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Opinion

Opinion

Letter: Gun strategy

February 3, 2013

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To the editor:

“Gun Free Zone.” Yet another illustration of Washington’s good intentions gone awry. These notices act as magnets for those who are looking for a place where they can kill many people, gain the notoriety they so badly need and all without fear. It has been recently written and broadcast that 18 of 19 mass killings were in schools, malls and churches. Recommendation: Replace these signs with: CAUTION: Teachers and Students May Possess Guns.”

Plus, along with remedying the above problem, three more things need to be done: 1) Any felon found possessing a weapon is given a mandatory five-year prison sentence; 2) Anyone using a gun in the commission of a crime is sentenced to a mandatory 10-year prison sentence; 3) Anyone firing a gun while committing a crime receives a mandatory 20-year sentence. Each of these is specifically without possibility of parole. Criminals’ greatest fear is being taken from their street gangs and freedom to roam our streets.

Comments

DillonBarnes 1 year, 7 months ago

No one is making the claim that guns guarantee your safety or protection. I think of Suzanna Hupp, who lost her parents to a shooter and then went on to fight for more concealed carry rights. She talked about one of her fears was being killed while carrying her gun, thus giving gun control advocates an argument against her.

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Katara 1 year, 7 months ago

Yes, there are people making the argument that guns guarantee your safety or protection. You see it now many times if there is an article where someone was injured or killed. The inevitable "If he/she had a gun, the outcome would have been different." pops up in the comments.

You see it with the argument that schools would be safer if teachers were armed.

A gun can offer protection but it is not going to work for every situation. The above article is just one example. A gun can only do so much to keep someone safe.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

I like the idea of stiff penalties for felons and others committing the crimes, but I would double your suggested jail times.

We should try to rehabilitate first time non- violent offenders, but those that intentionally commit violent crimes need to be kept out of society for as long as possible.

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Wow.

None of the examples mentioned indicate violence necessarily. Showing somebody a gun doesn't hurt them, and even firing one in the commission of a crime doesn't necessarily either.

I agree with your distinction between non violent and violent offenders, and that prison should be for violent offenders.

Why not put them in jail for life then, all of them, anybody who hits somebody else? That's the only way to make sure they don't do it again, other than killing them.

Also, I'm not at all sure that criminals hate to be in jail - they get free food, housing, medical care, etc. and in many cases, it's a badge of honor for them to have done time.

Finally, I'm curious - many who strongly advocate our constitutional rights seem to think it's fine for felons to lose their 2nd amendment rights - how does that work exactly? They're still American citizens, why shouldn't they be entitled to their constitutional rights as such?

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

Well jafs, there has to be some balance. Two teenagers getting into a fistfight don't deserve life in jail, but a teenager who pummels an old women to within an inch of her life when trying to steal her purse deserves a very long prison sentence. Doesn't matte if they like or don't like jail, the idea is to keep them out of society where they can commit another violent crime. Most crimes are committed by repeat offenders. Free up room for them by not imprisoning non-violent drug offenders, prostitutes, etc.

It is a violent crime to brandish a weapon to intimidate, rob or otherwise coerce someone to do something.

So what do you suggest as a solution for felons with guns illegally?

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

That comment was in reference to the lte, which suggests that longer sentences will deter criminals - I'm not at all sure that's true.

Agreed on freeing up space by not incarcerating non-violent offenders.

Well, I'm not sure I'd agree with that - I consider violent crimes to be those that involve actual violence, and harm to others.

Answer my question, and I'll try to answer yours.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

jafs, I thought I answered your question, but I guess not. Went back and reread your post and seems I missed this one:

"Finally, I'm curious - many who strongly advocate our constitutional rights seem to think it's fine for felons to lose their 2nd amendment rights - how does that work exactly? They're still American citizens, why shouldn't they be entitled to their constitutional rights as such?"

So are you advocating for violent felons to own guns?

My answer is not all felons lose their right to own a gun, but those that have committed violent felonies, have demonstrated they are violent and have the potential to be violent again, hence, it is acceptable to prevent them from owning or possessing a gun.

All rights are subject to restrictions, the idea being to impose the least amount of restrictions to ensure the rights can be exercised.

We have to be careful about limiting rights, but I think most can agree this is reasonable.

Some people who have committed crimes have had their first amendment rights restricted because they abused them so it is not just limited to the 2nd amendment.

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm asking on what grounds American citizens can and/or should be denied their constitutional rights? And, more specifically, how those who are so concerned about those justify that idea?

Why is it acceptable to prevent those who have committed violent crimes in the past constitutional rights? Everybody has the "potential" to be violent.

And, what happened to the notion that gun control doesn't work, since criminals will get guns anyway? Stopping previously convicted criminals from legally getting a gun won't stop them from getting one if they really want one, right?

I think if constitutional rights apply to American citizens, then purists should argue that all American citizens should have them. So, when people claim to be protectors of those rights and passionately concerned about defending them, but then turn around and say it's ok to deny them to certain people, that seems to be a contradiction.

Also, where do you draw the line? Is it ok to weaken/deny 4th amendment rights? 5th amendment ones? Etc.

I think we should lock people up if they present a real danger to others - otherwise, they should retain and possess all of their constitutional rights. And, as long as they present that danger, they should be kept away from the rest of us.

The 14th amendment says that people can lose their liberty, after due process - it doesn't say that previously convicted folks who've served their time can be denied fundamental bill of rights protections.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

Ok, so you're for allowing people who have committed violent crimes such as beating their spouse to own a gun. Or perhaps it is okay for a convicted pedophile to be able to hold jobs that put them in close contact with children. I am not. I believe that under certain circumstances it is reasonable and appropriate to deny someone their rights because that person through their actions foreited their right.

jafs, not everything in this world is black and white. One can be very passionate and dedicated to protecting rights, but that same person can understand that under certain limited circumstances a person can forfeit their rights.

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

If they're dangerous to others, they should be locked up and kept away from the rest of us.

Otherwise, they should retain their constitutional rights, if one is concerned about those, I think.

There's no constitutional right to hold jobs that put pedophiles close to children, so it's not an issue.

If convicted felons lose their rights, can easily be denied employment, housing, etc. how exactly will they change their lives and re-integrate into productive, mainstream society?

I don't see anywhere in the constitution that says people can be stripped of their basic fundamental constitutional rights simply because they've been convicted of a crime - where is that section?

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Peacemaker452 1 year, 7 months ago

Hey Jafs, About 11 months ago we had a discussion in this thread: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/feb/27/concealed-carry-changes/#c1976454

In it, you claimed that I had “extreme” views because I said that people who could not be trusted with firearms because they were a threat to others should not be walking freely among us.

Now you think “we should lock up people if they present a real danger to others-otherwise, they should retain and possess all of their constitutional rights”.

So my question; Are my views still extreme?

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

I think it is pretty extreme jafs want convicted wife beaters, rapist, pedophiles, etc. tobe able to own guns.

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

You really should read my comment again.

Especially this part "we should lock people up if they present a real danger to others." And, "otherwise".

If a wifebeater is a danger to others, we shouldn't let them out of jail. Similarly, for rapists, pedophiles, etc. Anybody who isn't determined to be dangerous to others can serve their time, come out, and re-integrate into society, if we let them.

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Those two statements are different ones.

I say if people present a real danger to others, we should keep them away from the rest of us. I also say that people should get training if they want to own guns so that they can operate them safely.

Giving folks guns without training, and then concluding that any of them who don't know how to operate them safely should be locked up seems like an odd idea to me.

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Peacemaker452 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, just like our last discussion on this subject, you are going to continue to twist and misquote what I said and add qualifiers to what you said.

That, in itself, shows the strength of your statement and your convictions.

End of conversation.

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

If you don't want to discuss things with me, that's fine.

Then you should stop responding to my posts.

Do you think that the guy in KS with a CC permit who discharged it accidentally should be locked up and kept away from the rest of us, preferably for life, since he's demonstrated he can't be trusted with a gun?

Are you in favor of or opposed to regulations on gun ownership that include safety training?

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Peacemaker452 1 year, 7 months ago

OK, you got me, not end of conversation.

The guy in Overland Park, although negligent, is not what I consider a danger to others; unless it is proven that he intentionally discharged his firearm. We have laws in place to hold people accountable for negligence that causes others harm. So no, I don’t want him to spend the rest of his life in jail.

Based on your statement; “If they're dangerous to others, they should be locked up and kept away from the rest of us”, do you think he should be locked up for life?

As I have stated before, I do not believe the government has any delegated power to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Also, a quick search reveals that a felony conviction, even for non violent offenses, bars one from owning a gun.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

You need to do a better search. Not all felonies exclude you from owning a gun. Some business and white collar crimes for example don't fall under the federal law. Go to the FAQ for Kansas Concealed Carry and you'll see that felons can get a CC permit. How could they get the permit if they were barred from owning a gun?

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jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Do you have a source?

There is a process in place for felons to have their rights restored, but it's not an easy one, and often at the federal level, requires a presidential pardon.

Also, the federal law that I read included use of controlled substances as one thing that prohibits gun ownership. Do you think that folks who smoke a little pot shouldn't be able to own guns legally?

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

Easy to find just go to the AG site or use Google.

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Shelley Bock 1 year, 7 months ago

Show me the money $$$$ for prosecution and incarceration. Take it from schools for the young for schools for criminals. What a pleasant thought

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

Why would you want to take it from the schools when there are so many other options available? For example, consider the amount of money we spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - why not use those funds for federal prosecutions. Forget the military cost, look at the amount we spent on rebuilding those nations - use it here.

End foreign subsidies, especially to China and spend the money here. End farm, oil, alternate energy and use it to prosecute criminals at the federal level.

On the state level, instead of using tax dollars to subsidize private development use it to fight crime and prosecute criminals. Maybe we don't need to have a sports center when women are being raped, homes are being invaded and people robbed?

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Shelley Bock 1 year, 7 months ago

I was being sarcastic, Fred_M. I would disagree with you regarding the utility of foreign aid for reconstruction and alternative energy and community sports centers. Yes as to ending farm subsidies to the rich and, especially for the oil corporations.

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Abdu Omar 1 year, 7 months ago

There is more to the gun problem than guns and people. Yes, just look at the movies that came out this year alone. You have got Sylvester Stalone using bombs, guns, even hatchetts to kill people. Then you have the video about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Aren't we tired of violence? I am. I am tired of these images permeating my thoughts and my imagination. I wonder how that affects a young boy's mind? Can't you imagine that this idea of killing and bloodletting is a boy's fantasy? My son, when he was young, made gun sounds and movements of fighting all the time. Now, he has children, two girls, and their worlds are different! Can't we be more like that? Laws aren't going to stop it. It has to come from good parenting and the refusal to watch these violent films and video games.

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Armstrong 1 year, 7 months ago

There are numerous laws against murder up to and including the death penalty. The problem is murderers and criminals for that matter sledom if ever pay any heed to the consequence of their actions.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

Armstrong, you are right so all we can do is to keep them off the streets after they commit crimes. Catch a felon with a gun put them away. Kill someone then put them away for life. Keep in mind the guy that killed those firefighters recently only served 17 years for beating his grandmother to death with a hammer. Why release that type of person back into society?

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Bruce Bertsch 1 year, 7 months ago

If gun free zones are a magnet, would you please explain the UK, Canada and other countries where guns are highly controlled, yet there is little gun violence. Weapons do not deter anyone. All the nukes, drones smart bombs, etc., did not keep a few determined martyrs from flying airplanes into building in the US. The same is true with determined criminals, they don't care about your weapons, they care about whatever their goal is.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

The UK is more violent than the US and they have a lot more bombings than the US. Lots of other countries with complete gun bans have lots of gun deaths that exceed the US.

The difference is the UK has banned all guns for a long time. You can't ban all guns in the US because we have the 2nd amendment. So, yes as long as criminals have guns gun free zones will attract them.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 7 months ago

Throwing all the gang bangers into prison would solve part of the problem, but what about the crazies? The bunker guy in Alabama is a prime example. He had beaten a dog to death and shot at neighbors, so there was a lot of evidence that he was losing it. The guy in Colorado had family members who suspected his mental stability. If they had reported it to the police, there is nothing they could have done. Someone who knew the mother of the guy in Connecticut had to have questioned her decision to teach a non social autistic kid how to shoot. Would gun rights supporters agree to a law that would allow the police to confiscate a person's guns when they are suspected to be nuts? They could give them back if the person passes a psych evaluation. Yes, they could go out and obtain them illegally, but if the law would allow police to regularly search these suspects, maybe they could still prevent tragedies. And there could be stiff penalties for those who maliciously turn someone in as a "crazy", so they can prevent misuse of this law.

What do you think? Might work, might not, but why don't we try and start real conversations somewhere. Although the first part of this letter writer's points made me think "another gun nut", the second part made me think, maybe he is actually brainstorming some ideas about what might work. Why don't we try and get together and brainstorm solutions, instead of spewing the dogma of ideology set in concrete? I'll bet we find more common ground than not.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

tomatogrower, you're right, crime takes a multi-faceted approach. Stop the bleeding, put the criminals in jail and keep them there. Then let's figure out how we can address the problem of the mentally ill committing unpredicable crimes. Mental health funding, reporting of those that present a threat, funding putting the information into the gun background check database - the law is there already, but it goes unfunded.

And the main issue is how do we deal with poverty that reults in ghettos where crime breeds unchecked? Just throwing money at the problem won't solve it. We need to get to the root, break the cycle of poverty and if necessary, force feed an education down the throats of the young to help them escape.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

rv. The teachers only can do so much with what they have to work with. So many kids have no parental support. And the teachers have to take a lot of crap from the kids.

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Fred Mertz 1 year, 7 months ago

Really? Show me where there is a widespread prosecution of bartenders.

Someone who knowingly sells a gun to a criminal should be severely punished. There was a case in Topeka just recently, but I don't know if I heard what the sentence was.

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Centerville 1 year, 7 months ago

When the cry went out that the civil rights of the mentally ill demanded that they be 'deinstitutionalized', the therapy industry jumped in with both feet and promised that is the feds and state would fund Community Mental Health Centers, then they would look out for the deinstitutionalized. Their funding has gone up every year and, like clockwork, they acts like community mental health is a whole new mandate that they need more money to implement.. Truth is, they'd rather spend their time in a nice office listening to complaints that "My spouse doesn't understand me!" than going out and talking a schizophrenic living on the street into taking his meds.

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In_God_we_trust 1 year, 7 months ago

There are already more than enough laws concerning guns on the books. Laws are mainly there to keep honest people honest. More laws or stiffer laws won't fix anything, except make it more expensive for you to pay for their existence. Criminals have made the decision to not obey laws. Therefore more laws won't stop them. To stop bad behavior, you need to teach the person and enable them to be able to live legally. An improved economy, accountability to God for one's actions, and easy hiring from employers will help those in society from turning to violence and crime for their income.

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Armstrong 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm still thinking shooting back is the best policy.

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voevoda 1 year, 7 months ago

In order to implement the second paragraph of Mr. Winn's letter, we'd have to enact and rigorously enforce universal background checks for the purchase or transfer of ownership of firearms.

If the goal is to prevent the misuse of firearms by criminal, insane, and irresponsible people, then all persons who have exhibited violent behavior, with or without a firearm, ought to be banned from owning them.

As soon as someone needs to "shoot back," somebody has already been injured or killed. "Shoot back" is not a sufficient response to the problem.

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mom_of_three 1 year, 7 months ago

I agree with you. The LTE also forgets Lanza, Holmes and other shooters were mentally unbalanced and were not criminals when they committed their crimes. I don't think they intentionally picked their targets as a gun free zone.

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Peacemaker452 1 year, 7 months ago

"I don't think they intentionally picked their targets as a gun free zone."

Why do you not think they did? Do you think it is just pure coincidence?

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Peacemaker452 1 year, 7 months ago

Nothing in paragraph two requires a background check. All three of the points call for punishment after an action is taken place.

Who gets to decide what “exhibited violent behavior” means? That is an extremely broad term that you want to use to strip someone of the rights.

There is not a direct correlation between “shooting back” and someone already being injured or killed. Having shots fired at you, even without being hit, is more than sufficient justification to use deadly force in all but the most regressive states.

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Centerville 1 year, 7 months ago

"Shoot back' is a better response than following Homeland Security's latest advice: hide or find some sissors.

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50YearResident 1 year, 7 months ago

Here is how sissors work, you hand them to the bad gun and thet start running as fast as you can. The bad guy will chase you, trip and fall, and poke his eye out. That alwys ends a fight.

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Lane Signal 1 year, 7 months ago

I can't believe it has come to this. Gun control advocates are afraid to advocate for control of anything except assault weapons. We cheer our President when he proposes an incredibly weak gun control agenda and then has to release a picture of himself shooting to placate the gun lobby. If we stay quiet about the bigger issue to get a (largely cosmetic) ban on assault weapons, we will loose sight of the larger issue. It is guns that kill people. Guns and gun culture the primary reason that guns kill thousands in the United States every year. The gun lobby uses the gun violence to instill fear in people to sell more guns. More guns drives the culture to see guns as the solution to our problems and this drives more gun violence which drives more fear and increases gun sales. We need to stop letting people arm themselves. Ban handguns, ban assault rifles. Hunting weapons can be debated, but guns designed just to kill people need to be rounded up.

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