Guns & Ammo Throws Editor Under the Bus

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Those of us who are both long time gun owners and supporters of regulations that make this society safer from gun violence breathed an ever so slight sigh of relief when Dick Metcalf wrote an editorial in the December 2013 Guns & Ammo which said what so many of us fully understand…that there are sensible firearm regulations which do not infringe on the Second Amendment, that there are common sense solutions to the “all too many examples of unsafe behavior”.

Was it a change in philosophy as this gun magazine, the largest and one of the oldest in the industry stepped a toe away from intransigence and toward sensible solutions? Apparently not.

November 6th, just a few days after the original article was published the Editor of Gun & Ammo wrote an “apology”…an apology for stifling conversation on one of the most important discussions in the national arena,  an apology for throwing one of its own under the bus…well, not exactly. Jim Bequette, the editor apologized for pissing off his “hopping mad” readers [and his “hopping mad” advertisers]. He also doubled down on Guns & Ammo’s hard core, unfettered backing of the Second Amendment and, as seems to be the rule in the gun debate, if someone comes to the table with opinions that are not lockstep with the NRA, with the enthusiast community, and more important with the gun industry…under the bus with them.

Mexican Standoff

“Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with “Guns & Ammo” has officially ended.” Editor, Guns & Ammo, 11.6.13

Yep…fire him because he opened up the conversation. Fire him because he had the audacity to stand up and say “maybe we need to give this some thought”. But thought is the last thing on the mind of the gun fanboy community, the last thing on the mind of the 85 advertisers to Guns & Ammo…well, 86 if you count the monthly Viagra advertisement.

But are we back to square one, back to that point where the gun enthusiasts come to the table in lockstep, an air of absolute intransigence?  NO, we are not. Because now we know that there are folks in the gun enthusiast camp who know that the NRA’s blind support of the gun industry is wrong, who know that the best solution for gun owners is to come to the table, not throw rocks at it. That toothpaste can’t go back in the tube…it is out and now both sides of this important subject know that there is a viable third side…that of gun owners who support regulations.  And that is good.

It is somewhat ironic…or possibly just a cosmic coincidence that Dick Metcalf’s article came out just about the same time as the SLATE gun death ticker turned over 10,000. Maybe it is just a coincidence that it came out just as Virginia elected a governor who actively came out against the gun lobby in a very gun friendly state. Maybe it was just a coincidence that it came out as news of families of five, in four different states died from gunfire. Maybe it was just its time.

I was asked if Dick Metcalf would continue to work in the gun magazine industry…I strongly doubt it. That group has a very sad history of banishing anyone who dares to not stay in lockstep with their fringe opinion. And that is a very sad commentary on those in the gun enthusiast community…that they so very much fear dissent, fear that at some point the realization will gel that just maybe it is their opinion that is wrong, that their intransigence and stubborn support for the gun industry was not defined with reason, with facts, but forged from fear, uncertainty and dread…along with a request for a donation to the NRA.

If it was about the Second Amendment you would not be reading this. It is not. It is about hobbyists who like to shoot, it is about gun lobbyists defending the billion dollar gun industry, it is about a generation who does not like to hear the word “no”.

Put simply, Dick Metcalf did the right thing and he is being pilloried by gun enthusiasts, by the gun lobby and by the gun industry. Guns & Ammo did the wrong thing…throwing one of their own under the bus based on his opinions. This simple litmus test will help define you as you draw your conclusions.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

 


And The Verdict Is…

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Over the past sixty or so hours since the Zimmerman verdict there have been volumes of observations, discussions, debates, pissing contests and virtual barroom brawls as folks come to terms with both the verdict and their own perceptions of it.

Those that know me know I engage in many of these debates, not because I love to wallow in the mud but because I have found that debating with those of opposing or differing opinion helps me learn…I learn to clarify my thoughts and opinions and I learn to be a better person. And becoming a better person should be our main goal in life. Most else falls from that.

The Zimmerman case has become somewhat of a Rorschach test…our own opinions and views helping to define the inkblot.  Sometimes the inkblot is easy to interpret and sometimes it is a reflection of our deep subconscious  and either way we see what our perceptions tell us.

What I have learned is that seldom does a jury like this one have a simple set of evidence that matches a simply defined crime. More likely they have a janitor’s key ring full of evidence that needs to match a series of generic, worn locks and just as likely the pins and tumblers don’t quite match up…and that has to do with perception.

What we end up with is an interpretation of the body of evidence, interpretation of the law, the subjective nuances of the oratory of the opposing attorneys and value judgments of those who have witnessed the crime or interpreted the evidence – all viewed through a lifetime of experience. Pretty simple, huh?

To the element of “interpreting the law” we can learn much. The “confrontation” is where the crime begins. As pointed out by a good lawyer type guy… the confrontation begins when the first punch was thrown.  In the Zimmerman case, we don’t know who threw the first punch, we only know who pulled the last trigger. As far as I can read in the transcripts we only know that, at some point Martin may have confronted Zimmerman and started the last minutes of his life.

If my interpretation [there is that damned word again] is like that of many folks, I tend to look at the totality of the incident, not a parsed single event in the middle of a running confrontation. We are offended because we see the “incident” beginning when Zimmerman made a subjective interpretation of the everyday milieux of life that was happening in front of him. His initial interpretation of an unfolding scene tipped the first domino.

Intertwined in this case were another couple of significant issues. On one side it became a litmus test for the right to protect ones’ self and “stand your ground” and on the other side it became yet another example of racial inequality in the justice system.

People are asking very hard questions of our society…would the Sanford Police have treated Zimmerman differently had he been black? Would the media have treated the case differently had it been “just another black on black crime”? Would a black man have gotten the same $1,000,000 defense? Would a jury of six black women and black judge have rendered the same verdict? Would the media have taken sides on the issues of race and stand your ground if the races have been different? Do we have a right to protect ourselves, no matter the surrounding circumstances?

If any good has come from this case, it will hopefully be that ALL people will look hard at these questions and do something besides rationalize preconceived notions about them.

What I believe…

If George Zimmerman had stayed in his truck and called 911 as the guidelines for the Neighborhood Watch program suggest, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

If George Zimmerman had gone back to his truck and waited for the police as he was instructed by the 911 dispatcher, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

If the roles were reversed, and every element of evidence was the same but George Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white, Asian, or Latino, the legal system, from the time the cops arrived; from the time the public defender presented his defense; until the time the verdict was rendered, he would have been treated differently by our legal system.

The prosecution overreached in asking for 2nd Degree Murder and that a verdict of not guilty was correct.  As correctly pointed out, we don’t know who started the confrontation, we don’t know the details that led from following to pulling the trigger, we only have evidence that a confrontation did in fact take place. And to that, there was an obligation to give the benefit of the doubt. George Zimmerman was on trial, not the system, not stand your ground, not racial inequalities.

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Yesterday I posted up a photograph of Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson [Gregory Peck and Brock Peters] . The intent was to observe that, 53 years after Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird about race and prejudice it sadly still exists.

It may have been interpreted differently.

We like to think of the law and justice as clean, unbiased, and honest. And sometimes it is. But, like life itself it is more likely somewhere in the 254 shades of gray in between black and white.
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And yet again we go to interpretation…And more often than not we wear tinted glasses.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


The Sandy Hook Shooting Legacy – Six Months Later

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There have been 182 days since America woke up to the mind-numbing violence that erupted on Newtown, Connecticut. Six months have passed since politicians fell all over themselves trying to find the nearest camera, the nearest microphone to extend their deepest, heartfelt sympathies to the families of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School and to promise that they would do whatever possible to make sure that the senseless tragedy never occurred again. In that six months many things have happened, most showing the worst side of Americans, our unwillingness to work together to actually do something to reduce the senseless deaths, our willingness to write-off the lives of 10,000 Americans each and every year.

In that six months – just 182 days – we have over 5,000 more dead to add to the Butcher’s Bill, over 5,000 people whose future stopped cold because of gun violence. And this past six months were not exceptionally violent, not a spike in the “normal” course of murder, manslaughter, accidents and suicides. And it is that “normal” that is so appalling. We have, as a society allowed, each year over 10,000 people to die from gun violence and another 20,000 suicides with firearms to become an acceptable reality. And more important, it is the WHY we have allowed it that is so reprehensible.

Flash

When any discussion of deaths, and ways to slow it down bubble to the top of the national zeitgeist Americans tend to step up with great support to do everything in our power to stop, or at least slow down the number of deaths. You cannot begin to count the number of organizations and grassroots groups who fight cancer, to stop its relentless killing. When a disease like Muscular Dystrophy cuts down children, society does everything it can to just make it stop. Since 1952 Jerry Lewis helped raise over $2,000,000,000 [that’s TWO BILLION] for research in MD cures.

When deaths from automobile accidents exceeded 50,000 per year in 1966, the public, government, and industry began to work on solving that deadly problem. They enacted legislation to require seat belts, to install collapsible steering columns, remove steel dashboards, make interiors of cars safer, redesign frames and bodies of cars to burn off the energy from a crash, rather than push all that energy to the occupants. As a result, with a population that has added 120 million, we have reduced deaths to under 33,000 per year and dropping. That success occurs as Americans now drive over 3,000,000,000,000 [THREE TRILLION] miles per year…three times what was driven in 1966. Further, because of the actions of MADD, deaths from drunk driving have fallen from over 60% to just over 35% in a 30 year period, due to a determined legislative and public perception campaign to stop drunks from killing on the highways.

MADD Drunk Driving Deaths crop

But the attitude about deaths from gun violence is strikingly different. Many Americans don’t react the same way to these thousands of deaths per year. They quickly respond “it happens” or “it is the price for freedom” or “guns don’t kill people, people do” or “gun owners are responsible”…all an attempt to rationalize that they care more about their hobby than they do about 30,000 lives a year being lost to gun violence. Now, they will scream Second Amendment to the top of their lungs but it boils down, by the end of each debate that they just don’t want changes to the status quo, don’t want to be inconvenienced by that additional 10 minutes required to do a background check on ALL weapon sales. They argue that gun owners are responsible, never mind that responsible gun owners have over 240,000 guns stolen from their homes and cars each year which end up in the black market; that hundreds of children a year are killed or wounded by guns that they fail to properly stow. And more irrationally they argue that their guns are to defend against a tyrannical government, and that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, though they would be really happy if you would kindly ignore that whole “well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” part of the Second because it really, REALLY throws a curve ball into their argument.

Slate 5000

It has been a hard six month as we look at gun violence. Included in the over 5,000 killed by gun violence are attacks at 10 schools including Lone Star State and the University of Central Florida, and we have had spree killings throughout the country including Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Nevada.

Besides the two headline grabbing types of gun violence, 2013 has seen multiple deaths from multiple instances of domestic violence and family shootings. But the ones that seemed to hit the public hardest, those that were easily the most preventable involved kids picking up guns that their parents failed to stow. In April a six year old was shot and killed by a four year old in New Jersey – just two days after a four year old in Tennessee finds a deputy sheriff’s “unloaded” gun and kills the deputy’s wife. On May first, in Kentucky a two year old died from his brother’s “first gun”. One month later, tragedy was in Rusk, Texas. And in between a 15 year old is killed in Oklahoma when her little sister dropped her mother’s pistol on the kitchen counter top.

Those are seven instances of children dying from gun violence in the past six months. If I wanted to be thorough I would provide links to the 268 teens who have been killed or the 94 children under 12 who have died since Sandy Hook.

The response from those who support the intractable National Rifle Association’s position on guns are always the same…”It happens”, “Guns don’t kill people…” and the most appalling…”It is the price of freedom”. It is embarrassing that, in a 21st Century society we still have people who have such a disregard for life, that prefer a selfish, narcissistic approach that THEIR hobby is more important than the lives of 10,000 cut down by gun violence each year.

We as a society are better than this. We are better than the callous folks who just blow off unnecessary deaths because of their inconvenience and in reality an endless propaganda machine that is the NRA. The NRA has so brainwashed many of these folks with their constant “they are coming to get our guns” that the supporters simply kneejerk and parrot their responses rather than realize that the NRA is winding them up to get more and more money from them, to support their lobbying efforts for the gun industry.

NRA-Grip-on-Congress

In six months, Congress has done nothing. That’s not exactly true. Congresspersons have taken in millions of dollars from the NRA and its PAC the NRA/ILA for their re-election campaigns, monies supplied by the gun industry and members.

What they have not done, however is provide comprehensive, bipartisan solutions to begin to reduce the number of deaths from gun violence. As supporters of the NRA will tell you, gun deaths are down, and they are. What they won’t tell you is the drop began as the Brady Bill and later NICS were implemented. But, much like that annoying “well regulated Militia…” clause in the Second Amendment, facts get in the way of a good dose of fear and paranoia.

The Rise of Grassroots Action

And one last thing that seems to be very important in this past six months. While our Congresspersons have failed America, failed to build consensus solutions to save lives from gun violence, the public has shown that they have had enough. Grassroots campaigns and social media groups have banded together to push for solutions. When folks who support sensible gun laws lost one battle in April, where Congress could not even pass a simple bill to strengthen background checks so felons and the mentally ill can’t buy guns a funny thing happened.  They didn’t fold…in fact they strengthened and grew. From groups like Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns to Jim Brady’s Brady Campaign to Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions to the very grassroots Occupy the NRA and It Can Happen Here and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the voices are getting louder, more organized, more united.

The voice is clear…We as a society are better than this. We will not stop until solutions are in place.

Previously Published 6/14 on LiberalAmerica.Org and ItCanHappenHere on Facebook.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip


UPDATE: Santa Monica Shooting Spree – Four Dead, 1,300 Rounds of Ammo

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Yesterday we covered the breaking news story of a gunman loose in Santa Monica California, moving from scene to scene wreaking havoc and chaos with an assault rifle. More details of yesterday’s Santa Monica spree killings came at today’s 2:00 news conference. The best news was that the number of those killed by the shooter has been downgraded to four [plus the shooter], though the Santa Monica coroner has said he believe the number will rise do to severity of wounds of at least one other victim.

The Santa Monica shooter had 1300 rounds of ammunition…most of them .223 rounds loaded in 30-round magazines and were enough to start a small war, or at least kill dozens if not hundreds of people had he not been stopped just 13 minutes into his killing rampage by responding Santa Monica College and Santa Monica police officers.

Santa Monica 1300

He came prepared…rifles, at least one pistol and a couple of dozen of the loaded 30-round magazines. And it wasn’t cheap. 33 magazines cost about $1,000.00, the rifles $600-1200.00 and the ammo was another $780 for the PMC Bronze 55gr. Full Metal Jacket rounds shown at the Santa Monica Police Department press conference. In other words, he brought to bear over $3,000 worth of guns and ammo to the fight.
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He also brought to the fight years of stress and mental illness. Neighbors defined him as a “useless human” who was abusive toward his mother. Others said his family was torn apart by a divorce many years ago.

A law enforcement source told CNN on Saturday that the gunman had suffered mental health issues. He was hospitalized for treatment after talking about harming someone.

So now we have to start reviewing this from a view point, not of the tragedy that was unfolding but of how we can reduce the number of instances of senseless murder.

The most glaring issue is that this man, who would have turned 24 today had a history of mental illness. He had been committed at least once, though the details of by whom and for how long are not clear. In any circumstance, his name and condition should have been on a database that defined him as someone who should not be allowed weapons – or at least get a second look.

That brings us to three issues. First, we have continued to reduce the amount of money spent on mental health issues every year since Reagan. We can’t expect those with mental health issues to respond positively to more and more limited options.

Second, the question of universal background checks comes into play. Would a comprehensive safety net, one that included mental health data have stopped this shooter? If he had been required to undergo a check for the purchase of his weapons, would he have passed? If he had been required to go through the five minute check before buying 1,300 rounds of 223 assault rifle ammunition, would he have passed?

Third, if a flag had been raised based on both his mental health issues AND his intent to buy, would he have been able to prepare and execute this murderous rampage?

He may have run through the tests without a hitch, able to buy as much has his credit card would allow…but, on the other hand, he may have been stopped. Today he might have been sharing birthday cake with friends rather than laying in a morgue.

Opponents of universal background checks tend to kneejerk the answer “it wouldn’t help.” But they do that without knowing that it wouldn’t help, they do so because they don’t like regulations, not because of the rational requirements of providing a safer society. Those victims of mass murder, of spree killings, of domestic violence might just have a different answer than “it wouldn’t help.”

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Spree Killing In Santa Monica…Four Reported Killed, Shooter Also Dead

Santa Monica shooting

Spree killing…it is the rolling, disorganized cousin of mass murders. It is usually a single shooter who moves from place to place shooting both intended victims and those just in the way as he works through the mission in his head, usually ended when he and a superior law enforcement presence end the spree.

Today it is in Santa Monica and an event that, as we type this spree killing has spread from a home to the streets to a bus to the library at Santa Monica College. Two hours into this spree the shooter, a white, male wearing a ballistic vest and carrying multiple weapons including an AR-15.

The shooter began at what is reported to be his father’s home and killed both his father and brother then setting the house on fire. He continued on the street, carjacking a car after shooting into several of them. From there he left the car, opened fire on a municipal bus and then headed to campus where he was met by SMC and Santa Monica police and was killed in the library.

It is, at this time unknown how many people have died. The count is known to be four but the Santa Monica police chief said “as many as half a dozen” plus the shooter.

In February, just 25 miles southeast of Santa Monica in Orange County another spree killing occurred, killing four and injuring three before the shooter turned the gun on himself.

The week before the Orange County event Chris Dorner, fired LAPD cop committed a spree killing over a week’s time.

On May 26th…less than two weeks ago Marine Esteban J. Smith, 23, stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina carried his murder spree from a hotel outside the camp by killing his wife and ended it in Texas by killing two and wounding five others with an assault rifle before being killed by a Texas State Trooper and a Texas Game Warden.

This article will update as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: From the 8:30pm PDT Santa Monica Police press conference, the number killed now stands at four plus the shooter rather than six plus the shooter.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.


Child Killed Every Other Day By Negligent Gun Owner’s Gun

Child shot Channel 18

The headline on Thursday said “Two year-old child finds gun, shoots himself in the face, is dead.” He was staying at his Rusk, Texas great-grandparents’ home because he had been taken away from his own parents for neglect and abuse. His great-grandparents were given the children by the Texas Child Protective Services so they would be safer. It did not work. His great-grandfather’s inanimate 9mm handgun got in the way.

Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell says “it was an accident.” Aren’t they all?

An extremely weak, but prevalent argument when discussing victims of gun violence is that they must have been in a gang, it must be drug connected, it is “those people”, but that really is not the case. It is not always criminals who are the participants in these murders – and that is what they are. The family says “we kept the guns locked up and today was no different” – well, yes it was – a two year old managed to break their cunning security plan, managed to get into the “locked bedroom” with an open door and to find the 9mm handgun sitting on the nightstand. These are the responsible gun owners who say again and again that they are not responsible for the gun violence that kills 10,000 and injures 10-20X that each and every year. But they are.

In researching this article I went to the database provided by Slate to see just how many children have been killed this year…and the number is 81 children from age 12 and under from January 1 – May 29, 2013. To put that in perspective, there were 112 “accidental” deaths by firearms from age 18 down in 2012.

If this year’s trend continues, the number of UNDER 12 will out pace last year’s UNDER 18 by 44%.

And that brings me to the point…with all the media attention that began after 20 kids were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School less than six months ago, with the media highlighting gun violence more than they previously have, with stories of kids being killed by their daddy’s gun on the media every other day – why has the message not been clear? Why have gun owners simply ignored the daily drum beat of examples of poor gun ownership and continued to leave their guns unlocked? Why have gun owners decided by  their actions that they have no need to be responsible, that “they” aren’t the problem.

Put more simply – why have gun owners answered the call to be the responsible gun owners that they say they are with case after case after case of negligent ownership that results in kids being killed at a rate of one every other day. Are these gun owners really that stupid or just so arrogant that they think that they could never, ever have this problem?

So, let’s take a look at the children under 12 years-old who have died this year, died from negligence by the gun owner in the home to properly stow their weapons or died by the hand of a parent to “protect them” from the future.

Children 12 and under killed in 2013 by gun violence

Date Name Gender Age City State
1/4/2013 Jonah Mendoza M 0 Ocala FL
1/4/2013 Kevin Hannah M 10 Tollhouse CA
1/8/2013 William Parris M 12 Pleasant Valley AL
1/9/2013 Jacob Ball M 5 Cambridge OH
1/12/2013 Steven Curtis M 12 Breckenridge MO
1/14/2013 Alexandra Brown F 10 Henry County OH
1/16/2013 Taylor Jade Cornett F 12 Hazard KY
1/19/2013 Angelina Griego F 2 South Valley NM
1/19/2013 Jael Griego F 5 South Valley NM
1/19/2013 Nevaeh Benson F 6 Cleveland OH
1/19/2013 Zephania Griego M 9 South Valley NM
1/21/2013 Travin Varise M 2 Baton Rouge LA
1/21/2013 Maximillian Walters M 5 Boulder City NV
1/22/2013 Trinity Ross F 4 Kansas City MO
1/23/2013 Jamarcus Allen M 4 Akron OH
2/1/2013 Tmorej Smith M 3 Greenville SC
2/2/2013 Mario Zavala M 11 Boynton Beach FL
2/2/2013 Austin Hughes M 11 Erwin TN
2/2/2013 Eduardo Zavala M 12 Boynton Beach FL
2/2/2013 Whitney Hughes F 12 Erwin TN
2/6/2013 Erick Perez M 2 Denver CO
2/6/2013 Nevaeh Morales F 6 Denver CO
2/9/2013 Braydion Scott Matlock M 3 Paducah KY
2/11/2013 Joshua Johnson M 4 Memphis TN
2/11/2013 Devin Aryal M 9 Oakdale MN
2/15/2013 Courie Cox F 12 Bazine KS
2/18/2013 Sebastian Swartz M 9 Decatur OH
2/20/2013 John O’Brien M 3 Garland TX
2/20/2013 Stefan Zuniga M 11 Miami FL
2/24/2013 Jaiden Pratt M 4 Houston TX
2/26/2013 Ashton Perry M 0 Preston CT
2/26/2013 Alton Perry M 2 Preston CT
2/27/2013 Tacari Danielle Briggs F 1 Newport AR
3/2/2013 Michael Richard Leland Easter M 3 Liberty MI
3/6/2013 Sharlea King F 11 Saginaw MI
3/11/2013 Jonylah Watkins F 0 Chicago IL
3/14/2013 Adam Bass M 0 Nashville TN
3/20/2013 Gabrielle Menefee F 3 Jefferson County AL
3/20/2013 Skyler Richardson M 10 Frostproof FL
3/21/2013 Antonio Santiago M 1 Brunswick GA
3/22/2013 Christian Velez M 12 Lake Nona FL
3/23/2013 Nazario Boykins M 2 Birmingham AL
3/23/2013 Michael Ayers M 2 Barree PA
3/24/2013 Christopher Stanlane Jr. M 10 Lumberton NC
3/26/2013 Scarlett Porter F 3 Tallahassee FL
3/28/2013 Joan Plumb F 11 Pinal County AZ
3/30/2013 Rahquell Carr F 4 Miami-Dade FL
3/31/2013 Roderick Paige M 4 Prichard AL
4/5/2013 Ryker Petersen M 0 American Fork UT
4/8/2013 Brandon Holt M 6 Toms River NJ
4/9/2013 Qui’ontrez Moss M 3 Sumter SC
4/12/2013 Gavin Brummett M 7 Salina KS
4/14/2013 Shayla May Shonneker F 9 Oregon City OR
4/15/2013 Dylan Samuel Peters M 1 Brooklyn NY
4/17/2013 Michael Bisbee M 8 Lapwai ID
4/20/2013 Cody R. Hall M 4 Donald OR
4/24/2013 Bradley Ralston M 1 Manchester IL
4/24/2013 Nolan Ralston M 5 Manchester IL
4/25/2013 Dalton Taylor M 10 Marengo OH
4/30/2013 Caroline Starks F 2 Burkesville KY
5/1/2013 Darrien Nez M 3 Yuma AZ
5/7/2013 Jadarrius Speights M 3 Tampa FL
5/7/2013 Shasta Miller F 4 Shingletown CA
5/7/2013 Shelby Miller F 8 Shingletown CA
5/8/2013 Kinsler Allen Davis M 2 Corsicana TX
5/11/2013 Jason Haley M 5 Denton TX
5/12/2013 Jarvan Jackson M 11 Lake City FL
5/13/2013 Brandon Vu M 10 Houston TX
5/14/2013 Sawyer Simpson M 5 Dacusville SC
5/14/2013 Carly Simpson F 7 Dacusville SC
5/17/2013 Gywan Levine, Jr. M 12 Jersey City NJ
5/18/2013 Elvira Campos F 10 Sacramento CA
5/18/2013 Gwyan Elijah Levine M 12 Jersey City NJ
5/19/2013 Gage Wilkinson M 12 Dayton NV
5/21/2013 Marcus White, Jr. M 1 Pittsburgh PA
5/21/2013 Maggie Hollifield F 10 Crozet VA
5/24/2013 Carter Scott M 1 Baltimore MD
5/24/2013 Keshawn Carter Davis M 12 Greenville TX
5/29/2013 Trenton Mathis M 2 Rusk TX
5/29/2013 Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan M 9 Stagecoach CO

Data by Slate and ShootFromTheLeftHip

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Kindle Fire Down…Is Lack of Charging a Flaw or Feature?

My wife loves her Kindle Fire…so much so that, at night when I am wanting to look something up on the net with it, an elbow might be the response…It, and its predecessors have been her constant companion since Amazon first decided to enter the market to compete against the iPad. And it has been a good, successful competitor, but…

Kindle

A month ago Sharon described a failure in her latest Kindle Fire, it would not charge. Since she is the experienced software person and I am the one in charge of hardware it became my duty to look at it and determine that the charging port was loose. 35 years of experience unleashed on the problem.  Mission Accomplished.

First, I went out to Bing and Google [no, you are thinking of Bing and Bob and their seven “Road to” movies with Dorothy Lamour] to see if, by chance this problem had been reported before. 44,600 responses on Bing and 215,000 responses on Google told me that…yeppers, there is indeed a problem, or as Microsoft might call it – a “feature”.

On Amazon’s own product page was one very good source of information on the loose charging port…a little thread called “Kindle Fire charging port getting loose”…it has 639 responses from May 22, 2012 to earlier this afternoon. [READ Here]

Should you want to read a more “lively” discussion there is a thread on “Where is the Kindle made?” that gets very entertaining very quickly. [READ Here]

So, it is time to call Amazon Customer Service to play customer service roulette, and the first take of the card reading call center employee [Sarah from Bangalore] decided that, no the problem was not…COULD NOT be the charging port that we, and a hundred thousand other tech savvy users believe it to be. So, they sent us a new wall wart, guaranteed to solve the problem. They even have a great little web page entitled “About Charging Your Kindle Fire”…it doesn’t help. [READ Here]

Except that it didn’t fix the problem.

So the next round of customer service roulette began. The next card reading call center employee seemed much more helpful…It was not the charging port, it was that we needed a new wall wart power cable. Fine, except that they had already sent that. [turn customer support card here] Now the likely problem was that we may have an incorrect wall wart power supply…is it black and does it have the name Amazon on it?  “Why yes it does” I answered. Back to the troubleshooting card system…and the next response is…you need to buy a new Kindle Fire and I am sending you your shopping choices.

At no point was “We know this to be a manufacturing issue, common to every f’ing one we produced in China and we would really, REALLY appreciate the opportunity to fix your Kindle Fire.” Nope…didn’t hear that.

Kindle is the second largest presence in the market, behind iPad and has sold seven million of these. That is a large user base to blow off when a manufacturing problem eliminates the possibility to even use the unit.

But it is now time to ask the simple question…”is it worth throwing away a Kindle because a soldered connection on the motherboard was improperly installed…repeatedly”? Or do we look around and see what is out on the market that might not have customer service hassles, might not have a manufacturing flaw that Amazon refuses to either acknowledge the obvious problem or fix it. Amazon had $61Billion in revenue in 2012…it is time to step up and be one of the big boys.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


15 Year Old Killed With Unsupervised Handgun

There have been 146 days this year, New Year’s Day to Memorial Day. And in that time there have been at least 295 children and teens killed by gun violence in this country. Two a day…every day. And when we look at gun violence, whether it is gang violence, domestic violence or someone just having a really bad day with a gun, the very worst comes when we look at children killed by gun accidents in the home. Guns that should have been properly stowed, guns that have no place in the hands of children.

This Memorial Day weekend, in the small town of Tucker in far eastern Oklahoma, between Tulsa and Fort Smith a young girl was killed in her home. Everything known suggests that she died due to a horrible accident. One that involved a gun.

Saylor Martine

Her name was Saylor Slone Martine and she was 15.

LeFlore County Sheriff Rob Seale said Saylor Slone Martine and her 12-year-old sister were handling a Ruger 380LCP, 380-caliber semi-automatic handgun when one of the girls placed the gun on a counter. It went off. The hows and the whys that happened are still being investigated but it is thought that the two girls had their mother’s gun which had the magazine taken out as a safety precaution. What many unfamiliar with semi-automatic handguns don’t realize is that, even with the magazine out the gun can be fired if a round had been chambered. So a simple act of pulling the trigger on a gun that is “thought” to be unloaded will, in reality fire that last round already loaded. And that is all it takes. All it takes to change the lives of everyone involved.

What can we learn from this senseless death?

First, handguns are the responsibility of adults, should not be out, should not be lying around, and should not be played with by the kids.

Second, guns in the home should be properly stowed so that only the adults can retrieve them, keeping them from playing hands, keeping them from the untrained, keeping them from criminals that might take an opportunity to steal a gun.

And third, all too often the comments from the local sheriff or police are that “the parent stepped out of the room for just a minute.” People in this country have a right to own firearms, a right to protect themselves and their family. But with that right comes responsibility. And part of that responsibility is always knowing where your gun is, its firing condition and who could be around it. Not “most” of the time or away for “just a minute”…all the time.

Only then will we be able to reduce the number of children killed by that “tragic accident” that occurred because someone was not paying attention. It is hard, it is harsh but it is a rule that must be followed all the time. Be responsible for your gun. Too many children pay the price of gun owners who fail to follow that simple rule.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Who Arms America’s Gangs? – “Responsible” Gun Owners

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When we talk about death by gun violence, it is very easy to fall into one of two traps, either cover all gun violence deaths under the same blanket or to only look at the results of gun violence from those types that are media friendly. Gun violence comes from a myriad of sources, from kids finding daddy’s gun to spree killing to mass murder to domestic violence to gang violence. Solutions cannot be found under one blanket, where one size fits all…the solutions, and the causes of the problems are disparate, and from that we look at the different types of gun violence that results in death.

Gang violence has been a part of this country’s history since the early 1800s, from the early Irish gangs of New York, where it was estimated that 55,000 immigrants held allegiance to gangs in 1855 [out of a total population of 550,000] to the Italian gangs that began in the early 20th Century and the rise of small gangs during Prohibition. American history, both academic and popular is riddled with the famous and their Hollywood counterparts, intertwined…Capone, Gambino, Bonny and Clyde, Lucky Luciano, Godfather, Goodfellas, Sopranos.

And they have splintered further, Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, Devil’s Disciples, Vice Lords, Triads and they cross every ethnic line, from Irish to Italian to Mexican to Russian; white, black, Latino, Asian.

And that brings us to the 21st Century, gangs represented by nearly all ethnic groups, by drug cartels, by the disenfranchised, the mean. It is reported that gang violence accounts for over 50% of ALL violent crime in this country. The FBI reports that 800 murders are committed by gangs, both “gangland” and juvenile gangs each year and that another 800 murders are committed by drug interactions.  All in all, gang murders account for about 15% of the 10,000 murders committed with guns in this country. [FBI Uniform Crime Report]

So, where do gang members get their guns? With many having some criminal record and their names flagged on NICS background check systems, how do the estimated 1.400,000 gang members in this country get armed up?

Turns out, the legal, responsible gun owner is mainly responsible for arming up the gangs of America. How? Several ways, including, but not limited to leaving guns unlocked that get stolen [about 240,000 each year] to selling them at gun shows and on the internet to those who have cash in hand and where no questions are asked.

Earlier this month WTVF, Nashville completed an investigative report of gang members in jail and how they got their weapons. Jonathan Gutierrez, serving a life sentence for murder in Tennessee when asked where he got his guns told reporters “Most of the weapons that were used were coming from the gun show.” Further he said that, at age 15, he and other gang members went to local gun shows with cash and were easily able to buy four to six guns each visit.

“Anybody will sell you a gun,” Gutierrez said. “I mean no matter what, if you want a gun and you show them the money, and tell them you want to buy it, he’s going to definitely sell it to you.”

Now, does this mean we blame the gun owners for the violence that those guns in the hands of criminals do? Not directly…but gun owners do hand a lot of weapons to gang members.

Put another way, if, every year you handed 240,000 guns to five-year olds and left them unsupervised, THEY would be responsible for pulling the trigger but it would be that person that made the gun available who would hold ultimate responsibility. The same goes for those who sell guns without background checks; who sell them to straw purchasers; who don’t lock up their weapons and have them stolen. With every right comes responsibility. And, like it or not, it is our responsibility as gun owners to make sure OUR weapons do not end up in the hands of criminals.

We have to face the facts that criminals don’t buy retail. They steal guns, they buy stolen guns, they buy perfectly legal guns from “responsible” gun owners at gun shows, they use straw purchasers to buy guns, and they buy from federally licensed dealers who know that the chance of the ATF inspecting them is near zero because of ATF budgets. They know the weaknesses in the system and they exploit them. And we as a nation pay dearly for that in loss of life, in costs for Emergency Rooms, in law enforcement costs associated with the thousands of deaths and injuries each and every year because of illegal guns.

But the saddest part of this, gun owners blow it off, ignore the responsibility that they hold refuse to tighten the filters, making it harder for criminals to get guns. Gun owners have said they don’t want to be bothered with the 10 minute background check that would be helpful and they don’t feel it is their responsibility to lock up their weapons away from criminals, away from kids. So the deaths will continue as long as “responsible” gun owners prove yet again that they really are not.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip


Nevada Spree Killing Leaves Five Dead On Mother’s Day Weekend

Nevada spree killing

Sometimes murders are big, media events…lots of bodies, photo opportunities, a chance for network folks to go “in the field” to cover the tragedy. Other times they are single murders, on the streets of Chicago or Louisville or San Francisco and they don’t even make a blip on the national radar.

Then there is this one…a spree killing with five victims, spread out over four days that made no news anywhere. Today they found and arrested the suspect and the details of the spree is coming to light.

On May 10, the Friday before Mothers Day Robert and Dorothy Pape, both 84 were killed in their home in Fernley, Nevada. They were not found until Monday.

On Monday, May 13, the suspect took the Papes’ truck that he had stolen, along with jewelry and headed to the Mustang Ranch brothel. The truck broke down and as a passerby came up, the suspect killed him as well, stealing his car. 52 year old Eliazar Graham was delivering newspapers when he was gunned down and left on the side of the road.

The suspect then went back to Fernley and killed 69 year old Lester Leiber and his 67 year old friend Angie Duff, less than 100 yards from the first two killings.

The suspect, 25 year old Jeremiah Bean is facing charges of open murder with a deadly weapon, arson, burglary, robbery, ex-felon in possession with a firearm, and grand larceny.

So, five people killed in four days and the national news…nothing. That speaks volumes about the state of gun violence in this country that this story would not scream headlines.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at his blog Shoot From the Left Hip or his Facebook page Shoot From the Left Hip.


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