Monday, November 5, 2012

The Pro-Gun Extremist's Opinion On "Law Enforcement" (Part II)

In my last post, I illustrated an example of the disdain of pro-gun extremists for law enforcement with a recent article about how a group of gun-totin' yahoos in southern Oregon voted against measures to help fund their Sheriff's department and jail, then, citing a subsequent decrease in Sheriff's patrols due to cutbacks and a resultant increase in property crimes, decided to form their own posse to patrol their county themselves -- armed, of course, with none of the special legal, conflict, or investigative training that police receive.

Two more stories below....

Recently, in San Antonio, Texas, a clothing store owner, Debra Trejo, kept having her store broken into over the course of several years.  Instead of installing cameras, or keeping a dog there, or hardening her store with bars and better locks, she decided to do something decidedly more violent.  She decided to advertise a $10,000 reward for any law enforcement person to shoot to kill anyone breaking into her store.  Looks like a classy establishment, what with the trash in the lawn in front of the crumbling garage door / storefront.

From an article (the source of the image posted here):

Now Trejo is using a different tactic to deter crooks: A sign on the business offers a $10,000 reward to any law enforcement officer who shoots - and kills - burglars caught breaking into the store. 
There haven't been any break-ins since. 
I'm glad there haven't been any further break-ins, but this is the wrong way to go about it.  Now, knowing the potential for being shot, the robbers will bring guns of their own, and may expect to use it. 

First, I'm pretty sure it would be illegal for police to shoot someone to death simply because they are breaking into a store; they have to threaten the officer first.  Second, it would also be illegal for that policeman to accept money for doing the killing.  Sorry, Ms. Trejo, but you can't just offer to have police be your hired hitmen.

(by the way, go to the article to see some interesting comments from the pro-gunners, wishing the store owner would extend the shoot-to-kill reward to non-law enforcement people, and other extreme comments, including one directed at me, personally, wishing that I had died in the shooting I was in, and another accusing me of being a thief).

In other news, in a similarly gun-friendly state, Florida (the gunshine state), a Constitution Party candidate is running for Sheriff of Marion County.  A favorite of the Tea Party there, Bernie DeCastro debated with Republican Sheriff Chris Blair at a Tea Party-sponsored debate.  After Blair had said he would collect guns that had been strewn in the streets after a Hurricane Katrina-like disaster, DeCastro went on the offensive and accused Blair of wanting to confiscate everyone's guns (a common pro-gun paranoid fantasy):

While both men insisted they are ardent supporters of the 2nd Amendment, Constitution Party candidate Bernie DeCastro went on the attack to cast doubt about Republican Chris Blair's support for absolute gun rights. 
DeCastro said that during a recent interview the two men did with an Orlando news network they both talked about how they would have handled the crisis in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Blair, DeCastro said, stated that he would have confiscated guns in the lawlessness that ensued following the storm. 
Blair denied the charge, saying that DeCastro had taken his words out of context. He accused his opponent of using sound bites to misrepresent his position. Blair said he only would have collected guns that had been strewn in the street by the storm and returned them to their "rightful owners," but that he would not have taken guns from any law-abiding citizens. 
DeCastro, meanwhile, left no doubt where he stands on gun rights. 
"If (Florida) Governor Scott said a major hurricane is coming and I want you to go collect all the guns, I am not going to do it," he said. "Once we lose our guns, you know what time it is, folks. It's all over."

Blair apparently WANTS unclaimed guns lose in the streets after a disaster, in the hands of whomever should happen to find them.

This is particularly interesting, given the background of these two candidates.  According to that article, Blair is "a 35-year lawman with the Marion County Sheriff's Office" who has a plan to "reduce the Sheriff's Office's "top-heavy" administration and put more deputies on the road."  Experience is good, and it sounds to me like a level-headed approach.
Blair spoke about traditional policing methods. He said he wanted to lower the county's violent crime rate, which he said is 15th worst in the state. And he preached about using data and analysis and street crimes units to target high-crime areas. 
DeCastro, on the other hand, has no experience in law enforcement ... at least, not from the good side.  You see, DeCastro is a convicted felon!  From the article:
Once sentenced to life in prison for armed robbery, he was pardoned by the governor in the 1990s and began running a re-entry center to help prison inmates ease back into society after their release. Besides sheriff, he has made unsuccessful bids for governor, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

Yes, you read this correctly.  This convicted felon and pro-gun extremist wishes to lead the Sheriff's Department.
During the campaign, and again Monday, DeCastro dwelled on the need for citizens to arm and protect themselves rather than relying on law enforcement. He also railed against the United Nations, the federal government and drones that could be used to spy on American citizens.

But gun rights dominated DeCastro's comments.

You don't say.  Sounds like he buys into the pro-gun conspiracy theory about the U.N. wanting to take away guns, too.  He continued:
"I believe in the 2nd Amendment," he said, "If any of you want to get armed, I will host a class. We'll all get armed, if that's what you want."

I don't feel comfortable with this extremist being in charge of anyone, much less law enforcement, nor do I feel comfortable with the idea of him owning a gun or giving gun classes.

Rehabilitating ex-cons to better fit into society is a noble goal which has been shown to reduce recidivism.  I support a program here in Eugene, called Sponsors, which does exactly that.  But what I don't support is allowing ex-cons, particularly those with a violent past, to lead our law enforcement agencies or serve in political positions.  Sorry, but there are plenty of excellent people without criminal pasts who fit the bill, like Blair.  I can't imagine Blair could lose with such an extremist opponent.  But in Florida, who knows?

UPDATE (11/7/12):  Chris Blair won the race for Marion County Sheriff against convicted felon Bernie DeCastro, by a very healthy margin (73 percent to 27 percent).  However, an anonymous complaint about an election law has been filed which will delay the final victory until an investigation is completed.  DeCastro claims not to be involved in that complaint.  More later.