Category Archives: Gun Control

My Fear and My Right—Gun Control

When our first child was very young, my parents offered us a weekend away. We grabbed it and ran. During a long walk, somewhere in the Catskill Mountains, near our hotel, we heard guns being discharged. Nearby, we learned there was a skeet shooting school and range. That is when I held a gun for the first time and loved it.

Years later, when we had purchased a large tract of land in the middle of nowhere, and my now grown son suggested we needed to get a gun in case there were wild animals on or near where we were to build our country home. The two of us ended up at a gun range in, of all places, lower Manhattan in the basement of some industrial building. This time we used handguns. I loved it. Not as much fun as shooting skeets and more difficult to get the center of the target, which in this underground shooting facility was a silhouette of a human being. And some years ago at the invitation of the Defense Department, I was invited to view and handle advanced weapons at the army’s Fort Dix.

We never built on that land, but I was informed very early on by my wife and daughter that we would never have a gun in our home…country or otherwise. That has held true to this day.

Do I fear violence in the streets today? Yes. Have I felt violence in years gone by? Yes. We once drove across the United States, some four decades ago, and there were some strange towns along the way that had me wishing that I had some sort of gun in the car. The couple who raised my wife and traveled in their rig, crossing the United States for many years, always had a shotgun in their traveling home.

For many years I have written on this blog and other sites about security, violence and terrorism and I live in Manhattan. Do I need a gun for protection? Clearly not. If I lived in Ridgefield, Conn (picking that town as the first name that came into my mind) would I own a gun? No.

Would I love to go skeet shooting? Yes. Would it be better if I owned my own gun, fitted to my physical needs? Yes. Do I NEED a gun in my home? No.  Why should I have a gun in my home, as potentially dangerous as it is, to worry about its safekeeping and the outside possibility that it might be used in anger or stupidly, or an unwise manner without the intention of harming a person?  Lingering fear or, as some would plead my Second Amendment right. To both: Nonsense.

Taking my grandson to school across town, shouldn’t I be armed if some person decides that his school, for whatever reason, needs to be punished and has come armed as I walk him thru its front door? So I have done some skeet shooting, so I am trained in the use of my gun, but has my psyche been trained or does it have the capacity for this type of confrontation? Absolutely not. You have no idea how you will react until you have, in fact, been confronted by this type of violent conduct. A long time ago, when I decided with a neighbor to learn karate in a  four story walk up in Chinatown, the instructor in a  thick accent said to me: I can make you black belt here (pointing to his own head), but  I don’t know if I can make you black belt there (pointing to my heart). How very true.

After every senseless, retched, horrendous killing there are too many who continue to say: This is not the time to talk about gun control, this is a time to mourn. Ok, we have mourned over and over but the talking has neither started nor been reciprocal on this issue.  One side talks and the other side points to the Second Amendment. That is not a discussion under any circumstances. That is stalling! Reckless stalling.

I have a colleague at my law school that has a special spin on most everything. Let’s look at the Second Amendment, he would say: “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.” The Second Amendment has most recently been interpreted to grant the right of gun ownership to individuals for purposes that include “self-defense”.

If I construe the Constitution in its strict form, as would Justice Scalia, then according to my colleague you would look at the intentions of the framers back at the time of adoption of the Amendment. I have no problem with that, I then give the Tea Party and NRA—muskets not assault rifles or high density bullet magazines.

There are those who keep saying that guns do not kill people, it’s “the mentally ill”, — the mentally ill out there that are causing all “the problems.” Those ‘excusers’ are people living in an echo chamber of the own voice, repeating over and over their self-serving mantras while others are dying. They don’t see the dying and they don’t hear the cries of desperation. Death from a bullet in the United States causes the loss of more lives than other top causes of death: Alcoholism, Leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and hypertension. There are more guns owned in the United States than any other country and we beat out Yemen where there is an insurrection.

Guns are used in homicides in this country more than any other country in the entire world. Guns are Americans choice of weapon. What more do you need to say? What more hard information is necessary?

We are not going to change, modify or rid ourselves of the Second Amendment. It is here to stay. And if attempted it would take years to modify. As my wife would say: “deal with it”.

Gun control does not violate the Second Amendment. We can say: who can own a gun and not violate the Constitution. We can say that some guns and bullet capacity go beyond your proven right to defend yourself. You have an obligation, in some jurisdictions, to prove you need a gun for “self-defense,” not that you merely “want” a gun in your home or pickup truck. If there is no need to protect yourself from whatever is out there or some identified person, why do you need a gun? Simple answer is:  I want to hunt. Fine reason, but you don’t need an assault rifle or a magazine full of bullets to hunt a deer or rabbit.

Ben Carson commenting on the mass murders said: ‘I Would Not Just Stand There and Let Him Shoot Me’ “I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him.'” Ok Doctor, you first! Trump suggested overturning gun-free zones and said civilians with guns could have stopped the mass shooting at a community college in Oregon. I am well aware that Mr. Trump cannot see too far from the top of Trump Tower, but hasn’t he learned that we ride in cars and not stagecoaches? We are not a nation of gunslingers and mud streets. We demand voter ID law to deter fraud. We demand a driver’s license before you are permitted to get behind the wheel of an automobile. We check your ID before we sell you a pack of cigarettes or pour your drink at your local bar, and you also need a prescription from a doctor before the druggist will give you that controlled substance prescription. Why not the same demands from the owner of a gun? The mother of the troubled son–-and she knew he had problems–who went on the shooting carnage at a community college in Oregon, said: “I keep two mags in my Glock case. And the ARs & AKs all have loaded mags. No one will be dropping by my house uninvited without acknowledgement.” And took jabs at “lame states” that imposed limits on keeping loaded firearms in the home. There were 14 firearms and spare ammunition magazines in her home as her son, the murder, had at least six guns with him when he entered the classroom shooting. Whom was she expecting “uninvited,” an entire gang of local thugs to steel her brownie mix? How many guns can she shoot at one time and reload?

Enough! What if the head of the NRA was shot with an assault rifle by a parent of one of those children who was murdered in their classroom? What if those members of Congress who are most vocal about the freedom of owning a gun were shot as they left Capitol Hill by a person who disliked politicians? You would hear howls for the need, not for more guns for our so-called mass “defense”, but against the flooding of the gun markets to those who have had no training with guns or should not for a multiple reasons have guns in their possession. For that we need a national gun registry. Until the pig is stabbed you don’t hear it squeal.

I had a friend who was extremely liberal in her political and social policies and who thought we should all share what we owned—“we” being “you” with some wealth—more than hers. But when it came to her own possessions she voted against that incumbent, who after being elected, then reached into her pocketbook.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

“Day of Anger” — A Different Focus

I am concerned that the domestic security of the United States is being undermined. This is the result of  the increased intensity of the vitriolic nature of the racial war of words and activities being thrown-about, stemming from the anger arising from the killing of unarmed black men.

If we undermine, in the process of venting our anger, the necessary foundation of our faith in those who are sworn to protect us, will the “police” (whatever they may called in your city, county and state) hesitate, stop, reconsider their actions, as a means of  self-protection,  to maintain their job security and their lives? Do less while on duty in order to avoid your (and mine) constant supervision of their performance.

Somehow, it seems to me that we expect law enforcement to have emotional instincts that are better tuned, advanced and a natural part of their special DNA than the average person. In a sense that is true, it’s part of the job description.  On the other hand, you and I don’t know how we will behave in a crisis situation until we find ourselves in its midst. So if we tell law enforcement that if they can’t do the job, as we describe it, and as we will be monitoring on a daily basis, they shouldn’t be in the job. Who among us is willing or able to line up to take that spot on the street? A positon (at no great salary) that carries with it potential danger each day while walking the beat?  I would not want that job. I like my life and love my family.

A dreaded though of mine as I write this blog, is what if law enforcement holds back, in the light of all the emotion in the streets “demanding  justice”. What if, when the police walk the streets, the new tendency will be to look the other way; what if the potential defendant is of a different color, does law enforcement turn away and walk in a different direction; can an officer, when reporting a suspicious person as one of color (so that those joining the chase know whom they seek to arrest) being racist?  And please, give them the ability, the intellect, the emotional stability, and the sharpened instinct to make that decision in a split second or two.

Saturday, December 13, has been proclaimed a “Day of Anger”.  May I suggest that we all should be angry at the amount of killing in this country– period.

There is racism in the country; but the statistics indicate that the murder rate is color blind.

In the television series, Dragnet, the leading character keeps repeating to each of the witnesses to a particular crime: “Just the facts mam, just the facts.”

The 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, a compilation of annual crime statistics, shows the following FACTS:

83 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders (not law enforcement);

90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders (not law enforcement);

14 percent of white victims were killed by black offenders (not law enforcement);

7.6 percent of black victims were killed by white offenders (not law enforcement).

  1. The rate of black homicide victims and offenders (not law enforcement) were disproportionately represented, compared to the general population the 2011 Bureau Justice Statistics report found.
  2. The black victimization rate (27.8 per 100,000) was six times higher than the white victimization rate (4.5 per 100,000).
  3.  Black offending rate (34.4 per 100,000) was almost eight times higher than whites’ (4.5 per 100,000), according to the report.
  4. In 2012, it was reported, 386 whites and 140 blacks were killed by police, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control data on causes of death.
  5. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the rate of black officers who kill black felons is 32 per 100,000 black officers, which is more than twice the rate of white officers who kill black felons – 14 per 100,000 white officers.
  6. Although blacks account for disproportionately more violent crimes, the rate of black felons being killed by police (of whatever race) has actually declined.
  7. From 1980 to 1998, young black males made up about 1% of the national population.  BUT 21% of those young black males killed a police officer. Young white males made up about 8% of the population but 20% of them murdered a police officer: So 1% of young black men killed 21% while 8% young white men killed 20%, which averages out that young black men murder a police office at a rate almost 6 times that of young white male.

A growing percentage of people killed by police are white, and a declining percentage of those killed are black. With all this background, and as I will repeat, I do not support the status quo. Change must come but it must be balanced and rational.

For example: Let me propose, while we were marching on our Day of Anger, let us also carry a banner for Dillon Taylor. Who you ask? I haven’t heard about him. True, his name is never mentioned at any of the rallies or on sensational cable news reports. His mother is not among those who appear with their attorneys on CNN.  Only last night, on a major cable news outlet, eight or ten black mothers appeared as a group to speak about their murdered children. Mrs. Taylor was not among them, nor was she mentioned.  Nor was Dillon’s picture shown on my television screen with the other young men who had been killed by a police officer.  Senseless killings. There is a reason.

I learned of Dillon by coincidence. Buried  after the last page of news reporting and therefore unseen by you and me, the police in Salt Lake City have concluded their probe into an Aug. 11 shooting outside a 7-Eleven convenience store, when a black police officer, whom local media strangely referred to as “not white,” shot and killed an unarmed 20-year-old Dillon Taylor.  Dillon was shot once in the stomach and once in the chest.  This 20 year old was both white and unarmed at the time, but he didn’t put his hands up fast enough for the officer. The police officer is still on the job and no warrant or bill will be issued. Case closed; no national protest; no cable coverage. His family does not get to march in the Day of Anger.

Oh yes, when each of the young, unarmed black men were killed by a white police office, it was argued by their protestors that each man’s  social activities and physiological make-up were immaterial to the investigation into the validity of the shooting by the police. Not so with Dillon, a white unarmed kid shot by a black policeman. His life was dissected publicly.

First and foremost, as I have written: I don’t advocate the status quo. It undermines the very nature of our democracy.  Democracy evolves, it does not remain stagnant.

Second: Please let’s do march! Please let us end the vicious cycle of all manner of discrimination in this country. This is too long overdue in this country.

And please let us hire law enforcement officers with something more than a rudimentary education and certainly with emotional maturity.  These traits are easily identified. And most important in the discussion — Let us focus on the facts—all the facts– and not just the ones you like or of those persons with a suspected agenda.

Richard Allan,
The Editor