Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Always Room For Senseless Violence

On Monday, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulose Oliver stated

I am deeply saddened to hear about the shooting that occurred at a public library in Clovis earlier today. There is no place for acts of senseless violence like this in our communities. My staff and I will be keeping the victims, their families, and the brave men and women who responded to the situation in our thoughts and prayers tonight.

Unforunately, Toulose Oliver is speaking only for herself and, probably, a dwindling number of other individuals.  On Tuesday, The Washington Post explained

Authorities in Clovis, N.M., intend to file first-degree murder charges against a 16-year-old high school student accused of killing two and wounding four during a shooting rampage inside the city’s library.

Clovis Police said Tuesday that Nathaniel Jouett was armed with two handguns when he entered the facility about 4:15 p.m. Monday and killed two library employees: Wanda Walters, 61, and Kristina Carter, 48. Officials identified the wounded as Howard Jones, 53, Jessica Thron, 30, Alexis Molina, 20, and Noah Molina, 10.

All four remain hospitalized, with Thron and Alexis Molina the most seriously injured, officials said.

On Tuesday morning, while Jouett was in custody at a juvenile detention center, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran on the bottom of its second page an article reporting the incident, which occurred too late for the Tuesday's morning edition of daily newspapers.

Admittedly without knowing what daily newspapers are circulated in the evening (a much-dwindling number), on Wednesday I surveyed the first 100 English-language, USA- published newspapers (nearly all published daily) displayed in the Newseum's "online gallery" of front pages.

This was not a cross-section, but given the alphabetical nature of the listing, included newspapers from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, and Connecticut.

None of them included the shooting deaths in the Clovis, NM library.  Three of the newspapers from which it was absent were those with the best names, Pueblo (AZ) Chieftain and Greenwich (CT) Time; and the Daily Boulder (Colorado) with the great headline "Philly's Naked Bike Ride Just Days Away." (The city is Philadelphia, but otherwise...)

The day's news featured the climactic catastrophe in Texas, which may be seen in hindsight as the biggest story of the year. However, there was no major development to report in the Mueller/Trump saga. A juvenile walking into a library and gunning down two individuals and wounding four others is simply seen as a big deal nowadays.

This is not merely a failure of the media but reflects the political climate. A month ago, former Philadelphia, Pa. and Washington, D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey noted "lawmakers on Capitol Hill are debating a dangerous proposal that would force each state to recognize the concealed-carry laws of other states, even those that have far weaker standards."

If this became law, every state would be requred to permit "almost any person" from the twelve states which "do not require any permit or training to carry hidden loaded guns in public" to carry a concealed weapon and

it would be nearly impossible for law enforcement officers to quickly and easily verify that individuals are carrying lawfully. It’s not just the state laws for who can carry concealed that vary significantly across the states. The actual permits vary significantly, too. Some state permit cards contain no photograph of the permit holder; others are as flimsy as library cards. This would require law enforcement to contact out-of-state issuing authorities to verify the permit’s authenticity. Law enforcement is most effective when officers are out on the street fighting violent crime, not stuck behind a desk doing administrative work...

Most alarmingly, the bill in the House goes so far as to open up law enforcement to the threat of personal litigation. If a law enforcement officer mistakenly questions a person’s legal authority to carry a concealed firearm, they can be sued, personally. If an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that someone is carrying a firearm unlawfully, the last thing they should ever have to worry about is whether that individual may turn around and sue them and bankrupt their family.

Speaking to law enforcement officers in Suffolk County, NY a month ago, President Trump went full pander when he stated "When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in rough. I said, 'Please don't be too nice,.'" During the presidential campaign a year earlier, he had declared "I am the law and order candidate" and "We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country, 100 percent."

The President, fresh off pardoning Arizona's most notorious law-breaker, could demonstrate an interest in "law and order" by sending the Vice-President or the Attorney General to Clovis, New Mexico. He also could signal opposition to any expansion of concealed-carry or open-carry. But he is a Republican and will do nothing to discourage the reality that there is a place for "acts of senseless violence" in Trump's USA.

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