That we are unable to have a rational discussion about gun ownership is why we have a convoluted belief about what defines gun ownership and overall community safety and security. Defining what is rational might be the first step as clearly we can't even crawl at this point.
Craven Statehouse Behavior
THE EDITORIAL BOARD
MARCH 14, 2014
Despite all the lethal mayhem caused by the Stand Your Ground laws now on the books in nearly two dozen states, the gun lobby is inviting more trouble.
In Georgia, for instance, a pernicious bill approved by the House authorizes an array of dangerous laissez-faire gun provisions. One would allow convicted felons who kill someone with an illegally possessed gun to seek justification under the state’s Stand Your Ground law. A second would allow concealed guns on college campuses, despite the opposition of 78 percent of polled Georgians.
In Florida, meanwhile, despite mounting incidents of vigilante justice, the Legislature not only defends the Stand Your Ground provision that was involved in the notorious shooting of the unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, but it is actively considering other risky measures.
One would allow schoolteachers to pack firearms in class. Another, an amendment to the Stand Your Ground law, would give legal protection to Floridians who fire warning shots in the name of self-defense — a reaction to a domestic-dispute case in which a wife faces heavy prison time for firing at, and missing, her husband. The latter is just the latest in Florida’s steady stream of aberrational gun cases that have surfaced since the law was enacted in 2005, leading 21 other states to do the same.
The pro-gun zealots who occupy the statehouses appeared to let up after the schoolhouse gun massacre in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. But as the country enters a new election cycle, the gun lobby is prodding lawmakers for even more advantageous laws, despite growing evidence that Stand Your Ground, far from protecting the public, hobbles prosecutors and gives defense lawyers unwarranted leeway to invoke self-defense in a mockery of law and order.
The number of justifiable-homicide cases in Florida has jumped by 200 percent since enactment of the law, according to a survey of F.B.I. data by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun-safety group alarmed by the way the statehouses run roughshod over community gun controls.
Justifiable-homicide cases rose 83 percent in Georgia, where the House’s deplorable gun bill has now moved to the Senate, where the gun lobby is busily at work. Georgians should stand up for sanity and rebuff the latest threat to public safety from lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby.
And then I read this adjacent op ed today (below) and thought although I am fervently anti-gun there was nothing in the story of another misguided youth at the wrong place, wrong time and the no knock raid and search of another drug "felon" even when you have to bust doors down unprovoked this will "get em" Who are these people? Osama Bin Laden? Zero Dark Thirty only at home.
And this is another reason why the bizarre nutfuck fringe of the NRA go ballistic with their arms (pun intended) when they hear of any attempt to legislate gun ownership. And this article does nothing to actually disprove their point.
What is really the point is that actual jurisprudence is non-existent as almost all sentencing is mandated. And that those are often done in response to some histrionic victim who lobbied and managed to link the idea of possession of firearms with of course possession of pot/drugs/crack/being black, etc. I can see those hopped up dopers taking up arms and leading the revolution in the same way I can believe that we will have actual meaningful appropriate legislation with regards to gun ownership and more importantly sales.
And if we put everyone in a cage even for a hot minute that will send a message to the community that this could happen to you. It clearly is working. Or not.
No one is against anyone owning a gun responsibly. But that is not a lock. Funny we have more laws regarding driving and drinking, cash and carrying, yet we seem to think that guns are not the problem, the mentally ill are. Or anyone doing drugs.
Again name three cases of the last shootings that have significant diagnosis that support mentally ills or drug abuse?
I can wait.
Reduce Gun Penalties
By MAYA SCHENWAR
MARCH 14, 2014
CHICAGO — IN May of 2002, a 23-year-old man named Michael Brandon Shuler was sentenced in federal court to 15 years in prison for illegally possessing a gun — something that even the prosecutor acknowledged was a “rather benign act.”
Mr. Shuler’s lengthy sentence may seem cruel, but sadly it wasn’t unusual. It came courtesy of the Armed Career Criminal Act, a federal law that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for people who possess a gun and have three prior convictions for certain crimes. These crimes include drug offenses and “violent” crimes, a category that encompasses a range of charges, such as breaking and entering, that may involve no actual physical violence.
The latter situation was the case with Mr. Shuler. At 18, having grown up in a poor Appalachian town in Virginia and struggled with mental health problems, he broke into several schools to steal prescriptions for pills to which he had become addicted. He was arrested and convicted on charges of larceny and breaking and entering. The sentencing judge described Mr. Shuler’s crimes as “nonviolent.” He served about a year in jail.
Then, when Mr. Shuler was 22, his mother died in a car accident, and he inherited from her a pistol and shotgun. After he picked them up, he visited someone whose home was raided (while Mr. Shuler was present) by members of the local Sheriff’s Department, looking for drugs. They happened upon Mr. Shuler’s guns, and several months later, Mr. Shuler was questioned by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He was eventually arrested and charged with violating the Armed Career Criminal Act. Because his prior offenses counted as violent crimes under the law, the judge had no option but to sentence him to 15 years.
We are accustomed to hearing about exorbitant mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses, but similar sentencing for gun possession is less frequently mentioned, though its effects are often just as devastating, especially for poor people and people of color. In fact, a black person is nearly twice as likely to face a mandatory minimum carrying charge than a white person who is prosecuted for the same conduct.
When judges combine mandatory sentences for relatively minor, nonviolent charges, people convicted of gun possession offenses can receive prison terms lasting decades. In Texas in 2006, DeJarion Echols, a young black college student with no prior convictions, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison: 10 years thanks to a mandatory minimum for possession of a small amount of crack cocaine (40 grams); and 10 more years thanks to a mandatory minimum for possession of a firearm in connection with a drug-trafficking charge. “This is one of those situations where I’d like to see a congressman sitting before me,” the sentencing judge said, in evident frustration.
I don't think we need to reduce the penalties. I think we need to give judges a bit of latitude in unusual and extraordinary cases.
Federal law is not unique in its use of minimum gun sentencing: Many states require mandatory sentences for illegal firearm possession and possession of a firearm during a felony. In New York, having an illegal firearm will get you at least three and a half years behind bars; a similar penalty was recently deemed “cruel and unusual punishment” when the Court of Appeal in Ontario, Canada, struck down three-year mandatory sentences for illegal gun possession as unconstitutional.
Mandatory minimum gun laws have historically been favored by gun control advocates and gun rights proponents alike. Supporters insist that mandatory minimums diminish violence via incapacitation (putting potential shooters in prison) and deterrence.
But there is no good evidence that mandatory minimum gun laws actually have this effect. A recent report issued by the Bluhm Legal Clinic of the Northwestern University Law School concluded that “decades of empirical evidence and evaluations of specific state experiences demonstrate that mandatory sentences will not reduce gun violence.” Studies of the impact of such laws in Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia and Michigan found no discernible effect on violent crime rates. In return for issuing these sentences, society reaps only the heavy burdens that come with lengthy incarceration, perhaps the least of which is higher costs to taxpayers.
Opposition to mandatory sentencing for drug-related offenses is steadily growing. Now we must widen our criticism to encompass mandatory minimums for firearms. These laws are not reducing violence. They’re simply fueling a different kind of violence: the banishment and isolation of large numbers of people, especially people of color and poor people, tearing apart their lives, families and communities.