Category: USA: Gun Violence

Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid

Huffington Post, By Radley Balko, August 15

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers,” after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises,” Smith’s statement said. She said the police didn’t produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn’t be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested — for outstanding traffic violations.

The city of Arlington said in a statement that the code citations were issued to the farm following complaints by neighbors, who were “concerned that the conditions” at the farm “interfere with the useful enjoyment of their properties and are detrimental to property values and community appearance.” The police SWAT raid came after “the Arlington Police Department received a number of complaints that the same property owner was cultivating marijuana plants on the premises,” the city’s statement said. “No cultivated marijuana plants were located on the premises,” the statement acknowledged.

Also, “Over 50,000 no-knock SWAT-team-style police raids are carried out annually in the United States.

Hm. Buyer’s Remorse?

An interesting interview on Anderson Cooper’s show last night with one of the jurors on the George Zimmerman panel:

The woman, known as Juror B37, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that when the jury began deliberations Friday, they took an initial vote. Three jurors — including B37 — were in favor of acquittal, two supported manslaughter and one backed second-degree murder. She said the jury started going through all the evidence, listening to tapes multiple times.

“That’s why it took us so long,” said B37, who said she planned to write a book about the trial but later had a change of heart.

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Droning On

This should come as no surprise to anyone, even without the recent foofaraw about NSA grepping phone numbers:

WASHINGTON — FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged Wednesday that the agency has deployed drones to conduct surveillance in the U.S., and that the bureau was developing guidelines for their future law enforcement use.

Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the unmanned aerial vehicles, whose use by law enforcement has raised questions from privacy advocates and civil liberties groups, are deployed in “a very minimal way and very seldom.”

“Our footprint is very small,” the director said. “We have very few.” Continue reading

Blow to NRA as court allows US to track gun sales in states on Mexican border

(The Guardian) – The National Rifle Association has suffered a rare setback in its crusade to block new gun regulations after a federal appeals court allowed the US government to go ahead with a plan to reduce the smuggling of semi-automatic weapons across the Mexican border.

The new rules, introduced by Barack Obama under his executive powers in July 2011, require gun dealers located in states abutting the border to report to federal officials any multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles such as AK-47s to individuals within a five-day period. The administration presented the requirement as a justified move to “detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks” operating in Mexico.

The obligation to report such multiple sales would apply to all gun dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas in an attempt to cut off the supply of military-style weapons being smuggled into Mexico. The north of Mexico is being sapped by a virtual war between law enforcement and drug cartels.

A very good reason why “MORE GUNS!!” is a poor solution

sureThere’s a disturbing tendency among gun advocates to see security issue as having a very simple solution- MORE GUNS!! It’s as black and white as you can imagine- more guns equals more safety and security. The idea that the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun is as simplistic as it is facile. Rather than examine a problem, these folks would simply apply there universal Band-Aid- more people armed with more guns…because more firepower solves EVERYTHING, don’tchaknow?

Except that all more guns do is to introduce the potential for more lethality into a situation, and that lethality recognizes neither “right” nor “wrong.” For instance, assuming that an armed individual reacts appropriately in a high stress situation, having armed security guards in schools makes sense. The problem is that research shows that this is seldom the case, and friendly fire casualties can be catastrophic. Is that REALLY a workable solutions for our schools? And what message does turning public schools into armed camps and free-fire zones send to our children?

Sometimes what it takes is someone thinking differently and approaching a problem with a creative and open mind. Andrew Bott decided to approach the challenge of running a dangerous and perennially underperforming school differently….

(Read the full post at What Would Jack Do?)

Armed gun nuts marching on Washington: What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

harry-hollow-pointHmm…a herd of armed, lunatic gun nuts marching on our nation’s capitol on July 4th; anyone else see a potential problem? Hey, what could go wrong? It’s just a few thousand brave American patriots freedoming their way to Washington…while talking about armed revolution and “2nd Amendment remedies.”

Never mind that NOBODY…and I do mean NOBODY…is talking about taking anyone’s guns. Hey, just because you’re paranoid….

It would be easy to pass this sort of silliness off as a gaggle of entitled and self-absorbed moral midgets with too much time on their and hands and far too little common sense. It certainly would be, and I just did. There’s just one tiny little problem with the not-so-well-laid plans of these gun nuts:

The District of Columbia bans openly carrying loaded weapons. Something about a high murder and violent crime rate…oh, and the federal government and such. Not that a minor inconvenience like a city ordinance should be allowed to stop these law-abidingfreedom-loving patriots lunatics.

(Read the full post at What Would Jack

Only Ten Percent of Citizens Support Military Involvement in Syria

syria polLThe citizens of this country are in no mood to see U.S. military involvement in Syria.  Of course, it has already begun.  Consultation, secret assistance, and money given for “communications” (which allows other money for weapons) all contribute to the military effort.  For months, Hillary Clinton demanded that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad leave the country.  He hasn’t cooperated.  What does the toughest guy on the block do when you won’t cooperate?

It’s time for Syria to take a serious beat down.  Others need to see how things are done.  This will make things much easier when Hillary is (s)elected in 2016.  She can simply issue edicts and mandates from the White House and sovereign nations will obey without question.  The job of president is stressful enough.  Maximum Leader Hillary won’t need push back from any quarter, including domestic dissent.  (Is there a drone in our future?)

There’s just one problem.  Citizens are not cooperating.  Look at these polling numbers from Reuters-Ipsos (May 1).  A huge majority opposes U.S. military involvement when asked a general question – 10% favor – 61% opposed.   When given the choice of a yes for involvement if the Syrian government uses chemical weapons, there is still a majority opposed to intervention – 27% favor – 44% opposed.

But we know how this will work out.

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Gun control: No easy solution…but can we at least talk about it?

I understand that gun control, like many issues we face today, doesn’t lend itself to an easily arrived at, universally agreed upon solution. Good people can, and do, disagree…and crazy, unhinged people can, and do cling to their guns with a devotion they wouldn’t expend on their children. You’d think that somewhere in the middle there would be a place where we could arrive at a compromise. I’m willing, and I know many on the Left are. Unfortunately, the NRA and the gun nuts it represents refuse to countenance anything they perceive as reducing their gun “rights” even one iota.

How do you conduct a reasoneable and rational discussion with people who refuse to even contemplate compromise and threaten violent revolution if their “rights” are reduced even to the slightest degree? How do you negotiate with people who refuse to negotiate?….

(read the full post at What Would Jack Do?)

The Song of the Furies

Witnesses to them that died,

The blood avengers at his side,

The Furies’ troop forever stands.

Aeschylus was more right than he knew.

I’ll leave it to Gabby Giffords to explain what this post is about:

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

The Congresswoman is far more eloquent than I could be in reaction to the cowardly, blood-thirsty vote that took place in the Senate yesterday, as 45 traitors voted to block a yes or no vote on…and here Congresswoman Giffords and I differ in what she defines as “common-sense”…on a bill that amounted to the Democrats throwing up their hands and saying, “Fine! YOU write a gun control bill!”

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Connecticut Passes Strong Gun Control Laws – with Republicans

(karoli at C&L) – Rachel Maddow broke the news on her show last night. (Happy belated birthday, too, Rachel!) Connecticut legislators have agreed on a framework for a comprehensive gun safety package. In this interview with Connecticut Senator Williams, he reveals that the agreement is bipartisan, even though Democrats had the votes to pass legislation without Republicans.

Not mentioned anywhere? The National Rifle Association. They were irrelevant in this process. Got that, Congress? Irrelevant.

Yay! Read the rest at link

Assaulted Nuts

What the hell is Harry Reid thinking?

reidReid insisted yesterday that all of these measures deserved a vote — but that including some of them in the main legislative package brought to the Senate floor would sink the entire effort. The main bill that Reid will introduce will have to get at least 60 votes to get past a GOP-led filibuster, he explained. So by starting with a pared-down bill, Reid said he could at least get a gun control measure on the Senate floor. At that point, the assault weapons ban and other less popular measures could be voted on as amendments.

Now, if you’re telling me that this is a maneuver to avoid a filibuster on gun control legislation and the intent is, once past the blockade, amendments (which only need a simple majority to be included) can be added, then hey, that’s OK. The Dems have more than a simple majority and can easily tack on any number of amendments. Continue reading

There’s a surprising decline in U.S. households with guns, study finds

New York Times, By Sabrina Tevernise & Robert Gebeloff, March 9

New York – The share of U.S. households with guns has declined over the past four decades, a national survey shows, with some of the most surprising drops in the South and the Western mountain states, where guns are deeply embedded in the culture.

The gun ownership rate has fallen across a broad cross section of households since the early 1970s, according to data from the U.S. General Social Survey, a public opinion survey conducted every two years that asks a sample of American adults if they have guns at home, among other questions.

The rate has dropped in cities large and small, in suburbs, rural areas and in all regions of the country. It has fallen among households with children, and among those without. It has declined for households that say they are very happy, and for those that say they are not. It is down among churchgoers and those who never sit in pews.

The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 per cent in the 1970s to 49 per cent in the 1980s, 43 per cent in the 1990s and 35 per cent in the 2000s, according to the survey data.

Guns! Guns! Guns!

Late last night in a diner I overheard (actually, everybody in the diner overheard) two very drunk guys ranting at length to a sober stranger about why they need any gun they want and how Obama is out to eliminate the Second Amendment. It was the usual hopped-up nonsense plus booze. But it personifies the kind of dog-whistle gun madness that passes for normal here in the USA. Anyone with at least one foot in the real world is aghast at the gun-lobbied complacency with which US pols talk about having a “conversation” about our gun tidal wave.

Just as a for-instance on the enforced normality of an insane status quo, here are excerpts from a December WaPo article on gun laws in Virginia:

Gun supporters have for years dominated the General Assembly in Richmond, where visitors with permits can bring firearms into the state Capitol. This year, lawmakers abolished a law that had capped gun purchases to one a month…

In the aftermath of the massacre in Connecticut, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said the state should consider allowing teachers to carry weapons at schools. Del. Robert G. Marshall (R- Prince William) went further Wednesday, offering a bill that would require schools to arm some teachers or other staff members.

…But despite a string of successes in Richmond, the gun lobby was unable to persuade state lawmakers this year to lift a ban on guns in unsecured areas of airports – or to prevent public colleges from banning weapons on campus.

…”The gun lobby has a firm grip around the General Assembly,” [Democratic Del. Patrick A.] Hope said, explaining his decision to scale back [his proposed gun control] legislation. “And politics is the art of the possible.”

Feinstein launches Gun Control Bill

while-we-recognize-that-assault-weapon-legislation-will

Dianne Feinstein’s bill to curb violence using assault weapons was launched today and to me looks like a good start – it would “prohibit the manufacture or importation of 158 specific military-style assault rifles, ban large-capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds” and unfortunately contain a list of 2,200 gun models specifically not banned by the legislation. There would be no sunset provision in the law. However, the bit I like best is likely to anger and inflame the NRA the most.

 A summary of the new assault rifle ban published on Feinstein’s website suggests that it will require federal registration of all existing owners of the proscribed assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

Such existing weapons, dubbed “grandfathered weapons” in the bill summary, would require FBI background checks for all changes of ownership and would have to have their type and serial number lodged with a federal database. Owners would have to be identified by photograph and fingerprints. The identification of the owner would have to be certified by local law enforcers under a registration scheme run and paid for by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The registration scheme would be designed to avoid one of the main weaknesses of the 1994 assault rifle ban, which did not apply to any weapons made or bought before that date and therefore did not touch millions of lethal guns already in circulation.

Feinstein freely admits that the objective is not to take guns away from people but to  “dry up the supply of these weapons over time”. I’m just fine with that  – gradual mitigation has always been the name of the correct game.

Asked if she thinks her bill will pass, however, Feinstein said “the answer is we don’t know”.

* the L.A. Times, May 1994.

School brings in high-powered assault weapons

NBC NEWS (via AP), by Gillian Flaccus

The semiautomatic rifles look like they belong in a war zone instead of a suburban public school, but officials in this Los Angeles-area city say the high-powered weapons now in the hands of school police could prevent a massacre.

Fontana Unified School District police purchased 14 of the Colt LE6940 rifles last fall, and they were delivered the first week of December — a week before the Connecticut school shooting. Over the holiday break, the district’s 14 school police officers received 40 hours of training on the rifles. Officers check them out for each shift from a fireproof safe in the police force’s main office.

Fontana isn’t the first district to try this. Other Southern California districts also have rifle programs — some that have been in operation for several years. Fontana school police Chief Billy Green said he used money from fingerprinting fees to purchase the guns for $14,000 after identifying a “critical vulnerability” in his force’s ability to protect students. The officers, who already wear sidearms, wouldn’t be able to stop a shooter like the one in Connecticut, he said Wednesday.

“They’re not walking around telling kids, ‘Hurry up and get to class’ with a gun around their neck,” the chief said. “Parents need to know that if there was a shooter on their child’s campus that was equipped with body armor or a rifle, we would be limited in our ability to stop that threat to their children.”

Some parents and students, however, reacted with alarm to the news that school resource officers were being issued the rifles during their shifts. The officers split their time between 44 schools in the district and keep the rifles in a safe at their assigned school or secured in their patrol car each day before checking the weapon back in to the school police headquarters each night.

More at the link