Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A .250 average sucks unless it's baseball

Y’know, where I come from, only getting 1 thing right out of 4 is a 25% success rate. So screwing three outta tfour up is a 75% failure rate. That’s not exactly a stellar performance. Hitting .250 in baseball is acceptable, but not when you’re the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

In the past month or so, the Unites States Supreme Court has handed down four decisions that caught my attention, enough so that after letting them fester a bit, I need to puncture the boil and let the pus drain out.

First up is the ridiculous notion that terrorists are somehow on an equal par with American citizens. The Court, in a 5-4 ruling, decided that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to go to federal court to challenge their continued detention and that the guarantee of habeas corpus applies at the Navy base in Cuba, the court said, and the truncated alternative procedure that Congress set up was not an adequate substitute. A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. A habeas corpus petition is a petition filed with a court by a person who objects to his own or another's detention or imprisonment.

In essence, this gives the Gitmo detainees access to the American courts just like they were American citizens instead of detained insurgents and hostile enemy combatants against the United States. Last I checked we weren’t traipsing the 380,000 German prisoners of war that were brought stateside to POW camps through our courts to let them have the same rights as Americans back in World War Two. Nor did we offer habeas corpus to the estimated 140,000 or so Chinese and North Korean POW’s from the Korean War. Anyone we took prisoner in Vietnam, well, they were turned over to “Marvin the ARVN” and probably got shot long before they could complain.

But giving access to American courts to non-American enemies of the state is just folly. I suppose we taxpayers can foot the bill for them to have free legal counsel too. Sheesh, these dudes were living in caves before we captured them; now they get three hots & a cot, a brand-new Koran, and a pretty fly new rug to kneel on for Allah-time. They’re getting free medical care. They’re living far better in captivity than they would be out in the Afghan mountains, so they oughtta just be happy for that alone, because if it was the Israeli Mossad holding them, they’d be in a world of hurt far worse than a nice tropical Club Gitmo vacationland. Last I checked, Gitmo was in another country, and I do believe they ruled once before that other countries are out of he jurisdiction of habeas corpus.

Here in the good ole’ US of A, the court ruled that the Constitution prohibits the death penalty for the rape of a child. The decision overturned laws in Louisiana and five other states that had recently extended their death penalty laws to cover child rape. Two men were on death row, both in Louisiana, for raping young girls.

Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority that death was a disproportionate penalty for even so “devastating” a crime when the death of the victim did not result. Excuse me? You’ve got a turd who’s raped a young girl and probably torn her innards to a pulp, psychologically scarred her possibly forever, and even if she does recover through serious counseling she’ll have trust and intimacy issues for a damned long time, and you’re telling me that the death penalty is too severe? What about the damage the victims have to live with? Go down to Blockbuster & rent “A Time to Kill”, sir.

And in a second death penalty decision, the court rejected a challenge to Kentucky’s method of execution by lethal injection, ruling that there was insufficient evidence that the state administered a common sequence of three drugs in a manner that posed an unconstitutional risk of pain and suffering.

The decision raised the question of whether a challenge based on more compelling evidence — the plaintiff’s lawyers could not demonstrate that a Kentucky execution had encountered a problem — might succeed where this case had failed. The answer is unclear. The court promptly allowed several lethal-injection executions to take place, ending an informal six-month moratorium on executions. Justice Stevens, while voting with the majority, used this case to call for abolition of the death penalty. Problem here is that it just postpones the whole debate over lethal injection and holds it over for another round of argument. It solves nothing and passes the buck. I call this another failure.

And besides, how easy are we supposed to make the death penalty anyways? We’re killing someone. The condemned is put to sleep and rendered unconscious before the second drug causes the death itself. The only real feeling is the prick of the needle, which when compared to the pain & suffering of the condemned’s victims, who could have been stabbed repeatedly, shot, bludgeoned, strangled, etc., is pretty much negligible. It’s a lot more humane than electrocution or hanging. The only thing that makes death quicker and painless, since it happens so fast the condemned can’t feel it, is beheading by a guillotine.

Overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, the court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to own a gun for private use — not only in connection with service in a militia. The 5-to-4 decision left unanswered questions, but also much room for continued gun regulation, short of an absolute ban.

In finding the District’s law against handgun ownership unconstitutional, the high court determined that Americans have the right to own guns for self-defense and hunting. It was the first time in nearly 70 years that the court had taken up broad questions about the 2nd Amendment's protections of the right to bear arms.

The case started as District of Columbia vs. Dick Heller, beginning as a group of plaintiffs suing over D.C.'s local gun ordinances, including one barring the registration of handguns by private individuals. Heller was a security guard at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington who could have a handgun at work but not at home, and his lawyers argued the 2nd Amendment creates an individual right of handgun ownership.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's ruling that had dismissed Heller's suit, finding that the 2nd Amendment did protect an individual's right to bear arms. The Supreme Court took the case and heard oral arguments in March.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. I know that’s a tired old cliché, but it’s true. Banning guns does NOT deter gun crime. In fact, it makes it easier for criminals to engage in heinous crimes. How many criminals stop and go, “Damn, I better not shoot this guy in the back of the head; guns are illegal here…”?

Be real. Grow up. If you won’t smell the coffee, at least acknowledge that the beans have been ground & the water’s been boiled, sport. A criminal will do what criminals do, regardless of the laws. However, if a would-be rapist or purse-snatcher or home invader has a strong suspicion that they very well could get their rib cage ventilated by a 230-grain .45-caliber handgun round, they very well may think twice before messing with you.

I know that I sleep a lot more soundly knowing that I have a large-caliber handgun within arm’s reach and that I am well-versed in how to use it to defend me and mine.

The decision has caused a veritable panic amongst liberals and Democrats who view all of us gun owners as cavemen and criminals. Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago was apoplectic at the idea that someone might dare to challenge Chicago’s 26-year old ban on handgun ownership, despite Chicago Police Department statistics showing that from 2004 to November 2007 there were 43,685 firearms-related violent crimes in the city. Gee, Dick, how many of those crimes were because no one could defend themselves?

How many Virginia Tech students might have lived had there not been a campus gun ban? The shooter didn’t abide by the ban, but everyone else did. Maybe some quick-reacting student or teacher with a carry permit could have prevented some deaths.

Of course, no sooner did the Court decide that D.C.’s ban was unconstitutional than the City Council put forth some delusional ruling that when you’re not using your gun to defend yourself, it has to be kept unloaded and either disassembled, or secured with a trigger lock or kept in a gun safe. Are you frikkin’ kidding me? Hey, Mister Criminal, please wait a moment and don’t drill me with a round to the forehead while I take a minute to unlock my gun, reassemble the pieces, load it, and then defend myself….

The city continues to maintain that "most semiautomatic pistols" remain illegal under D.C.'s "machine gun" ban, which bizarrely covers not just automatic weapons but "any firearm which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily converted or restored to shoot...more than 12 shots without manual reloading," even if each trigger pull fires just one round. Sweet Jesus, people. Sure, my personal handgun only holds 7 rounds, but most semi-auto pistols, at least in the ever popular 9mm round, can hold 15 to 18 rounds, depending on the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, the procedure for legally owning whichever handguns are allowed sounds pretty much like jumping through flaming hoops:

•A District resident who seeks to register a handgun must obtain an application form from the police department's Firearms Registration Section and take it to a firearms dealer for assistance in completing it.
•The applicant must submit photos, proof of residency and proof of good vision (such as a driver's license or doctor's letter), and pass a written firearms test.
•If the applicant is successful on the test, s(he) must pay registration fees and submit to fingerprinting. The police will file one set of fingerprints and submit the other to the FBI for analysis and criminal background check.
•Police will notify the applicant whether all registration requirements are satisfied. At that point, the applicant returns to the Firearms Registration Section to complete the process and receive a departmental seal on the application.
•The applicant takes his or her completed application to a licensed firearm dealer to take delivery of the pistol. If the dealer is outside the District, the dealer transports the pistol to a licensed dealer in the District to complete the transaction.
•The applicant takes the pistol to the Firearms Registration Section for ballistics testing. When testing is complete, the applicant may retrieve the pistol and take it home.

Holy shit. What a fiasco. You get an application so cumbersome that you have to go to a gun dealer just to fill it out, pass a test, pay fees, get printed (the PD will be checking those prints against unsolved crimes and storing them against future crimes), go back to the bureaucrats to complete processing, go BACK to the dealer, or drag some poor dealer from Maryland or Virginia into DC to monkeydick around with a DC dealer, then go get the gun tested to see if it’s been used in a crime and to have the results databased for future crimes, and then you get to take it home. What a complete & utter Scandinavian Squirrel-Screw.

Know what I did? Walked into the shop, said I wanted to buy it, filled out a very simple form, gave the dude my license, he made a 5 minute phone call to check my bona fides, took my money and handed me my gun. Total process: 10 minutes.

At least the Supreme Court Jesters got this one right, so that law-abiding citizens can legally defend themselves and shoot for fun & recreation. However, at least three other decisions got botched, so that’s a 25% success rate. Not that stellar for the finest legal minds our country has to offer.


2DTomw said...

While I don't necessarily agree with you, you do present some very interesting arguments, and although the views expressed are your own, I’ve just got a few questions or opinions of my own about the cases.

In regards to the first case, about terrorist suspects and the law, while I agree with you that terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants, they don't seem to have such rights. POWs or similar legal ideals exist only between combatants of signatory nations. Unless terrorist organisations, the Taliban and the like are considered the equivalent of government organisations, the detainees either have very few rights (and must be treated as either spies or mercenaries) or must be given civil rights.

Neither solution is ideal, though as an Australia, and an outside observer, it seems like the world respects you for the rights you afford others. Generosity doesn't seem to feed propaganda as much as acting harshly.

Further, Gitmo seems to legally be a part of the United States as a military base, though as a foreign citizen I assume you'd be far better qualified as an ex MP to discuss such matters than I am.

In regards to the death penalty, I’m against it altogether, though I feel that your views of the justice system are punitive whereas I view it as rehabilitative. Though I agree, in the US the issue needs to be decided once and for all. In the cases such as those Justice Kennedy wrote on, the punishment is more than deserved, if it is applied to anyone.

While I agree that in a society with rampant gun ownership, possessing such a weapon is a valid means of self defense, I wonder two things. First, why any private citizen can easily possess a firearm, and secondly, why such possession is not limited for those who have no "need" for one. I come from Australia, which has stringent checks to acquire a firearm, similar laws for storage, and who can possess certain types. Australia seems to have little gun crime as possessing a gun outside of the military or a state or federal police force is rather difficult. This makes acquiring firearms far more difficult for criminals.

By no means is all violent crime is gun crime, but in your position as an ex police officer, I ask if you'd prefer to attend a brawl or a shootout?

Further, while I agree that most gun owners are law abiding citizens; weapons create problems of escalation, especially in concealed carry situations.

Again, I ask, as an ex police officer, would you prefer brawls to shootings?

On the idea of using a weapon in service with a militia, I find the ruling somewhat bizarre, as the second amendment begins with the statement "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State". This amendment doesn't actually make any comment on non militia related gun ownership to me, but if you disagree, why do you read it as a general comment on weapons ownership?

Would a system similar to that of Switzerland, with personal weapons permitted, and indeed issued to those who have finished a duty of national service perhaps be a better solution?

In many African states, tyrants rule unchecked by a heavily armed population. In the "westernised" nation of South Africa, no serious attempts at gun regulation, let alone control were attempted until 1985, more than 10 years after a guerrilla insurgency attempted to unseat the regime.

It may be claimed that unregulated militias have had success in certain parts of Afghanistan in imposing totalitarianism, held back only by the bravery of Coalition forces.

These are merely the observations of a foreigner on your own views of America.

While I don't necessarily agree with you, I certainly don't hope to seem like I’m trying to make you change your mind too forcefully, I just wish to put forward a few points and questions, some rhetorical and some honestly met about why you feel the way you do about the issues.

Steve: The Lightning Man said...

Thanks very much for an exceptionally well-written reply. You deserve to have all of your questions answered and to have your arguments addressed....and I will as soon as I have enough time to give your comments the respectfully lengthy reply they deserve. ( I just finished cutting the grass and and wiped out!) I promise to get back to this within a day or two!