Volume 10, No. 1                   www.foac-pac.org                   January 1, 2010

 

Firearms Owners Against Crime

 

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, 1785

E-Newsletter & FOAC Meeting Notice

 
                                  January 10, 2010

 

6.0              Invited Guest Speaker(s):

Keith Rothfus (4th Congressional District Candidate)

Patrick Kennedy (18th Congressional District Candidate)

 

Meeting Agenda Issues:

 

9.0     NEW BUSINESS

9.1              Overview of 2010 Elections

9.1.1        Questionnaire Updates & Finalization

9.1.2        Senator Orie & D/A Zappala – Election Issues OR Political Persecution

9.2              Issues Report on Gun/Hunting Issues—PA

9.2.1        Right to Know Law Efforts-West Mifflin

9.2.2        Atty. Ed Billick – Developments in PSP Denials for Firearm Purchase

9.2.3        Ceasefire PA – United Way & 2010 Plans

9.2.4        Lost or Stolen Gun Legislation Developments

9.2.5        Mayors Against Illegal Guns (developments) MAIG – Kim & Dennis

9.3              Membership Committee Updates & Developments

9.4              Candidate Meetings

9.4.1        Rep. Curt Schroder (6th Congressional District—Open Seat)

9.5              Swearing in Ceremonies

9.5.1        Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin

9.5.2        Commonwealth & Superior Court

9.5.3        Sheriff Michael Slupe

9.6              FACEBOOK Developments – Monica Douglas

9.7              2010 2nd Amendment Rally Planning

9.8              FOAC members involvement in Gun Club meetings

Federal issues:

9.9              McDonald/Chicago Gun Ban Supreme Court (Update)

9.10          Health Care Legislation and Guns (Status

9.11          Obama Change to Reagan Executive Order (#12425 – Interpol)

 

Events:

** PA Gun Collectors Gun Show:  January 16th & 17th - (Westmoreland Mall Annex)

**Allegheny Outdoor Travel & Sport Show:  February 17th – 21st - (Monroeville Convention Center)

** Washington County Gun Show-ARH Sport Shop: February 27th & 28th–(Washington Cty. Fairgrounds)

 

 

FOAC - 2010 Meeting Schedule

Jan 10, 2nd Sunday, Feb 14, 2nd Sunday, Mar 14, 2nd Sunday, Apr 11,2nd  Sunday, May 16, 3rd Sunday, Jun 13, 2nd Sunday, Jul 11, 2nd Sunday, Aug 08, 2nd Sunday, Sep 12, 2nd Sunday, Oct 10, 2nd Sunday, Nov 14, 2nd Sunday, Dec 12, 2nd Sunday

**Time of Meeting:  10:00 AM

**Location: Whitehall Borough Bldg (off Rt.51 – ask for directions)

****Coffee-Hot Chocolate-Hot Tea and Donuts will be available

***2010 Election Dates: Primary Election – May 18 / General Election – Nov. 2

 

 

Mandatory Reporting of Lost or Stolen Firearms Update:

An example of City of Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields talking out of both sides of his mouth:

 

"I'm not a fool. I know that this legislation won't stop crime from happening," says Shields (Pittsburgh City Council President) [Pittsburgh City Paper Article January 7, 2010]

 

Council President Doug Shields. . . .said the objective of the legislation is to crack down on illegal purchasers of guns. (May 12, 2009-Tribune Review)(If you believe this then you also probably still believe in the tooth fairy-ed.)

Shooting Blanks

By Charlie Deitch, Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh City Councilor Doug Shields says he can't wait for the day when someone is charged under the city's lost-and stolen-gun ordinance.

"I'm looking forward to the day that we have an actual case," says Shields, one of the bill's main authors and supporters.

But apparently, no one in the city's police bureau is on a hair-trigger. One year after the ordinance took effect, not a single person has been charged under it.

The measure requires gun-owners whose firearms are lost or stolen to report the incident within 72 hours. Similar to a 2008 Philadelphia ordinance, the measure seeks to curtail "straw purchasing" -- weapons being bought and turned over to criminals who couldn't legally acquire them. When such weapons are discovered at a crime scene, their original owners often insist the weapon must have been stolen.

In fact, Shields says, "I'm very curious why the offense hasn't been cited yet. We've had a number of shootings where guns have been discovered, and it is odd that it hasn't come up once."

According to Sgt. Shirley Epperson of the police department's firearms tracking bureau, city officers are waiting for "a protocol for how police should proceed" before enforcing the ordinance. But city solicitor Daniel Regan says the police should have all they need:

"They're not waiting on any type of protocol from us to proceed. If the facts ... of a particular case call for an individual to be charged, they will be."

Apparently, then, in the past year police simply haven't turned up a weapon belonging to a city gun-owner who didn't report it missing.

But "[a]t some point," Shields predicts, "a gun is going to show up at a crime scene, and we're going to find out that it was stolen three months ago and the owner didn't report it."

When that happens, the ordinance itself could end up in court. In fact, the National Rifle Association has challenged the ordinance once already, suing to overturn it last spring. But the case misfired: Common pleas court Judge Stanton Wettick tossed out the suit, ruling that -- since no one had been charged with the offense yet -- nobody had standing to challenge it.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hailed the decision, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the city "could start enforcing [the law] shortly. ...

We're going to forge ahead."

Shields wishes it would, even though he knows that could result in a legal challenge.

"I want [gun-owners] to take us to court with the NRA by their side, so we can watch this law stand up as a good piece of commonsense gun legislation," Shields says. "I can't wait for that day."

He may have to.

Pittsburgh took its shot at a straw-purchase measure after Philadelphia passed a similar ordinance in early 2008. The measure passed council by a 6-1 margin; Ravenstahl allowed it to become law without his signature.

Since then, similar ordinances have cropped up across the state, especially around Pittsburgh. Shields says he and fellow councilor Bruce Kraus have been visiting various communities, speaking in favor of the measure. So far, 19 communities have passed similar laws, among them: West Mifflin; Castle Shannon; Braddock; Wilkinsburg; Clairton; Erie; Allentown; Reading and Harrisburg.

"This has truly been a grassroots movement to get these ordinances passed," says Shields. "People try to paint this as a Philadelphia and Pittsburgh problem, but it's not. It's an issue that affects and matters to every community across the commonwealth.

"We know the legislators in Harrisburg are dominated by the NRA lobbyist," he continues, "but we're going to keep passing these ordinances to put the squeeze on them."

That's exactly the tactic Kim Stolfer finds so objectionable.

Stolfer says it's only fitting that the city hasn't prosecuted anyone under the ordinance. The city ordinance "isn't about stopping crime," says Stolfer, who chairs Firearms Owners Against Crime, a gun-rights group. "They're trying to extort action from the state legislature to enact even more restrictive gun laws than we already have."

Stolfer, who spoke against the city's ordinance during hearings, says that Pennsylvania already has a slew of gun laws, many of which aren't properly enforced. There are already laws against knowingly buying a gun for someone who is legally barred from purchasing it, Stolfer says. He points out that the Brady Campaign, an advocacy group that favors more gun control, ranks Pennsylvania's gun laws as the 10th most restrictive in the United States. (True enough, but even Pennsylvania scores only 26 out of 100 points on the Brady Campaign's scale.)

"Even if I report my firearm missing within 24 hours, how on earth does that prevent a crime from occurring with my stolen gun?" asks Stolfer. "They call this common-sense gun legislation, but it doesn't actually do anything to stop a crime from happening. Where's the common sense?

"This is not an issue based in how can we make society safer. It's a perpetuation of smoke and mirrors meant only to try and force even more gun laws."

Shields counters that he knows this isn't necessarily a piece of anti-crime legislation, but more in the realm of public health.

"I'm not a fool. I know that this legislation won't stop crime from happening," says Shields. "But maybe we can prevent an unnecessary injury or a teen suicide.

"I know I can't stop a criminal," he adds, "but maybe I can stop a kid from accidentally shooting his brother with laws like this." http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/gyrobase/PrintFriendly?oid=oid%3A73541

 

A Pa. Constitutional Sideshow

By Larry Ceisler (Philadelphia Daily News: See Column Here)

I have to admit I get a chuckle out of the Daily News joining the chorus calling for a constitutional convention in Pennsylvania (“Constitutional Convention: Road map to reform,” December 28).  For some reason, the People Paper and a few others believe there is a real possibility that the magic of 1776 will be recreated by a gathering of involved Pennsylvanians who care about good government (the way the Daily News envisions it, of course).

I think such a convention would be a political freak show.

Let’s be realistic for a moment.  What kinds of people are going to run for the chance to make these important changes?  Remember, those who win the opportunity will be giving up several months away from their jobs and families.  And I am confident that due to the Commonwealth’s fiscal condition, there will be little (if any) compensation for that work.  Regardless, paying convention attendees and staff would go against the grain of what this particular public service is all about.

As the Daily News noted last week, there was a constitutional convention in the 1960s.  I can actually remember that one and knew some of the delegates – many of whom were the very people you’d want to be protected from.

Nor would the Franklins and Jeffersons show up this time around.  Instead, you’ll have a room full of tea baggers, Moveon.org types, pajama-clad bloggers, single-member advocacy groups, and special interests.

Special interests?  The same people that the Daily News firmly believes are responsible for the rotting of the system?  You better believe they’ll be represented.  Like any other political act, it’s in their interest to affect a constitutional convention, and they will be able to make sure their delegates do not lose any paydays doing so.

I can picture the scene: crazies from the left and right debating sunshine provisions with representatives of corporate Philadelphia, trial lawyers, and labor unions.  What fun.  But who among them would represent the average Pennsylvanian?

Proponents of this idea will demand public financing of the elections or even that the sessions be conducted online so delegates can maintain normal lives throughout process.  But that’s just window dressing for an unneeded storefront.

After all, whenever there is a problem, the kneejerk reaction is to call for meetings, hearings or commissions.  There has been a blue ribbon run over the last several years, with middling results at best.  There’s no reason to add another – no matter how momentous or well-intentioned – to the list.

Why not?  Because our General Assembly has already made substantive changes in the way they operate.  Just because it’s incremental – as change often is – doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  The process currently is only “broken” insofar as elected officials need an excuse for a lack of accomplishment and the media insists it doesn’t work.

The fact is that we have a constitutional convention every two years in Pennsylvania when we elect our General Assembly.  It’s wrong to paint these public servants with a broad brush of self-preservation and incompetence.  The vast majority is dedicated to serving the best interest of their constituencies.  That dedication is not determined by party affiliation.

In fact, reforming our system of election – which wouldn’t take a convention to do – would have more meaningful consequences for the Keystone State.  The goal should not be to create bulletproof safe seats or punish malcontents; rather, a more common sense electoral process could be achieved by drawing districts that include whole counties and municipalities and common geographic and socioeconomic factors.  If seats are drawn sensibly and competitively, primary elections won’t always determine the winners, and representatives will be more middle-of-the-road and responsive to the varied interests of their constituents.

Having said all of this, there is one rational reason to convene a constitutional convention: to generate revenue for Pennsylvania.  And with the bizarre collection that would gather in some location for a convention, it has all the makings of a reality television show that could surely hold its own with Project Runway or the Real Housewives of some other state.

I bet even the Daily News would buy advertising on that show.
Larry Ceisler is a principle in the public-relations firm of Ceisler-Jubelirer and the publisher of www.politicspa.com. E-mail him at [email protected].

 

Anatomy of a murder:

Fallout in wake of WA police `massacre'

by Dave Workman, Senior Editor

Authorities in Washington state and Arkansas have been playing a game of finger-pointing, the Los Angeles Times editorialized that gun shows need to be more strictly regulated, and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly heavily criticized a couple of Pierce County, WA, Superior Court judges for their apparent leniency toward accused cop killer Maurice Clemmons.

Former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also came under heavy fire for having initially com­muted a life sentence Clemmons received for crimes committed when he was a juvenile. Corrections agencies in both Arkansas and Washington also took some heat. Washington gun rights advocates are concerned that this crime will be used as political capital to push for tougher gun control laws, even though the perpetrator violated every existing gun statute in the state.

In the end, there appears to have been a combination of massive failures in the criminal justice system that contributed to what some are now calling the "Parkland massacre" of four Lakewood, WA, police officers in late November. The man who evidently killed them, con­ victed felon Maurice Clemmons, was fatally shot in a confrontation with a Seattle police officer 42 hours later and some 40 miles north, in south Seattle.

Recovered from the first crime scene were two handguns, a .38 Special revolver with all six rounds expended, and a 9mm semiautomatic with one spent shell casing on the ground. The 9mm, according to Pierce County court documents, had been reported stolen in Seattle.

What has emerged from this case is the profile of a remorseless killer surrounded by several people who ignored his threats to kill police hours before he did it, and aided him in the hours after he had "taken care of his business." Clemmons has become the once-living symbol of what has gone wrong with the criminal justice system and a walking testimonial to the absolute failure of gun control laws.

In addition, the Los Angeles Times, in its editorial, tried to spin the crime in an effort to push its own gun control agenda, demanding that the so-called "gun show loophole" needed to be closed. There is no evidence that either gun used in the crime was ob­tained by Clemmons at a gun show or was ever bartered at a gun show.

Anti-gun cartoonist Milt Priggee circulated an editorial cartoon suggesting that the National Rifle Association's support for armed personal protection was somehow at fault. That cartoon outraged Washingtonians.

How did this horrific crime happen, and—more importantly—why?

Maurice Clemmons' long slide toward infamy began as a juvenile in Arkansas, where he was born in 1972. By his own account, he had fallen in with the wrong crowd. The Seattle Times did an in-depth report on Clemmons, noting that by the time he was 16, he was already a criminal. His first caper may have been the 1989 burglary of the home of an Arkansas State Trooper, where he stole that man's handgun and other items, including a cellular phone. The trooper tracked Clemmons down by discovering phone calls Clemmons had made from Arkansas to Des Moines, WA, on his phone bill. But Clemmons was not a one-timer. He did a strong-arm robbery and was kicked out of school for having a handgun on campus. In 1990, Clemmons was convicted in back-to-back trials of several criminal acts including assault, robbery and theft and drew a prison sentence that seemed, by some standards, outrageous: 108 years for a juvenile. He was 17 years old, and if the sentence had stood, he would not have been eligible for parole until 2021.

It was argued at the time that a white youth with Clemmons' criminal history would never have drawn such a sen­tence, yet published accounts about his trials suggest he was no ordinary juvenile offender. According to the Seattle Times (referring to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette), one trial saw the teenage Clemmons wearing leg shackles because the judge felt threatened by him. He also reportedly threw a holding cell lock at a jail guard, but hit his own mother instead by accident.

He drew prison sentences of 48 and 60 years for various felonies and was facing even more prison time for other felony charges that included possession of a handgun on school property, according to the Seattle Times.

But it was the lengthy sentence that would ultimately draw Huckabee's attention in 2000, after Clemmons had served a decade in prison. Clemmons appealed to Huckabee, insisting that he had become a changed person in prison. Huckabee, a Baptist minister and conservative politician with a penchant for handing out "second chances" while in office, commuted Clemmons' sentence, making Clemmons then eligible for parole. KING-5 News quoted Arkansas prosecutor Larry Jegley, who contended that "Maurice Clemmons had no busi­ness being on the streets."

He got out of prison and in 2004, moved to Washington state where he had family. There he held various jobs and started a landscaping business.

Since the murders, disturbing evi­dence has surfaced suggesting that Clemmons was anything but a rehabili­tated model citizen.

The Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune reported that Clemmons may have been connected to a series of armed robberies in the Puget Sound area, and that he had also been investigated for drug trafficking and federal postal violations. He had also been a suspect in an Arkansas armed robbery in 2004, not long after he had officially relocated to Washington.

Clemmons also bears a striking resemblance to an artist's sketch of an armed robbery suspect in Washington, which also caught the attention of a Corrections Department official. For unexplained reasons, there was no follow-up when that tip was forwarded to Seattle Crime Stoppers and appar­ently never got to detectives working those robbery cases.

Then in May 2009, Clemmons seems to have snapped. He started throwing rocks at cars and homes of neighbors and when sheriff's deputies arrived, they tangled with two of Clemmons' cousins, and finally with Clemmons, who ended up being charged with multiple felony counts.

Two days later deputies were back at Clemmons' Parkland home again, this time on a complaint from his wife, Nicole Smith, that Clemmons had sexually assaulted her 12-year-old daughter. She reportedly recanted that complaint, but in July, Clemmons was arrested for the alleged attack.

Published accounts say Arkansas issued a fugitive warrant for Clemmons following those charges because he had violated conditions of his parole. The no-bail warrant reportedly called for arrest and extradition to Arkansas, but that warrant was later rescinded, and a war of words erupted in e-mails between Washington and Arkansas officials.

Throughout the Summer, the verbal battle continued but on Oct. 2—almost two months after an Arkansas correc­tions official told Washington authorities that they were putting the Clemmons case on hold until pending Washington criminal charges had been adjudicated—Arkansas reportedly asked Washington authorities to "Please continue supervi­sion of this offender pending the disposi­tion of the pending charges." Arkansas promised to reconsider taking Clemmons back to prison, depending upon the outcome of his cases.

Anger and Planning

While he was in jail, psychologists from Western State Hospital interviewed Clemmons and found him competent to stand trial on the May charges. He was reportedly advised that prosecutors would seek a life sentence under Washington's "Three Strikes" statute.

On Nov. 23, Clemmons' wife posted a bail bond, and he was out. It was reportedly the third time in 2009 he had posted bond, and it was a costly chain of events, totaling $420,000. The Tacoma News Tribune also reported that over the Summer, liens had been placed against his properties. Perhaps angry that he was now in a financial free-fall and might be sent back to prison for life, Clemmons' erratic behavior escalated, according to various accounts.

He spent Thanksgiving with family and friends at the home of a relative in south King County, where he first apparently announced his desire to kill police officers.

On the night of Nov. 28, Clemmons –­ the convicted felon out on bond who, under both state and federal firearms statutes could not legally possess a firearm—showed a pair of handguns to his half-brother, Rickey Hinton and his cousins, brothers Douglas and Eddie Davis—and repeated that he planned to kill police officers, according to court documents. Hinton and the Davis brothers lived on property owned by Clemmons, but in separate nearby homes. Clemmons asked Hinton to give him the keys to a white pickup truck, which he said he would need the following morning, and Hinton gave him the keys, according to court docu­ments.

Whether they believed Clemmons, none of the three men took any action to notify authorities of the threats, or the fact that Clemmons had a couple of hand­guns. In the aftermath of what was about to happen, all three would be part of a larger group of friends and family members now facing serious charges in relation to the Parkland shooting.

Newspaper accounts and court documents have established a timeline of Clemmons' activities and details of the morning of Nov. 29. It would become the single costliest day in the history of Washington State law enforcement.

Sunday, Nov. 29

Forza coffee shop is at the south end of a small strip mall where Steel Street South makes a long curve to the east, onto 116th Street South, south from the busy intersection of S. 112th Street and Steele. This is in unincorporated Pierce County, at the north end of McChord Air Force Base, about a quarter-mile south of Highway 512, a main tributary to Interstate 5 south of Tacoma.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., a man named Darcus Allen was awakened by Clemmons. He asked Allen, a convicted felon from Arkansas who had done time in prison for his involvement in a double homicide almost two decades ago and was currently wanted on an Arkansas robbery warrant, to drive him some­where in the borrowed pickup. Allen, paroled in 2004, reportedly lived in the same prison barracks as Clemmons when both were incarcerated, according to the Associated Press. He allegedly dropped Clemmons off at a car wash near the coffee shop and drove around for a few minutes.

Shortly after 8 a.m., four Lakewood police officers—Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Ronald Owens—are seated together preparing for their day shift. Through the door, a burly black male wearing a black jacket and blue jeans enters, walks past the four seated officers and goes up to the counter. One of two employees on duty at the shop would later tell police that the man had "a blank look on his face." That man was Maurice Clemmons, standing 5-feet, 8 inches and weighing 235 pounds.

Without saying a word, Clemmons reached into his jacket and pulled out the .38 Special revolver and opened fire. Griswold and Renninger are apparently shot first, once each in the head, and Owens, apparently rising in reaction, is hit in the neck. All three wounds are fatal and it appears Griswold and Renninger are killed outright. Richards is able to get up and grapple with the gunman toward the door, drawing his .40-caliber Glock service pistol in the process and firing at least one round into Clemmons' abdomen above the navel. At that distance, the wound should have been debilitating if not fatal, with the Speer Gold Dot hollow point bullet traveling at approximately 1,200 feet per second. Investigators later find two spent .40-caliber shell casings, but not the gun that fired them. Pierce County Sheriff's Det. Ed Troyer, the agency's public information officer, later tells reporters that he was surprised Clemmons wasn't killed by that bullet.

But Clemmons manages to shoot Richards fatally in the head, dropping the now-empty .38 revolver and the 9mm semiautomatic.

The incident is over in seconds, but long enough for the two baristas to flee the coffee shop, jump into a car and drive to the nearby gas station where they borrow a telephone and call 911. They see the gunman first on foot, and then getting into the white pickup truck, which speeds away.

Minutes later, the first Pierce County sheriff's deputy arrives to find the carnage. Quickly, the scene is a mass of flashing blue lights from several jurisdictions.

Massive manhunt

The killings ignite a massive manhunt spearheaded by the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. Court papers and published accounts carefully document how Clemmons returned to Hinton's house, saying he had been "shot by the cops." Clemmons then awoke the Davis brothers. Hinton gave them the keys to his car and told them to get Clemmons "out of there," court documents state. Hinton then gave his cell phone to a 12­year-old grandson and told the youth to delete Clemmons' telephone numbers.

Court documents say the Davis brothers drove Clemmons to the home of his aunt, Letrecia Nelson, in the King County suburban Algona area. There he was treated for the gunshot wound, which was stuffed with gauze and cotton and sealed with duct tape.

Clemmons changed clothes and was driven to the Auburn Super Mall parking lot several miles to the north. There he was picked up by another woman who drove him to her house. She bought medical supplies and treated his wound again. He changed clothes again, did a load of laundry and then she drove him to another location and left him. She was stopped by Seattle police officers and questioned. Detectives found blood and other evidence in her car and residence.

By then, Clemmons had contacted other people in need of a place to stay. Before Clemmons arrived at that house, the residents, his aunt and her husband, left and drove to the Seattle Police Department's nearby precinct to report what had happened. A SWAT team was deployed for several hours, heavily damaging the house, but Clemmons remained at large.

As the case unfolded, it took on national implications as media reports revealed the Huckabee connection. The "blame game" erupted, with liberal pundits, including the Post­Intelligencer's Joel Connelly, fixing his sights on the conservative ex-governor and former Republican presidential hopeful, who might be considering another run in 2012. Linking Huckabee to a multiple police homicide because of his clemency for the suspected killer was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Ironically, in the days following the shooting, it was only Huckabee who appeared on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News The O'Reilly Factor program and accepted responsibility for having shown clem­ency toward the killer.

Amid the media frenzy, police contin­ued patiently tightening the noose. Forty-two hours after the Parkland killings, that noose would close on a quiet residential street in Seattle as the lone gunman faced a lone patrol officer.

At approximately 2:45 a.m. on Dec. 1, Seattle Officer Benjamin Kelly was on routine patrol and spotted a car with the hood up and engine running on South Kenyon Street near its intersection with Rainier Avenue South. He checked the license plate and learned that the car had been reported stolen just hours earlier. As he sat in his patrol car, an alert Kelly spotted a man approaching his car from the rear and when the man moved out into the street, Kelly got out and confronted the dark figure.

According to statements to the press from Seattle Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel, the officer immediately recog­nized Clemmons from bulletins.

Clemmons had his hands in his pockets and Kelly ordered him to show his hands. Clemmons instead began to move around the rear of the car, in a counter-clockwise motion toward the sidewalk, simultaneously reaching into his waistband area, police said.

Kelly opened fire. Clemmons, fatally hit, staggered a few feet and fell near some bushes. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators recovered the .40-caliber Glock taken from the Parkland shooting scene, in Clemmons' jacket pocket. Police sources are con­vinced that Clemmons was intending to murder Kelly.

‘It ain't right'

With Clemmons dead, authorities began rounding up everyone who had rendered him assistance during the previous two days. In addition to Hinton, the Davis brothers and Allen, two women, Quiana M. Williams and Letrecia Nelson, 52, were arrested.

According to court documents, Nelson told a Tacoma police detective that she had not seen Clemmons. In reality, the documents say, Nelson and Cicely Clemmons, another relative of the suspect, helped when Clemmons and the Davis brothers appeared at their home in Algona. Nelson made Cicely turn over car keys and cash to Clemmons.

Cicely later tells the detective that Clemmons dined with her, Letrecia and Darcus Allen on Thanksgiving and "he was telling everyone...that he planned to kill cops, he planned to kill children at a school, and he planned to 'kill as many people as he could in an intersection."

This final entry in one court document perhaps best sums up the thinking of relatives who are facing charges now that Clemmons is gone.

Letrecia told Cicely "they would not call the police because family was more important."

Cicely said, "It ain't right."

Letrecia said, "It ain't right, but family's more important." The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

VA Tech officials took care of selves first, says report

When shooting erupted in a campus building at Virginia Tech in April 2007, some school officials locked down their own offices and warned their own families long before issuing a campus alert.

According to a revised report on the massacre that claimed the lives of 32 students and faculty members issued in early December, officials with a "crisis response team" contacted members of their families almost 90 minutes before spreading the alarm across campus. By the time the alert did go out, more than a half-hour after the president's office was locked down along with two other buildings, killer Seung-Hui Cho was already in Norris Hall, in the process of shooting most of his victims.

After a rampage that lasted approxi­mately 10-12 minutes, Cho fatally shot himself in the head.

The revised report was released by the office of Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine, who was quoted by the Associated Press calling it "inexcusable" that school officials warned their own family members before issuing a campus-wide alert.

Austin, TX, Gun Rights Examiner Howard Nemerov—one of about 15 such Examiners around the country on Examiner.com—noted after reviewing the report, "Post secondary institutions appear to have the right to protect their own and leave students at risk. At the same time, they forbid students the right to value their own lives. No self-reliance, no responsibility, no accountability. This is what universities teach our children."

He also reported that campuses in Texas and Colorado have banned concealed carry by properly licensed students.

Cho shot the first two victims at about 7:15 a.m. and it was nearly two hours later that he arrived at Norris Hall to kill 30 more. But according to the revised report, at 8:45 a.m. one member of a policy group advised a Richmond colleague via e-mail that there was a "gunman on the loose" on the campus but that "This is not releasable yet."

CNN noted that the same policy group employee told that same Richmond contact to "just try to make sure it doesn't get out."

The killing sparked a national debate on campus concealed carry, and launched a nationwide organization, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. There are now dozens of chapters on as many college and university campuses across the United States. In Utah, the only state that prevents college and universi­ties administrators from prohibiting guns, legislation was passed and fought in the courts that enables legally licensed students and faculty to carry guns on campus.

The alert at 9:26 a.m. on the morning of the Virginia Tech shooting applied to the double-murder at West Ambler Johnston, a dormitory building, and not to the carnage that was, by then, underway at Norris Hall.

Virginia Tech settled a civil lawsuit for $11 million, but according to Nemerov, no criminal charges have ever been filed in relation to the shooting. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Gun control lobbyist Ricker, former ASSC employee, dies

Bob Ricker, the one-time firearms industry lobbyist who later became an ally of the anti-gun Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and a founding member of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), died Dec. 4 following a long illness.

A graduate from the George Mason University School of Law, Ricker was a trial lawyer in the late 1970s in north­ern Virginia before going to work for the general counsel's office of the National Rifle Association. While there, Ricker worked with the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action and the group's Political Victory Fund.

In 1983, he moved to California, where he organized the California Wildlife Federation's legislative program and led the effort to pass the state's firearm industry product liability immunity statute. It was the first such law in the nation.

In 1992, he was named Western States Director for the now-defunct American Shooting Sports Council, and he became director of government affairs for ASSC in Washington, DC.

It was Ricker's involvement in cutting a deal between some gunmakers and the Clinton White House on voluntary gun locks that landed him in hot water with other gun rights advocates. After the ASSC was dissolved, Ricker suddenly gained prominence by appearing as a witness against the gun industry in a New York lawsuit, going on record against the firearms industry, asserting that some gunmakers and distributors were "irresponsible" and "negligent" in the way they did business.

Ricker later was involved in founding the AHSA, seen in the firearms commu­nity as a gun control organization founded by Democrat activists, disguised as a pro-gun, pro-hunting organization whose goal was to strip members away from NRA and other gun rights groups.

Ricker stepped down from the AHSA in January 2009 and had moved to California. He fell ill in the spring.

The Brady Campaign, in an obituary notice, called Ricker "an insistent voice for reform within the industry." The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Hawaiians registered guns at record pace during 2009

Hawaii residents have registered guns at a record pace for each of the past four years, and appear headed for a new high again this year, preliminary figures show, according to the Honolulu Adver­tiser.

Nearly 26,000 firearms—an annual record—were registered with the four county police departments during 2008. Yearly gun registrations in Hawaii have marched steadily upward for most of the past decade—from about 13,600 in 2000 to 25,996 in 2008—said Paul Perrone, chief of research and statistics for the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General.

The newspaper said that Hawaii firearms dealers and Hawaii Rifle Association officials say the rise in gun ownership in the state is in line with a similar trend across much of the Main­land.

They attribute the increase in gun sales to a combination of factors, most notably the two ongoing Wars, the terrorist attack on New York City and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and most recently, the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States and fears he might back a prohibition on future sales of certain types of firearms.

The number of firearms registered each year may be just a fraction of those actually in Hawaii. Perrone said police estimate there could be approximately one for every man, woman and child in the state.

"Firearms Registrations in Hawaii, 2008," a report authored by Perrone and released in June, says that the biggest increase in gun registrations occurred last year, when Hawaii's economy tanked.

The state's unemployment rate is the highest it has been in more than a decade and the local economy is in a prolonged slump, but even in lean times Hawaii residents have found the money to buy handguns and rifles.

The 25,996 firearms registered in 2008 was a 19% increase from 2007. Unlike most states, Hawaii does not require potential gun purchasers to pass an instant criminal background check, because Hawaii's gun registration laws are among the most stringent in the country and go well beyond the instant check. But some gun dealers here have would-be gun buyers undergo the instant check to quickly see if there is anything in the buyer's background that would prohibit them from buying a gun. The number of people in Hawaii applying for an instant criminal background check jumped by 37% during the first nine months of 2009, compared with the same period last year, according to data collected by the FBI and reported by Bloomberg News. Nationwide, the year-to-date number of background checks through September is 19.3% higher than during the first nine months of 2008, the news service reported.

Kentucky led the nation, recording nearly 1 6 million requests for gun-purchase instant background checks during the first nine months of the year, up a little more than 15% from last year. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Highest Massachusetts court hears challenge to storage law

Gun control proponents argued before Massachusetts' highest court on Nov. 5 that a state law requiring gunowners to lock firearms in their homes saves lives, while gun rights advocates pointed to the US Supreme Court ruling in Heller, holding that people have a constitutional right to keep weapons for self-defense.

The case involves a Billerica, MA, man whose mentally disabled son allegedly shot at a neighbor with a BB gun. The 18-year-old showed police where his father kept other unlocked guns.

Under the Massachusetts safe gun-storage law, the youth's father, Richard Runyan, was charged with improperly storing a 12-gauge shotgun, a semi­automatic hunting rifle and ammunition.

But a Lowell District Court judge dismissed the charges, citing the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a gun storage law and handgun ban in Washington, DC.

The Supreme Court Heller decision also tossed out DC's requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled.

Middlesex County prosecutors argued Thursday that the Massachusetts law requiring guns to be secured in a locked container or equipped with safety devices when not under an owner's control is less restrictive than the DC law.

"The purpose of the (Massachusetts) statute is to keep the firearms out of the hands of unauthorized users," said Assistant District Attorney Loretta Lillios, according to The Boston Globe. She cited the case of Liquarry Jefferson, an 8-year-old Boston boy who was accidentally killed by his 7-year-old cousin in 2007 after the boys found a loaded 9mm handgun in a dresser in Liquarry's home.

But groups representing gunowners argued that the state's requirement that guns be locked up defeats the purpose of self-defense in the home.

Edward George Jr., an attorney for the Gun Owners' Action League (GOAL), said that under the Massachusetts gun storage law, it is virtually impossible for homeowners to quickly access a gun for self-defense.

Prosecutors argued in legal briefs that the Second Amendment allows states to make their own laws regulating gun ownership.

A Lowell District Court judge had previously cited the Supreme Court's ruling in dismissing the case against Richard Runyan, who was charged in April 2008 with improperly storing his firearms and ammunition. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

CSU students, staff split as board blocks campus guns

Colorado State University's (CSU) past refusal to go along with a national trend and ban concealed weapons on campus makes sense to students, but not necessarily to adults on campus.

That split is now front and center. The CSU Board of Governors on on Dec. 4 voted 9-0 to implement a policy that will likely lead to a ban on concealed weap­ons on the university's campuses.

Student leaders say allowing students with permits to carry weapons means everyone is safer—especially women—despite what other schools have done or what an international study by law enforcement contends.

"I've had many say how it makes women feel safer on campus, knowing they can conceal and carry," said sopho­more David Ambrose, a member of the Associated Students of Colorado State University. "It really empowers the powerless."

In fact, it was the ASCSU student senate that voted overwhelmingly to oppose any attempt to ban concealed weapons. Few faculty members, how­ever, support packing concealed weap­ons, and many are puzzled by the students' stance.

Nearly every public college and university bans student possession of concealed weapons on campus through state laws, university regulation or both, according to the American Asso­ciation of State Colleges and Universi­ties. Only state law in Utah safeguards licensed concealed firearms on the campuses of public colleges. Only Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA, and Michigan State Univer­sity had joined Colorado State in allowing licensed students and faculty to bring guns on campus.

But CSU ban is not going down easily. State Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray), assistant minority leader, told The Denver Post that he is working on a bill that would essentially nullify the proposed ban at CSU. Also, any CSU Board of Governors up for reappointment next year will not be getting his vote.

There won't be any broad-based retribution against Colorado State University just because the school's administrators seem ready to ban concealed weapons on campus. But there are other ways Brophy will show his displeasure with the gun decision.

"I will never reconfirm any of those members," Brophy said. "That's the proper way to respond when an elected or appointed official does something you don't approve."

The nine-member board — two of whom are up for confirmation for another four-year term in 2010 — last week voted unanimously for a policy to ban concealed weapons on the CSU campuses at Fort Collins and Pueblo.

Brophy said his bill is aimed at clearing up language in the state concealed- weapons law that would allow weapons to be carried by permit holders at CSU. He said he isn't aware of any attempt being launched to get back at CSU in next year's legislative session for its gun stance.

"I wouldn't want to punish all of the students at CSU for the actions of the Board of Governors," said Brophy. "There is a bigger picture here." The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

New Illinois law ups prison time for gun misuse

Can new gun laws really stop the gang violence in Chicago? CBS wondered on Dec. 3.

Mayor Daley and Governor Quinn are betting on it, according to CBS, but others are doubtful.

On Dec. 3, the mayor and governor signed new gun-related legislation that is supposed to target gang members.

The new law is named in honor of Chicago Police Officer Alejandro Valadez, who was shot and killed last Summer in a gang drive-by shooting.

The new measure increases criminal penalties for weapons crimes by street gang members. The law will send gang members to prison for three to 10 years for having a gun.

Officials contend Valadez's shooter was a gang member on probation for unlaw­ful use of a weapon. The new law would have meant prison time for him.

Quinn signed the law at a public relations event with Daley, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis.

Members of Officer Valadez' family, and some police colleagues attended the signing.

Keep your eye on Chicago's gang violence over the next 12 to 24 months to see if the new law reduces the level of gun-related mayhem on the city's streets, or even if the courts and pros­ecutors actually use the law to put offenders in prison. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Gunowners win Amtrak debate

Amtrak riders will be able to take their handguns with them in their checked luggage within a year, under a provision of the fiscal 2010 omnibus spending bill, according to Congressional Quarterly (CQ).

The Senate-passed Transporta­tion-HUD spending bill included language sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) that would have required Amtrak to allow passen­gers to carry handguns in checked bags by March. The language included in the final version, which was agreed upon the night of Dec. 8 by House-Senate negotiators, retains the directive, but gives Amtrak a year to implement it.

This is an important victory for gun owners, and it affirms congres­sional support of the Second Amend­ment," Wicker said in a statement the next day, according to CQ. "Airline passengers in our country are allowed to transport firearms in secure, checked baggage when declared during the check-in process. Law-abiding gunowners who choose to travel on America's taxpayer-subsidized rail line should be given the same right." The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Suit may impact out-of state sales

The Second Amendment Founda­tion (SAF) has sued the Justice Department to overturn the prohibi­tion on out-of-state gun purchases, which became law as part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the case is now in front of US District Judge James Robertson in Washington, DC.

Narrowly speaking, SAF has filed the Hodgkins v. Holder suit on behalf of US citizens who live abroad and would like to buy firearms when they return for a visit, but don't have a state of residence. More broadly, it could restore Americans' right to buy handguns while traveling across state lines as long as they undergo the normal background check, reported CBS News online and AR

Attorneys for both sides have been arguing over whether the American expats have suffered enough harm to permit them to sue, a legal concept called "standing." The Obama Administration claims that they haven't. SAF points out that the expats tried to purchase firearms in the past but were denied permission.

A ruling Dec. 4 by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia could affect how that question is resolved. Two of the judges on the panel said there was no need to change the current rule on standing; the dissent by Judge Janice Brown said it conflicted with Supreme Court precedent.

Alan Gura, who is representing SAF and the plaintiffs, thinks he can win on the standing question. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

SCOTUS slates Mar. 2 for orals in Chicago case

by Dave Workman, Senior Editor

The gun rights case that could determine whether the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments will be argued before the US Supreme Court Mar. 2 by

Alan Gura, the attorney who successfully argued the case of District of Columbia v. Heller in March 2008.

Gura represents the Second Amend­ment Foundation (SAF), Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and four individual Chicago, IL, residents in McDonald v. City of Chicago. It was the first of two cases filed against the city to overturn its long-standing handgun ban. A second case, filed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), was not accepted by the high court for oral argument.

A decision in the case is anticipated sometime by late June, by the time the current court term concludes, Gura told Gun Week.

He said the oral arguments are just part of making the case before the justices, who also rely heavily on briefs and supporting documentation filed with the court in order to render an opinion. The one•hour oral arguments will, he explained, provide a strong indication of how the justices are reviewing the case.

One thing Gura did make clear is that this ruling, like the Heller ruling before it, will not be an "end all, be all" opinion that nullifies every state and local gun law, or puts the gun rights issue finally at rest. The Supreme Court, he said, does not have the power to simply render every gun law in the country null and void.

Instead, this case will reinforce the foundation upon which further gun rights cases can be brought.

Gura acknowledged that he never could have imagined when entering the legal profession that he would one day be at the heart of two of the most important Supreme Court cases argued in the past century, first the Heller case and now the Chicago gun ban challenge.

"I wanted to practice law in a way that advances personal freedom," he recalled. "I could not have predicted this. It is not something a person could plan in law school."

Many pro-gun briefs have been filed in the case, by Second Amendment scholars, by the NSSF, NRA, LEAA in cooperation with other groups, and dozens of state attorneys general. In all, some 30 amicus briefs have been filed with the high court, including those filed by the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund and the anti­gun Brady Campaign.

The SAF/ISRA case was filed on the same day that the Supreme Court handed down its historic Heller ruling in June 2008. Since then, Gura has also been representing SAF in other legal actions, most notably against the District of Columbia

It has been a busy year for SAF, the NRA and other gun rights groups in the legal arena. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of incorporation—as many now predict—it will open the door to further legal challenges. The odds that similar lawsuits would be filed against the city of New York and other municipalities or states will increase. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

New Gillibrand-McCarthy bill would target gun trafficking

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, at one time a darling Democrat of the National Rifle Association, according to The Buffalo News, may be further distancing herself from her pro-gun past with a new bill aiming to eliminate the flow of illegal guns into New York.

On Nov. 2, she unveiled the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2009, which she said would empower local, state and federal law enforcement officers to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their criminal networks while "protecting responsible, law-abiding gunowners."

Significantly, she introduced the measure in collaboration with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), who is one of the most vocal supporters of gun control in Congress.

"As a mother of two young children, I care deeply about keeping our families and neighborhoods safe and giving law enforcement the tools they need to eliminate illegal guns from the street and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," Gillibrand said.

The new bill would make it illegal to participate in firearms trafficking, or to deliver or receive two or more firearms when an individual knows they will be used in a felony. Its intent, she said, is to pursue "straw-purchasers" who buy guns for others in order to evade required record-keeping and background checks, corrupt gun dealers who sell firearms to traffickers, and those who conspire with gun-trafficking rings.

It also would impose major fines and prison terms of up to 20 years, and would provide greater penalties for "kingpins who organize gun-trafficking rings."

In addition, the bill treats gun-traffick­ing conspirators the same as those who sell the guns. Those who engage in a conspiracy would be subject to the same punishment as those who physically sell and receive the illegal guns, she said.

As might be expected, the legislation is supported by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and the Brady Campaign.

The gun banning front group Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), headed by Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, came out with a full page ad in The Washington Post recommending that the federal government link the secret "No Fly" list to National Instant Check System (NICS) and use it to prevent anyone on the list from buying guns.

In addition to the No Fly list MAIG is also calling for closure of the imaginary "gun show loophole" to eliminate the private sale and gift of firearms, as repeal of Tiahrt Amendment.

Gillibrand, who represented much of the Hudson Valley while serving in the House, has edged toward the left since becoming a statewide figure in January. She was appointed then to serve out the term of Hillary Rodham Clinton after she became secretary of state. Gillibrand is expected to run for a full six-year term in 2010 although she is likely to face a Democratic Party primary challenge. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

TN court rules restaurant carry unconstitutional

Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman of the Chancery Court for Davidson County, TN, ruled in mid-November that Tennessee's restaurant carry law is unconstitutionally vague because of a perceived ambiguity over the state's definition of restaurants.

The law gave right-to-carry permit holders the chance to defend themselves — from criminal attack while in a restaurant.

"This ruling is a setback for Tennessee's law-abiding concealed carry permit holders," said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist. "We strongly urge Attor­ney General Robert Cooper to defend the Tennessee statute and appeal this unwise ruling."

HB-962, Tennessee's Restaurant Carry legislation, passed both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support, but Gov. Phil Bredesen vetoed the bill on May 28, disappointing more than 200,000 right-to-carry permit holders in the state. While an override of the veto only needed a simple majority vote to pass, it cleared both chambers with overwhelming, bi-partisan support. The law went into effect in July 2009 after the Tennessee House and Senate successfully overrode Bredesen's veto.

"Right-to-carry permit holders in Tennessee need to be aware that the chancery court's regrettable and incorrect decision effectively suspends the law the legislature enacted and that they should not carry in restaurants until this litiga­tion is resolved on appeal," concluded Cox. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Law enforcement groups file pro-gun amicus in Chicago case

by Dave Workman, Senior Editor                                                                               

Several law enforcement groups have joined with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Claremont Institute and several Second Amend­ment scholars in filing an amicus brief in the Chicago handgun ban case now before the Supreme Court, and it is a blistering document that rips the violent consequences of the 1982 ban.

At the same time, the group Academ­ics for the Second Amendment also filed a brief supporting plaintiffs in the landmark case, which was filed by the Second Amendment Foundation, Illinois State Rifle Association and four indi­vidual Chicago residents.

The law enforcement brief was filed by the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), Southern Sates Police Benevo­lent Association, Texas Police Chiefs Association and Law Enforcement Alliance of America, along with CORE and the Claremont Institute. It was authored by Second Amendment scholar David B. Kopel with the Independence Institute.

Kopel wastes no time laying bare the unintended consequences of the Chicago ban.

"Chicago's 1982 ban was immediately followed by a very sharp increase in crime relative to other large American cities," he writes.

Kopel says that the handgun prohibition "is so ineffective that it has not even reduced the percentage of murders perpe­trated with handguns, a percentage that has risen notably since the ban was imposed." He also notes that Chicago police officers are murdered at a rate 79% above the national average, and "at a higher rate than in most other large cities."

The brief also makes a strong argu­ment for the right of self-defense and the suitability of handguns for that purpose.

Meanwhile, the brief from the Academ­ics group, written by Prof. Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law and attorney/author David Hardy looks at the Second Amendment's history and how this right became a critical issue before, and after the Civil War, for freed blacks to defend themselves. It also examines how the nation evolved, how the notion of the universal militia and mandatory service became passé and how Americans "Republican and Democrat, accepted that the American right to arms related to private possession for private purposes, especially self-defense."

The Olson-Hardy brief alludes to the racist underpinnings of some gun control laws in the post-Civil War South. Accord­ing to Olson and Hardy, the 14th Amend­ment was passed by Congress because of such egregious efforts to deny freedmen of their civil rights as citizens, including the right to keep and bear arms. The brief notes that "members of the 39th Congress intended the Fourteenth Amendment to render the Bill of Rights applicable to the States, and the Second Amendment was prominent among the rights that they meant to enforce. This purpose was widely communicated, directly and via the major media of the day. If a critic wishes to contend that the American people had a reading of the Amendment contrary to the widely publicized views of its creators, we would suggest that the critic bears the burden of so establishing this fact."

The high court will hear oral argu­ments in the case on Mar 2 Plaintiffs will be represented by attorney Alan Gura, who successfully argued the Heller case in March 2008. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Lessons from Fort Hood:

Man's law kills again the sin of gun free zones

by Rabbi Dovid Bendory

Re-published from AmmoLand.com

If only we had followed the Ten Commandments, the massacre at Fort Hood would not have happened. Tautological, no?

Oh, I didn't mean that Ten Command­ments. I meant "The Ten Command­ments of Self-Defense."

Commandment #1: "G-d has given you the right of self-defense, even with deadly force, when warranted."

The murdered US soldiers, those who voluntarily trained to stand in the line of fire against our enemies in order to keep us safe, they were denied the right to defend themselves. Why? Because the US government—that same government that they are sworn to defend—took away their G-d-given rights.

Army Regulation 190-14, promul­gated under Commander in Chief William Jefferson Clinton on March 12, 1993, "Limits and controls the _ carrying of firearms by Department of the Army military and civilian person­nel (para 2-6)."

Yes, that's right—soldiers of the United States, those in whom we entrust our safety and security, are not trusted by the Commander in Chief to carry arms: "Due to the serious responsibility imposed on persons authorized to bear or use firearms, such persons must be selected with care." (2-2a)

Apparently selecting a soldier for active duty is not considered sufficient care. Oh, you can risk your life for our country. You're old enough to die for our country. You can bear arms when we send you into battle—but not on base. Best be advised before you enlist: "It is DoD Policy... MO limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel." (Appendix B, DoD Directive 5210.56, Policy D.1.)

What does The Gun Rabbi say?

G-d has given us not only the right but the obligation to defend ourselves and others from aggression. G-d's Law says that both soldier and a civilian have the right to keep and bear arms. Our Founders understood G-d's Law and enshrined it in the Second Amendment along with other such inalienable rights.

But we live in a world today where some put themselves above even G-d's Law. And so we have this "Man's Law" which limits and controls the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel.

How many soldiers would be alive or uninjured if the targets of our treasonous Mujahid had been "al­lowed" to protect themselves with force of arms? How many more victims of Man's "Gun Control" do we need to count before our Commander in Chief recognizes G-d's Law?

G-d says I can defend myself. We must all choose: G-d's Law? Or Man's?

About the Author:

Rabbi Dovid Bendory is the self-styled "Gun Rabbi" who offers a unique combi­nation of Jewish Law and firearms training. A Certified NRA Instructor, the Gun Rabbi offers practical instruction in pistol safety and shooting accompanied by the religious and ethical insights on self-defense he says "only an Orthodox Rabbi can provide." His website is: thegunrabbi.com.

 

Seeking help from Illinois hospitals can be dangerous to your gun rights

The Illinois State Rifle Association has issued a warning to its members of a disturbing trend that is a direct threat to gun ownership.

A new state law (PA 95-0564) that requires health care providers to report patients to the state police is playing havoc with Illinois gunowners.

The law was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in a knee jerk response to the Virginia Tech shooting.

The law requires mental health care providers to report patients that are deemed a threat to themselves or society to the Illinois State Police (ISP) but the new law has taken an unexpected twist.

The ISRA has learned that during certain hospital admission procedures a short interview with a psychologist may be part of the admissions process.

The admittance process that triggers an interview with a psychologist may include stress, alcohol treatment or other scenarios.

These seemingly innocent hospital knock and talk interviews are being used by the ISP as a disqualifier for gun ownership.

The ISRA has learned of gunowners being sent notices from the ISP that their FOID card has been revoked after a visit to the hospital.

The ISRA is encouraging its mem­bers to respectfully decline these interviews if possible.

They are also suggesting that if a member is caught in one of these interviews that they remove their guns from their homes as quickly as possible to a friend or family member with a valid FOID card for safe keeping.

Until the passage of the new law, Illinois and federal gun laws disquali­fied people from owning a firearm only if they had been adjudicated for mental health reasons. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

New, renewed Connecticut gun permitting up 50% over 2008

Connecticut residents are strapping themselves with more guns this year despite a downward trend in crime on the state and national level, according to The Journal Register of New Haven.

According to the Department of Public Safety's Special Licensing and Firearms Unit, based out of Middletown, the issuing of pistol permits increased this year by 53% from 2008. There is also a 14% increase in the renewal of permits.

In 2008, 9,601 new permits were issued along with 26,457 renewed licenses. As of Nov. 24, 2009, more than 14,660 new permits have been issued and the number of renewed licenses is currently just above 26,450.

"Gun sales and permitting has hiked up since Obama took office. These people are worrying needlessly," said Depart­ment of Public Safety Office Supervisor Diane Morrel.

Abroad, people are correlating the increase in gun sales and new permits with President Obama's rhetoric on gun control. His administration has said it will reinstate the "assault-weapons" ban that expired in 2004 and will look into putting stricter regulations on gun ownership, the newspaper reported.

Maly owners see these statements as infringing on their Second Amendment right to bear arms, causing a burst in the number of people getting pistols registered for fear that laws might abruptly change.

Lt. J. Paul Vance, Connecticut State Police public information officer, said although his department has been busy this year, it is difficult to pinpoint the hike politically, The Journal Register reported.

"Politically, we don't know. We can't say. We don't ask why you are getting a permit. There have been those rumors, all those political rumors," Vance said.

"We see a jump usually in November and December and attribute it to the holidays and the fact that hunting season is coming up," he said.

People who wish to receive a pistol permit in Connecticut can do so rather quickly.

First, they must obtain a local permit from their police department or first selectman and complete a gun safety course. If they want to be permitted within the state, they must apply through the Department of Public Safety's Special Licensing Unit and provide a birth certificate. Once certi­fied, the permit is valid for five years.

Despite the increases in pistol per­mits, the state is significantly safer than it was 25 years ago. According to Connecticut's Uniform Crime Report, which indexes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft in the state, offenses have been on a downward spiral since 1985, dropping around 30% in recent years. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

WA woman who shot man at bus stop is not charged

A Washington state woman who shot a man in a Seattle bus stop confrontation will not face charges, according to the King County Prosecutor's Office.

Sara Brereton, 31, was riding a bus with her partner and four children on April 25. They were confronted by a man identified as Emmanuel Salters, who had moved to the front of the bus and then stood next to Brereton, and eventu­ally fell into the woman. She pushed him away, asked to be excused, and then a verbal argument erupted.

Brereton and her partner and the children exited the Metro bus, but made an obscene gesture at Salters. He then demanded to be let off the bus, and once on the street, he approached Brereton, asking "What did you say?"

According to the Prosecutor's Office, Brereton, fearing for her safety and the safety of the children, drew a legally concealed handgun and warned Salters to stop. Instead, he continued coming at her, spitting at Brereton in the process. She fired once, hitting him in the chest.

Under Washington self-defense statute, a person may act in self-defense when they reasonably believe they are in immediate danger of grave bodily harm or death, provided that the force is not more than necessary to halt an attack. The person acting in self-defense must not exceed the force that a reasonably prudent person would use under the same or similar conditions, knowing what they knew at the time. This is commonly referred to by the generic term "reasonable man doctrine."

In addition, the Prosecutor's office noted that there is no duty to retreat from a threat in Washington state. Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe told Gun Week that the case took some time to resolve because detectives actually had to find Salters after he left the hospital to conduct their investigation.

The Prosecutor's Office noted in its report that, "Although she may have made obscene gestures, she did not initiate the physical confrontation. However, Mr. Salters did by charging at her."

The Prosecutor further stated, "She can reasonably take into account her inability to use her gun to defend herself if Salters got close enough to physically assault her and be concerned that she could lose the gun in a struggle."

Remarkably, the incident was cap­tured on bus video and an FBI agent happened to be standing near the bus stop when the incident unfolded. He took control and held Brereton and Salters until Seattle police arrived. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

UPS worker charged in thefts of handguns

A United Parcel Service (UPS) employee was charged in late Octo­ber with stealing three guns from shipments, one each in July, August and October, one of which was sold on the street for $300, Oakland, CA, police said.

Calvin Bailey, 22, of Oakland, was charged with three counts of grand theft and three counts of embezzlement, Assistant District Attorney Tom Rogers said, according to the Oakland Tribune.

Police said Bailey had admitted stealing the guns, two of which were recovered at his house.

Authorities said UPS has a policy of screening employees with metal detec­tors as they leave. As Bailey was leaving the facility after the October theft, the detector indicated something in the area of his ankle.

A semi-automatic pistol and a re­volver he said were stolen from UPS shipments were recovered during a search of Bailey's residence. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Attorney General seen sending mixed messages on guns

Attorney General Eric Holder was sending mixed signals on the gun issue before the Senate Judiciary Committee Nov. 18. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA) said he revealed a stunningly broad and aggressive anti­gun agenda. But Sam Youngman, writing in The Hill, a legislative and political newspaper on Capitol Hill, read Holder's remarks to be a "dialing back" of Holder's "commitment to pushing an "assault weapons" ban.

"The President of the United States asked that politicians not use the Ft. Hood attack to engage in 'political theater.' It appears those committed to attacking gunowners and the Second Amendment simply can't help them­selves and are engaged in blaming guns and gunowners on the heels of this terrorist attack. Sadly, it looks like `politics as usual,' "said Ted Deeds, a spokesman for the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA).

After explaining and defending his decision to give enemy combatants constitutional protections and the right to public trial in civilian courts, Holder revealed his support for a national gunowner registration scheme and authorizing the government to ban firearm possession for any person by merely adding that person's name to the terror watch list.

On the other hand, The Hill report said, "Attorney General Eric Holder is retreating on his commitment to pursue a controversial gun-control measure."

Holder's statements, recently deliverer' to senators in writing, clearly indicate the Obama Administration is in no rush to reinstate the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, Youngman wrote.

Responding to Senate Judiciary Com­mittee members, Holder adopted a much different tone on the ban than he did in February, when his comment attracted many headlines.

Noting his February statements, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) asked Holder, "Is it still your intent to seek a reinstitution of the "assault weapons" ban?"

Holder stressed that he wasn't break­ing new ground earlier this year. His response to a reporter in February, Holder claimed, is not akin to "call(ing) for a new assault weapons ban, but rather restating the previously ex­pressed campaign position on this issue."

Holder's response to Coburn is the latest in a series of mixed messages from Obama and his team after the President vowed during his campaign that he would seek to reinstate the ban.

While the White House quickly distanced itself from Holder's comments in February, the president said during a press conference in Mexico City in April that he has "not backed off at all from my belief that the assault weapons ban makes sense," noting he was not "under any illusions that reinstating that ban would be easy."

A bi-national panel of former govern­ment officials and scholars issued a report on Nov. 13 recommending the reinstatement of the assault weapons band. It also called for a crackdown on the illegal export of guns to Mexico. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Former Customs head, media push for ban renewal

A former Bush Administration customs official has called for renewal of a ban on so-called "assault weapons" as a means to quell a violent drug war in Mexico.

That recommendation came from Robert C. Bonner, former commis­sioner of US Customs and Border Protection who served under both Presidents George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush. He is a former federal judge and also has worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the Washington Times.

Echoing similar calls from Obama administration officials earlier this year, Bonner reportedly told the newspaper that "Despite vigorous efforts by both governments, huge volumes of illegal drugs still cross from Mexico. In turn, large quanti­ties of weapons and cash generated from illegal drug sales flow south into Mexico, which makes these criminal organizations more powerful and able to corrupt government institutions."

However, there is some question about the number of firearms involved in the drug wars that actually come from this country. Mexican authorities have re­quested traces on a portion of the firearms being recovered by police, but not all of them. Recently, some guns have been traced to areas as far away as Eastern Washington's 'Fri-Cities area.

He also acknowledged that Mexico must clean up corruption, and suggested that the country create a "federal frontier police," much like this country's Border Patrol.

Bonner's statements are part of a continuing barrage of newspaper editors and news stories, based on the comments of prominent

officials, designed to breath new life into the campaign to renew and expand the federal ban on a whole class of semi-automatic firearms as well as the full-capacity magazines or feeding devices that was allowed to expire in 2004. The ban, narrowly en­acted by Congress in 1994 with the personal and aggressive "jaw­boning" efforts of then President Bill Clinton, did little, if anything, to stem gun-related crime.

However, advocates have bills filed in both houses of Congress and there is an aggressive on-going campaign by the Brady Campaign to bring one or more of those bills to a vote. However, some Democratic leaders seem reluctant to bring up anti-gun legislation before the 2010 congressional elections. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Washington attorney stages one-man Seattle gun ban protest

by Dave Workman, Senior Editor

A licensed attorney from Kent, WA—a suburban community south of Seattle—recently staged a one-man protest of a Seattle city parks gun ban, apparently with the intention of filing a lawsuit against the city.

Seattle and outgoing Mayor Greg Nickels, are already being sued by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association over the gun ban, which was announced in October. SAF and NRA are joined in that lawsuit by the Washington Arms Collectors and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and five individual plaintiffs.

But Kent resident Bob Warden claimed to local television and radio stations that he does not believe any of the plaintiffs in the SAF/NRA lawsuit have standing By

allowing himself to be ejected from a parks facility in southwest Seattle recently, Warden asserts this will give him standing as a defendant who has been prohibited from using a park facility.

Warden promptly joined the OpenCarry.org forum in Washington State, which is very active.

In an interview with KIRO radio's Dave Ross on Nov. 16, Warden acknowl­edged that he would accept a situation under which the state's long-standing preemption law is changed, allowing mayors to adopt such gun bans.

However, in a telephone interview with Gun Week, Warden backed away from that position when questioned about his support for an amended law that would essentially gut the preemption statute.

"No, I do not support erosion of state preemption or advocate erosion of the state constitutional right to keep and bear arms," he insisted.

He acknowledged that a change in the law that he indicated in the KIRO interview would, "if not destroy preemp­tion, at least carve out a massive exception to it."

"In that case," he said, "I wouldn't have an issue of a violation of state law but I would have an issue with violation of the state constitution.

Warden also insisted that he does not believe plaintiffs in the SAF-NRA lawsuit lack legal standing. He sug­gested that he was quoted out of context.

Yet in the Ross interview, Warden stated, "The previous complaint that's been filed...none of those plaintiffs to my knowledge have ever actually been refused entry or asked to leave a park so my concern is, and I don't know this for sure, is that they might not have standing and a judge could toss that complaint out."

The licensed attorney, who works for the federal government as a labor relations consultant, told Gun Week that he is "a very strong believer in the rule of law and the Bill of rights and the Constitution."

Warden recalled that when he first heard about Nickels' intention to ban guns from all city property in June 2008—a plan that has since been watered down to only include parks and recreation facilities—he "instantly thought, no, that's not going to fly."

"I really didn't know about the preemp­tion clause and thought it would probably violate the Second Amendment and the State Constitution, and when (Attorney General Rob) McKenna came out with his opinion, I knew that was correct."

As previously reported in Gun Week, McKenna advised the city in September that any gun ban regulation would be illegal under state preemption.

Warden was "pretty sure" he was going to file a lawsuit sometime before Nickels leaves office at the end of this month. He may have a friend who is in private practice represent him in the case.

The 44-year-old Warden grew up in Seattle and has children now attending community college. He actually attended junior high school next door to the commu­nity center where he staged his protest.

If he files a lawsuit, he plans to coordinate his effort with attorneys in the SAF/NRA lawsuit. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

ATF tells WA conference that state supplies Mexico crime guns

An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told a recent conference of municipal and law enforcement officials in Yakima, WA, that Eastern Washington is the source of many of the guns that end up in the hands of Mexican criminals

According to the Yakima Herald, ATF agents Jessie Summers and Steve Foreman told the conference that they are concerned with a "gun show loop­hole" that "allows unlicensed firearm dealers to circumvent background checks." They said many guns that are showing up in Mexico are coming from Eastern Washington gun shows.

They told about a recent case in which authorities recovered 60 firearms following a gun battle between two rival drug cartels, and found that 15 of them were traced back to the Tri-Cities area of Washington, which encompasses Kennewick, Pasco and Richland.

The conference was attended by representatives from 27 different communities and covered various topics including gang crime, violent crime and the business community, domestic violence and how cities can address violent crime, the newspaper said.

Both agents claimed that Mexico has become "a lucrative market" for US-made firearms, which might bring a 300-percent profit when sold south of the border.

There were repeated references to so-called "unlicensed dealers," though it appears they were alluding to individu­als selling firearms as private citizens in private transactions.

According to the newspaper, both agents "acknowledged that requiring background checks at gun shows wouldn't end the illegal gun trade but said it would be a deterrent and help federal agents trace illegal gun sales more easily"

Bob Scales, chief policy analyst for the City of Seattle, said recent polling data suggests that 88% of registered voters support tighter restrictions on gun show sales, but that in the Yakima area, where the conference was held, that number fell to 68%. Sixty-five percent of voters who identify themselves as National Rifle Association members also support stricter gun show regulations.

The ATF agents suggested that Washington should pass legislation that adopts a California-type system that requires record-keeping on all private gun sales, and that an off-duty police officer should be "stationed" at gun shows, according to the newspaper. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Bill filed barring gun inquiries by adoption agencies in Florida

A questionnaire to prospective adop­tive parents from the Children's Home Society (CHS) in Brevard County, FL, :.as raised hackles among gun rights advocates because it asks applicants about firearms in their homes.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, a couple who were trying to adopt a child from the CHS took the issue to an attorney, who subsequently contacted Marion Hammer, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, and a past president of the National Rifle Association. Hammer is recognized as a gun rights lobbyist.

The newspaper quote Hammer, who stated, "Gun registration is illegal in Florida. An adoption agency has no right to subvert the privacy rights of gunowners."

Liz Bruner, spokeswoman for CHS, told the newspaper that the agency asks about firearms under a mandate from the state Department of Children and Families

"If they don't want us to ask about it," Bruner stated, "we won't. We're trying to get an updated form to use, but there's a gray area over what (form) we can use."

Florida's child-welfare system has been privatized, and CHS is a "subcon­tractor for a subcontractor" so it must apparently work with the state indi­rectly through the other subcontractor.

As a result of this controversy, state Sen. Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) has introduced legislation prohibiting questions about firearms. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Daley outrage:

Chicago anti-gun mayor blames guns for Fort Hood massacre

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley outraged American gunowners when he told reporters that guns were to blame for the mass shooting at Fort Hood, TX, last month.

Accused gunman Major Nidal Malik Hasan was wounded by a civilian Fort Hood police officer in an exchange of gunfire that brought an end to the Nov. 5 rampage. A dozen soldiers and one civilian were killed and 30 others were wounded when Hasan allegedly opened fire with two handguns, identified as an FN Herstal "Five­seveN" pistol and a .357 Magnum revolver.

The following Monday, Daley suggested to reporters—in reaction to a question about whether he thought there might be a backlash against Muslims due to the Fort Hood inci­dent—that guns were responsible.

"Everyday in society," Daley said, "somebody is being killed. Unfortu­nately, America loves guns. We love guns to a point where that, uh, we see devastation on a daily basis. You don't blame a group. You don't blame a society, an immigrant community because of actions of one group...one individual.

You cannot say that."

A video of Daley making that statement has flashed across the Internet, via Andrew Breitbart's Big Government website.

Daley's remarks stunned Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He accused Daley of having "reached a new low" in anti­gun politics by suggesting that the massacre was because America enjoys gun rights.

"Daley has an agenda," Gottlieb said, "that he shares with other anti­gun extremists. They will exploit any tragedy to pursue their goal of public disarmament and destruction of the Second Amendment."

Recently, Gottlieb criticized the head of a Washington state anti-gun organization for pushing a gun ban agenda following the murder of a Seattle police officer. He compared that exploitation with Daley's com­ments.

"Whether it is the assassination of a Seattle police officer," he said, "the murder of 13 people at Fort Hood, or the horrible body count of crime victims that has piled up in Chicago under Daley's regime, anti-gunners will dance through the blood toward the nearest sympathetic microphone to push their cause."

Daley has come under fire recently because the city's inspector general's office has sued the Daley administra­tion for interfering with an investiga­tion of "possible wrongdoing by current and former employees" accord­ing to the Chicago Tribune.

The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Chancery Court by Deputy Inspector General Mary E. Hodge, naming Daley attorney Mara Georges. The lawsuit, according to the newspa­per, seeks release of subpoenaed documents that relate to a no-bid contract awarded to a former city employee in 2006. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Time to put an end to Army bases as gun-free zones

by John Lott

Reprinted from FOXNews.com, Nov 12, 2009

It is hard to believe that we don't trust soldiers with guns on an army base when we trust these very same men in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shouldn't an army base be the last place where a terrorist should be able to shoot at people uninterrupted for 10 minutes? After all, an army base is filled with soldiers who carry guns, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Beginning in March 1993, under the Clinton administration, the army forbids military personnel from carrying their own personal firearms and mandates that "a credible and specific threat against [Department of the Army] personnel [exist] in that region" before military personnel "may be authorized to carry firearms for personal protection." Indeed, most military bases have relatively few military police as they are in heavy demand to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unarmed soldiers could do little more than cower as Major Nidal Malik Hasan stood on a desk and shot down into the cubicles in which his victims were trapped. Some behaved heroically, such as private first class Marquest Smith who repeatedly risked his life removing five soldiers and a civilian from the carnage. But, being unarmed, these soldiers were unable to stop Hasan's attack.

The wife of one of the soldiers shot at Ft. Hood understood this all too well. Mandy Foster's husband had been shot but was fortunate enough not to be seriously injured. In an interview on CNN on Monday night, Mrs. Foster was asked by anchor John Roberts how she felt about her husband "still scheduled for deployment in January" to Afghani­stan. Ms. Foster responded: "At least he's safe there and he can fire back, right?"—It is hard to believe that we don't trust soldiers with guns on an army base when we trust these very same men in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, most of CNN's listeners probably didn't understand the rules that Ms. Foster was referring to.

The law-abiding, not the criminals, are the ones who obey the ban on guns. Instead of making areas safe for victims, the bans make it safe for the criminal. Hasan not only violated the army's ban on carrying a gun, he also apparently violated the rules that require soldiers to register privately owned guns at the post.

Research shows that allowing indi­viduals to defend themselves dramati­cally reduces the rates of multiple victim public shootings. Even if attacks still occur, having civilians with permitted concealed handguns limits the damage. A major factor in determining how many people are harmed by these killers is the amount of time that elapses between when the attack starts and someone is able to arrive on the scene with a gun. Ten minutes must have seemed like an eternity to those trapped in the attack at Ft. Hood. All the multiple victim public shootings in the U.S.—in which more than three people have been killed—have all occurred in places where concealed handguns have been banned.

For several days now, some in the media and various gun control groups have focused on a so-called "cop killer" gun that Hasan used. The five-seven is a conventional semi-automatic pistol. In fact, the bullets that it fires are rela­tively small, only being in the .22 caliber class Unlike rifles, even higher caliber handguns don't fire publicly available ammunition at sufficient velocity to penetrate a police officer's vest. There is a special type of handgun ammunition that can penetrate some types of body armor, but under federal law it is not legal to manufacture or import that ammunition for sale to the public.

For the safety of our soldiers and citizens, we hope that this simple fact about the Ft. Hood attack and the role that gun-free zones played in allowing yet another multiple victim public shooting becomes part of the news coverage itself. The political debate about guns would be quite different if even once in a while a news story clearly explained that there has been another multiple victim public shooting in a gun-free zone. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Tennessee AG says landlords can ban guns of permit holders

A landlord in Tennessee can legally prohibit tenants who hold handgun carry permits from bringing their guns into a rented apartment, according to an opinion from state Attorney General Bob Cooper that was released on Oct. 28, according to Associated Press.

The opinion came in response to a request from state Rep. Tony Shipley (R-Kingsport), who said he had thought the answer would have been to the contrary.

Shipley said the question was raised by an adult University of Tennessee student who had been prohibited from having a firearm in his rented Knoxville apartment.

"It strikes me that there shouldn't be a prohibition," he said in a telephone interview with Associated Press.

Shipley said the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution would apply to someone living in an apartment to prevent law enforcement officers from entering without a search warrant.

"If the Fourth Amendment applies, why doesn't the Second Amendment apply?" he said. "Can a landlord say you give up free speech, under the First Amendment, in the apartment? I think not."

Shipley said he had not read the opinion and wanted to study it further. He also said he would consider bringing legislation on the subject next year, though now focused on other legislative priorities.

The AG's opinion says: "A landlord can prohibit tenants, including those who hold handgun carry permits, from possessing firearms within the leased premises."

The ban may be imposed through a clause in the lease or—in counties where the state's Uniform Landlord and Tenant Act applies—by including the ban as a rule for governing the use of property by all tenants, the opinion says.

The opinion also says that the land lord need not post signs declaring that firearms are prohibited for the ban to have legal effect in civil courts, but that the tenant could not be prosecuted under criminal laws unless signs are in place. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Court upholds conviction in Post Office gun-in-car case

For some time there has been confu­sion about the legality of carrying a firearm into a Post Office on onto Post Office property.

Many Post Offices have signs posted stating it is unlawful. However, federal law does not prohibit possession of firearms in Post Offices for "any lawful purpose," according to a report from AmmoLand.com.

However, a three-judge panel from the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in October affirmed the conviction of a postal employee who had been convicted of having a firearm on Post Office property.

Clarence P. Dorosan had appealed his conviction of violating 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(1) for bringing a handgun onto property belonging to the United States Postal Service.

Dorosan argued that the regulation under which he was convicted violates his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, as recognized in District of Columbia v. Heller.

The court's panel ruled that even assuming that Dorosan's Second Amend­ment right to keep and bear arms extends to carrying a handgun in his car, Dorosan's challenge failed for the following reasons:

First, the Postal Service owned the parking lot where Dorosan's handgun was found, and its restrictions on guns stemmed from its constitutional author­ity as the property owner.

Moreover, the Postal Service used the parking lot for loading mail and staging its mail trucks. Given this usage of the parking lot by the Postal Service as a place of regular govern­ment business, it falls under the "sensitive places" exception recognized by Heller.

Finally, the Postal Service was not obligated by federal law to provide parking for its employees, nor did the Postal Service require Dorosan to park in the lot for work. If Dorosan wanted to carry a gun in his car but abide by the ban, the court said, he ostensibly could have secured alternative parking arrangements off site. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Evidence shows Seattle cop not killed with `assault rifle'

by Dave Workman, Senior Editor

Despite widely-reported claims to the contrary, it appears Seattle Police Officer Timothy Q. Brenton was not killed with an "assault rifle," but with a popular sport-utility rifle that doesn't even look like the kind of firearm so often singled out by gun control proponents as a crime gun.

The suspect in this case, Christopher Monfort of Tukwila, a Seattle suburb, has been charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which could subject him to the death penalty. He is also charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting Brenton's partner, rookie Officer Britt Sweeney, for aiming a handgun at Seattle police Sgt. Gary Nelson and apparently trying to shoot him, and for allegedly trying to murder other police officers with firebombs in connection with an arson of four police vehicles.

The firearm displayed by Seattle police during a press conference following Monfort's arrest is a Kel-Tec SU-16CA, a folding rifle with a 16-inch barrel, polymer stock and fore­arm. The rifle has a more traditional appearance, without such features as a separate pistol grip, flash suppres­sor on the barrel or large-capacity magazine. It comes with two 10-round magazines but can accept magazines designed for AR-15 rifles. A photo of the rifle published by the Seattle Times shows a clear polymer large-capacity magazine inserted in the rifle.

The gun, according to police, is a ballistics match to bullets recovered from the crime scene. Monfort was wounded in a confrontation with Seattle police detectives on the same afternoon that police from all over the Northwest gathered in Seattle for Brenton's memorial service. He is alleged to have pulled a gun on three detectives after they tracked his car down through photo images captured on police dash cameras the night of the killing. However, the pistol either misfired or Monfort had not chambered a round.

He ran up a stairway at his Tukwila apartment complex south of Seattle and when he turned toward the three detectives a second time and aimed the pistol at them, all three fired. Monfort was hit in the face and stomach but is expected to recover.

Disturbing facts emerged about Monfort in the days following his apprehension. He had no criminal record other than traffic citations, and at one time professed to be interested in a law enforcement career. He has been linked by DNA to the firebombing of Seattle police cars a couple of weeks before Brenton's killing, at which a note threatening police was left. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Delaware teen fires shotgun to save mother

A Clayton, DE, man charged in the assault of a Dover woman was scared off after the victim's teenage son fired a shotgun into the air in an attempt to stop the attack, Dover police said on Oct. 28.

The News Journal of New Castle reported that Jeremy S. Stanislow, 32, later turned himself in and faces three counts of third-degree assault, four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and disorderly conduct. He was released on $3,000 secured bond.

According to Dover police, the incident began when Stanislow and the woman got into an argument at her home. During the argument, Stanislow alleg­edly pushed the woman off a set of steps and began to assault her. One of the victim's teenage sons attempted to intervene, and Stanislow allegedly began to assault the son.

When the woman attempted to intervene, he continued assaulting her. At which point, another teenage son exited the home and fired a single shot from a shotgun into the air in an attempt to stop the attack. At that Stanislow fled, but later turned himself in to police. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Hindsight

The Fourth Estate is the anti-gunners' Fifth Column

by Joseph P. Tartaro, Executive Editor

During the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, the fascist leader Francisco Franco attacked the capital of Madrid with four columns of troops and a fifth of pro-fascist propagandists—many of them from the media of that time. That is the origin of the term "Fifth Column" used to describe the underhanded tricks of persuasion to gain victory

Franco's success was paralleled by the Nazi regime in Germany and the communist regime in Russia during the mid-1940s and '50s.

It's an old technique and one that is frequently employed by people trying to influence public policy or gain political power, especially when their supporters are in a minority, as is the case with the anti-gun movement in America and at the United Nations.

Of course, people in the media make the best "Fifth Columnists" and a large segment of the media—in print, broadcast and the Internet—has enrolled as propagandists for the anti-gunners. Lest I be accused of voicing another "right wing" rant, let me give you some recent examples of media support for the anti-gun cause.

For starters, here's how Michael Daly, writing for New York City's Daily News, dealt with the story of South Carolina's second annual Thanksgiv­ing weekend sales tax holiday on firearms purchases.

"The great state of South Carolina is putting its own sick twist on Black Friday with a tax holiday on firearm purchases. Not cars. Not clothes. Certainly not books," Daly sneered.

"Just guns. For the 48 hours follow­ing Thanksgiving, gun buyers will enjoy a break of up to 9% in state and local taxes. Firearms traffickers are not expected to pass the savings on to New York criminals, but what is called the extrava-gun-za' and 'Second Amendment Weekend' is sure to help South Carolina stay among the top five states that provide 85% of the illegal handguns recovered in New York City."

At about the same time in Novem­ber, Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, writers for the San Francisco

Chronicle discovered that months earlier California Attorney General Jerry Brown had filed a surprising brief on behalf of the plaintiffs to encourage the Supreme Court to grant a hearing to one of several challenges to Chicago's gun laws that had been previously combined by the lower federal court. These included the NRA's suit as well as the McDonald suit which included the Second Amendment Foundation and Illinois State Rifle Association as plaintiffs.

Brown's (really California's) amicus brief simply argued that SCOTUS should take up the issue and decide whether or not the Second Amendment applied to the states. One of his reasons was that California has no right to keep and bear arms amendment in its state constitution and a Supreme Court ruling would safeguard the rights of that state's residents.

However, their story was headlined "Gun opponents up in arms as Jerry Brown aids NRA."

"It may come as a surprise to many of his Democratic supporters, but Attorney General and gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown has gone to bat for the National

Rifle Association," they wrote, appar­ently using the NRA as a frightening bogeyman to so-called progressive Bay-area readers. (They like to call them­selves "progressives" now, not "liberals.")

In the end, SCOTUS did grant certio­rari to a Chicago case, but it was not the one originated by NRA. Still, NRA has backed the case the court did decide to hear, a point that apparently eluded the Chronicle's writers.

After briefly outlining the Heller decision and the purpose of the Chicago suit, the Chronicle people went on to cite not just Democrats but anti-gun Democrats in showing that Brown's "stance has angered a number of gun control proponents."

"Julie Leftwich, legal director of Legal Community Against Violence, said this isn't simply about Brown defending the Second Amendment—it also marks a dramatic turnabout from the adminis­tration of his Democratic predecessor, Bill Lockyer, a staunch gun control advocate," the Chronicle continued.

"Jerry Brown hasn't shown leadership in the legislative arena related to the issue of gun violence prevention ... and he hasn't sponsored or weighed in on any significant gun bills," Leftwich told The Chronicle's Carla Marinucci.

What the Chronicle called "Brown's pro-gun stand," has also left some San Francisco officials scratching their heads. They're awaiting a ruling in the Chicago case to see how it might affect two local gun-rights lawsuits.

And here is how Gail Kerr dealt with a gun related court decision in The Nashville Tennessean. The newspaper had long campaigned against the state's new law allowing people licensed to carry concealed to carry those guns with them for personal defense in restaurants that serve liquor. The legislature had passed the measure over a veto by the governor, and The Tennessean had flown the anti-gun banner throughout the capital face-off.

"That noise you heard Friday after­noon (Nov. 20) was the sound of celebratory cheers all over Nashville," Kerr began in her commentary headlined "Guns-in-bars ruling is a win for tourism industry."

"Score a big one for the home team," she commented.

"The bill, opposed by most restau­rant owners and the restaurant -industry, and vetoed by Gov. Phil Bredesen, was the worst thing to happen to a tourist town since Prohibi­tion. That it came during a deep recession added to the frustration.

" 'We've had individual visitors canceling their trips,' said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. 'We got a lot of negative press internationally. When you are a city that leads the list of friendliest cities in the country, it was a tough message to overcome'," Kerr quoted.

Then she recapped the history of the battle over the bill.

" 'It was almost worse than the law allowing it,' Spyridon said. 'It com­pounded the problem. I am a sup­porter of the Second Amendment, but guns and alcohol don't mix for an industry like us, you want and have to convey a safe environment.' "

"It remains to be seen if the state will appeal Bonnyman's ruling. Either way, the legislature will undoubtedly take another crack at this in January," Kerr continued, before concluding her commentary with another indication of her approval of the court's action, calling it "Another item on the list of Thanksgiving blessings."

As another example of the media's fifth column role in promoting ever­more Draconian gun restrictions—sometimes subtly, sometimes with a sledge hammer—The Washington Post on Dec. 6 rushed to the side of New York City Mayor Bloomberg and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) by applaud­ing their proposal to "deny weapons to possible terrorists."

"Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of roughly 500 U.S. mayors, has been pushing for smart and sensible law enforcement solutions to reduce the number of illegal guns obtained by criminals or would-be criminals," The Post began, and telegraphed their support by calling their anti-gun agenda "smart and sensible." In the next sentence, The Post also praised the gun-grabbers when it continued with "Last month the mayors renewed their call for adoption of two relatively modest but potentially power­ful proposals (italics my emphasis).

"The first aims to close the so-called `terror gap' in existing gun laws by prohibiting any one on the country's `no fly' list from being allowed to purchase a gun. Such a prohibition would allow the FBI to stop 'people who are too dangerous to get on a plane from buying guns and explosives,' said New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a co-founder of the mayors group."

And if any reader had not gotten the message that The Post was putting its stamp of approval on the legislation, the unsigned editorial continued with "This proposal is a no-brainer." The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Furor over Ft. Hood shootings, change in US position at UN

by Joseph P. Tartaro, Executive Editor

Gunowners and those who support the moral right to self-defense seem to be up in arms over two recent events that have appeared in Gun Week as well as other media.

The first is the mass shooting at Fort Hood, TX, on Nov. 5 that set off a furious debate in the gun rights community about military regulations that prohibit soldiers from carrying firearms on military installations (See additional commentary on Page 4).

The other was the change in US position regarding negotiation of a binding international treaty regulating the trade in small arms.

Dave Workman had summarized some of the comment on the Fort Hood shootings he collected from the Internet, but the story didn't quite make it in the last issue, so I will use some of his report here.

"Nemerov, who is based in Austin, wrote in his Examiner column headlined `Death by gun control' that, 'These soldiers were entrusted to carry fully automatic, military assault rifles when deployed to Afghanistan, where the shooter was about to be sent. But in America, these same soldiers are disarmed when on base,' " Workman wrote.

"Hofmann, a former paratrooper who was left paralyzed by a 2002 auto accident, predicted that the gun control lobby will attempt to exploit the massacre.

"White, based in Cleveland, observed, ‘Hasan, by himself, was able to wreak havoc at a secure military installation while reportedly armed with nothing but two handguns. How? Most of his intended victims were disarmed.’"

" 'This left highly trained fighting men and women at the mercy of a killer,' he said."

I will add to Workman's report a brief comment from one soldier mustering out at Ft. Hood who was a close-up eye­witness to the shooting which I received through military and retired police sources. His account is a close-up look at what happened which cannot be printed here because he is likely to be a witness at the trial. But there is a brief passage I will quote without identifying the writer.

"He started shooting at us and we all dived back to the cars behind us. I don't think he hit the couple other guys who were there. I did see the bullet holes later in the cars. First I went behind a tire and then looked under the body of the car. I've been trained how to respond to gunfire...but with my own weapon. To have no weapon, I don't know how to explain what that felt like." My emphasis.

UN disarmament

The push for control of all small arms through a United Nations brokered treaty gained some ground in the last quarter of 2009 when, as Gun Week reported in its Nov. 15 edition, the United States changed a long­standing policy position on negotiating a binding treaty and agreed to enter such diplomatic bargaining.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the change in US position on Oct. 14, saying the US would now support negotiations of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to regulate the interna­tional gun trade, a proposal which first gained traction in 2001.

Gun rights advocates, however, are calling the reversal both a dangerous submission of America's Constitution to international governance and an attempt by the Obama administration to sneak into effect private gun control laws it couldn't pass through Congress.

Text Box: Venezuela destroys 30,000 guns
A Venezuelan soldier stands guard during the Nov. 11 public destruction of more than 30,000 guns seized from the streets during police raids this year in the west¬ern state of Lara, about 217 miles from Caracas. Venezuela is reported battling one of the world's highest murder rates. Policemen used blow-torches to chop up some of long guns and pistols. They compacted the guns, including home¬made pistols into a five-ton block, said Interior Minister Tarek Al Aisammi.W i t h 13,000 murders in 2007, the last time figures were published, violent crime con¬sistently registers as Venezuelans' main concern in opinion polls. Reuters news service reported that gun laws are lax in the left-wing South American oil-export¬ing country. The government estimates there are 6 million firearms circulating among the population of about 28 million. Venezuela's murder rate is about 8 times that of the United States. Crime actually has risen under President Hugo Chavez, who has focused on poverty reduction to tackle violence in poor city neighborhoods. (Venezuelan government photo)

Several countries abstained from that vote, but the agitation for a treaty is coming from several countries, many of them in South America.

 

Bob Barr, a former congressman from Georgia and presidential candi­date of the Libertarian Party, warned that a treaty that looks like it's all about fighting international crime will necessarily lead to erosion of Second Amendment gun rights:

"Even though (treaty advocates) all say, We are not going to involve domestic laws and the right to keep and bear arms, that won't be affected by all this,' that's nonsense," Barr said. "There's no way that if you buy into something like this and a treaty is passed regulating to ensure that firearms transfers internationally don't fall into the hands of people that the UN doesn't like, there's no way that that mechanism will work unless you have some form of national regulation and national tracking."

Clinton's October statement of support for the treaty negotiations was filed with a caveat that the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty operate under the consensus rule of decision-making, essentially that its provisions be adopted unanimously.

"Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the treaty," she stated, "and to avoid loopholes in the treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly."

But Bolton warned gunowners not to think the consensus rule will stop the treaty from passing. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

NEWS BRIEFS

Trooper charged in invasion

From the "Only Cops Should Have Guns" file comes a report out of Lansing, MI, about an Indiana State Police trooper who now faces criminal charges for a home invasion robbery with two accomplices.

All three are in the pokey, and Elton D. Jones, an Indiana trooper since August 2008, has been fired by the agency in the wake of the incident. Jones and two other men, identified by the Lansing State Journal as Damien D. West, 19, and Richard E. Simmons, 30, face charges of first-degree home invasion, armed robbery and using a firearm to commit a felony. If convicted, the newspaper said, all three could spend their lives behind bars.

Jones, 28, is a resident of Valparaiso, IN, but he originally hails from Lansing, according to that city's police chief, Mark Alley.

The incident unfolded just before 11 p.m. when three suspects allegedly burst into a Lansing home, woke up the man and wife, and overwhelmed the man. He was assaulted, and his wife was held down, but the man was able to get away long enough to run to the home of a neighbor and summon police.

The three bandits beat feet before Lansing police arrived, but not for long. About 30 minutes after the robbery, an alert Lansing cop pulled over a car containing the trio and slapped the cuffs on them. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

WA felon's luck runs out

Twenty-four-year old James Chung Hwang of Seattle, WA, seems to have a consistent run of luck, all of it bad, as under­scored by the latest entry in his criminal record involving an allegation of road rage and possession of a stolen handgun.

A convicted felon, Hwang has been previously sacked for assault in the third degree, unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, violation of a domestic violence no-contact order, reckless driving, assault in the fourth degree, domestic violence, possession of marijuana and—are you sitting down?-12 convictions of driving with a suspended license, according to court documents obtained by Gun Week.

Perhaps by no small coincidence, at the time of his latest caper, he was also wanted on a warrant out of Federal Way, WA, for (surprise!) driving with a suspended license.

Jump back to Oct. 14 when Hwang is alleged to have gotten out of his car which was, according to a police report, "stopped in traffic for unknown reason(s)" started yelling at other motorists and then opened his trunk, pulled out what appeared to be a handgun wrapped in a small black bag and began waving it.

A witness prudently called 911 to report this behavior, and also gave Seattle police a license plate number that just hap­pened to match the one on Hwang's car.

A short time later, and about a mile north of the original scene, a sharp-eyed Seattle cop spotted Hwang's car, pulled him over and had a chat. Other police arrived and found a black T-shirt "within lunging distance" of the car, and wrapped inside was the aforementioned stolen gun, a .45-caliber Springfield Armory semi-auto that had been boosted in Tacoma some five years ago, according to an account in the Seattle Post­Intelligencer on-line newspaper. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Does this define `bad rap?'

Maybe it's something in the water, but another rap artist appears to be on his way to the slammer in New York, but we won't know for how long until he is sentenced in February.

"Lil Wayne," who is otherwise known as Dwayne Carter, recently entered a guilty plea to a charge of second-degree attempted weapon possession because back in July 2007, a .40-caliber handgun was found on his tour bus, which happened to be in Manhattan, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't hand out keys to the city for that sort of thing.

No reports of the case explained specifically what constitutes "attempted weapons possession."

According to the Associated Press, the Grammy winner had earlier pleaded not guilty to illegal gun possession. A conviction on that beef could have put him away for 31/2 years. With the new plea, he was predicting a 1-year stretch for the felony.

However, there is more to this man's story. Turns out Lil Wayne is also facing charges in Arizona relating to firearms and felony drug possession allegations. He was arrested in the Grand Canyon State about six months later, in January 2008 at a Border Patrol checkpoint, and subsequently entered a not guilty plea in that case. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Cop busted for ‘smuggling'

From the "Only Cops Should Have Guns" file comes the story out of Los Angeles, CA, where a member of the LA Police Department has been indicted for allegedly trying to export firearms illegally to his own security company in Belize.

According to the Associated Press, Officer Johnny Augustus Baltazar turned himself in after the indictment was issued.

Federal prosecutors allege that he tried to ship 10 handguns and 1,500 rounds of ammunition from Los Angeles International Airport to Belize. He has been charged with unlawful interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. The New GUN WEEK, December 15, 2009

 

Cop faces manslaughter

From the "Only Cops Should Have Guns" file comes the report from New Rochelle, NY, that an officer with the suburban Eastchester Police Department has been charged with second-degree manslaughter for the off-duty shooting death of "an acquaintance."

That's how the Associated Press and New York Post described shooting victim Andre Everett.  He was shot in the neck and later died at a hospital on Nov. 3.

Held in the death is Officer James Pileggi, who reportedly was sitting in an SUV demonstrating how a laser sight on his 9mm Glock pistol works when the gun discharged. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Crime just might pay

Meet Michigan Circuit Judge David Viviano, who believes that a guy doing time for robbery has a right to sue the people who chased him down, shot him to prevent his escape and roughed him up before the police arrived.

From the comfort of his prison cell, Scott T. Zielinski has filed a motion that appealed to the judge, seeking damages from the store he robbed, its owner and the three employees who ran him down and captured him. In the process, Zielinski was shot twice, according to the Associated Press, and he claims to have been "excessively beaten." He was convicted for the November 2007 caper and sentenced to 8 years in the pen. He filed a lawsuit in April of this year seeking $125,000 in damages.

There is a bit of silver in the lining of Judge Viviano's ruling, however. Zielinski can't go forward with the lawsuit until he posts a $10,000 bond to cover the legal expenses of the people he is suing, in case he loses in court. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

OnStar end stolen SUV chase

Now there's another dimension to global positioning systems.

When two Visalia, CA, police officers swung their cruisers behind a sport utility vehicle that had been carjacked at gun­point on Oct. 18, they prepared for a dangerous high-speed chase

The 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe roared away with officers in pursuit, but shortly after the suspect made a right turn, opera­tors at General Motors Co.'s OnStar service sent a command that electronically disabled the gas pedal and the SUV gradually came to a halt.

The flustered thief got out and ran, but was quickly nabbed after he climbed several fences and fell into a backyard swim­ming pool, police said.

It was the first time since OnStar began offering the service in the 2009 model year that it was used to end a chase that could otherwise have had dire consequences.

"He wouldn't have pulled over if OnStar hadn't have shut the vehicle down," said Visalia Police Sgt. Steve Phillips. "Generally pursuits end in a collision."

Officers quickly contacted OnStar and got the owner's, permis­sion to find the vehicle. Police spotted it a few miles away, but as officers made a U-turn to pursue it, the Tahoe sped off at a high speed, Phillips said.

The suspect made a turn, and police dispatchers told the pursuing officers that OnStar was about to disable the Tahoe. It then rolled to a halt, and the 21-year-old robbery suspect was quickly captured. OnStar is now featuring the incident in a TV ad. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Cop seeks compensation

A former Stoughton, MA, police sergeant convicted of at­tempted extortion in 2007 is seeking $113,000 in compensation from the town for overtime and time spent in court, according to The Enterprise newspaper.

David M. Cohen, 43, who was released from prison on a stay of his sentence in October, filed the request through his attorney, Brian E. Simoneau.

In the letter dated Nov. 4, Cohen is seeking $113,000, which includes 87 accrued vacation days, 125 unused sick days, 144 hours of compensation time accrued for not using sick time, 152 hours of supervisor comp time, 481 hours for court appearances related to his criminal case, 280 hours of overtime to prepare for his case, at least 61% education incentive pay for 2007, and 61% for accrued stipends and benefits.

Cohen was found guilty on four criminal charges in Norfolk Superior Court stemming from his role in the 2002 arrest of a former Stoughton businessman to collect a debt as a lawyer for a friend. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

Live-pigeon shoot under fire

After a seven-month truce, the Pigeon War of Bucks County is on again.

Hostilities resumed Nov. 14 when the Philadelphia Gun Club held a live-pigeon shoot on its riverfront property in Bensalem—and opponents called out the police, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"I saw wounded birds flying off the gun club's property into the nearby neighborhood," said Philadelphia lawyer Elissa Katz, an anti-cruelty advocate. "I also saw dead birds floating in the river."

The shoot was unexpected. Bensalem Township officials had said in April that the exclusive, private club had promised to stop using live birds for target practice.

In return, police had withdrawn citations filed against the organization's president, Leo Holt, that accused him of animal cruelty and violating a township ordinance banning most gunfire

"We want them to cease and desist what they are doing, and I think we have come to that agreement," Public Safety Director Fred Harran said at the time.

Bensalem police have announced no charges stemming from the Nov. 14 shoot.

Holt, in a telephone interview, said the gun club "is doing nothing illegal or improper" in resuming the shoots. He declined to say how soon, or how often, others might take place.

Pennsylvania is the only state in which live-pigeon shoots still openly take place.

That could soon be tested in Berks County, where the county Humane Society recently filed charges against the Pike Township Sportsmen's Association under the state's anti-cruelty statute. The New GUN WEEK, January 1, 2010

 

***************************************************

CCRKBA --NEWS RELEASE

 

12-29-2009 The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is again joining with Knife Rights.org to help protect our Second Amendment right to bear knives. Your support this year was key in helping pass Federal legislation protecting our pocket knives. We'd like to close out this successful year by asking you to support an effort to enact legislation in New Hampshire to expand their citizens' Knife Rights.  It's an effort that could reap dividends for us all.

New Hampshire State Representative Jennifer Coffey's Knife Rights bill has garnered national attention, coming on the heels of our victory against Customs Pocket Knife Grab.  Similar legislation is being considered in other states with restrictive knife laws.  They will be looking to see if this bill succeeds in New Hampshire, so this becomes much more than a single state issue.

While the bill has received broad bipartisan support and stands a good chance of passage, nothing in politics gets done without leadership and lobbying.  Knife Rights member and Second Amendment legal adviser, Evan Nappen, has been actively involved in developing and promoting this bill.  You can find out more about this legislation at www.knifelawonline.com

Rep. Coffey's bill removes the prohibition on these knives and focuses the law on CRIMINAL USE of the knives. CCRKBA supports efforts that remove restrictions on ownership, carry and legitimate use of knives as tools and arms and recognizes that it is the criminal use of knives that should garner the law's attention.  For a good overview, read Rep. Coffey's original commentary on her bill: http://bit.ly/5QiR5

Knife Rights has started a fundraising campaign to support this legislation.  If everyone receiving this email would make a modest contribution of even $10, we will easily raise the money we need.

 

ACLU'S ATTENTION TO RIGHTS SHOULD INCLUDE GUN RIGHTS, SAYS CCRKBA

12-28-2009 BELLEVUE, WA The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has vowed to monitor legislative reaction to three different police shootings in Washington State to make sure the proposals do not ultimately violate people’s rights if they become law.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today reminds the ACLU that the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutionally-protected right, and demands the same protection from legislative abuse as any other civil right.

While our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of those officers who have been murdered in recent weeks, noted CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, ?we share the ACLU’s concern that the legislatures reaction may be to clamp down on the rights of law-abiding citizens, as well as the rights of criminal suspects, without actually accomplishing anything.?

Washington ACLU spokesman Doug Honig was quoted by the Associated Press observing, Our concern would be measures that are proposals that sound tough, but in practice won’t do much to make us safer, but will restrict people’s rights.

That’s what gun owners have been saying for years about restrictive gun control measures that don’t reduce crime, Gottlieb stated. Already, some lawmakers are using these police shootings to advance their personal anti-gun agenda, calling for legislation to ban firearms that were not even used in any of the recent incidents. We also expect an attack on gun shows. It’s flash-without-substance political exploitation, and nothing more.

When the time comes to fight these insidious proposals, he concluded, ?we will be delighted if the ACLU joins in that battle. A civil right is a civil right, and gun prohibitionists in the Legislature need to recognize that. Gun owners are through taking the rap for crimes committed by ex-cons and neighborhood thugs. We will no longer suffer for the misbehavior of people who should not be on the streets in the first place.?

 

'SCROOGE' DALEY SQUANDERS $$ DEFENDING GUN BAN; SHUTS DOWN CHICAGO SERVICES

12-22-2009 BELLEVUE, WA Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is sending city employees home without pay on Christmas Eve, just like Ebenezer Scrooge would have done, yet he continues squandering scarce city funds defending an unconscionable, and soon-to-be unconstitutional, handgun ban, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

This is an indefensible ban designed to leave Chicago citizens defenseless, said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb, yet Mayor Daley is perfectly comfortable pouring public funds down a hole darker than the grave of Jacob Marley, clinging to a law that has been a public safety disaster.

This folly has cost the citizens of Chicago untold thousands of dollars, he continued, and what do they have to show for it? Public employees don’t even get a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings, only a day off without pay. Daley has had years to repeal this law and turn over a new leaf, but his only response has essentially been Bah, Humbug?!?

The city is being sued by the Second Amendment Foundation, Illinois State Rifle Association and four individual citizens to overturn its long-standing handgun ban. That case is going to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, and a ruling is expected sometime in June. This case could provide a landmark decision that incorporates the Second Amendment to the states through the 14th Amendment.

Daley is claiming that every dollar saved from these unpaid furlough days helps save jobs,? Gottlieb noted, but maybe it’s time to ask this Grinch just how much money is being spent to defend his gun ban. Surely that money could be far better spent by the citizens, and the employees whose pockets are being emptied for the holidays.

Here’s hoping that Daley is visited by the ghost of Christmas Future Thursday night,? he concluded, ?and that he sees a happier Chicago, where citizens will be safer once their rights are protected by the Supreme Court.?

 

PROPOSED WA SEMI-AUTO BAN BLAMES LAW-ABIDING GUN OWNERS, SAYS CCRKBA

12-18-2009 BELLEVUE, WA  A proposal to ban so-called assault weapons in Washington State shifts the blame for recent violent crimes from the perpetrators to every law-abiding gun owner in the state, holding them and their firearms responsible for crimes they did not commit, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

This is a proposal by three vehemently anti-gun rights state lawmakers who are exploiting two recent murders in an effort to push a political agenda they have had for several years, said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. One of those slayings, the murder of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton, didn't even involve the specific kind of firearm they want banned.

State Senators Adam Kline (D-37th District) and Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36th District), and State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48th District) will sponsor the legislation. They held a press conference this morning to announce their plans. The plan is supported by Washington CeaseFire, a small but radical gun prohibitionist group.

Tens of thousands of Evergreen State citizens own the kind of semiautomatic sport-utility rifles and shotguns that these Democrat lawmakers want banned, Gottlieb observed. Those citizens have committed no crimes. They utilize their rifles for hunting, target shooting and competition, recreational shooting, predator control and even home defense. For Kline, Kohl-Welles and Hunter to demonize them and their firearms smacks of hysteria and social bigotry.

These are not military firearms, he continued. Just because they are deceptively similar in appearance to military firearms is no reason to ban them. That’s like putting someone in prison just because he looks like a criminal.

Such a ban violates Washington State’s constitutional right to bear arms provision, Gottlieb noted. We expect gun owners to express their outrage, not only during the upcoming legislative session, but also at the polls next November.

 

***************************************************

Gun Owners of America  NEWS RELEASES:

Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alerts

8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151

Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408

http://www.gunowners.org/ordergoamem.htm

 

ObamaCare Has Revealed The Moral Bankruptcy Of The Senate

-- It's time for us for to repeat this loudly and often

 

Thursday, January 7, 2010 -- Here's where we're at on socialized health care.  The House and Senate have passed ObamaCare bills, but the two versions are very different.  So, the bill can't go to the President until they iron out the differences.

Make no mistake about it.  This legislation moves us down the road towards socialism, and it will result in even more gun owners being disqualified from owning firearms.

We need to regroup and renew our efforts to kill ObamaCare -- an outcome which is still very doable.

Now, repeat this phrase over and over:  A MORAL CESSPOOL.

If we are going to defeat the anti-gun ObamaCare legislation, these words are going to have to be repeated millions of times over the next month. 

·      The U.S. Senate has become a moral cesspool.

·      The U.S. Senate has become a moral cesspool.

·      The U.S. Senate has become a moral cesspool.

Why is this refrain so important?  There are several reasons why, but consider this:  Throughout this fight over ObamaCare, Senators have lied about guns... they've lied about the deficit... they've lied about the costs of health insurance premiums and how the bill will affect senior citizens.  They have lied over and over to their constituents about all these issues.

That's why it's time that we tell Democrat Senators how corrupt their vote for ObamaCare really was.  Obviously, they won't agree.  So let each Senator make the argument that, "I am not a crook."

That argument never wins elections.

Already, Democrat Representatives and Senators are either switching parties or announcing their retirements.  They know the American people are disgusted with the moral bankruptcy of the U.S. Congress -- a situation that has become obvious to anyone who watches the nightly news. 

Consider the following despicable practices which were perpetrated in order to push ObamaCare through the Senate last month:

 

1. Lies

* For months, Senators claimed there were no anti-gun provisions in the ObamaCare legislation.  But everyone knew they were lying.  So last month, a provision was inserted into the Senate bill which claims to allay the concerns of gun owners -- but leaves the most important problem unremedied.  If they weren't lying to begin with, then why try to fix what they claimed wasn't there?

* Senators are now insisting that the current Senate health bill protects the rights of gun owners, even though this version would still allow the BATFE and FBI to troll through the ObamaCare database for gun owners who would be disqualified because of their medical information.  This could result in millions of Americans -- who are suffering from PTSD and other similar conditions -- being put into the NICS system and denied the right to buy firearms.

 

2. Bribes

* A $100 million bribe to treat Sen. Ben Nelson's state different from all others, in exchange for Ben Nelson's vote.

* A $100-300 million bribe to treat Sen. Mary Landrieu's state different from all others, in exchange for Mary Landrieu's vote.

* $10 billion for community health centers operated by groups similar to ACORN, in exchange for Sen. Bernie Sanders' vote.

* A bribe to Sen. Max Baucus in order to treat Libby, Montana, different from any other town.

* A bribe to Sen. Chris Dodd consisting of a $100 million medical center in Connecticut.

* Bribes to Sens. Kent Conrad, Brian Dorgan, Bill Nelson, etc., etc., etc.

* In fact, there are so many bribes in the Senate version of the ObamaCare bill that the bribe-meister himself, Majority Leader Harry Reid, publicly bragged that if your senator doesn't have a bribe in this bill, it "speaks poorly" of him.

 

3. Extortion

* Threats to take away Sen. Joe Lieberman's chairmanship because of his opposition to the government run "public option."

 

4. Fraud

* Senators are claiming that the Senate-passed version reduces the deficit, even though:

  a. $247 billion of the bill's costs are being snuck through in separate legislation; 

  b. The "savings" rely on $465 billion of Medicare "cuts," which no one believed were achievable; and

  c. The "savings" rely on making new taxes take effect 3-5 years before any of those tax monies are spent.

* Senators are claiming that the bill would make Medicare solvent -- but this claim can only be made by fraudulently double-counting the effects of the phony Medicare cuts.

* Senators are claiming that health care costs would be brought under control, when the government's own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that costs would go up $245 billion.

* Senators are claiming that premiums would be brought under control, even though the Congressional Budget Office found that policies under the "exchange" (i.e., those policies which you would have to buy, under penalty of law) would be 10-13% more expensive than if Congress did nothing.

 

5. Secrecy

* The final version of the 2407-page bill wasn't revealed until less than 48 hours before Congress began voting on it.

Now that the Christmas holidays are behind us, we need to get back to work.  Please take the time to contact your Senator, so that we can protect the rights of gun owners by defeating socialized medicine.

ACTION:  Over the next month, the term "moral cesspool" needs to become part of the political lexicon.  Below, you will find that two sample communications are attached -- one for Democrat Senators, the other for Republicans. 

So please send your letter, and then get your relatives, your friends, your neighbors, your gun clubs, churches, etc., to do the same. 

You can use the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center at http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm to send a pre-written message to your Senators -- the appropriate e-mail will automatically be sent to your Senator, based on whether he or she is a Republican or Democrat.

 

----- Pre-written letter for Democrat Senators -----

Dear Senator:

    

The U.S. Senate has become a moral cesspool, and you need to begin doing something about it before this whole country is sacrificed on the altar of the Senate's moral decay.

I am disgusted with the lies, bribes, and fraud which you have advocated by voting for the Senate ObamaCare legislation:

* Millions of American taxpayer dollars were spent in the states of Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Chris Dodd to obtain their votes.  In fact, so many bribes were shelled out that the chief bribe-meister, Harry Reid, publicly bragged that if a senator doesn't have a bribe in this bill, it "speaks poorly" of him.

* The Senate bill was passed on the claim that the Reid bill reduces the deficit, even though:

  a. $247 billion of the bill's costs are being snuck through in separate legislation; 

  b. The "savings" rely on $465 billion of Medicare "cuts," which no one believed were achievable; and

  c. The "savings" rely on making new taxes take effect 3-5 years before any of those tax monies are spent.

* Senators claimed that health care costs would be brought under control, when the government's own Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that costs would go up $245 billion.

* Senators also claimed that premiums would be brought under control, even though the Congressional Budget Office found that policies under the "exchange" (i.e., those policies which you would have to buy, under penalty of law) would be 10-13% more expensive than if Congress did nothing.

There is still time to change course.  I implore you to change your vote on ObamaCare.

Sincerely,

 

----- Pre-written letter for Republican Senators -----

Dear Senator:

 

Thank you for voting against the ObamaCare fiasco.

For months, Senators claimed there were no anti-gun provisions in the ObamaCare legislation.  But everyone knew they were lying.  So last month, a provision was inserted into the Senate bill which claims to allay the concerns of gun owners -- but leaves the most important problem unremedied.

Some Democrat Senators are now claiming that the current Senate health bill protects the rights of gun owners, even though this version would still allow the BATFE and FBI to troll through the ObamaCare database for gun owners who would be disqualified because of their medical information.  This could result in millions of Americans -- who are suffering from PTSD and other similar conditions -- being put into the NICS system and denied the right to buy firearms.

Bottom line:  Please do everything in your power to kill the ObamaCare legislation.  What can you, as a senator, do about this?

Please take away the incentive that the suicidal Democrats have for selling their votes on ObamaCare for posh nominations in the Obama administration after they are defeated at the polls or retire. 

You can do this by announcing you will place a "hold" on the nominations of Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Chris Dodd, Brian Dorgan, and Michael Bennet -- nominations which will inevitably be made next year as a payoff for their votes on behalf of ObamaCare. 

It's time that the bribes stopped, and you can make this happen.

Sincerely,

 

Gun Owners of America Wins a Skirmish on ObamaCare

-- Trumpets recent victory to be grateful for this Christmas

“Score one for the Gun Owners of America ….” Slate, December 20, 2009

 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 -- You guys have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas. Our efforts together in lobbying against ObamaCare have netted some positive gains, and that has the political left up in arms.

The writers at the ultra-liberal Slate magazine are beside themselves that an organization like the Gun Owners of America was able to move the Senate to include protections for gun owners.

According to Slate on December 20:

Score one for the Gun Owners of America, a lobby group positioned well to the right of the National Rifle Association…. [T]o pacify GOA, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (who represents the gun-loving state of Nevada has inserted into his “manager's amendment” a section titled “Protecting 2nd Amendment Gun Rights.” It states that no wellness program implemented under health reform may require disclosure or collection of any information relating to gun ownership.

Medical information has already been used to deny -- without due process or trial by jury -- more than 150,000 military veterans the right to buy firearms.

Senator Reid tries to appease Gun Owners; leaves naysayers out on a limb

In the face of all this abuse, Senator Reid was pressured by GOA and his constituents into making a face-saving move. He wanted to silence the pro-gun community’s objections, so he took steps to strip the bill of any gun rights concerns.

But what a delicious irony this created. Prior to Senator Reid’s Second Amendment “fix,” many Senators had been telling their constituents for months that there were no Second Amendment concerns in the ObamaCare legislation -- and now, Senator Reid left them out on a limb.

“There is no mention of ‘gun-related health data’ anywhere in the Senate’s health reform bill, and there is nothing in the bill that would result in any such data being reported to the government,” said Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to one constituent. “I support the Second Amendment and will continue to uphold the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms.”

Senator Casey supports the Second Amendment? What a laugh! Has Senator Casey seen his voting record on the GOA website? This year, he’s voted wrong on gun issues over 70% of the time.

Then there’s Democrat Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico: “It is my understanding that there is no discussion within the Senate concerning firearms in relation to health care.  Please be assured I will keep your comments in mind as the Senate debates comprehensive health care reform.”

Senator Bingaman, will you really keep the views of your constituents in mind? If so, then why did you vote for the ObamaCare bill? After all, more than 60% of the American people oppose it!

To listen to these and other liberal Senators, you would think there were no Second Amendment concerns in President Obama’s signature piece of legislation. But then, lo and behold, Senator Reid included language in his substitute amendment that totally undercut these Senators’ excuses.

< under out pulled rug having hurt it does Bingaman, Casey>

GOA lobbying saves gun owners from bureaucratic mischief

Slate then goes on to lament the other victory that GOA scored:

[G]un owners also won another provision forbidding private insurers participating in the bill's exchanges from charging higher premiums, or denying coverage, or denying wellness discounts on the basis of gun ownership. Unlike the previous section, this one doesn't place a restriction on what government may do. It places a restriction on what the private sector may choose to do on its own. It inhibits that most holy of right-wing sacred cows: free enteprise [sic].

The socialists at Slate magazine hate free enterprise so much, they can’t even spell the word correctly. It’s reminiscent of the Fonz from Happy Days trying unsuccessfully years ago to get the words “I was wr-wr-wrong” out of his mouth.

Yes, it’s true that GOA won a victory in this area. But GOA’s opposition to the “wellness” regulations was not driven by an effort to help big business, as it was totally driven by opposition to GOVERNMENT REGULATION that would impinge upon gun owners.

Every draft of the ObamaCare legislation on Capitol Hill would give Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tremendous regulatory power. And in early versions of the Senate bill, the anti-gun Sebelius could very well have mandated that gun ownership is an activity so dangerous that your insurance coverage needed to be suspended.

The Reid “fix” prohibits companies from charging insurance premiums that would impinge upon “lawful” gun owners, but this will leave millions of gun owners in the cold -- specifically, those honest Americans who cannot legally own firearms in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Slate, of course, didn’t pick up on these loopholes in the Reid compromise, but then, you can’t expect a liberal cheerleader for the Obama machine to be overly careful about analyzing a Democrat-sponsored bill.

So the bottom line? Yes, thanks to your constant pressure, Gun Owners of America won a skirmish in the battle against socialized health care and gained some protections for gun owners.

But also remember that the ObamaCrats never really had our interests in mind and that they never really solved all the Second Amendment problems in the health care bill. Again, even with the Reid “fix,” it’s still possible that ATF agents could troll through your medical information and send that data to the FBI, who in turn, could use it to deny honest Americans their right to keep and bear arms -- similar to the 150,000 military veterans who have now lost their gun rights.

The Senate is expected to vote on final passage of the ObamaCare bill tomorrow. The bill is expected to pass, but the fight is far from over. So please stay tuned, as Gun Owners of America will continue to keep you abreast of the latest developments.

Thanks again for all your activism this year. It really makes our job a whole lot easier.

Have a Merry Christmas!


***************************************************

NSSF Bullet Points

January 4, 2010  Vol. 11 No. 1

Legislative

 

·       CALIFORNIA MICROSTAMPING LAW NOT IN EFFECT . . . Firearms microstamping, signed into by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) in October 2007 and slated to take effect this New Year's Day (2010), is not in effect since the technology remains encumbered by patents. Microstamping -- the process by which firearms manufacturers would have to micro laser-engrave a gun's make, model and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that in theory the information would be imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired -- must be certified as patent-free by the California Department of Justice before the law can go into effect. Full Story

·       HEALTH CARE BILL AND FIREARMS . . . Pro-gun forces were successful at inserting language into the Senate Health Care Bill that prohibits the collection or disclosure of any information regarding the lawful possession or storage of firearms and ammunition in the residence or property of a gun owner. It prohibits the use of any health-related databases from constructing a list of gun owners or questioning individuals to construct such a database. It also bans insurance companies from using possession of a firearm or ammunition as an excuse to limit or not offer coverage. Finally, insurance companies cannot increase premiums due to an individual lawfully owning firearms and ammunition. House and Senate Democratic leaders are now meeting to work out the substantial differences between the two health care bills. View bill language (beginning on Page 5).

·       OKLAHOMA LAWMAKERS SEEK TAX-FREE HOLIDAY FOR FIREARM SALES . . . Following in the footsteps of Louisiana and South Carolina, two Oklahoma legislators have introduced legislation that would establish a sales-tax-free weekend on firearms. The bill, SB 1322, calls for a sales-tax-free period on handguns, rifles or shotguns starting at 12:01 a.m. on the third Friday in August until midnight the next Sunday and would go into effect this year if passed, the Tulsa World reports.

News of Note

·      HOMICIDES AT HISTORIC LOWS IN NYC AND WASHINGTON, D.C. . . . Mirroring a national trend of declining violent crime, cities across America have shown a significant decrease in homicides, including New York City and Washington, D.C. Media reported last week that homicides in both cities were at historic low levels, with homicides in New York down 19 percent and Washington, D.C., down 25 percent. In two posts, NSSF's Aiming for Accuracy blog underscored how baseless the "more guns equal more crime" argument of gun-control groups is in light of FBI statistics showing that while firearms sales were surging in late 2008 and the first half of 2009, violent crime was going down nationally, in all categories.

 

***************************************************

USSA News Alerts:

U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance

1/07/2010

USSA Says Goodbye to a Great Friend to Sportsmen as Washington Times Cuts Sports Section
Outdoor Writer Gene Mueller Was a Tireless Advocate of the Outdoor Cause
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) was saddened to learn that longtime Washington Times outdoors columnist Gene Mueller would be leaving the paper as the result of a management decision to move forward without any sports section – the area where his column appeared.  Mueller has been a stalwart in his work to inform sportsmen about threats against there outdoor heritage. 

Bullseye Blog: HSUS Takes Aim at National Columnist for Exposing Agenda
Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO, of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) decided he needed to hit back after a recent column in the Washington Times truthfully outlined the reality of HSUS’ mission.

PETA Uses First Lady in Anti-Fur Ad Without Permission
PETA is well known for using high profile celebrities as part of its radical animal rights agenda.  Often the group’s anti-fur ads use scantily clad or naked celebrities.  It’s latest ad opted for a different approach and landed a major A- list celeb: the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.  The trouble for PETA is, it never asked for permission to use the Ms. Obama in the ad.

HSUS Sponsors Equestrian Youth Event
The nation’s leading anti-hunting organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is attempting to make further inroads with American youth to advance their agenda.  The latest action includes being the presenting sponsor for a youth convention hosted by the EQUUS Foundation and the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF). The USEF is considered the national governing body for the equestrian sport.

 

12/23/2009

HSUS Pushes For Animal Rightist in The White House
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the largest anti-hunting group in the country, is urging its followers sign a petition urging President Obama to appoint an “Animal Protection Liaison” in the White House.  This liaison would undoubtedly be promoting HSUS’s radical animal rights agenda.

Targeted Executive Fights Back Against Animal Rightists
This past summer, animal rights activists targeted Dan Vasella, the CEO of Novartis, a large European pharmaceutical company, with several acts of vandalism and arson.  Rather than slip into the shadows, Vasella decided to “stand up” and push for more aggressive action against these activists throughout Europe.

Bullseye Blog: HSUS: Is The Mask Slipping Off Over Fundraising Pitch?
Is the mask used by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to cover its agenda slipping a bit lately?

 

***************************************************

 

News links

10-01-06 Major crimes drop in Philadelphia since 2007

    Philadelphia saw across-the-board decreases in major crimes over the last two years, authorities announced yesterday, including a 22 percent drop in homicides.

   "These are, of course, spectacular achievements," Mayor Nutter said yesterday at a news conference held at the 22d Police District. "And we will celebrate them for about a second. Our work is not done. We cannot rest. We must be a safer city."

    Flanked by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, newly sworn-in District Attorney Seth Williams, and other law enforcement authorities, Nutter said the Police Department and Ramsey were to be praised for the progress made in reducing crime. But, he said, "we still have a long way to go."

   Overall crime is down 10 percent from 2007, the year before Ramsey took over. Violent crime is down 10.8 percent from 2007; property crime, 9.7 percent.

   Many major crimes decreased from 2007 to 2008, though there were spikes in burglaries and rapes. In 2009, the numbers of all major crimes fell below 2007 levels, authorities said yesterday.

   The city had 305 homicides last year, down from 333 in 2008 and 392 in 2007. Robberies were down 12 percent from 2007, aggravated assaults 9.6 percent, and rapes 6 percent. Auto theft had the most significant shift, dropping 37.2 percent since 2007, authorities said.

   In addition, the city's homicide clearance rate is 75.6 percent, Ramsey said - up from less than 60 percent in 2007.

    Ramsey said he and other police leaders had focused on using the force's officers more efficiently - and with fewer budgetary dollars than in years past. The department gathered data on the city's most violent intersections and corners, then organized new foot beats and patrols around those neighborhoods. In some districts, officers and commanders were assigned to monitor the same areas every day as a way to improve community relations and deter crime.

   Now, Ramsey said, the department is developing goals for 2010.

   "We can't afford to become complacent," he said. "We can't be satisfied. We're going to focus on guns, we're going to focus on gangs, we're going to focus on violent crime in general, but not lose sight of property crimes."

   Ramsey added yesterday that until his elderly parents' house was burglarized recently, he had not realized how traumatic property crimes could be to the victims.

   Theft is one of the city's most prevalent reported crimes. Last year, 37,793 incidents of theft were reported, down more than 6.5 percent from 2008's 40,425.

   In addition to disclosing the crime statistics, Ramsey also announced the merging of the 22d and 23d Districts in North Philadelphia into one station. The department no longer has enough employees to fill both buildings, Ramsey said, and the 23d District is not as busy as it once was.

    "Residents won't notice any difference," he said. "It's about efficiency - cutting down the number of districts means they can all be fully staffed."

   In March, Ramsey said, the Third and Fourth Police Districts in South Philadelphia will also be merged, and police will look at whether it might make sense to combine additional stations.

   Nutter cast the numbers in the context of his oft-repeated campaign pledge to slash the city's violent-crime rate, saying the Police Department was on its way to reducing crime at least 30 percent in the coming years.

   Authorities also spoke yesterday about broader solutions to the city's crime problems, such as creating jobs and reforming the troubled court system.

   "In many ways, the criminal justice system is broken," Williams said. "And it's my job as district attorney to fix it." http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20100106_Major_crimes_drop_in_Philadelphia_since_2007.html

 

10-01-06 Tyranny and Gun Control

     Over the years, I’ve had conversations with Europeans about gun control. Not surprisingly, they have been very critical of America’s “gun culture” — that is, the widespread ownership of guns among the American people. They have extolled the situation in Europe, where gun-control laws preclude people from freely owning guns, arguing that such laws make for a more peaceful society.

   My response to such Europeans has included the following: The big advantage we have over you is what happens if a tyrannical regime ever takes power. Except for Switzerland, where most families are well-armed with assault rifles and handguns, Europeans have but one choice when faced with the rise of a tyrannical regime: submit and obey or be killed. Americans, at least, have one final choice — resist with guns.

     Let’s assume, for example, that a regime assumes power in a European country that will not permit elections, abolishes civil liberties, takes command and control over the economy, and begins rounding up and incarcerating, torturing, raping, and killing dissidents and critics without a trial. Given that the troops who are enforcing the regime’s orders will be the only ones in society who have guns, the citizenry will inevitably shut their mouths or, even worse, become ardent and enthusiastic supporters of the regime.

   A good example, of course, was Nazi Germany, where German Jews lacked the means to resist their round-ups and incarceration with force and where ordinary Germans, also lacking the means to resist what was going on, kept silent or became government supporters.

     We’re seeing a good example of a modern-day tyrannical regime in Iran. There, the elections are crooked and the government is using its troops and police to arrest dissidents, protestors, and critics. After taking such “enemies of society” into custody, some of the troops are then raping and torturing some of the prisoners. The troops and police are sometimes shooting protestors in cold blood on the streets or executing them in custody. No legitimate trials are being accorded the suspects and any such trials would be of a kangaroo nature anyway.

   The Iranian people have an interesting choice — submit and obey, or resist and be raped, tortured, or killed. Because there is no widespread ownership of guns, they are precluded from shooting back at the troops and police when they’re fired upon or when the troops or police come to cart them away for indefinite incarceration, torture, rape, or execution.

    Of course, there are many American gun-control types who say, “Well, that sort of thing could happen in Iran or Europe or elsewhere, but it could never happen here in the United States.”

    That position, needless to say, is the height of naïveté. Anything is possible. Human nature is human nature. There’s nothing special about American human beings as compared to other human beings. There will always be those in every society, including the United States, who thirst for power over the lives of other human beings and who are all-too-ready to convince themselves that the assumption of omnipotent, tyrannical power is necessary to save the nation. And there will always be those who are ready and willing to loyally obey orders, especially when their superiors tell them that what they're doing is saving the nation.

     Likely? Of course not. America’s long tradition of democracy and due process makes the likelihood of a tyrannical regime assuming power, say in a coup, extremely unlikely.

  But not impossible.

  And that’s where the right to keep and bear arms comes into play. It’s the insurance   policy that Americans have in the unlikely event that would-be American tyrants were ever to assume power in our country, prohibiting elections, rounding up dissidents and critics, torturing and raping them, and executing them without due process of law.

   In fact, the right to keep and bears arms actually serves as more than an insurance policy, it also serves as a deterrent. For when would-be tyrants know that the citizenry is well-armed, they think twice about imposing tyranny.

   In the case of Silveira v. Lockyer, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski summed up the importance of the right to keep and bear arms:

Quote:

The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=501

 

10-01-06 Rep Jenn Coffey: Turning the NH State House into a no-self-defense zone

    With the Joint Facilities Committee's ban on firearms in the State House, it has become painfully obvious that some members of the Legislature have yet to learn from history.

    Think of all the horrific acts that have been perpetrated on the law-abiding citizens of our great nation -- Columbine, Virginia Tech, Luby's Cafe, and the list goes on. These places have one thing in common: They were all "gun-free zones."

   It seems to elude many that when you announce to the world you are creating a "gun-free zone," you are, in fact, creating a killing zone: a place where a criminal knows no one will shoot back.

   In each of the above incidents, the lunatic responsible had only one thing in mind -- to kill as many people as possible. In each instance, the police were called to the scene, and each time they arrived to clean up the mess.

     This is not meant as an attack on our police; they do the best they can. When bullets start flying, they are on average six minutes away from the scene. In some places in New Hampshire, they can be 30 minutes away. As an emergency medical technician, I know this. I have had to wait for a police officer to come and let me know a scene is safe before I can enter.

    There is a real reason that New Hampshire has a lower crime rate than many other states; plain and simple, the criminal element here knows that many of us have the ability and the tools necessary to defend ourselves. All you have to do is compare our state to, well, let's say our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. It may alarm you to know that there are more rapes, robberies and murders in the District of Columbia than in New Hampshire. What do they have that we don't? Very restrictive gun laws. There, the only ones with the guns are the criminals.

    I find it inconceivable that there are still people in our world who don't seem to understand that the people who follow the laws we create are the hard working, honest citizens of our state. Those bent on mayhem will never follow that law; that is what makes them criminals!

     Personally, I have received more phone calls and e-mails since the announcement of the ban than ever before. Many of the callers are women who have been victims of violent crime themselves. For some, being able to have a firearm, knife, pepper spray or some other means of self-defense and the knowledge to use it is what enables them to venture out in to the world alone.

     Until you have either helped someone through that type of physical and emotional pain or have been through it yourself, you cannot begin to imagine what it is like to venture out alone.

      Now some of these very people who would like to go to our state capital fear the idea. They fear being forced to be victims again, and they resent the legislators who are forcing them to be just that.

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Jenn+Coffey%3A+Turning+the+State+House+into+a+no-self-defense+zone&articleId=c3e18a3a-145d-490e-918b-be78e42ccd7c

 

10-01-06 Off-duty Philly cop shoots, kills alleged robber

    An off-duty police officer shot and killed a man who allegedly tried to rob the officer just north of Center City this morning, officials said.

   The officer, not identified, was injured during the attempted holdup from being smacked in the face and head with a pistol, police said.

   The officer was driving his black Nissan SUV about 3:45 a.m. when he stopped on Willow Street at North Seventh Street, outside the Electric Factory.

   The alleged robber opened the front passenger-side door, jumped in and began pistol-whipping the officer, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.

   The 55-year-old traffic officer, a 24-year veteran of the force, was able to get out his gun and fired, hitting the man the man in the chest, Vanore said.

   The 23-year-old suspect, identified as Altariq Hutchinson, of Edgewater, N.J., was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:24 a.m.

    Another young man was in custody for questioning about whether he was a witness or was involved in the attempted robbery.

   A gun found in the street was the one used by Hutchinson to pistol-whip the officer, Vanore said.

   Money also was found outside the Nissan.

   The officer remained at the scene for a time after the shooting and TV news video showed him sitting in the back of a squad car holding a towel to his face.

   After being taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, he was treated for bruises and released.

    Police have not commented about what the officer, assigned to the South Philadelphia-based Traffic Unit, was doing at that location at that hour.

   The officer is being reassigned to desk duties, as is policy, while the matter is investigated by Internal Affairs and Homicide detectives.

   This is the second attempted robbery of an off-duty officer that ended in a fatal shooting in a week, according to officials.

    On Dec. 31, Officer Martin Campbell was seriously wounded and his long time friend was killed when two men tried to rob them in North Philadelphia.

   A $15,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of the assailants.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/breaking/news_breaking/20100106_Off-duty_cop_shoots__kills_alleged_robber.html

 

10-01-06 Fired cop, 34, pleads guilty to drug charges

Alhinde Weems yesterday admitted that he was a dirty, drug-dealing cop, with a stash of weapons including a homemade silencer.

   The 34-year-old Weems, who was fired as an officer in West Philadelphia's 18th District, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky to two counts of drug distribution: He sold one ounce of crack cocaine for $1,300 on Dec. 17, 2008, and two ounces for $2,400 last Jan. 14.

    At his change-of-plea hearing, Weems also admitted to one count each of attempting to possess cocaine, attempting to interfere with commerce by robbery and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.

    At sentencing on May 3, he could get up to life in prison and an $8.5 million fine. If given a lesser prison sentence, he could get a lifetime of supervised release. If he violates his supervised release, he would be returned to prison to complete his sentence, which could be increased by three to five years for each count.

    Earlier, federal authorities said that Weems had been a drug dealer before he joined the police force on Nov. 3, 2003, and continued peddling drugs as a $62,330-a-year police officer.

   But his drug-dealing days abruptly ended last March 27, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI arrested Weems, armed with his police service revolver, and his brother-in-law in a three-month sting operation, described in a plea memo.

     After selling drugs to an informant, Weems bought and transported what he believed was a $30,000 kilo of cocaine from Maryland on behalf of someone who he thought was a high-ranking drug dealer but was actually an undercover agent. Weems was paid $500; sham cocaine was used in the sting.

   Having proven his worth to the so-called "high-level drug dealer," Weems began planning a home invasion to steal thousands of dollars in cash and millions of dollars of cocaine.

   Weems met four times over a month with an informant and an undercover agent who taped the conversations, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria M. Carrillo, who read his plea memo to the judge.

    He recruited co-conspirators, assigned them jobs, such as entering the home, being a look-out or getaway driver, and proposed "badging" his way into the home - flashing his police badge.

    He even offered to bring weapons, including silencers and four firearms, and to use duct tape or flex cuffs on any occupants in the house. He planned to act like a detective, and even wear his police uniform.

   As part of his plea, Weems, who is not cooperating with authorities, must forfeit three semiautomatic handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, a magazine for a semiautomatic handgun and ammunition for eight weapons.

    After his arrest, agents confiscated the weapons and ammunition at his Olney home, where he lived with his wife and four children, ages 3 to 13.

http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/news_update/20100106_Fired_cop__34__pleads_guilty_to_drugcharges.html

 

10-01-05 Phila. officer to be stripped of badge for killing unarmed man

   The off-duty police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 21-year-old man in November during a street fight will be stripped of his badge, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey announced yesterday.

   Frank Tepper, 43, a 16-year veteran of the force, committed "numerous violations" of Police Department procedures when he opened fire on William Panas Jr. in the Port Richmond neighborhood where they both lived, according to an investigation by the department's Internal Affairs Division.

   As of yesterday, Tepper was suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss him. He could not be reached for comment.

    Panas' father, William Sr., said Ramsey called him to deliver the news.

   "This is a great day," Panas said yesterday, his voice breaking. "This means he can't kill someone else's child while calling himself police."

   A police cruiser was parked outside Tepper's home yesterday - police have guarded his house on Elkhart Street since the Nov. 21 shooting - and a memorial to Panas remained in place across the street.

   Tepper has since moved to an undisclosed location.

    Tepper also might face criminal charges. Last month, then-District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham announced a grand-jury probe into the case. That investigation is continuing and has no bearing on the decision to fire Tepper, Ramsey said in a news release.

   District Attorney R. Seth Williams, who took office yesterday, said through a spokesman that he planned to review the case file today.

    Said the elder Panas: "What we most want is for [Tepper] to be charged with murdering my son. We're very grateful he's been terminated, but the fact is he murdered my son for nothing. He should be punished for that."

   The shooting of Panas, a well-known Port Richmond native who planned to open a corner barbershop, sparked outrage, particularly among neighbors of Tepper. Many have described Tepper as a hot-tempered bully often at war with the teenagers and young adults in his community.

   Tepper also has a history of reaching for his gun to settle disputes.

    Seven years before Panas' death, Tepper drew a firearm while arguing with a group of youths who had harassed Tepper's young son. As with Panas' shooting, Tepper was off duty at the time.

   After that incident, Internal Affairs officers admonished Tepper, warning in a report that his actions "could have resulted in numerous injuries with the very real possibility of deadly force being used by him during this confrontation."

   Tepper was assigned to the Civil Affairs Unit, whose duties include monitoring demonstrations and labor disputes. He was placed on desk duty after the shooting while the case was investigated, standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

    Panas' family and many in Port Richmond have been calling for action against Tepper since the night Tepper shot Panas during a large brawl that broke out in front of Tepper's Elkhart Street house. Some neighbors said the fight began in the house, at a family party, then spilled out into the street.

   Police have said that Tepper tried to break up the fight and that he fired his gun after he was assaulted. Witnesses disputed that, saying that Tepper appeared drunk and that Panas never threatened him. No one in the crowd was armed.

   By several accounts, Panas just happened to walk by with friends, and some witnesses said he tried to stop the fighting. Witnesses reported that when Tepper brandished a gun and chased off the brawlers, Panas said, "Come on, you're not going to shoot me."

   Just before Tepper fired, witnesses said, his response was, essentially, "Oh, yeah?"

  Panas was shot in the chest and died soon afterward.

    Police have never commented on whether Tepper called 911 before getting involved in the fight, in accordance with the rules that govern off-duty officers, or whether he called 911 after the shooting.

    The reaction from many Port Richmond residents was immediate and anguished. A memorial to Panas appeared at the scene of the shooting, with photographs and letters, and neighbors have held two marches in his honor.

   "It was inevitable that he would kill someone," the elder Panas said of Tepper. "He should have been stopped a long time ago."

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/80682822.html

 

10-01-05 Gold and Guns

    In his extraordinary book Democracy: The God that Failed, Hans Hermann Hoppe points out that the process of civilization is stopped when government continually violates property rights.

    The natural process of civilization comes through delaying consumption, saving, and building capital. Undoing it leads to higher societal time preference.

   When natural disasters strike or a gunman robs you in an alley, "the effect of these on time preference is temporary and unsystematic," Hoppe explains.

    Victims are entitled to defend themselves against the individual aggressor and prepare themselves for the calamities of the occasional act of God. Resources will be reallocated to defend one against potential robbers, and provisions will be made for potential natural disasters.

   However, when government aggresses, it is considered legitimate and "a victim may not legitimately defend himself against such violations." Democracy legitimizes this government aggression because the violence is sanctioned by a majority of voters.

   This decivilization process that Hoppe describes continues in fits and starts. The uneducated continue to live in never-never land, believing that each new ruler means change and that their lives and happiness can safely be put in the hands of a kind and caring government. But government's current ham-handedness - with its bailouts, money printing, and rights violations - has alerted more than a few individuals to do what comes naturally: defend themselves and prepare for the worst.

    The government's legal-tender money - the dollar - is now under questioning. While the commercial-banking fractional-reserve monetary engine is stalled with loan write-downs and bank failures, the Federal Reserve has expanded its balance sheet like never before. Man of the Year Ben Bernanke is deathly afraid of deflation, and John Maynard Keynes is a hero again. The inflation cake is in the oven, albeit not quite fully baked.

    And the current administration does not seem friendly to the property right of allowing us to protect ourselves. The president believes that only law-enforcement officers should have weapons.

   So while high-time-preference folks like Shannan DeCesare shout  "Merry Christmas to me" after unloading some gold jewelry for $610 at a gold party, low-time-preference types are lining up in pawnshops and gun shows to buy gold, silver, lead, and guns.

    DeCesare attended a gold party that the Wall Street Journal describes as an example of the new Tupperware party. These parties appeal to the cash-for-gold crowd trying to maintain a boom-time lifestyle by unloading their valuables. The cash poor end up taking between 65 and 75 percent of what their gold would be worth to a refiner according to the WSJ.

    These parties offer a comfortable atmosphere for selling the yellow metal. "It can be really difficult for a lot of people to walk into a jewelry store or pawnshop holding a little bag of gold," Lisa Rosenthal, owner of Party of Gold, told the WSJ. Ms. Rosenthal's company has specialists working more than 1,000 parties a month. And why would anyone sell their gold for 65 to 75 cents on the dollar? In his book  More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places, author Michael J. Mauboussin has a chapter titled, "All I Need to Know I Learned at a Tupperware Party." People buy Tupperware because they feel like they must reciprocate the host for hosting the party and providing the free party favors. Plus, as Mauboussin explains, "the single most important fact of the Tupperware formula is the tendency to say yes to people you like."

     In the case of gold parties, attendees don't want to just show up, drink the wine and eat the appetizers but leave turning their noses up at the low prices offered for their, or their departed mother's, old jewelry, especially when it's their friend down the block hosting the event. They happily trade a metal that has proven to have value for thousands of years for the government's depreciating paper.

   But while gold sellers are shy to see the nearby pawn dealer, gold buyers go where they must to see who has inventory for sale. The demand for guns is so good that the gun show in Las Vegas recently charged $14 a head just to walk in and look around - after parking cost of $3. The lot was full and business was brisk.

    The demand for space at gun ranges in Salt Lake City was strong enough the day after Christmas that it was a 15- to 20-minute wait to rent an "alley" at the second range we inquired with. The first range contacted was reservation only and completely booked for the day.

    Panic buying of ammunition, silver, and gold has created shortages and led to price increases for all three in 2009. "Currently no .380 ammunition - I haven't seen any for about four months .38 special, it's been at least a couple of months," Denver gun-store manager Richard Taylor told CNN earlier this year. "It's just that there's been a huge demand and it's far outweighed supply right now."

    And in November, Bloomberg reported that the US Mint had suspended sales of most American Eagle coins made from precious metals, including gold and silver. With coin sales surging 88 percent in the first 10 months of this year, the mint is out of metal and sales will resume "once sufficient inventories of gold-bullion blanks can be acquired to meet market demand," the mint said in a statement posted on its website.

    So, some Americans are unloading their family treasures and cheering for bailouts, money printing, and gun control, while others are stocking up on precious metals, guns, and ammo to protect themselves and their wealth.

    There is no question which group is the civilized one.

http://www.321gold.com/editorials/french/french010510.html

 

10-01-04 Laboratories of Repression

   We don't let the states "experiment" on the First Amendment. Should the Second Amendment receive any less respect?

    In 1932, progressive Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis penned one of the most famous passages in American jurisprudence. "It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system," Brandeis wrote in his dissent in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, "that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

   Since then, Brandeis' famous words have been quoted or referenced countless times, appearing everywhere from legal documents to campaign speeches. Most recently, they surfaced in the arguments leading up to the landmark Second Amendment case McDonald v. Chicago, which the Supreme Court is set to hear in early March 2010.

   At issue in the case is Chicago's draconian handgun ban, a restriction that largely mirrors the gun control law struck down last year by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller. The key difference is that Heller only decided whether the Second Amendment secures an individual right against infringement by the federal government (which oversees Washington, D.C.). McDonald will settle whether the amendment's right to keep and bear arms applies against state and local governments as well.

    That's where Brandeis comes in. In Chicago's view, the Second Amendment should have no impact on its vast gun control regime. As the city has argued to the Court, "Firearms regulation is a quintessential issue on which state and local governments can 'serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.'" Thus, Chicago claims it should enjoy "the greatest flexibility to create and enforce firearms policy."

    That certainly sounds like a classic case for federalism and the states as laboratories of democratic experimentation. But look a little closer and Brandeis' celebrated words start to lose some of their shine. The issue that confronted the Supreme Court in New State Ice Co. was a 1925 Oklahoma law granting a handful of companies the exclusive authority to manufacture, sell, and distribute ice. Under the law, anyone that wanted to enter the ice business had to first justify their plans by providing "competent testimony and proof showing the necessity for the manufacture, sale or distribution of ice" at all proposed locations. In other words, upstart ice vendors faced the nearly impossible task of securing the state's permission to compete against a state-sanctioned ice monopoly.

    That's the "courageous" experiment Brandeis got so misty about. What precisely was so "novel" about a business currying favor with the government in order to suppress competition? That's one of the oldest tricks in the book. Besides, as the great classical liberal Justice George Sutherland declared in his majority opinion striking down the Oklahoma ice monopoly, "in our constitutional system...there are certain essentials of liberty with which the state is not entitled to dispense in the interests of experiments."

    Quite so. In fact, Brandeis himself occasionally shared this skeptical view of state power—at least when it came to state "experiments" on the First Amendment. Just one year earlier, in the case of Near v. Minnesota, Brandeis joined the Court in striking down that state's defamation law as a violation of the freedom of the press. So much for allowing a "courageous" state the free rein to experiment.

     It was Sutherland's majority opinion in New State Ice Co.—not Brandeis' famous dissent—that got it right. "In [Near v. Minnesota] the theory of experimentation in censorship was not permitted to interfere with the fundamental doctrine of the freedom of the press," Sutherland wrote. "The opportunity to apply one's labor and skill in an ordinary occupation with proper regard for all reasonable regulations is no less entitled to protection."

     Which brings us back to the Chicago gun case. The Windy City would like to "serve as a laboratory" with the "flexibility" to ignore the Second Amendment. But there's nothing "novel" about that. It's just another case of the government violating our rights. And since the Supreme Court would never let Chicago ban free speech, establish an official religion, or conduct other "experiments" on the First Amendment, why should the Second Amendment receive any less respect?

   It's time for the Supreme Court to give the entire Bill of Rights its due.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703580904574638404184755742.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

10-01-04 1-gun-per-month bill revised by N.J. Assembly

    Committee votes 6-0 to make changes in law that Gov. Corzine signed on Saturday

Additional legislation to revise New Jersey's one-gun-per-month law while continuing to protect law-abiding residents and businesses was approved Monday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

    The legislation stems from recommendations by a special task force that reviewed the law. The law took effect Saturday and is designed to restrict straw purchases and illegal handgun trafficking, but Assemblymen John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), both members of the Firearms Task Force and cosponsors of the legislation, maintain the law would also penalizes many law-abiding gun owners unless changed.

    The bill (A-4361) provides limited exemptions for certain persons to lawfully purchase more than one handgun within a 30-day period, specifically persons who wish to purchase multiple handguns from an estate or inheritance, collectors of firearms, and persons who use firearms for competitive and recreational purposes.

    The committee also released legislation, AJR-133, to create a task force is to review, evaluate and make recommendations regarding New Jersey's statutory and regulatory schemes and programmatic initiatives to curb the illegal possession, use and trafficking of firearms, the criminal penalties for illegal transfer of firearms and the firearm permitting and regulatory processes.

     Under the bill, a person who seeks an exemption would apply to the State Police superintendent. The superintendent would be authorized to approve the purchase of more than one handgun within a 30-day period if the applicant demonstrates to the superintendent's satisfaction that the request meets the requirements of one of the bill's specified exemptions.

    The superintendent may grant an exemption to an applicant who: Wishes to purchase multiple handguns from a person who obtain ed the handguns through inheritance or intestacy; Is a collector of handguns and has a need to purchase or otherwise receive multiple handguns in the same transaction or within a 30-day period in furtherance of the applicant's collecting activities; or participates in sanctioned handgun shooting competitions and needs to purchase or otherwise receive multiple handguns in a single transaction or within a 30-day period, and the need is related to the applicant's competitive shooting activities, including use in or training for sanctioned competitions.

   Another Burzichelli-Johnson bill, A-4304, which clarified that transfers of handguns between licensed retail dealers, registered wholesale dealers and registered manufacturers are exempted from the monthly limit was signed into law Saturday by Gov. Jon Corzine.

    The Monday bills were released 6-0 by the committee. The package was approved by the Senate in December and now moves to the full Assembly for a possible floor vote.

"This is a common sense compromise that does nothing to impair the goal of protecting public safety by keeping criminals from obtaining multiple weapons at once," Burzichelli said. "These changes would correct some unintended consequences while also protecting law-abiding citizens and legitimate businesses."

     Johnson said, "These changes would allow us to continue targeting straw purchases and other illegal handgun trafficking, but would provide reasonable exemptions that make sense. In the end, these changes are simply clarifications that don't interfere with protecting public safety and combating handgun trafficking." http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/state/1-gun-per-month-bill-revised-by-nj-assembly

 

10-01-04 NBA players say owning guns is OK, if done legally

     Not only have David Stern's pleas to leave the guns at home been ignored, one player even brought his to work.

     The commissioner could hand Gilbert Arenas a severe punishment whenever he decides to take action, but it seems clear Stern can't convince NBA players not to carry firearms.

    As far as they're concerned, players have the right , and maybe even the need , to own weapons, as long as they're doing it legally.

    "We're grown men. We protect our families. We protect our homes," said Knicks guard Larry Hughes, who isn't licensed to own a gun. "Whatever the case may be, whoever is bearing arms, I hope everything is done, you know, legally, but you have that right."

     Arenas violated NBA rules by bringing guns to the Verizon Center locker room , The New York Post reported he and Washington Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton drew on each other there , but he's far from the only player owning weapons.

   New Jersey Nets guard Devin Harris told reporters he believed as many as 75 percent of the league's players own guns.

    "I don't know because I don't know every guy in the NBA. I don't know what every guy personally has," Indiana Pacers guard T.J. Ford said. "As a society, I think a lot of people have protection within their home. But I don't think it's just an NBA thing. It's just a lot of regular people have protection in their home.

    "Obviously it's not a problem if you have a license to carry a weapon. I think that's the ultimate key. If you have a license, can't nobody dispute the reason why you have a gun."

    Ford owns a gun but said he doesn't carry it outside his home, a policy Stern prefers all players take. The commissioner called the issue of players carrying guns an "alarming subject" in October 2006, adding "that although you'll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe."

     That came about three weeks after Stephen Jackson, then with the Indiana Pacers, shot a gun in the air outside an Indianapolis strip club, telling police it was in self defense.

    Knicks president Donnie Walsh was running the Pacers then, and he shares Stern's concerns about players traveling with guns.

   "It's definitely something the league has directed itself to because they feel it is a problem. And if you look around, there's different instances where you find out it is a problem," Walsh said. "It's an issue. And normally I'm not for guns or against guns, but pro players, I think they put themselves in a tough position."

    Jackson said he stopped carrying a gun after the trouble it caused. Former teammate Al Harrington, who keeps guns at his home but said they aren't loaded, suspects there are some players who still go out with them, but added they should travel with security instead.

    LeBron James said he doesn't even need that, but makes certain his family is protected.

   "I live in Akron, Ohio, which is my hometown, so I don't need security," said James, who didn't say if he owned a gun. "I don't travel with security. Only thing I do is continue to make sure my family is always safe."

    Many players apparently feel that's best done with a gun. When Scottie Pippen was arrested in 1994 for having a loaded semiautomatic pistol in his car in Chicago, coach Phil Jackson talked to his Bulls players and found that "quite a few" had guns.

    So he discussed with them, as he's done with the Lakers, the rules of owning and registering guns, but still believes players will carry them no matter what.

   "I have the sense that this is an environment that's come out of a lot of the kids' past," Jackson said. "Not only that, they've had situations that have happened in their own personal lives that makes them feel that it warrants it, but my message is it attracts violence. There's no doubt about it, and the violence that happens around guns is death usually."

   Still, Stern could hand out multiple punishments for carrying guns. Besides the Arenas situation, the league is also monitoring the case involving Cleveland's Delonte West, who was arrested in Maryland after officers pulled him over for speeding on a motorcycle while carrying two loaded handguns and a loaded shotgun in a guitar case.

   Stern will likely wait until the legal process is complete before handing down penalties, but he could rule on Arenas now since league rules were broken in that instance.

   At the NBA's request, the firearms language was bolstered during collective bargaining in 2005. Players are subject to discipline if they bring guns to the arena or practice facility, or even an offsite promotional appearance. The league's rookie transition program also includes a segment on possessing weapons.

   Walsh said when it comes to players going out with guns: "You don't need them, and if you have them, you have a better chance of something happening then if you don't have them."

   But Ford says, "You can't tell somebody how to protect their family."

   "It's not an athlete thing, it's just a family thing," he added. "There's a lot of people that have weapons. I don't think they should be making it like it's just athletes that have weapons."

http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/state/new_jersey/80566722.html

 

10-01-04 National Guard ad revives Nazi oath to Hitler: "Always place mission first," not US Constitution

    In 2003, the US Army adapted the “Soldier’s Creed” to program soldiers to shift their Oath of Enlistment from “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” to the heel-clicking, non-thinking, dictator-obeying, “I will always place the mission first.”

    This directly states that the FIRST duty of an American soldier is to achieve the mission dictated by military leadership, NOT the defense of the US Constitution. Brain-washing soldiers to place the mission first, that is, “just follow orders” given by der Fuehrer (“the leader” in German) rather than being responsible for obeying the Constitution and laws of war dramatizes the US shift into fascism.

    This fascist propaganda is highlighted in the National Guard’s new 2-minute ad playing in movie theaters, shown below. 

    Nazi German soldiers had such an oath

   "I swear by God this sacred oath that I shall render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich, supreme commander of the armed forces, and that I shall at all times be prepared, as a brave soldier, to give my life for this oath."

    Another way to say this: “I will always place the mission first, as dictated by the Commander-in-Chief, Adolf Hitler.”

   The US Soldier’s Creed states the Army Values; its first component is “loyalty” to the US Constitution. But the creed and the new commercial favors “place the mission first” in its communication rather than “protect and defend the US Constitution.”  And again, stating the "mission" dictated by the leader is first rather than the US Constitution is revealing.

I am an American Soldier.

I am a Warrior and a member of a team.

I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.

I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

     Another way to say this: “I will always place the mission first, as dictated by the Commander-in-Chief, President (blank).”

      “I will always place the mission first, as dictated by the Commander-in-Chief, Adolf Hitler.”

    “I will always place the mission first, as dictated by the Commander-in-Chief, President X.”

    Beyond any reasonable doubt, current US wars are unlawful. Stop and research this if you are unclear on the simple rules of lawful war and why the US is in obvious violation. You cannot argue you are a responsible citizen if you do not understand these laws that govern trillions of our long-term tax dollars and so dramatically affect millions of lives.

    US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and threats for war with Iran are as unlawful as a football middle linebacker kicking the opponent’s center in the head as he touches the ball, claiming it a fumble, and taking possession. What we have in our country is political “leaders” and corporate media reporting this violation as, “The enemy initiated an offensive maneuver that intelligence confirmed was going to be illegal and cause injury. Our defensive forces delivered a blow that pre-emptively stopped their attack. This prevented certain harm from their clear intent to violate their obligation under law.” That is, what we get is propaganda and lies of omission that disinform the public and our troops in Orwellian magnitude.

    Showcasing “always place the mission first” in the Soldier’s Creed has a clear purpose: US troops should obey their American Fuehrer. The Oath Keepers is a principle organization to reorientate our current soldiers, veterans, and members of government, law enforcement, and all others with oaths to honor their oath to the US Constitution.

     Policy response: Gandhi and Martin Luther King advocated public understanding of the facts and non-cooperation with evil. I’m among hundreds who advocate:

Understand the laws of war. These were legislated after WW2 and are crystal-clear that only self-defense, in a narrow legal meaning, can justify war. This investment of your time takes less than an hour and empowers you to legally stand for ending these Wars of Aggression.

    Communicate. Trust your unique, beautiful, and powerful self-expression to share powerful information as you feel appropriate. Understand that while many people are ready to embrace difficult facts, many are not. Anticipate your virtuous response to being attacked and give it in the spirit of competition, just as you do in other fields.

    Refuse and end all orders and acts associated with these unlawful wars and constant violation of treaties. Those involved with US military, government, and law enforcement have an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution. Unlawful acts only move forward with sufficient cooperation and public tolerance. Stop cooperating with the most vicious crime a nation can commit: war.

    Support global security through cooperation, dignity, justice, and freedom. End poverty through global cooperation to achieve the UN Millennium Goals by developed countries investing 0.7% of their income. End extremism by providing all humanity with an opportunity to live a life of peaceful creativity.

   Prosecute the war leaders for obvious violation of the letter and spirit of US war laws. You can only understand how these wars are specifically unlawful by investing the time to do so. Because the crimes are so broad and deep, I recommend Truth and Reconciliation (T&R) to exchange full truth and return of stolen US assets for non-prosecution. This is the most expeditious way to understand and end all unlawful and harmful acts. Those who reject T&R either by volunteering their name and/or responding when named are subject to prosecution after the window of T&R closes.

    Please share this article with all who can benefit. If you appreciate my work, please subscribe by clicking under the article title (it’s free). Please use my archive of work to help build a brighter future.

    Comments and questions are welcome provided they are pertinent to the article and civil. Off-topic and impolite comments will be deleted.

    Below is the 2-minute National Guard recruitment video followed by a 6-minute video from PuppetGov titled How to create an angry American (some strong language).

http://www.examiner.com/x-18425-LA-County-Nonpartisan-Examiner~y2010m1d4-National-Guard-ad-revives-Nazi-oath-to-Hitler-Always-place-mission-first-not-US-Constitution

 

10-01-04 Federal judges, prosecutors see threats double

   Justice Department's inspector general also finds many aren't reported

    WASHINGTON - Threats to federal judges and prosecutors have jumped dramatically, according to a new government report issued Monday that found such threats more than doubled in the past six years.

    Three years after the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago were killed by a man angry over a court ruling, the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine concludes there are still major gaps in reporting and responding to threats.

   Between 2003 and 2008, the number of threats and inappropriate communications jumped from 592 to 1,278, the report found. The government defines "inappropriate communications" as messages that aren't explicitly threatening but worrisome enough to require further investigation.

     The federal court system has more than 2,000 judges and more than 5,000 prosecutors.

 Weak reporting, tracking
   Prosecutors and judges "do not consistently and promptly report threats they receive," the inspector general's report found — estimating that as many as 25 percent of threats are not reported to security officials.

    When those threats are reported, the U.S. Marshals do not consistently coordinate with local police, and in many cases don't record ever having notified the FBI of the threats.

    According to the marshals' own threat database, there was no record of having notified the FBI of 40 percent of the threats, the report said.

    The U.S. Marshals Service agreed with the inspector general's recommendations to improve coordination with local and FBI officials, and to more thoroughly analyze each threat and take necessary protective measures.

    Marshals spokesman Jeff Carter said the agency has "made great strides over the past few years in our judicial security mission, and as the U.S. Marshals Service believes there is always room to perfect the process, we will carry out the report's recommendations with that goal in mind."

   The review notes that no federal judges or prosecutors have been killed in the six-year period. The security of judges and their families has been a growing concern since the 2005 slaying of Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's mother and husband. Investigators determined the killer was angry that the judge had dismissed his medical malpractice lawsuit.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34687454/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

 

10-01-04 Federal guard, gunman die in Vegas shootout

   Another officer wounded in lobby of federal building

    LAS VEGAS - A gunman opened fire in the lobby of a federal building in downtown Las Vegas on Monday, killing one court officer and wounding a deputy U.S. marshal before he was shot to death.

   The gunfire erupted moments after 8 a.m. at the start of the work week and lasted for several minutes. Shots echoed around tall buildings in the area, more than a mile north of the Las Vegas Strip. An Associated Press reporter on the eighth floor of a high-rise building within sight of the building heard more than 20 shots during the sustained barrage of gunfire.

   The U.S. Marshals Service said the victims included a deputy U.S. marshal and a court security officer. The 48-year-old deputy marshal was hospitalized, and the 65-year-old security officer died.

    FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said the gunman died across the street shortly after the shootout. The man's identity and motive were not immediately known.

     Authorities believe the shooter acted alone, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Roxanna Lea Irwin said.

     The building was evacuated, police and news helicopters circled overhead, and Las Vegas police cordoned off the area for several blocks. A 16-story state and local courthouse two blocks away was locked down as a precaution.

   After police arrived, paramedics wheeled at least two people out and down a ramp to ambulances.

   Dickey called the building evacuation "standard procedure" in such an incident, and said it was "for the safety of everybody in the place."

   Las Vegas police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the shooter had been shot in the head.

   "It looks like he went in there and just started unloading," Morgan said.

   The Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building is named for a longtime senior federal judge who still hears cases. It has federal courts and offices for federal officials including U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign. Neither were in the building at the time, authorities said.

   Irwin said she saw shotgun casings on the floor of the federal building lobby.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34688730/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts

 

10-01-03 Man shot and killed in Perry County apparent robbery

    New Bloomfield man was fatally shot while he apparently attempted to rob a beverage distributor in Carroll Township, Perry County Saturday night, state police said.

   Perry County Coroner Michael Shalonis said he pronounced Jeffrey Thomas Harless, 25, dead at Shermans Dale Beer & Beverage at 10:55 p.m. Saturday from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

   At about 9:44 p.m., an alarm sounded at the 4946 Spring Road beverage distributor and an employee arrived at the store to find the front door’s glass broken out, a news release from the state police said. The employee entered the store and confronted Harless, an apparent burglar, police said.

    A confrontation ensued, police said, and the employee shot Harless once in the upper chest with a pistol. Harless was also armed, police said.

   Police did not release the name of the employee because the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call state police at Newport at 567-3110.

http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2010/01/03/news/local/doc4b4128fe667f6375511312.txt

 

10-01-03 Gun shop owner arrested in Lower Alsace Township standoff

    Berks County -  The owner of a Berks County gun shop was arrested Sunday afternoon after he held his wife and 13-year-old son hostage in their Lower Alsace Township house, police said.
    Jay A. Fisher, 48, who owns the Gun Gallery at 2807 Perkiomen Ave. in St. Lawrence, released his wife, Taryn, and their son, Jay, about 1:30 p.m., roughly an hour and a half after the standoff was reported in the residence at 2200 Highland Ave., investigators said.
   Taryn Fisher was not injured, according to Anthony C. Garipoli Sr., chief of the    Central Berks Regional police. He did not know if the couple’s son had been hurt.
Dozens of police from several Berks departments, along with the county   Community Emergency Response Team, sealed off the area during the standoff.
     The dramatic events ended about 2:30 p.m. when Fisher, who police said possesses numerous types of weapons, surrendered after speaking by telephone with police negotiators, Garipoli said. It was not clear if weapons were used in the standoff.
    Police took Fisher to the Central Berks police offices in Mount Penn. Investigators also questioned his wife and son at the police station.
Police then took Fisher to Reading Hospital for evaluation before taking him to Reading Central Court in the courthouse.
   Fisher was awaiting arraignment late Sunday on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault with a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child, making terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, false imprisonment and harassment.
   After the standoff ended, police called the Reading bomb squad to search the house because investigators believed it had been booby-trapped, Garipoli said. A sweep of the house turned up no explosives, authorities said.
   Police were awaiting a search warrant Sunday night before further investigating the house, which is on a wooded lot in the secluded neighborhood about three blocks from Perkiomen Avenue.
   Police said no other houses are close to the Fishers’ residence, so the neighborhood was not evacuated during the standoff.
   Other domestic disputes have been reported at the Fishers’ residence, Garipoli said, although he didn’t know how many times or whether weapons were involved.
    Members of the emergency response team were in charge of the scene, Garipoli said. He did not know who initially called police.
    In addition to Central Berks Regional police and the emergency response team, state troopers, fire officials from Mount Penn and West Reading and police from Cumru, Exeter, Lower Alsace and Spring townships assisted.
    Exeter police Officer Karen Lincoln was injured when she fell on ice, officials said. She was treated in Reading Hospital for unspecified injuries, officials said

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=183087

 

10-01-03 Gun control opponents hope to reshape handgun laws

   Gun control opponents in Virginia's legislature are proposing what would amount to a vast roll-back of handgun regulations, hoping to capitalize on a friendlier administration in Richmond to undo long-standing firearms restrictions.

   Conservative lawmakers have filed a flurry of bills including abolishing the state's one-handgun-per-month rule and allowing college faculty to carry a concealed weapon on campus.

   Despite the arrival of Republican Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, who has an A rating from the National Rifle Association and campaigned on a pro-Second Amendment platform, none of the bills necessarily will have an easy time getting passed when the General Assembly goes into session later this month. Proponents of stronger gun laws have become much more vocal and focused since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and are likely to oppose the measures alongside many legislators.

   Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, is proposing to do away with the Gov. Doug Wilder-era policy that limits a person to buying a single gun a month, arguing the rule "has run its course."

   "I don't think it's been a very effective policy," Lingamfelter said. "It hasn't done much to prevent crime; it has done a lot to affect commerce."

   Del. Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, has filed legislation that would legalize bringing guns into a courthouse "when the courthouse is being used for non-judicial activities," according to an online summary.

    Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, is proposing that full-time faculty members at state universities be allowed to carry concealed handguns into the classroom, provided they have a permit.

    Del. Charles Carrico, R-Galax, authored a bill that would allow permits for concealed handguns to be renewed through the mail. Another of Carrico's bills would change the penalty for bringing a firearm onto school property from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    The legislature convenes Jan. 13, and McDonnell is set to be inaugurated three days later. McDonnell replaces Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, who has repeatedly vetoed efforts to weaken gun laws. The incoming governor has yet to roll out his legislative agenda.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/Gun-control-opponents-hope-to-reshape-handgun-laws-8697689-80433647.html

 

10-01-03 Pigeon shoot battles rage anew

     The decades-long war against pigeon shooting in Pennsylvania is flaring up in courthouses, muncipal offices and the state legislature.

    The embattled Philadelphia Gun Club - once a posh gathering place for genteel Victorian sportsmen and home to pigeon shoots for more than a century - is turning the tables on a neighbor who has been outspoken in his opposition to the shoots.

   Last week the Bucks County Courier reported that the Bensalem club filed suit against the Grupp family and a development company alleging that they interfered with their legally-run pigeon shoots.

    A pigeon shoot requires hundreds of pigeons be trapped and transported to the site. There they are stuffed in metal boxes before being catupulted into the air where they are shot at close range. Those that don't die immediately can suffer slow, painful deaths, including - in this case - drowning in the adjacent Delaware River.

    The gun club says it's acting within state law. In 2002 local officials told the club the shoots violated the state animal cruelty statute and violated local firearms laws and issued a cease and desist order.

    But the shoots started up again in late 2008. Now local officials tell NBC 10 the courts or the Pennsylvania General Assembly need to clarify the cruelty laws in order to stop the shoots.

See a story and video of a Philadelphia Gun Club pigeon shoot from NBC 10 below (warning, the images show wounded and dead animals)

    Meanwhile, animal rights activist Steve Hindi says he was assaulted by a gun club member while videotaping a pigeon shoot in Berks County last month. See his video and report from the Pikeville Sportsmen's Club here.

    That same club was the focus of animal cruelty charges filed by two humane organizations. Berks County Humane Society withdrew its charges at the request of Berks County District Attorney John Adams. In the second case, humane officer Johnna Seeton, of the Pennsylvania Legislative Animal Network, continues her fight to pursue charges against the Pikeville club.

    The Pennsylvania Flyers Victory Fund - the pigeon shooters political action committee - gave Adams' $1,000 in campaign contributions in the past 18 months, according to state records.

   Animal welfare advocates have successfully shut down two pigeon shoots, the notorious Labor Day shoot at Hegins in Schuylkill County, which ended in 1998 and more recently in Strausstown, Berks County. But they have been unable to convince lawmakers to outlaw pigeon shoots in statewide. The Humane Society of the United States is campaigning for passage a pigeon shoot ban. Two bills (House Bill 1411 and Senate Bill 843) are currently before the General Assembly to ban the practice.

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/pets/80556202.html

 

10-01-02 Why are violent crime rates falling?

      AS YOU HAVE no doubt heard, the first 10 years of the 21st century were dreadful -- a lost decade of terrorism, war and economic stagnation. There is some truth to that portrayal. But in one significant respect, the awful Aughties were practically a golden age. We refer to the continued progress the United States is making against homicide and other violent crime.

      According to some conventional wisdom, economic trouble breeds lawlessness. Yet in the first half of 2009, as unemployment skyrocketed, reported murders, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults decreased by 4.4 percent compared with the first half of 2008, according to the FBI. The decline in homicide was especially striking: down 29.8 percent in Los Angeles, 14 percent in Atlanta, 10 percent in Boston. With 461 murders through Dec. 27, New York was on track for the lowest number since comprehensive record-keeping began in 1963 -- when the Big Apple was a slightly smaller town.

   In our area, Virginia's homicide rate hit 4.7 per 100,000 in 2008, down from 5.7 at the beginning of the decade; Maryland's 2008 murder rate was higher, 8.8 per 100,000, but still lower than it had been in 2002. At 31.4 per 100,000, the District's 2008 murder rate was shamefully high but lower than it was at the beginning of the decade. And the 2009 body count, 140, was a 45-year-low and down 25 percent from 2008.

     The national decrease in murder began about two decades ago. In 1991, the national homicide rate hit 9.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, prompting forecasts of permanently rising street violence -- then fell to 5.7 in 1999. Many wondered whether this "Great Crime Decline" could be sustained for another 10 years. The answer would appear to be yes: By 2008, the murder rate had drifted down to 5.4 per 100,000, the lowest level since 1965. And given the preliminary figures, the rate for 2009 should be lower still. Indeed, if present trends continue, America will experience a degree of public safety not known since the 1950s.

     Obviously, one murder is one murder too many. U.S. rates of violent crime remain above those of other industrial democracies. And certain places, including Baltimore, where murder rose 9.5 percent in the first half of 2009, have progressed less dramatically than others. Still, this substantial and sustained reduction in murder, once thought impossible, ranks as a major national achievement.

    If only we knew exactly why and how it has occurred. An accident of demography? The passing of the crack cocaine epidemic? We're inclined to credit policies that put more brave and dedicated cops on the street, with better technology and smarter tactics. Still New York City continued to rack up lower homicide rates in the past decade even as its police force shrank by 6,000. New York officials say that city's tougher gun laws have helped; yet Houston also recorded a drop in homicide in the first half of 2009 despite loose gun laws.

    Tougher sentencing probably took some career criminals off the streets -- though there's little evidence that the death penalty deters murder. No doubt new lifesaving medical techniques turned potential homicides into lesser offenses -- yet aggravated assault is down, too.

    Government at all levels spends much time and money figuring out what's going wrong in our society and how to fix it. Perhaps we need a bigger effort to determine what's been going right in the fight against violent crime -- and to spread that knowledge to every jurisdiction in the country.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/01/AR2010010101829.html

 

10-01-02 Reports: Arenas, teammate pull guns on each other

   Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton reportedly drew guns on each other during a locker-room argument over a gambling debt.

   Law enforcement is investigating the presence of weapons in the locker room, and the league is not taking action now.

     The Wizards said Friday they are cooperating with authorities and the NBA and "take this situation and the ongoing investigation very seriously." The team had no further comment.

Arenas, a three-time All Star, tweeted Friday about the developments.

    "i wake up this morning and seen i was the new JOHN WAYNE. ... Media is too funny," he wrote.

   About 2½ hours later, his tweet was more straightforward: "i understand this is serious..but if u ever met me you know i dont do serious things im a goof ball this story today dont sound goofy to me."

    The investigation into possible firearms in the locker room at the Verizon Center revealed the alleged Dec. 21 dispute between Arenas and Crittenton, Yahoo! Sports reported Friday, citing unidentified sources.

    Crittenton became angry at Arenas for refusing to make good on a gambling debt, according to a New York Post report citing an unidentified source. That prompted Arenas to draw on Crittenton, who then grabbed for a gun, league security sources told the Post. The newspaper said the dispute occurred Dec. 24, and Arenas denied pulling a gun on Crittenton.

    "There is an active investigation by D.C. law enforcement authorities, which we are monitoring closely," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in a statement Friday. "We are not taking any independent action at this time."

   On Christmas Eve, the Wizards said Arenas had stored unloaded firearms in a container in his locker and the NBA was trying to fully learn what happened.

    On Tuesday, Washington police said they were investigating a report that weapons were found inside a Verizon Center locker room. On Friday, D.C. police said it was assisting the U.S. Attorney's Office in the investigation.

    Players' union executive director Billy Hunter called the matter "unprecedented in the history of sports."

    "I've never heard of players pulling guns on each other in a locker room," he told the Post.

    The NBA's collective bargaining agreement allows for players to legally possess firearms, but prohibits them at league facilities or when traveling on league business.

    Arenas was suspended for Washington's season opener in 2004 because he failed to maintain proper registration of a handgun while living in California in 2003. Arenas, in the second season of a six-year, $111 million contract, formerly played for the Golden State Warriors.

   He scored 24 points in Washington's 110-98 loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 22.7 points. He was limited to 15 games the past two seasons following three operations on his left knee over 1½ years.

    Crittenton is out with an injured left foot and hasn't played this season.

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100102/SPORTS/1020338

 

10-01-02 When to Shoot the Colonels by Tom Baugh

   "At ease, Marines, and be seated" orders the gruff Gunnery Sergeant. "Now turn to Chapter 8 in your Military Constitutional Law text," he continues. "Today we discuss the appropriate conditions for shooting a colonel who is issuing an order which would violate the Constitutional rights of American citizens. Our first scenario involves gun seizures..."

    Absurd, isn't it, to think that this sort of education is conducted among our armed forces? Yet, millions of citizens indulge this unspoken fantasy each time they imagine that the military exists to preserve our freedoms.

   When I was at the Naval Academy in the mid-80s, and a Marine officer in the late 1980s and early 1990s, discussion of such issues was considered taboo. One fellow junior officer even scoffed that "Congress can change that Constitution any time they like." This isn't to say that there wasn't an undercurrent among most of the warfighters that issues such as gun control and preservation freedom of speech might one day pose a crisis of command. Yet this undercurrent was kept carefully concealed, and tended to become a more and more uncomfortable subject as the ranks of one's company became more elevated. Fortunately, with the Soviets and the threat of global thermonuclear war, these issues seemed far removed and safe from serious discussion.

    Not so today. In the aftermath of Katrina, armed and uniformed soldiers patrolled the streets and disarmed Americans. Some uniformed soldiers were captured on film lamenting that "I can't believe that we're doing this to Americans." Yet, they did it anyway, lamentations notwithstanding. But why?

    To answer that, we need to understand the principles of military command and education. For veterans, this discussion is unnecessary. For the vast number of non-veterans, especially those who harbor that most dangerous and ill-advised fantasy of a Constitutionally-aware military, this discussion is essential to survival.

    American military education is one of the most finely tuned and adapted mechanisms in the world for instilling knowledge into its students. No other school or university can come close to the efficiency at which military knowledge is imparted to novices. There are even courses, such as Principles of Military Instruction, for how to teach military courses. These courses even teach how to develop such courses from scratch. The famous John Saxon math courses, popular among homeschoolers, exhibit these techniques, courtesy of that former Air Force officer and academy instructor. Military courses developed along these lines tend to be highly effective at teaching motivated students. Students motivated to learn how to do things such as extinguish fires or shoot missiles. Or shoot you.

    As a result, if it is worth teaching to soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines, it is worth embodying in a course. Captured as a course or in official manuals, such instruction is available to all for review and comment to make sure that the correct instruction is given, and given correctly. Conversely, if it doesn't exist as a course, it isn't being taught. And if it isn't being taught, it isn't even on the radar of the military mind. At least not the minds of those in command. Good luck finding a course such as "When to Shoot the Colonels" in a military instruction catalogue.

   Even basics such as reading and writing and math are available as courses. But not shooting colonels. What colonel would even authorize such a thing? Only a colonel who realizes that one day he might have to shoot a general, of course. But that would require a separate course for command grades, entitled "When to Shoot the Generals." And who would authorize that? We can keep climbing this chain all the way up, if we like, but at some point the absurdity makes its point. No one in a position of command or power is going to surrender that power for something as irrelevant as your rights.

    And what if a particular soldier scored highly on such a course? What colonel would hand out high efficiency reports on his potential executioner?

    Another aspect of this problem that needs to be clearly understood is that all modern American military officers are political appointees. Surprised? You shouldn't be. As a practical exercise ask one to read his commission document to you. Pay particular attention to the "follow lawful orders" part, along with the "serve at the pleasure of the President" phrase. Oath of office notwithstanding, nothing in that document says anything about what to do about unlawful orders. Or even lawful orders, such as "seize all guns because Congress authorized it," which haven't yet stood the test of the judicial branch to adjudge Constitutionality. And like that 1stLt said, enough Congressmen can get together and change that Constitution. The Constitution itself says so.

    Besides, if some uppity colonel out there decided to start authorizing instruction about when to shoot the colonels, you can bet that pretty quick the President would no longer be pleased. Because he or she would know where that path must ultimately lead. Which is why uppity colonels don't stay colonels for very long. Political appointees, my friends. That vision you have in your head of the noble military protecting your rights is just a dangerous fantasy. A fantasy you have to get rid of right now, before it gets you killed.

    "But wait," you say, "I know Sgt. Soandso, and he would never go along with a gun seizure." Maybe not, but then again, you might be surprised. To "not go along" would mean that he has to violate orders. This violation would at the very least be a career-killer, or possibly get him shot in an extreme situation. Shot by who? By all the other sergeants who don't want to get shot, of course. After all, the colonel only needs a handful of sergeants who are in it for a career, and a raft of lieutenants, captains and majors who one day want to be colonels. For you to have your rights protected would require that a sufficient number of each of these decide, simultaneously, to put on the brakes. It is easier just to shoot you for resisting and go about their day. Say it again, "political appointees."

    Besides, if all of these people decide in unison to protect you, and in so doing put their own careers, freedoms and life on the line, who is going to protect them? You? And if so, how? You needed them to protect you in the first place. And if Sgt. Soandso gets shot protecting your rights, what about his family? Retribution aside, who takes care of them with him out of the picture? Worse, after Sgt. Soandso gets shot, some corporal will be there ready to pin on those chevrons. And you can bet that to that guy, you are a minor inconvenience in his day. You wouldn't get lucky enough to get a chain of noble soldiers to protect you. When the day arrives, all of those political appointees will have scrubbed the ranks of those pesky oathkeepers anyway. Those oathkeepers who remain hidden in ranks will be in an impossible situation.

   And we haven't even discussed the false-flagging of dressing foreign troops in American uniforms to capitalize on the unwillingness of Americans to kill "our boys." I'll save that one for later.

    So if the military doesn't exist to protect our rights and freedoms, why does it exist? The answer is simple. It exists to back our national will with force. Most of the time, that is a good thing, particularly when our national will is to not be attacked by jackasses who threaten us. But when the national will turns to taking your guns away, you will be the jackass who threatens "us." Then the military will execute that national will with cold, unthinking and bureaucratic efficiency. And wrap itself in the flag while doing so.

    Want to have some fun? Walk up to any active duty serviceman you wish, shake his hand and thank him for his service. Then, before you release his hand, pull him toward you slightly, look into his eyes and tell him, "now when the time comes, don't forget what your oath really means." Do this ten times, and the reactions of that little informal poll will tell you everything you need to know. Having divested yourself of that little fantasy, maybe you will have a chance to survive that gun seizure for the real battle later. At the very least you will have looked into the eyes of some of the enemy, constituted of complacency and obedience, you may one day face.

     Tom Baugh – Author : Starving the Monkeys

http://www.webwarrioronline.com//the-news/65-when-to-shoot

 

09-12-31 Walt Disney's Grandson Facing Gun, Drug Charges

    Walt Disney's grandson may be wishing upon a star that he doesn't end up in prison.

Patrick Disney Miller was charged Thursday with an additional 19 felony counts stemming from an arrest earlier this month. The 42-year-old was previously charged with a single felony count.

    Cops say they found 13 handguns, a rifle, an illegal assault rifle and various drugs at the defendant's Woodland Hills home. Thanks to a 2005 drug conviction in Fresno,    Miller is barred from owning guns or ammunition, say prosecutors.

     LAPD officers obtained the search warrant after running a background check on Miller when they discovered he had allegedly purchased ammunition, according to the D.A.'s office.

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local-beat/Walt-Patrick-Disney-Miller-Charged-80378437.html

 

09-12-31 Don’t be a gun dork in traffic stops

    On numerous Internet forums, and some email lists, gun owners periodically report being hassled by police when pulled over for routine traffic infractions. These gun owners often complain of being detained for longer than necessary to issue a traffic summons, being temporarily disarmed, and having the serial numbers of the guns recorded.

    But often there is a common thread to these stories – the dorky gun owner brought up the gun thing all on her own!

    Traffic stop gun dork behavior comes in a variety of flavors, but here are the major ones:

   The I gotta show my carry permit gun dork: This gun owner, for whatever reason, insists on notifying the officer she holds a gun carry permit. Maybe thinking the officer will give her “professional courtesy” and not issue a summons if the officer sees the permit, the gun dork slyly exposes her permit while finding her driver’s license, or maybe asks, batting her eyes, “officer, do you want to see my concealed handgun permit?”

   The I gotta notify the officer I have a gun gun dork: This gun owner, even when in many or most states like Virginia and Pennsylvania which do not require gun owners to notify officers that they have a gun, always starts the conversation with police officers with “I have a gun!,” or words to that effect. And regardless of how toastmaster smooth this gun dork thinks he can speak, the officer likely perceives the relevant communication simply as “I have a gun!” when his brain processes this spontaneous statement by the unknown subject he has just seized.

    The I gotta act like the police might shoot me gun dork: This gun owner, after turning on his dome light even in day time as if his balding head needs illumination, grips his steering wheel in white knuckled determination to refuse any temptation to move or open his wallet and glove box to get his driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Nosirreeee, this gun dork is gonna to wait 'till the officer gets to the window and tells him how to chew soup today.

    And sometimes these gun dorks execute more than one of these behaviors, or one of several others oddities – like my favorite: getting out of their car “to meet the officer on equal ground.”

   Just compare these gun dorky behaviors to what most motorists do in a traffic stop: First they say “oh [insert favorite explicative]!” Second, they pull over in a spot that gives the officer a place to park too. Third, they take a deep breath and then get out their driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance – about that time the officer is walking up and observing this normal behavior and saying something like “good morning sir, I need see your license and registration.”

    At this point the normal motorist tries to seem relaxed as possible, slightly apologetic too, and does a little Colombo routine, something like: “Oh, ahh, sure officer, I think these are up to date, ahh, do you want that insurance thingy too?” Over the next few minutes the officer runs checks on your docs, gives you a short lecture, and then issues you a warning or summons and everybody is on their way.

    Incredibly, gun dorks seem surprised or infuriated when things go differently for them. Gun dorks should think for a minute and realize that what they are saying or doing is frankly very strange and unnerving and creates a problem for the police officer that he must deal with – and deal with in only a few seconds based upon what his training, instincts, recollection of possible department policies, and personal biases tell him to do at that instant. 

     And let’s not forget the relevant social and economic incentives for police officer behavior  – if the officer treats the gun dork like any other ordinary motorist after the gun dork communicates “gun!” in one way or another, and something bad happens during that traffic stop, do you think that officer is goin’ to get selected for Detective anytime soon?

    So here’s a great New Year’s resolution for 2010: Don’t be a gun dork in traffic stops!

http://www.examiner.com/x-2782-DC-Gun-Rights-Examiner~y2009m12d31-Dont-be-a-gun-dork-in-traffic-stops

 

09-12-31 Philadelphia felon with gun gets more than 21 years

    PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia man who pleaded guilty in January to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm has been sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in federal prison.

   Prosecutors say 60-year-old Willie Brooks was also fined $2,500 when he was sentenced Wednesday. Brooks led Newtown Township police on a high-speed chase into Tyler State Park in the summer of 2007. Police found a loaded handgun and burglary tools in his van. State police later determined that Brooks’ gun was the same one used to fire shots at several Radnor Township police officers on Dec. 6, 2006.

   Prosecutors announced the sentencing late Wednesday; a message sent to Brooks’ lawyer seeking comment after business hours wasn’t immediately returned.

http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2009/12/31/news/state/doc4b3c9365df6df959155706.txt

 

09-12-31 Allegheny County Deputies Arrest 67 Fugitives In 36 Hours

Deputies Execute Massive Warrant Sweep In Week After Christmas

    The Allegheny County Sheriff's Office crossed names off its proverbial naughty list in the week after Christmas, arresting more than 60 fugitives in less than two days.

   Starting Tuesday at 7 a.m., sheriff's deputies started a massive warrant sweep, taking advantage of a slower criminal court schedule during the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. The sheriff's office said more serious criminal cases are not typically scheduled during this time, and as a result, deputies who normally work in courts were assigned to support the warrant sweep.

   Deputies served warrants throughout Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, arresting 67 fugitives, of whom, 53 were arrested on criminal bench warrants and 13 were arrested after failing to appear in court for child support. One person was arrested on a protection from abuse warrant.

    The 53 people arrested on criminal bench warrants were wanted on outstanding warrants for crimes such as retail theft, prostitution, drug charges, driving under the influence, robbery, burglary and sexual assault charges.

   Deputies also arrested three people on new criminal charges -- two were charged with hindering apprehension and one person was charged with firearm violation charges.

    All of the 67 fugitives arrested were taken to the Allegheny County Jail, where they remained held without bond. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34637545/

 

09-12-31 Gunman kills 5, then self, in Finland

    ESPOO, Finland – A lone gunman dressed in black killed five people, four in a crowded shopping mall, before returning home and taking his own life on Thursday. It was the third such massacre in Finland in about two years, and once again raised questions about gun control in a Nordic country where hunting is popular.

    Police identified the killer as 43-year-old Ibrahim Shkupolli, an ethnic Albanian immigrant from Kosovo who had been living for several years in Finland, and the national tragedy cast a pall over the nation's New Year's Eve celebrations.

    Shkupolli killed his ex-girlfriend, a Finnish woman, at her home, and four employees of the Prisma grocery store at the Sello shopping mall in Espoo, six miles (10 kilometers) west of Helsinki, the capital.

   It was unclear whom he shot first.

   The former girlfriend, who was 42, had also worked at the same Prisma store, and police superintendent Jukka Kaski said she had a restraining order imposed on Shkupolli.

   The Finnish newspaper, Aamulehti, wrote that Shkupolli allegedly stalked the woman for years and that she had complained to police about how he used to show up at the Prisma grocery store to watch her.

   National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero told the Aamulehti daily that it was unlikely the gunman had targeted specific Prisma employees but that police didn't know for sure.

   After killing the four mall workers, the gunman fled the area and was at large for several hours. Police eventually found his body at his Espoo home, and Kaski said the cause of death was suicide.

   Relatives in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica, where Ibrahim Shkupolli was born, expressed shock and grief at the news.

    "Each time he came from Finland he came here," said cousin Islam Shkupolli, his eyes red from crying. "I am very surprised by what has happened. I knew him to be a very kind man," he said.

   Relatives said Shkupolli had last visited in Kosovo in November.

   "I can't say a bad word about him, and I know no one else can," said sister-in-law Nexhmije while standing on the porch of her home in Mitrovica, Kosovo. "There are no festivities for us tonight."

   Back in Espoo — Finland's second largest city and known as the home of Nokia, the world's largest manufacturer of cell phones — the day started in chaos. Witnesses said panic erupted at the mall when the shots rang out.

    "I heard two shots," eyewitness Mare Elson told state broadcaster YLE. "First I thought somebody had shot firecrackers inside the mall. But then I saw a man dressed in black running beside me with a gun in his hand."

    Teemu Oksanen, a police constable, told APTN that police received information about the shooting just after 10 a.m. "The police took action and found four victims in the shopping mall — two in the first floor, two in the second floor," he said.

   Hundreds of mall workers and shoppers were then evacuated to a nearby library and firehouse. Local train connections to the mall were halted, and helicopters whirled overhead as police launched a manhunt for the heavily armed killer.

    The gunman reportedly worked at a company called Inex, part of the S-Kedjan group that supplies the Prisma grocery chain. Amos Soivio, a colleague and neighbor, said Shkopulli was a "normal man who acted normally."

    "Today I heard that he'd been on sick leave a lot lately," Soivio told APTN.

    The Finnish news agency STT reported that Shkupolli was arrested for carrying an unlicensed handgun in 2003.

   Finland, a nation of 5.3 million, has a long tradition of hunting and ranks among the top five nations in the world in civilian gun ownership. It has 1.6 million firearms in private hands.

   In September 2008, a lone gunman killed nine fellow students and a teacher at a vocational college before shooting himself to death in the western town of Kauhajoki.

   In November 2007, an 18-year-old student fatally shot eight people and himself at a high school in southern Finland.

    Social workers and religious leaders have urged tighter gun laws, more vigilance of Internet sites and more social bonding in this small Nordic nation known for its high suicide rates, heavy drinking and domestic violence.

   The Interior Ministry has unveiled proposals — including raising the minimal age limit for handgun ownership from 15 to 20 — but so far they have been mired in fierce legislative debate.

    Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen sent their condolences to the victims' relatives. In a brief message, Vanhanen noted the large number handguns in Finland and vowed that the slayings would be thoroughly investigated "with particular focus on the unlicensed gun and how the shooter obtained it."

   The deaths prompted the city of Espoo to cancel a New Year's Eve concert.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091231/ap_on_re_eu/eu_finland_shooting

 

09-12-31 Roanoke police actions spark lawsuit

   A Roanoke man is suing city police over an altercation with officers that he said began as an argument about his permit to carry a concealed firearm.

   Aaron A. Stevenson filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke alleging that his constitutional rights were violated during a May 6 traffic stop. He named two officers, Chief Joe Gaskins and the city as defendants.

     On Wednesday, police spokeswoman Aisha Johnson referred questions to City Attorney Bill Hackworth, who was out of town and could not be contacted. Stevenson also could not be immediately contacted Wednesday.

     The lawsuit gives this account of Stevenson's encounter with police:

   Stevenson was driving along Williamson Road to pick up his daughter from church when Roanoke police Officer Jamie A. Kwiecinski stopped him. Stevenson was given a summons because his registration had expired.

    Kwiecinski learned that Stevenson had a concealed carry permit and asked if he had a gun. Stevenson declined to answer.

   Kwiecinski called for backup, and Officer Dwight W. Ayers arrived on the scene. Stevenson said the officers ignored his repeated invocation of his right to remain silent, and to have an attorney present during questioning.

    The officers pulled Stevenson from his vehicle, the lawsuit said, took the .45-caliber handgun he wore in a belt holster, and put him in handcuffs in the back of a police car. Stevenson said he was threatened with loss of his permit, confiscation of his gun and indefinite detention while police investigated whether he was involved in anything criminal.

   Officers never read Stevenson his Miranda rights, the lawsuit said, and Ayers told Stevenson the questioning would stop if he would admit to some criminal action.

    As the incident continued, some of Stevenson's co-workers drove past and his employer stopped to see what was happening. The officers asked the employer if Stevenson had mental problems.

   Stevenson said the tight handcuffs injured his wrists.

   Eventually, Sgt. Sandy Duffey, a police supervisor, said to release Stevenson.

   In the lawsuit, Stevenson asked for unspecified monetary damages, injunctions to prevent future incidents and a declaration that his civil rights had been violated.

   Online court records indicated that the expired registration charge against Stevenson was dismissed in June. http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/231422

 

09-12-31 At last minute, DHS extends certification for pilots to carry firearms

     Washington (CNN) -- The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday extended permission for hundreds of pilots to carry firearms -- just hours before their certification to carry the weapons was to expire, according to an organization which represents the pilots.

    "A few hundred" Federal Flight Deck Officers -- or FFDOs -- were to lose their certification to carry firearms effective midnight on New Year's Eve, said Mike Karn, executive vice president of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Association.

    The loss would have come at a time of heightened concern about air security because of the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day.

   But Karn said the DHS's Federal Air Marshal program notified him Thursday afternoon that the pilots' certification would be extended.

    A Transportation Security Administration official confirmed that certifications had been extended for six months "in light of recent events." The official said that "due to an internal miscommunication, scheduled notifications to these officers were prematurely issued," but he offered no further explanation.

    FFDOs are commercial pilots who volunteer to undergo training so they can carry weapons to protect their aircraft. They undergo initial training at federal law enforcement training academies and must re-qualify with firearms every six months, and undergo a two-day recurrent training every three to five years.

    "I'm grateful [for the extension] because that will keep the most cost-effective last line of defense [of aircraft] in place," Karn said. "But I'm still concerned that such a limited budget has been approved for this program, and volunteers who want to protect the American public will be turned away."

    Karn said the budget for the program has not increased since 2003, effectively capping the number of armed pilots.

    The exact number of FFDOs is classified, but government officials have said in the past the number greatly exceeds the number of federal air marshals -- plain-clothed officers who fly in the cabin of the plane to protect aircraft.

    Several FFDOs contacted by CNN said DHS has made getting recurrent training onerous for pilots, limiting the number and sizes of classes. Pilots also must pay for their own hotels and food during training -- "our own time and our own dime," said one pilot -- placing a further burden on them.

    Had the loss of certification occurred, it would not have affected the pilots' flight clearance, only their ability to carry weapons.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/12/31/dhs.armed.pilots/index.html

 

09-12-30 No right to bear unlicensed machine guns, federal court says

    Tennessee State Guard commander Richard Hamblen said it's his Second Amendment right as part of a militia to convert assault rifles into fully automatic weapons. The Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

    A former commander in the Tennessee State Guard has lost an appeal to overturn his conviction for trying to provide his soldiers with homemade machine guns for possible use in defending the state.

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati threw the case out of court.

    “Whatever the individual right to keep and bear arms might entail, it does not authorize an unlicensed individual to possess unregistered machine guns for personal use,” said the three-judge panel of the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals.

   Richard Hamblen was arrested in 2004 by federal firearms agents and charged with possession of nine unregistered machine guns.

  Second Amendment argued

   At trial and in his appeal, Mr. Hamblen argued that he and his soldiers had a Second Amendment right as members of the state militia to possess military-grade weapons. He said Tennessee’s state guard arsenal included only 21 M-16 rifles for 3,500 volunteer soldiers.

     Concerned that his unit, the 201st Military Police Battalion, might get called into active duty, Hamblen obtained gun conversion kits to make semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic rifles. At least one machine gun was used in a training exercise.

     Confronted by federal agents, Hamblen told the truth. He showed the unregistered machine guns to the authorities and informed them that he was merely exercising his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

   “I wasn’t really consciously setting out to challenge the law and authority, but I figured I’d be on good constitutional footing,” he said in an interview. “It seemed like a good idea at the time – would I do it again? No.”

    Hamblen, who runs a mirror and glass business in Memphis, was convicted and served 13 months in prison. He says he’s spent roughly $50,000 on legal fees.

   Hamblen had asked the Sixth Circuit judges to endorse his view that all gun control laws are unconstitutional. “If a person can afford to buy it, they can have it,” he says.

Supreme Court has said gun rights may be limited

    It is a position that runs counter to the majority view in the US Supreme Court’s 2008 gun rights ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. In that case, the court struck down a ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. But the high court went on to suggest that individual gun rights are not unlimited and could be subject to reasonable regulations.

    Both the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis and the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco have held that individuals do not enjoy a Second Amendment right to possess unregistered machine guns.

    Hamblen is not impressed by these rulings. “If the founders had intended for there to be reasonable restrictions on the Second Amendment they would have put that in the language [of the amendment],” he said. “They were certainly capable of writing ‘unreasonable’ into the Fourth Amendment when it talks about unreasonable searches and seizures.”

     Hamblen says he’s not surprised that he lost at the appeals court. But he says he is surprised that he’s received no help from gun-rights advocates. “They are treating me like I’m a skunk at the picnic,” he said.

As for his case, he plans to fight on. He says his lawyer is preparing a final appeal, a petition to the US Supreme Court. “Why stop now? I’ve already done the hard part. I’ve already done my time,” Hamblen says. “All they can do is say no.” http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/print/content/view/print/271420

 

 

09-12-30 Cops: Detroit man who was robbed three times fights back; shoots burglary suspect

    DETROIT (AP) — Authorities say a Detroit man whose home had been broken into three times in the last week fatally shot an unarmed burglary suspect who verbally provoked him.

    Thirty-one-year-old Tigh Croff was arraigned Wednesday on charges of second-degree murder and using a firearm in a felony. A magistrate set his bond at $40,000 and scheduled a preliminary examination Jan. 11.

   Police say Croff began chasing two men he found in his backyard at 12:30 a.m. Monday.

   The Detroit Free Press, WWJ-AM and WJBK-TV say one man escaped, but 53-year-old Herbert Silas of Detroit turned around, raised his hands and said to the licensed gun-carrier: "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

   Reports say Croff replied "absolutely" and fired.

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091230/NEWS/912309987

 

09-12-30 Man pointed gun in hunting feud, cops say

     On Tuesday a long-running family feud over 100 acres of land left Brian Finley looking down the barrel of a .38-caliber pistol, and he figured he had two options.

     He could run, and maybe get shot in the back.

     Or, he could rush Donald Leroy Nelson and maybe take him down.

     Finley took the second option and state police say he and two other men disarmed Nelson, 56, of 1878 Mercer-Grove City Road, Findley Township, who now faces charges of aggravated and simple assault, reckless endangering, and terroristic threats.

     Police say the incident began with Nelson arguing with Joseph Romanko and Shane Hines, who were hunting at about 3:30 p.m. on land off Scrubgrass Road that Finley said is owned by his grandmother and Nelson — a second cousin — but was never sub-divided.

      “Nobody knows whose fifty acres is this and whose fifty acres is that,” Finley said. He said Nelson doesn’t like anyone else using the land.

     Finley, who said the men had permission to hunt on the land, was called in and Nelson drew a pistol from his waistband, pointed it at the three men and told them, “you’re gonna die,” according to police.

     That’s when Finley said he moved in on Nelson, who was six to 10 feet away. He said he knocked Nelson’s pistol out of the firing position. Nelson pistol-whipped him as they struggled, leaving some cuts and goose eggs on top of Finley’s head.

      “I got cracked on top of the head but nothing I won’t bounce right back from; I didn’t miss any work,” Finley said.

     He took Nelson to the ground and got the gun off him, Finley said. He and his buddies unloaded it until state police arrived.

      “It was potentially a horrible situation, and it turned out in what I feel was the best way possible,” Finley said. “No one got paid any serious injuries.”

     Nelson was arraigned on the charges before District Judge Lorinda L. Hinch, Mercer, and released on bail. http://www.sharon-herald.com/local/local_story_364220631.html

 

09-12-30 UK Pensioner jailed for hoarding 'Aladdin's cave' of firearms

   A pensioner who was found with an "Aladdin's cave" of more than 50 firearms, including a home made cannon, has been jailed for five years

   Roy Bennett, 71, was living in a farm cottage Heywood, near Rochdale, when he amassed the guns. He pleaded guilty to nine firearms offences at Bolton Crown Court last week.

  In March this year, officers from Rochdale CID executed a search warrant at Bennett's home.

   Bennett had a firearms licence for rifles, but police received intelligence about illegal guns and ammunition being kept at the address.

    More than 50 firearms were found, including unlicensed rifles, a shotgun and a home-made cannon with accessories. Bennett was bailed and charged following a full examination of the weapons.

    Bennett, who has since moved to Horwich, Bolton, pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing a shortened shotgun without a certificate, three counts of possessing a small firearm, two counts of possessing a prohibited weapon and possessing ammunition without a certificate.

    A passionate gun collector, Bennett said he found one of the shotguns in the attic of his house when he moved in, and bought another at a car boot sale for just £1, where it was being sold as a cigarette lighter. He built the miniature cannon himself and police were alerted to its existence when he fired it at a local gun club.

   Possessing an illegal firearm carries a five-year prison sentence unless there are exceptional circumstances.

    Jailing Bennett for a five-year term, Judge Lindsey Kushner said she had searched the material to see if there was any way she could see there were exceptional circumstances, but found there were not.

   Detective Constable Mark Boon of Force Intelligence Branch said: "Greater Manchester Police has a commitment to ensuring our communities are free of illegal guns. In this case, officers were stunned when they came across an Aladdin's cave of weaponry."

    Jim Jones, Greater Manchester Police's Firearms Licensing Manager said: "The outcome of this case sends out a very clear message to firearms and shotgun certificate holders, and should act as a deterrent to those who are tempted to possess or manufacture guns and ammunition not authorised on their certificates." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/6905852/Pensioner-jailed-for-hoarding-Aladdins-cave-of-firearms.html

 

09-12-30 21 face gun-trafficking charges in crackdown

     A 61-year-old man who shot his 16-year-old autistic son to death last month, then shot himself, got his gun from a straw purchaser, authorities said yesterday.

     Segundo Duque shot his son, Fabian, once in the head after pulling over in his minivan at Wyoming Avenue and H Street, in Juniata Park, on the morning of Nov. 9, police have said.

     He then drove nearly two miles to Sanger Street and Loretto Avenue, in Summerdale, where he parked near St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church and shot himself in the head shortly after 6 that morning, police said.

     Yesterday, the District Attorney's Office said the 9 mm handgun used by Duque was purchased for him by Neisha Valle, 23, of O Street near Hunting Park Avenue, in Juniata Park.

     Valle was one of 21 people investigated by the city-state Gun Violence Task Force, who were recently arrested or who are expected to be arrested on gun trafficking and related charges.

     Duque, of Paul Street near Torresdale Avenue, in East Frankford, had shown signs of being drunk that morning, when he had first gone armed to the home of an ex-girlfriend. After an argument with the woman, during which he pulled his gun out, she escaped unharmed, police said.

     It was later that morning when he shot his son, then killed himself, police have said.

Valle faces a March 10 preliminary hearing on tampering with public records and gun charges.

     Since the task force began in December 2006, it has opened 1,207 investigations, made 395 arrests and seized 743 firearms. To date, 157 people have been convicted of gun-related offenses.

     District Attorney Lynne Abraham said in a news release that the success of the task force - combined with her office's legislative efforts and the First Judicial District's gun court - has resulted in fewer homicides and fewer gunshot injuries.

     Others recently arrested were:

* Linda Woods, aka Deborah Cromwell, 53, of Bouvier Street near Erie Avenue.

* Ilisabeth Neerenberg, 37, of Rosewood Street near Ritner.

* Lawrence Washington, 26, of Sigel Street near 22nd.

* Lakisha Lewis, 25, of Leiper Street near Dyre.

* Omar Bulli, 27, of Woodbine Avenue near 76th Street.

* Uranus Ladson, 42, of 4th Street near Reed, and Tyrneika Brown, 22, of Darby.

* Jayson Miller, 29, of Hortter Street near Ross.

* William Stewart, 55 of Berks Street near 54th.

* Jack Belani, 25, of Norristown, and Wenjue Liu, 26, of Yardley.

* Anthony Poindexter, aka Francis Furr, 32, of Cross Street near 6th.

* Patrick Kersey, 20, and John Cooper, 28, both of Vandike Street near Hellerman.

* Adiyah Weston-Eskridge, 31, of 55th Street near Wyalusing Avenue.

* Raoul McDaniels, 39, of Mount Pleasant Avenue near Provident Street.

* Simir Boyd, 21, of 22nd Street near McKean.

Meanwhile, arrest warrants have been issued for:

* Tyree Berry, 24, of Saybrook Avenue near 72nd Street.

* Danielle Demaio, 24, of Gratz Street near Wingohocking.

* Maurice Boykin, 26, of Latona Street near 32nd.

http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/news_update/80324842.html

 

09-12-29 Historic gun club sues neighbors

    The Philadelphia Gun Club has sued its neighbors as well as a waterfront development firm, alleging a “concerted campaign” to interfere with pigeon shoots along the Delaware River in Bensalem. 

    The historic and reclusive organization seeks $150,000 from the Grupp Family of Langhorne and Strategic Realty Investments of Montgomery County. The suit was filed Tuesday in Bucks County court by gun club President Leo Holt. Holt alleges an invasion of privacy, harassment and false statements to the news media and police about “illegal activity.”

    Pigeon shoots are legal under Pennsylvania law. Animal rights activists descended on the gun club Dec. 5 to protest and film activity there. Holt alleges Otto Grupp and Theodore Grupp and unknown individuals acting on behalf of Strategic Realty Investments have instigated, aided and abetted those protesters.

     The Grupps own land adjacent to the gun club and recently agreed to sell that property to Strategic Realty. The firm plans to build about 500 luxury condos and 70 homes along the waterfront.

    But that land is subject to an easement, according to Holt. The gun club said it purchased that easement in 1976 from a deceased Grupp relative. The agreement allows members to “discharge firearms over, across and through said premises, and for the shot of such firearms … to traverse said premises and the airspace above.”

    The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching Strategic President Joseph Corcoran for comment Tuesday after a phone call to the company. Otto Grupp declined comment, saying he hadn’t seen the suit. http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/news_details/article/92/2009/december/29/historic-gun-club-sues-neighbors.html

 

09-12-29 San Jose man arrested on drug, gun charges

   Specialized teams of Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies swarmed in on a pair of felons, finding in one San Jose home guns, ammunition and piles of drugs with a street value of more than $120,000, a sheriff's spokesman said.

    Sheriff's Sgt. Rick Sung said the arrests came Sunday morning, after an investigation led them to Philip Straley, 46, in San Jose, and Matthew Colangelo, 34, in Campbell.

Inside Straley's home, deputies said they found: an AK-47 assault rifle with six high-capacity magazines, 620 rounds of ammunition, two loaded handguns, one pound of methamphetamine, nearly a pound of cocaine, 23 pounds of marijuana and more than 3,100 tablets of pseudoephedrine — a cold medicine and the main ingredient for making methamphetamine. Deputies also recovered $26,000 in cash.

     Straley was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and of being a felon in possession of a gun. He was convicted in 2000 for possessing methamphetamine and cocaine, court records show, and he served about two years in prison. He was granted $165,000 bail and has posted it already, according to jail records.

     Colangelo is in custody on a no-bail warrant on suspicion of violating his parole and possessing a small amount of methamphetamine. Court records indicate Colangelo was convicted previously for drug possession, grand theft, forgery and one case of assault with a deadly weapon in Shasta County.

  Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Amy Cornell said Tuesday that the case is under review, and no charges have been filed.

    SWAT teams from the Campbell, Los Gatos and Sunnyvale police departments assisted the Sheriff's Office Emergency Response Team in making the near-simultaneous arrests. Sung did not disclose more details, citing a pending investigation.

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_14086962?source=most_emailed&nclick_check=1

 

09-12-29 CA Man Fired From Job Kills 1, Self in California Casino Office Standoff

     A man who was fired from his job at a Southern California casino shot and killed a man in his former manager's office Tuesday, then fatally turned the gun on himself, authorities said.

      Donnell Roberts, 38, walked into the Barona Gaming Commission building around 10 a.m. with a shotgun slung over his shoulder, ordered three secretaries to leave, then quickly opened fire in the manager's office, said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.

     Another 13 to 15 people fled through a back door, Gore said. Witnesses heard three shots.

     The bodies were discovered about five hours later when authorities sent two robots to the office, Gore said. He declined to identify the victim until his family was notified.

     "Our worst fears were confirmed," Gore told reporters outside the convention center of the Barona Resort and Casino. "It appears to be a murder-suicide."

     Roberts, of El Cajon, Calif., was fired in November as an investigator with the commission and worked previously as a security guard for the casino.

     San Diego County sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers surrounded the gaming commission building, located behind the casino.

      Authorities never established contact with Roberts, Gore said.

     The casino in the east San Diego suburb remained open throughout the ordeal but a parking garage and day-care center were closed, said Rick Salinas, the casino's general manager.

     Salinas said he didn't know why Roberts was fired from the commission, which functions as the tribe's regulator of its casino. He was one of about three investigators and 30 to 40 employees working for the commission.

     "He was a professional, he did his job, and from my understanding he did it well," Salinas said.

     The general manager said he hugged several commission employees.

     "They're all pretty shaken up," he said.

     Gore said the employees he spoke with were "very distraught."

     "It's been a very traumatic day for all of them, I'm sure," he said.

     The resort, which includes a 400-room hotel, golf course and spa, is operated by the Barona Band of Mission Indians and employs about 3,000 people.

     The tribe bought the reservation property in 1932 after its original reservation land was used to build a reservoir. Tribal gaming began there in 1994 with the opening of the Barona Casino Big Top.

     The five-member gaming commission meets about three times a week, said Sheilla Alvarex, director of government affairs for the tribe.

     Commission members are not all tribal members but they are employees of the tribal government, Salinas said.

     "They are responsible for ensuring that the management team is complying with all regulations," she said. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,581416,00.html

 

09-12-25 Tobyhanna man arrested on drug charges for fourth time this year

    A Tobyhanna man seems to be developing a drug arrest habit: Kevin Woodley, 20, has logged four drug-related arrests in 2009.

    Pocono Mountain Regional Police picked up Woodley from the Lackawanna County Correctional Facility on Monday, where he was being held on felony drug trafficking charges.

   Woodley was arrested after a traffic stop in Scranton on Dec. 8. During the stop, he was found to have the outstanding warrant from Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department. He was arrested and found to be in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Woodley had to serve his time in Lackawanna County before PMRPD was allowed to pick him up.

    The warrant was from an investigation, during which several search warrants were executed Nov. 16 at 253 Greenbriar Circle in A Pocono Country Place, Coolbaugh Township. Woodley was not home at the time.

    While executing a search warrant at Woodley's home, police recovered quantities of crack and powder cocaine, marijuana and suspected heroin along with digital scales and items used to manufacture and distribute narcotics.

    Woodley's mother, Tasieka Woods, 36, and roommate, Ivan Bannister, 24, were also charged during the investigation. Both are out on bail awaiting trial in Monroe County.

     Woodley was arraigned on charges of possession with Intent to deliver a controlled substance, criminal conspiracy, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of instruments of crime and paraphernalia in front of Magisterial District Judge Anthony Fluegel. He was committed to Monroe County Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing at a later date before Fluegel.

   Woodley was arrested on separate drug charges earlier this year. Stonington state police in Northumberland County filed drug charges against him on April 11. He pleaded guilty to use and/or possession of drug paraphernalia and bailed out on $5,000 while awaiting sentencing.

    Twelve days later, on April 23, Woodley was stopped for having overly tinted windows. According to the Pocono Mountain Regional Police report, Woodley's car smelled of marijuana. He was initially found with a small amount of marijuana, but after K-9 Kane checked the vehicle, police discovered loose marijuana buds throughout the vehicle.

    After Woodley was handcuffed, police said they found more marijuana, including several $20 bags, in his pants. Woodley had eaten some of the marijuana before stuffing it in his pants, police said.

    Police obtained a search warrant for his residence where they discovered baggies containing prepackaged marijuana consistent with street-level sales, digital scales and other packaging material.

    Woodley was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and related drug trafficking offenses. He was also charged with tampering with evidence for eating the marijuana.

    Woodley was driving his girlfriend's car when stopped. The woman, Ana Burrell, 22, was found to have an outstanding felony warrant for carrying a firearm without a license, tampering with evidence and unsworn falsification made to police.

    Woodley posted $10,000 bail on April 24, the day after his arrest.

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091225/NEWS/912250340

 

09-12-24 City man linked to feud gets 4 years in federal prison for having ammunition

   A Baltimore man, who authorities believe was part of a drug organization whose feuding with rivals may have led to several killings and the shooting of 12 people at a cookout this summer, was sentenced to four years in federal prison Wednesday for being a felon in possession of ammunition.

     Terrell Allen, 36, pleaded guilty in September, two months after agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms executed a search warrant on his Essex home on Punjab Drive and found 21 rounds of ammunition in a night stand next to his bed.

    The search warrant was connected to a series of incidents more than a year earlier. Federal court documents show authorities believe Allen was one of three men who in April 2008 abducted the younger brothers of Stephen "J.R." Blackwell based on a dispute over heroin prices.

    Six weeks later, authorities say, gunmen took revenge with a quadruple shooting outside the Allen & Family Appliance store, a mom-and-pop business in East Baltimore that sells $99 washing machines and other discount appliances. Allen's father, Tony Allen, 52, and a 27-year-old named Omar Spriggs were killed. Terrell Allen and another man was injured.

    Several associates of Blackwell were killed in the ensuing months, and a shooting broke out on July 26 at a memorial cookout to commemorate their deaths. Twelve people were shot and wounded – including Blackwell.

    Blackwell, who was charged with disorderly conduct in August, has not faced any criminal charges related to the allegations of violence and drug dealing.

    ATF Special Agent Noah Slackman wrote in an affidavit that a confidential source relayed that Terrell Allen was the head of a drug organization that had been receiving heroin from Blackwell. But they got into a dispute because Allen believed that Blackwell was cheating on the weight of heroin while raising the price, the affidavit says.

    The source said it was that disagreement that triggered the kidnapping of Blackwell's younger brothers.

    Baltimore County police said at the time that six masked gunmen forced their way into the Catonsville home at 3 a.m., bound and gagged 10 occupants and held them at gunpoint for hours. A woman was sexually assaulted. Blackwell arrived at the home as the kidnappers were leaving and was shot at but not struck.

   The source said Allen and Spriggs were paid approximately $500,000 as ransom for the release of the brothers, according to documents. No criminal charges were ever filed in connection with the incident.

    But after the quadruple shooting at the appliance store, ATF agents raided the store and Allen's Essex home, recovering the revolver, boxes of ammunition and nearly $8,000 in cash.

   Terrell Allen's attorney, Gerald Ruter, told The Baltimore Sun in July that the storyline presented by law enforcement agents was "invented."

   "It really is a travesty at a personal level. His father is killed right in front of him ... and he's the person who ends up being on trial," Ruter added.

   U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Allen to 48 months in a federal prison, followed by a supervised release period of three years

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bal-allen1224,0,7384059.story

 

09-12-23 The Record: Kids and guns

    SENSELESS. TRAGIC. This is where we begin in considering the terrible death of 5-year-old Daron Mayes of Paterson.

   He was playing with a 6-year-old relative at home on Sunday night. The 6-year-old found a loaded handgun — a semi-automatic, which loads a new bullet into the chamber each time it is fired. The child played with the weapon, and accidently shot Daron in the back of the head police say. Police attempted to revive the boy, but could not.

   Police have arrested the man who they say illegally purchased and stashed the gun in the house. Jalik Jones, 23, another family member, shared a bedroom with Daron. On Monday, Jones was charged with reckless manslaughter, a second-degree crime that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. He also was charged with purchasing an illegal gun, which carries an 18-month maximum sentence.

   Daron's house on Kearney Street in Paterson appears to be a bustling place, full of family and outdoor play, neighbors say. It's home to a mother, father and five children — neighbors believe they are all under the age of 14.

    This is the place where Jones apparently chose to bring an illegal gun. And with that, our sorrow turns to rage.

   What can be done to keep children safe, when adults who are preoccupied with the glamour of violence or who believe their world is so dangerous they must carry a firearm fail to securely store their guns?

   New Jersey has relatively strong gun laws, at least compared to standards nationwide. State laws require waiting periods and background checks. They tightly limit concealed weapons and prohibit semi-automatic assault rifles. Next week, a new law will take effect to limit gun purchases to one per month.

   But those laws can only do so much. Federal gun laws are toothless, and plenty of states barely regulate purchases at all. And so guns are easily bought illegally in New Jersey, in a thriving black market that hums along the Eastern Seaboard. In one common scenario, runners buy guns in the Southeast, where state laws are more lax, and resell them here.

    New Jersey has attempted to work within the current federal system. It was the first state to give troopers direct access to a database listing the origin of any gun linked to a crime, through a partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This may tell us more about the origin of Jones' gun. But it does nothing to help Daron now.

    People want their guns — lawless and law-abiding citizens alike. There are 270 million privately, legally owned guns in this country. Their owners say they are for self-defense or sport. That is their right.

    Federal lawmakers and the courts have opted to work toward protecting those rights. But they must work doubly hard to protect children like Daron.

   We hope that one effort, currently led by engineers at NJIT in Newark, may eventually help. Researchers are refining "smart gun" technology, which identifies a gun owner's unique grip and fires a bullet only when that person is squeezing the trigger. The current prototype works 99 percent of the time. Next year's federal budget contributed another $1 million to continue research.

   New Jersey passed a law in 2002 that requires all guns sold here have "smart gun" technology. But it would take effect only after they are commercially available for three years. Manufacturers, which originally were doing their own research with plans to produce smart guns, backed away after the technology proved difficult to perfect. Such guns would be very expensive to produce.

   There may be little profit in making a popular product more costly to consumers. But outrage and public pressure can change incentives and the law. How many more deaths must we suffer? How many more children must we lose? http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/79963372.html

 

09-12-23 Gun Owner Nabbed Near Obama Was Bush Employee

    The man who was arrested with two guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition near the Capitol during President Barack Obama's health care speech in September had been an employee of the George W. Bush White House. The arrest of the man, Joshua Bowman, was widely reported at the time, but the news stories made no mention of his previous employment: For several years he worked in the Executive Office of the President, dealing with tech issues, including White House emails, his lawyer, George Braun, tells Mother Jones.

   On the night of September 9, Bowman was on his way to meet Braun, a Bush administration political appointee, at the National Republican Club on First Street, SE when he was stopped by Capitol Police around 7:45 p.m.—minutes before Obama was scheduled to deliver a major address to Congress pushing his health care initiative. Bowman had driven up to a security checkpoint and told officers he wanted to park, but his lack of a permit for the area aroused their suspicions, and they asked to search his car.

    The previous weekend, Bowman and Braun had gone duck-hunting, according to Braun. But Bowman forgot that he still had the guns in his car when he consented to a search of his vehicle, a Honda Civic with a bumper sticker proclaiming, "I'll keep my guns, freedom, and money.... you keep the change." The officers found a Beretta 12 gauge semi-automatic* shotgun, a .22 caliber long rifle, and over 400 rounds of ammunition in Bowman's trunk. The guns were unloaded and in their cases, according to court records. Braun says they were disassembled. The Capitol Police took Bowman into custody and charged him with two counts of possession of an unregistered firearm and one count of unlawful possession of ammunition. He faced up to $3,000 in fines and as much as three years in jail. (The case is still pending.)

    When Braun—who was at the National Republican Club, hanging out with congressmen including Iowa's Tom Latham and Nebraska's Lee Terry—finally heard from Bowman, it was around 10 p.m. Bowman told Braun he needed Braun to get him out of jail, explaining that he had been stopped with guns in his car. "Don't you know that's illegal?" Braun asked.  Both men were surprised when they heard the story on the radio as they left jail the next day. Braun thought the coverage was excessive. "They were making him sound like a terrorist," Braun said. "Does [Bowman] look like a terrorist? He has the élan to walk around with a bowtie."

     Braun suggested that Bowman was only caught with the guns because he was used to having a White House security pass and expected to be able to park near the Capitol. He probably wouldn't have been stopped and searched by Capitol Police if he had still had the pass. He had left government employ just a few weeks earlier, having landed a high-paying job at Northrop Grumman. "He hung out for a long time. He worked for a Republican administration and he was pretty much the last person in the Democratic administration. It's not that he thought the new administration was right or wrong—it's called 'a year and a day,' and Josh was there for six," Braun said, referring to the Washington tradition of working a government job for long enough to put it on your resume and then leaving for a higher-paid private sector gig.

   It seems pretty clear that Bowman wasn't planning anyone any harm when he drove to Capitol Hill in September. Braun claims the Secret Service was unconcerned about the incident (no federal charges were filed) because they knew Bowman from his years in the White House. But having unregistered guns in the District of Columbia is illegal (although perhaps not for much longer if gun rights advocates continue to win court challenges), and Bowman certainly made a big mistake. Even his girlfriend thought so. "His girlfriend called me up and asked, 'Is my boyfriend the stupidest guy in the world or what?'" Braun said. For the moment, it's unclear whether that mistake will land Bowman in jail.

*An earlier version of this article described the shotgun as automatic.

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2009/12/joshua-bowman-gun-charges-bush-white-house-employee

 

09-12-22 NRA's members know better than their leaders

    National Rifle Association members, take ownership of the organization. A recent poll indicates that when it comes to managing secure and sensible gun ownership, members have more common sense than NRA's officials.

    Republican pollster Frank Luntz surveyed NRA members and non-NRA gun owners. Turns out, four out of five who took the survey favor laws that would ban people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. Nearly seven out of 10 supported requiring gun show dealers to conduct criminal background checks of customers, and nearly eight out of 10 favored a requirement that gun owners alert police if their guns are stolen or lost.

   This is good news. For years, the NRA has actively opposed any and all legislation, regardless of how sensible, by inciting fear among gun owners that any limitation was tantamount to a government seizure of their weapons. Anyone who supported any restraints on gun sales was called anti-gun. The poll results show just how wrong that contention is.

    So, poll results indicate that most NRA members don't actually share the NRA's tunnel vision. They understand that the importance of keeping guns out of the wrong hands is even greater than an untrammeled ability by any American to buy and own any kind of gun at any time. They don't believe the NRA's contention that reasonable restrictions will inevitably lead to confiscation. And they support ways to help local police and national security personnel track and find illegal weapons and the criminals who use them.

     Mayors Against Illegal Guns formed more than three years ago to support reasonable reforms of gun laws aimed at reducing the proliferation of illegal guns even while defending the second amendment. MAIG now has more than 500 mayor members, among them Stroudsburg's Mayor Charlie Baughman. Many MAIG members are also NRA members. This year Baughman and many other mayors with MAIG supported measures to require the reporting of lost or stolen handguns.

    NRA members should work with MAIG to repeal the federal Tiahrt amendment, which prevents law enforcement officials from obtaining full access to gun-tracing information from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and which requires the FBI to destroy records of some specific background checks within 24 hours. Nearly seven of 10 respondents to the Luntz poll agreed with the statement that the federal government should not hinder police in such ways.

    The U.S. Congress must drop its decades-long deference to the NRA's unfounded paranoia and pass sensible gun laws. Law enforcement officials could do much more to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands without threatening citizens' hallowed second amendment rights.

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091222/NEWS04/912220301

 

09-12-22 Pa. courthouse gun room fire tab could be $1M

   GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Damage caused by a fire in a western Pennsylvania county courthouse office where seized guns and sheriff's weapons were stored could cost as much as $1 million to repair.

   The cause of Saturday's fire involving the gun locker at the Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office in Greensburg remains under investigation.

   Sheriff's officials say nearly 700 firearms seized in protection-from-abuse cases were stored in the locker, along with more than 250 other weapons ranging from knives to baseball bats. A dozen 9mm handguns owned by the sheriff's office were also destroyed.

   Most of the firearms suffered rust damage when a sprinkler system suppressed the fire. The fire started near an electric heater, but may have also been fueled by road flares and ammunition.

http://www.sungazette.com/page/content.detail/id/97925.html?nav=5020&isap=1

 

09-12-22 A voice raised against straw gun buying

   In 2006, Shawna Matthews was a single, unemployed mother living in public housing when a man she knew only by a nickname offered her $700 to buy a gun for him.

   Matthews took his money and walked into a South Philadelphia gun store. She chose a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, though she knew nothing about firearms.

   "He was a big guy, so I just picked out a big gun," she said in an interview last week.

   The next year, Matthews was indicted in federal court for making a "straw" purchase - buying a firearm for someone who cannot legally own a gun.

    Straw buyers are a leading source of illegal guns on the streets, and often they are women with clean records working at the behest of boyfriends and acquaintances.

   "From my experience, women tend to commit this crime for either love or money, and it's not a very good trade either way," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben said.

   The charge carries a five-year maximum sentence, and Matthews, 30, was facing several months in prison.

    But when she pleaded guilty, U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody saw an opportunity. She was tired of the parade of women in her courtroom who had made straw purchases without giving thought to the idea that they were arming criminals and breaking the law.

    "It got to the point where I felt I had to do more than put somebody in prison," the judge said.

   Brody told Matthews to think of a way to spread the word to young women about the consequences of straw buying.

   At her sentencing this summer, Matthews said she would be willing to speak out, and she eventually suggested the Job Corps program as a place where she could address young inner-city women.

   Last month, Brody, Witzleben, and Cathy Henry, Matthews' public defender, accompanied her to a "female enrichment" gathering at the Job Corps campus in South Philadelphia.

   All four women warned the group about the dangers of straw purchasing, but Matthews' story seemed to have the biggest impact.

    "I have to tell you, you could hear a pin drop in the room when she started talking," Witzleben said. "You could tell when we were talking to them, some of them may have already done it or had been approached to do it."

    Immediately after the presentation, one woman in attendance told a Job Corps staff member that she was planning to buy a gun that weekend for a friend, who assured her she wouldn't get into trouble.

   The woman said that she needed the money, but that Matthews had persuaded her not to do it.

    "If the judge had put Shawna Matthews in jail for five years, that woman would have bought a gun," Henry said.

    Matthews said another woman came up to her after the event and started asking questions. She could tell the woman "was in that situation," but was afraid to admit it.

    "Don't do it," she told her. "It's not worth it."

    Bernice Lecoin, a Job Corps staff member who organizes the female enrichment group, said many of the students "didn't even know what the term straw purchasing was."

   "When Shawna opened up, you could hear it. The audience was like, 'What?' " she said.

   Several students described the event as eye-opening.

   "The fact is that you could be doing something that you think is so innocent, and it could spiral out of control," said Nikita Joseph, a Job Corps student.

   Matthews said she was naive when she bought the gun.

   "Now that I think about it, I say, 'Why couldn't he get it himself?' " she said. "At the time, it was just $700."

    Matthews plans to fulfill her required 50 hours of community service by continuing to speak to groups of women. She also received six months of house arrest and five years of probation.

   She remains a single mother of four children and, with a felony conviction on her record, has struggled to find work.

   The man for whom she bought the gun, Alonzo Wallace, was arrested by Philadelphia police while carrying the weapon. He was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. His case is pending in federal court.

    The ATF traced the weapon back to Matthews and she promptly confessed.

   "My first question was, 'Did he do something with that gun?' " she said.

    Luckily for her, the gun was not used in a crime.

    Brody said she had never taken such an unconventional approach with a defendant, but she felt that deterrence - a factor considered in any sentence - was not being properly addressed in straw-purchasing cases.

   "Deterrence also means putting the word out on the street," Brody said. "I wasn't worried about this particular defendant doing something like this again."

    U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle 3d, the chief judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, supported Brody's idea.

    "How do you get the message out into the community about what you're doing in the courtroom?" he asked. "When you can go . . . deliver that message personally, they hear you."

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/79879622.html

 

09-12-20 Monica Yant Kinney: Gun trafficking: Spread the blame

     Reading my colleagues' recent investigation, "Justice: Delayed, Dismissed, Denied," you may have noticed a theme in the criminal cases that stall and die in Philadelphia's crazy court system: guns.

   Specifically, guns that their owners had no earthly right possessing, given their age or rap sheets.

   Today, I introduce you to a guy who put guns in criminals' hands. I'll call him "Jerome," because now that he's served 41/2 years in federal prison, he's walking a straight line. I've reviewed his court file and talked with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and    Explosives about his two-year, 160-gun trafficking spree.

   It began in 1996 after Jerome lost his job and a friend said he could make fast cash selling his 9mm Lorcin.

   "I drove to North Philadelphia and waited in the car," Jerome told me at a diner in Olney. "My buddy came out and gave me $300 in ones, fives, and tens."

    Like any savvy entrepreneur, he reinvested his earnings. "That same day, I bought two more guns for $110 each. I called the same guy and sold them for $600."

    Under Pennsylvania law, with a clean record, Jerome could buy as many guns as he could afford. The only snag? It was illegal.

    "Almost from the beginning," he said, "they knew what I was up to."

   Money to be made

    Federal regulations require gun shops to report to the ATF anyone buying two or more weapons in a five-day period. Soon, a federal agent paid Jerome a visit, as is customary, to ask about his purchases.

    He was scared but didn't stop. Instead, he doubled down, shopping twice a week at stores such as Mike & Kates on Oxford Avenue and Delia's on Torresdale.

He never had a problem unloading his wares to drug dealers.

    "You can tell just by looking where there's money to be made," he told me. "I'd just pull up to a corner and open my trunk."

    Jerome's customers were uninformed but flush.

   "The guns they wanted were cheap - MAC, SKS, copies from China and Bulgaria," he said, "but they didn't know that because they'd never been in a gun shop."

   As a result, Jerome easily resold a $199 MAC-90 (a Chinese semiautomatic copy of an AK-47) for $900. He made even more when he satisfied young thugs' specific requests.

    After "the movie Desperado came out, there was a lot of demand for the Ruger .45 ACP," he said. "They all wanted two, one for each hand, just like the guy [Antonio Banderas] in the film."

   Sharing the blame

   The more Jerome bought, the more he wondered about sellers who accepted his small bills, knowing that he bought weapons favored by criminals, not collectors.

    "There was no way I could be buying five, six, seven guns a week and not be reselling."

Mike & Kates owner Mike Panamarenko defended himself when I called. Selling guns, after all, is a legal business. "We're not law enforcement. We can't profile. To deny someone a purchase based on what-ifs or what might be could put you in a courtroom real fast."

    After owning his gun shop for 40 years, Fred Delia still struggles to read customers' faces.

   "One guy just came in here and bought five handguns. He hit the lottery," Delia told me. "You don't really know what they're doing. They can lie. Just because you bought five guns doesn't mean you've done anything illegal yet."

    In fall 1999, Jerome was charged with dealing firearms without a license. Investigators tallied at least 160 weapons - it could be double that - but recovered only 32. Prosecutors said one had been used in a drug-related homicide, a fact that haunts Jerome.

    "I'll never know what happened to those guns," he fretted. "Someone might use one of them on me."

    Facing a maximum of five years, he pleaded guilty and started talking. At his 2001 sentencing, prosecutors praised his cooperation.

   "I was amazed at some of the detailed information he was able to give the ATF agents,"    Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara J. Cohan said. He "helped them put together a picture of what was going on in the street."

    At the time, she said, several gun dealers were being investigated. How did the probe end? ATF officials wouldn't tell me. The shops that Jerome frequented remain open.

    Watching the news, Jerome knows he's partly responsible for the city's crisis of violence.      But he thinks there's blame to go around.

    "I knew it would come to an end for me. I just wish those gun dealers were held accountable."

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/79742932.html

 

09-12-19 Wis. teen will need legal permission to date girls

   APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin teenager will need legal permission to date girls for the next three years after he was convicted of fleeing to Tennessee with his girlfriend in a stolen car.

    Nineteen-year-old Jordan S. Christensen of Appleton was sentenced Friday to one year in jail and three years' probation. Outagamie County Judge John Des Jardins has ordered "no dating of the opposite sex without permission of your probation agent."

    Christensen had pleaded no contest to charges of auto theft, stealing a firearm and bail jumping. He apologized for his actions before the sentencing.

    Investigators say Christensen stole his foster parents' car May 26 and fled to the Memphis area with his 16-year-old girlfriend. http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091219/NEWS/912199997

 

09-12-18 Gun-law groundswell: The state needs a law requiring responsibility
    The last time we took up lost-or-stolen gun laws, it was back in the summer when Pittsburgh won an unlikely legal victory against the National Rifle Association.

    Frustrated by the scourge of gun violence, City Council had passed an ordinance that required gun owners to report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours of discovering it was missing, or face possible fines or jail.

    The aim was to crack down on a practice identified by law enforcement agencies as a major problem -- so-called straw purchases in which guns are sold to criminals by irresponsible third parties. If the guns were subsequently traced back to the original owners, they could simply say without penalty that they were lost.

    Although the rights of responsible gun owners were never threatened, the NRA sued anyway. Surprisingly, because state law reserves for itself the right to regulate guns, the city prevailed. While Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. didn't rule on the validity of the law, he dismissed the NRA suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs didn't have standing because they were not harmed.

    With state law still casting its inhibiting shadow, this victory was largely symbolic. As we said at the time, the bigger point was that Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and a growing number of communities were standing up for the right to regulate guns according to their own often-dangerous circumstances. We urged the Legislature to take note and pass a law making further NRA suits hopeless.

    Now, more reason exists for the General Assembly to act. That growing number of communities sending a message has become a boomlet. According to CeaseFirePA, a group supporting gun control, 19 communities in the state have passed lost-or-stolen gun ordinances. In Western Pennsylvania, that group includes Pittsburgh, West Mifflin (which passed a measure Tuesday), Aliquippa, Homestead, West Homestead, Clairton, Braddock, Castle Shannon, Heidelberg, Munhall, Wilkinsburg and Erie. Four more, including Duquesne, have passed resolutions that support such reporting.

    When will the Legislature listen to these voices and change state law in the name of responsibility?

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09352/1021788-192.stm

 

09-12-27 Next Phila. D.A. looks back and ahead

     District Attorney-elect Seth Williams says he plans to thoroughly shake up how crime is prosecuted in Philadelphia, with the goal of cracking down on the city's most violent and gun-prone criminals.

     In a wide-ranging interview last week, Williams said he was "saddened as a Philadelphian" by an Inquirer investigative series reporting that the city had the highest violent-crime rate among big cities - and the nation's lowest felony conviction rate.

     The series found the District Attorney's Office was winning a felony conviction in only one in five cases, less than half the national average.

     "Unquestionably, we have to do a much better job," Williams said.

     He said the newspaper's reporting this month "vindicated and validated what I've been saying for the last five years."

     Williams, an assistant district attorney for 10 years who ran unsuccessfully for the top job in 2005, has been a longtime critic of District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham.

     He has cited a federal study of conviction rates in 39 large urban counties that ranked Philadelphia last in two consecutive reports. The Inquirer series went beyond that study in an analysis of 31,000 criminal cases from 2006 to 2008, finding that Philadelphia defendants walk free on all charges in nearly two-thirds of violent-crime cases.

     Williams detailed a series of changes that he predicted would distinguish his leadership from Abraham's. Referring to the city's low conviction rate, he said: "If that's the best you can do, then step aside. I'm glad I got the job. My administration won't be Lynne Abraham-lite."

     Abraham, who will step down next month after 18 years in office, has rejected The Inquirer's statistical analysis and said that "you can't do justice by the numbers."

     Any prosecutor, she said in a recent interview, could boost conviction rates by refusing to take on difficult cases or giving criminals sweetheart deals in return for guilty pleas.

     Abraham said her philosophy has always been that every case is vitally important to the victim - and her staff.

     Williams, 42, a Democrat, will take office Jan. 4 as the first African American ever to hold the post.

     He said he would:

     Appoint a new top deputy of policy, planning, and performance whose duties would include making public an annual statistical report on conviction rates.

     Abraham has kept no such figures, eschewing a "justice-by-the-numbers" approach.

     "They can't say what the numbers are," Williams said of Abraham and her staff. "They just say that they don't like them. That's no argument."

     Williams acknowledged that "justice can't be quantified," but said there has to be some way to gauge the office's success and failure.

     "If we're going to fix what's going on, we have to use some kind of empirical data," he said. "We have to begin measuring performance."

     Overhaul the office's critical Charging Unit, putting experienced trial attorneys in place to kick cases back to detectives if evidence seems weak or flatly refuse to pursue cases if they seem unwinnable.

     "The goal is to charge people with crimes that we believe we can convict beyond a reasonable doubt," Williams said. "It's not my responsibility . . . to say, 'We'll just see who shows up in court.' "

     Push Philadelphia judges to streamline preliminary hearings in Municipal Court, permitting prosecutors to put on fewer witnesses in order to get a case held for trial in the higher Common Pleas Court.

     In The Inquirer series, the paper disclosed that of cases that end without a conviction, 82 percent collapse in Municipal Court. Williams said that all too often judges insist that an array of witnesses show up for such hearings - victims, eyewitnesses, and multiple police officers, among others. The city's judges have for years held that this extensive evidence is needed to establish a prima facie case against a defendant, even though their counterparts in the rest of the state do not impose such stringent requirements.

     "In the entire state, only Philadelphia puts on these mini-trials for preliminary hearings," Williams said. "You don't need all these witnesses for every hearing."

     Speed up the office's review of cases of police misconduct and shootings.

In some controversial police shootings, the investigations have "dangled in limbo" for years, Williams said.

     The slow process also can drag out police disciplinary reviews, because Internal Affairs is barred from speaking to officers until the D.A.'s Office clears them of any criminal wrongdoing.

     Williams said he had talked to Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, Mayor Nutter, and their deputies, as well as to the police union. All have asked for the office to move more quickly on these cases.

     Establish an internal Capital Case Review Committee to oversee the office's decisions about when to seek the death penalty in homicide cases.

Williams said this policy shift likely would mean the office would pursue the death penalty in fewer cases.

     Critics who dubbed Abraham "America's deadliest D.A." accused her of frequently seeking the death penalty to gain an advantage in murder cases. Because jurors opposed to capital punishment are weeded out, panels in death-penalty cases tend to be more conservative.

     "My overall philosophy is that we have to use the death penalty more judiciously, not just as a bargaining chip," Williams said.

     Quickly dispense with low-level offenses such as property crimes and minor drug charges. Defendants could be offered diversion programs or flat sentences, which can be shorter but have no parole eligibility. Flat sentences spare defendants and court personnel long periods of supervision.

     "If we handle this stuff better . . . we can use our resources on violent crime," he said.

Many of the changes Williams discussed have a similar purpose - to unclog the criminal justice system and free up prosecutors to focus on the violent felons who, Williams said, commit a disproportionate amount of the crime.

     "As a proposition, as a direction he wants to go in, it's unassailable," said Mark Aronchick, a prominent lawyer and former city solicitor. "It's the correct thing."

     Aronchick and JoAnne Epps, dean of Temple University's law school, have been cochairing a transition committee of roughly 100 participants that has been broken into about a dozen subcommittees.

     "He isolated on the Charging Unit and he isolated on the preliminary hearings because that's the up-front stuff," Aronchick said. "That's the stuff that clogs the system."

Whether Williams can unilaterally change the long-standing practices of preliminary hearings remains to be seen.

     "These are very interesting issues he'll have to confront," Epps said. "There is a lot of tradition in the city. Judges will have to change their expectations."

Epps also applauded Williams' effort to collect empirical data, but said he would have to do so "in ways that prove useful."

     "I do think he has a challenge of what to count, and how to count it," she said.

Williams acknowledged that with the changes he proposes, particularly dispensing with bad cases at the charging level, he opens himself up to the criticism that he takes on only winnable cases.

     "I'm not saying we're going to give you a pass if you shoot somebody," he said. "I'm saying let's use our resources better."

While Williams said driving up the conviction rate, especially for violent offenders, is crucial, he returned throughout the interview to the idea that his job is to make the city safer.

     He talked admiringly of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, which has an entire unit dedicated to crime prevention.

     "Your family would prefer that you were not shot, not that you were shot and, damn it, the D.A.'s Office handled it well," he said. "There has to be new ways to figure out what it means to be a D.A."

     Referring to a "holistic approach," Williams discussed the nontraditional ways he could attack crime, such as reaching out to community groups and schools.

     Epps said Williams had brought a number of people, such as victims' advocates and anti-gun-violence groups, who are not "obvious allies to the D.A.'s Office," into the transition process.

     Williams said that illegal guns would be a focus of his administration, and that he would lobby to add to state law a Philadelphia-only mandatory sentence for possession of an illegal firearm.

     The law would be similar to one in New York City, used to send former New York Giants football player Plaxico Burress to prison for carrying a gun illegally.

     "He wants to be a significant voice on decreasing gun violence," Aronchick said. "He's also a public official with a big voice, and lobbying for change is something he feels strongly about."

     As Williams talked, he sat behind a neatly organized desk that bore a management advice book, The First 90 Days, written by a former Harvard University professor. He was clearly already grappling with the budgetary headaches he is soon to inherit.

The D.A.'s Office is now operating under a $29 million budget, a deep 9 percent cut from the previous fiscal year.

     Williams said Nutter's budget staff had already warned that the administration was seeking a further 7.5 percent reduction in the office's funding in the next fiscal year, which will start July 1.

     "I can't spend money like a drunken sailor, but I don't think we can stand a reduction, let alone 7.5 percent," he said.

     As district attorney, Williams will oversee 318 assistant district attorneys who have gone two years without a pay raise. The office also has 175 support personnel, far fewer than in similar offices around the nation.

     The staff keeps shrinking, he said.

     In a city with a widespread problem with witness intimidation, Williams noted, the office has only 23 victim/witness service staffers, eight fewer than on the payroll at the start of 2009.

     Williams said that at times, people working in the D.A.'s Office "in many ways feel like they're on a Bataan death march in a system built for failure."

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/80152132.html

 

09-12-17 Judge Bars Guns At Jon Gosselin House

   NORRISTOWN, Pa. - A Montgomery County judge issues a court order after Jon Gosselin is seen shooting a loaded gun at his Berks County house.

   Judge Arthur Tilson issued the court order Thursday in Norristown, Pa., after Jon Gosselin was photographed on Wednesday in Wernersville, Pa., shooting a .38 pistol on his property.

The judge also ordered Gosselin to register his pistol at a new address in Pennsylvania within 90 days.

   Media sites caught Gosselin, 32, carrying the gun and then shooting it on the vast property at the estate owned by Jon and Kate Gosselin.

   Jon Gosselin did appear in court on Thursday and represented himself against another claim, as his former local lawyer tried to get Gosselin to pay his legal fees.

    It now looks like all the final paperwork has been filed in the divorce case and the parents could be divorced by next week.

    Documents filed in Montgomery County (Pa.) court in Norristown, Pa., on Wednesday show the former reality TV show stars signed off on the divorce and the arbitrator’s paperwork was also sent to the judge.

   Last week’s ruling in TLC’s lawsuit bars Jon Gosselin for appearing on TV shows or at events, for compensation, without TLC’s permission.

    Gosselin has his own suit against TLC, which makes it highly unlikely that TLC would allow Gosselin to appear in the media.

    "Jon's in pretty serious financial trouble because his plan for making money was shut down in court,” an insider told Fox News on Tuesday. “He has warned his lawyers that he can't pay them and if he doesn't succeed against TLC, he will have no funds. He's even gone so far as to say that if they want to be paid, they will have to sue him."

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/judge-bars-guns-at-jon-gosselin-house

 

09-12-17 Marine Allegedly Upset With Military Status Opens Fire in Northwest OKC

   OKLAHOMA CITY -- A man is in police custody after opening fire at a northwest Oklahoma City apartment complex near Hefner and Council roads.

   Police said the man started firing multiple shots in the parking lot of the Tammaron Village apartments around 4 p.m. Thursday.

    Witnesses said the man initially went into the apartment complex's main office. When employees locked him out, he opened fire in the parking lot.

   As the man was firing shots, another citizen armed with a gun came around the corner and ordered the gunman to put his weapon down. The gunman dropped his weapon and ran into his father's apartment and barricaded himself inside.

   Oklahoma City police, the tactical team and the bomb squad were called out to negotiate with the man. The man finally surrendered just before 7:30 Thursday evening.

   Police said the man opened fire because he was upset with his military status.

   Several people at the apartments told NEWS 9 the gunman was a Marine who was on leave and came home for the holidays.

   Oklahoma City police Capt. Patrick Steward said the man was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. Police also said he was drunk at the time of the incident.

   Police are not saying what branch of the military he was in or what his name is.

   No one was injured during the incident. The gunman's name has not been released. It's not known if he will be facing any charges. http://www.news9.com/Global/story.asp?S=11696830&Call=Email&Format=Text

 

09-12-17 WA State lawmakers to seek ban on sales of semi-automatic weapons

    In response to recent shooting deaths, three state lawmakers say they want to ban the sale of military-style semi-automatic weapons in Washington.

    The lawmakers intend to propose the ban in the state legislative session that begins next month.

    The legislation, called the Aaron Sullivan Public Safety and Police Protection Bill, would prohibit the sale of such weapons to private citizens and require current owners to pass background checks.

    It is named for Aaron Sullivan, 18, who was fatally shot last July in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood, allegedly with an assault-style weapon.

    Supporters say they also are motivated by the Oct. 31 slaying of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton and the wounding of his partner. Police believe a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle was used then.

    The bill is backed by Seattle's police department, spokeswoman Renee Witt said. Also pushing it is Washington Ceasefire, a nonprofit that seeks to reduce gun violence. The group plans a news conference today to announce the proposal.

    The lawmakers who plan to sponsor the bill are Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina; Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle; and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.

    The ban would cover semiautomatics designed for military use that are capable of rapid-fire and can hold more than 10 rounds. Semiautomatics designed for sporting or hunting purposes wouldn't be banned.

    "If they're used in the army, used in the war — that's what this ban is about," said Ralph Fascitelli, the board president of Washington Ceasefire.

    Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Week, a publication of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, said such a ban would punish law-abiding citizens who own such guns.

    "I don't care if my neighbor has a dozen of the things; ... as long as he's not hurting anyone or breaking any laws, leave him alone," Workman said.

He also said he doesn't consider the gun police say was used to kill Brenton an assault rifle.

    Hunter knows getting the bill through the Legislature would be difficult, because of concerns about limits on gun ownership. However, he thinks the ban is necessary.

    "We don't allow people to own tanks or bazookas or machine guns, and very few people think that that's an unreasonable restriction," he said.

    Kohl-Welles said the lawmakers are trying to be practical and aren't suggesting guns be taken from current owners.

    "What we're trying to get at is there's no place to have sales of military assault rifles or weapons in this state," she said.

    She also said she doesn't believe such a ban would violate the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms.

    "Did the framers of our Constitution ever envision something like a semi-automatic weapon?" she asked. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010527541_gunban17m.html

 

09-12-16 Police: Criminals are packing more heat

   Criminals increasingly are choosing high-powered firearms such as assault weapons, a new survey of 166 U.S. police agencies shows.

    Nearly 40% of the departments reported an uptick in the use of assault weapons, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank. In addition, half reported increases in the use of 9mm, .40-caliber and 10mm handguns in crimes — among the same types of weapons that police use. The survey offers one of the broadest indications of officers' concerns about the armed threat from criminals involved in murder, assault and other weapons-related offenses.

   Among problems cited by police officials in interviews about the survey:

Chicago: Seizures of assault weapons are up, from 264 in 2008 to 313 in 2009. Overall, 7,785 weapons were recovered this year, up from 6,963 in 2008. Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis says there is evidence that more weapons are being used per shooting and more shots are being fired.

Milwaukee: Semiautomatic 9mm and .40-caliber handguns were used in the non-fatal shootings of six city police officers over a 21-month period, ending Sept. 30. "The quality of weapons (used by criminals) has changed dramatically in the past decade," Police Chief Edward Flynn says.

Louisville: Weapons-related arrests are on pace to rise for the second straight year in 2009. "We're seeing higher-caliber weapons, a lot more automatic weapons," Police Chief Robert White says. "The criminals know you don't take a bow-and-arrow to a gunfight."

   National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says officers' concerns are largely misplaced: "The real issue is the high-caliber criminal, not the high-caliber firearms." He says repeat offenders are overwhelming the system and could increase as states send fewer to prison to cut costs.

   Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says the high-powered weapons endanger officers. If police say there's a problem, "public officials should be listening."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-12-16-guns-criminals-high-caliber_N.htm

 

09-12-16 Gun Arrests Galore, No Convictions At All

      Just 23 years old, John Gassew has been arrested 44 times, mostly on charges of sticking a gun in people's faces and robbing them.

      But in the eyes of the law, Gassew isn't an armed robber.

He's never been convicted.

      Despite being called one of the city's more prolific, and sometimes violent, stickup men by police - they say he bashed a delivery man over the head with a bat, shot at a 13-year-old neighbor, and smashed in the face of a robbery victim - Gassew has been sentenced to jail only once, for a drug charge.

      The Northeast Philadelphia man has become so confident in his ability to beat charges, police say, that he openly scoffs at the system. In December 2007, officers arrested him as he ran down a street, leaving behind a car that police said was filled with the loot from 21 robberies he committed in just one weekend.

      "It looked like a store in there," said Detective Bob Kane.

      As Kane and Detective Robert Conn of the Northeast Detective Division tell it, when they confronted Gassew with four trash bags of evidence, he leaned back in his chair and told them he'd take his chances in court.

      "The bad guys know that if they come in the front door, the back door is usually open," Conn said.

It's an all-too-common story in Philadelphia: A small-time criminal emboldened by a system that fails time and again to put him away graduates to more violent acts and, eventually, a standoff with police.

      Gassew has beaten cases in almost every way - including three trials in which he was found not guilty after witnesses changed their story on the stand or were found not credible.

      "Twenty-three years old and 44 priors. There's no excuse for that," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.

      "A second chance? OK. A third chance? OK. But how about a 30th? At some point, you have to realize this guy's a menace to society. You can't keep cranking him out," said Ramsey.

      After a decade of attempts to crack down on gun crime, the streets of Philadelphia are still awash with armed robbers, and the courts are unable to put them away even when they are caught red-handed.

The numbers are stark.

      Thousands of armed robberies in the city never result in an arrest. Of the 9,850 gunpoint robberies reported in the city in 2006 and 2007, only a quarter were brought to court, according to an Inquirer analysis. In the end, only two in 10 accused armed robbers were found guilty of armed robbery.

      "There's a law on the books that enhances the penalty when you commit a crime with a gun. It's not enforced," noted Ramsey, referring to the state's mandatory minimum five-year sentence for brandishing a firearm in the commission of a felony.

      "There's no disincentive to carry a gun," Ramsey said. "Why wouldn't you carry a gun?"

      One result: Among the 10 largest cities in the nation, Philadelphians are the most likely to be robbed at gunpoint.

      As The Inquirer reported Sunday, Philadelphia has the nation's lowest conviction rate for felony crime. And among the four violent crimes - murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault - robbery was the most out of line with the national average.

      In the 75 largest counties in the country, the conviction rate for robbery is 69 percent. In Philadelphia, it's 35 percent.

      "People know you can do whatever you want and, more likely than not, nothing's going to happen to you," said District Attorney-elect Seth Williams, who worked for 11 years as a city prosecutor.

     So far, Gassew's bet has paid off.

      His cases have been tangled for nearly two years in the failings of Philadelphia's criminal court system. Prosecutors have withdrawn all but one of the 21 cases stemming from his alleged December crime spree, mostly because the witnesses did not appear.

      In some cases, witnesses slogged down to the Criminal Justice Center in Center City and burned hours waiting in court for the case to be heard, but grew weary of the lost pay and grinding pace. Almost all eventually lost interest, allowing Gassew to walk.

      "Our biggest obstacle isn't solving crimes," Conn said. "It's getting people to come to court."

      Gassew, reached at home in October, declined to comment, referring questions to his attorneys. His attorneys also declined to comment on his cases.

 

'How do you like me now?'

      When Gassew was growing up, people in his neighborhood called him "Chucky," a reference to the freckle-faced doll in the 1988 horror film Child's Play.

      Like many youths in the justice system, Gassew had a rough home life.

      His grandmother, Eleanor Riley, 78, felt bad for Gassew because, according to her, he was physically abused as a boy. His parents fought, she said, and Gassew and his father would often sleep on the porch when his mother was mad at them.

      Reached at her home, Gassew's mother declined to comment.

      Riley, who has attended each of her grandson's three trials, said Gassew showed problems early. He would bang his head repeatedly against a metal door, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He was smart and had decent grades, his grandmother said, but took to a different kind of education, one his father gave him.

"He was always going along with his dad to steal cars and such," Riley said. Gassew's father has a lengthy criminal record. He could not be reached for comment.

      Riley lives in an aging duplex on Haworth Street in the Frankford section. On a recent afternoon, she was walking to the store to get a part for her hot plate. Her stove had not worked for weeks.

      She had hoped to buy this rickety house long ago, and she saved her money. But in 2002, she put her dream aside to help Gassew pay for a private attorney.

      Gassew was arrested 11 times as a youth, and was adjudicated delinquent for car theft and sent to a detention center. By the time he was 15, in 2002, Gassew faced his first trial as an adult.

      A 13-year-old girl who lived next door said Gassew pointed a sawed-off shotgun at her and asked, "Do you all want to die?", before firing at her. A judge found the story credible enough to allow Gassew to be tried as an adult. But a different judge found him not guilty.

      In May 2004, Gassew was charged with clubbing a pizza-delivery man over the head with a baseball bat and stealing about $100. The victim, who spoke only Spanish, identified Gassew at the scene and later in court. But Gassew was found not guilty after a witness changed her story on the stand.

      Prosecutors said she was scared. Another neighbor, who also identified Gassew, failed to appear. Even a codefendant in one of Gassew's robbery cases said he was scared of him.

      Police say they had reason to be frightened. His own aunt, Neilene Calloway, took out an emergency restraining order on him in April 2005 after several armed men came looking for him at the house.

      According to court documents, she had kicked Gassew out. To get back at her, police said, he smashed out the windows of her 1985 Ford Crown Victoria. The next day, as she stood looking at a tangle of wires and hoses dangling from the motor, Gassew spotted her from the corner and ran up to her.

      "You better stay in the house, bitch!" he yelled, according to court records. "I'm gonna f- you up."

      She ran inside and looked out her window to see her nephew jumping up on the hood of the car, laughing and taunting her.

      "How do you like me now?"

      Gassew's cousin Kathryn Moody, 28, said Gassew is like a brother to her. She acknowledges he never hung with a good crowd.

      "But just because he's accused of something doesn't mean he did the crime. He was never convicted."

Gassew has a caring side, she said. He went to New Orleans to help after Hurricane Katrina.

Moody said her cousin has two personalities - one charming, one devious.

      Jennifer Mulholland, who was a bartender at Brian's Sports Bar in Frankford, got a taste of that.

Gassew drank there often, she said in an interview, and befriended her.

      One night in May 2006, Gassew said good night and left. A short time later, a man wearing a mask burst into the bar with a gun in his hand and demanded that she empty the register.

      Mulholland thought it was Gassew. "Quit playing," she told him.

      "It's not a joke," the robber replied, pointing the silver gun at her head.

"I knew it was him," she recalled.

      He grabbed her by the neck and told her to open the register.

She gave him the money.

      Mulholland, whose father is a police sergeant, said she was prepared to testify.

      "I never got a court notice," she said.

 

'Victimized twice'

      On a recent morning at the Eighth Police District in the Northeast, the small courtroom is a swirl of confusion. There are armed robbers, victims, witnesses, and drunk drivers - and relatives of them all.

      A slow exchange of stares spreads down the row of metal folding chairs as people size one another up.

      To those attending court for the first time, it looks like a makeshift courtroom. But veteran defense attorneys,      judges, cops, witnesses, and seasoned defendants like Gassew know it as something else: a graveyard.

      This is where Philadelphia cases come to die.

      Of robbery and aggravated-assault cases filed in 2006 and 2007 in Municipal Court, about half were immediately tossed or withdrawn - and never went to Common Pleas Court, where felonies are decided.

      Crowded and chaotic courtrooms tend to discourage witnesses from spending too much time in court.

      "It's like cattle being herded through the building," said Williams, the incoming D.A. "After the second time, I might be like: 'I'm just not going anymore,' " he said.

      The way it works now, assistant district attorneys often get their cases the night before, call witnesses, and hope they show, he said.

      As proceedings drag on and continuances are issued, people just get worn out and cases collapse.

Williams says defense attorneys tell their clients: If the people testifying are "civilians" - victims who are not involved in criminal activity – we're going to win.

      That problem is magnified in armed-robbery cases, where witnesses may be the only evidence prosecutors have. The crimes are often committed in an instant by a stranger and mostly at night. A gun is seldom recovered. Neither is the cash, wallet, or purse.

      Unlike in some states, where police may testify about a witness' statement in a preliminary hearing, Philadelphia judges generally bar those statements. Court rules give prosecutors three attempts to get their witness to court and show a judge that they can make a case. After "three strikes," the case can be tossed.

      "It's like a symphony orchestra, and everything has to be in tune," said Assistant District Attorney Peter Erdely.

      Some defense attorneys are so adept at exploiting legal rules that a delayed trial has earned its own moniker. It's called a Philadelphia special.

      Witnesses and victims say the court system adds insult to injury.

      "They call us and tell us they feel like they've been victimized twice," said Conn, "once on the street, and again when the court process begins."

 

String of holdups

      Police say Gassew's epic string of robberies began with Antoine Bell on Dec. 7, 2007. Bell had just received his first paycheck when he was robbed outside Danny Boy's Irish Bar II on Torresdale Avenue in Holmesburg.

      Emily Poe, 27, and her friend Christy Zepp were next.

      Poe had just left the Polish American Citizens Harmonia Club in Bridesburg after helping Zepp tend bar and clean up. The two left around 4 a.m., started their cars, and shivered together between them as they talked.

      After the women said good night, Poe turned to walk to her car when she saw two men wearing hoodies coming toward her. One of the men carried a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun.

      "I basically walked into them," she said. "I'm like, 'This is not good.' "

      Poe ran to Zepp's car, but the gunman caught her. He held the shotgun to her head so hard it bruised her face. He told her to shut up, and when she wouldn't stop screaming, he put his hand over her mouth.      Meanwhile, his accomplice rifled through the car.

      She seized on the thought of her young daughter.

"It was the scariest thing that ever happened to me," she said.

The men robbed both women and left.

      With no cell phones, the women raced to find a working phone. They eventually drove to an off-ramp of I-95 and flagged down a truck driver.

They called 911.

It was 5 a.m.

      Timothy Hriczo was just returning to his mother's house in Mayfair from an early-morning run to an ATM.

As he approached his door two men, one armed with a black-and-silver gun, robbed him.

      "I didn't even hear them. They just popped up out of nowhere," said Hriczo, now 43, who said he had crossed paths with them moments earlier about a block from his house.

      "They got me for $100. I didn't never get that back," Hriczo said.

      But the three robberies were just a warm-up for the holdup gang.

Saturday would be the big night.

 

A Saturday night onslaught

      Gassew and his crew picked off their first two targets around 11 p.m., police say.

      On Dec. 8, 2007, Gassew and his crew allegedly robbed Tyrique Gordon and his friend on the 5500 block of Torresdale Avenue, taking money and a black-and-yellow Chicago Hornets throwback jersey. Police say they later found the jersey in Gassew's car.

      A half-hour later, the men allegedly robbed Abdudzhabor Mansurov as he delivered a pizza on the 4000 block of Howland Street. Mansurov called police and gave them a description of the robber's car, a white Chevrolet.

      After allegedly robbing one more victim on the street, they hit Danny Boy's, the neighborhood bar on the ground floor of one of a long string of pleasant rowhouses fronting Torresdale Avenue. From inside, patrons can hear the rumble of the Route 56 bus, which replaced the trolley car in the 1980s.

      Jennifer DeThomas was working the bar that night. Her friend Marie Morano was keeping her company.

      It was after 1 a.m. when a regular ran inside to warn them that armed men were out on the street, robbing people. Those inside rushed to lock the doors, but it was too late.

      Four men, two waving guns, burst through the doors. One man wearing a mask over half of his face did all the talking. Witnesses later identified him as Gassew.

      "He was the nasty one," said Morano, a nursing student.

"That was the most scariest time ever."

      One man, she recalled, resisted Gassew's order to turn over any money, taunting the gunman that the silver gun didn't even look real.

      Gassew didn't appreciate the jibe, said Morano, who said she was terrified that the gunman was going to start shooting.

      "He said, 'You think it ain't real?,' and he slammed it on the side of the bar," recalled Morano, who said that she turned over three rings and a bracelet.

      DeThomas, 32, the barmaid that night, said that when she saw the four robbers enter, she quickly ducked under the bar and called the police and texted her boyfriend.

      She remained hidden until the gunman ordered 60-year-old Veronica Thomas, who was cleaning up, to open the register. Thomas didn't know how.

      "He had the gun in her face," said DeThomas, so she came out from under the bar and opened the register. "I was definitely scared out of my mind."

      Even so, DeThomas said, she thought the gunman was pretty nice, for a robber. "I'm not going to hurt you," he whispered kindly. "Just give me your money."

      Thomas said she never got a look at the gunman - and didn't want to. All she was focused on, she said, was the gun. "It was a big old silver gun," said Thomas.

      The robbery lasted from 15 to 20 minutes.

      The men continued the felonious rampage outside.

      Edward Winton was walking along the 6400 block of Marsden Street when a group of men pulled up in a silver and white car. A man pointed a gun at Winton and ordered him to turn over his stuff. They took a Motorola cell phone, Winton's Rocawear jacket, and $15.

      Before the robbers were done, they would also run into David Carrasquillo, smashing a gun into his face so hard he required stitches.

      By now, police were searching the neighborhood for the busy robbers. When officers happened upon a white 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier, police said, they caught Gassew and Jarrick Dennison as they were running away.

      Inside the car was a jumble of cell phones, jewelry, and clothing. Police realized that more people had been robbed than they thought - certainly more than the calls they received.

      Almost all the victims identified and recovered their personal belongings, including the Hornets jersey, necklaces, earrings, and MP3 players.

      They even found personal identification of some of the victims.

      Conn and Kane sorted through the loot to reconstruct what happened that night. Over the next few months, they would track down victims and see if they were willing to file charges against Gassew.

      Gassew was arrested on charges of robbing 21 people that weekend. Police also charged Dennison and Robert Mitchell, 21, with robbing some of those 21 and many others. In all, police said, 45 people were robbed by the crew that weekend.

 

Case withdrawn

      Two years to the day from the start of the robbery spree, Kane and Conn sat in their office going over the photos of his car.

      The pictures show a pile of cellular phones on the front seat, a cigarette box with several wedding bands in it, at least four or five coats - enough swag to fill four trash bags.

"I'm not sure what more you'd need to get this guy," Kane said.

      In Philadelphia, of course, you need something that is often scarce: a witness.

      "Solving the crime is the easy part," Conn said. "Getting witnesses to show up for court, that's the hard part."

      Serial-robbery cases are difficult to win. Traumatized witnesses cannot always identify the gunman. Often, all they see is the gun.

      Prosecutors declined to discuss Gassew's cases. But in general, they said, they must prove to a judge that a defendant carried out the crimes in such a similar and signature fashion that it is almost certainly true that he committed all the robberies.

      That requires getting all the witnesses to a preliminary hearing at the same time - a challenge in the most efficient court system, and a virtual impossibility in Philadelphia's.

In Gassew's case, prosecutors subpoenaed at least 10 witnesses.

One was Morano, the nursing student robbed at Danny Boy's.

      After Gassew was arrested, she said, the police seemed confident in their case. They talked about 50 cases against him. They predicted that Gassew would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

      Morano said she was willing to testify against Gassew. She even went to hearings downtown.

Once, she sat in the courtroom near Gassew's relatives. Even so, she said, she remained willing - and so were a number of other victims from that night.

      "We went to a couple of hearings. There was a lot of us," said Morano, who said she had still been waiting for another call to head back to court.

      Every time she showed up for a hearing, she said, it was postponed. Eventually, she missed a date, and the case was withdrawn.

      Winton decided not to testify.

      "I just let it go," he said.

Case withdrawn.

      DeThomas, the bartender, said she never got a look at the gunman and didn't want to testify. "I didn't want to get involved."

      Case withdrawn.

      Hriczo said he, too, decided not to appear as a witness.

      "I just didn't want to be bothered with it," said Hriczo, who figured police had enough witnesses.

Case withdrawn.

      Thomas, the woman who was cleaning the bar, still has the four subpoenas for various court dates in 2008, and said she thought she was on standby to testify. She said that Morano had gone on several occasions, but that the case kept getting postponed. "I would have went," said Thomas.

      But no one called her, she said.

Withdrawn.

      Thomas was dismayed when an Inquirer reporter told her that the charges against Gassew had been       dropped. "Those boys robbed a lot of people that night," she said. "A lot of people."

Thomas stopped cleaning bars after that night.

      She said it's no wonder people have no faith in the Philadelphia court system. "I lost my confidence in the courts a long time ago," she said. "This just put the icing on the cake."

 

'The right choice'

      As for the detectives, they understand what the law demands to take someone's freedom. They also understand the realities of the streets.

      "I don't blame the D.A.'s Office for trying to show that this guy was committing a lot of robberies," Conn said. "They made the right choice."

      "But to get all those witnesses in court at the same time is not likely to happen."

      What prosecutors needed was some luck. They got it in the form of Emily Poe and her friend Christy Zepp, the women who were robbed at the beginning of Gassew's alleged string of robberies.

      With those two women poised to testify, Gassew's codefendant Dennison decided to plead guilty.

At Dennison's sentencing hearing in November, his attorney likened Gassew to a pied piper, taking advantage of his client's limited mental capacity to hook him into a robbery spree.

      Dennison admitted his role in the robberies that night. He took jewelry and cash, while his partner leveled the gun at the terrified women, said prosecutor Caroline Keating.

      "What I did was wrong," Dennison told the judge. He was sent to state prison for four to 10 years.

      In laying out the state's case, Keating, who specializes in tackling complicated cases involving repeat offenders, took a moment to emphasize how difficult it had been to win a conviction. "Your Honor, this case took a year, it had three defendants, and took a year to get to the preliminary-hearing stage," Keating said. "Unfortunately, we could not get the witnesses to appear."

      Dennison refused to testify against Gassew. And Gassew, a veteran of the system, told detectives he was taking his chances.

      One left out of 21

      Emily Poe has every reason to give up. But she doesn't want to let her friends down; they're cops.

"They told me I had to do it."

      When she picked Gassew out in a photo array, she said, "I just knew it was him. I could feel my heart racing just looking at the photo."

      Then began the real ordeal. She said she went to court many times.

      She waited hours, only to sit in the hallway. The prosecutor warned her it would be difficult to coordinate the cases, given all the witnesses, so she tried to be patient.

      But she felt uncomfortable in the courtroom, worried that Gassew's friends or family could see her.

Poe acknowledges she missed some court dates. She had to work, too, she said. Her friend's testimony in July 2008 was enough to keep the case alive.

      Poe has not heard from prosecutors for months, but a few weeks ago, she got some news from a police officer friend that shocked her: Gassew had been shot by police after allegedly robbing several convenience stores. "I thought, 'That's impossible. He's in jail. How could you rob 45 people with a deadly weapon and still get out?' "

 

Four bullets

      Gassew got out in October after his mother posted his bail, said his grandmother. Within a few days, police say, he picked up where he left off.

      On Oct. 26, they say, Gassew walked into a store at 2634 Bridge St., beat two employees with a handgun, loaded a black bag with cigarettes, and took $630 from the cash register.

      Two days later, he allegedly walked into a 7-Eleven store at 8101 Oxford Ave. in the Fox Chase section and smashed Joseph Massey in the face with a gun.

      On his way out, police say, Gassew ran into two people and, wielding a black semiautomatic handgun, asked: "You don't see anything, right?" before speeding off in a stolen 1993 Dodge truck.

In the meantime, Officer Christian Buckman, a 13-year veteran, heard a flash over the police radio and immediately spotted the truck from his cruiser.

      Police said Gassew led Buckman on a high-speed chase that ended with his truck smashed into a tree on the 6000 block of Oxford Avenue.

      Gassew ran west, down Benner Street and into a parking lot.

Buckman went after him and ordered Gassew to stop several times, according to a police report.

Gassew "turned to the officer with his hand in his hood and the officer fired several times," the arrest report states.

      Wounded, Gassew struggled against the officer as Buckman sought to subdue him.

A witness said she heard the officer screaming at the man to get down on the ground. Gassew was bent over by her car. She saw him get up and the officer fire again as he ran away. She called 911.

      In the truck, police said they found a loaded .45-caliber Hi-Point, a cheap and popular gun.

      Gassew was charged with robbing the two convenience stores, fleeing police, and stealing the truck.

Police say he was shot four times. He almost died, but doctors at Albert Einstein Medical Center brought him back. He lost his sight in one eye and almost lost his arm, his grandmother said. He is being held in the infirmary at the city Detention Center after failing to post $210,000 bail.

      Gassew is expected to recover in time for his trial in May for the one remaining case left over from his 2007 robbery string.

      Poe plans to be there.

      "The entire system in Philadelphia is screwed up," she said. "I'm not scared. I'm tired of going to court." http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/Justice_Delayed_Dismissed_Denied_Part_4.html

 

09-12-15 WM passes gun law amid controversy

   West Mifflin council has adopted an ordinance regarding the reporting of lost or stolen handguns despite coming under fire from residents of other municipalities urging council not to take such action.

     It was standing room only at council chambers Tuesday night as residents from Pittsburgh, Cranberry Township, McKeesport, Canonsburg, Pleasant Hills, Finleyville, Bethel Park and parts of West Mifflin came one by one to the podium urging council not to adopt a gun law that most said is illegal.

   The ordinance, which passed Tuesday night by a vote of 6-1, states, "Any person who is the owner of a firearm that is lost or stolen shall report the loss or theft to the West Mifflin borough police department within 72 hours after discovery of the loss or theft."

  Councilman Richard D. Olasz Sr. cast the lone dissenting vote.

   It also sets penalties of no more than 30 days imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than $1,000 for violation of the ordinance. A copy is available at the borough office.

    "I am in favor of citizens' rights, laws and ordinances that make sense," Constable-elect Jeremy Stillwagon said. "This ordinance places a law-abiding citizen in danger of being jailed. This ordinance has one major flaw in it, and it is stated that a victim of a theft has 72 hours to report it from the time it was discovered. All a person has to say if they did sell a gun illegally is they just discovered it was stolen. Last time I checked, criminals lie. At this point, what good is the ordinance if that's all they have to do?"

   Krystal O'Conner, of Bethel Park, as well as several other speakers, came with a firearm at her side.

    "I'm a law-abiding citizen," she said. "Please, don't make me a criminal."

   Elizabeth council President Monica Douglas, who is executive director of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County, opposed the ordinance, calling it a violation of the state constitution.

   CeaseFirePA Western Pennsylvania coordinator Jana Finder responded to criticism of the ordinance by saying it is not in violation of any Pennsylvania law, and would help make the borough safer if enacted.

   CeaseFirePA is an organization devoted to reducing gun violence.

   Finder also compared reporting a lost or stolen gun to reporting any other item that might be stolen, noting that a victim of theft would report a stolen television, jewelry of other goods to insurers.

    Mary Beth Hacke, whose 14-month-old son Ryan was killed by a stray bullet while buckled into his car seat on Jan. 11, 1997, near the Homestead-West Homestead border, also spoke in defense of the ordinance.

   Kim Stolfer, chairman of Firearms Owners Against Crime, said council should have questioned why a lot of the gun laws already on the books are not enforced.

   He also noted that several other states have had problems with the ordinance, and claimed the ordinance was not effective.

   Council President William Welsh Jr. said it is common sense to report a lost or stolen gun, and is pleased his council colleagues feel the same way.

   "I think it's a good ordinance," he said. "We'll have to wait and see if it does good. I hope it does. I'm all for it doing good. I think it's a common sense law. If you discover your gun missing, make a phone call to the police and let them know it's missing. That's all. There's no criminality in that."

   Stolfer said after the meeting that he is disappointed with council's decision.

   Other speakers said the borough is opening itself up to lawsuits.

   Munhall, West Homestead, Homestead and Clairton adopted the ordinance earlier this year. It is under review in Duquesne and Glassport. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/dailynewsmckeesport/s_657999.html#

 

09-12-15 Armed teens tried to carjack Pittsburgh officer

     PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh police say an armed gang of teenagers tried to carjack an officer who was sitting in her personal vehicle while getting ready to go to work.

    Officer Caytlin Wood had her engine running Monday afternoon before heading for the 4-to-midnight shift when she saw five teens behaving suspiciously in the Bloomfield neighborhood. She called for backup to investigate.

    Police say a 14-year-old boy demanded the car while pointing a gun at Wood, who was wearing a sweat shirt over her police uniform. They say the boy ran when Wood stepped out but she caught him a block away. They say backup officers caught the other teens, aged 14 to 17.

   The juveniles have been charged with robbery of a motor vehicle and criminal conspiracy. The 14-year-old boy has been charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091215/NEWS/912159997

 

09-12-14 Back from combat, women struggle for acceptance

     WASHINGTON – Nobody wants to buy them a beer.

     Even near military bases, female veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't often offered a drink on the house as a welcome home.

     More than 230,000 American women have fought in those recent wars and at least 120 have died doing so, yet the public still doesn't completely understand their contributions on the modern battlefield.

     For some, it's a lonely transition as they struggle to find their place.

     Aimee Sherrod, an Air Force veteran who did three war tours, said years went by when she didn't tell people she was a veteran. After facing sexual harassment during two tours and mortar attacks in Iraq, the 29-year-old mother of two from Bells, Tenn., was medically discharged in 2005 with post-traumatic stress disorder.

     She's haunted by nightmares and wakes up some nights thinking she's under attack. She's moody as a result of PTSD and can't function enough to work or attend college. Like some other veterans, she felt she improperly received a low disability rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs that left her with a token monthly payment. She was frustrated that her paperwork mentioned she was pregnant, a factor she thought was irrelevant.

     "I just gave up on it and I didn't tell anyone about ever being in the military because I was so ashamed over everything," Sherrod said.

     Then Jo Eason, a Nashville, Tenn., lawyer working pro bono through the Lawyers Serving Warriors program, stepped in a few years later and Sherrod began taking home a heftier monthly disability payment.

     "I've never regretted my military service, I'm glad I did it," Sherrod said. "I'm not ashamed of my service. I'm ashamed to try and tell people about it because it's like, well, why'd you get out? All the questions that come with it."

     The Defense Department bars women from serving in assignments where the primary mission is to engage in direct ground combat. But the nature of the recent conflicts, with no clear front lines, puts women in the middle of the action, in roles such as military police officers, pilots, drivers and gunners on convoys. In addition to the 120-plus deaths, more than 650 women have been wounded.

     Back home, women face many of the same issues as the men, but the personal stakes may be greater.

     Female service members have much higher rates of divorce and are more likely to be a single parent. When they do seek help at VA medical centers, they are screening positive at a higher rate for military sexual trauma, meaning they indicated experiencing sexual harassment, assault or rape. Some studies have shown that female veterans are at greater risk for homelessness.

     Former Army Sgt. Kayla Williams, an Iraq veteran wrote about her experience in a book titled, "Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army." She said she was surprised by the response she and other women from the 101st Airborne Division received from people in Clarksville, Tenn., near Fort Campbell, Ky.

She said residents just assumed they were girlfriends or wives of military men.

     "People didn't come up to us and thank us for our service in the same way. They didn't give us free beers in bars in the same way when we first got back," said Williams, 34, of Ashburn, Va. "Even if you're vaguely aware of it, it still colors how you see yourself in some ways."

     Genevieve Chase, 32, of Alexandria, Va., a staff sergeant in the Army Reserves, said the same guys who were her buddies in Afghanistan didn't invite her for drinks later on because their wives or girlfriends wouldn't approve.

     "One of the hardest things that I had to deal with was, being a woman, was losing my best friends or my comrades to their families," Chase said.

     It was that sense of loss, she said, that led her to get together with some other female veterans for brunch in New York last year. The group has evolved into the American      Women Veterans, which now has about 2,000 online supporters, some of whom go on camping trips and advocate for veterans' issues. About a dozen marched in this year's Veteran's Day parade in New York.

     "We just want to know that when we come home, America has our back," Chase said. "That's the biggest thing. Women are over there. You want to feel like you're coming home to open arms, rather than to a public that doesn't acknowledge you for what you've just done and what you just sacrificed."

     Rachel McNeill, a gunner during hostile convoys in Iraq, said she was so affected by the way people treated her when they learned she fought overseas that she even started to question whether she was a veteran.

     She described the attitudes as "Oh, you didn't do anything or you were just on base," said McNeill, who suffers from postconcussive headaches, ringing in her ears, and other health problems related to roadside bomb blasts. The 25-year-old from Hollandale, Wis., was a sergeant in the Army Reserves.

     She said she seemingly even got that response when she told the VA staff in Madison, Wis., of her work. She said she was frustrated to see in her VA paperwork how what she told them had been interpreted.

     "It would say like, 'the patient rode along on convoys,' like I was just a passenger in the back seat," McNeill said.

     Other women have had similar complaints. The VA leadership has said it recognizes it needs to do more to improve care for these veterans, and as part of changes in the works, female coordinators are in place at each medical center to give women an advocate. The agency is also reviewing comments on a proposal to make it easier for those who served in noninfantry roles — including women — to qualify for disability benefits for PTSD.

     Sen. Patty Murray, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs committee, recently asked VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ensure that service members' combat experience is included on their military discharge papers, so later they can get benefits they are entitled to.

     Research has shown that a lack of validation of a soldier's service can make their homecoming more difficult.

     "What worries me is that women themselves still don't see themselves as veterans, so they don't get the care they need for post-traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic brain injury or even sexual assault, which obviously is more unique to women, so we still have a long ways to go," said Murray, D-Wash.

     Chase said one challenge is getting female veterans to ask for changes.

     "Most of us, because we were women service members, are so used to not complaining and not voicing our issues, because in the military that's considered weak. Nobody wants to hear the girl whine," Chase said.

     McNeill said that when she's been out at restaurants and bars with the guys in her unit, they make sure she gets some recognition when the free beers go around.

     "They'll make a point ... usually to say, 'She was over there with us, she was right next to us,'" McNeill said. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_female_veterans_finding_a_place

 

09-12-14 Accused killer was on parole, ankle bracelet

       PITTSBURGH - A felon accused of gunning down a police officer in his patrol car after allegedly killing another man over a drug dispute was one of fewer than 1 percent of the state's 31,500 parolees serving a portion of his parole on electronic monitoring.

     Experts say the technology behind such devices is sound, but it can't prevent someone from committing a crime.

     "Whether it is being used on the right people with the right parameters, there's always discussion," said Marc Renzema, a Kutztown University criminal justice professor who has studied electronic monitoring.

     Ronald Robinson, 32, of Pittsburgh, wore the device on his ankle 24 hours a day, linking him via the phone in his house to a monitoring station in Harrisburg.

     If he wasn't home when he was supposed to be, his parole officer would be alerted.

     Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the Dec. 6 shootings of Penn Hills Officer Michael Crawshaw and Danyal Morton occurred before Robinson was required to be home for the night under terms of his parole.

     In Pennsylvania, parole agents and supervisors decide on a case-by-case basis who gets electronic monitoring.

     Two people may have committed the same crime, but because of an individual's circumstances, only one of them may get electronic monitoring, said Leo Dunn, a parold board spokesman.

     About 240 state parolees are on electronic monitoring in Pennsylvania on any given day.

     Renzema said that while the devices can't be expected to prevent crime, even delaying recidivism is a benefit to society.

     "If you're going to let [a prisoner] out it's better to have it than not have it," Renzema said.

     Robinson was paroled after serving the minimum of a 2 1/2 to 5-year prison sentence for illegally possessing a handgun.

     The board approved his parole on May 3, 2007; he was released on Aug. 26, 2007.

     He was scheduled to complete his sentence Feb. 24.

     It's far less costly to have someone on parole than in prison. Dunn estimates it costs about $3,500 a year to supervise a parolee compared with about $33,000 to keep someone in prison.

     Dunn said most parolees don't get into trouble. A recent state study found that 95 percent of parolees did not get convicted of a new offense in 2008.

     The parole board has said it has looked into the handling of Robinson's case while on parole and found nothing amiss. http://www.philly.com/dailynews/national/20091214_Accused_killer_was_on_parole__ankle_bracelet.html

 

09-12-13 Justice: Delayed, Dismissed, Denied

     With Philadelphia's court system in disarray, cases crumble as witnesses fear reprisal and thousands of fugitives remain at large.

     Kareem Johnson stood over Walter Smith and executed him. He fired so close that Smith's blood splashed up onto Johnson's Air Jordan baseball cap.

     He shot him as a favor to a childhood friend.

     Smith was a threat because he had come forward as a witness in a murder case against Clinton Robinson.

     With the witness dead, Robinson cut a sweet deal. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to just 2 1/2 to five years.

     "Basically, I beat it," he says now.

     He and Johnson know all about beating cases in the Philadelphia courts. In just three years, Johnson, 26, and Robinson, 24, were arrested a total of nine times for gun crimes, but until the charges escalated to murder, nothing stuck.

     Johnson's bloodletting came to an end only after he killed a 10-year-old boy in 2004 in one of the city's most notorious murders. As for Robinson, he's locked up on a drug charge, but expects to go free soon.

     The two men's violent path from the streets into the courts and back again vividly illustrates the failure of Philadelphia's criminal justice system.

     It is a system that all too often fails to punish violent criminals, fails to protect witnesses, fails to catch thousands of fugitives, fails to decide cases on their merits - fails to provide justice.

     In America's most violent big city, people accused of serious crimes are escaping conviction with stunning regularity, an Inquirer investigation has found.

     Philadelphia defendants walk free on all charges in nearly two-thirds of violent-crime cases. Among large urban counties, Philadelphia has the nation's lowest felony-conviction rate.

     Only one in 10 people charged with gun assaults is convicted of that charge, the newspaper found.

     Only two in 10 accused armed robbers are found guilty of armed robbery.

     Only one in four accused rapists is found guilty of rape.

     The data also show that people charged with assaults with a gun escape conviction more often than those who use fists or knives. Of people arrested for possession of illegal handguns, almost half go free.

     Nationally, prosecutors in big cities win felony convictions in half of violent-crime cases, according to federal studies. In Philadelphia, prosecutors win only 20 percent.

In a comprehensive analysis of the Philadelphia criminal courts, The Inquirer traced the outcomes of 31,000 criminal court cases filed in 2006, 2007, and 2008, tracking their dispositions through early this year. The results go a long way toward explaining the violence on city streets.

     For three consecutive years, Philadelphia has had the highest violent-crime rate among the nation's 10 largest cities, FBI figures show. It has the highest rate for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

     Though murder cases are an exception, Philadelphia conviction rates trail the nation's in rape, robbery, and serious assault cases.

     "We have a system that is on the brink of overall collapse," said Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, a former Philadelphia judge and a longtime critic of the courts' high dismissal rate, after reviewing The Inquirer's findings.

     "These are the most horrendous crimes that can be committed - murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault," he said, calling the conviction rates "unacceptable."

     Lynne M. Abraham, a Democrat who will step down next month after 18 years as district attorney, rejected the federal findings that Philadelphia has the worst conviction rates in the nation.

     She said the national figures were so "skewed" as to be unreliable. She also rejected The Inquirer's statistical analysis.

     "You can't do justice by numbers," Abraham said in an interview last week.

     "I gave the public my word of honor that I would be honest and honorable, that I'd call it as I see it," she said. "I'm not going to railroad anybody or put my thumb on the scale to make me look good in The Inquirer or in the public."

     Based on interviews with judges, prosecutors, police, defense lawyers, criminologists, victims, and defendants, and an in-depth review of court cases, The Inquirer found that the abysmal conviction rates stem from a series of systemic failings:

     Witness intimidation has become an epidemic in Philadelphia.

     At least 13 witnesses or their families have been killed in the city over the last decade. Prosecutors charge more than 300 people a year with the crime of witness intimidation.

The system is overwhelmed by an exploding caseload, pressuring judges to put a premium on disposing cases, rather than insisting that victims and defendants have their day in court.

     Of 10,000 defendants who walked free on their violent-crime cases in 2006 and 2007, 92 percent had their cases dropped or dismissed. Only 788 - 8 percent - were found not guilty at trial, The Inquirer's analysis shows.

     Abraham, the city's top prosecutor, has failed to keep figures tracking how well - or poorly - her office has done in court.

     Criminologists and other prosecutors say keeping such data is essential to prioritizing the work of the office's 300 prosecutors.

     Defense lawyers routinely exploit the court system's chaos. They delay cases to wear down victims and witnesses, and seek spurious postponements if they know prosecution witnesses are in court and ready to go.

     Judges, prosecutors, and even prominent defense lawyers acknowledge that this kind of gamesmanship is common and that the system's failings work to defendants' advantage.

     The system bungles basic, but crucial, steps necessary to getting key witnesses into court. Inmates, needed at trial as witnesses or defendants, never arrive. Police are routinely booked to appear in different courtrooms at the same time, guaranteeing that cases will collapse.

     Though officials are working to reduce the problem, as many as a quarter of all subpoenaed inmates in recent years have failed to show up for court on any given day, experts say.

     The court's bail system is broken. Defendants skip court with impunity, further traumatizing victims who show up for hearings that never take place.

     There are almost 47,000 Philadelphia fugitives on the streets. Philadelphia is tied with Essex County, N.J. - home of Newark - for the nation's highest fugitive rate. To catch them, the city court system employs just 51 officers - a caseload of more than 900 fugitives per officer.

     In a sign of the system's disarray, court officials had trouble answering when The Inquirer asked how much fugitives owed taxpayers in forfeited bail. At first, they said the debt was $2 million. Then they pegged it at $382 million. Finally, they declared it was a staggering $1 billion.

     After the newspaper raised questions about the bail debt 11 months ago, the courts and the city pledged to hire a firm to go after the money. That never happened.

     For years, Abraham has complained about the court's failure to collect the money. Mayor Nutter, in a recent letter to her, blamed Clerk of Quarter Sessions Vivian T. Miller, saying her "inability to provide accurate records" had stalled the entire effort.

     In an interview, Robin T. Jones, Miller's top aide and her daughter, acknowledged the office had no computerized records of the debts, just paper notations in each defendant's file.

     Abraham's successor, Seth Williams, a Democrat and former assistant district attorney who will take office next month, said the D.A.'s failure to track case outcomes contributed to the low conviction rates. He said he was appalled by the newspaper's findings.

     "We have to change this," Williams said last week. "It's not that it's just bad. It's terrible."

     Of the cases that die, 82 percent collapse in Municipal Court, whose judges decide whether cases should proceed to Common Pleas Court for a full trial.

     Asked about the low conviction rates, Municipal Court President Judge Marsha H. Neifield said she wanted to study the issues.

     "This hasn't been presented to us before," she said. "We want to do the right thing. If we in any way can be construed as causing any problem, we want to fix it."

     Asked to comment on The Inquirer's findings, D. Webster Keogh, administrative judge of Common Pleas Court, said: "I don't have a position on it."

     He added: "It's not the responsibility of a court system to grade itself on convictions and non-convictions. The responsibility of a court is to fairly decide each case on the merits."

     High crime rates, low conviction rates, almost 50,000 fugitives - these are the results of a court system clogged with cases and focused on clearing dockets.

     Every day in Philadelphia, at the 65-courtroom Criminal Justice Center and in cramped courtrooms in police districts across the city, scores of serious cases simply crumble, then die.

     "We call that a Philadelphia special," said A. Charles Peruto Jr., a veteran defense lawyer.

     "Witnesses didn't show. Cops didn't show. It was the usual.

     "I've won shootings because the witness was waiting in line to get on the elevator," he said.

Shots at a dice game

     Clinton Robinson shot Walter Smith the first time.

But it was Kareem Johnson who killed him four months later.

     Smith was wounded in 2002 when shots were fired at a dice game. His mistake was to try to walk away with his winnings.

     That summer Smith, 38, and Robinson, then just 17, had gathered with a dozen others for the game at 23d and Somerset in North Philadelphia.

     The winner that evening was Smith, a neighborhood barber with a wife and children. As he pocketed his cash and began to leave, two men fired.

     Smith was shot in a hand. Margaret Thomas, 53, was just passing by and walked into the path of a stray bullet. A churchgoing grandmother lay dead on the sidewalk, and three children lost their mother.

     Smith survived. And he was willing to talk.

     In an audiotape made by lawyers from the Defender Association shortly after the shooting, Smith said Clinton Robinson shot him. Questioned by public defender Daniel Stevenson, Smith vividly recalled the chaos of the gunfire.

     "See," Smith said in a tape obtained by The Inquirer, "I was shot before he asked for the money. . . . I would have gave it to him before he shot me. I was hit. . . . I was scared."

     He remembered the fallen Thomas. "We both got down," he said, "and she just never got back up."

     Smith's voice on that tape would soon be a voice from the grave. In December 2002, as Smith stepped out of a North Philadelphia bar into the winter chill, two gunmen ambushed him. They shot him a dozen times.

     Smith died. And, with him, the murder case against the dice-game shooters.

"That's what happens when a witness gets killed," said Assistant District Attorney Michael Barry, a top homicide prosecutor.

     For years, Smith's murder went unsolved. Police had only a sketchy account from a witness, a few 9mm bullet casings - and the Air Jordan cap found near Smith's body.

     While Smith had been unequivocal that Robinson shot him at the dice game, his statement would never be heard by a judge or jury. His words were inadmissible in court because he had not testified at a preliminary hearing, where a defense lawyer could have cross-examined him.

     Smith's wife, Rhonda, declined to comment on her loss.

     "This is not just a story for us," she said. "This is our lives, and me and my children are trying to move forward with our lives. We just want to heal."

     Absent a key witness, prosecutors offered Robinson the 21/2- to five-year deal, reducing the charge to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Margaret Thomas. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in wounding Walter Smith.

     Thomas' family was devastated.

     "That was not justice," said Lavenia Thomas, the victim's sister.

Prosecutors don't claim that it was.

     "The offer had absolutely nothing to do with the murder of Margaret Thomas or how bad a person Clinton Robinson was," Barry said. "We couldn't win the case."

     As for Robinson, he now disavows his guilty plea.

     "I admit it, I was gambling," he said in a jailhouse interview, "but I didn't pull no trigger."

Behind the numbers

     In nearly two decades as the city's top prosecutor, Abraham has won praise and criticism for her focus on homicide cases.

     Her work paid off.

     The Inquirer analysis shows that prosecutors won a conviction in more than eight out of every 10 murder cases in 2006 and 2007. The paper focused on those years to allow time for cases to resolve.

     Philadelphia homicide prosecutors do much better than their counterparts across the nation.

     The national murder conviction rate was 71 percent, according to the latest federal study. In Philadelphia, it was 82 percent.

     But there's a striking difference between how well city prosecutors do in murder cases and in other violent crimes.

     Philadelphia prosecutors won a conviction of some sort - often only on misdemeanor charges - on just a third of robbery and aggravated-assault cases. Nationally, prosecutors won 69 percent of robbery cases and 56 percent of serious assault cases.

     In rape cases, The Inquirer found, 24 percent of defendants were found guilty of rape. An additional 34 percent were convicted of lesser charges.

     That adds up to a 58 percent conviction rate, slightly less than the national norm.

Year after year, Philadelphia has been in the bottom rungs for felony-conviction rates in the United States, according to federal studies. In the latest study, a sampling based on 2004 statistics released last year, Philadelphia had the lowest conviction rate of all court systems surveyed.

     To make matters worse, the city's conviction rate has deteriorated over time. In 1996, city prosecutors won a conviction in 52 percent of their cases. By 2004, that rate had fallen to 40 percent - though the national picture was virtually unchanged.

     The federal analysis counted a case as a "win" for prosecutors whenever a defendant was convicted on any charge, no matter how minor. This can mask how meager prosecutors' victories can be.

     The Inquirer's analysis drilled deeper. Significantly, it found that only 19 percent of defendants charged with robbery and firearms offenses ended up convicted of both.

Consider: Every year, about 4,500 people report being robbed at gunpoint in      Philadelphia, yet only about 200 people are convicted of that crime. That's 4 percent.

Even veteran defense lawyers were stunned by the numbers.

     Samuel C. Stretton, an experienced trial lawyer, said the armed-robbery outcomes were particularly troubling.

     "That's outrageous," he said. "What a tragedy for victims and citizens if that many cases are being thrown out of court."

     Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said he found the low conviction rates "very unfortunate."

     "For the system to work, people have to believe that the system will move swiftly - justly, but swiftly - and that there will be consequences. . . . It's a damn shame when you stop and think about it."

Gunfire on a playground

     When Clinton Robinson was 15, police charged him with pointing a TEC-9 assault pistol at a man carrying takeout from a Chinese restaurant. He took the man's cell phone and a pack of Newport cigarettes that had a scrawled note inside, police said. He left the food.

     Police quickly caught him with the cell phone - and the cigarette pack with the note. The victim identified him at the scene, but his cooperation ended there.

"He never came to court," Robinson said. "Nobody came three times, and they threw it out."

     The next time Robinson stood before a judge, it was on charges of shooting a man in the leg. The case unraveled after the police officer who witnessed the shooting was arrested on charges of framing another suspect.

     If he'd been found guilty, Robinson might not have been at the dice game the next year. He might not have killed Margaret Thomas and wounded Walter Smith. And 11-year-old Tony Ross might not have been shot in the neck and arm as he played basketball on a crowded playground.

     The boy was hit when a gunfight broke out at a park in North Philadelphia - four days after the deadly dice game.

     Police said a man fired at Robinson to avenge the shooting of Smith. Robinson returned fire, they said, injuring Ross and a 22-year-old man.

     Robinson was arrested, but his court case dragged on for more than three years. It was delayed again and again, even once when all the lawyers and witnesses were ready to go - but officials couldn't manage to bring Robinson from prison to the courtroom.

     Prosecutors call that "the bring-down problem."

     When a defendant - or, just as often, a witness - has to be brought from prison to court, the chances for a system breakdown are rife. It takes communication among many players - prosecutors, judges, and jailers - to get inmates from cells into courtrooms. Until recent changes, such "bring-downs" failed a quarter of the time, officials said.

     In the end, all charges against Robinson were dropped. Prosecutors abandoned the playground shooting case after the trials of two codefendants ended in acquittals. Witness testimony was conflicting, and physical evidence didn't match the testimony.

     Tony Ross' mother, Jermaine Lewis, said her family was baffled by that outcome.

     "How could somebody be on a basketball court and have a gun and pull the trigger and nobody get in trouble for it?" she asked.

     As the case wound its way through the courts, she and her son repeatedly traveled to the Criminal Justice Center, fruitlessly.

     "It was a lot of waiting and sitting around," said Lewis, a cafeteria employee at a North Philadelphia high school. "It was hard because I work, and I was taking off from work."

When the case faded away, no one called to tell her it was over.

     "It was like - nothing," she said. "We never got no more phone calls, and nothing was ever said."

     In the recent interview, Robinson said he was blameless in each case.

     He was at the dice game, he said, but didn't shoot. He was at the playground, but had no gun. He didn't stick up anyone outside the Chinese restaurant.

     As for shooting a man in the leg, he didn't do that either.

     "They had me for 10 months for that, and he never came to court," Robinson said. "No one came to court, and I was still sitting. They were just railroading me."

The delay game

     As he made his way in and out of court, Robinson, like many defendants, benefited from a little-known rule. Among judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers, it's called the "three-strikes" rule.

     It's not a local version of the well-known national "three-strikes" laws that crack down on repeat offenders.

     Rather, it's a Municipal Court practice that restricts Philadelphia prosecutors. It gives prosecutors three tries to conduct a preliminary hearing - or face dismissal of a case.

     This doomed prosecutions of Robinson in two gun cases.

     This simple provision, formally Rule 555 in the court's criminal-procedures rule book, is devastating in its impact.

     According to prosecutors - and even some defense lawyers - Philadelphia's defense bar routinely exploits the rule with deliberate delays, to string together enough failed hearings to get cases tossed.

     "Delay is the prosecutor's worst enemy," said Deputy District Attorney John P. Delaney Jr. "Our cases do not get better with age. They get worse."

     As trials loom, prosecutors say, some defense lawyers will call their clients to see if witnesses are in the courtroom. If they are, the lawyers ask for a delay.

     While such defense postponements don't count as "strikes" against prosecutors, the defense bet is that witnesses won't show the next time.

     In this game of cat and mouse, veteran prosecutor Albert J. Toczydlowski said, "I would sequester my victims in another courtroom" - surfacing them only after the defense lawyer had committed to a hearing.

     To be sure, many defense lawyers say they don't play games to win.

They say the low conviction rates simply mean that judges are doing their jobs by winnowing out weak cases. "They're weeding out the total nonsense," said lawyer Ronald Greenblatt.

     President Judge Neifield said she found little merit in prosecutors' complaints about the three-strikes rule.

     "I think they've probably said this for as long as I remember," she said.

But some defense lawyers agree that the courtroom gridlock can work in their client's favor.

     "What the lawyers really are playing for is the witness won't show up and the judge will say, 'Dismissed. Lack of prosecution,' " said Dennis J. Cogan, a leading member of the defense bar and a former homicide prosecutor.

     Another veteran defense lawyer said he and his firm's associates would go a step further and sometimes cook up reasons to delay.

     "It's a scummy way to win," the lawyer said, asking not to be named because he did not want to be publicly associated with these tactics. "Does my office engage in that? Yes.

     "If all their witnesses are there and there's no way to win except to postpone, we postpone. It's a battle."

 Heavy artillery

     As a camera rolled, Kareem Johnson reached into the waistband of his baggy jeans to show off his gun: an Intratec AB-10 assault pistol.

     "This is how we rock this thing," he said, displaying the weapon. "It can go down at any given time, you know what I mean?"

     "Heavy artillery. . . . This is how we ride."

     Johnson's bravado was captured in a documentary DVD called Hood2Hood, which promised to take viewers on a "journey into the crimiest hoods in America."

     His cameo, filmed in North Philadelphia on his 19th birthday, offered a glimpse of a man fascinated with firearms - and adept, court records show, at shaking off gun-possession charges.

     In January 2002 - nearly a year before Johnson killed Walter Smith - police arrested him with a .38-caliber revolver after an anonymous caller dialed 911 to report seeing a man on the street with a gun.

     In court, Johnson's lawyer quickly established that the 911 caller had provided only the barest description of the gunman and that the gun hadn't been visible when police approached. A judge tossed out the case.

     In a series of rulings, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has imposed tough rules on police in conducting searches, standards more restrictive than those of the U.S. Supreme Court.

     Among other limits, the state's high court has barred searches in which guns were found on suspects after anonymous calls to police. In one such case, the court said evidence "must be independent of the telephone tip itself."

     In a recent interview, Ronald Eisenberg, the head of the appellate unit of the District Attorney's Office, said the police officer who seized that gun from Johnson had done the right thing - "for his safety and the safety of the community."

     In January 2003, police say, Johnson jumped from a car and robbed a 17-year-old walking to school. With a gun pointed to his chest, the teenager emptied his pockets and tossed his money - $3 - to the ground.

     Johnson scooped it up and ran, police said. Though he got away, police recovered the car, a newly stolen Alamo rental. From inside, technicians lifted a fingerprint. It was a match for Johnson.

     But Johnson's attorney dismissed the fingerprint evidence.

     "The only evidence in this case is, at one time my client was in the car," lawyer Cindene Pezzell said in court. "The car is a rental car, and by its nature, there's dozens of people in the car."

     Eisenberg said it was absurd to view the vehicle as just "a rental car."

     "It's the car used in the robbery," he said.

     The prosecution easily met its burden at that stage, and the case should have been held for trial, Eisenberg argued. At trial, he said, prosecutors would have obtained rental records in an effort to rebut any suggestion that Johnson had somehow rented that car before.

     The judge sided with the defense. She threw out the case.

     In October 2003, Johnson was caught with another gun when police pulled him over for reckless driving.

     He gave police a false name and had no identification or car insurance. In a search, police found a .40-caliber magazine clip stashed in the underwear of a woman in the car.          Then police retrieved a .40-caliber Glock handgun from under Johnson's seat.

A judge suppressed the gun as evidence. She ruled that police should have first sought a search warrant.

     No gun, no case. Prosecutors had no choice but to drop the charges.

     The D.A.'s Office appealed to Commonwealth Court, but lost. The state Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.

     Johnson's next arrest came less than a week later. Once again, police took a gun from him.

     Five days after the car stop, police raided a house in North Philadelphia after an informant bought crack there. When police rushed inside, they said, they saw Johnson throw down a loaded TEC-9 pistol.

     Elsewhere in the house, police seized crack and marijuana in packets, more handguns, and two bulletproof vests.

     An initial hearing failed when the prosecution couldn't get a police witness into court.

Necessary police officer not subpoenaed, the official case record notes.

     Johnson was free on bail.

     He never showed for his next hearing, and the judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest. He was just one among thousands of fugitives in Philadelphia neighborhoods.

     By the time police finally caught up with him, he had killed again.

'Pow. Boom.'

     Three and a half weeks after he became a fugitive, Kareem Johnson fired the bullet that killed 10-year-old Faheem Thomas-Childs as he was walking to school.

     Faheem was caught in the cross fire between two groups of men on Feb. 11, 2004, that left frightened children scrambling for cover and a crossing guard shot in the foot.

     In all, more than 50 shots rang out that morning outside Thomas M. Peirce Elementary, the same school Johnson and Robinson had attended years earlier.

     Johnson was caught a few days later in a bedroom of a North Philadelphia apartment. Police searched the place and found a .45-caliber pistol under a mattress. Ballistics tests linked the gun to a bullet fragment recovered from Faheem's head.

     The third grader's shooting shook the city. More than 2,500 people attended Faheem's funeral, and 8,000 took part in the March to Save the Children a few weeks later.

     After a trial marked by a parade of frightened witnesses - six people took the stand to disavow their statements to detectives - a judge found Johnson guilty of murder.

     On April 28, 2006, Johnson was sentenced to life in prison.

     In court that day, he was angry and unrepentant.

     "You don't give a f- about my life," he yelled at Faheem's family, "and I don't give a f- about his life. . . . F- him."

     A month later, as Johnson sat in state prison, the murder of Walter Smith finally caught up with him.

    A man who had heard Johnson bragging about the shooting days after Smith's death found himself facing federal drug charges.

     In a bid for leniency, the informant told investigators that years earlier he had heard      Johnson admit the killing and say he'd wanted to "pop him right there in the bar," but decided to wait until Smith stepped outside.

     Johnson gestured pulling a trigger. "Pow. Boom," he said.

     The informant also told investigators he had overheard a jailhouse conversation in which Johnson told Robinson: "If it wasn't for me, your ass wouldn't be going home."

But the kicker was this: The informant said Johnson had worried aloud that he might have left his red baseball cap at the murder scene.

     He was right to be worried.

     Police had long ago established that the hat recovered at the scene was stained with Smith's blood. Now, new tests matched sweat from the band of the hat with Johnson's DNA.

     At Johnson's second murder trial, his lawyer, Michael Coard, called the informant a liar and told jurors that the entire case amounted to nothing more than "a rat and a hat."

Barry, the homicide prosecutor, praised Smith in his closing remarks.

     "It is an extraordinary person who steps up and does the right thing like Walter Smith," he told the jury. "And look what happened to him - on the ground, shot in the head, left there with the garbage."

     The jury found Johnson guilty. The judge sentenced him to death.

Partial justice

     For Smith's family, the verdict brought an incomplete measure of justice.

While Smith's mother found some solace in Johnson's fate, she lamented the short prison sentence handed Robinson in the dice-game shooting.

     "What about the time for killing the lady?" asked Mary Smith. "Those shooters are out of prison already."

     Although prosecutors told the jury that Johnson killed Smith to help his friend,     Robinson was never charged in connection with Smith's murder.

     He said he had nothing to do with it.

     "They say he did this for me, which is totally false," Robinson said. "They say he did it for me, but they never charged me."

     Robinson served the full five years in prison after pleading guilty in the dice-game case and was released on probation last fall.

     He was locked up again in March when he was picked up on a drug charge.

Narcotics officers said they watched him sell crack out of a house in North Philadelphia.     When police staged a raid, they said, they grabbed Robinson as he counted drug money at a table.

     Police seized 63 packets of crack from a jacket in the house and took a loaded .357 Magnum from another man there.

     Again, Robinson said he was innocent, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. "I got caught in the middle of a raid," he said.

     He expects to beat the case.

     Soon, he said, "I'll be home."

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/front_page/20091213_Justice__Delayed__Dismissed__Denied.html

 

09-12-11 Deadly shooting during dispute at bear hunt called self-defense

    A man who shot and killed a property owner after first being shot during a trespassing dispute while bear hunting will not be charged.

    The shooting of Frank Shaffer, 63, of Red Lion, on Nov. 24 was justified, state police Trooper Jamie LeVier said Thursday.

   Paul Plyler, 23, of Summerville, shot Shaffer after being shot first in the hand, then, as he retreated, a second time in the back, LeVier said. Plyler fired a single shot, hitting Shaffer in the abdomen.

    According to police, Shaffer confronted Plyler and four other hunters on property he owned near Summerville, a remote area about 15 miles from Punxsutawney and about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

   They left, but a short time later, Shaffer, armed with a semiautomatic rifle, confronted them again and began shooting during the argument.

   LeVier said Shaffer fired at least four shots at Plyler. No one else in Plyler's group fired shots.

   LeVier could not say if the Plyler's group was mistakenly on Shaffer's land when he first ordered them to leave. The second encounter took place near his property line.

   ''From the first encounter to the second encounter, they were definitely moving in a direction that appeared they were leaving his property,'' LeVier said.

    LeVier could not say whether Plyler's group was still hunting during the second encounter, or specifically how much time passed between encounters.

    Three years ago, Shaffer was charged with pulling a gun on a trucker after each believed the other cut him off on Interstate 83 in York County. The charges were dropped when the trucker didn't show at Shaffer's preliminary hearing.

    Messages left for Plyler and at a number listed for Shaffer were not immediately returned.

http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/all-a17_bearhunt.7113572dec11,0,2613400.story

 

09-12-10 CO DA: Woman shot nine times was killed in self-defense

   District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said Thursday that he will not file criminal charges in the November shooting death of a Pear Park woman, saying she was shot nine times in self-defense.

    Crystal Nash, 42, was killed around 2:20 a.m. on Nov. 1 in the driveway at 3007 Rood Ave., after what Hautzinger on Thursday described as an alcohol-fueled confrontation between Nash and a neighbor. A man in his 20s, who has not been identified by authorities, also was wounded.

   “In declining to file criminal charges here, I do not intend to condone or endorse anything that happened,” Hautzinger wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey. “I certainly believe that neighborhood disputes are usually better resolved without firearms being involved.”

    According to Hautzinger’s letter, Nash, who was host of a party running into the predawn hours of Nov. 1 at her home at 438 Colorow Drive, walked to a neighbor’s home, upset and believing the neighbor had called deputies to her home earlier in the evening.

    Deputies responded to 438 Colorow Drive for what initially was reported as a possible domestic violence incident, but they left the area after concluding there was no crime.

Nash, whose blood-alcohol level was .184 percent, was armed with a Ruger handgun when she walked to her neighbor’s home, Hautzinger wrote. Nash pounded on the neighbor’s door, while the homeowner grabbed his semiautomatic .22-caliber handgun and hid it behind his back.

    “He asked her if she had a gun, and she told him that she did and that she was going to use it,” Hautzinger’s letter says.

The man kept his gun hidden behind his back and told her to put her gun down.

   “Ms. Nash responded with another obscenity and brought her gun up across her body toward” the neighbor, Hautzinger wrote. The man then shot Nash, emptying all nine rounds in the clip of his handgun. Nash was hit nine times.

   The neighbor told Sheriff’s Department investigators he thought he was going to die when Nash raised her gun.

   “In order to file any charges against (homeowner) I would need to be convinced I could prove he had no reasonable belief that he was in imminent danger of being killed or of suffering great bodily injury,” reads Hautzinger’s letter. That conclusion, he said, would be “impossible” to reach.

    State law on self-defense says persons defending themselves may, among other things, “use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose.”

Are nine shots a reasonable response?

   “I can’t say it’s unreasonable,” Hautzinger said in an interview Thursday.

     In weighing self-defense issues, Hautzinger said he looks for comparable levels of force.

      “It’s unreasonable to respond to a slap in the face with a bazooka,” he said. “Here, we’re talking guns on guns.”

   It wasn’t immediately clear how the unnamed man in his 20s was shot on Nov. 1, which Hautzinger described as a minor flesh wound.

    Nash never fired her gun, and no other shots were discovered other than the homeowner’s, Hautzinger said.

   Nash’s death is one of two recent cases reviewed by Hautzinger’s office with possible self-defense issues.

   Authorities still are investigating a Nov. 28 incident in downtown Grand Junction when a man was shot by a sworn National Parks Service officer.

The officer, who lives at 610 Gunnison Ave., called 911 just after 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 28 to report an intruder at his home.

   Police have said the parks officer told the alleged intruder to leave after he was banging on the officer’s front door. The man allegedly tried to enter a back door and was told to leave again.

    The parks officer then followed the man outside around the side of the home, before the alleged intruder was shot once in the chest.

Grand Junction police said last month the alleged intruder “may have lunged” at the officer, who called 911 a second time to report the shooting.

    Nash’s homicide is the first in at least five years in Mesa County not involving police to be ruled as self-defense and result in no criminal charges.

http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/content/news/stories/2009/12/10/121109_1a_Rood_Ave_shooting.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=7

 

09-12-10 Police: Va. student's rifle jammed after 2 shots

   WOODBRIDGE, Va. (AP) — A community college student was upset about his grades when he walked into a classroom and fired two shots at his professor before his new rifle jammed, police said Wednesday.

   Jason M. Hamilton, 20, was unable to continue shooting at mathematics professor Tatyana Kravchuk, who ducked behind a desk and was not hit, Prince William County police Maj. Ray Colgan said. No one was injured.

    "Probably what prevented a further tragedy was that the gun jammed," Colgan said.

   Hamilton bought the Marlin .30-06 bolt-action rifle Monday at a Dick's Sporting Goods store near the campus, police said.

   Hamilton was arraigned Wednesday on charges of attempted murder and discharging a firearm in a school zone. He was being held without bond, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 11.

    David R. Daugherty, Hamilton's attorney, declined to comment on the charges and said his client's family is asking for privacy.

   "He has two parents that love him, and obviously they're going through a tremendous ordeal," said Daugherty, who was hired by the family.

   Tuesday afternoon's shooting caused students and professors to scramble for cover at Northern Virginia Community College's Woodbridge campus, about 25 miles south of Washington. No one was injured in the attack.

   According to police, Hamilton walked into the classroom, pulled the rifle out of a bag and pointed it at Kravchuk. He missed with the first shot, at which point she dropped behind a desk and told students to leave the room, Colgan said.

   Hamilton fired again and missed again, then dropped the gun on the floor after it jammed, Colgan said. He left the room, sat in a chair and waited for police. When officers arrived, he surrendered peacefully and confessed to the shooting, Colgan said.

    Colgan praised the quick response of campus police, who had participated in a training exercise Sunday on how to deal with a school shooter.

   Kravchuk, 58, an assistant professor, could not be reached for comment. She received her Ph.D. from the Altai Polytechnic Institute in Russia, according to the college's website.

   The large house where Hamilton lives with his parents is in a new development in Prince William County, an outer suburb of Washington, and appeared empty Wednesday. An Audi sedan sat in the driveway, and whimsical holiday decorations, including a reindeer and a penguin, dotted the lawn.

    Jarrod Zong, a former classmate of Hamilton's at C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, rang the bell and left a poinsettia for the family on the front stoop. Zong, 19, said he was on the cross-country team with Hamilton, and that Hamilton appeared to have few friends apart from the team.

   "He was definitely one of the nicest people," Zong said. "Other than the cross-country team, a lot of people didn't talk to him. The team was like his family."

   Zong said he hadn't been in touch with Hamilton since they graduated.

   No classes were held Wednesday at the Woodbridge campus, but students and staff were allowed to retrieve their belongings. People who were in the building at the time of the shooting described the panic that ensued when shots were heard and said they thought of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

   Cesar Ochoa, 18, said he was in an adjacent classroom. He and several other students barricaded the door with tables, turned off the lights and huddled at the back of the room for about 25 minutes until police came, Ochoa said.

   Dipak Roy, 58, an adjunct economics instructor, said he didn't realize what had happened until he went to the cafeteria and found it empty. A person in the hallway told him police had arrested a gunman but were still looking for others.

   Wary of being mistaken for a shooter, Roy said he made his way back to his office and sat behind a desk with the lights off. Police eventually confronted him with their assault weapons, and he slowly put his hands up.

  Roy said he was wary of disgruntled students.

   "We were joking about it with other faculty members: Maybe all the students deserve an A," he said.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-12-10-college-shooter-rifle_N.htm?obref=obinsite

 

09-12-10 Pa. Judge Says Accused Rapist Must Stay Free

PITTSBURGH --    The Pennsylvania Superior Court wanted an Allegheny County judge to reconsider bail for a rape defendant who was released from jail after his charges were dismissed because of a paperwork error.

   But on Wednesday morning, Judge Randal Todd upheld his previous order that 30-year-old David L. Bradford will stay free on a non-monetary bond -- against the wishes of the District Attorney's office -- while the case is reviewed by a higher court.

   "I think he was correct in today's hearing. I think Mr. Bradford should stay out and continue to work, be with his family and do what he wants," said Bradford's lawyer, Matthew Debbis.

   Bradford, of Wilkinsburg, was released last month and his charges of kidnapping, raping and assaulting a woman at knifepoint in September 2008 were dismissed, as mandated by Rule 600 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

   Todd ruled that the man's 14-month jail stay -- during which time no action was taken on his case -- violated Pennsylvania's speedy trial law.

   "I am not going to gut Rule 600, because that's the (state) Constitution. This was a major mistake that should have been handled better by your office," Todd told deputy district attorneys Janet Necessary and Rebecca Spangler at Wednesday's hearing.

   At the request of the DA's office, the state Superior Court is reviewing the case and considering whether or not to re-apply the dismissed charges and send Bradford to trial. Todd has ordered Bradford not to leave the county until the higher court makes its ruling.

   District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the records from Bradford's preliminary hearing in Wilkinsburg never made it downtown to the county's Department of Court Records. Consequently, the DA's office never moved forward on his case while the man stayed in jail on $100,000 cash bond.

   "When a case is held for court, a notice is given to the police agency who did the investigation. They're required to come down to my office and turn over the paperwork. In this case, that wasn't done," Zappala said.

     But Wilkinsburg District Judge Kim Hoots told Todd that her office transferred Bradford's paperwork to the county on April 20.

   "It's the district attorney. It's their burden, from beginning to end, to bring him to trial. They woefully, woefully failed in that burden," said Debbis.

   An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the paperwork mix-up, Zappala said

   Information provided from the Allegheny County courts shows that judges have dismissed criminal cases against 24 defendants in the past 12 months because of violations of the speedy trial rule. Those cases included charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, escape and -- in the Bradford case -- rape.

   In 2006, a Team 4 investigation found several dozen cases that had been dismissed because of violations of the speedy trial rule. http://www.officer.com/online/articl...ion=1&id=49692

 

09-12-09  'Ungated' community contends with hunters

   Two men cited for bow hunting within 20 yards of homes in Pine Ridge

B    USHKILL — Pine Ridge children may want to dress in DayGlo orange before heading outside. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has responded to reports of hunting in the community where no hunting is allowed.

    Security gates were removed from the entrance of the Bushkill private community in May. Now hunters from outside the community are slipping in to bag game illegally, including two men busted by the game commission for bow hunting within 20 yards of homes.

   Deadly arrows whizzing through a Pine Ridge neighborhood resulted in fines for hunters Johnny Snyder, 27, of Milford and Dale Snyder, 32, of Shohola.

   Arrows are not supposed to land or be shot within 50 yards of a home.

    On Nov. 13, the two men "got out of their vehicle and shot the deer within a wooded area between several houses," said Pike County Wildlife Conservation Officer Mark Kropa.

    Witnesses saw the men kill the eight-point buck, noted the vehicle's license plate, and reported the incident to the game commission.

   "There's been a lot of deer, at least three, shot in Pine Ridge this year, with both guns and arrows," Kropa said. "We've had one in Wild Acres. In the past I've had calls in Saw Creek, but there have been no calls from there this year."

    Kropa located the vehicle and charged the men with violations. Each faces fines and the loss of his hunting license.

   Johnny Snyder was charged and pleaded guilty to safety zone violation, using a motor vehicle to locate game, possession of illegal deer and hunter trespass. His fines were more than $1,200, according to Kropa.

    Dale Snyder, the driver, was charged with aiding and abetting possession of an illegal deer and aiding and abetting using a motor vehicle to locate game. His fines surpassed $700.

   Regional conservation officers reported a number of other incidents in recent weeks.

    Lackawanna County Officer Mark Rutkowski reported numerous incidents of night shooting in the northern Poconos.

    "One incident involved two individuals that fired a rifle within 55 yards of a residence," Rutkowski said.

    Officers also report many instances of baiting deer and bears and hunting from vehicles.

The firearms deer season ends Saturday.

   To report a hunting violation, call the Game Commission's northeast regional office at (570) 675-1143. http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091209/NEWS/912090330

 

09-12-09  Provider of gun that killed officer faces 3 to 5 years

   The man who illegally transported the .45-caliber pistol that killed Philadelphia Police Sgt. Patrick McDonald is facing from three to five years in prison after a federal jury convicted him yesterday on weapons charges.

    Stephen Lashley, 33, illegally purchased the weapon in South Carolina and then carried it to Philadelphia in mid-2007, the jury concluded. In 2008, another man used the semiautomatic handgun to shoot McDonald multiple times after a traffic stop.

   Lashley did not react as the verdict was read in U.S. District Court. No evidence was offered to challenge the government's case, which included a recording of Lashley's telling his girlfriend that he expected to go to jail on a weapons charge.

   The jury of six men and six women deliberated for less than an hour.

    Watching the verdict were McDonald's father, mother, and sister, and about a half-dozen uniformed police officers from McDonald's unit.

   Later, McDonald's father, Larry, said Lashley's conviction offered limited solace to the family.

  "My son is not coming back. The only relief is that there is justice," said the retired Philadelphia fire captain.

    Exactly how the handgun, manufactured by the Brazilian firearms maker Taurus, made its way from Lashley to the shooter, Daniel Giddings, 27, remains under investigation, U.S. Attorney Arlene D. Fisk said after the trial before Judge Michael M. Baylson. There is no evidence connecting Lashley and Giddings, she said.

    The origin of the gun was traced by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives as part of the investigation into McDonald's slaying. The gun was imported from Brazil through Miami and made its way to a pawnshop in Lancaster, S.C.

    ATF agents determined that it was sold in 2006 to a man who then sold it to Lashley for money and marijuana. The same man purchased a second weapon for Lashley in 2007, and both were taken by Lashley to Philadelphia, the jury found.

    Because Lashley had a criminal record for drug possession in New York state, it was a federal crime for him to possess or carry a handgun across state lines.

    By Sept. 23, 2008, the Taurus was in the possession of Giddings, 27, who had been released from prison on parole a month earlier and already was wanted by police on a new criminal charge. On that day, Giddings was behind the wheel of a car McDonald pulled over at a traffic stop in North Philadelphia. During the confrontation, Giddings tried to flee on foot and McDonald, 30, gave chase. Giddings shot McDonald during the pursuit, and witnesses told police that they had seen Giddings stand over a fallen sergeant and shoot him multiple times.

   Giddings fired at other officers responding to the scene and was fatally wounded during an exchange.

    Lashley has been held in jail. He is to be sentenced in March.

   In May, during a phone call recorded by the government - with his knowledge - Lashley told his girlfriend, "I always knew I'd have to do some years" for transporting the gun. After the verdict was announced, defense attorney Kenneth Edelin said: "The fact that was on the prison tape certainly didn't help" his client's case.

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/main_line_delaware/20091209_Provider_of_gun_that_killed_officer_faces_3_to_5_years.html

 

09-12-08 Suspect Sought in Stabbing at School

    Harrisburg, Pa. - Swatara Township Police are looking for a stabbing suspect.

    They said around 10:20 Monday night they responded to the Kaplan Institute on Derry Street.

   They said 29-year-old Kevin Forde went to the school and confronted his wife and another man, 30-year-old Dillon Mitchell.  Police said Forde and Mitchell began to scuffle.  That's when Forde pulled out a three or four inch knife and stabbed Mitchell seven or eight times, according to investigators.

   Police said a criminal justice professor, Michael Minto, pulled a gun and ordered Forde to drop the knife. 

  Forde then fled the area with his wife, police said.

   Deputy Chief Jason Umberger said the professor's actions may have prevented the situation from becoming deadly.

   "He must have believed that unless he took the action he took that the assault would continue and we might be talking about somebody that died," Umberger said.

   Forde's wife returned to the scene and reportedly told investigators she had dropped her husband off at the intersection of 13th and Sycamore Streets in the City of Harrisburg.  Police said she could face charges as well.

   Mitchell was released from the hospital Tuesday.

    "We're very, very relieved Dillon is okay," said Sherry Rosenberg of the Kaplan Institute.  "Dillon is a fine young man.  We care about him."

    Police said Forde should be considered dangerous.  Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call police right away. http://www.whtm.com/news/stories/1209/685573.html

 

09-12-08 Man Convicted in Gun Crime Connected to Phila. Cop's Murder

   A Philadelphia man has been convicted on federal gun-trafficking charges.  One of the weapons ultimately was used to kill a city police officer.

    A jury found 33-year-old Stephen Lashley guilty of illegally transporting firearms and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  He had purchased two weapons in South Carolina and brought them back to Philadelphia.

   One of the guns was used to kill police sergeant Patrick McDonald (above), who was slain in September 2008 in North Philadelphia.

   But the jury did not know the gun was used in the killing until after the verdict, when Judge Michael Baylson addressed them:

    "The scourge of illegal trafficking in guns is a very serious problem for all of us and for anybody who lives in a law-abiding society. And the tragedy of this case is that one of these guns was used in the killing of a Philadelphia police officer, according to ballistics testing."

    Jurors were clearly taken aback -- some literally, as they leaned back in their chairs and put their heads back with the stunning knowledge the gun they had seen in court was a weapon of murder.

    McDonald's father, Larry, says he hopes the verdict sends a message -- though that will only be known at sentencing, which is set for March:

      "There is no relief in seeing these verdicts for me and my wife and daugter because my son is not coming back. The only relief is that there is justice."

      27-year-old Daniel Giddings was fatally shot by police after he shot and killed McDonald.

      Lashley is not facing charges in the murder.

http://www.kyw1060.com/pages/5847353.php?

 

09-12-08 Game Commission: Hunter Baited Trophy Bear

   In Luzerne County, a hunter is in hot water with the state game commission. Charles Olsen Jr. of Wilkes-Barre is accused of using pastries to bait a 700-pound bear.

   The 707 pound black bear killed in Wyoming County could have bagged Olsen a trophy. Instead, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said it bagged him much more than that.

   The Wilkes-Barre man brought the bear to the commission's northeast regional office in Dallas Township on November 25.

   "The officer that was in charge of the check station mentioned that there may be a problem with the bear and at that point he blurted out that he killed the bear over bait," said Daniel Figured of the game commission.

   Officers said Olsen illegally killed the bear over a pile a pastries he set out as bait.

   The commission said it was on to him a week before bear season started. That's when one of their officers noticed a pick-up truck driving along Route 309 in Dallas loaded with store-bought pastries.

  After running the truck's license plate, Charles Olsen's name came up.

    "That information from that vehicle was given to all check stations, bear check stations, which all legal bears have to be brought into," said Figured.

   At the Gander Mountain store in Dickson City, hunter Bob Holden thinks harsher penalties are needed.

  "They said he may lose his license. I think it should be automatic," said Holden. "It should be just taken away."

   The commission said if Olsen had shot the bear legally, it would have been the largest bear harvested this season.

   In Lehman Township, hunter Mike Palkovic said the prize wouldn't matter if you got it by cheating.

   "Why would you want to put a trophy on a wall or have a rug or something made that you really didn't get legally?" asked Palkovic.   Along with possible fines and a loss of his hunting privileges for at least three years, the game commission also plans to ask a judge for $5,000 in restitution for the trophy-class bear. http://www.wnep.com/wnep-hunter-baited-bear-pastries,0,6720490.story

 

09-12-07 Pennsylvania Ranks 4th In Police Deaths

   It sometimes seems that both in this area and throughout the country police officers are more likely than ever to get shot and sometimes killed in the line of duty.

  Every death is a tragedy and so far this year seven police officers have been slain in Pennsylvania.

  And while overall police deaths are down, what's up is the violent manner of death.

  With the killing of Penn Hills police officer Michael Crawshaw, Pennsylvania has moved into fourth place as the nation's deadliest state for police officers.

  "The number killed by gunfire is up unfortunately. And we've seen a number of instances, including this most recent one in Penn Hills and earlier this year in Pittsburgh where officers seem to have been deliberately targeted," says Kevin Morison of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, DC.

   The NLEOMF keeps track of the statistics.

   While total U.S. police fatalities have dropped from 124 last year to 117, police deaths from gunfire is up 21 percent from 38 last year to 46 so far this year.

   "We are seeing that increasingly people are challenging the police, not just with weapons but just in general," says Pittsburgh FOP President Dan O'Hara.

  O'Hara thinks too many people think they can kill with impunity.  "I think this is a problem with our court system that we need to get tougher with the repeat offenders and the people we know that are out there causing problems," he added.

  And while the overall numbers of police fatalities have dropped over the decades because of faster medical care, bullet-resistant vests and rigorous training, suburban FOP president Henry Wiehagen says no police officer is totally safe.

   "This officer in Penn Hills - he was ambushed," Wiehagen said. "You can have all the training in the world. The man never got out of the car. Where's the training going to help him under a situation like this? He could have a vest - the guy got shot in the head."

  Wiehagen says police work is just plain dangerous.

   "We have the most educated and highly skilled and trained policemen today, but we can't be as effective because you never know what you're running into," he noted.

   Texas, Florida and California have more police deaths than Pennsylvania in that order.

   While nothing provides 100 percent protection, FOP's Dan O'Hara says when people use 911, the more information you can relay about the situation, the better prepared police can be when they respond.

   That might help reverse this trend in gunfire deaths of police officers

http://kdka.com/local/Pennsylvania.police.death.2.1355771.html

 

09-12-05 Police bust Stroudsburg drug ring, arrest two

   Stroud Area Regional Police busted up a drug operation in Stroudsburg on Thursday — and one of the suspects already had been arrested on drug charges this year.

   Officers arrested a man and a woman at 23 N. Fifth St. where they found 10 grams of crack cocaine, marijuana, packaging paraphernalia, scales and a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson semiautomatic handgun with the serial numbers obliterated.

    Police arrested Douglas Barrett Pugh and Aracelis Gonzalez, both 29, on charges of possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy and possession of paraphernalia.

    Pugh also was charged with receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm with an altered manufacturer's number.

   Both are in the Monroe County Corrections Facility on $100,000 bail after an arraignment in front of Magisterial District Judge Kris Anzini in Stroudsburg.

   It's a second arrest for Pugh this year, after police found him with seven guns and 20 grams of crack cocaine in April.

   He pleaded guilty to charges related to that bust and is awaiting sentencing on those charges.

   Police said a bail revocation hearing from that case now is pending.

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091205/NEWS/912050319

 

09-12-04  Lego my toy gun

Toronto man's hobby draws armed officers

     If you were wondering what happens to 29-year-old men who still play with Lego, take Jeremy Bell as an example.

   The partner at digital marketing company Teehan+Lax was surrounded by heavily armed tactical officers, cuffed and held against the wall of his Richmond St. W. office -- until, that is, the cops found the gun he had been holding in front of the window about 90 minutes earlier was a pile of blocks.

   The BrickGun Semi-Automatic gun (purchased online from BrickGun, "designers and builders of the world's most realistic custom Lego weapon models") arrived at Bell's office Wednesday.

   The lifetime Lego fan finished assembling his toy -- complete with build-it-yourself magazine -- at 5:40 p.m.

  It was in one piece for about 10 minutes before it fell apart, he recalled yesterday.

   But the tenant in an apartment about six metres across the way didn't see that last part. And so the tenant called the cops.

   At about 7 p.m., as Bell and some colleagues played a video game, the Emergency Task Force moved in.

   "They were screaming in the hallway for me to come out," Bell said. "When I went out there and I saw there was an officer kind of crouched down in the stairwell, it was clear what was going on."

  Despite the very real guns pointed at him, Bell said he didn't fret.

   "I'm not trafficking guns or selling drugs or anything like that, so as soon as I saw that these cops were legit, I was like, all right, this has got to be about this stupid gun."

   Pressed up against the wall, his hands thrown in cuffs, Bell directed the cops to the pieces of fake gun sitting in a box by the window. Moments later, he was free.

   "At least you have a story to tell now," he quoted one cop as saying.

   The neighbour who called the cops tweeted an apology to Bell on Twitter and posted a note in his apartment window, Bell said.

   "He's like, 'Sorry, dude, it looked real,' " Bell said.

  No bad blood with the cops, either.

   "A guy in an office with what appeared to be a gun, I get it, I appreciate it, I certainly cannot knock the way that they handled it," Bell said. "The stupid toy was purchased certainly not expecting this kind of fallout," he said. "I'm a sucker for Lego, always have been since I was a kid."

http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2009/12/04/12033281-sun.html

 

 

 

 

 

09-12-02 Cousin of Cassidy's killer gets parole

     Hakim Glover helped his cousin John Lewis flee Philadelphia after the Oct. 31, 2007, slaying of Police Officer Chuck Cassidy.

     Glover later was arrested and faced an even tougher decision - testifying for prosecutors in the murder trial last month that put Lewis, 23, on Pennsylvania's death row.

     Yesterday, that decision was rewarded with a sentence bringing parole, rather than prison, and was imposed by a Philadelphia judge who praised Glover for not bowing to the "don't snitch" culture.

     "We live in a community and in a larger society where there seems to be more pressure on people in your position to not do the right thing than to do the right thing," Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner told Glover.

     Glover, 26, apologized to his family and the court "for all the stress I caused" and told Lerner, "I'll just be glad when I can put this all behind me."

     Instead of the 9- to 16-month prison term recommended by state sentencing guidelines, Glover got 2 to 12 months.

     Lerner immediately paroled Glover because he had spent three months in jail before posting $250,000 bail.

     Glover remains on parole for the next year. He then begins two years of reporting probation.

     Unlike the courtroom packed with police during all nine days of Lewis' murder trial, Glover's sentencing occurred before his wife, mother, and grandmother.

     Glover did not exhibit the stress and emotion he had shown Nov. 17, when he spent an uneasy hour on the witness stand across the courtroom from Lewis.

     Although he already had pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Lewis, Glover buckled as lawyers questioned him on why he had helped his cousin flee the city.

     Glover said he had helped Lewis because his cousin was suicidal and threatening to kill other police and civilians. He also said his thinking was clouded by "love for that young man."

   Glover's words triggered an emotional outburst from Lewis, who shouted "I love you, too, man!" from his seat at the defense table.

   Yesterday, Glover's attorney, Michael I. McDermott, told Lerner of Glover's efforts to turn his life around and the heavy pressure he was under from his extended family.

     McDermott said Glover had no arrests for years before the incident involving his cousin, and none since. He recently married but has been unable to find a job as long as he might go to prison.

   Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron did not object to the noncustodial sentence, saying Glover had cooperated with his office soon after his November 2007 arrest.

   Glover pleaded guilty to driving Lewis, 23, from Philadelphia to Wilmington on Nov. 3, 2007, and buying him a $231 round-trip bus ticket to Miami.

   Lewis was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting Cassidy, 54, to death during the armed robbery of a North Philadelphia doughnut shop. The jury sentenced Lewis to death by lethal injection, a sentence Lewis is preparing to appeal.

    Lerner agreed that Glover's prior criminal record dated from his late teens and congratulated Glover on his efforts to turn his life around.

     "You have a fresh start and so far you have made the most of it," Lerner said. "I hope you continue to do so."

 

For more information on FOAC efforts to ‘Protect YOUR Rights’, the most current voter’s guides, donating to or becoming a member of FOAC please click on this link: http://www.foac-pac.org/

 

Firearms Owners Against Crime is a registered political action committee dedicated to representing gun owners and sportsmen interests throughout Pennsylvania.  Founded in 1994 FOAC is committed to the preservation of our Constitutional Rights under Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution's "Declaration of Rights" and the Second Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and effective public policy in the prosecution of criminals.  FOAC teams with other pro-gun organizations and works to preserve the fundamental Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

 

Directions to FOAC
  • Follow Rt. 51South to the 2nd Right past Brownsville Rd.-Boro Park Rd.
  • Make this right onto Boro Park Rd. (you will see Benson-Lincoln Mercury dealership on the Right)
  • The Whitehall Boro Bldg. is on the right approx. 300 yards from Rt. 51.
  • We are in the Community Room on the Top Floor.
  • The meetings are (except for special events) on the second Sunday and begin at 10:00 AM.

For More Information--phone 412-221-3346.

 

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned. PA Constitution -- Article I, Section 21, Declaration of Rights

 

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. U.S. Constitution -- Amendment II

 

FAIR USE NOTICE: This newsletter may contain, or link to, copyrighted material the use of which may or may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of Constitutional rights, environmental, conservation, political, human rights, economic, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml