’ share of firearm murders where the type of weapon is known in order to estimate the number of “unknown” firearms that were in actuality rifle homicides.

If we take the time to look at the raw data provided by the FBI, we find that all rifles, not just “assault-style rifles,” constitute on average 340 homicides per year from 2007 through 2017 (see Figure 1.). When we adjust these numbers to take under-reporting into account, that number rises to an average of 439 per year.

Figure 2 compares rifle homicides to homicides with other non-firearm weapons. Believe it or not, between 2007 and 2017, nearly 1,700 people were murdered with a knife or sharp object per year. That’s almost four times the number of people murdered by an assailant with any sort of rifle.

Figure 1. The Relative and Absolute Frequency of Rifle Homicides 2007-2017

 

Figure 2. Homicides per year by weapon 2007 – 2017

In any given year, for every person murdered with a rifle, there are 15 murdered with handguns, 1.7 with hands or fists, and 1.2 with blunt instruments. In fact, homicides with any sort of rifle represent a mere 3.2 percent of all homicides on average over the past decade.

Given that the FBI statistics pertain to all rifles, the homicide frequency of “assault-style” rifles like the AR-15 is necessarily lesser still, as such firearms compose a fraction of all the rifles used in crime.

With an average of 13,657 homicides per year during the 2007-2017 timeframe, about one-tenth of one percent of homicides were produced by mass shootings involving AR-15s.

According to a New York Times analysis, since 2007, at least “173 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States involving AR-15s.”

That’s 173 over a span of a decade, with an average of 17 homicides per year. To put this in perspective, consider that at this rate it would take almost one-hundred years of mass shootings with AR-15s to produce the same number of homicide victims that knives and sharp objects produce in one year.

With an average of 13,657 homicides per year during the 2007-2017 timeframe, about one-tenth of one percent of homicides were produced by mass shootings involving AR-15s.

Mass shootings involving rifles like the AR-15 can produce dozens of victims at one time, and combined with extensive media coverage of these events, many people have been led to believe that such rifles pose a significant threat to public safety.

However, such shootings are extremely rare, and a look at the FBI data informs us that homicide with these types of rifles represents an extremely small fraction of overall homicide violence. Banning or confiscating such firearms from the civilian population would likely produce little to no reduction in violent crime rates in America.

Image courtesy of Gun Holsters and Gear.

Source: Are AR-15 Rifles a Public Safety Threat? Here’s What the Data Say | Being Classically Liberal

Posted December 27, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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Why Might I Wish to be Armed?   Leave a comment

There are Sundays when some of us at my church choose to conceal carry. It started after the Texas church was shot up and there’s a rotation, kind of like the nursery duty. We can’t afford security guards – who would be the first to die anyway – so some of us carry concealed. We have a large military presence in our church (retired and active-duty) so many folks were already carrying concealed. I had never carried in church before and the guys were surprised when three women who were not former soldiers showed up for the meeting ready to do our duty. And, so, now we do. Whether we’ll ever need it is unknown, but at least we’re prepared.

So a couple of Sundays ago, I was still concealed when I left the church to go to the gas station to get diesel for our day tank. It was a busy Sunday and I positioned my car such that I could be the next one at the pump. While I was waiting, these three big trucks pulled up, clearly with the desire to be together and worked to position themselves so that they could take all the pumps. Only I was in a good position, so I pulled up to one of the pumps first. I waited my turn, but I wasn’t intimidated by the attitude of those who got there after I did.

Until I got out of my car and got my ears laid back by the driver of the truck that was trying to get in there ahead of me. How dare I, this passenger car, cut in front of him, a big truck with a huge tank. Didn’t I know he had somewhere to be?

I tend not to be intimidated by men even when I’m not armed. I chose to ignore his tirade and doing what I needed to do. And he just kept getting angrier, and close enough I could smell the beer on his breath.

But I wasn’t afraid because my 45 was comfortably cozied into the small of my back under my winter coat, which I unzipped in case I needed to access my firearm on short notice. He never knew I was armed. Concealed means nobody can tell. And, I just pretended I was deaf as I filled my cans. One of the things I share with 90% of the concealed-carry people I know is a desire to never have to draw my gun, so I felt no need to escalate the matter. Eventually, the angry man stomped off to his truck and I did get a little nervous at that point. I made sure my car was between him and me, and I slipped my free hand back to my holster because, well, people are stupid when they drink beer and someone pisses them off. But he finally pulled up to the pump his friend vacated and the friend got out and came over to me, apologized for his friend, said I was brave.

Of course, I wasn’t really brave. I just wasn’t scared because I was prepared, and I wanted the guy to know what what he did was not only wrong and rude, but also dangerous, so I told his friend.

“He new up here?”

“About a year.”

“Well, he should know by now that Alaskans women are often armed and he might not like the outcome of his next scream fest. Might run into a less reasonable woman than me.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought you might say,” he said, laughing, because the idea of going to the filling station armed is not a weird concept in Alaska.

Why might I wish to be armed?

  • Because someone someday might want to shoot up my church and I’d prefer to be able to end their life rather than hope I escape notice.
  • Because sometimes people get stupid at the gas station and think they can intimidate and/or hurt a small woman because they’re bigger and stronger.
  • Because sometimes bad people break into houses with bad intentions and I might want to live through the encounter.

Posted March 6, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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Recognizing Cognitive Dissonance   Leave a comment

Recognizing cognitive dissonance is the key to real problem-solving.

Far too often, we leap to conclusions that are not supported by reasoning.

One such conclusion is that gun control is the answer to mass shootings, murders, etc. But the logic defies that mind set. We already have background checks to purchase new guns and several studies have shown that mass shooters rarely get their weapons from private sales. And yet, the Democrats are already planning a bill that will attempt to outlaw all private sales. So, if I want to give my guns to my son, I will have to actually sell them to a federal firearms dealer and then my son will have to purchase them for whatever price the FFL feels is acceptable and, in the meantime, my collectible firearms will become subject to confiscation if the FFL decides he can get a better price on the open market.

And, yet, we know that gunmen get their guns legally, using the background check system while other gunmen get their guns illegally, avoiding the background check, and in all cases, gun control FAILED to keep the gunman from getting the guns.

Meanwhile, Office of Government Accountability created a study to try and catch illegal private sales on the Internet and dark web. Pretending to be felons and other disallowed individuals, government agents tried to buy guns privately, but gun forums and those running classified ads were unwilling to sell to agents who self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm. Out of 72 attempts, 56 sellers refused to complete the transactions, 26 sellers stated they would not ship a firearm and 27 refused after the disclosure of prohibited status. Five websites froze the accounts the undercover agents had set up, preventing further use of the forums and attempts at purchase.

In other words, self-monitoring appears to be much more effective than gun control.

Posted December 28, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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What If “Experts” are Wrong?   Leave a comment

https://fee.org/articles/california-s-background-check-law-had-no-impact-on-gun-deaths-johns-hopkins-study-finds/

A new academic study has found that, once again, gun laws are not having their desired effect.

A joint study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found that California’s much-touted mandated background checks had no impact on gun deaths, and researchers are puzzled as to why.

In 1991, California simultaneously imposed comprehensive background checks for firearm sales and prohibited gun sales (and gun possession) to people convicted of misdemeanor violent crimes. The legislation mandated that all gun sales, including private transactions, would have to go through a California-licensed Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer. Shotguns and rifles, like handguns, became subject to a 15-day waiting period to make certain all gun purchasers had undergone a thorough background check.

More than a quarter of a century later, researchers at Johns Hopkins and UC Davis dug into the results of the sweeping legislation.

It was the most expansive state gun control legislation in America, affecting an estimated one million gun buyers in the first year alone. Though costly and cumbersome, politicians and law enforcement agreed the law was worth it.

The legislation would “keep more guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn’t have them,” saidthen-Republican Gov. George Deukmejian.

“I think the new laws are going to help counter the violence,” said LAPD spokesman William D. Booth.

More than a quarter of a century later, researchers at Johns Hopkins and UC Davis dug into the results of the sweeping legislation. Researchers compared yearly gun suicide and homicide rates over the 10 years following implementation of California’s law with 32 control states that did not have such laws.

They found “no change in the rates of either cause of death from firearms through 2000.”

The findings, which run counter to experiences in Missouri and Connecticut that did show a link between background checks and gun deaths, appear to have startled the researchers.

Garen Wintemute, a UC Davis professor of emergency medicine and senior author of the study, said incomplete data and flawed criminal record reporting might explain the results.

Wintemute noted:

In 1990, only 25 percent of criminal records were accessible in the primary federal database used for background checks, and centralized records of mental health prohibitions were almost nonexistent.

As a result, researchers said as many as one in four gun buyers may have purchased a firearm without undergoing a background check.

“We know at the individual level that comprehensive background check policies work, that they prevent future firearm violence at this level,” saidNicole Kravitz-Wirtz, a researcher who led the survey.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the findings—which run counter to the conventional wisdom that gun control saves lives—have received almost no media attention.

An exception was the Washington Post, which cited the study (buried 20 paragraphs down) in an article in which the American Medical Association calls for stronger gun control laws at the state level.

AMA President Barbara McAneny told the Post in an interview:

We see this as an epidemic and public health crisis and we think intervening as early as possible is smarter than just building more intensive care units for people who are either killed or damaged and badly hurt by the violence.

Bizarrely, the Post cited the Johns Hopkins-UC Davis study as evidence that what “the AMA is calling for may be needed.”

Apparently, to the Washington Post, California’s failure to effectively enforce background checks that had no discernible impact on gun deaths is evidence that more gun control laws are needed.

Essentially, the study’s authors, the AMA, and the Post appear incapable of seriously entertaining the possibility that sweeping gun control legislation might not have produced the results desired and expected: fewer deaths.

Alas, the experts are behaving exactly as expected.

More than a decade ago, the writer Louis Menand, in a New Yorker article, explained the rationalizations experts make when their theories fail to hold up in our real-world laboratory:

When they’re wrong, [experts are] rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. They insist that they were just off on timing, or blindsided by an improbable event, or almost right, or wrong for the right reasons. They have the same repertoire of self-justifications that everyone has, and are no more inclined than anyone else to revise their beliefs about the way the world works, or ought to work, just because they made a mistake.

California’s failed gun control law appears to be yet another example of experts, to paraphrase the great Milton Friedman, judging “policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Despite the dismal record of gun control, expect the media and “experts” to use a repertoire of self-justifications rather than modify their beliefs—regardless of what the evidence shows.

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. Serving previously as Director of Digital Media at Intellectual Takeout, Jon was responsible for daily editorial content, web strategy, and social media operations. Before that, he was the Senior Editor of The History Channel Magazine, Managing Editor at Scout.com, and general assignment reporter for the Panama City News Herald. Jon also served as an intern in the speechwriting department under George W. Bush.

Let’s Discuss Violence   1 comment

A tour around the Internet says some portion of the population is really worried about dying from gun violence … so worried they’re willing to disarm everyone in hopes that will keep them safe and to jail anyone who disagrees.

First, they need to calm down. Your chance of dying of gun violence in the United States is about 30,000 out of a population of 360 million. That’s less than 1% risk. You’re far more likely to get run over by a bus or  bitten by a mongoose than killed with a gun.

Image result for image of violenceSecond, disarming the law-abiding won’t disarm criminals or the police (rather the same thing these days) so it won’t reduce violence … it will just shift how it is done. As a small woman, I am not defending myself against the physical violence of a large man unless I have a gun, which means I am much more likely to become a victim of non-gun violence if I am disarmed. Americans use guns between 100,000 and a half-million times a year to defend themselves from violent crime. My mother was one of those people when I was in junior high and the men she frightened away from our house (by brandishing a gun) went down the road and raped a classmate of mine. Needless to say, I think the ability to defend yourself is non-negotiable.

But let’s take a look at what are the most common gun-violence deaths.

Suicide accounts for 63% of all firearm deaths in the US. It’s the most common gun-related death. And, no, the answer is not “take all the guns away and people will stop killing themselves.” I worked in the mental health field, folks, and I saw this scenario way too many times. The client would be placed in the hospital, their guns (if they had any) would be confiscated, they’d be released and someone would find them hanging in the woods by a rope. Or they’d slit their wrists or they’d save up their anxiety meds and overdose. If someone wants to kill themselves, they will find a way to do that … and do, even while in hospitals for treatment. If violating the right of self-protection was the answer to suicide, Poland, with some of the strictest gun laws in the world, would not have a suicide rate 50% higher than that of the United States, which has some of the more lenient gun laws in the world. Leaving healthy people helpless at the hands of criminals or government thugs will not significantly reduce suicides … which still account for 63% of all gun violence.

Road rage situations.  About 100 people a year die from incidents involving a gun during a road rage incident and in most cases, they were described as the aggressor in the incident, who got out of their car to confront someone they considered to be a jerk and that “jerk” defended themselves with a gun because they preferred not to be beaten to death by an angry driver. And, yes, they could be included in another figure further down.

Gangs. Violence is the accepted norm among gang members, resulting in many becoming victims of gun violence. According to the Center for Disease Control, a staggering 80% of gun homicides are gang-related.

Illicit drug trade. Yes, we could argue that drug laws are likely to result in gun violence from cops, but it’s also true that people already on the wrong side of the law are more likely to commit gun violence than the law-abiding population.

Abusive romances. I’m all about letting people put their pasts well and truly in the past, but we should acknowledge that someone who has previously physically abused a partner is more likely to do so than are those who haven’t.

Gun Free zonesOne study showed that 98% of all mass shootings happen in these places. Gun-free zone signs tell violent people this is a spot where they will encounter little immediate resistance to killing large numbers of people. As for everywhere else, assuming you’re in a state or community that allows concealed carry, these predators may be deterred since they have to wonder if there’s already a good guy with a gun on the property. It might be an explanation for why only 2% of mass shootings occur outside of gun-free zones, but it also explains why states with constitutional carry rarely experience public mass shootings.

Human predator. A significant number (about 700 each year) of gun deaths are justifiable homicide wherein a victim successfully defends themselves from criminal assault. Which, when you think about it, is amazing. If Americans protect themselves from violent crime 100,000 times a year with a gun, but only 700 predator-humans are killed … that says that an awful lot of concealed carry people de-escalate situations while having a gun in their hand … or it could mean that the predators run away when confronted with a gun.

Irresponsible gun owners. There really is no such thing as an accidental discharge of a gun. Someone pulled the trigger or caused a situation in which the trigger was pulled by an inanimate object. Still “accidental” shootings account for 4% of all gun-violence deaths. If you know someone who breaks any of the four rules of gun safety, they are one of a tiny minority of gun owners who give the rest of us a bad image.

Thankfully, the odds of anyone in the U.S. dying from gun violence each year is exceedingly low … about 30,000 out of 360 million people — so less than 1%. Now can we have a conversation about what to do with the behaviors around guns that cause these shootings rather than trying to disarm everyone in a futile attempt to end violence?

Two Men Save Many Lives   Leave a comment

Two men dining at a restaurant in Oklahoma City shot and killed an armed attacker last week, ending what police called “a very tragic situation.”

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bo Matthews said Juan Carlos Nazario, 35, and Bryan Whittle, 39, shot and killed 28-year-old Alexander C. Tilghman soon after he opened fire from the parking lot of Louie’s restaurant, striking a woman and two young girls eating dinner inside Thursday evening.

“You can say they’re heroes, which is a good thing to say … but I think they stopped a very tragic situation from going any further,” Matthews told reporters during a Friday news conference.

The two men retrieved their handguns from their cars during the attack, Matthews said. It’s unclear if either man had a license to carry, though Matthews said it doesn’t matter. He doubts either man will face charges as a result of the shooting.

“They were protecting somebody else’s life,” he said. “I can tell you historically … these guys were protecting somebody else’s life, I would think more than likely they would not be filed on.”

Gerald Konkler of the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training told NBC News both Nazario and Tilghman had armed security guard licenses.

“I was just there enjoying the lake scenery and heard shots,” Nazario told NBC News. “At that point I zoned out and had to take action. Just glad no innocent bystanders’ lives were taken, and unfortunately a life was lost, but he had a choice to drop the weapon and chose otherwise.”

Whittle, during an interview with USA Today, said he “just did what needed to be done to stop the threat. Nothing special.”

A motive remains unclear, investigators said, noting Tilghman lacked any connection to the restaurant prior to Thursday’s shooting. Police last made contact with him 15 years ago while responding to a domestic assault and battery call.

“It looks to me like a random event,” Matthews said. “I mean, in an act like this, you would have to assume that he probably had a little bit of a mental illness.”

Three shooting victims, as well as a man who broke his arm fleeing the scene, were in good condition as of Friday, police said.

The incident comes two weeks after Republican Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a permitless carry bill, describing the state’s existing gun  laws as “effective, appropriate and minimal.”

“I am thankful that under the concealed-carry and open-carry laws that I have signed as governor, two armed citizens had the ability to protect and save the lives of our fellow Oklahomans,”  she said Friday. “This is not the time to debate the NRA’s efforts to repeal Oklahoma’s regulations assuring safety and training for those who carry guns. This is a time to offer up prayers to the victims of this tragedy.”

#crime #defensivegunuse #gunlaws #selfdefense #neveragain

 

When Juries Take a Stand   1 comment

This is Brad. Lela is headed home today, so this may be my last post for a while. Or not. I sort am enjoying this.

 

About 25 years ago, I served on a Murder One trial here in Fairbanks.

WG was a miner in the Central area, northeast of town along the Steese Highway. He had a wife and a neighbor who was disgruntled with him. This is a typical story of miners in the smaller towns. They always suspect one another of stealing from each other. This neighbor had accused WG of mining on his land and had recently vandalized some of WG’s equipment. Some of these miners use chemicals to extract the gold from the rock and mercury poisoning can make you paranoid. I’m not sure that was the case in this situation. It’s just an explanation for what happened that I feel comfortable with.

One morning, WG and his wife decided to go to breakfast at the Central Roadhouse in the tiny town of Central. I’m not sure why they didn’t take a truck. It might have been farther because they would have needed to stay on the roads. Anyway, they took a four-wheeler. When traveling through Alaska’s bear-infested wilderness on a four-wheeler, it is smart to be armed, so both were carrying sidearms and since they were on a four-wheeler, they couldn’t just leave them in the vehicle. Alaska at the time allowed (still does) open-carry and they probably weren’t going to be the only ones in the breakfast crowd wearing guns. When I first got here 10 years before, it shocked me how comfortable people here are with guns.

WG had no way of knowing that his neighbor (whose name I’ve long ago forgotten, so we’re just going to call him JD for Joe Doe) was also having breakfast at the roadhouse. As WG and his wife (MWG) were getting off their four-wheeler in the parking lot, JD was smoking a cigarette on the porch. For whatever reason, he drew his own weapon and began shooting at them, hitting MWG critically and clipping WB. JD’s wife/girlfriend (MJD) was in the roadhouse. When everyone heard the gunshots, she ran out a back entrance and grabbed a semi-auto 22 from their truck. First, she sprayed the front wall of the roadhouse with bullets (remember, there are people gathered at those windows) and then she started shooting at WG.

He’d been shot. He was bleeding. His wife was dying. He knew where the initial shots came from, but he later testified that he didn’t know where this new threat was coming from. He just knew it needed to stop. So he drew his 44, walked up onto the porch and fired all six shots into JD. Five hit home. Patrons and roadhouse staff subdued MJD and the State Troopers (140 miles away in Fairbanks) were called.

At the time (Fall 1992), Alaska had a castle doctrine that stated you had a right to defend yourself in your home or business, but you also had to take opportunity to withdraw if you could. And of course, self-defense in a public setting was illegal because there are all sorts of venues for running away. The new assistant DA in Fairbanks was brand-new up from California, where this sort of behavior was illegal. She wanted a win, to make herself look good to her bosses and to show Alaskans what “civilization” looked like. All throughout the trial, she would say “this is not how civilized people settle disagreements.” There was no need to be armed in that situation, she said. He had the whole world to retreat to. He’d advanced on JD, not the other way around. JD hadn’t been able to retreat and he thought himself in danger, so he had the higher “right” to self-defense. The DA depicted WG as the aggressor in the whole situation. I know that’s the job of a DA.

Her haughty attitude toward the “uncivilized” of Alaska reminded me of my own attitude a decade before and I shared it with Lela, who simply said “That’s why we’re a federation, so people like her can live in California and the sensible people can live somewhere else.” I stopped into work on my way to jury duty the next morning and the husband of one of my coworkers offered me a pamphlet from the Fully Informed Jury Association, the central tenet of which is that juries have a right and an obligation to rule not just on the facts of the case, but on the law itself.

The defense did a good job of bringing out that WG hadn’t initiated the attack and that carrying a gun in bear country is standard practice. He asked witness after witness if they were armed that day and several of them were because they’d just come from bear country. The attorney pointed out that the police were 140 miles away. When WG testified, he said his concern at the time was his wife, down on the ground, bleeding out.

That night, Lela went to the library and researched the references in the pamphlet and then the next day we heard closing arguments, which just solidified for me that this DA was asking us to go against common sense and follow the law exactly, even if it was wrong.

We walked into the jury room and one of the men asked “If that had been your wife, would you have retreated, leaving her in a free fire zone, and waited for an hour and a half for the cops to arrive?” Every man in the jury said “hell, no.” Half the jury voted to acquit and half the jury voted to convict. We broke between those who applied common sense – the so-called reasonable man principle — and those who said “the law is that you have to retreat.” I announced that I was never voting to convict WG of murder. One of the other men joined me. Pretty soon there were four of us who were never going home until we got an acquittal … arrayed against a single military wife who kept saying “but the law says”. I threw down the pamphlet and invited everyone to consider what it said.

Jury deliberations stretched into a second day as slowly the vote swung toward acquittal. But that military wife was not going to budge. “We can’t just ignore the law. Nobody else in the country does that. You Alaskans need to get with the rest of the world.” Our answer was “no, no, we don’t. If the law is wrong, then we shouldn’t agree with it.”

With the vote hanging at 9-3 to acquitt, the jury foreman was asked by the judge why it was taking so long and the foreman almost said “We’re hung”, but he held off. The vote was really one woman with two other women lockstepping with her against all the rest of us. Now the other women who were voting to acquitted started on these three. They wanted to go home and they knew that wasn’t happening until we reached a verdict. Someone pointed out that if we hung this jury, there’d be a second trial which even the hold-outs thought would be unfair. The two less-entrenched women voted for acquittal. And then we all said — “We are never leaving unless you vote for acquittal.” And, she did, mainly because her husband insisted, she said.

“He’s going to go out and kill more people.”

WG wept when they read the verdict. His wife had died and he was alone and, I later learned, completely broke, but he was free. We worked together several years later at a job and he was a nice guy, quietly involved in local events and raising a family with his second wife.

We did good, but that’s how easily a reasonable man could have been doing 99 years in prison for exercising the right to self-defense.

Father Gave the Guns Back   Leave a comment

I’m Brad, still filling in for Lela who is in training for her job.

 

A few days ago, a mentally disturbed man killed several people in a waffle restaurant in Tennessee. The cops had taken his weapons away from him previously because he was deemed to be dangerous. That law is already on the books … that if you’ve been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and have done something that makes a judge, through a due process system, consider you to be a danger to others, that you aren’t allowed to own or possess a gun.

That’s actually a law that the NRA fought for and that most Republicans agree with. If you’re likely to become homicidal at a greater rate than sane people, you shouldn’t be allowed a gun.

And the system worked. The guns were taken away from the dangerous individual. But the guns were the private property of the owner. They didn’t belong to the cops and keeping them would be theft. So, they were turned over to the ill man’s father who was told that his son was not allowed to possess guns.

So what happened? Jeffrey Reinking took possession of the guns and, even knowing his son was sick and might be dangerous, he returned them to him.

Why? I don’t know. That was a stupid and illegal thing to do. But President Trump didn’t do it. The NRA didn’t do it. The millions of American’s who make up the “gun culture” of the country didn’t do it. The Republicans didn’t do it. Our Founding Fathers who acknowledged and protected our pre-existing right to self-defense didn’t do it.

But you wouldn’t know that from the news media accounts and pundit jabber.

About 20-odd years ago, a mentally-ill man here in Fairbanks took a hammer and killed three of his roommates while they slept.

The other day, a distraught person rented a Ryder van and ran down a few dozen pedestrians in Toronto.

Do we want to ban hammers? They’re a really useful tool if you need to drive a nail into a board. My job would be a lot more difficult without them. Maybe we should just keep the hammers away from the schizophrenics.

Do we want to ban vans? Moving households would become a lot more complicated. Maybe the rental agent could have paused and asked the patron if he really ought to be driving while distraught.

But, the leftists now scream we need to ban guns, ignoring the facts.

 

The Founders acknowledged a pre-existing right to self-protection against government tyranny and they embodied that recognition in the Second Amendment. Our government is much more tyrannical than it was in 1789, so the reasons for the Second Amendment have not changed.

The cops are always minutes away when seconds count … or hours away, sometimes. The world isn’t a safe place and the statistics show Americans use guns for self-defense pretty often. Should we just let all those people be victimized, including being killed. Should being a law-abiding citizen carry the death penalty?

Some of us are hunters and, believe it or not, the AR-15 is a pretty decent hunting rifle for deer. We don’t have deer in Interior Alaska, so I don’t own one, but I know lots of people who do and they use them regularly for caribou and other game smaller than a moose.

Some of us are hikers and hikers in Alaska encounter bears fairly regularly. I was charged by one a few years ago. It was my first and only up-close-and-personal encounter with a bear. I had to hold it off with a chainsaw. As of that afternoon, I thought carry a gun in the woods was an excellent idea. I know dozens of people with similar encounters – I know three men who have been mauled by bears. Susan Butcher the legendary musher once had to shoot a moose during the Iditarod because it was killing her team. There’s all kind of things in the woods that want to eat people and a gun helps to even the odds of survival.

It’s already against the law to kill people, no matter what the means. Mentally-ill people don’t care and they’ll figure out other ways to do it, but there is a system in place to remove guns from dangerous individuals. It worked … right up until Jeffrey Reinking decided to break the law.

No one is responsible for the killings at the Waffle House except the shooter. He shouldn’t have been given the means to do that. But who gave him the means? His father.
So, when will the father be charged as an accessory in four counts of murder?
Provide a strong statement that there are consequences for giving guns to dangerous individuals who have had them removed through a due process system and people like Mr. Reinking will not give guns back to their dangerous offspring.
There’s a whole lot more going on in this country that is driving these mass shootings. They won’t be fixed by violating the natural rights of people to defend themselves because the problem is being caused a lot deeper issues than the availability of a tool. Maybe when we can stop screaming about that, we can have a real conversations about some of those issues.

Posted April 26, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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Ordinary Citizen Gets Death Penalty   1 comment

This is Brad. Lela is gone on a business trip this week, so while she’s going to check in on social media when she has down times, she asked me to post to her blog. Well … I asked if I could and she didn’t change the password. Thanks to Keirnan for knowing how to post photos, hyperlinks and hash-tags.

 

Jamal JacksonSo this is a “what might have happened” article. I’m often the source for those anyway, just so you know, because I read these articles and ask myself “What might have happened if …?” and then I debate them with Lela.

In Ventura County, California, a homeless man stabbed a family guy with a kid on his lap, fatally killing him. Now, of course, in the very armed state of Alaska, we ask “What if someone had been appropriately armed … could they have prevented this?” Maybe … maybe not. I, who support the full exercise of our right to self-protection, believe that it would have been a benefit if someone in that restaurant had been armed with something more than a steak knife. My sister, the anti-gun nut, believes such an armed citizen would simply have shot the kid on the victim’s lap (because only cops know how to shoot straight). We’ll never know because it never happened. Nobody in the steakhouse was armed except the murderer.

Ah, but … people had earlier called someone my sister would agree was fully qualified to carry a gun. Three hours before the stabbing, people in the area had contacted police to report a disruption from a homeless man who later would become a murderer. Instead of sending a cop out to assess the situation and perhaps takes this clearly ill man to a mental health center, police watched him on traffic camera footage and determined that he was “harmless”. They then left this danger to disarmed humanity in the neighborhood where he could kill someone.

So, yeah, Anthonoy Mele might still be alive if he or another patron had been armed and able to stop this attack before the knife entered his neck … or if the police had just done their jobs.

I’m not a fan of police just driving around looking for crime. I think they create crime when they do that. They harass people who might be minding their own business in a way cops think is unsocial. As a former urban parkour athlete, I resented police behavior in rousting people who weren’t following the unwritten rules cops seem to impose on society.

I think cops ought to be treated a lot like firemen who stay at the station until they are called out to a fire. I’m not anti-cop. I wouldn’t do away with all police. I’d just make them stay at the station and study the Constitution until they’re needed. In my perfect world, when a disturbance is reported, the cops show up to investigate and deal with the situation if it needs dealing with. What was Jackson shouting when he was causing the disturbances? We don’t know. But it might have been useful if the police had engaged him and learned that perhaps he had fixated on something that might have led him to kill a stranger in a steakhouse. But they didn’t. Instead, they let a man get killed and left the capture of this bad guy to a group of patrons who chased him to a beach.

I also don’t have anything against the homeless or the mentally ill. I spent some time as a young man homeless myself, so I have great compassion for people who experience that. Because Lela used to work in the field, we often have mentally ill people who know her come up and talk with us. Most of them are nice people who are just a little weird. I’m also a magnet for weird people. If there’s a schizophrenic person at LAX airport while I’m waiting for a flight, they will walk five concourses to come find me and tell me all about their delusions. We don’t know why that is, but it’s pattern in our travels. So I’m not railing against homeless people or the mentally ill. My issue is the cops not showing up to deal with it before someone died and with all the people who insist that disarming people will somehow make the world a safer place. Nobody had a gun in that steakhouse and a man still died. Obviously, being disarmed didn’t make Anthony Mele one bit safer.

One last thing I noticed is that the dangerous homeless guy has more right to life than the family man enjoying an afternoon with his family. If found guilty, Jamal Jackson will get up to 55 years of three hots and a cot. He could get less and this being oh-so-permissive California, he’s likely to do far less than he is sentenced to. In a decade, they might be hailing him as a success in mental health treatment — at least until he goes off his meds and kills somebody else. But Anthony Mele got the death penalty for … what? … eating at steakhouse and not having the means to defend himself. It really seems as though ordinary citizens have far less rights than criminals.

How is that a just society where the “rights” of the mentally ill to be dangerous and homicidal are protected but the actual rights of ordinary citizens to be able to protect themselves while having a meal with their family aren’t?

Posted April 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Government, Uncategorized

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