Archive | Gun love

The verdict

I’ve seen some unjust verdicts in my time, but I’ve always accepted the frustrating principle that, in a system that’s set up to try to protect the rights of the innocent, we will occasionally see guilty people go free. Sounds very high-minded, right? It’s a lot harder to swallow when you see the system treat the innocent as guilty. And that’s what we saw in the trial of George Zimmerman, where, in the eyes of many, Trayvon Martin somehow was the one on trial.

If you want the details of why Zimmerman was found not guilty, you can read this.

But I think Scott Lemieux best addresses the larger issues here:

It is far from obvious that the prosecution (which was unable to even articulate a coherent narrative of the night’s events to counter Zimmerman’s) met its burden of disproving Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. That it failed to reach a guilty verdict cannot be seen as evidence of white supremacy on the part of the jury.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that race didn’t play a major role in the case. Trayvon Martin, guilty of nothing but walking on the street in a hoodie, was certainly killed because of racial profiling. And it is entirely possible that a trial of a poor African American killing a white man in similar circumstances would have played out differently (although the problem is not that the jury’s acquittal of Zimmerman was unreasonable but that a poor African-American man would have been much less likely to receive a fair trial, particularly assuming he could not afford to hire his own counsel). It’s easy to imagine a counterfactual case where a mostly white jury would have been less willing to credit a plausible self-defense claim if it came from an young African American man than a white man. To argue that the jury’s verdict wasn’t obviously wrong as a matter of law is not to argue that persistent racial inequities aren’t relevant to the case in a number of ways.

But it is important not to lose sight of something else: the inadequacy of the law in most states to deal with America’s gun culture. Carrying a deadly weapon in public should carry unique responsibilities. In most cases someone with a gun should not be able to escape culpability if he initiates a conflict with someone unarmed and the other party ends up getting shot and killed. Under the current law in many states, people threatened by armed people have few good options, because fighting back might create a license to kill.
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It’s not about ‘Stand Your Ground’

Scott Lemieux at the American Prospect:

Although some media reports continue to assert that Florida’s infamous “stand your ground” law was “central to Zimmerman’s defense” during the trial, the defendant’s team didn’t even invoke it; Zimmerman’s defense involved just standard self-defense. Under Florida law, the fact that Zimmerman initiated the conflict with Martin did not foreclose a self-defense claim if Zimmeran “reasonably believe[d] that he…[wa]s in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he…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.”

This was the basis for Zimmerman’s defense, and under Florida law it was thestate’s burden to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. (Intuitively, this may seem like a quirk of Florida law, but the vast majority of states place the burden of proof on the state to disprove a claim of self-defense.)

Having not watched every second of the trial, I am not prepared to say that the jury got it right. But I do think that on its face the jury’s verdict wasn’t unreasonable. It is far from obvious that the prosecution (which was unable to even articulate a coherent narrative of the night’s events to counter Zimmerman’s) met its burden of disproving Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. That it failed to reach a guilty verdict cannot be seen as evidence of white supremacy on the part of the jury.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that race didn’t play a major role in the case. Trayvon Martin, guilty of nothing but walking on the street in a hoodie, was certainly killed because of racial profiling. And it is entirely possible that a trial of a poor African American killing a white man in similar circumstances would have played out differently (although the problem is not that the jury’s acquittal of Zimmerman was unreasonable but that a poor African-American man would have been much less likely to receive a fair trial, particularly assuming he could not afford to hire his own counsel). It’s easy to imagine a counterfactual case where a mostly white jury would have been less willing to credit a plausible self-defense claim if it came from an young African American man than a white man. To argue that the jury’s verdict wasn’t obviously wrong as a matter of law is not to argue that persistent racial inequities aren’t relevant to the case in a number of ways.

But it is important not to lose sight of something else: the inadequacy of the law in most states to deal with America’s gun culture. Carrying a deadly weapon in public should carry unique responsibilities. In most cases someone with a gun should not be able to escape culpability if he initiates a conflict with someone unarmed and the other party ends up getting shot and killed. Under the current law in many states, people threatened by armed people have few good options, because fighting back might create a license to kill. As the New Yorker‘s Amy Davidson puts it, “I still don’t understand what Trayvon was supposed to do.” Unless the law is changed to deal with the large number of people carrying concealed guns, there will be more tragic and unnecessary deaths of innocent people like Trayvon Martin for which nobody is legally culpable. And to make claims of self-defense easier to bring, as Florida and more than 20 other states have done, is moving in precisely the wrong direction. And, even more importantly, no matter how self-defense laws are structured the extremely unusual American practice of allowing large number of citizens to carry concealed weapons leads to many unecessary deaths. (All 50 states, it’s worth noting, permit concealed carry.) Cases like the killing of Martin should compel reconsideration of the lack of significant gun control in the United States, but for whatever reason this isn’t the lesson that most legislators are likely to draw.

Thanks, Thomas Soldan.

Assault weapon sale for a cause…

Organizations do a variety of activities for fundraising. When I was in high school we would have sandwich and bake sales. Girl Scouts sell cookies and the masses beg for Thin mints and Do-se-does. 5k runs are also popular with causes and charities.

An Ohio personhood activist is selling assault weapons and ammo for the personhood cause

Patrick Johnston, founder of the anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio, sent out an email this past weekend encouraging recipients to help his cause by “buying an assault rifle” and “some high capacity magazines and a ton of ammo.

He wasn’t suggesting they buy just any assault rifles, mind you, but assault rifles from Johnston’s personal collection including two Chinese SKS rifles and a MAK 90.  All three weapons use the same ammunition the AK 47 (7.62×39mm). Two of the rifles come with high capacity magazines and one includes a drum holding 100 rounds. He is also auctioning off 2550 rounds of ammo.

It seems that the proceeds from this sale are to fund a large personhood mail campaign

“What do you do when you have a Personhood mailing to 20,000 pro-life Ohioans that costs $5,500 and only have $2,900 in your Personhood account?” Personhood Ohio Director Patrick Johnston wrote in a fundraising email on Sunday. “I’m selling some of my favorite things – some powerful rifles and ammo.”

But, the personhood movement is on the fringe even with Right Wing

Personhood advocates’ push to endow zygotes with the rights of U.S. citizens hasn’t won support from other Republicans or other anti-abortion groups. The Supreme Court has confirmed that personhood is “clearly unconstitutional,” and it’s failed to take hold in conservative states like Oklahoma and Mississippi. The one notable exception is North Dakota, where the state legislature passed a personhood amendment that will be on the ballot in 2014.

Nothing promotes the sanctity of life better than an assault weapon.

H/t medical malpractice attorney Thomas Soldan.

The new anti-gun movement

And how they’re taking on what’s left of the NRA. Fascinating.

But instead of increasing the pressure on politicians, gun-control advocates believed they could prevail through reason alone. While the NRA issued members voting instructions, their adversaries produced well-researched reports on gun violence. “We’ve always been too polite, by appealing to politicians to do the right thing, … appealing to their conscience and hoping they’d come around even when the evidence suggested they wouldn’t,” says Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “We went too far into the realm of educating the public and ceded the field of politics to the NRA. That was disastrous for us.”

All along, though, the gun lobby’s vulnerabilities were there for a serious opponent to exploit. Long before Wayne LaPierre’s rambling press conference after Newtown, the NRA had barreled well out of the mainstream—take LaPierre’s 1995 characterization of federal agents as “jack-booted government thugs.” It has become increasingly easy to find gun owners openly critical of the organization’s extreme politics. And demographic trends have concentrated its most ardent members in ever-narrower regional pockets.

That serious opponent has finally emerged. In 2006, Bloomberg formed Mayors Against Illegal Guns with 14 of his counterparts. One of the group’s first moves was to dispatch undercover investigators to Virginia gun shops—the source of many guns on the streets of northern cities—where they recorded footage showing how easy it was to make illegal purchases.10 In 2010, Bloomberg hired Wolfson, a hard-bitten veteran of three Hillary Clinton campaigns. Listening to the mayor’s team discuss gun control is very different from talking to longtime advocates—the conversations are an odd mash-up of the ruthlessness of campaign hacks and a moral crusade. For an administration that has made its share of ethical compromises—disregarding term limits, pulverizing opponents with the mayor’s personal fortune—gun control has become the ultimate validation.
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More responsible gun ownership

I just don’t have a sense of humor about these stories:

CORSICANA, Texas (AP) — Police say a 2-year-old boy has died after accidentally shooting himself in the head at a North Texas home while his father was nearby.

Corsicana police on Thursday identified the victim as Kinsler Davis.

Police Chief Randy Bratton says the father called 911 on Wednesday night to report the shooting. The wounded boy was transported to a Corsicana hospital and then on to a Dallas hospital where he died later Wednesday.

Bratton says the boy apparently found a handgun in a bedroom. The child’s 35-year-old father was in the walk-in closet of the bedroom at the time of the shooting.

You can’t make this shit up

Again: Carl Jung, genius!

The former wife of a top official with the National Rifle Association in New York says that “years of domestic violence” caused a judge to bar the NRA field representative from carrying a gun.

The New York Daily News on Wednesday reported that police has confiscated an arsenal of 39 firearms from the home of Richard D’Alauro in 2010 because of a confrontation with his then-wife at their Long Island home.

Suffolk County records showed that authorities filed misdemeanor charges against Richard D’Alauro for assault and endangering a child after the incident on Sept. 1, 2010. At the time, police confiscated 39 weapons from the NRA official’s home, including at least 16 handguns.

Richard D’Alauro later pleaded guilty to a non-misdemeanor harassment charge after admitting that tried to “harass, annoy or alarm” his wife with “physical contact.” Due to a protection order, D’Alauro cannot purchase or own a firearm until Oct. 3, 2013.

Maribeth D’Alauro told the Daily News that calling the confrontation an assault was “an accurate description,” and she is terrified at the thought that her former husband will be able to own guns again.

The former wife said that she had been “too afraid to ever call the police on him” after “years of domestic violence.”

D’Alauro is a “bully” who used the same tactics on her as the NRA uses to intimidate lawmakers, Maribeth D’Alauro explained.

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