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Friday, April 13, 2012

Armed while Old, Fat, White and Crabby?


ALEC represents corporate and other special interests.  It DOES NOT reflect the problems of a state, much less desirable solutions.  It does not represent the citizens of that state and their wishes.  It co-opts and corrupts the function of representative government, it erodes and overturns the fundamental concept of government of the people, by the people, for the people by replacing it with legislation by and for outside special interests, and corporate profits over people.

I found this hypothetical situation in the title particularly apt; I grew up with a swimming pool.  We would occasionally find unauthorized people doing precisely this - taking a dip, and not always late night either.  Our response tended to be to politely tell the intruders to please leave, and to call the local police if they did not comply (that happened precisely twice).  And while waiting for the police to arrive, we turned the family dog loose in the pool enclosure -- to BARK, not bite -- which was quite sufficient to persuade the unwelcome swimmers to leave when a polite request was not.  In each case, the trespassers were young and male, the age of Trayvon Martin or younger.  The notion of involving a gun in those interactions is preposterous -- but it is what happens under Shoot First laws.

I was particularly struck by the last lines of the piece below, because the exclusively conservative legislators who introduced the legislation appear to have used the same ALEC model bill template that shows up in every other state with these laws, and are all alleged to have ALEC ties:

But some legislators said they wondered who those constituents were, other than the N.R.A. The Castle Doctrine legislation, they said, was one of a series of bills that seemed to appear out of nowhere as part of some national agenda, rather than arising from concerns of Wisconsin residents. Janet Bewley, a Democrat in northern Wisconsin who voted for the concealed carry bill but against the self-defense law, said, “I never heard anyone in this state crying out, ‘We must have the Castle Doctrine.’ ”


Because of the allegations that ALEC is inherently corrupt -- using public office for private gain -- and because of the attempts at secrecy, I do not believe that the legislators who introduced the Shoot First law in Wisconsin are being fully candid and honest.  I'd love to see the press FOIA those legislators who proposed this bill, and who voted for it, requiring them to produce all information relating to ALEC. 
If it is so innocent, put it out in the open for your constituents to SEE, for themselves.

I'd like to see the same thing happen in Minnesota.

From the New York Times by way of MSN:
NRA gathers amid growing storm over gun laws

'If someone takes a late-night dip in your swimming pool, does that mean you should shoot them?' Wis. state senator says

By
updated 4/13/2012 6:13:34 AM ET2012-04-13T10:13:34
 
No one had yet heard of a Florida teenager named Trayvon Martin when a group of Wisconsin Republicans got together last year to discuss expanding a self-defense bill before the State Legislature.
The bill, known as the Castle Doctrine, made it harder to prosecute or sue people who used deadly force against intruders inside their houses.
New York Times caption: Jeff Nass is the president
of WI-Force,
 a gun rights group in Wisconsin
that works with the National Rifle Association.
My observation - these groups are always
formed by fat old crabby white guys with guns
trying to look stern and important. 
Mostly, they just look constipated and impotent.
But the Wisconsin legislators, urged on by the National Rifle Association in a series of meetings, wanted it to go further. They shaped an amendment that extended the bill’s protections to include lawns, sidewalks and swimming pools outside the residences, as well as vehicles and places of business.
That expanded bill, passed with little debate by the Legislature and signed in December by Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, is the newest of more than two dozen so-called Stand Your Ground statutes that have been enacted around the country in recent years.
Those laws are now coming under increased scrutiny after Mr. Martin was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, in late February. Similar legislation is pending in several other states, including Alaska, Massachusetts and New York.
Though the laws vary in their specifics and scope, they expand beyond the home the places where a person does not have a duty to retreat when threatened, and they increase protection from criminal prosecution and civil liability. All contain elements of the 2005 Florida statute that made it difficult to immediately arrest Mr. Zimmerman, who has said he shot Mr. Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense.
Zimmerman expected to take stand in Martin murder case

Critics see the laws as part of a national campaign by the National Rifle Association, which began gathering on Thursday in St. Louis for its annual meeting, to push back against limits on gun ownership and use.
That effort, they say, has been assisted by conservative legislators in states like Wisconsin, and by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has promoted model legislation based on Florida’s law; the council, known as ALEC, is a conservative networking organization made up of legislators, corporations like Walmart, a large retailer of long guns, and interest groups like the rifle association.
The success of the campaign is reflected in the rapid spread of expanded self-defense laws as well as laws that legalize the carrying of concealed weapons.
Only one state, Illinois, and the District of Columbia now ban that practice, compared with 19 states in 1981. Bills pending in several states that would allow concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses, in churches, in bars or at other sites would further weaken restrictions, as would either of two federal bills, now in the Senate, that would require that a permit for carrying a concealed weapon that was granted by any state be honored in all other states.
“Both directly and with cutouts like ALEC, the N.R.A. is slowly and surely and methodically working at the state level to expand the number and kind and category of places where people can carry concealed, loaded weapons and use them with deadly force,” said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 650 mayors that has not taken a position on the Stand Your Ground laws.
Repeated requests to speak with N.R.A. officials about Wisconsin’s law or Stand Your Ground laws more generally met with no response.
Political influenceIn Wisconsin, as in other states, the passage of an expanded self-defense law was helped by the 2010 elections, which vaulted conservative Republicans into office. In Pennsylvania, for example, a Stand Your Ground law passed the Legislature in 2010 but was vetoed by Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat. Introduced again last year, the bill was signed by his Republican successor, Tom Corbett.
In Wisconsin, a narrower version of the legislation had languished and died in previous sessions. But with a Republican governor and Republicans dominating both houses of the Legislature, several state lawmakers said that the success of the bill and the expansion amendment promoted by the N.R.A. seemed assured.
“I think it’s only normal they assumed this could be their year,” said Representative Dean Kaufert, a Republican who introduced the legislation, speaking of the rifle association.
Prosecutors: Zimmerman provoked confrontation with Martin
Darren LaSorte, a lobbyist for the rifle association, wanted the legislation, like Florida’s law, to extend protection to any place where a person had a legal right to be, said several Republican lawmakers who met with Mr. LaSorte. But having been successful in getting an earlier bill passed to allow the carrying of concealed weapons, Mr. LaSorte accepted a compromise.
“It was almost a ‘we’ll take what we can get’ kind of mode,” Mr. Kaufert said. In its final form, the law contained language that closely tracked some parts of the Florida bill.

In a legislative alert on its Web site, the N.R.A. asked members to “please express your support for this critically important self-defense legislation” and for “N.R.A.-recommended amendments to these bills in order to make the final product a stronger law.” The bill, the association said in the alert, “ensures that you don’t have to second-guess yourself when defending your home from intruders.”
Further, it said, “It also provides civil immunity for good citizens who are acting defensively against violence.”
Last year, the N.R.A. spent $97,701 and 627 hours lobbying or engaging in other activities in Wisconsin on behalf of the self-defense law and the concealed carry law, according to the State Legislature Web site.
But as in other states, the most powerful weapon the rifle association wielded in Wisconsin was political, not financial. In a state with more than 620,000 registered hunters, the ratings the association gives to legislators could have significant impact on their political fortunes, particularly in the northern part of the state.
“A lot of politicians are apprehensive to go against the initiatives of the National Rifle Association,” said Representative Nick Milroy, a Democrat from northern Wisconsin who voted for the concealed carry bill but against the Castle Doctrine. “For a lot of people who are very particular about their gun rights, anything less than an ‘A’ rating is an antigun stance.”
Senator Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat, called the bill a substantial victory for the N.R.A. in the Midwest, where guns have a less central place, say, than Texas. “The N.R.A. did very well for themselves in Wisconsin,” he said.
Legislators: Who wanted the doctrine?Mr. Erpenbach said he would have voted for the original self-defense bill, which placed a heavier burden on prosecutors in self-defense cases but limited the protection to inside a residence. But he drew the line at the amendment expanding the legislation, he said.
“Who in their right mind could be asking for something like this?” he said he remembers thinking when the measure hit the Senate floor, amendment attached. “If someone takes a late-night dip in your swimming pool, does that mean you should shoot them?”
The fact that the amendment was added by the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics after the public hearing on the bill, he and others said, prevented it from getting much public attention. And with challenges to collective bargaining, requirements for voter identification and other controversial proposals before them, legislators had a lot on their minds.
“There wasn’t a tremendous amount of debate,” Mr. Erpenbach said.
In fact, at the public hearing, some groups expressed strong opposition even to the far more restricted language of the original legislation. Gregory O’Meara, speaking for the Wisconsin Bar Association’s criminal division, said that the division’s judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers unanimously opposed the bill as unnecessary and potentially problematic. Wisconsin’s existing law, he said, was already stronger than most states, placing the burden of proof on the prosecution to show that a person was not acting in self-defense.
Video: Zimmerman enters not guilty plea (on this page)Jeff Nass, president of WI-Force, a Wisconsin gun rights group that works with the N.R.A., and who carries a Glock 20 semiautomatic handgun at all times — “It’s a large pistol, but I’m a large person,” he said — testified in favor of the bill.
Prosecutors and law professors, Mr. Nass said in a phone interview, “can sit back and analyze in the safety of their chambers what you did and if you did the right thing, but if I kick down your door in the middle of the night, are you going to be worried about it?”
Representative Scott Suder, the Republican majority leader, participated in meetings to shape the amendment and said the bill’s expansion was not “driven by any group or organization” but came at the urging of other legislators and their constituents.
“We came up with a compromise that did include your car in addition to your home, and that was a fair compromise,” Mr. Suder said. “We didn’t go as far as some wanted to.”
But some legislators said they wondered who those constituents were, other than the N.R.A. The Castle Doctrine legislation, they said, was one of a series of bills that seemed to appear out of nowhere as part of some national agenda, rather than arising from concerns of Wisconsin residents.
Janet Bewley, a Democrat in northern Wisconsin who voted for the concealed carry bill but against the self-defense law, said, “I never heard anyone in this state crying out, ‘We must have the Castle Doctrine.’ ”
This story, "N.R.A.’s Influence Seen in Expansion of Self-Defense Laws", originally appeared in The New York Times.

4 comments:

  1. First off, anyone who is going to carry a firearm for self-protection and is not willing and able to pay the full whack for a decent criminal defence lawyer is an idiot.

    If something can go wrong--it will go wrong.

    These laws are an attempt to persuade the ignorant that they are somewhat protected from prosecution.

    Even with the legal sanction for murder, a lawyer is necessary to make sure you do not end up in jail without your firearm there to protect you.

    US media claims that these laws are popular,but I seriously distrust US media.

    Besides, a few more obvious murders that go un prosecuted and I'm sure the public will swiftly change its mind.

    Or are Americans dumber than I give them credit for being?

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  2. I don't know, I think that guy with the gun is pretty sexy. :-) Not because of the gun. The real problem here is that Zimmerman might have thought in that fleeting moment (or even while he stalked the kid), "I can do this because...". Law should protect. And faith in the courts is important... civilized societies shouldn't have policies where individuals "take the law into their own hands." We might as well dismiss the police force if everyone has a M16 or glock ready to unload when someone gets a strange look. With these ALEC gun laws we go beyond what used to be self defense by deciding for people that "in your own mind" is credible, and justifiable. Eh?

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  3. You know, dog gone, I find that your blogthreads are a bit--how should I say this?--anemic re: commenting. Your posts are wonderful but they lack the redblooded redmeat redbaiting that characterizes the comments over at mikeb302000's place. I mean, you don't got noneathem people like TS, Greg Camp, Orlin Sellers and the rest that enliven the conversation over at his place (while simultaneously demonstrating that there really is no "bottom" to their barrelful of indignorance). /s

    I find it endlessly humorous that commenters over there who NEVER furnish anything in the way of a citation for their braindead assertions get VERY agitated that I still fail to furnish them some "respect". The "'z' foor 's' thing seems to make them particulary unhappy. I must be doing something right.

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  4. Ah, dear democommie! I miss reading your pithy comments as often as I used to - thank you so much for stopping by over here.

    I hope you particularly enjoy the new post I just wrote about a fat crabby old white guy in Indiana getting into a shootout over a moped.

    You ARE doing something right - and thanks for doing a little bit of it over here!

    ReplyDelete