Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Get Illegal Guns Off Of The Streets

Once again we see people deeply divided over the issue of gun control and our second amendment rights following a maniac committing mass murder in a school of young children. Some blame the gun while others blame the shooter and our mental health care system as both sides dig their feet in to promote their perceived solution.

As the rancor increases, bills are introduced by the droves in state legislatures and at the federal level, letters are written to newspapers, online forums light up with varying views and even face to face discussions occur, many heated and all too often, misrepresenting, misinterpreting or misunderstanding the opposing view.

Case in point, a video put out by the City of Newark, New Jersey featuring their Mayor, Cory Booker offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of someone carrying a gun within the city.

Some within our community have only recently stumbled cross this video and are promoting it as if a new program. It isn’t. The Gunstoppers program in Newark actually began back in 2007 and seems to have been an effort to combat gang violence and shootings.

Some who fancy themselves as “journalists” state the Mayor makes no distinction between legal and illegal guns. Not so. Although not said until late in the video, Mayor Booker clearly states, as well as it is clearly shown in text that the program is addressing illegal guns, stolen, homemade or in the possession of someone who shouldn’t have one due to criminal history, age or mental health.

Since I live nearly 3,000 miles from Newark, I have no real opinion on how the city is run and whether or not this program is effective overall. I did email the city requesting information on its effectiveness and still await another reply.

But, the one point both sides can agree on and often do, shortly before diverting back into our entrenched views, illegal guns are a big part of the problem and must be taken out of the hands of criminals, gang bangers and others not legally entitled to or who shouldn’t have a gun.

Regardless of what we read into Mayor Booker’s program, that is what I see him trying to do, address illegal guns within the city he leads.

Like the rest of us, he was outraged over the Sandy Hook shooting and joined the call for Pragmatic and Achievable Gun Law Reform in a post at the Huffington Post. I can’t say I agree with every point proposes, such as banning so called high capacity magazines and banning assault weapons, since that designation is applied due to appearance and not function, real assault rifles as used by the military already banned for the general public, but he is initiating a discussion.

Mayor Booker further affirms his actions taken in the video are in regards to illegal guns in an interview covered by the Star Ledger where he is quoted, “I’m not afraid of law-abiding citizens who buy a gun,” and “Criminals are killing people. Not law-abiding gun owners.”

He also said in that same discussion, “what frustrates me about this debate is it’s a false debate, it’s a false debate. This is a convenient trick to try to divide our country more. Most of us in America, including gun owners, agree on things that would stop the kind of carnage that’s going on in cities all over America” and “all the shootings in my city only one was done by a law-abiding citizen that’s mentally stable that bought a gun.”

Let’s put it to rest that he makes no distinction between legal and illegal guns. Clearly, he does make that distinction.

As I said above, this program began back in 2007. It seemed to make national notice about a year ago by a blogger who put the video out on his blog and gained the attention of Fox News who like others, seems to have missed the effort. Researching a little, something those who consider themselves “journalists” who do well to try some times, I found it being discussed on a discussion forum back in July 2009 where the claim is made, “Booker’s video would have us believe all firearms are illegal. Booker makes the distinction near the end of the video, not that it matters — the distinction will be lost on snitches interested only in pocketing a thousand bucks.”

I disagree as I credit the Police with more ability to discern and investigate than that. Seeing that the claim was being made by Alex Jones’ Infowars, it doesn’t surprise me to see it misrepresented and blown way out of proportion, as Jones’ and his frequent conspiracy theories are noted for doing.

Since program has been affect since 2007, I asked about the effectiveness of it and found an article on Newark Crime Statistics where it is said in 2011, “There was a surge, however, in gun recoveries with 432 of 696 total seized within June through December 2011, compared to just 278 during that same time the year before.”

Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said, “How many of those guns … saved a shooting? How many of those guns we recovered saved someone from being murdered?”

Of course, we cannot give a definitive answer to that, but we have to believe taking nearly 700 illegal guns off of the streets, hopefully with incarceration of the one who illegally had it, a number of gang related crimes were prevented.

I’m still waiting for more information from the city of Newark on later numbers.

While I am probably a political opposite of Cory Booker, hyperbole and misrepresentations of his views is of no service to the gun debate or of conservatism. We must cut through the hype of both sides and look for ways to curb criminals’ access to illegal guns.

Disarming law-abiding citizens or making self defense illegal, as Rep. Sherry Appleton from the 23rd district in Washington State proposes is not a solution.

Mayor Booker called for us to meet in a “pragmatic center” where we agree and pass legislation from there.

Our problem seems to be finding that “pragmatic center” in the first place. That and I’m not so sure adding legislation is any better. Given the murder rates where there is strict legislation, perhaps that is part of the problem.

Like others, I don’t have the answer, just my point of view. But this is a matter we must address as our society continues to bleed.

But first, let’s stop the hype, cut through the smoke & mirrors and realize the real problem is not the gun, it is those who misuse the gun.

But above all, stop misrepresenting each other’s point of view in order to win the argument. That only makes all of us lose.

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