Thursday, January 31, 2013

Freedom Should Include Right to Speak Language of  Choice

So, should it be allowed that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited in Arabic? More broadly, should people coming to America be required to learn English? My thought is that this is America, land of the free, and that a person should be free to speak in whatever language. Do we require all to dress alike? Nor should we require everyone to talk the same language. Freedom is not forcing everyone to conform, but, rather, it allows differences. Being allowed to speak other languages should be viewed as a freedom, and rather than seeking to require people from other countries to speak our language, we should be saying, Welcome to America, where you are free to speak whatever language you desire.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Those with Guns Should be Taught Sanctity of Life

Protecting your country, and fighting crime and protecting your property are good things. Using a gun to do so can be also be good. I do not favor gun regulation, and back the Second Amendment. I simply wish we, as a people and without legislation, would realize the dangers of guns, and the dangers of some of our attitudes toward guns. If, as I am told, such things as shoot-to-kill is taught in our concealed weapons classes, then should it be? And, if it is, every warning and rejoinder as to the dangers of shoot-to-kill, and the times it is ill-advised, and the value of life of even a criminal, should also be taught.

For the values a society teaches its people will be reflected in the deaths from guns.

All this, as I think more on the young man who was blown away by a homeowner who apparently felt he was only protecting his home. The man who did the shooting was a church-going man, he didn't have a criminal background, and, yet, now he may end up charged with manslaughter or homicide. He had no criminal background, but there is another background which also might have contributed. That background is what he had been taught about guns, and whether they should be used to protect property. We do not know what he was taught, but we can wonder. And, we can wonder if he ever was taught to to value even the life of a robber, and to be careful not to shoot someone if unnecessary. The gun can be an instrument of death, so those who are to use them should be taught the sanctity of life, or there will be none.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whatever Value You Give the Gun Will Play into How it is Used

The gun being an inanimate object, it is true, then, that guns don't kill, people do.

But, it is also true that whatever value society gives to guns will also factor into how many people die from them.

Let's take two countries with high gun ownership, Switzerland and the U.S. Switzerland, you may have heard, has a low violent crime rate. I do wonder if at least part of the reason is that to many there, guns mean recreation. Oh, the Swiss, like their American counterparts, do view the gun as a need to ward of foreign invasions, but I'm guessing a higher percentage of them go marksmanship shooting with their guns.

It is said there are 3,000 gun clubs in Switzerland. That means a lot of folks over there view the gun as good, clean, wholesome entertainment: shooting at targets.

In America, we easily run in those who don't head for the gun range often, but rather value the gun for protection of property, among other things. Protection of property can be good, but let's suppose that value, to some, means shoot anyone who ventures to trespass. And, how many gun activists have a shoot-to-kill mentality? Take the I'm-just-protecting-my-property value and combine it with the shoot-to-kill value and, sooner or later someone is going to mistakenly pull into the wrong driveway, and have the homeowner come out and blow them away.

Whatever value society puts on a gun, it will have an impact on how much crime is committed with a gun. Case in point, this news story today of the young man who did, indeed, pull into the wrong driveway, and who was, indeed, blown away.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Again, Just Why is it We Register Lobbyists?

Eleven months ago today, I posted one of my most popular posts. "Why even have a lobbyist program?" I asked. "Why register them? Why treat them any different than the average person?"

At the federal level, anyone who is paid to persuade Congress is required to register as a lobbyist. Now, you might think the benefit of identifying lobbyists is a wonderful thing. In the name of transparency, surely we should want these folks out in the open.

Well, I'm not sure it actually works that way.

They register as lobbyists, but is there any record of who they meet with, which laws they work on, or when they are influencing Congress? If you don't make those things transparent, what good does it do to merely make it known that they exist as lobbyists? If you are not tracing their influence, does it matter?

Here's one benefit of the lobbyist program, you say: They can't buy gifts for Congress members. Surely, that is worth something, for we don't want our elected officials to be influenced by money. 

No, we don't. Certainly not. 

How is it, then, that we allow them to contribute to political campaigns? Which does the politician more good, a ski pass to Vail or, say, $20,000 being poured into his or her campaign treasury? If we can see the ski pass is a bad influence, why do we not worry about the $20,000 going into the campaign treasury? We are penny wise and pound foolish, if we suppose our no-gifts-trick is doing any good at all.

If our politicians really wanted to ward off such bad influences on themselves when they passed the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, something tells me they would have gone about things a little differently.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

We Ought to Institute the Sixth Amendment
   Someone ought to pick up the Constitution, read how it calls for those accused in criminal affairs to have a speedy and public trial, and say, "Hey, look at this new idea I just read. Let's give this a try."
   I'm just saying, we aren't doing it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't.
   So, here's just a thought on one way to institute the Sixth Amendment. Next time a public official is accused of misconduct, let's round up all the evidence immediately available, all the witnesses and others, and have a preliminary hearing within no more than a week's time. No, maybe it can be more than a preliminary hearing. If enough evidence exists, let the verdict be rendered that very first week. Let the judge and jury ask, If we wait, what other evidence will possibly come forth, and when it is worthy, postpone a verdict, but otherwise come to one.
   And, invite the public along. The Sixth Amendment not only says it should be a speedy trial, but a public one.

Friday, January 25, 2013

$23,000 for Only 100 Hours of Work Just Doesn't Add Up
   I do not know if $230 an hour is an unusual amount for an attorney to be paid, but I'm guessing that, even by lawyer standards, it is.
   So, what was our attorney general (at the time, he was the chief deputy in the attorney general's office, not the attorney general, himself) doing when he billed $23,000 for about 100 hours of his time?
   State Sen. Todd Weiler, Woods Cross, has suggested $23,000 for 100 hours just doesn't look right.
   And, it doesn't. It doesn't add up. We, as Swallow's constituents, are right to ask what was going on.

(Note: the following updated added 2-19-13:
   When federal officers consider charges, do they consider just federal laws that might have been violated, or do they also consider state laws? For, in Utah Code 67-16-5, it prohibits receiving compensation for private services at a rate substantially higher than fair market value.

Practicing on the Side is a Concern
  If no law prevents someone in the attorney general office from practicing law privately, on the side, is it wrong to do so, just the same?
   More to the point, should John Swallow have been practicing on the side, while serving as the chief deputy in the state's attorney general office? Our governor, Gary Herbert, has said his general counsel had to give up  private practice in order to take the state position. So, the logic that what Swallow did violated good judgment and ethics has standing.
   Sen. Todd Weiler, Woods Cross, is expected to introduce legislation preventing the attorney general and those in his office from pacticing on the side.
   I do not know for certain that what Swallow did was lawyerly. Maybe it was consulting of another kind. But, perhaps even if it were consulting of another kind, that also might should be banned as a conflict of interest. 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Government Entities Break the Sixth Amendment
   Does the way government entities deal with personnel issues run contrary to the Constitution?
   The Bill of Rights says that in criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to "a speedy and public trial."
   Yet, nothing seems to make government bodies feel more justified to go behind closed doors than matters of personal misconduct. The argument is that they are protecting the privacy of the accused. Only problem with that is, many times the concerns covered in the news, anyway.
   You might argue that the Six Amendment was speaking of criminal prosecutions, and, specifically of those taking place in a formal court of law. I would only say that if a person is accused of misconduct, that borders awfully close on being criminal. And, in the cases where breaking a specific law is discussed and any type of retribution is in the balance, that falls in the middle of being a form of criminal prosecution, to me.
   The Sixth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, and the rights listed there are considered guarantees to our most basic of all liberties. Is not this right as important as the others? If the right to a speedy and public trial is to mean anything to us, if it was really meant to sit right along with freedom of speech and religion and keeping and bearing arms, then we must have our public entities apply it when they mete out justice to their employees. At least, it should be offered to the public employees, if not force upon them. The Constitution says they have the right to it, so give them their right.
   The Sixth Amendment is the forgotten amendment, the ignored amendment. Would that we would give it life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Let's Find a Way to Free the Fetus from the Womb
   Speaking of abortion, I heard a wonderful idea tonight, while on Facebook. Would it be possible, at the fetal  stage, to replace abortion with early birth? Instead of aborting these children, they would be surgically removed from the womb and immediately adopted out.
   I would imagine technology does not already exist, that the child could be delivered instead of aborted at the time the mother would choose to have the abortion. But, we have entertained medical quests before, seeking to end cancer, heart attacks, and a host of other things. Why not a medical quest to push back the time at which the baby can be released and yet be viable and living?
   Free the child, free the mother. The child is freed from an unwanting womb, and the mother is freed from an unwanted burden. Both win. Why would a win-win solution not be acceptable?
   I like this idea from Trevor Tidwell, a lot. Wonderful thinking.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roe v. Wade Comes and Goes
  'Tis a day that did not get enough attention, this 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
   I read how 70 percent of Americans oppose overturning the Supreme Court's decision. I wonder, then, of America, and am saddened, that these people mean so little to us, that we discard them, saying they have no rights, not even the right to life, that we say, if they were born, they would not be coming into homes that loved them, anyway, so they are therefore better off never knowing life outside the womb.
  Bless the unborn, this day. Though the wave of public opinion stands against them, may the day come that America sees what it does is wrong. Of all nations that have made progress in civil rights, America might be the greatest. How, then, does it shun equality for these who are unborn? Others in the parade of civil rights have garnered the rights to citizenship, and fair treatment. How is it, then, that those so precious as unborn babies are not so much as granted the right to live? How is it that their's is not even considered a civil rights cause? How is it we say they have no rights at all?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Revolutionary America and the Wild West both had Gun Control

And, along comes a book that basically says, America, you've in for a surprise. Your founding fathers did practice gun control. And, your folks on the Wild West practiced it, too.

Adam Winkler's "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America" came out in 2011.

First, note what Winkler says of the Wild West, where the lack of law and battling with Indians prompted most everyone to have a gun if they lived out of town. But, Winkler says, if they came into town in Dodge City, Kansas, or Tombstone, Arizona, or Deadwood, South Dakota (now there are three gunfighting towns, right?), the law required them to park their guns at the marshall's office, check their firearms in there.

That would be a little more restrictive than anything I'm currently aware of in America. At least, I don't think there are any cities where you have to check your gun in at the sheriff's office as you arrive in town.

What about the Founding Fathers? Did they practice gun control? I haven't read Mr. Winkler's book, but I'm told it says those who opposed the Revolutionary War were banned from having guns. I don't know how widespread the law was, just that Winkler suggests that was the law.

That amounts to gun regulation based on political beliefs. It would be a lot like saying those who oppose the war in Afghanistan cannot have guns. Now, just how well would that go over? Shall we try it?

Friday, January 18, 2013

You will Not Stop a Fire by Banning It
   You will never stop a fire by banning it. And, to some extent, so it is with guns.
   If it is a love of guns we have, if we as Americans see a need to own guns in order to fight off burglars, and to fight off government tyranny, and to be prepared for a foreign invasion, then those are the things feeding the fire.
   Those are attitudes, and you cannot ban them. You cannot legislate them. If you would change them, you must appeal to people's senses. Sometimes, the best thing for government to do is to provide leadership, not legislation nor executive order.
   Remember when President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage? He didn't pass an executive order and he didn't propose legislation. Instead, he made an appeal for what he felt was right. His mere verbal argument did much to persuade the nation that gay marriages are okay.
   The attitude of the nation was altered. We can be for or against gay marriages, but it will be hard to argue Obama's verbal appeal did not sway national opinion to favor same-sex matrimony.
   Leadership, not legislation.
   Americans need to be persuaded that just because the Second Amendment gives them the right to own guns, it does not mean they have to. Actually, you can be a patriot without owning a gun.
   They need to be convinced that if you don't need a gun, it might be better that you don't have one. They need to reflect on the thought that with only 5 percent of the world's population, we own 50 percent of the world's guns (if statistics are correct), and they need to wonder if that has anything to do with the U.S. having  20 times the gun-related murder rate of the average developed nation (again, if statistics are correct).
   That's 20 times what the other countries have.
   They need to wonder about how 600,000 guns are stolen annually (if statistics are correct), and they need to consider that a good portion of our violent crimes are committed with stolen weapons.
   They need to reflect on that study showing that, when compared to 22 other high-income nations, gun-related suicides in the the U.S. were 5.8 times higher than in the other nations (despite U.S. suicides being 30 percent less, overall). If you don't like the idea of your children committing suicide, should you keep a gun in the home?
   They need to look at that same study and take note that unintentional firearm deaths were 5.2 times what they were in the other nations.
   They need to understand that a gun is an influence, that once placed in a home, those living in the home will be looking for ways to use it. They need to consider that anger often grabs for an available release, and if the gun is ready and handy, the release of anger might be channeled through the gun.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

 Guns Carry the Value Assigned Them by Society
  Guns carry the value assigned to them by society. If a society (say Switzerland) views them as good, wholesome recreation, they will be that, to a large degree.
   And, if a nation sees them as protection against government there will be at least some violence committed against government leaders.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Significant Number Would Take Up Arms Against This Country

We live in a day when rebels view themselves as patriots, a day when a few have an itch to take up arms against this country. Oh, they are a far cry from the majority, but they are a significant number.

It is them I fear.

They speak of the Second Amendment as if it were placed in the Constitution to ensure that the people would be able to raise up against the government some day. I do not know exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they put a preface statement in the Second Amendment, saying a well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of this nation. But, I do not take it to mean that someday we must raise up in rebellion against our own country. That is a step too far, both in terms of what the Second Amendment is really saying and in what is likely to be necessary.

On the heels of Sandy Hook, our nation began this debate on gun control. I thought, then, how if too much control was enacted, some would literally be up in arms. It was a thought, then, and not something I really envisioned happening. I still don't. But, Obama's moves against guns appear that they might be as far-reaching as anything ever enacted. To top it off, many of them will come by executive order, further incensing  some.

I say, some, but, I mean those who itch to rebel against this government.

I still would guess it will not come to that. But, one never knows. What would they actually do? How do you actually go about taking up your guns against the government, even if you think it the right thing to do? 

I pray that they don't take up arms, in any fashion.

As an end-thought to all this. I think of a past blog, where I said the temptations of a gun are limited to the uses it has. A gun can be used for hunting, for skeet shooting, for protecting a home, and so forth. Often, the use of the gun is dictated by what society teaches its people it is there for. In Switzerland, more people own guns than in most countries. They use them for target shooting, and the use of a gun becomes a sport and pastime to them. I wonder but what if a study were done, we would find Switzerland has more gun clubs than any other nation.

A gun is used for what a society teaches its people to use it for. Switzerland might be recreation. So, what of a nation where many are taught that the purpose of the gun is to be ready to fight for freedoms should the government someday attempt to take them away?

If we are more likely to use the gun for the things we are taught that it is there for, what of us in the U.S.,where we are taught that the day might come when we will need to rise up in rebellion against our government. Yes, it may well be true we will need to, though I seriously doubt it. But, it is also true that some will tilt for a cause when no cause exists, simply because they have been taught to look that direction. They will fabricate a need in order to fulfill their vision. They will be looking so much for the day when the keeping and bearing arms means rising up in rebellion that they find a reason when no reason exists.

The gun sits on the shelve, inanimate, but it is an influence upon the person who owns it, just as all our hobbies and toys and pastimes are influences upon us. The influences of the gun must be selected from the things that can be done with the gun, with the emphasis on those uses taught to us by our society.

Our society teaches rebellion against an oppressive society. I do wonder whether we have more political shootings than most nations.

Should We All Have Court-Appointed Lobbyists?
   I'll go back to what bothers me as much as anything about Swallowgate. Why did John Swallow refer Jeremy Johnson to a lobbyist? What are lobbyists even doing in this picture?
  Why is this an acceptable thing, to pay lobbyists to use their influence to get a person out of legal troubles? Yes, we pay lawyers, but lawyers use arguments of law to help their clients. What reasoning skills does a lobbyist have that a lawyer does not? What can a lobbyist do that a lawyer cannot? Why would you refer someone to a lobbyist and not to a good lawyer? If you are going to the FTC and asking it to not charge someone with a crime, how is it that being a lobbyist will make the FTC listen to you? Why would the FTC even grant you an appointment? 
   So, why-oh-why should Swallow have been referring Johnson to a lobbyist, in the first place? 
   Do we have a legal system where those who have enough money to hire lobbyists might make cases against them go away? Hmm, I'm wondering, can those too poor to hire their own, get a court-appointed lobbyist?
    Justice swayed and decided by the amount of money you throw forward is not my idea of justice. So, if you are telling me that this is a normal part of our legal system, no, I am not pleased, at all.

Monday, January 14, 2013

For Swallow's, Reid's and Johnson's Sake, Bring on Sixth Amendment
  Now would be a good time to implement the Sixth Amendment, for John Swallow's sake, for Harry Reid's sake, for Jeremy Johnson's sake.
   And, for your sake. You're the one, as much as any, who wants to know what's going on.
   With the rest of the nation all aflutter about the Second Amendment, let us stir up some interest also in what is perhaps the most disregarded of all the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. We run roughshod over the Sixth Amendment, and think little of it.
   "The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial."
   Me, I think we ought to apply those words to not only official court trials, but to legal inquiries. A quick inquiry can serve the accused. How do you think John Swallow feels, seeing he is getting beaten up in the public's eye? Surely, he wants his name cleared, and doesn't want to have to wait months to see it done.
   Same with Harry. Times are hairy for Harry Reid.
   Johnson? I read a story in the Deseret News, I believe, which quoted Mark Shurtleff (who just finished his turn as Utah attorney general) as saying the FTC has been at this for two years without coming up with squat against Johnson. Surely, if prosecutors cannot come up with a solid case in two years, the accused should not be left hanging under the cloud of the accusations.
   "The accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial." Wish those words were as much of a rallying cry as those of the Second Amendment.
   Give us justice long before giving us death. Justice to be just needs to be dealt in a timely fashion.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Those With Legal Problems can Gain Advantage from a Lobbyist?
  John Swallow, did you say you referred Jeremy Johnson to a lobbyist, with the thought being the lobbyist might help Johnson out of his legal problems?
   You sent him to a lobbyist, not a lawyer?
   For those who caught the news, this Jeremy Johnson is in court on federal fraud charges, and he was forging an agreement to protect others -- including John Swallow, who perhaps needs no such protection at all -- from prosecution. (Do we know Johnson didn't  include Swallow on the list of the immune just to make Swallow look bad?) 
   Anyway, this news story broke just days after Swallow was sworn in as Utah's attorney general.
   Johnson indicates money was requested to make the legal problems go away. Swallow responds that he did not offer money, nor did he take it. But, he indicates he did refer Swallow to a lobbyist.
   Most strange, to me. If a person is in legal trouble, don't you send them to a good lawyer? Just what is it that a lobbyist is suppose to do? These charges against Johnson, were they going to change if-- if what kind of influence was exerted? Just what kind of influence can a lobbyist offer that a lawyer can't?
   One possible answer, of course, is that they can push for a change in the laws. I understand, however, that Johnson was already under investigation. How is it moral that if you see legal trouble coming, you can buy a lobbyist and, in essence, buy a change in the laws? This might help rich people like Johnson, but it is a system that will do little to help the rest of us.
   Nor should it, obviously. Buying your way out of legal problems should not be the American way.
   Nor from what I am reading is it said the lobbyist was to lobby for new legislation. Somehow, some other way, the lobbyist was to affect the case, helping the legal problems go away.
   This I do not understand. Influence from lobbyists? I do not understand how that has a place in the legal system.
    There are other angles of possible influence peddling to be considered in this story. Johnson contributed to outgoing Attorney General Mark Shurtleff when he was running for the office. That does not mean Shurtleff's office gave him any extra consideration, but it doesn't go unnotice on me that a person who contributed heavily to Shurtleff's campaign later approached that office for help. And, yes, I wonder if he expected his contribution meant he should have some favor. And, yes, I believe many times such contributions do result in the elected official giving more help than would be offered if a political contribution was not in the background.
   And, the news stories say Johnson donated money to the attorney general's Internet Crimes Against Children task force. Now, I'm all for private citizens donating to government, but it is unusual when they do so. People donate to a lot of things, but government usually isn't one of them. Yes, I wonder if Johnson was seeking influence. When did he donate? Before the investigation against him, or after it was underway? The A.G.'s office perhaps perceived no harm in Johnson contributing to a worthy cause. But, in retrospect, perhaps they should have.

Friday, January 11, 2013

America's Owning so Many Guns Hazardous to Its Health
   So many guns do Americas own that life expectancy is lowered.
   Such is the lead theme of an article in yesterday's Deseret News. The day before, I had caught a snippet of the story on KSL, and wondered if I had heard wrong, or if the report was wrong. Though I have already believed lives are lost because too many guns are scattered across America, yes, it does surprise me that life expentancy is notably decreased.
   If I read the article correctly, you take how much the U.S. lags behind other rich, developed countries in life expectancy, and measure how much of the difference is because of gun deaths -- and gun deaths account for one-quarter of the difference.
   One quarter.
   Americans would much love to have the highest life expectancy in all the world. Guns are but one factor holding us down. Obesity, alcohol-related accidents, drug usage, infant mortality (why should that be low?) and AIDS were also cited as factors lowering the U.S.'s life expectancy.
Did Founding Fathers Require Gun Ownership?
   The Founding Fathers mandated that every able-bodied male had to own a gun?
   I'm listening to a Larry Pratt / Piers Morgan exchange, and Pratt says there was a Militia Act of 1796, "which required all able-bodied men to own a military rifle."
   Whoa. So, Spring City makes statewide news when it suggests that every household should own a gun. And, we still talk about the town Virgin, Utah, once passing an ordinance requiring every household to have a gun. And, Kennesaw, Georgia, has, for years, required its people to own guns.
   But, really, the Founding Fathers also required this? Whoa, again. I am surprised. 
   Looking into it, I'm not sure there was such an act in 1796, but there were the Militia Acts of 1792, which conscripted every free, able-bodied, white male into militia service and required them each to arm themselves with a musket.
   Now, that sounds a little different than requiring civilians to own guns -- civilians who are not yet being conscripted into service. To me, it is completely different thing. But, there would be those who argue with that, saying the reason we all should bear arms is to be prepared for military action, same as the early-day Americans were preparing for military action.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crimes of Impulse High in Switzerland

Next up as evidence an abundance of guns leads to an abundance of impulse killings? Switzerland.

Last week, the Deseret News ran an article on how domestic violence murders account for many of the homicides in Utah. The article came two days after the Salt Lake Tribune reported most of the gun deaths in Utah come from suicides. 

No, Utah is not a state with way too much crime. Just isn't. Inserting a lot of guns into this state -- we are, indeed, high when it comes to the amount of guns we have -- hasn't translated into a lot of violent crime. But, domestic violence killings and suicides are both often crimes of passion, crimes of impulse . . . 

Crimes where the ready availability of a weapon translates into more casualties.

So, I'm reading today about Switzerland, which also has both a high gun ownership rate and a low crime rate. And, what does the article say? It says the country's family shootings and suicides are among the highest in Europe.

Switzerland shares that trend with Utah, then, and this furthers the thought that when it comes to crimes of impulse, the availability of guns is a driving factor.,8599,2049136,00.html

Bravo to Nielson for Proposed Legislation on Conflicts of Interest

Bravo to State Rep. Jim Nielson of Bountiful for suggesting legislation allowing legislators to abstain from voting when faced with a conflict of interest.

Currently, law requires them to vote if they are on the floor when the vote is taken. And, if it is a close vote, they can be summoned to come vote even if they have a conflict.  Nielson has said he is believes the current law's intent was to shield the legislators from being criticized for voting on matters where someone might say they had a conflict of interest. With the law in place, the legislator is able to simply say, "I had to vote. It's the law."

But, Nielson is right. Legislators should have the right to sidestep conflicts of interest. I wish we even had a way of listing possible conflicts on each vote. Maybe we could ask the legislator to say whether he or she is aware of any conflict each time a vote is cast, including whether any campaign contributor stands to benefit. 

Currently, legislators file a conflict of interest statement. And, if a matter is not on that disclosure, they are allowed to disclose it at the time of the vote.

But, allowing them to disclose it is different from requiring them to say they are not aware of any conflict, including saying they are aware of no campaign contributor being in position to benefit.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More on Spring City

Another thought on Spring City, the Utah city of close to 1,000 residents that is considered requiring every household in town to have a gun, and is still considering requesting that each household own a gun.

I heard Mark Shurtleff, former Utah attorney general, say mandating it would have been illegal. Thought of the law that would make it illegal (having been looking at state laws a week or two ago), and looked it up. It's 53-5a-102-4, "All authority to regulate firearms is reserved to the state except where the Legislature specifically delegates responsibility to local authorities or state entities."

Is asking the city's asking residents to own a gun in any way a form of regulation? Don't know. Guess as long as you are not making gun ownership a requirement, it isn't regulation.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Spring City Wants a Gun in Every Household
   Here's the exact opposite thing from what I'd like to see happen: Spring City has the notion everyone should go out and buy a gun. They thought about passing an ordinance requiring gun ownership, but then thought better of that, and now are just considering asking the good folks to make sure there's at least one gun in every household.
   Every home needs a refrigerator, a stove, and a gun. I've heard that in the rental advertisements down there, when they say an apartment comes with all amenities, it means that along with the washer and dryer, the place comes stocked with a gun. (Just kidding, of course.)
   Me, I've been saying that I'm all for those in risky places having guns . . . and I wouldn't outlaw them . . . and, I'm not in favor of gun control. But, as you know, I hardly like guns. My thought is, we have too many of them laying around, and they too easily fall into the wrong hands.
   But, you know, a gun in every kitchen just might work. The idea's been tried before, and it came out mighty fine. In 1982, Kennesaw, Georgia, passed an ordinance requiring every head of household to own a gun and ammunition to go with it.
   Burglaries decreased, and to this day Kennesaw has the lowest crime rate in all of Cobb County.
   Here's my thought on that: There is, indeed, going to be a fear factor for criminals if they know in advance they are breaking into a home where a gun is going to greet them. If I were a criminal, and I had a choice between doing my burglary shopping in Kennesaw or in nearby Acworth, think I'd head over to Acworth.
   But, all this doesn't negate the negatives of too many guns. It's still a fact that 600,000 of them are stolen every year in America. It's still a fact that a good chunk of crimes are committed with stolen guns. And, it's probably true a few criminals wouldn't go a criminalizing if they didn't have a gun waiting in their closets. It's definitely true many suicides would not be a happening but for a handy gun. And, it's probably true some amount of our domestic violence murders would never take place but for ready availability of a gun in the home.
   I go one step further. I say not always, but sometimes the gun is a tempting and harmful influence. All our hobbies and toys affect us. All have a sway. There are only so many things you can do with a gun, and it is from that list of possible uses that the influences of a gun must come. You could leave heroine on the counter, and nine out of ten church-goers who had never before touched drugs wouldn't go near it.
   But sooner or later, someone would. Why do we suppose guns are any different? I say, in places where we don't need them, we are better off without them.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Gun Ownership a Cause for Suicides Being High in Utah
   Ah, I've found in a scientific journal that the availability of weapons leads to more deaths. The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, April 2007:
   "US residents of all ages and both sexes are more likely to die from suicide when they live in areas where more households contain firearms." The researchers took the states with the highest gun ownership and compared them to those with the lowest. What did they find? That twice as many suicides were committed in the states with the most guns.
   Another link, this one from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says guns are used in more suicides than homicides. It follows, then, that if the availability of a weapon is a factor, then having a lot of weapons is going to drive up the number suicides. This probably is a factor in why Utah is among the states with the highest suicide rates.

Friday, January 4, 2013

 Scattering Weapons Aimlessly no Way to Wage War on Crime
  Would we bring our soldiers to Afghanistan, dump them at the borders of the country, give them a gun, and tell them to wander on in and start fighting?
   That doesn't fit the mode of deployment.
   Fighting a war that way would not make sense. Nor does it make any more sense to suppose we should scatter weapons aimlessly across America in hopes of fighting crime.
   If we did sent soldiers blindly, one by one, into Afghanistan, many would run into armed units that would easily out number them and overpower them, and their newly issued guns would be taken by the enemy. It is no different in our war on crime. Having weapons scattered everywhere leads to many of them to fall into the hands of the enemy, to be stolen and used against us. A good portion of the violent crimes in America are committed with stolen weapons.
   Rather than scattering guns aimlessly, we should deploy our weapons. It is the same with the war on crime as it is with a literal war. This does not mean we do not allow everyone the right to keep and bear arms, but it does mean we should not, as a nation, teach each other that everyone should go out and buy a gun.
   Put guns where they can do some good. Scatter them everywhere and you are leaving them where they can do some harm.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mark Shurtleff Made Mistake as He Walked Out the Door

It does seem this a case of conflict of interest, elected official using his office to help someone who lines his or her pocket.

And, it does seem we, as the public, should demand that it not happen. What was done was not illegal, but if this was not a case of being sold out, the appearance of being such is so great we should not just glance at our feet or turn our eyes the other way.

Mark Shurtleff, out-going attorney general. Bless him, but not for what he did as he walked out of office, not for one of his final acts.

Shurtleff's next job will be with Troutman Sanders LLP, an international law firm with Bank of America as a client.

Bank of America. The Utah Attorney General's Office was pursuing a foreclosure lawsuit against the bank. The judge already had issued a strong ruling against the bank and a final ruling was yet to come. In a last act in office, though, Shurtleff signed a settlement letting Bank of America off the hook.

Despite the fact lower attorneys in the office counselled against doing so. Despite the fact the move was seen as weakening the state's ability to enforce the law. 

Shurtleff said there was no connection between his action and Bank of America being a client of his upcoming employer. I would say, though, that if he so much as was aware that B of A was a client, he should not have taken the action he did.

Using public office for personal benefit is wrong. Doing so at the expense of the public is wrong. Using public office to let someone out of legal obligations is wrong. Doing so when they will be part of your income is wrong. Standing by the case as it progressed and prospered, only to make a 180 shortly and drop it just after accepting a job with B of A as a client is . . .


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Guns: If They are Evil, They are a Necessary Evil

"It will be necessary for men of peace to have guns, as long as men of violence do. We can't put all the force in the hands of evil." -- Louis L'Amour

For all the need to have fewer guns in America, there remains a need to have guns.

And, in the hands of the populace. 

I do not know the proportion of crimes cut short by citizens with their own guns. Nor do I know how many shootings are only made worse when citizens do intercede. If statistics show me wrong, I likely will change my opinion.

Until then, I hold that guns can make a difference. I am with those who argue that if the principal at Sandy Hook had had a gun, instead of just rushing the shooter, she would have shot him, shortening the carnage.

I'm with those who say that if you don't have a gun to defend yourself, then you are a sitting duck.

I'm with those who say that while it takes a while for the law to arrive, a gun already at the scene can stop the criminal about as quick as he is getting started.

Guns are not inherently good. But, if they are evil, they are a necessary evil. They are an instrument of death, but they can also be the instrument that saves lives. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Two Stories Suggest to Me Crimes of Impulse are Higher

Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribune's lead article spoke of how gun deaths in Utah are mostly suicides, which, it occurs to me, are often committed on impulse. Today, the Deseret News website comes along with an article on how domestic violence cases account for many of the homicides. Domestic violence also tends to be a spontaneous thing. These are not planned crimes we are talking about, but crimes where the availability of a weapon is going to be a factor.

Now, Utah has a low enough crime rate, overall, but with crimes of impulse, judging from these two articles, I begin to wonder if the rates are higher. 

Should we be surprised? Should we -- having so many weapons -- be surprised to learn that a high percentage of our gun killings are crimes of impulse?