Hoodie Hoodwink

It is too easy to become captivated by a thing such as the Treyvon Martin case and also to go after arguing about the wrong thing regarding it. That is where I am, unfortunately.

I had one of these stupid arguments with a kid at work, a kid who is fond of finding interesting tidbits on his RSS reader and sharing. Usually I shut my mouth and listen because this is a good kid who has helped me immensely on the job. But he started discussing how it turns out that Trevyvon wasn’t some mere vulnerable innocent, nay, in fact, the reason he was in that neighborhood in the first place is because he’d been suspended, because he had some tie to marijuana, and oh yeah, he attacked Zimmerman first, and everyone’s trying to make Zimmerman out to be a racist, and he’s really not, why, he’s even got a black friend…

This line paralyzed my better sense and had me yelling at the kid that I wouldn’t hear him defending George Zimmerman, not when Zimmerman was the one still breathing. As if the thing to do in this case is to take sides. As if there’s a side to take.

George Zimmerman should be awaiting trial, and it’s disgusting, and I think a little bit terrifying, that he isn’t. That’s the issue. When you unload a pistol into a person, you should be brought up on charges and jailed, not cake walked around at the local police station and sent home with a pat on your ass. This is regardless of if Treyvon had ever smoked any sort of substance, of what his academic status was, or even of if he had tried to clock George Zimmerman, which it now looks like that story is being revealed as a bunch of hooey anyway.

A known crazy person and self-styled crime fighter who was known by the police to make overly frequent reports to them during his outings as a “neighborhood watch” volunteer witnessed a black guy walking down the street in a gated community and assumed the worst. That we know from the audio of the 911 call. He was told not to pursue, and he did anyway; again, we know that from the 911 call. We know that he was carrying a gun, something you are not supposed to do if you are carrying out a “neighborhood watch.” We know that he fired his gun into Treyvon Martin, and now, we know that one of the police officers on the case probably lied on the police report because we know from the video that Zimmerman was not covered in blood, was not holding a hand to his nose to stop the bleeding, did not seem disoriented from the barrage of blows to his head, did not have any signs of a developing shiner, that he was not injured hardly at all, even though the police report sez he was really fucked up.

Somebody in that police station tried to cover for Zimmerman, and the prosecutor helped by not bringing charges even though the investigating officer wanted at least a manslaughter charge brought. That is the issue. This isn’t about Zimmerman v. Martin. It’s about a refurbished criminal justice system under which a person could shoot you or me to death and then simply walk away.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty scary.

John Nichols Sheds Light on the Castle Doctrine Laws

Just got home from my day job and was listening to the rerun of the Thom Hartmann Show. He had Nation journalist John Nichols on. And Nichols really connected the dots for me on the “stand your ground” kind of laws we discussed recently.

You know who works behind the scenes to get these laws passed? The American Legislative Exchange Council. And, do you know who was corporate co-chair of ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force when ALEC was drafting its model legislation? Wal-Mart.

Guess who sells more guns than anyone in America?

Now. Selling guns could prove to be a tremendous legal liability, don’t you think?

Unless, of course, there are laws on the books that absolve the shooter on the basis of self-defense and expand the net of that legal defense.

Most times, you can draw the line from the confounding issue that doesn’t seem to make any damned sense right on back to a sleazy corporation trying to save a few bucks. Can’t ya?

More about this from prwatch.org…

Not Bloody Likely

And I had to really scour to find the story I refer to in the previous post. Most of the news stories I’ve found on the Internet about gunshots at the home seemed more like this (dateline Alba, Texas):

Alba-Golden Student Fatally Shot in His Home

Written by Clayton Neville
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 07:11
A 16-year-Old student at Alba-Golden high school was found dead in his home early Tuesday morning after suffering a gunshot wound to the chest.

When Wood County deputies arrived to the residence they discovered Loren Wayne Saunders unresponsive and pronounced him dead upon arrival.

The reason behind the cause of death is currently being investigated and more information will be released as forensics results are completed.

 

Or like this:

Antioch, Calif. toddler shot in his home
December 2nd, 2010 11:53 pm PT

ANTIOCH, Calif. — Today, police in Antioch are looking into the shooting death of a 2-year-old child. It is possible the boy was shot by his 4-year-old brother.

Today was the 2-year-old Antioch toddler’s birthday.

Antioch is in the East Bay and is a short driving distance from San Francisco.

All of this started unfolding around 11am on Thursday morning.

The boy’s paternal grandmother was in the living room at 2405 Lemontree Court as the two young brothers played in the bedroom. She heard a shot fired and found the 2-year-old with a gunshot wound to the head.

A neighbor called the police.

The parents of the 2-year-old boy, Eddie Carr and Laqinda Modique, were later arrested.

The mother recently bought the gun and the father had loaded it and put it in a drawer just that morning, reports Kron 4 News.

 

Or this almost identical story, which just occurred in Youngstown, Ohio. This past weekend.

A 2-year-old is in stable condition after an accidental shooting in a South Side home Friday night.

Police responded to St. Elizabeth Health Center where they observed a gunshot wound to the left side of the girl’s face. The bullet entered her lower left cheek, leaving a 5-inch wound before exiting her upper cheek.

Police arrested Wally Moxley, 30, of Youngstown for having weapons while under disability after finding the fired handgun under the couch at his home.

 

Then there’s that other pesky problem with using firearms for home defense: a prosecutor may very well like to speak to you after:

Ryan Frederick is currently behind bars in Chesapeake City Jail in Virginia for the shooting death of a police officer on January 17, 2008. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Normally you’d think that a person who shoots and kills a police officer might deserve to spend time behind bars, but Frederick’s case is a bit different. The shooting happened in his own home during what Frederick believed to be a home invasion.

Three days before police began breaking down Frederick’s door to enter his home on a drug warrant, Frederick’s home had been broken into and his belongings rifled through, according to an online Reason Magazine story.

When Frederick’s dogs began barking and he heard someone breaking through his front door, he grabbed a gun that he kept for home protection. As an officer attempted to enter the home through one of the lower door panels, Frederick fatally shot him.

Frederick is 28 years old. He worked for a soft drink merchandiser before his arrest. Friends, neighbors and co-workers reportedly have nothing but kind words to say about him. He has no prior criminal record, although he has conceded that he and his friends have smoked marijuana recreationally. There is no evidence that he was ever growing or dealing marijuana or any other drug, according to Frederick’s criminal defense attorney.

Despite the lack of any criminal record and the fact that the shooting was a tragic accident, Paul Ebert, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, has indicated he may elevate the charge to capital murder so that the state may seek the death penalty against Frederick.

 

Yes, there may be some anecdotal evidence of a good clean firearm discharge. More of the stories, though, look like these, unfortunately.

Don’t take it from me. I’m just an amateur policy wonk and sometimes Web slinger. See for instance what Robert Siciliano has to say about it.

I know that you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. I understand non-lethal doesn’t always work. I get that people love their guns. I also know that when you kill someone it’s your word against a dead mans and facing life in prison is an option even when you shoot and kill an intruder in your own home. Plus, there is always the chance that the same weapon can be used against you.

 

The suggestion that a firearm needs to be kept in someone’s home because the person will need it to protect his home is mostly nonsense. Such occassions, if they ever do arise, are rarely as neat and tidy as the gun owner imagines they will be or as they need to be in order to count on a gun and a gun alone for defense. Most times, when you read or hear about a gun being discharged, it’s all Marvin Gaye or Jam Master Jay. Tragic, not heroic.

And yet, as I indicated yesterday, this delusion is what many folks are going with when it comes to creating public policy on the issue of guns.

Sometimes, this is a very strange country.

This Doesn’t Add Up

I’ve been scouring the Internet today looking for anecdotal evidence of what I tend to think of as the most unlikely scenario in the world.

I referred to the scenario in my previous post: You are a gun owner at home. You hear a noise, so you pull your gun out of your nightstand. You fire a pound of lead into a person’s chest, and it turns out the person was about to rape your cat and steal your TV and poop on your end table. The police show up and pin a medal to your chest and give you a cash reward for your good deed. Buoyed, you stroke and kiss your Glock, put on the safety, and put it back under your pillow to defend your way of life another day.

Well. I found the anecdote in question. Enter Charles Johnson of Ocoee, Fla.

Charles Johnson is a man of his word.

On Oct. 4, 1936, then 19, Johnson promised to love and protect his bride, Berlie Mae.

On Tuesday, he did.

Now 91, he scared off two home invaders with his 38-caliber revolver when the men threatened his wife of 72 years at their home east of Ocoee.

Johnson took a shot at one of the guys who had run into his home and placed a gun at his wife’s head. These home invaders fled. I don’t find the story to be clear about what happened or even on if Johnson’s aim was true. But, apparently I cannot make the claim I wanted to make, that the anecdotal example of a heroic defense of home by firearm doesn’t exist. Reckon it does.

But it did lead me to something else interesting.

Florida is a “Stand Your Ground” state. From what I understand, this means that in Florida and a handful of other states, you have a stronger defense in court if you kill an intruder in your home. You do not have a duty to exhaust every other possibility first, to retreat as much as possible, to call out and warn the intruder first. In a “Stand Your Ground” state, you are on safe legal ground if you simply open fire the minute you discover the intruder in your house. Florida is also a shall-issue state, which from what I understand means that the permit granting authority has no individual discretion regarding permits. You need a permit to conceal carry in Florida, but you do not need a permit to carry a gun in your vehicle.

I would say that Florida’s gun laws are fairly non-restrictive. And I thought that when you let more people carry more guns, this acted as a deterrent to crime.

Here. Let me Google something for you. Ocoee, which is the hard to spell place where Charles Johnson spooked the home invaders, and “home invasion.”

Anecdotally, it looks like Ocoee, Fla. is the home invasion capital of the world.

What gives?

31

Many years ago when I was a news reporter in Northeast Ohio, there was a murder case that was the talk of the town.

This guy had shot his beautiful wife to death.

He said he’d heard a noise and assumed it was an intruder. He slipped into a closet with a gun. His wife sprang open the closet doors and he shot her. Sort of a “Burn After Reading,” reversed.

I don’t remember if the jury bought his story or if it got him out of the slam. I think I recall that he got a pretty sizable sentence. But I’ll tell you what. It’s a scenario that seems a hell of a lot more believable then some of the ones usually dreamt up by people to justify gun ownership.

I woke up this morning listening to a repeat of The Stephanie Miller Show. Gun control is of course hot right now as a topic. This fairly unintelligible caller was saying that he needed 31 bullets in his magazine versus ten because his jammies don’t have pockets, and so he’d need the extra bullets to further defend his home from intruders.

But this scenario seems to be so remote: A threatening person enters your home. You pick up a gun from your nightstand, and you successfully fire it into the person’s chest, ending his life and protecting your home. The police shake your hand and send you on your merry way and tell you what a good person you are.

It seems more likely to me that you’ll end up killing someone in your family or yourself and end up in jail or dead.

I mean, you think the guy on the phone this morning regularly takes his gun to a range? You think he’s had classes in gun safety, think he’s bothered to learn how to properly handle a firearm?

And, further: Do you think he has a fire extinguisher in his kitchen?

Well, I mean, come on. If your reason for keeping a firearm in your nightstand is that you have to defend your home, don’t you think you should be equally prepared to defend it from fire? And which of the five types of fire extinguisher does he own? And does he know whether to pick up his A, B, C, D, or K model depending on which sort of fire he’s got?

Does his family have an escape route in case of fire? Has he seen about installing a tougher deadbolt? Reinforced the windows? Locked down his sliding glass doors? Has he plugged unused electrical sockets? I mean, if you’re going to be the kind of guy who’s interested in defending his home and his family, then be that guy or stop with the bullshit nonsense.

There are at least 50 other things a person can do to protect his home. Again, when I was a news reporter, I had the opportunity to attend a self defense class for women. The things these broads learned, fellows, you do not want to know. For instance: Don’t kick him in the nuts. Grab and twist. Also: Shit yourself. And scratch the fuck out of him so you can get his DNA under your nails. It’s amazing the things a woman can do to ward off a rapist if she gets the training. Am wondering if the women in this gun freak’s life have had the training.

Be that guy or stop with the bullshit nonsense. The truth is that there are precious few reasons that a person needs to own a firearm. The most frequent ones you hear from these gun nuts are marginal at best to downright bizarre. I personally think the best reason is “to kill deer to bring to the Bonks to cook and eat.” I’m fond of that reason personally. And for sport generally, yeah, that’s a pretty good reason to own a firearm. Home defense? Marginal at best. Defense against a government gone out of control? Are you serious? Do you remember Waco at all?

Unfortunately, one other reason a guy might want a Glock with 31 shots is because he’s crazy and he has it in mind to kill a lot of people. This is a fact that even the most Second Amendment fundies have trouble facing. See O’Donnell, Lawrence vs. Trent Franks. They have trouble facing it because it is a bloody reality of their fundamentalism.

It is this rabid fundamentalism that leads gun defendors to invent unrealistic scenarios in their heads that will probably never come to pass. These unlikely scenarios sure are a weird thing upon which to build a nation’s public policy regarding firearms.

Gunz Yo

i got more back issues than guns and ammo
cuz my uzi weighs a ton
and i never let go of the handle
hangin’ on to mommy’s pant leg
double-fistin’
knee-deep in shells kickin’ ballistics
this dick is a detachable penis
an extension of my manhood positioned like a fetus
an intravenous hook-up feeds bullets to my magazine
nevermind the bullocks, my pistol is a sex machine
Gunz Yo,’ Sage Francis

Ever since the Howard Dean candidacy, I have thought that Democrats should gravitate to Dean’s position on guns. Which is:

If I thought gun control would save lives in Vermont, I would support it. If you say “gun control” in Vermont or Tennessee, people think you want to take away their hunting rifle. If you say “gun control” New York or L.A., people are happy to see Uzis or illegal handguns taken off the streets. I think Vermont ought to be able to have a different set of laws than California. Let’s keep and enforce the federal gun laws we have, close the gun show loophole using Insta-check, and then let the states decide for themselves what if any gun control laws they want. We need to get guns off the national radar screen if Democrats are ever going to win again in the South and the West.

His points: 1. Guns ought to be a state and local issue because it is a geographically relevant issue, so tougher federal laws won’t work, and 2. Democrats tend to lose on guns and could easily change that. Smart.

So why in hell is any Democrat supporting the Thune amendment? Why in hell are BOTH of my senators supporting this piece of crap that will severely undermine state and local control on this issue?

Good post at Crooks and Liars. With senators’ phone numbers.

Update: Sen. Webb’s voicemail is full and his phone is busy when one tries to get to a staffer. Webb was outspoken for the amendment; even heard a sound byte on the radio. I hope that means his constituents are trying to change his mind. This is a bad law.

UpdateII: FAIL, 58-39.