Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr.: I don’t often agree with Sheriff Clarke. However, when he says “"With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. ... Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there," he is correct. In an interview with The Associated Press, Clarke said he just wants people to know what their options are. While self-defense isn't for everyone, some people see personal safety as their own responsibility, he said, and they should be trained properly.
"I'm not telling you to 'Hey, pick up a gun and blast away.' ... People need to know what they are doing if they chose that method — to defend themselves," he said.
"People are responsible to play a role in their own safety, with the help of law enforcement," Clarke said. "I'm here to do my part, but we have fewer and fewer resources. We're not omnipresent, and we have to stop giving people that impression."
Setting aside the political agenda—Sheriff Clarke is engaged in a battle with the County Board over funding which has resulted in his laying off some staff—he pretty much agrees with things I have said. The police can deter crime. The police can catch criminals. However, the police cannot be everywhere and cannot prevent a determined criminal from making an attempt. The instances in which police arrive on scene while a robbery, assault, or burglary is in progress are very rare. Thus, it is up to us to see to our own security, and how you do that is up to you. Whether that means keeping alert and staying out of “bad” parts of town, having good locks or a security system, learning martial arts, or carrying a personal alarm/panic button, pepper spray, Taser, knife, or gun, or none of the above, what you do is up to you.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn: High on Flynn’s list of priorities is making the illegal possession of a concealed firearm a felony. Currently, in Wisconsin, it’s a misdemeanor. He’d like to see straw purchases of a firearm—purchases made for someone who cannot pass a background check—made a felony as well.
Flynn supports President Obama’s call for universal background checks, but he said he’d also like to see more red-flag disqualifiers for gun ownership. For example, habitual offenders—those with three serious misdemeanor convictions who Flynn calls “career criminals”— as well as felons should be barred from possessing a gun. Those with serious mental health issues or drunken driving convictions should also be (at least temporarily) disqualified, Flynn said.
“If you can’t control your drinking, you shouldn’t have a gun,” Flynn said. “Because when you look at deadly violence in Milwaukee, alcohol is involved an enormous amount of the time.
These are hard to argue with, although might be hard to implement. I would prefer to see any sort of “three strikes” rule qualified so that the three convictions must include crimes of violence, unless the chief can provide some statistical proof of a relationship between shoplifting or writing bad checks and gun crime.
Playwright David Mamet: “The individual is not only best qualified to provide his own personal defense, he is the only one qualified to do so: and his right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution.” He argues that “It is not the constitutional prerogative of the Government to determine needs. One person may need (or want) more leisure, another more work; one more adventure, another more security, and so on. It is this diversity that makes a country, indeed a state, a city, a church, or a family, healthy. “One-size-fits-all,” and that size determined by the State has a name, and that name is “slavery.”’
Mamet also is taking the position that self-defense is both an individual right, and an individual responsibility.
NRA: The NRA has been stung by recently reported polls, which it describes as “bogus surveys by pollsters on the payroll of antigun groups,” which purport to show that 85% of NRA members support universal background checks and “assault weapon” restrictions.
The NRA notes that: “none of those surveys had access to the NRA's membership list,” which is certainly true. There is a bit of disingenuousness in the way the polls are reported, which should state that “respondents who identify themselves as NRA members support”—which is a rather different matter. If six respondents out of a thousand polled identify as NRA members, and five of the six support the measures, that’s 85%, but it’s not really statistically significant.
Unfortunately, the NRA responds with its own bogus poll, of 1000 randomly selected NRA members. The results, as reported on their website, are:
91% of NRA members support laws keeping firearms away from the mentally ill.
92% of NRA members oppose gun confiscation via mandatory buy-back laws.
89% oppose banning semi-automatic firearms, often mistakenly called "assault rifles."
93% oppose a law requiring gun owners to register with the federal government.
92% oppose a federal law banning the sale of firearms between private citizens.
Of these, two, four and five are obvious “straw men.” I haven’t seen any of these proposals on the table anywhere, and are part of the NRA’s fear-mongering among its membership and fellow travelers. Number one is a “no-brainer,” you should pardon the expression, that everyone supports—providing we can figure out a workable way to do it.
Giving credit to the NRA, they do publish the actual poll questions and instructions and full results, which most poll proponents do not.
The Atlantic Magazine has published a lot of good articles and opinion pieces (including the Mamet one). Among the best is “The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control),” which I think is very well balanced, and can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/12/the-case-for-more-guns-and-more-gun-control/309161/3/
There's also a very good article in the New York Times, "Bipartisan Guidelines for Gun Control," on line at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/bipartisan-hunting-buddies.html?WT.mc_id=NYT-E-I-NYT-E-AT-0130-L6&nl=el
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