Saturday, November 8, 2014

Conservative Madman Claims Guns Are Only Dangerous Once They Are Stolen

After leaning on the tired "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," rhetoric for decades one conservative pundit suddenly became a babbling bleeding-heart liberal after California passed Prop 47 in the recent election. The proposition, which Conservative Newt Gingrich supports and Democrat Diane Feinstein opposes, reduces certain "non-serious and non-violent felonies" to misdemeanors and provides provisions for re-sentencing those in prison for the now reduced felonies.

This proposition is the desperate attempt by California to face reality. It spends more than $62,000 a year for every one of the 136,000 prisoners, (total=$8,432,000,000 making CA license plates the most expensive pieces of numbered tin in history) but only $9,200 for every K-12 student.* The Bear Flag state has built 22 prisons in the last 30 years and only one public university.** It's fiscal managers must live in a constant drug induced stupor if they think investing in prisoner comforts is going to pay off but Nixon and Reagan and Bush Sr. had the brilliant strategy of saying, "We'll build more prisons." during the 80s. True to their word, they built more prisons and watched in horror as the prisons were filled faster than seats at a monster truck show.

My personal opinion is that with 7 billion people on the planet there really is no room for a theoretically pure justice system. On paper, in theory, with unlimited resources and unlimited time, the justice system works great. In the real world it's horrible. So, what's the solution? Do you go down burning in flames but clinging to something like endless appeals and underfunded defense attorneys plea-bargaining every case? Do you continue to build prisons and print the money to train and pay the guards? Do you develop automation to guard prisons with machines? The phantom economy approach is to print fake money to pay the guards and also print fake money to pay the teachers. That will work as long as China and Saudi Arabia allow it to work. Eventually the checks will bounce and people will realize the Emperor is not wearing any clothes and hasn't been wearing clothes for decades. It's a tough topic to debate because if you deviate from the theoretically pure approach to justice then you will basically end up saying something Adolph Hitler or Chairman Mao would agree with, like "Execute them all." And if you cling to the theoretically pure model then you will eventually have your country repossessed by Chinese fabric manufacturers. Ayn Rand always said A=A. Right now we're seeing the effects of an equation like A=sub prime mortgages, except on every third Wednesday of the month. It's easy to sentence inmates to death when you have no stake it the matter but California is literally at the stage where they either execute convicted felons in large groups or release them by changing their felonies to misdemeanors. (The last option, a bake sale to benefit convicted rapists, didn't sell many cupcakes). A=A is an equation that can't be ignored; eventually it catches up with you and California is at that point economically. They can not house 200% of capacity any more and they have learned they can't keep building prisons with counterfeit money. They can either execute inmates or release them and Prop 47 basically voted for release. They aren't really being "soft on crime" but they are admitting they can't afford to be "tough on crime." Remember, California is the state that had to pay $2 million to an atheist who sued because he had to believe "in a higher power" in mandatory meth Rehab. And before you question the deterrent factor in execution, this dilemma is not concerned with deterring crime; it's a simple resource equation of executing thousands of violent crime inmates to make room for the inmates convicted of writing bad checks. There is not room for both of them. (I used 2nd person "you" a lot here because using "one" got tedious. And I think it's justified because you, the reader, is implicated in all of this.)

That's a topic for another day. My intention is to discredit a Conservative agitator and not contribute anything meaningful to the debate on justice.

Back to Prop 47. Well, you can take a minute from your day to read the specifics of the prop and you'll find the Conservative writer cherry picked details to make his own case, but the problem comes when his own argument contradicts his previous arguments. Allow me to explain: Prop 47 reduces theft of items under $950 from a felony to a misdemeanor. California is the home of the 3 Strikes felony law that had lots of people sentenced to life in jail for writing bad checks and smoking pot. It will still be illegal to write bad checks and smoke crack but instead of three years to life, they might be sentenced to 12 months. The pundit leaves that part out of his criticism to make it seem like writing a bad check is now treated like spitting on the sidewalk. The re-sentencing part comes in when someone has served the maximum amount of time that would now be allowable as a sentence under the new provisions. And they can not have previous conviction for crimes such as rape, murder, or child molestation or be a registered sex offender. In those cases, since they have previous convictions, these crimes are still a felony. That makes no is it a felony under certain conditions and a misdemeanor under other conditions? Man, justice gets complicated. No wonder you gotta go to school to figure this shit out.

Blah blah blah...the NRA-loving pundit's main point is that the theft of firearms is included in the rearrangement of definitions, or not specifically excluded. It was a felony to steal a firearm and could send you to the clink for 3 years even if the firearm was some broke ass piece of shit that wouldn't get you $100 at a pawn store in Simi Valley. Prop 47 redefines that particular crime, stealing a gun worth less than $950, as a misdemeanor. The ignorant pundit says, "Going forward in California, anyone found in possession of a stolen firearm will be issued a ticket and sent on their merry way."
You can tell he never went to law school because he just described what happens when you are cited for an infraction against a municipal code like littering or failure to yield at a stop sign. Kids, you are fucked if you are convicted of a misdemeanor. F-U-C-K-E-D. On every job application for the rest of your life you are going to have to explain why you were writing bad checks or stealing guns. Even if you are found not-guilty or the case is dismissed, some applications still require you to explain it. You are definitely getting arrested if you steal a gun. You'll be processed, finger printed, warrants run, back taxes, child support, DNA samples, and booked and then get a court summons before you get out of jail. And you'll probably go to jail for 9 months if found guilty.  If that sounds "Merry" to you then maybe California is your kind of state. No cop is going to hand you a ticket and say, "Remember to stop stealing guns next time." Here's the definition of a misdemeanor in CA: "A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by imprisonment in a county or city jail or detention facility not to exceed one year.[7]"

Two different conservative pundits seem to think a misdemeanor is an infraction. I was puzzled by this disagreement so I found this from a California defense attorney:

"The misdemeanor process is much like the felony process until the arraignment"
This is what he's referring to:
  • Investigation and/or arrest: After an arrest for a felony [Or Misdemeanor], the police cannot hold you in custody for more than 48 hours without formally charging you in court with a crime.
  • Booking: If you are arrested for a felony [Or misdemeanor], the formal process begins with the booking in which you will be fingerprinted and your personal information will be entered into the criminal database.
"In cases other than domestic violence, a person charged with a misdemeanor is usually released on his or her own recognizance and is allowed to leave the police station or sheriff's station after the booking process has been completed."

Here's another from CA:

"Release by citation for misdemeanor offenses can be accomplished in two separate ways:
(a) A field release is when the violator is released in the field without being transported
to a jail facility.
(b) A jail release is when a violator is released after being transported to the jail and

The officer might have the option to issue a citation to appear in court but if he doesn't know what the value of an item is and it could be $950 or more then he has to go forward with the suspicion of felony burglary. Or is the suspect and Lawman going to stand around on the street and Google the stolen items for prices until he can prove it wasn't worth $950 so he can only be issued a notice to appear? No, the crook's "merry way" will be to the city detention center via the police station.

I really don't think after you are caught with a stolen gun you get a ticket on the street that says "Report to jail for 6 months". Because every object in the world does not come with a price tag on it the cop will act like you stole something worth more than $950 and arrest you for felony burglary, and your lawyer will plea-bargain down to misdemeanor petty theft (once the value of the items has been determined) and because California has been operating under a phantom economy for 50 years the state will agree to 6 months in a crowded detention center. If you have felonies on your record then it will remain a felony and you'll get 2 years, out on parole in 14 month. Thus our ideal justice system is tarnished immediately.

I know the world of Conservative pundits is not an ashram. I understand better than most that agitating readers is an art form blending truth and speculation and slight twisting of opinion into something that gets people angry. One must play the audience. It's called Spin and there are whole books written about it. I bet you can take a class in Political Spin. Spin is horrible because if you are good at it then your services can be purchased and then your actual opinion becomes irrelevant. That's how we get perfectly intelligent economists defending a $14 Trillion debt because, "Most people think of debt as a bad thing. It's not." The pundit is a hired pundit in a think tank making money from political power wars. A total sell-out. There is news and then there is spin and the two intersect at a few spots but really aren't related. Spin is a politically motivated editorial disguised as reporting like, "California Just Made it Easier For Bad Guys to Get Guns" or the ludicrous title I used for this rant. Reporting is boring stuff like, "Giants Win World Series." Snoooore.

Speaking of spin, Prop 47 was officially titled “Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties. Initiative Statute.”. That's basically true. Proponents packaged it as "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act". That's total bullshit. I'll have a contest for the best true title for Prop 47. My submission: "Save California's Fiscal Ass Act". What's yours?

I could go through this pundit's whole editorial and dissect it for flaws but let's concentrate on the big one: Did California make it easier for bad guys to get guns? That's the title of the rant so can we at least determine if that's true? No, we can't. It's total spin. California's Prop 47 did not make it easier for bad guys to get guns. Why? Because Prop 47 only concentrates on those caught and sentenced. So the crime, the ease or difficulty of stealing guns, access to guns, etc. is not affected. Guns are as easy or as hard to access as the aspiring criminal wants to make them. If he picks a very well hidden gun to steal then it's hard and will involve felony burglary, if he snatches a gun laying on top of a car, then that's easy and will be misdemeanor theft. Jail time is in the future for both perps. Prop 47 didn't affect the ease of access at all. Prop 47 only attempts to mitigate state bankruptcy by limiting the burden the state will have to assume for future criminals. That's it. I don't see Prop 47 providing treasure maps to all the guns to find in Oakland. Then I would be worried. Yes, the Prop decreases the punishment for stealing a gun valued under $950, but that doesn't make it easier to steal one. And reducing the punishment for theft is not condoning theft. And even if they condoned theft, they still would have to actively help thieves steal things to technically "make it easier" for them. So, the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing pundit fails to even support his own title. Furthermore, Residential Burglary is still a felony, so if you steal a low value gun from a house don't use the excuse that you thought it was only a misdemeanor because a Conservative pundit told you so. Prepare for 8 years in prison. Remember: Conservative pundits are not public servants.

As for my title, let's examine it: Where does the pundit claim guns are dangerous only once they are stolen? Well, that would require you follow the trend of this pundit who claims every school shooting could be prevented by more people with guns, and that government seizure of guns is a violation of his constitutional right to bear arms, and that guns do not kill people; bad people kill people, blah blah. The gun is harmless and blameless, only people are to blame. Blabh. This is the argument used by NRA zealots and I'm not even going to argue that point because this idiot attacks his own argument without my help needed. When I read his wildly spinning opinion my first thought was, "Who cares? Guns don't kill people. Remember?" And I laughed because I was using his own argument against him. This is a guy whose conservative approach to gun ownership depends on guns being treated like fishing poles. So when California passed Prop 47 the voters were saying, "These guns valued under $950 are to be treated like fishing poles and it's now a misdemeanor to steal one, and no longer a felony." So, I would expect the pundit to finally applaud and say, "Yes, Prop 47 accepts that guns are inanimate objects, harmless, and even if someone steals one, the guns are still not to blame for crimes committed with them. Prop 47 is a victory for all 2nd Amendment-loving Americans." See? All his previous arguments have been based on a gun being a harmless object like a golf club or vacuum cleaner. But Prop 47 suddenly makes him bleed Liberal blue and he claims that a thief who steals a gun should be treated worse because it's a gun, and guns are intrinsically bad. The thief hasn't done anything wrong with the gun yet, he's merely stolen it, just like the guy buying the gun to kill his boss hasn't done anything wrong yet. You see how the NRA argument disintegrates under even the slightest examination? Their argument that guns are not the problem is immediately thrown out the window when a state finally agrees that guns should not be treated differently than fishing poles. How fucked up is that? This pundit spends his whole life saying guns are not the problem but when Prop 47 makes no special provisions for gun theft he suddenly grows a heart and believes it will endanger the public. HOW CAN IT ENDANGER THE PUBLIC IF GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE?
And his answer is, "Because the gun only became dangerous once it was stolen." This is a variation of his argument that a gun only becomes a dangerous weapon when it's being used to slaughter people at a restaurant. Well, NO SHIT, GENIUS. The whole gun-grabber movement is an attempt to PREVENT THAT FROM HAPPENING. The Constitution-shredding idea is not to wait until someone starts shooting before doing something about it. It's called being Pro-Active or a fancy word like Prevention or even Mitigation. And that requires accepting that gun ownership must be controlled better than it currently is. The Conservative approach is citizen as executioner. The Liberal approach is unarmed people are safer. One can't proceed with a gun control campaign without accepting the gun is the problem whether it is stolen or bought legally.***

Have I defended my title? You tell me.

*It also costs an estimated $10,000 a year to have a homeless person in your city.
**Oggy's college education was funded mostly by California grants and scholarships and work-study income.
***Would I vote for Prop 47? No, it reads like someone started the prop to reduce punishment for drugs possession but an opponent added the gun theft clause thinking that voters wouldn't pass it based on that inclusion. It's dirty gross politics. Almost every DA and Sheriff opposed it. Supporters say the money "saved" will go to schools, but my opinion is that no money is "saved", only less fake money is spent. Only gun manufacturers and gun salespeople can stop gun abuse by going out of business. Since they aren't going to do that and America has had an irresponsible gun policy for 200 years it's too late to stop the madness with legislation. IT'S TOO LATE. The cat is out of the bag. I agree with the NRA, weapons training should be as routine as baseball and cheerleading. Pacifists don't fare well in arms races that are guaranteed to blow up. The problem with making guns easily available to "good guys" is that, like fast food, the supply must exceed the demand, and the surplus will end up being possessed by "bad guys". So the lazy commercial process of purchasing a gun to defend yourself actually ensures you will live in a society in which you need to defend yourself with a gun at school or a movie. It's a fucked up and self-fulfilling nightmare that will grow mathematically. With this particular social illness the vaccine is you embracing a concealed carry license and a Glock 17. That will not resolve the problem of gun crime, but it will mean you are empowered to immediately protect yourself. It also makes police obsolete, which I feel will happen eventually. I'm not sure the net gain of living humans will change because of it but it's the only way to defend yourself. Humanity is determined to make Mad Max a reality; everyone will eventually be stoned and armed, fighting over gasoline. The only legislation that will solve gun crime is a bill that allocates money to build a time machine to return to 1780 and establish a tradition of responsible gun trade. People are more responsible when they give away kittens. Guns should have this printed on the back: "In God we trust, but you need to pass a background check."
Live by the sword, die by the sword

P.S. The fucked up part is that in a year Prop 47 will be amended and guns will be specifically excluded from diminished sentencing and this same pundit will write a rant, "Fascist Liberals in California Demonize Guns Again, Single Out Gun Theft as Felony" And that is why I'm not a professional pundit. I'm not a liberal or a conservative; I'm a philosopher.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.