Monday, December 16, 2013

Winchester Madness

I entitled this blog the Winchester Madness as it related to the creation of the Oxford Dictionary two men and their collaboration, one whom was a man interned in an asylum for insanity. We love to talk about mental illness apparently we neglect that they are not as insane as they appear. Their story is this book: The Professor and the Madman

Ah but you would think I am speaking of the gun of the same name. Well that is what a homonym is. And why I wanted to remind myself of what defines "insanity" because this past week has been seemingly chock full of it.

I heard about a six year old boy who was suspended from school for kissing his classmate or as the formal charges read "Sexual Harassment." He "gots a lots of energy" apparently the felon proclaimed from his house arrest. I hope this kid is monitored for life!

Ironically this is in Colorado, which is increasingly becoming the State for ground zero when it comes to school violence. On Friday, another irony (anyone using the words commemoration or anniversary needs a quick check in their Thesaurus for a better antonym that has less pleasurable connotations) the marking of the year when Sandy Hook massacre took place, a young man went to school intending on violence to harm a teacher and in turn seriously injured a student and then promptly killed himself. Ah the new suicide by mass murder, replacing the former one by cop.

And this weekend I watched Moyers and Company with the culture historian who has written many books on the history of America and its love affair with guns, Richard Slotkin. The legacy and idolatry and of course mythology that for some reasons continues to dominate our landscape is one of sheer hubris, violence and of course money. There are few real people who own guns or even have no problem with the 2nd Amendment who think "more guns" are the answer. But when it comes to arguing with those who think differently them would you?

The episode is here and worth watching as it opens up the discussion about how we have somehow equated the notion that from guns comes freedom and it is reflected in our war loving culture and increasing confusion about defending one's rights. Anyone who thinks that we could through personal armaments protect oneself from a Government the size and scale of ours and their defense capabilities needs to Zero Dark Thirty themselves and review the scale and scope of our own violence against others in our war on terrorism.

It was Tuesday of last week when for the first time I actually spoke to a Police Officer in a high school. There is only one school of record that I see Officers and ironically it is one of an "illustrious" history, only I would disagree with the definition of said history and how it is no longer applicable today, as I wonder why any school would need an armed Officer to do what exactly? But after my encounter with this student whose outburst was so disturbing that not one but two young men felt compelled to apologize. I said for them to not do so as frankly he was actually their problem not mine.

And I made that decision to never return to that school for the remainder of the year and then Friday happened. Point.proven.

The answer to of course Friday's outburst is more cops at schools, mental health issues, violent video games and teaching kids what to do to vacate and exit a school safely. One watched the news on Friday with armed swat teams, tanks and other military like apparatus screen and pass each student, arms upraised, "assuming the position" in what is becoming a rote operation in our Police nation state of late.

Of course no discussion will occur about guns, access and of course the real problem the idolatry and belief that guns will assuage problems and keep us safe.

One review of the Lanza home life and clear history of that young man and his descent into madness shows not just his own but his mother who for some reason thought guns and violent games would calm and balm her tragically isolated troubled son.

I need a time away from the United States. I am not sure if I can continue Teaching here as the obsession with reform has little to do with the student's, their lives, their needs as it seems to be about union busting and technology the savior to all that ails our collapsing system. It is by far more larger than Education.

The article below I believe substantiates much of what was discussed on Moyers. A culture so convinced and awash by a faux mythology that associates guns with freedom that we cannot see the bullets from the magazines from which they are ejected.

First world nation, third world problems.

Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Laws on Gun Control

Published: December 15, 2013

GREELEY, Colo. — When Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County explains in speeches why he is not enforcing the state’s new gun laws, he holds up two 30-round magazines. One, he says, he had before July 1, when the law banning the possession, sale or transfer of the large-capacity magazines went into effect. The other, he “maybe” obtained afterward.

He shuffles the magazines, which look identical, and then challenges the audience to tell the difference.

“How is a deputy or an officer supposed to know which is which?” he asks.

Colorado’s package of gun laws, enacted this year after mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., has been hailed as a victory by advocates of gun control. But if Sheriff Cooke and a majority of the other county sheriffs in Colorado offer any indication, the new laws — which mandate background checks for private gun transfers and outlaw magazines over 15 rounds — may prove nearly irrelevant across much of the state’s rural regions.

Some sheriffs, like Sheriff Cooke, are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights. Many more say that enforcement will be “a very low priority,” as several sheriffs put it. All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.

The resistance of sheriffs in Colorado is playing out in other states, raising questions about whether tougher rules passed since Newtown will have a muted effect in parts of the American heartland, where gun ownership is common and grass-roots opposition to tighter restrictions is high.

In New York State, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed one of the toughest gun law packages in the nation last January, two sheriffs have said publicly they would not enforce the laws — inaction that Mr. Cuomo said would set “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” The sheriffs’ refusal is unlikely to have much effect in the state: According to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, since 2010 sheriffs have filed less than 2 percent of the two most common felony gun charges. The vast majority of charges are filed by the state or local police.

In Liberty County, Fla., a jury in October acquitted a sheriff who had been suspended and charged with misconduct after he released a man arrested by a deputy on charges of carrying a concealed firearm. The sheriff, who was immediately reinstated by the governor, said he was protecting the man’s Second Amendment rights.

And in California, a delegation of sheriffs met with Gov. Jerry Brown this fall to try to persuade him to veto gun bills passed by the Legislature, including measures banning semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and lead ammunition for hunting (Mr. Brown signed the ammunition bill but vetoed the bill outlawing the rifles).

“Our way of life means nothing to these politicians, and our interests are not being promoted in the legislative halls of Sacramento or Washington, D.C.,” said Jon E. Lopey, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, Calif., one of those who met with Governor Brown. He said enforcing gun laws was not a priority for him, and he added that residents of his rural region near the Oregon border are equally frustrated by regulations imposed by the federal Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

This year, the new gun laws in Colorado have become political flash points. Two state senators who supported the legislation were recalled in elections in September; a third resigned last month rather than face a recall. Efforts to repeal the statutes are already in the works.

Countering the elected sheriffs are some police chiefs, especially in urban areas, and state officials who say that the laws are not only enforceable but that they are already having an effect. Most gun stores have stopped selling the high-capacity magazines for personal use, although one sheriff acknowledged that some stores continued to sell them illegally. Some people who are selling or otherwise transferring guns privately are seeking background checks.

Eric Brown, a spokesman for Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado, said, “Particularly on background checks, the numbers show the law is working.” The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has run 3,445 checks on private sales since the law went into effect, he said, and has denied gun sales to 70 people.

A Federal District Court judge last month ruled against a claim in the sheriffs’ lawsuit that one part of the magazine law was unconstitutionally vague. The judge also ruled that while the sheriffs could sue as individuals, they had no standing to sue in their official capacity.

Still, the state’s top law enforcement officials acknowledged that sheriffs had wide discretion in enforcing state laws.

“We’re not in the position of telling sheriffs and chiefs what to do or not to do,” said Lance Clem, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety. “We have people calling us all the time, thinking they’ve got an issue with their sheriff, and we tell them we don’t have the authority to intervene.”

Sheriffs who refuse to enforce gun laws around the country are in the minority, though no statistics exist. In Colorado, though, sheriffs like Joe Pelle of Boulder County, who support the laws and have more liberal constituencies that back them, are outnumbered.

“A lot of sheriffs are claiming the Constitution, saying that they’re not going to enforce this because they personally believe it violates the Second Amendment,” Sheriff Pelle said. “But that stance in and of itself violates the Constitution.”

Even Sheriff W. Pete Palmer of Chaffee County, one of the seven sheriffs who declined to join the federal lawsuit because he felt duty-bound to carry out the laws, said he was unlikely to aggressively enforce them. He said enforcement poses “huge practical difficulties,” and besides, he has neither the resources nor the pressure from his constituents to make active enforcement a high priority. Violations of the laws are misdemeanors.

“All law enforcement agencies consider the community standards — what is it that our community wishes us to focus on — and I can tell you our community is not worried one whit about background checks or high-capacity magazines,” he said.

At their extreme, the views of sheriffs who refuse to enforce gun laws echo the stand of Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff and the author of “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.” Mr. Mack has argued that county sheriffs are the ultimate arbiters of what is constitutional and what is not. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, founded by Mr. Mack, is an organization of sheriffs and other officers who support his views.

“The Supreme Court does not run my office,” Mr. Mack said in an interview. “Just because they allow something doesn’t mean that a good constitutional sheriff is going to do it.” He said that 250 sheriffs from around the country attended the association’s recent convention.

Matthew J. Parlow, a law professor at Marquette University, said that some states, including New York, had laws that allowed the governor in some circumstances to investigate and remove public officials who engaged in egregious misconduct — laws that in theory might allow the removal of sheriffs who failed to enforce state statutes.

But, he said, many governors could be reluctant to use such powers. And in most cases, any penalty for a sheriff who chose not to enforce state law would have to come from voters.

Sheriff Cooke, for his part, said that he was entitled to use discretion in enforcement, especially when he believed the laws were wrong or unenforceable.

“In my oath it says I’ll uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Colorado,” he said, as he posed for campaign photos in his office — he is running for the State Senate in 2014. “It doesn’t say I have to uphold every law passed by the Legislatu

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