Tag Archives: guns

Bauerle and the Newsworthiness of it All

12 Jan

Consider for a moment why the Buffalo News story about Tom Bauerle’s apparent psychiatric episode exists. This sort of thing happens every day, and when there’s no arrest, it won’t even make it into “Police & Courts”. The cops were called, so it might merit a names-redacted story in the Amherst Bee blotter.

We knew of this story on Thursday. Geoff Kelly and I looked into it, spoke with sources, and otherwise weighed its newsworthiness against the obvious privacy issues concerning a psychiatric episode of a public figure. We didn’t roll with it because (a) let the man get help; and (b) let’s don’t cheapen the seriousness of mental illness. With no arrest, we didn’t think it was worth aggressive pursuit.

The News disagreed, and I ask you to consider the question of newsworthiness.

I hope Bauerle – with whom I vehemently disagree on most everything – gets the help he needs. I hope that his right to possess firearms is curtailed, as this sort of psychiatric episode is exactly why the mental health provisions of the NY SAFE Act exist.

However, this is a personal medical matter and one affecting perhaps his neighbors, but not you or me.

Here is the audio clip everyone is talking about, from December 30th. It is chilling.

http://www.trendingbuffalo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/bauerle12-30-13.mp3

Tolerable Terrorism

17 Sep

Another mass shooting by another lone lunatic. 12 lives – 12 families forever impacted. America? America shrugs. America doesn’t care. We have terrorism-scare-porn all day on the insidiously banal 24 hour cable news channels, and absolutely nothing will be done to try and prevent it from happening again. 

Because it takes a special mix of mental illness and access to firearms to plot and execute a mass killing. Luckily, we live in a country with unequal and iffy access to health care services – particularly mental health services, and which permits any person to build a Koreshian arsenal without much effort, thanks to ready access to enough firearms and mil-wank accoutrements to outfit a small banana republic. 

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

2012 saw seven mass shootings, including the mass murder of 20 1st graders. In a normal and healthy society, Sandy Hook alone would have been seen as excessive – something worth doing something about. Given remotely normal civic discourse, we would have taken serious measures at that time to help better balance the legitimate constitutional desires of people to feel safe in their homes and persons against others’ rights to be free from random mass murder. 

We had a discussion, and in the end America’s leaders decided against a weak and symbolic gesture because Barack Obama eats arugula, or something. The same forces that oppose even modest gun reform, oppose the first American effort to implement a market-based universal health care system – a system that might enable earlier and more effective mental health treatment and intervention for more Americans. 

For a week or so after Sandy Hook, the National Rifle Association – the gun manufacturers’ lobbying group – kept quiet, and people thought that was tactful. But when it spoke up, it added insult to the injuries suffered at the barrels of Adam Lanza’s guns. It told us that we need more – not fewer – guns in our society, and that we should spend hundreds of millions of dollars in schools, not on education, but on armament. In a time where communities are struggling to pay teachers, the NRA suggested that they all spend up on hiring gunmen.

We could maybe aspire to be like Jamaica or El Salvador – third world autocracies with massive income inequality where the building blocks of civil society are inept, corrupt, or both. Because more guns lead to more violence and killings. More guns don’t make a polite society, they simply make an arrogant and armed society – a society where it becomes much easier to bring about permanent retribution for even perceived slights. 

“A society that is relying on guys with guns to stop violence is a sign of a society where institutions have broken down.”

More guns means more killing – factually and statistically. Yesterday’s shooter apparently hit the gun fetish trifecta: Texan with a criminal record and a concealed carry permit

The Constitution gives people a right to bear arms, sure. But it doesn’t give you the right to own an arsenal big enough to fight the government. It was written at a time when the US had no standing army. We had no standing army because the Founding Fathers didn’t want one. So, every able-bodied male was a member of the militia. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment isn’t to give Gadsen Flag-wrapped idiots the means to overthrow the government, but to protect the government and the state from attack or invasion. 

Newsreaders’ TelePrompTers prompted them to wonder aloud whether the Navy Yard shooting was “terrorism”. When a lone gunman wanders the halls of an office building, shooting randomly at innocent people, that pretty much fits the dictionary definition. I think they were differentiating between “foreign/Qaeda” or Qaeda-inspired terrorism versus Sandy Hook / Aurora lone insane person. But the combination of poor mental health care, with easy access to guns is only going to bring about more random mass shootings. There is no doubt that these events are terrorism, in that they are random, senseless, and kill innocent victims. But this is terrorism we will tolerate. We won’t bomb anyone, Republicans will vote a 43rd time to repeal universal health care, and nothing will happen with gun laws. Because this is doubtlessly terrorism, but it’s the kind we have, as a society, decided we can live with. 

We have decided to live with it because we have decided that the right of people to bear unlimited arms is greater than the right of average people not to be shot. 

Oklahoma, Where the Lead Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain

20 Aug

Three responsible gun owners from Oklahoma decided to go on a responsible killing spree, responsibly picking out and murdering a budding Australian baseball prodigy for the “fun of it”.

“He apparently was jogging,” Danny Ford, chief of the Duncan, Oklahoma Police Department, said. “He went by a residence where these three boys were, they picked him as a target, they went out and got in a vehicle and followed him. Came up from behind and basically shot him in the back with a small caliber weapon, then sped away.”

It is important that teenagers have the fundamental and God-given Constitutional human right to own and possess guns so that they could responsibly combat the tyranny of jogging passers-by. People need to be vigilant when minding their own business (something not enumerated in the Constitution and, therefore, not at all a basic human right), and yield at all times to the gun-wielding Constitutional scholar-cum-lunatic who has the fundamental right as a well-regulated militiaman to gun down people at random at any time.

The government goons have now arrested these three brave joggerphile patriots and will put them on trial for exercising their 2nd Amendment right to shoot people.

Remember: an armed society is a polite society. Liberty!

Dictionarypalooza

1 Aug

Bluntly put,  most of the people who bleat and whine about their loss of “freedom” and “liberty” have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Having lived their entire lives in a country that is almost completely free, these disingenuous Obama-haters have seldom-if-ever experienced a genuine loss of freedom at the hands of a state actor. They have no concept of what “totalitarianism” means, no idea what a dictatorship is, no concept of just how unfettered by state intervention their lives are as compared to other countries – and that’s even with gun control, cell phone handsfree laws, and whatever clumsy, propagandistic NSA revelation Glenn Greenwald publishes each week

So, naturally there will be a disingenuous and propagandistic “Freedompalooza” that Carl Paladino promoted to his entire safe-for-work email list Wednesday. No joke. Freedompalooza is a real thing, in the state of New York, that exists in real life. It will star two country music people I’ve never heard of, will be taking place at Altamont Fairgrounds, (no, not that Altamont), and here’s why it exists: 

Will there be a no-troop-quartering exhibit? A trial by jury display? An establishment clause diorama? What about a Article 2 ride or a Commerce Clause snack bar? You know what this is about – it’s about Obama and guns. It’s about Cuomo and guns. And maybe taxes. There was one libertarian think tank you probably never heard of that decided New York was “least free”, and the Dakotas are the most freest ever.  That’s ok. I’ll take New York because I have a comparative first-hand knowledge of what freedom and liberty mean, and the Dakotas’ freedom relative to New York’s is an infinitesimal difference, in the broader scheme of things. Tickets to this thing are $35.  I wonder who’s collecting on this? 

But here are the constitutional scholars who are going to be learnin’ you on liberty. 

Not re-enactors. “Enactors”. They will enact the Revolutionary War and they will enact “other American History”. This means that they will actually commit American History and war. Someone should call the authorities. Or their 6th grade English teachers. 

Sheriff Tim Howard: From Law Enforcement to Law Selection

26 Jul

Howard and Arpaio – two of the worst Sheriffs in America

Has anyone else managed to wrap their head around the fact that Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard isn’t just opposed to the NY SAFE Act, but has pledged to not honor or enforce it in any way? The power of the sheriff is not law selection – to pick and choose which laws to enforce – it is, instead, law enforcement.

It’s altogether possible that Howard has some sort of problem with the way NY SAFE and many other laws are passed or written. If he doesn’t like it, he should run for – and win – a seat on the Assembly or in the Senate.

It’s also possible that Howard thinks that the NY SAFE Act is unconstitutional or that it was hastily passed. To that end, he should have attended law school and then run for – and won – a judicial seat. Be a named plaintiff in the suit to strike it down. Be lead counsel on the case.  But that’s not all – to have a real effect he should have so excelled as a jurist that the governor would appoint him to the Court of Appeals, where the penultimate say would be had on the constitutionality question. Better still, make your way right onto the United States Supreme Court, which has the power of judicial review and to declare what the law is. It is the courts that determine the constitutionality of statutes that legislatures pass – not county sheriffs.

Instead, we have a county sheriff who has donned the mantle of legislator, governor, and Supreme Court Justice. He has unilaterally and extralegally decided that he will not enforce a duly passed law with which he doesn’t agree. This is, frankly, astonishing.

The 40 year-long war on drugs hasn’t been successful, yet Howard continues to enforce our narcotics statutes. Why?

Here’s what Howard says about the state’s new, more restrictive law regarding assault weapons:

January 31, 2013 – Our state already had some of the toughest gun laws in the nation and with the stroke of a pen our State Legislature and Governor made them even more restrictive last month, all in the name of making us safer. I don’t believe for one minute that Governor Cuomo did this to protect us; rather he rammed this bill through for his own personal agenda, so he could be the first out of the gate to thump his chest and say how restrictive gun laws are in New York , thus beating President Obama to the punch.

It is no secret Andrew Cuomo wants to be a presidential candidate in 2016. He took a very emotional event in our nation (the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut) and the unrelated murders of two first responders in Webster, NY and wrapped his constricting gun legislation around them like a bow, hand delivering it to the NYS legislature in a sweeping package that, in my opinion, infringes on every American’s constitutional right to bear arms.

We as citizens never even had an opportunity to respond to the proposed bill with our input; even law enforcement wasn’t consulted on this. In my opinion, this new law is proof of what gun rights people have been saying all along – that registration is a precursor to confiscation. We have landed on a slippery slope allowing the government to start tinkering with our second amendment rights – what comes next?

Well, why bother enforcing even the prior, “toughest gun laws”? Can you believe a local sheriff impugns the motives of the governor and the entire legislature in passing a law in the wake of the tragic massacre of 20 1st graders? Can you believe the way that statement sounds identical to the morningtime rantings of some high school dropout, shut-in, underemployed radio talk-show caller? And what especial knowledge or right does Howard possess to determine that the SAFE Act is violative of the Constitution? That’s a job for the courts, not law enforcement. Instead, Howard has appropriated for himself the unheard-of power of law selection. That’s the only real assault on the Constitution in this case – Howard’s self-appointment to be a co-Governor and court.

“We as citizens” have an opportunity to respond to the proposed bill with this input: don’t vote to re-elect the people who passed it. That’s what you can do. You can protest, you can complain, you can write, you can petition, you can call your legislators, etc. What Howard has done here – making believe that “registration is a precursor to confiscation” – is beyond an outrage. It should be, frankly, grounds for removal. 

Gun registration is not a precursor to confiscation any more than car registration is a precursor to car confiscation.

And Howard’s position isn’t the analogue to some brave Nazi soldier refusing to obey an illegal order. (That analogy has actually been made). No one asked Howard to round up and commit mass-murder of Jews, gays, gypsies, or other groups of people, and making that comparison demeans and cheapens the memories of the millions of victims of the Nazi horror.

Although stylistically different, Howard’s refusal to enforce the laws of this state is no different from what Gilbert, Pennsylvania police chief Mark Kessler is busy doing on YouTube: calling out “libtards” and shooting automatic weapons into trees and mounds of dirt.

Sheriff Tim Howard, who is running for re-election this year, can talk about confiscatory slippery slopes all he wants, but make no mistake that this is precisely what’s going through his head. (Language NSFW)

Thoughts on the George Zimmerman Verdict: You Got a Problem?

15 Jul

A Florida jury found that the homicide of Trayvon Martin homicide was lawful and justifiable – that George Zimmerman had acted in self-defense and that his use of deadly force against Martin was reasonable. 

“Self-defense” is what we lawyers call an “affirmative defense”. Generally, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. When the defendant raises self-defense, or some other legal justification for the crime of which he’s accused, the burden of proof shifts to him. That means that George Zimmerman’s defense team had the burden to prove that Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin was legally justified. 

In New York, self-defense is covered in the “Defense of Justification” article in the New York State Penal Law.  

Generally

Unless otherwise limited by the ensuing provisions of this article defining justifiable use of physical force, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when…

2. Such conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no fault of the actor, and which is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue. The necessity and justifiability of such conduct may not rest upon considerations pertaining only to the morality and advisability of the statute, either in its general application or with respect to its application to a particular class of cases arising thereunder…

More specifically,

The use of physical force upon another person which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal under any of the following circumstances…

6. A person may, pursuant to the ensuing provisions of this article, use physical force upon another person in self-defense or defense of a third person, or in defense of premises, or in order to prevent larceny of or criminal mischief to property,

Even more to the point,

1. A person may…use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself, herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by such other person, unless:

(a) The latter’s conduct was provoked by the actor with intent to cause physical injury to another person; or

(b) The actor was the initial aggressor; except that in such case the use of physical force is nevertheless justifiable if the actor has withdrawn from the encounter and effectively communicated such withdrawal to such other person but the latter persists in continuing the incident by the use or threatened imminent use of unlawful physical force…

…2. A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:

(a) The actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force. Even in such case, however, the actor may not use deadly physical force if he or she knows that with complete personal safety, to oneself and others he or she may avoid the necessity of so doing by retreating; except that the actor is under no duty to retreat if he or she is:

(i) in his or her dwelling and not the initial aggressor; or

(ii) a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police officer or a peace officer at the latter’s direction, acting pursuant to section 35.30; or

(b) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible criminal sexual act or robbery; or

(c) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary, and the circumstances are such that the use of deadly physical force is authorized by subdivision three of section 35.20.

The emphases are mine. New York’s self-defense statute discourages deadly violence. The initial aggressor in a confrontation generally cannot assert the defense, but even in that case, the law gives the aggressor an opportunity to retreat from the encounter, in which case he is justified in defending himself from the original victim’s force. In order to use deadly force, a New Yorker must reasonably believe he is about to be killed and has attempted to, or has no way to, retreat. The only exception to that duty to retreat applies to a person in his own home who didn’t start a confrontation. The duty to retreat exists to avoid unnecessary violence and death

Florida is different. By weakening the duty to retreat, it opens the door to unnecessary, physically avoidable violence.

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

The section referenced above in subsection (2) is Florida’s castle doctrine statute – your home is inviolable and the law presumes that you are in fear of imminent bodily harm if you are home when burglarized. But it goes farther:

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and 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.

In Florida, there is also statutory language requiring that the person asserting justification wasn’t the initial aggressor.

776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who…

…(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

George Zimmerman’s defense team didn’t emphasize the “stand your ground” portion of the statute. It didn’t have to – it’s built in to the overall self-defense statute and the jury was instructed on it. Frankly, the person who was entitled to use that provision was Trayvon Martin himself. The Zimmerman team’s theory of the case was that Martin was the initial aggressor when he turned and confronted Zimmerman. “Stand your ground” is what informed law enforcement’s decision to not bring charges until 6 weeks after the homicide. “Stand your ground” is what was cited for the public presumption that Zimmerman was justified in killing this young black man who was wearing a hoodie, of all things. 

In court, we heard Zimmerman’s side of the story via videotape of him leading investigators around the complex the morning after the homicide. He did not take the stand. The problem here? Every story has two sides, and we only heard one. We’ll never be able to learn Martin’s side of the story. Did he really know the gun was there? Did he really reach for it? Did he really even initiate the confrontation? Did he swing first? Did he threaten Zimmerman’s life? 

Let’s backtrack for a moment and look at a few undisputed facts of the case: Trayvon Martin was legally on the premises of the gated apartment community where George Zimmerman was on “neighborhood watch” patrol. He was minding his own business. He was not committing a crime of any sort. He was unarmed. He was walking from the store to a private residence, where he was going to watch TV. George Zimmerman was cruising the property in his vehicle. The complex had been subject to burglaries, and he wanted to protect his home and others’ homes. Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that he was watching Martin, whom he considered to be a “real suspicious guy”. 

That’s the set-up; what happened next was the heart of the trial just concluded. Zimmerman called the cops. The dispatcher told Zimmerman to stay in his car. Zimmerman didn’t stay in his car, but instead followed Martin. Martin was on the phone with his friend and explained to her that he was being followed by a “creepy ass cracker”. We’re not quite sure what happened next, or what the exact sequence of events was. Could be Trayvon Martin turned to ask Zimmerman if he had a problem.

The case and its result have resulted in a deep split in public opinion – one unsurprisingly following the right/left political cleave. I don’t understand why thinking Zimmerman is innocent is a right-wing thing and thinking the homicide of Martin was unnecessary or not justifiable is a left-wing thing. It oftentimes seems as if Zimmerman supporters consider that Martin got what was coming to him, and there is no sympathy for a kid who was just walking home from the store on a rainy February night. But I think the divergence comes down to this difference in opinion: do you think that the sequence of events was set in motion when Zimmerman exited his car to follow Martin, or when Martin asked Zimmerman what his problem was? Things went downhill from there, and one person ended up dead. 

You can see Zimmerman’s explanation here. “You got a problem?” “No, man.” “Well, you got a problem now!” Zimmerman claims Martin somehow saw his gun, went to reach for it and threatened to kill him.  At this point, Zimmerman grabbed his gun and shot Martin once through the heart. Martin wasn’t around to offer a rebuttal. 

To suggest – as the Florida State Attorney did late Saturday night – that race and profiling wasn’t part of this case is a joke. The entire case was replete with issues of race and profiling. Was it reasonable? Was it reasonable for Zimmerman to see a young black kid in a hoodie walking through his neighborhood and instantly conclude that he was “real suspicious”? Was it reasonable for Martin to remark to his friend that some “creepy ass cracker” was stalking him on his walk home? It was 7pm in February in Florida. There is no presumption in the law that a black youth is deemed “suspicious” for wearing a hooded sweatshirt under those conditions. The temperature was in the low 60s, and it was raining. Indeed, because Martin was minding his own business and not breaking any rule or law, it was also perfectly reasonable for him to be a little creeped out by the guy who was following him first in his vehicle, and now on foot. How would you react if someone was following you – watching your every move while you’re just walking through your neighborhood?

Martin could have run away, but was under no obligation to do so. 

People forget that it wasn’t until March 16th that we heard the 911 call with someone screaming “help!” in the background – screams that ended when the gunshot is heard; could be Zimmerman was out of peril – could be Martin was mortally wounded. Zimmerman’s 9mm handgun was in the small of his back. It wasn’t until March 20th that Florida even bothered to submit the case to a grand jury. The chief of the Sanford Police Department resigned on March 22nd because the case had been investigated from day one under a presumption that it was a justifiable homicide. On March 26th, the police released pictures showing that Zimmerman was bleeding from cuts the night he shot Trayvon Martin. 

It wasn’t until April 11th that Zimmerman was formally charged with 2nd degree murder and taken into custody. It took a full six weeks before Florida even recognized that a crime may have potentially been committed. The state didn’t take the case seriously until the federal government and public opinion forced its hand. 

Zimmerman didn’t take the stand – he didn’t have to. His story was out there on the videotape, and he didn’t have to subject himself to cross-examination about, e.g., why he got out of his car in the first place. If Zimmerman is correct that Martin initiated the confrontation, why didn’t he run away? Well, he didn’t have to. Florida doesn’t think much of avoidance of violence. Zimmerman was brave enough to follow this “real suspicious” teenager, but not to subject himself to cross-examination. 

Because Martin is dead, we don’t know his side of the story and the prosecution evidently did not adequately present an alternative version of events. When Martin’s friend, Rachel Jeantel testified, she explained that Martin was afraid of Zimmerman. But, you know, as a 19 year-old black girl, she behaved like a 19 year-old black girl. She had avoided being involved in the case and was caught in some inconsistencies. Her speech and mannerisms insulted public opinion, and she was mocked as being fat, sassy, and stupid. 

Zimmerman had a gun, and if you take his own story at face-value, it was when Martin saw the gun that the fistfight escalated to a threat on Zimmerman’s life. No gun, no shooting. Simple, isn’t it? Zimmerman had a conceal carry permit despite a history of violence, including interfering with an arrest and being the subject of a mutual restraining order with his ex-fiancee. Frankly, under normal circumstances, a person with a record of violence and harassment should not be allowed to carry a firearm. 

An armed society is a polite society” goes the Heinlein quote. But in this case, no matter what you think of the fairness of the case against Zimmerman, that isn’t true. 

The law should not reward violence. The law should not excuse aggression. To maintain a civilized society, we ought to reward and excuse the avoidance of violence and aggression. Zimmerman should have stayed in his car. He never should have been in a position to confront – or be confronted by – Martin. This is why we have police, and this is why we entrust them with public safety. Zimmerman should have waited for the cops and let them do their jobs. They likely would have questioned him, canvassed the area for Martin, and asked him some questions. Martin would have lived to see his 18th birthday. 

This isn’t just about dumb gun laws or bad justification statutes – it’s about profiling. 

Zimmerman: Hey we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, uh, it’s Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher:  OK, and this guy is he white, black, or hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s here now, he was just staring.

Dispatcher: OK, he’s just walking around the area…

Zimmerman: looking at all the houses.

Dispatcher: OK…

Zimmerman: Now he’s just staring at me.

Dispatcher: OK-you said it’s 1111 Retreat View? Or 111?

Zimmerman: That’s the clubhouse…

Dispatcher: That’s the clubhouse, do you know what the-he’s near the clubhouse right now?

Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming towards me.

Dispatcher: OK.

Zimmerman: He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.

Dispatcher: How old would you say he looks?

Zimmerman: He’s got button on his shirt, late teens.

Dispatcher: Late teens. Ok.

Zimmerman: Somethings wrong with him. Yup, he’s coming to check me out, he’s got something in his hands, I don’t know what his deal is.

Dispatcher: Just let me know if he does anything, ok?

Zimmerman: (unclear) See if you can get an officer over here.

Dispatcher: Yeah we’ve got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else.

Zimmerman: Okay. These assholes they always get away. Yep. When you come to the clubhouse you come straight in and make a left. Actually you would go past the clubhouse.

Dispatcher: So it’s on the lefthand side from the clubhouse?

Zimmerman: No you go in straight through the entrance and then you make a left, uh, you go straight in, don’t turn, and make a left. Shit, he’s running.

Dispatcher: He’s running? Which way is he running?

Zimmerman: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.

Dispatcher: Which entrance is that that he’s heading towards?

Zimmerman: The back entrance…(expletive)(unclear)

Dispatcher: Are you following him?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

Dispatcher: Ok, we don’t need you to do that.

Zimmerman: Ok.

Dispatcher: Alright sir what is your name?

Zimmerman: George…He ran.

Dispatcher: Alright George what’s your last name? A clicking or knocking sound can be heard here

Zimmerman: Zimmerman

Dispatcher: And George what’s the phone number you’re calling from? Clicking or knocking sound is heard again

Zimmerman: [phone number removed]

Dispatcher: Alright George we do have them on the way. Do you want to meet with the officer when they get out there?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

Dispatcher: Alright, where you going to meet with them at?

Zimmerman: Um, if they come in through the, uh, (knocking sound) gate, tell them to go straight past the club house, and uh, (knocking sound) straight past the club house and make a left, and then they go past the mailboxes, that’s my truck…[unintelligible]

Dispatcher: What address are you parked in front of?

Zimmerman: I don’t know, it’s a cut through so I don’t know the address.

Dispatcher: Okay do you live in the area?

Zimmerman: Yeah, I…[unintelligible]

Dispatcher: What’s your apartment number?

Zimmerman: It’s a home it’s [house number removed], (knocking sound) oh crap I don’t want to give it all out, I don’t know where this kid is.

Dispatcher: Okay do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes then?

Zimmerman: Yeah that’s fine.

Dispatcher: Alright George, I’ll let them know to meet you around there, okay?

Zimmerman: Actually could you have them, could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?

Dispatcher: Okay, yeah that’s no problem.

Zimmerman: Should I give you my number or you got it?

Dispatcher: Yeah I got it [phone number removed]

Zimmerman: Yeah you got it.

Dispatcher: Okay no problem, I’ll let them know to call you when you’re in the area.

Zimmerman: Thanks.

Dispatcher: You’re welcome.

Black kid in a hoodie. Real suspicious. Hand in his waistband. Looking around. Runs when he sees Zimmerman. These assholes always get away.

Trayvon Martin ran away from the man watching him from his truck. The man got out of his truck to follow him. Trayvon ran away

Zimmerman made a snap decision about who Martin was. He had to be up to no good. He looked wrong – black kid with a hoodie. Hand in his waistband, holding onto his iced tea. These assholes always get away. These assholes. Real suspicious. We glorify violence and we excuse people for being afraid and suspicious of black teenagers. “You got a problem?” Martin asked Zimmerman.

Yes. Zimmerman did, in fact, have a problem. More than just one.

By the way, how were the riots? 

The US Senate Decides Guns are More Important than People

18 Apr

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Courtesy Marquil at Empirewire.com

Do you think that the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an unrestricted right to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee the right of paranoid schizophrenics or clinically diagnosed psychopaths to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee a toddler’s right to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee the right of felons to bear arms?

Does the 2nd Amendment guarantee the right to own a tank? A drone? A rocket-propelled grenade launcher?

None of the above are rhetorical questions. I’m absolutely serious. 

Does anything in the Constitution guarantee my right – your right – not to be shot? How about the kids from Sandy Hook or the moviegoers in Aurora?

Do you think that the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution is also absolute and unrestricted in any way? You’d be wrong. There are plenty of government restrictions on speech that have been ruled constitutional. You’re not allowed to incite a riot or libel someone, for instance.

And so it is that, although 90% of Americans support universal background checks for dealer and gun show sales, the United States Senate Wednesday night was unable to defeat a Republican-led filibuster of the Manchin-Toomey Amendment. Drafted by a conservative Republican and a conservative Democrat, the amendment would have implemented background checks to prevent homicidal maniacs and felons from legally obtaining guns.

This new gun control initiative was brought about in response to the Sandy Hook massacre, where 20 little boys and girls were mowed down by a lunatic. One of the biggest efforts was to close the gun show loophole, to make sure that those sales are subject to the same background checks that retail sales undergo. Yesterday on Facebook, people argued to me that implementation of this statute would not have prevented Sandy Hook. But that’s a disingenuous argument – it’s too late for that, and you can’t retroactively prevent anything. I brought up that Australia and the UK implemented stringent gun control in response to their school massacres, and have seen none since. Someone brought up a shooting of 12 in Cumbria that took place in 2010 – the first mass shooting in the UK since the 1996 Dunblane massacre. In the US, we have mass shootings much, much more frequently than that, and we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. After Dunblane, the UK effectively banned handguns.

This is what I have to say about your gun and your gun rights.

England and Wales see .7 gun homicides for every 100,000 people. Scotland has no data. Australia has .14 homicides per 100,000 of population. Canada sees .51 homicides per 100,000 people. By contrast, the United States has 3 gun homicides per 100,000 people. That doesn’t count accidental deaths and suicides. The United States has 5% of the world’s population, and close to 50% of the small arms. Access to guns and ammo are not at risk or adversely affected.

From TPM,

The legislation, written by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), was the centerpiece of gun control efforts in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shootings. It was supposed to be the breakthrough that led to the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. But it only picked up a few senators and hardened the opposition of many. A last-ditch effort by Democrats to win over skeptical senators by offering new concessions fell apart late Tuesday.

About nine out of 10 Americans support universal background checks, according to polls. The failed vote reflects the enduring power of the National Rifle Association, which opposed the bill and threatened to target lawmakers who voted in its favor.

“Today, the misguided Manchin-Toomey-Schumer proposal failed in the U.S. Senate,” the NRA’s top lobbyist Chris Cox said in a statement issued immediately after the vote. “As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.”

Centrist senators who were courted eventually revealed their opposition to the proposal this week, making it all but clear by Wednesday that it lacked the votes to pass. Opponents voiced gripes ranging from an alleged infringement on Second Amendment rights to the more far-reaching — and inaccurate — claim that the legislation would set up a national gun registry.

So, the NRA defeated the will of 90% of the people, and prevented a vote from being held on the amendment. The United States congress cannot pass a law without 60% of the Senate, and that’s not how our system is supposed to work. Of course, in 1999 – after Columbine – the NRA supported universal background checks. What’s changed? Why must 90% of America succumb to the will of a small lobby representing a small number of people?

A lunatic shoots up a school, and the Senate filibusters a reasonable and constitutional gun control bill drafted by two conservatives.

I think that former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords said it best,

Moments ago, the U.S. Senate decided to do the unthinkable about gun violence — nothing at all. Over two years ago, when I was shot point-blank in the head, the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. Four months ago, 20 first-graders lost their lives in a brutal attack on their school, and the U.S. Senate chose to do nothing. It’s clear to me that if members of the U.S. Senate refuse to change the laws to reduce gun violence, then we need to change the members of the U.S. Senate.

 

The Only Thing That Stops a Bad Guy With a Gun is a 4-year Old With a Gun

12 Apr

A well regulated militia of pre-schoolers being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of toddlers people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

(You know how blogs now offer up “related posts”?  Here’s a related post.)

Bias in the Newsroom

4 Mar

Next time you listen to a newscast – a purportedly straight newscast reported-on by Steve Cichon or Dave Debo, or anchored by John Zach and Susan Rose – remember that this banner is now hanging in that station’s newsroom: 

That’s after the station spent all day last Thursday “covering” this anti-gun rally in Albany, joining with Carl Paladino to sponsor a bus caravan of WBEN listeners to the rally. 

The funny thing is that protests in Albany are a dime a dozen, and the only novelty about this one is that it was populated by underemployed conservatives who are not used to activism that goes beyond stating their name and location for a call screener. 

WBEN’s blatant anti-SAFE Act propaganda and agitation are all well and good, I suppose, but the station should no longer masquerade as a straight news outlet. It has crossed the line into issue-based PAC and should register with the Board of Elections. Thursday’s newscast and subsequent talk shows were nothing more than an infomercial for people who think that limiting magazine capacity from 10 to 7 rounds is “tyranny”. 

On Liberty

1 Feb

 

David Wheeler, father of 6 year-old Sandy Hook victim Benjamin Wheeler:

We lost our son, Benjamin, the morning of December 14 to an unstable, suicidal individual who had access to a weapon that has no place in a home.”

Right now, professionals in every area pertaining to this crime, from mental health to parenting to school safety, are unable to connect the necessary dots to prevent this from happening again.”

A far more comprehensive system of identifying and monitoring individuals with mental distress is required and needs to be implemented. That a person with these problems could live in a home where he had access to among the most powerful firearms available to nonmilitary personnel is unacceptable.”

It doesn’t matter to whom these weapons were registered. It doesn’t matter if they were purchased legally. What matters is that it was far too easy for another mentally unbalanced suicidal person who had violent obsessions to have easy access to unreasonably powerful weapons.”

The inability of agencies to share information regarding at-risk individuals’ mental states, personal histories, proximity to firearms – this contributed to the senseless murder of my six-year old son, 19 other children, and seven adults. This is where you must focus your efforts…

…Thomas Jefferson described our inalienable rights as life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness – the rights with which we are endowed, for the protection of which we have instituted governments. I do not think the composition of that foundational phrase was an accident. I do not think the order of those important words was haphazard or casual. The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine, and keep them in their home, is SECOND to the right of my son to his life – his LIFE; to the right to live of all of those children and those teachers, to the right to the lives of your children, of you, of all of us – all of our lives – it is second. Let’s honor the founding documents and get our priorities straight. Thank you.”