Archive for Guns

Oh-oh-I-was-so-scared defense

Excuse me, boys and girls, how do we stop this horrifying carnival ride? Just today, a jury acquitted a murderous police officer of a cold-blooded slaying. Stopping black motorist Philando Castile for an alleged damaged tail light, Jeronimo Yanez claimed he feared for his life, even though Castile was passively obeying and told him he had a licensed gun.

Not only is the norm for murders by LEOs, it parallels exactly those atavistic states with stand-your-ground laws.

Basically, the first clown who whips out a gun and shoots to kill gets a free pass. Oh, oh, I felt threatened. The jury says, “You did the right thing.”

Like hell.

Whether it’s a cop or a citizen at home or a plain folk guy who imagines himself a vigilante, No it isn’t OK.

In particular, if you are a police officer, you have been trained at length on defusing interactions and on, well, being brave. If ordinary interactions in your job make you want to pee your trousers and compel you to murder citizens, you need to lose your badge and likely go to jail.

Go a pair — balls or tits, depending. Do not kill someone on a whim and claim irrational, emotional fear.



It’s a Bloody World After All,

With this weekend’s Orlando horrors, let’s transcend fantasy. While that city is the nation’s dream kingdom, we have to get real.

I had to rant and am beyond impatient. Gun-rights crazies are quick to call for arming everyone with the most powerful weapons. Lefties beg Congress, please, oh pretty please, give us minimal background check laws. All is jive.

What doesn’t work are calls fantasies that because foreign armies haven’t landed here, we are safe. What doesn’t work is pretending that “the other” and “outsiders” are the threats (in reality only 9-11 and a tiny subset of mass murders here were by non-native citizens). What doesn’t work are having guards everywhere and surrendering the liberties that define our nation.

I went into a splash of the mass murders here from 1622, many by government agents and mobs. We are delusional in thinking we are unique and protected. It is our neighbor who is likely to attack us.

I propose some legislation but more mind shifts and social action. We see that gun buy-backs don’t work, that more guards don’t work, that surrendering liberties that define us won’t work. That nativism and isolationism don’t work.

Sure, we need to do the 1934 anti-Tommy gun laws for “assault rifle” weapons and such. We also need to loudly let members of Congress know that the wee donations from gun makers can no longer carry weight — calling out Senators and Reps who accept these bribes. Let’s not tremble from the slippery-slope argument and start immediately to remove semi-automatic rifles from this nation.

I’m not ready to give up my liberties to a Big Brother nor can I accept letting fellow citizens arm to kill me at whim.

icon for podpress  A Blood World After All: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Illegal Guns Off the Street Podcast

Boston doesn’t have a gun problem so much as a gun-trafficking problem, said our guest today. Nancy Robinson heads Citizens for Safety.

Listen in as she describes efforts coordinated with law enforcement and others aiming to get illegal guns out of the hands and pockets of criminals and youth. She describes the small set of gun dealers who supply most of the guns used in crimes, and how large numbers of handguns move from lax-gun-law states to places like Boston.

She speaks of the how tracking a single gun used in a crime to its middlemen and dealer may get one or two such illegal weapons off the street. Then cracking down on a dealer who sold 20 or 40 at a time can be more important, up to holding the source of a criminal enterprise of illicit gun transfers responsible could potentially take a thousand or more out of criminal’s hands.

She and her organization are not anti-gun. She speaks favorably of Second-Amendment rights and responsible gun owners. Instead, she favors such bills as the one recently introduced by MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (S.1195) that would limit gun purchases to one a month, track the resale/secondary markets, and otherwise act to prevent illegal sales.

The model Robinson favors is a combination. In additional to involving criminal justice, she looks to the public-health model. Think peanut butter; when a toxin is found in a batch, that model tracks the source, say a large farm or processing plant and then requires cleaning it up or shutting it down. She said that locking up the shooters is not the whole solution. “We can’t arrest our way out of the problem.”

icon for podpress  Nancy Robinson [31:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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No to Illegal Handguns

The founder and coordinator of a coalition fighting illegal handguns joins us this week. The head of the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center pointed us the Nancy Robinson of Citizens for Safety (a.k.a. Where Did the Gun Come From?), saying the coalition’s effort could offer the best ROI right here, right now.

Robinson’s will discuss efforts to get illegal handguns out of the hands of youth and criminals. They work to identify where the guns original, who the straw purchasers are and how the weapons get here. They aim to hold dealers accountable as well as tweaking related laws.

If you can catch the show live, listen in here at 2:30 PM Eastern Tuesday, July 5th. After the show, you can get it on demand at that URL, here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.


Post-Tucson Podcast

We tried to go beyond the whom is to blame besides shooter Jared Loughner for the 6 dead and 14 injured Saturday. We were largely successful, sidetracked for 10 or so minutes by a caller.

Neither Ryan nor Mike expected more than a one-week delay in the new GOP-majority House symbolic flurry of attempts to undo President Obama and Congress’ progressive legislation, including health-care reform. However, Mike is hopeful that the attention already paid to the threats of violence — both against individuals and with the theme of physically overthrowing the national government at the whim of the voters disappointed with this or that election result — will winnow the thoughtful wheat from the incendiary chaff.

Mike also cites a powerful Salon piece by Prof. Glenn LaFantasie on America’s long, broad history of political violence. It calls for us to own up to the frequent and recurring assassinations and attacks, and stop viewing them as rare. They aren’t and we can’t control them without admitting the problem.

Our caller is worth bearing with to stay away of the themes and memes he displays. He cites Obama’s metaphorical attempt to show fortitude in a Philadelphia speech.  When he spoke of standing up to GOP campaign tactics with, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans,” he clearly was trying to break his mold of the boring and overly conciliatory pol. Yet, in the rightwing radio, columnist and blogger world, that supposedly equates or surpasses Senatorial candidate Sharon Angle’s calls for violent overthrow of the government, Sarah Palin shooting, reloading and targeting slogans and such.

The caller also returned relentlessly to winger talking points about all lefties trying to blame Palin and the Tea Party for the Arizona murders and maiming. That is the chatter out there in winger land, portraying themselves as victims again. Mike and Ryan wouldn’t play and Mike eventually muted the call when the circular comments repeated too many times.

You can listen in below to hear what we think may be the effects on politics of the shootings. Ryan also provides some remedies.

icon for podpress  Wild West v. Democracy [53:56m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Another Boston Miracle?

We have a special and extra show this week on Thursday, August 20th, at 10 a.m. The new executive director of the Boston TenPoint Coalition joins us.

Rev. Jeffrey Brown has the ambitious goal of leading the effort to minimize urban violence in Boston, mostly the youth-on-youth variety. It was over a decade ago that the Coalition led the successful effort that became the Boston Miracle.

He’ll tell us what’s changed on the streets and in the larger communities and how his group will address the challenge.

You can listen live here Thursday at 10 a.m. You can check that URL later or return to Left Ahead to listen to or download the show.



Massa-choosing Podcast

Stalwart Ryan was our surrogate at the state Democratic convention this weekend. He led a workshop on Netroots communicating/tech stuff.

The major news from the convention was competition for long-term U.S. Senator John Kerry. Despite his efforts to quash a primarySe lei siede in tardi la posizione giocando il party poker con una catasta decente e nessuno e’ entrato il piatto, sarebbe corretto per alzare con le mani deboli come 22, la SCURE e K-9s. challenge from Gloucester attorney Ed O’Reilly, Kerry will have to battle for his seat in the September primary. O’Reilly needed 15% of the delegate to get on the ballot and got over 20%. The winner faces Republican Jeff Beatty. No one outside of the challengers’ camps seems to give either of them a shot against Kerry. However, O’Reilly’s strong contrasting positions (pro-marriage equality, for example) may shake Kerry out of his political nap.

Ryan spoke to podcasting and blogging technologies. Mike mentioned video-blogging god Steve Garfield. Steve uses a Nokia N95 cell phone that is really an HD video camera and posts his vblogs directly to the internet every day. We may get there someday to join him, but admire his work meanwhile. One of the concerns of podcasters and video bloggers is where the devil to keep those big files. There are many freebie choices, most of which let you post directly to the Net wherever you specify. Start with Flickr and

Ryan has posted two of his presentations so far here. More will follow.

Somehow, we ended up in lavish, justifiable praise of Lowell, where the convention was. There’s the Spinners, union history, the folk festival and more and more. Go.

icon for podpress  Massa-choosing [44:26m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Chang-Diaz Loaded for 2nd Suffolk

grassrootsSonia Chang-Diaz joined us today and was unflappable across a range of soft and hard questions. She’s running against long-term State Senator Dianne Wilkerson, after narrowly losing to her as an unknown two years ago in a sticker campaign.

She grew up in a do-gooder family, with a social worker for a mom and an astronaut for a dad. Both parents set the example by volunteering in the community. She continues the pattern.

Today was also the launch of her enhanced campaign website. She is even more of a progressive than the left-leaning incumbent. She knows a pivotal question is whether voters will be willing to trade in one liberal for a better, fresher one.

This one, a former Lynn and Boston public school teacher, has a high interest in education funding. See her site’s issues pages for details on health are, violence, housing and others.  As she travels the district and knocks on doors, she’ll be adding more detail to her issues.

She told us that she’s surprised at the effort campaigning was two years ago, even causing her to lose her voice several times. She’s been helped by family. Her mother pounds the street and she expects her former-astronaut dad to do some campaigning.

She says that the integrity issue is still strong and she finds a lot of support, even among voters who normally don’t bother going to the polls as a result.

icon for podpress  Out with the old? [60:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Handguns and Raw Nerves

Cross-posted at Marry in Massachusetts and Harrumph! This promiscuous cross-posting is a first for me, but we ended up kicking the handguns issue up and down the hall in our podcast. Previously, my regular blogs had a related post.

Sometimes I go out of my way to offend people and other times it just seems to happen.

If you picked up on the Bubbling Cauldron podcast this week with the handguns discussion, you might want to head over to the original comments and counterpoints that led to the topic.

I originally stifled handgun remarks as long as I could before posting. As well as our podcast, this led to very different and rather unstereotypical rejoinders at Scratches, a chum’s blog. As I, he also bubbled over here and here and here.

You might not think of it from our posts and comments, but we actually are fairly civil, even in our disagreements. He and I share a profession, but come from sufficiently different backgrounds to make discussions sometimes tense and often unpredictable. We don’t go for how ’bout them Sox or the like.

I see a gate opening, leading to a long journey here. I still find America to be socially slow. Here, I see a progressive opportunity to work actively to make major changes in our handgun-loving culture.

Over at Scratches, Uncle has a very different perspective. Yet, it’s not the stereotypical, “Don’t you dare touch my guns!”

I suspect each of us would welcome comments on the subject. We concur that the Democrats have been absolute cowards about addressing this and the related issues of violence…on the street, at home, in the schools and elsewhere.

I see this as the time for change.