Setting the Record Straight

November 14, 2008

Same Court For 4 Years

Just a Placeholder, Not a Changer

     The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving sonar damages to marine animals during military training is a reminder of what the election of Barack Obama really means.sr-justicesjpeg

     Anyone looking for a change on the court during his term is likely to be highly disappointed. Obama’s election only resulted in a placeholder in the White House, not someone with an ability to change the harshly conservative tone of the court.

     Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion in the case that sided with the military, in which he suggests the military and its commander-in-chief should be taken at their word. Joining Roberts were Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Joseph Alito.

     Kennedy and Scalia are the only two of the five who are older than Thomas’s 60, Alito being 58 and Roberts a relatively young 53. The four who manage to temper the court when Kennedy swings their way are at least 70, the oldest being John Paul Stevens at 88. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 75, Steven Breyer is 72 and David Souter 69.

     If any change is going to take place on the court in the next four years, it is likely to be one of those four, whom Obama can now place.

     But nothing is going to change the tone, so get used to it.

(from www.straightrecord.com)

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June 27, 2008

The Guns for Self-Defense Myth

Filed under: news,policy,politics — straightrecord @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Good Luck On That

News item: Man stabs to death at least five officers inside Shanghai police station. Chinese police are well-armed. If they were unable to defend themselves with their handguns, what chance does anyone else have.  

         Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rests much of the 5-4 majority opinion of the court in D.C. v Heller on the alleged right of one’s self-defense. Supposedly, if one has a gun, one can protect oneself against attackers, intruders and all sorts of evil-doers.
          A check of blogs and pro-gun Web sites leading up to and including the court’s decision showed this is not an issue for the weak at heart.
         Our take on the D.C. v Heller gun-control issue before the court attracted the ire of so many gun nuts, we were drawn into reading their comments and blogs and checking out their Web sites.
          We were struck by two factors–how borderline illiterate so many of the gun-nut bloggers are (not just on this issue, but others as well) and how many expressed macho boasts, such as “you’ll have to pry my gun from my dead, cold hands,” aping the John Wayne-type boast of the late National Rifle Association figurehead, Charlton Heston.
         If anyone were ever in favor of gun control, knowing such people are out there with guns in their hands is justification enough.
          But since our mantra is to be informed, we checked out to the best we could what is known about the success of gun possession in fending off various criminals.
          The evidence is sparse, and what there is of that is old, but it puts the lie to the claim that personal possession of a gun is an effective defense.
          Although one would presume that a person who uses a gun successfully to repel an intruder or an attacker would then report the incident to the police, if for no other reason than to seek to put the perpetrator in jail.
          A cursory search turned up no research, not even U.S. Justice Department tracts based on voluminous federal, state and local crime reports, that compares the claims of self-defense with police reports of such claims.
          What we are left with is old research, much of it based on telephone interviews in which respondents merely state their experience, with no followup or comparison with other records to determine if the claims fit a pattern.
          The most credible of that research (federal studies of statistics and peer-reviewed journal work) suggest there is no self-defense value to keeping a gun at home.
          The best comparison was reported back in 1986 by the New England Journal of Medicine, which compared police information with stated claims in one Washington county. Of 743 firearm-related deaths over a six-year period (70.5 percent involved handguns), 398 occurred in the home where the firearm was kept, but only seven people were killed in self-defense, and only two of those killed were shot during attempted entry. Nine were accidental (the gun-owner or someone else in the home was the victim). Researchers concluded a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill someone other than an intruder, i.e., a member of the household or friends.
         Indeed, there have been incidents where a gun has been used successfully in self-defense, but those cases are rare, and most of those involved a perpetrator who was not armed.
         Justice Department surveys from the mid-1990s show that just over a third of American households contain a gun, but three-quarters of those claim they have one for self-protection.
          Another chant of gun nuts is that if guns are taken away from them, only criminals will have guns. Federal statistics show that 340,000 crimes each year involve the theft of firearms, two-thirds of them during household burglaries. It appears it is legitimate gun owners who are supplying the criminals with guns.

(from www.straightrecord.com)

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June 23, 2008

The Time Has Come

 

 Guns and Flying Pigs                
 

The time has come, the walrus said,
To talk of many things:                   
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings                   
And why the sea is boiling hot,       
And whether pigs have wings.

 Columbine, Virginia Tech, Helsinki, Omaha, Kirkwood, Louisiana Tech, Portsmouth, Los Angeles, Lane Bryant, DeKalb — Next?

          The incidents go on and on and what is the National Rifle Asso-ciation’s response? “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” That is a non-sequitur response, as it was intended to be–deflect the question you do not want to answer and turn it to something else. Who ever said guns kill people by themselves?

          The matter that needs to be addressed is the easy access to guns by people who will do stupid things with them, causing far more destruction and death than with any weapon that does not rely on an explosive force.

          These are weapons of destruction, just as deadly as smoking tobacco, and much more efficient and quick about it. It is far more irresponsible to allow firearms to be widely and easily available than to allow cigarettes to be available, yet even the laws that exist to govern guns are far less strict than those applied to tobacco.
          The only tobacco restrictions are decades of “just don’t advertise them on TV” to today’s restrictions on where you smoke, not at all on whether you can smoke at all. Despite all the evidence that smoking tobacco is a lethal cancer-causing addictive, tobacco companies still push them, and change their corporate names so you can no longer identify the perpetrators. The NRA never offers comments about any of these massacres because it pretends that guns are not associated with them, that the events have nothing to do with guns.

          Well, we need to talk about this subject, instead of talking about whether pigs have wings and pretending the world is the reverse of what it is and citing only part of the Second Amendment and pretending it says other than what it says.
          If we do not, there will continue to be Columbines and Virginia Techs and Helsinkis and Omahas and on and on. The why is not the issue for the common weal, it is the how that counts. There will continue to be the pretense that possession of guns is worthwhile because some people can use them to protect their property–the NRA never misses a chance to note those times that such use is successful in one out of the thousand times they are kept for that purpose. It blithely ignores the other 999 cases in which the possession of a gun leads to tragedy befalling the possessor.

          Here are some possible actions that can be taken at the federal level, the only level where any restrictions can be an effective check, beginning with the smallest and building to the ultimate.
          Go ahead and institute those mental-condition checks. One might also include everyone seeking “fame” in today’s society of sycophants.
          Otherwise, do something useful, beginning with what the NRA will label the camel’s nose under the tent, and let us hope it is at least that, and if they don’t work, let’s put the whole camel in the tent:

Ban sales of firearms to anyone under 21, just as selling cigarettes is restricted.
Hold a firearm possessor liable for any damages caused by an under-age person using that firearm.
Ban personal concealment of firearm while not in one’s home.
Require all firearms in personal possession to be kept locked up.
Ban all but supervised and licensed possession of handguns.
Expand the ban to all firearms. 
Ban all handguns.
Ban the private possession of all firearms.
Restrict the possession of firearms by law enforcers.
Restrict even the use of firearms by law enforcers.
Ban all firearms not kept by state militias (National Guard), just to be in compliance with the Second Amendment.   
Choose!!!
 

 

The sun was shining on the sea,  

Shining with all its might.               

He did his very best to make         

The billows smooth and bright.     

And this was odd, because it was

 The middle of the night.                   
 
So said Tweedledum to Tweedledee 
Alice Through the Looking Glass 
(from www.straightrecord.com
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