Category Archives: police

2nd Amendment and Guntrol, Part 2

The DC v Heller decision of 2008 established 3 things, according to the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia. (See https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/2nd-amendment-and-gun-control-part-1/ for details.)

First, individual citizens, not part of a militia, have the right to own weapons.

Second, the government has the right to regulate who can have weapons.

Third, the government has the right to determine the legality of specific weapons. 

So, any attempt by any member of Congress to suggest that any gun control violates the 2nd Amendment should be referrred to the Scalia opinion. Gun control is constitutional.

So, what kind of gun control , which does minimal damage to the desire (not right) of gun owners to certain weapons, are possible?  Here are some possible gun control measures which Congress could take.

  1. A mandatory background check for any gun purchaser. Using a nationwide data base that identifies felons out on parole, individuals convicted of spousal abuse, individuals convicted of any violent crime, individuals currently charged with a violent offense pending trial.
  2. A ban on the ownership and sale of military-style assault weapons and any devices that can be used to enhance the firing capacity of weapons, including bumpstocks. (Except in licensed shooting ranges).
  3. A ban on the sale and/or transportation of weapons across state lines.
  4. Mandatory written and field and safety tests for anyone purchasing a weapon, including a screening for emotional and mental stability.
  5. A ban on any sale of guns other than that of a registered gun seller. This includes the ban on trading, swap meets or other gun sales not taking place in an established,  permanent location.
  6. The registration of all weapons with the local authorities. Including the free transfer of weapons to immediate famiy members, which would be legal.
  7. Establishment of shooting ranges for those who wish to fire military style weapons. These establishments would be able to legally rent military style weapons to shooters to be used only at the shooting ranges.
  8. The ban on any bullet or projectile designed to explode on entering the body or designed to pierce armor.
  9. The licensing of any gun owner, renewable every five years, to determine that the person keeps up with the skill, visual acuity, mental capacity to handle a weapon safely  and understands the law relating to weapons.
  10. Establishment of free clinics and classes to teach and train gun owners as to the proper and safe use of firearms.
  11. A Right To Know Law which gives parents the right to know which households have guns in them. A parent could then decide for themselves if they want to expose their child to a household which has a weapon. (Many children die playing with guns each year).
  12. A yearly weapons licensing tax to help defray the costs of gun safety programs.
  13. A health care premium Gun Violence Tax for gun owners. This would help defray the massive costs to hospitals,police, courts, jails and the insurance industry for costs related to the care of victims and perpetrators of gun violence nationwide. Hang on to your six-shooter. The annual estimated cost of gun violence in the USA is $8,600,000,000 (billion) in direct medical care. And the overall cost of gun violence to the economy is $229,000,000,000. See references at the end of this blog for details.

I am confident that many or all of these solutions, taken as a whole, would significantly reduce both intentional and accidental gun mortality.  All of these ideas are constitutional and easily implemented. I am also sure that people more astute and informed than I have even more and better solutions.

We license people to drive cars. We renew auto license plates every year or two. We tax vehicles and gas  used in those vehicles. We let people know if there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood so parents can protect their children. We heavily tax tobacco to reduce usage and pay for the costs of medical care caused by tobacco. So, none of the ideas above, if applied to weapons , is radical or unusual.

Would these solutions stop ALL gun violence? Of course not. Even places with strict gun control laws have some gun violence. But the likelyhood of desth by gun in these nations is minimal compared to the USA.

In Austria you are as likely to drown in a swimming pool as be killed by a gun.  In New Zealand, your chances of death by gun are the same as falling from a ladder. In Poland, the chance is the same as being killed on your bicycle. And in Japan you are just as likely to be hit by lightening as killed by a gun.

Think about that last statistic the next time you watch a thunderstorm brewing.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2018/02/22/the-enormous-economic-cost-of-gun-violence/?utm_term=.e68d8c3d5463

http://www.businessinsider.com/gun-violence-costs-america-more-than-229-billion-every-year-2015-4

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I Could Keep You Safe

Not guilty.

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Good News is No News

It seems as though the news emphasizes almost nothing but catastrophe and encourages negativity. This is not new, but it seems to be overwhelming sometimes. And it leaves the impression that we live in a constant state of terror, unhappiness, fear and anger. Things are getting worse and worse. Danger around every corner. The end is near! That is the narrative.

Good news does not sell papers or drive “clicks”. Good news is boring.

Some good news.

In 2015, a total of 322,761,000 Americans were NOT killed by the police.

.https://www.rt.com/usa/326724-police-killings-usa-report/

The murder rate in Chicago is 1/2 of what it was in 1990. The murder rate in Washington DC is 1/4 of what it was in 1990.

https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/Crime_in_2015_A_Final_Analysis.pdf

Since the ACA (Obamacare) was enacted uninsured rates fell in every state in the union.Now only about 10%-12%  of the population remains uninsured.

http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/blog/2015/sept/us-census-data-shows-uninsured-americans-drop

At long last all US citizens, including homosexuals, can  marry and serve openly in the military.

Gays in the U.S. Military Are Now Protected Against ‘Witch Hunts’

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/26/417717613/supreme-court-rules-all-states-must-allow-same-sex-marriages

The US is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time since the 1990s.

http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/weekly/archive/2011/110525/twipprint.html

Americans demonstrated their generosity by giving more money to charity than ever before. , over $358 billion dollars in 2014.

Giving USA: Americans Donated an Estimated $358.38 Billion to Charity in 2014; Highest Total in Report’s 60-year History

US teen pregnancy rates are 50% LESS than they were in 1991, and have been falling.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/02/health/teen-birth-rates/

In July of 2009 the rate of inflation was 5.6%. In July of 2016 the rate of inflation was 0.8%. The trend has been steady.

Historical Inflation Rates: 1914-2016

The unemployment rate in January, 2016, is down to 4.9% from a high of 9.8 % in January of 2010.

http://www.multpl.com/unemployment/table

Since 9/11 you are 15 times more likely to be killed by a deer, than by a foreign terrorist. And your chance of being killed by a deer are less than 1 in 15,000,000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deer%E2%80%93vehicle_collisions

http://www.vox.com/2015/11/23/9765718/domestic-terrorism-threat

And, the biggest good news surprise of all time. The Chicago Cubs, currently in 1st place, were predicted to win the World Series by the gambling establishment. (I wouldn’t bet on that one)

http://www.csnchicago.com/chicago-cubs/big-surprise-cubs-favorite-win-2016-world-series

So. Good news will not make headlines. Not as exciting as disasters. But cheer up. Things are not nearly as bad as some would like us to believe.

 

 

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Advice To My Black Son

Since today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day I thought it would be appropriate to give some advice to my black son. Advice on how to live a long life in a hostile nation.

Problem is I don’t have a black son. Both my son and daughter are white. As is my wife. And we have a long history of ancestors who were also white. Quite a coincidence. Being white, there was never the necessity of having this little talk with him or her. But I digress.

To my black son or grandson. First, I will make some assumptions about you, most of which are not true.

You live in poverty (actually 73% of African Americans do not live in poverty, but the percentage IS higher for children and young adults)  http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/

Your parents do not own their own home (55% do not, but 45% do).    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0883976.html

You will be  arrested for a violent crime this year . (about 1/2 of 1% of black youths will be arrested for a violent offense, so 99.5% of black youths will NOT be arrested for a violent crime)    http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/JAR_Display.asp?ID=qa05261

You are most likely a high school “drop out” . (The drop out rate for African American males is approximately 7%, so 93% are NOT drop outs)    http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16

Enough of statistics. And stereotypes. I want you to live a long and happy life. Keep in mind the following.

First of all you  have rights. The right to free speech. To drive. To assembly. To individuality. To be young. And to be stupid at times. To walk down the street. To carry a gun in some states. To use a cell phone.

My Rules for my black son. Listen carefully:

1. Take that last paragraph about your rights and forget it. Assume , instead, that you have no rights. Accept reality. Act like you have no rights. You will live longer.

2.If the police stop you in your car or walking be respectful. Don’t argue. Be polite. “Yes, officer. No,officer”. If you see the cops driving around in your neighborhood wave and smile.

3.Sew your pockets shut. So you cannot possibly reach inside them. Don’t carry a cell phone. Or comb. Or knife. Or anything.

4.Don’t be out after dark. If you are a friend’s house, call home and tell ma and pa that you are sleeping over. Do the same for your friends when they are visiting you at night. Don’t be out after dark.

5.Don’t go to places where you know drug dealers hang out. If drug dealers show up where you are hanging out, go home. Now.

6.If you are arrested for some reason say nothing. Nothing. If you are put in a cell do not talk to your cellmate. Be polite and ask for a lawyer. Say nothing.

7.Don’t wear bling. Don’t wear a hoodie. Don’t wear your cap backwards. Don’t argue with anyone about anything. Swallow your pride. Often. Regularly.

8.Act like you are a Jew in Nazi Germany. Pretend you are a foreigner with no rights.

Should you have to follow these rules? No. But in reality these rules will give you  a much better chance of making it to adulthood than the Bill of Rights. Or the Voting Rights Act. Or any other legal protections. Sorry, my black son, but that is reality.

As MLK, Jr hoped, someday you WILL be judged by the content of your character and not by the color of your skin. But January 18, 2016 in America is not yet that day.

 

 

 

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NYC Police DON’T Kill a Black Guy

In one of the weirdest stories on the interweb this week we see the NYC police in action.

There is a fight on the uptown 6 subway and the conductor calls for help. Four cops, not in uniform , immediately respond. They subdue both of the apparently homeless black guys who are fighting. Since the cops are not carrying weapons they have to use their BARE hands. But they get the job done.

No choke holds. No tazers. No guns drawn and fired. Using only their wits and training they stop the fight and hold the men down until more help arrives.

While one of the combatants yells and screams the police CALMLY settle him down. The police keep their cool. Defusing the violent situation. One cop can be heard calming reassuring  a combatant as he holds the man in check and tries to calm him down. No punching. No choking. No threats. No slurs.

Police work, par excellence.

These NYC cops should be commended for their bravery and their ability to stop a violent situation with only their bare hands and wits. In fact, NYPD commissioner Bratton does just that. He says they have done a “great honor ” to  their police department and to their country. Shining examples of what police work can be! So, who are these men?

Samuel Kvarzell….Marcus Asburg…Eric Jansberger…Eric Nalsund……what ?….what ? …oops…

Slight correction.

These off duty cops were not NYPD.  Ummmm. They were actual tourists. Cops from Sweden. Cops that have evidently been trained to do high quality police work without drawing their weapons.

And the homeless black guys are still alive.

http://mashable.com/2015/04/24/swedish-cops-new-york-subway-fight/

http://nypost.com/2015/04/24/bratton-salutes-swedish-cops-for-subway-heroics/

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Why Do We Gotta Learn This Stuff?

Billy Bob Baker, sitting in the back row picking his nose in US history class: “Why do we gotta learn this stuff?” What history teacher has not heard that refrain from some of his or her students ?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama.

In much of Alabama Negroes could not vote. African-Americans and blacks could not register to vote. The state of Alabama had systematically and intentionally prevented minorities from taking part in elections. State’s rights.

The federal government was doing nothing to guarantee this right.

So. People marched. Peacefully. And the local and state authorities responded with violence. With billy clubs. With dogs. With tear gas. With beatings.

Because people marched for the right to vote. Peacefully. For the right to vote.

Today we have seen a resurgence of the “state’s rights” propaganda. In the 1950s and 60s it was a code word for racism. For keeping minorities powerless. For making laws about marriage, schools, drinking fountains, restaurants and even where a person could sit on a bus.

Take a moment to digest that. The state of Alabama,under the doctrine of “state’s rights” decided that some working, tax paying citizens could not drink at a public drinking fountain. Or use a restroom. The state of Alabama, and many others, decided that even though a person bought a ticket to ride a bus he or she could not sit in an empty seat on that bus unless it was in the back of the bus. Even though the law abiding working citizens paid taxes , the state of Alabama decided that these same taxpaying citizens could not participate in elections.

Let it sink in.
It is not ancient history. It is modern America. It wasn’t 1695, it was 1965.

“Why do we gotta learn this stuff?” Because ignorance breeds racism. Because ignorance of recent history allows one to be lead by the nose into another era of “states rights”. Another code word. Because your ignorance condemns you to be a pawn. Because the world is more complex than Fox Entertainment would have you believe. And to help you understand that no battle for civil rights is ever finished. Because if you remain ignorant you are easy pickings for the demagogues and racists. There are always politicians who will use the codewords to gain power over others.

Yes, Billy Bob. You gotta learn that stuff. Not just for yourself, but so the rest of us can live knowing that your ignorance will not help reactionaries turn back the clock of progress.

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Darren Wilson and the FBI

(Darren Wilson was the police officer who confronted and killed a black man in Ferguson, Missouri. He was subsequently NOT indicted by a grand jury. he has since retired from the police force.)

I was involved in an internet argument with someone who I will call “Billy Bob” the other day. Billy Bob is a died-in-the-wool supporter of Darren Wilson and his rights to kill unarmed people if he feels threatened. Billy Bob’s main argument is that Wilson was a cop. Being a cop gave him the right to kill.

I disagree. Be that as it may, Billy Bob went one step further. He thinks that Darren Wilson, (now that he has resigned) , is going to end up in the FBI. Really. He does. So,  I imagine the job interview as follows…

FBI: So, Mr Wilson, I see you have 8 years experience as a police officer. Why did you leave the force?

Wilson: I did it for the good of the community.

FBI: I see. Can you expand on that?

Wilson: Yepper. I shot and killed a bad man and people in the community got mad at me. They even tried to indict me but I beat the rap.

FBI: Well. I assume you killed this man for a reason.

Wilson: Yepper. I felt my life was in danger.

FBI: So, he drew his gun first and then you shot back in self-defense?

Wilson: Nope. He didn’t have a gun.

FBI: So, he had a knife and was coming at you and was going to stab you ?

Wilson: Nope. He didn’t have a knife.

FBI: Well,  he was carrying some weapon, obviously. What did he attack you with?

Wilson: He didn’t have a weapon. But he hit me. Hard.

FBI: I see. Couldn’t you have used some self-defense techniques? Some of your training?

Wilson: Nope. I was in a car when he hit me.

FBI: You were in a car? Couldn’t you just drive a few hundred feet away and wait for backup?

Wilson: Never thought of that. But he hit me. Hard.

FBI: So, why did you shoot him?

Wilson: I feared for my life. He was big. REAL big. Made me feel like a 5 year old little boy. So I shot him. I don’t like feeling like a little boy.

FBI: So, you shot him in the leg or arm to incapacitate him ? To slow him down?

Wilson. Nope. In the head. In the body.

FBI: You shot him more than once?

Wilson: I shot AT him about 10 or 12 times. I hit him 6 times. That did the trick.

FBI: So , he was right next to you and you missed 4 or 6 shots?

Wilson: Yepper. That is why I kept shooting. DUH.

FBI: Well, Mr Wilson. The FBI prides itself on being a highly-trained, well-regulated peacekeeping force. We demand top level skills, intelligence, split-second decision-making and respect for individual rights. We do have to use force, but we train our agents to use only necessary force. I really don’t think we will be interested in interviewing you for a position.

Wilson: Did I mention that the guy was black. And very big. And scary. And that he looked like a demon ?

FBI: So. You see demons? You know what a demon looks like?

Wilson: I seen pictures of them. In demon books. And I tell you, this guy LOOKED like a demon. No joke.

FBI: I see. Thank you for coming in Mr . Wilson. And best of luck in the future.

So, Billy Bob, I don’t think the FBI will be calling on Darren Wilson to join the force anytime soon. Thank god.

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