I sadly learned of the death today of Otis McDonald. He passed at 79 after a valiant battle against cancer. It was the first long battle he didn’t win.
As a black man in America, he fought his way up from economic disadvantage to earning a good living for his family. He fought against violent crime in his adopted city of Chicago, and in so doing came to his most famous battle as the lead named plaintiff in McDonald, et. al. v. City of Chicago. In the plaintiffs’ landmark victory in that case in 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that neither the Windy City nor any other city could ban law-abiding citizens from owning handguns for defense of self and family. The McDonald decision helped pave the way for the concealed carry permits now being issued throughout Illinois.
So here I am, in five-below-zero Cleveland on a Monday morning, watching CNN’s sandbag interview of George Zimmerman, and listening to Nancy Grace and assorted other talking heads conflate his case with Saturday’s verdict on Michael Dunn in the Jacksonville “loud music” homicide.
It makes me want to wander outside into the snow. There’s less bullshit out there in the cold, clean air.
The Dunn verdict gives me no heartburn. He sent bullets toward three young men who were fleeing from him and had themselves shown him no overt threat; that suffices to sustain the jury’s guilty verdicts on three counts of attempted murder, and for firing at the vehicle. There is much rage that the jury could not agree on a verdict on the charge of murdering the fourth young man, Jordan Davis. The defendant came across well with his testimony, unsupported by any other testimony, that he perceived Jordan to be bringing a gun to bear on him when he fired the fatal shots.
Did that suffice to give at least one juror reasonable doubt as to guilt? To believe that Dunn might well be telling the truth? That seems to be the primary assumption of commentators so far. It’s certainly a possibility, but it might also have been that the jury simply couldn’t agree on premeditated murder vis-à-vis lesser included offenses. In his closing statement, prosecutor John Guy told the jury that the state didn’t want anything less than a Murder One conviction. It may turn out to be a case of “be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.”
Just hypothetically, if Michael Dunn was telling the truth and there was a shotgun in the other vehicle when he opened fire upon it, the defense claim that the young men in that vehicle dumped the evidence is rendered largely moot by Dunn’s own actions. When he fled the scene, he didn’t just trigger the whole “flight equals guilt” thing; he removed from the scene the one person who could have told police that there might be a shotgun they should be looking for. It puts him somewhat in the position of the guy who kills his parents and then pleads the court’s mercy as an orphan. The cops can’t find something they don’t know to look for.
There was much fail in Michael Dunn’s actions. The innocence he claimed was nowhere near as clear as Zimmerman’s, based on his statements at the scene, and the totality of the evidence. The cases don’t really belong in the same discussion, and neither has a damn thing to do with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Dunn emerges as, at best, a bad example of stupid behavior whose only positive legacy will be learning points for more responsible armed citizens. Zimmeman remains a whipping boy for the willful ignorance of those who prefer superficial sensationalism to research into the actual principles of law and justice.
Ruger and then Smith & Wesson have recently announced that they will no longer be selling much of their product lines in California, as Emily Miller notes in the Washington Times.
Microstamping is not only unproven and impractical; it’s abundantly clear that no good is likely to come of it.
Were the California legislators who made it law so blinded by moonbeams and butterflies they couldn’t see this coming? Or was their intent all along to say to the public, “You can only buy guns made to incorporate our stupid idea, and since no gun manufacturer will go along with it, well, you just can’t get that type of gun anymore” …?
I’m writing this on Friday, December 13, 2013. I feel a sense of foreboding that has nothing to do with Friday the thirteenth. It has everything to do with the fact that tomorrow will mark one year since the atrocity in Newtown, Connecticut at the Sandy Hook Elementary School that left twenty little kids and six innocent adults dead before the monster responsible blew his own brains out.
My first thought, and still the strongest, was the horror of it all: I have grandchildren the age of the victims. But I cannot escape the firestorm of hate that came down on law-abiding gun owners in the wake of it. Sandy Hook became a handy hook for a newly re-elected anti-gun President to take off his mask of neutrality on Second Amendment rights, and lead an unprecedented assault against them.
That assault gained ground in some places: California to some extent, Colorado, Connecticut, and New York, for example. Nationally, though, it largely fizzled. My friend Richie Feldman analyzed the situation well yesterday in his op-ed piece in USA Today.
But on the fourteenth, we can expect the Prohibitionists to dance until they’re exhausted in the blood of the innocent dead, pushing their class warfare against gun owners and ignoring the remedies that CAN prevent such atrocities. That would be measures in place on the ground allowing the next such monster to be interdicted before he can build his sick “body count.” There has been some positive movement in that direction in the year since, but not nearly enough.
Mourn the dead, as we will on this end. If something meaningful comes from those heartbreaking deaths, it will be a push for on-the-ground measures to interdict mass murderers a’ la’ the Israeli Model, not punishment of more innocent people with Draconian laws born in empty symbolism.
For longer than anyone reading this has been alive, the state of Vermont has allowed its citizens and its visitors to carry loaded, concealed handguns in public with no permit required. The Michael Bloombergs of the world fear that such a practice will make the proverbial blood run in the streets…but history has shown us the reverse. Every year, Vermont is one of the LOWEST violent crime states in the nation. In recent years Alaska and then Arizona adopted the same thing. So did Wyoming, though that state limited permitless carry to Wyoming residents. Whaddaya know: rivers of blood haven’t swept through any of their streets, either. I’m happy with these results: an old New Englander, I believe “if I ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Allowing good people to carry guns without permits, and merely forbidding convicted criminals, adjudicated mentally incompetent people, and others to do it, has worked out surprisingly well.
One suggestion, though. Many on the gun owners’ civil rights side have come to call this “Constitutional Carry.” Having been in a lot of different kinds of fights over the years, I’ve learned not to give advantages to my opponents, or leave openings through which they can hurt me. I believe referring to lawful permitless carry as “Constitutional Carry” gives the prohibitionists such an opportunity.
Why? Any fifteen-year-old kid taking high school Civics 101 knows that the arbiter of Constitutional law in this country is the Supreme Court of the United States. In two recent decisions which are landmark victories for our side – Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald, et. al. v. Chicago – SCOTUS has confirmed that the right to keep and bear arms in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights is indeed an individual right. However, both of those decisions have also made it clear that the states have the right to regulate the practice.
Which means that while the right to keep and bear arms is indeed Constitutional, to be technically correct the right to carry without a permit in the above-named states flows from the wise majority in their state legislatures, and not directly from the Second Amendment.
Words mean things. If we use the wrong terms, we compromise our credibility, and our factual credibility is our strongest weapon in this polarized debate. That’s why I for one do not describe permitless carry as “Constitutional carry.”
If we need a term with a catchy ring to it, we can simply invoke the peaceful valleys of the Green Mountain State and very appropriately call it … “the Vermont Model.”