Guns, Germs and Stealing STUFF

Lessons from the Underground

By Jay B Gaskill

As published on the Policy Think Site at --- http://jaygaskill.com/GunsGermsAndStealing.pdf

Those still in the grip of the “use a gun, go to your room” criminal justice model are puzzled why so many unenlightened Americans cling to their firearms and churches when civilized people are beyond all that.  For these naïve minds, crime is a sort of flu, and guns operate as the disease vector, the medieval plague rats, if you will, of the modern urban era. And morality is what nice people do to gain approval and advancement among other nice people in a nice world that would by almost perfect if there weren’t so darn many firearms in private hands.

This will not be some armchair Op Ed by an academic or drawing room criminologist who “has taken a lot of classes.”

My three decade career (as a public defender of Alameda County, based in Oakland, CA) ended in a final decade as the boss, when I served as the head Public Defender for that county, supervising 140 lawyers and professional investigators, reporting to country bureaucrats and five elected officials.  Over that period, I estimate that I had conducted considerably more than 14,000 confidential, in-depth encounters with crooks of all ages. I spent enough time behind bars (excluding nights, of course) to serve a term for car theft.  No sociologist or criminologist has been able replicate that experience.  No typical public defender was paying attention in quite the same way that I was, because I was a student of the human condition. What a field study!”

{Excerpt from my essay/speech, A journey Inside the Criminal Mind.  Go to this link for more about the thug mindset… http://www.jaygaskill.com/InsideTheCriminalMind.htm }

Most violent crime, including the armed thefts we call robbery and carjacking, are opportunistic, and most street crime is impulsive.  Almost all armed criminals are carrying illegal firearms, most of which have already been used at another crime scene.  My investigators remarked at the fact that a firearm is almost never recovered from an Oakland crime scene because “it never even gets dropped to the pavement before another crook has run off with it.”  Oakland’s police department has been thrice decimated by budget cuts.  The result is a catastrophic under-policing of a high crime prone subpopulation that includes several thousand parolees in a city of only a few hundred thousand.  To keep the lid on, I believe that Oakland needs at least 1,400 street cops (hint – high police ratios were instituted in NYC by Mayor Giuliani and wisely retained by Mayor Bloomberg, and as a direct result the big Apple is one of the safest cities in the world).  Oakland has fewer than 600 cops on the street at the moment (slightly more on the payroll), and crime is busting out all over.

No one in Oakland is talking civilian gun control.  Why?Here is a thought experiment.  You are an able bodied family man or woman, and you live in a place like Oakland, CA.  You qualify for a handgun, after appropriate training.  You are not firearm phobic. You can afford it.  Your neighbors have been terrorized.  You can’t afford to move away or hire a private security service.  You look up the average 911 emergency wait times for your area. Assume one of these is the average wait time for you: 

[  ] 10 minutes

[  ] 20 minutes

[  ] 30 minutes

[  ] 60 minutes

[  ] 90 minutes

At which delay point (check the box) would you seriously consider getting a firearm to defend your family?  In the Bay Area, a staunchly progressive-liberal culture, there are several subgroups that are very much into self-defense training and technologies, including personal firearms: The group includes gays, single women and elders.  Why?  Because they are vulnerable targets.

Chip Johnson is an Oakland based columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.  He usually writes about Oakland, and he never pulls his punches.  Yesterday, Oakland officials held a press conference to brag about how they, with limited resources, had gotten a handle on the crime problem.  Not. Johnson’s piece, “Oakland officials have lost grip on violence”, is worth a full read.  Here’s a sample:

 

“Across the street from the spot where the news conference was to take place on the windswept 6400 block of International Boulevard, Alexander Brown, a 22-year-old student, talked about his run-ins with violence. He has been robbed and beaten, and had a gun stuck in his face two years ago.

 

“He relies on his deep religious faith to see him through. "I put my faith in my creator," said the young man.

 

“Literally 5 feet down the block, brothers Boogie and Antwan Johnson, who were walking home, also had a story of violence to tell.

 

“Antwan, 37, caught a stray bullet in the left thigh from an assault rifle last November. Boogie, 23, reeled off the names of five friends lost to gun violence in the last four months. Right next to the Johnson brothers, a store owner who asked not to be named pointed to a hole where a bullet had pierced his front door.

 

“Finally, a group of high school students from Aspire Academy, a public charter school, walked past - all of them in school purple.

 

“I asked what they do when they feel threatened by someone or see something sketchy happening close by.

 

"We run," said Armando Alajandre, 15.”

 

{LINK-- http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Oakland-leaders-have-lost-grip-on-violence-4194028.php  }

Some citizens of this still-free republic would rather not run.  Some object to those who advocate a state monopoly on the technologies of self-defense, especially of the handgun, the great equalizer that gives a 75 year old grandmother, trained in its use, to power to deter a thug four times her size. 

 

It still deeply irritates me that poor people, who make up the overwhelming majority of crime victims in America’s inner cities, are offered all kinds of entitlements by the modern welfare state, except the one that really matters the most: the right to be safe and secure from the predator thugs they are forced to live with.  When we fail at providing this essential protection, who are we to deny our citizens the right to prudent self-help?

 

In 2010, the U S Supreme Court ruled in McDonald versus City Of Chicago that the right to self-defense protected by the Second Amendment is fundamental to the American conception of ordered liberty and must be applied to limit not only federal power but also that of state and local governments.

 

Almost any thug in Oakland who is on parole or probation can be repeatedly searched for firearms without a warrant, at times and places determined by law enforcement, not by the criminal. Such sweeps should be conducted every week, and can be expanded to include areas under the subject’s control, including vehicles and other stash places. Catching a thug with an illegal gun is a win-win – the miscreant of off the street and the gun is out of circulation.  Instead, the “use a gun, go to your room” set chooses to grandstand, by holding no-questions-asked firearm buybacks, netting a few under -used weapons, like those owned by Granny before she was sent to the rest home, and Uncle Bill’s WWII 45, that was found in the garage.

 

Mass murders are another matter.  Read my Piece on Evil, Insanity and Dead Children, written in the aftermath of the Connecticut massacre.

{LINK -  http://jaygaskill.com/outlawyer/2012/12/17/evil-insanity-dead-children/   }

 

If you feel like jumping on a bandwagon, try supporting local police staffing levels, push for tough firearm home storage laws, faster, more complete and sophisticated background checks for firearms purchases, and repeated searches of the convicted criminals living among us. 

 

We are not going to disarm the good guys anytime soon.  No should we.

 

Copyright © 2013 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law For all permissions, contact the author by email at < outlawyer.gaskill@gmail.com >.