Sunday, December 28, 2014

One nation under Guns...pt.2

Wonk Blog's Emily Badger is the third person to catch on to the real problem we're facing in our new gun loving America (I was the first, and Voxdotcom the second). And you can thank our conservative activist supreme court for dramatically misreading the 2nd Amendment.

I'm encouraged by this article and what I hope becomes a serious debate. If nothing happens, we're all in big trouble.

Like many others, I have often pointed to the preamble to the constitution as a way to solve some of these judicial mistakes:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
But...At the Cornell University Law School website, they wrote this about the preamble that surprised me:
"Courts will not interpret the Preamble to confer any rights or powers not granted specifically in the Constitution."
I'm hoping that's just an opinion. Here's what our conservative justices foisted off on us, without a serious thought of the consequences:
Guns change the equation in so many ways. They make it harder for police to retreat, and more likely that a stand-off that might have been resolved peacefully will escalate. They make it harder for police to give suspects the benefit of the doubt, and more likely that a suspected criminal may not deserve it.

They make it easier for a mentally ill man to forever alter two families' lives in the name of "revenge."

After the killing of New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos over the weekend, it feels perhaps more satisfying to place blame elsewhere: on protesterswho've cried for better policing, on public officials who acknowledge that the protesters' grievances are valid. But both claims deflect attention toward a vague culprit — "anti-police rhetoric" — and away from a more concrete and systemic one: the ever-presence and easy availability of guns. In this country, by contrast, the ubiquity of firearms — the possibility of a gun, legal or illegal, in any coat pocket or waist band — injects a level of tension into police encounters that may be hard to entirely disarm even with the most thoughtful community policing reforms.

In the United States, the ever-presence of guns makes it seem plausible that a 12-year-old boy handling a toy might actually possess one. And it makes it more likely that an officer responding to him would pull his own trigger. The ever-presence of guns also makes it plausible that an officer interacting with a teenager might fear for his life — and act in that fear. And it makes it plausible — even responsible — that communities who often encounter law enforcement feel they must teach their sons how to respond to policemen capable of killing them.

"There’s not a big gun culture in Australia," Geoffrey Alpert, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has studied police use of force there, recently told me. "So the cops don’t have to worry the way our cops do. There’s not always a gun in every encounter. They don’t have to think about that." They're freer to retreat, to reassess, to leave their own weapons holstered.

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