Friday, December 28, 2012

rewriting the Second Amendment

Proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Section 1. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon arbitrarily.

Section 2. The right of the people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness shall supersede the right to bear arms. The rights enumerated in the First Amendment shall also supersede the right to bear arms.

Section 3. The right to bear arms shall be integrated into the needs of Congress and the states to provide for the physical safety of communities and individual citizens.

Section 4. States shall be empowered to regulate import and export of firearms superseding Congress' prerogative to regulate interstate commerce.

Section 5. Restrictions on the ownership and use of firearms that are arbitrary or can be shown to provide marginal benefit shall be invalid.

Section 6. There is no right to armed insurrection or right to assassinate government officials in the Constitution.

Section 7. This amendment supersedes the Second Amendment.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

how Illinois should handle "concealed carry"

Rep. LaShawn Ford is chairing the task force making recommendations on how to respond to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Illinois has 180 days to write legislation allowing "conceal carry" of firearms.

Below is what I submitted to Ford. It begins with a rant against the ruling. The second part is a number of ways Illinois could narrowly grant "conceal carry" in a way that would probably be safe.

The rant:
The Seventh Court of Appeals has been arrogant in ruling Illinois' ban on “concealed carry” unconstitutional.

Based on experience in other states, we know that someone with a “concealed carry” permit will escalate a situation—perhaps a situation where there was no underlying criminal activity—to the point where someone gets killed.

The examples from Florida make it pretty clear, the shooter will probably be a middle-aged “White” male and the victim will probably be a Black male between 14-25 years old.

Whether George Zimmerman gets successfully prosecuted for murder or not, Trayvon Martin is dead because the firearms industry, through the NRA and ALEC, set firearms policy.

It is deeply offensive to me that federal courts would decide the “rights” of the men who fetishize firearms to carry a weapon trump the rights of young Black men to not be killed by racist cranks who are looking for fights.

The Supreme Court's ruling in DC v. Heller is a joke. Just like the Paula Jones ruling was a joke. And Bush v. Gore was a joke. And Citizens United was a joke. The Supreme Court has devolved into “Conservative” ideological hackery. And the public opinion of the court reflects this.

Justice Scalia and the majority have erased the first half of the Second Amendment. Like all rights, the right to bear arms is a balancing test. What does it get balanced against? The security of the state, among other things. Scalia and the “Conservative” hacks have decided that the individual gets to decide when the security of the state balances against the right to keep and bear arms.

Doesn't it seem like Congress & the President and the state legislatures and the governors have some role in deciding the security and safety needs of the American people?

The Illinois General Assembly may be full of people who aren't particularly clever, courageous or honorable. But they are elected. The federal courts removing the power of the state legislatures to decide criminal justice policy in their states is offensive. The NRA and gun owners know how to participate in elections. Whether Illinois should allow “conceal carry” is a matter for the Illinois General Assembly.

Denying individuals the authority to legally carry firearms concealed is not an offense against individual rights that rises to the level of Jim Crow, literacy tests, school segregation, etc.
The recommendations:
However, if Illinois is going to allow “conceal carry” it should include these elements.

Pledge: Follow the Law: First and foremost, individuals should be required to sign a statement and clearly state in front of witnesses, “Neither possessing a 'conceal carry' permit nor a firearm in any way deputizes me to act as a law enforcement officer. I understand that if I draw my weapon inappropriately, illegally discharge a firearm or in any way violate the 'conceal carry' rules for the State of Illinois, I will definitely lose my 'conceal carry' permit and I may be subject to prosecution.”

Don't be incompetent. Accidental discharge of a firearm shall be permanently disqualifying for a “conceal carry” permit.

Be recommended. A licensed firearms dealer must recommend an individual as part of the “conceal carry” application process. The Illinois Attorney General shall establish criteria for taking action against firearms dealers that recommend “conceal carry” permits for people who abuse “conceal carry” or violate Illinois' “conceal carry” rules.

Document utility: Every time a “conceal carry” permit holder draws or brandishes his/her weapon, s/he shall be required to submit a report of the incident. This should not be objectionable to the “pro gun” crowd because it will help document all the good that comes from “conceal carry”. Heroic action by “conceal carry” permit holders is not authorized in Illinois. If you want to be a hero, use your cell phone and call 911.

Investigate incidents: These incidents of “conceal carry” permit holders drawing, brandishing or using firearms shall be investigated by law enforcement. The cost of these investigations shall be paid for by fees charged for “conceal carry” permits.

Avoid conflicts: People carry weapons shall avoid conflict and confrontations. If someone is armed with a concealed weapon and initiates a conflict or escalates a conflict s/he shall lose the ability to get a “conceal carry” permit for life. This includes raising one's voice while armed.

Let people know, retreat when possible: If someone carrying a weapons finds him/herself in a conflict, s/he should identify him/herself as armed and disengage from the situation. People carry firearms and other weapons in Illinois shall have a duty to retreat. If there is ambiguity in the situation, the ambiguity shall be construed against the armed party.

Notify people you might shoot: If someone obtains a “conceal carry” permit and expects having conflict or confrontation with specific people, e.g. domestic violence, history of conflict at work, arguments with a neighbor, the person obtaining the “conceal carry” permit shall have an affirmative duty to notify the other party within 72 hours of getting the “conceal carry” permit.

Make the permits public: There shall be a place on the web where everyone authorized to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois shall be listed. This will include members of law enforcement, politicians, private security guards and private individuals with “conceal carry” permits.

Create a process for reporting permit holders whose competence is in question: The State of Illinois shall maintain a board that reviews actions by people who have “conceal carry” permits. If someone has reason to believe that someone should not be carrying a firearm, this board shall make it possible to report these concerns and review the competence of individual “conceal carry” permit holders. The activities of this board shall be paid for by the fees for “conceal carry” permits, including the fees on private security and everyone who is not an active law enforcement officer.

Revoke "conceal carry" if it's a problem: If “conceal carry” permit holders shoot anyone who would not have been shot had “conceal carry” not been law, “conceal carry” permits shall not be granted or valid in the county where the shooting occurred. If “conceal carry” is revoked in a dozen counties or in counties totaling a third of Illinois' population, “conceal carry” shall be revoked for the State of Illinois.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How does it make sense for law enforcement professionals to support "conceal carry"?

Something strikes me as odd about law enforcement officers supporting "conceal carry".

If they think that Grump E. Guy with a "conceal carry" permit and a firearm is qualified to decide when to draw and fire a weapon to prevent a crime, what's this say about their understanding of law enforcement?

Do cops think that the training associated with a "conceal carry" permit is equivalent or approximately as good as that law enforcement officers receive?

Do cops think that the average citizen has the judgment to make a life-and-death decision under stress? It seems like these issues are kinda complex. Again, it seems like law enforcement officers are dissing themselves as professionals to say that any old person should be empowered to make the call.

Here's what I suspect is going on: many cops have a world view that separates the world into "good guys" and "bad guys". So, if "good guys" have guns, this is empowering good in the world. And if "bad guys" get shot, this decreases the evil in the world.

The way more sophisticated people see the world--yes, I'm making a value judgment--no person is incapable of making mistakes. And rarely does one encounter a situation that can only be resolved by deadly force. And among the people who do practice "conceal carry" are jackasses who shoot people in situations where there was no threat to anyone's well being, except that somebody with poor judgment had a firearm.

If the law enforcement community sees themselves as professionals devoted to reducing crime, supporting "conceal carry" makes little sense. If members of law enforcement see themselves as deputized by God to kill as many "evil doers" as possible, well giving firearms to the George Zimmerman's of the world makes sense.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

harnessing the private sector to keep guns from bad guys

The following is how gun violence could be drastically reduced in the United States by holding the correct parties accountable.

The solution lies in states rights and accountability. And the private sector.

If the parties in the firearms industry are properly assessed the cost of gun violence, the firearms industry will create its own system for keeping firearms out of the hands of bad actors.

Individual states should be allowed to assess fines against any and all parties in the chain of custody for firearms used in illegal shootings. From manufacturer to the person who provided the criminal the firearm.