More people were murdered last year than in 2014, and no one’s sure why

April 17, 2016

From The Washington Post by Max Ehrenfreund & Denise Lu, January 27, 2016

The number of homicides in the country’s 50 largest cities rose nearly 17 percent last year, the greatest increase in lethal violence in a quarter Century.

A Wonkblog analysis of preliminary crime data found that about 770 more people were killed in major cities last year than the year before, the worst annual change since 1990.

The killings increased as some law enforcement officials and conservative commentators were warning that violent crime was on the rise amid a climate of hostility toward police. They said protests and intense scrutiny of officers who used lethal force had caused officers to become disengaged from their jobs, making streets more dangerous. Some have called it the “Ferguson effect,” after the St. Louis suburb in which Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer.

A closer look at the figures, however, suggests no single explanation for the increases and reveals no clear pattern among those cities that experienced the most horrific violence.

Several cities that recorded the largest increases in homicides — Nashville and Washington, D.C., for instance — had no widely publicized, racially charged killings by police. Many other big cities recorded modest increases or even declines in the number of homicides, with no deviation from the pattern of recent years.

Also, undermining the theory that police have become generally disengaged, a preliminary FBI report released last week showed that the overall number of violent offenses increased just 1.7 percent nationally during the first half of the year while the number of property crimes declined 4.2 percent.

(The FBI’s official count for the full year will be published in the fall. Because a crime’s classification may change as authorities gather more information, the official figures on homicide might differ from Wonkblog’s current tally.)

Public safety has been improving for two decades, and lethal violence in large cities is still rare by historical standards. Twice as many people were killed in those 50 cities in 1991 as in 2015. “You certainly wouldn’t want to say the sky is falling,” said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Nonetheless, last year’s interruption in the decline in homicides has experts concerned. They say it’s too early to know what caused the change, or whether it will endure. It’s not clear if there is a Ferguson effect, or if the homicides are a result of the heroin epidemic, reduced police department budgets, a decline in the number of convicts behind bars or other factors entirely.

“There’s no national pattern,” said Franklin Zimring, a criminologist at the University of California at Berkeley.

The Ferguson Effect

When law enforcement officials from around the country met in Washington in October to discuss the increase in murders, many suggested that deteriorating relations between police and civilians could be the cause.

With civilians recording their every move with cellphone cameras, police may be hesitating to engage with criminals, several officials said. Perhaps criticism from civic leaders has damaged officers’ morale, or maybe monitoring protests and marches draws crucial manpower away from solving cases.

“Has policing changed in the YouTube era?” asked FBI Director James B. Comey. “Cities with nothing in common are seeing – in the same degree and in the same time – dramatic increases in violence, especially homicides.”

The data does not provide clear evidence for this theory on a national level, but in some cities, intensified mistrust of the police appears related to spates of violence last year.

In Baltimore, where riots followed the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in April, the number of homicides increased 59 percent last year, from 217 to 344. That is more homicides than have been committed in the city in any year since 1993, when the city’s population was 715,000, according to the census. Only 623,000 people live there today.

Several officers have been charged in connection with Gray’s death. The case against one of them, William G. Porter, ended with a hung jury and a mistrial last month. Prosecutors said Porter was culpable in Gray’s death because he failed to properly buckle him into the back of a police van, in which Gray suffered a fatal injury to his neck, and because Porter should have sought medical help before it was too late.

Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, disagrees. “These cops are on trial, arguably, for doing nothing wrong,” he said, adding that such cases could discourage police from making arrests.

“That idea, that ‘if I do my job, I could get in trouble’ — that has a chilling effect,” Moskos said.

In Cleveland, anguish and protests followed the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the hands of a police officer in November 2014. The number of homicides nearly doubled in that city the next year, from 63 in 2014 to 120. Last month, a grand jury declined to charge the officer who shot Rice.

No Correlation

At the same time, some of the most drastic increases in homicides occurred in cities where there have not been major controversies over law enforcement practices.

The number of homicides increased 83 percent in Nashville last year, to 75. The figure increased 62 percent in Oklahoma City, to 73. There were 162 homicides in Washington, D.C., last year, an increase of 54 percent.

These are all substantial changes, even though relations between police and civilians in these cities don’t appear to have worsened last year.

“There doesn’t seem to be, to me at least, a correlation between where there were protests against the police, and where murder seems to be increasing,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the justice program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

While protesters have marched against police violence in nearly every U.S. city, the acrimony has been greater in some cities than in others. Indeed, in Nashville, officers offered protesters hot chocolate and coffee.

“I personally don’t really believe that police officers across America have pulled back from doing their job,” said Stephens of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, who also served as police chief in Charlotte for nine years.

In other cities, homicides didn’t escalate significantly last year, despite intensifying conflicts with civilian leaders.

UC Berkeley’s Zimring points to New York, where relations between police and the city as a whole have largely collapsed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio won election on a promise to overhaul the police department after a federal judge ruled the widely controversial practice known as “stop and frisk” unconstitutional. Then, a grand jury didn’t indict an officer for the death of Eric Garner, who died during an arrest in 2014. And at a funeral for a slain officer later that year, ranks of police turned their backs when the mayor began to speak. Officers effectively stopped working for two weeks that winter, and arrest rates plummeted.

Despite the tension, the number of homicides in New York City increased just 5 percent last year, well below the average change across the 50 largest cities in the country. The cumulative result of all the controversy over the past several years has been a 35 percent decrease in the number of homicides since 2010.

Then there’s Chicago, a city where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has blamed crime rates on closer scrutiny of the police.

“We have allowed our police department to get fetal, and it is having a direct consequence,” the mayor said at the meeting in October. “They don’t want to be a news story themselves. They don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”

Mistrust of Chicago’s police has been elevated since an officer fatally shot Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014. A grand jury indicted the officer, Jason Van Dyke, on charges including murder in the first degree in November, more than a year after the shooting. Emanuel dismissed his superintendent of police, and protesters paraded along the city’s ritziest avenues, calling on the mayor to resign.

The number of homicides increased by 15 percent last year in Chicago. That change is less than the average change across the country’s 50 largest cities. The tally last year, 468, was nothing out of the ordinary for Chicago, where no fewer than 500 homicides were committed in 2012.


Another theory that Comey cited for the increase in homicides is the expanding popularity of heroin. Possibly, as more people become addicted to the drug, dealers are moving their operations into new territory, leading to disputes and violence.

Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, points out a problem with this explanation.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more people are dying from using too much heroin, an indicator of Americans’ newfound taste for the drug. Yet that increase began in 2010, when the number of homicides was declining in many major cities.

Heroin might account for the greater number of homicides in a city such as Indianapolis, where the count increased by 33 percent between 2011 and 2012 and has worsened since then. Police there have said a dispute over drugs was the motivation in many of those cases.

It isn’t clear whether heroin is part of the explanation for the increase in homicides this past year in other cities.

“You’d have to account for at least three years, maybe even a longer gap,” Rosenfeld said.

Stephens, of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, ticked off a list of other theories for the increase in violence. Perhaps relaxed gun laws in some states are making firearms more widely available, and more arguments are being settled with lethal weapons as a result.

Stephens also noted that authorities are locking up fewer people in prison, and perhaps more dangerous criminals were on the street last year.

Federal data, however, suggest that the reduction in the incarcerated population over the past several years is mainly a consequence of decreasing admissions, rather than a change in the number of prisoners released annually, which has also declined. In 2014, just 582,000 prisoners were let go from state and federal prisons, compared with 683,000 in 2008.

Additionally, both those explanations are complicated by the absence of any regional pattern in the data. There were more killings in Nashville, but the total in Memphis declined by 1 percent. The number of homicides increased 25 percent in Houston, but decreased 9 percent in San Antonio. There were seven fewer homicides last year than in 2014 in Fresno, Calif., a decline of 15 percent. Meanwhile, up Highway 99 in Sacramento, there were 43 killings last year, an increase of 54 percent.

“Everything is basically anecdotal,” Stephens said. “There’s not a clear national picture that I’ve been able to discern of what might be contributing to the changes that we’ve seen in so many cities.”

‘Data Points’

Wonkblog collected the 2015 homicide data from individual police departments or from news sources that cited those departments. Homicide data for earlier years came from the FBI.

The FBI excludes certain homicides in which authorities determine that the killer did not break the law. Those rare “justifiable homicides” might include acts of self-defense or some killings by police officers. While some police departments do include those incidents in their homicide counts, Wonkblog excluded them from the figures presented in this article.

Justifiable homicides couldn’t be removed from the data for seven cities: Colorado Springs; Columbus; Ohio; Los Angeles; Miami; Minneapolis; Seattle; and Wichita. As a result, the counts for those cities might be biased upward relative to previous years.

On the other hand, it sometimes requires coroners and detectives several weeks to determine whether a death is a homicide. Homicides committed near the end of last year might not be included in these totals if investigators haven’t yet identified them as suspicious.

While the FBI’s official crime data for 2015 won’t be reported for several months, the agency recently released preliminary counts for the first half of the year. That data revealed a divergence between large cities and smaller towns. In jurisdictions with at least 1 million people, the number of homicides increased 10.8 percent during the first six months of 2015, and by 12.4 percent in cities with between 500,000 and 1 million residents. Nationally, though, the figure was only 6.2 percent.

Data on other crimes can provide a more complete picture of public safety. In a preliminary analysis based on figures from 19 cities, Chettiar’s colleagues at New York University projected that the overall rate of crime declined 5.5 percent last year.

The fact that there has been little change in the number of violent crimes other than homicide suggests that the officers haven’t stopped doing their jobs.

At the same time, if heroin addicts are committing more crimes to pay for their drugs, criminologists would expect an increase in property crime, not continuing declines.

The data on homicides does not conclusively rule out a Ferguson effect or heroin consumption as factors in the overall increase in the number of homicides. Both may have contributed to the violence, along with other factors that researchers haven’t yet identified.

Experts on crime understand little about what causes fluctuations in violence and lawbreaking over time. That this past year’s increase remains mostly a mystery shouldn’t be a surprise, since as Wonkblog has previously reported, the much larger decline since 1991 is still largely unexplained.

“We need to figure out what’s happening and deal with it now. I refuse to wait,” Comey, the FBI director, said in October. “These aren’t data points. These are lives.”


Civil Judgments for Criminal Monetary Obligations

April 17, 2016

From North Carolina Criminal Law, a UNC School of Government Blog by Jamie Markham, April 14, 2016

When can money owed as the result of criminal case be docketed as a civil judgment?

You’ve probably seen the recent report from the Administrative Office of the Courts on criminal cost waivers. That report, required annually under G.S. 7A-350, aggregates court cost waivers “by the district in which the waiver or waivers were granted and by the name of each judge granting a waiver or waivers.” I wrote about tracking court cost waivers here.

The report is interesting. It sorts judicial officials’ decisions on monetary obligations into several different “money statuses.” The status of primary interest—or at least the one statutorily required to be tracked—is costs that are “Waived/Remitted.” But other statuses are also included. For example, there is a column showing the total number of costs “Ordered,” to “provide a sense of the volume of the dispositions in each county . . . or by each judge.” Report at 2.

One of the statuses is “Civil Judgment.” The report defines that status as the one to be used “when the judge orders the monetary obligations due through civil rather than criminal enforcement.” Id. at 3.

The general concept of treating certain criminal monetary obligations as civil exists in our statutes. I know of three such authorizations.

Costs and fines. Under G.S. 15A-1365, “[w]hen a defendant has defaulted in payment of a fine or costs, the judge may order that the judgment be docketed. Upon being docketed, the judgment becomes a lien on the real estate the defendant in the same manner as do judgments in civil actions.”

Attorney fees. Under G.S. 7A-455(b), the court shall enter a judgment for attorney fees that “shall constitute a lien as prescribed by the general law of the State applicable to judgments.” The judgment kicks in on the later of (a) the date on which the conviction becomes final if the person is not ordered to pay attorney fees as a condition of probation, or (b) the date on which probation is terminated, revoked, or expires. G.S. 7A-455(c).

Restitution. Under G.S. 15A-1340.38(a), restitution in excess of $250 ordered under G.S. 15A-1340.34(b) “may be enforced in the same manner as a civil judgment.” Such restitution orders “shall be docketed and indexed in the county of the original conviction in the same manner as a civil judgment.” G.S. 15A-1340.38(b). What is “restitution ordered under G.S. 15A-1340.34(b)”? That is restitution ordered for a defendant sentenced under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (Article 46 of Chapter 15A). In two unpublished cases the court of appeals has noted that there is no authority to docket non-CVRA restitution as a civil judgment. State v. Scott, 219 N.C. App. 652 (2012) (unpublished); State v. Hudgins, 215 N.C. App. 599 (2011) (unpublished). In probationary cases, civil judgments for CVRA restitution may not be executed upon the property of the defendant until probation has been terminated or revoked and the judge presiding at a probation violation hearing makes a finding that restitution in a sum certain remains due and payable. G.S. 15A-1340.38(c).

So, for all the major categories of criminal monetary obligations—costs, fines, attorney fees, and restitution (CVRA restitution, at least)—there is authority to treat the obligation as a civil judgment.

Something I noticed about the “Civil Judgment” column in the AOC report, however, is that it includes only those monetary obligations ordered as civil judgments exclusively. If the judicial official ordered the obligation as both criminal and civil, it gets categorized as “Ordered.”

I had heard of the practice of ordering an obligation as exclusively civil, but I didn’t realize it was quite so common. With respect to court costs and fines in particular, I read the docketing authority in G.S. 15A-1365 to kick in only in the event of a properly-found default—something I discussed in this prior post. If default is a precursor to docketing, then it seems like ordering a civil judgment for costs from the outset may put the civil cart before the criminal horse. In probationary cases, G.S. 15A-1343(e) requires court costs and attorney fees to be made a condition of supervision, absent extenuating circumstances.

I’d love to learn more about the process and thinking behind civil judgments for criminal obligations—particularly those that are civil only. Please post a comment or drop me a line if you have thoughts. I know this is a particular challenge for clerks.

A related question, of course, is how much money is actually collected as a result of these civil judgments. I’ll come back to that in a future post.

Longtime Buffalo Twp, PA Officer Dies

April 17, 2016

From by Jodie Weigand, April 13, 2016

Buffalo Township Police Lt. Alan Behanna died Wednesday morning, April 13, 2016.

He has led the department as officer in charge for more than 15 years.

Township Supervisor Gary Risch Sr. said Behanna had been with the department for at least 30 years. He was among the township’s first police officers, said Risch, the police department supervisor.

Risch said Behanna died of a heart attack in his home. He said Behanna, 59, was planning to retire in three years.

Police Sgt. Rick Healey will lead the department, Risch said, until supervisors appoint a permanent officer in charge.

Cop Misses Slain Comrade’s Funeral. Then Little Girl Hands Him THIS Note And Runs

April 17, 2016

From by Daniel Tofil

It was a sad day in Des Moines, Iowa. The police forced had just lost a beloved officer, Susan Farrell. Thousands showed up to Farrell’s funeral to pay their respects after she gave the ultimate sacrifice of her life in the line of duty. While other officers were at the service, Officer Don Franck was out on patrol.

As he was in his squad car by a local school, a girl ran up to him and handed him a note. She said “I’m sorry for your loss, blue lives matter.” Before Officer Franck could say a word, the girl had already run off. The note was exactly what Officer Franck needed that day. The note read:
“Dear Officer,

“I really want to thank you for your service and everything that you do for us. Your life matter to me. Thank you for waking up every morning to serve and protect Iowa. I really appreciate that. We will always have your back no matter what. #BackTheBlue #StandUnited #ThinBlueLine #CopLivesMatter

It was a sad day in Des Moines, Iowa. The police forced had just lost a beloved officer, Susan Farrell. Thousands showed up to Farrell’s funeral to pay their respects after she gave the ultimate sacrifice of her life in the line of duty. While other officers were at the service, Officer Don Franck was out on patrol.

As he was in his squad car by a local school, a girl ran up to him and handed him a note. She said “I’m sorry for your loss, blue lives matter.” Before Officer Franck could say a word, the girl had already run off. The note was exactly what Officer Franck needed that day. The note read:
“Dear Officer,

“I really want to thank you for your service and everything that you do for us. Your life matter to me. Thank you for waking up every morning to serve and protect Iowa. I really appreciate that. We will always have your back no matter what. #BackTheBlue #StandUnited #ThinBlueLine #CopLivesMatter

‘Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016’ Would Make Targeting Cops a Hate Crime

April 9, 2016

Blue Lives Matter

From by Lana Shadwick, March 29, 2016

A Republican representative from Colorado has introduced a bill in Congress that would make it a hate crime to target a cop just because he or she is a police officer.

The bill which has been named the “Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016,” was filed by U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), reported The Greeley Tribune.

The measure would enlarge federal hate crime laws to include law enforcement officers who are victims of violence and are targeted simply because they are peace officers.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 25 years before I started in this job,” Buck told The Greeley Tribune. “I’ve seen over and over both police officers on the street and federal agents, jail deputies and bureau of prison officials being threatened by very dangerous people. I have a passion for trying to protect those who protect us. That’s what this bill is about.”

Buck told the publication that if the bill is passed, it would give federal prosecutors more ammunition against those who target a police officer just for what they do for a living. He used the December 2014 ambush and execution of two New York police officers as an example.

Buck served as the Weld County District Attorney and prosecuted Allen Andrade in 2009 for the murder of a transgender woman, Angie Zapata.

The bill comes after ambush style attacks on peace officers have made headlines all over the nation. The Tribune reported that the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said there were at least six such killings in 2015, and fifteen in 2014.

Breitbart Texas reported extensively about the execution-style murder of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth in August 2015. The Texas deputy was at a gas station with his marked vehicle and in uniform when a man walked up behind him and unloaded fifteen rounds into his head and back. Officials say that he was targeted simply because he was a peace officer, as reported by Breitbart Texas. Shannon Miles has been charged with capital murder but is not presently facing trial because he has been found lacking the capacity to aid his lawyer in his defense.

The political director of a liberal organization called Progress Now Colorado, Alan Franklin, was reported by the local paper to question whether peace officers should be the subject of hate-crime statutes. “The question is whether or not a police officer is really appropriately covered by such a statute, especially when there are many laws that severely penalize violence against police officers already.”

The Colorado newspaper reported that several other Republicans asked to be added as co-sponsors of the bill. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) were named.

Illegal Alien Smuggler Finally Goes to Jail After His 24th Arrest

April 9, 2016

From by Warner Houston, March 31, 2016

A man arrested twenty-four times for smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. was finally sentenced to a jail term, court records reveal.

Efrain Delgado-Rosales, 35, has a record of arrests for people smuggling going back to at least 1999 and has been arrested 23 previous times for the crime. Now, after his 24th arrest, the Mexican national has been handed a five-year prison sentence.

According to Fox News, Delgado-Rosales was arrested last November when he was caught leading four men across the border in California’s Otay Mountains.

The illegal immigrants testified that Delgado-Rosales met them in Tijuana and arranged the passage. During their trip, though, the men say they were robbed by a crew of men who came upon them when their guide had left the group alone for a period of time. The four illegal immigrants say they were robbed of their money and cell phones.

When Delgado-Rosales returned to be told the group had been robbed, he seemed so unconcerned that the illegal immigrants became suspicious he was in on the robbery.

One of the immigrants also testified that Delgado-Rosales allowed several of the men to lag behind and only halted long enough for them to catch up when he pleaded with the guide to wait for the men.

Delgado-Rosales was last apprehended bringing illegal immigrants across the border in August of 2014.

But despite the fact Delgado-Rosales had 23 previous arrests for smuggling illegals across the border, he was never served with any charges and never held for trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Foster noted Delgado-Rosales was merely deported each of the 23 previous times.

This is the second time in as many days that news of a human smuggler being arrested dozens of times made the news. The day before Delgado-Rosales was sentenced to his five-year sentence, immigration officials announced the arrest of Jiovani Hernandez.

Like Delgado-Rosales, Hernandez had many arrests for human smuggling but was still free to ply his trade. In fact, Hernandrz had been arrested a whopping 42 times for smuggling illegal aliens across the border.

5 worst Gun Controls

April 9, 2016

From, March 31, 2016 by AWR Hawkins

A major tenet for Democrats at the state and federal level is gun control, and one would not be wrong for observing that the kind of gun control pushed is often similar — if not identical — to past or existing gun controls that have failed to deliver the reduction in death and violence promised.

In other words, the gun controls pushed in one state are often simply a recycled version of gun controls that are failing in another. The same thing can be said of federal gun control efforts, where the gun control specifics pushed by Representatives, Senators, and President Obama are often demonstrable failures before they are fully introduced.

Here are five of the worst gun control proposals regularly recycled and put forward at the state and/or federal level:

Hollow-Point Ammunition Ban — Democrats in San Francisco have banned hollow-point ammunition in the city. The argument is that hollow-point ammunition is more dangerous — due to its expansion on impact — and therefore using full metal jacket bullets is safer. But reality teaches a completely different lesson. The NYPD used to mandate full metal jacket bullets for their officers, but reversed course when they realized the lack of expansion in a full metal jacket bullet tends to allow the bullet to pass through the perpetrator’s body and strike innocents behind him or her. In other words, the absence of hollow-point ammunition actually contributes to a higher rate of collateral damage.

In July 1998, when the New York Times reported the NYPD’s switch from full metal jacket bullets to hollow points, they quoted NYPD police commissioner Howard Safir, saying: “We are, in fact, going to switch to hollow-point ammunition as soon as we receive it. They are much safer than fully jacketed bullets, which will go through a person or tumble through a person’s organs and then continue on and hit innocent victims.”

“Assault Weapons” Ban — Democrats pushed through a federal assaults weapons ban under Bill Clinton that lasted from 1994 to 2004. The impact of the ban was negligible at best, and some studies — like that contained in Applied Economic Letters — show an significant increase in gun-related murder rates while the “assault weapons” ban was in place. For example, the study in the November 2013 issue of Applied Economic Letters showed the gun-related “murder rates were 19.3 percent higher when the Federal [‘assault weapons’] ban (AWB) was in effect.” We currently see this same truism playing out at the city level — in places like Chicago — where an “assault weapons” ban is simply correlating with a higher rate of shootings and murder, rather than a reduced rate of either.

“High-Capacity” Magazine Ban — Like the “assault weapons” ban, a ban on “high capacity” magazines is a favorite gun control push for Democrats following nearly every high-profile shooting or mass public attack. Yet “high-capacity” magazine bans are demonstrable failures and, as with all gun controls, give the criminal who continues to use “high-cap” mags an advantage over the law-abiding citizen who turns his or hers into the police or governing authority.

For example, during the May 2014 Santa Barbara attack in which Elliot Rodger shot and killed three innocents, all his magazines had a capacity of 10 rounds or less. Rodger made up for the smaller magazine capacity by simple carrying more magazines with him. And following the heinous April 16, 2007, attack on innocents at Virginia Tech — where Seung-Hui Cho used 15-round magazines in carrying out a murder spree that killed 32 — a Virginia Tech review board found that limiting him to 10-round magazines “would have not made that much difference in the incident.”

Why would smaller magazines have made little difference? Because the overarching problem was a gun-free zone that dictated all law-abiding citizens be disarmed. Therefore, the gunman had all the time in the world to shoot, reload, shoot, reload, shoot, ad nauseam.

Universal Background Checks — Universal background checks have been the preferred control option for Democrats and Republican

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)


(PA) ever since the heinous December 14, 2012, attack on Sandy Hook Elementary. Such checks would require all gun sales — retail and private — to be conducted under the purview of a Federal Firearm License (FFL) holder, who would run the buyer’s personal information through an FBI database to check for criminal background, etc.

Problem #1: Such a check would not have stopped or even hindered the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting because the gunman, Adam Lanza, did not buy his guns. Rather, he stole them.

Problem #2: The criminals on the streets of Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, NYC, Philadelphia, St. Louis, etc., are not of a mind to stand in line and let an FFL run their black market gun sales through a FBI database.

Problem #3: Such a check already exists in retail stores — Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Academy, Gander Mountain, mom & pop gun stores, etc. — and it has offered no impediment to determined attackers who wish to acquire a gun for criminal use. For example, one of the strongest proponents of background checks is former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot by Jared Loughner on January 8, 2011, yet Loughner acquired his gun by passing a background check.

And it is not just Loughner. In October 2015, the New York Times did a story on mass shooters and revealed that the vast majority of them acquire their guns by passing background checks. The exceptions to this pattern are those who steal their guns — think Adam Lanza — and the small fraction of high-profile gunman who get someone to purchase the gun for them.

Gun-Free Zones — The common thread running through high-profile shootings and mass public attacks in America is not the type of gun used or the color of the attacker’s skin. Rather, it is the unnatural condition law-abiding citizens endure when they find themselves disarmed in a “gun-free zone” by a local, state, or federal government mandate.

To be fair, in some cases the “gun-free zone” is the result of a business owner’s decision. We saw this with the Aurora movie theater in July 2012 and the Lafayette movie theater in July 2015.

Breitbart News previously reported that in an 8-year time period ending August 2, 2015, “gun-free zones” cost 105 innocent lives taken by gun fire and more than 150 others injured. Think about it — 105 persons unable to defend their lives because their Second Amendment rights were curtailed.

Does this mean all 105 of those persons would have carried a gun for self-defense if the “gun-free zones” had been abolished? No. But it does mean that they could have. And it means removing the impediment to their doing so would have at least given them a fighting chance instead of leaving them trapped in a defenseless posture when yet another criminal ignored the signs that said “no guns allowed.”

Governors Can Refuse Entry to Syrian Refugees

November 28, 2015

From The New American by Joe Wolvereton, II, J.D., November 20, 2015

In response to the deadly attacks last Friday in Paris believed to have been committed by Syrian-born members of ISIS, at least 31 state governors have declared their intent to refuse entry into their states of refugees fleeing Syria.

Can Governors Refuse Entry to Syrian Refugees?

Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona (shown), for example, issued a strongly worded statement of his state’s intended refusal to allow settlement of Syrian refugees. “Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona,” Ducey declared.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley expressed an equally terse promise to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state. “I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”

As with any question of superiority between state and federal policies, there are those who instantly assert the “supremacy clause” of Article VI in defense of giving the feds the upper hand.

The fact is the Supremacy Clause does not declare that all laws passed by the federal government are the supreme law of the land, period. A closer reading reveals that it declares the “laws of the United States made in pursuance” of the Constitution are the supreme law of the land.

In pursuance thereof, not in violation thereof. 

Alexander Hamilton reiterated this interpretation of this part of Article VI when he wrote in The Federalist, No. 33:

If a number of political societies enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers intrusted [sic] to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies and the individuals of whom they are composed…. But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the larger society which are not pursuant to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. [Emphasis in original.]

Dismissing, then, with the “supremacy clause” argument is relatively easy. The problem remains, however, of whether the Constitution gives the federal government authority to grant entrance to the United States to those seeking asylum.

And a related question: Did the states grant to the federal government in the Constitution the power to put labels on immigrants, labels which remove them from any exercise of state sovereignty?


As this reporter has written on other occasions, the closest the Constitution comes to placing anything even incidentally related to immigration within the bailiwick of Congress is found in the clause of Article I, Section 8 that empowers Congress to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” That’s it. There is no other mention of immigration in the text of the Constitution. Somehow, though, the enemies of the right of states to govern themselves have extrapolated from that scant reference to “naturalization” the exclusive and unimpeachable right to legislate in the arena of immigration.

The difference between immigration and naturalization is one of definition.

Immigration is the act of coming to a country of which one is not a native. Naturalization, however, is defined as the conference upon an alien of the rights and privileges of a citizen. It is difficult to understand how so many lawyers, judges, and legislators (most of whom are/were lawyers) can innocently confuse these two terms.

Before the states sent delegates to a convention in Philadelphia in 1787 to amend the Articles of Confederation (the result of which was the Constitution), they were already defending their sovereign borders by setting rules governing the means by which one could lawfully enter the state. That is to say, they were policing the immigration of aliens, an act undeniably within their right as a sovereign government.

On not one single occasion during that summer of 1787 did any one of the 55 (on and off) representatives of the 13 states suggest the endowment of the new national government with the authority to set immigration policy for the entire nation. That is significant. Not even the most strident advocate of a powerful national government ever proposed granting the power in question to the central authority.

In fact, the sole reference to the federal government’s power to regulate immigration is Article I, Section 9 wherein Constitution forbids Congress from interfering in the “migration or importation” of persons into the several states until 1808. That this limitation touched and concerned the slave trade and only the slave trade is patently obvious to anyone reading the debates of the delegates as recorded by James Madison and others who were present at the time. In fact, the wording of Article I, Section 9 is precisely worded so as not to be confused with any other article of the Constitution.

There was a time in our nation’s history when this wasn’t such a difficult distinction to grasp.

During deliberation of the Civil War amendments (13th and 14th), President Ulysses S. Grant recognized that immigration was a state issue and not merely an aspect of naturalization. In a memo to the House of Representatives, Grant wrote: “Responsibility over immigration can only belong with the States since this is where the Constitution kept the power.” 

It seems we should accept that the Constitution’s silence on the issue of immigration and the 10th Amendment’s explicit reservation to states of all powers not granted to the federal government means that state governments can establish the policy they deem proper with regard to who can or cannot settle within their sovereign borders.

That’s not the end of the controversy, however. There are those who insist that the 1915 Supreme Court decision in the case of Truax v. Raich should be the final word on the subject.

Here’s a brief recitation of the facts of that case as published in Reason magazine:

At issue was the constitutionality of an Arizona law designed to prevent unwelcome foreigners from settling in that state by denying them the ability to secure meaningful employment. Under the terms of Arizona’s “act to protect the citizens of the United States in their employment against non-citizens of the United States, in Arizona,” all businesses with more than five employees were required to maintain a workforce that was comprised of at least 80 percent “qualified electors or native-born citizens.” As a direct result of this legislation, an Austrian-born cook named Mike Raich lost his job. Raich filed suit and eventually wound up before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court sided with Raich and struck down the nativist state action. “The assertion of an authority to deny to aliens the opportunity of earning a livelihood when lawfully admitted to the State would be tantamount to the assertion of the right to deny them entrance and abode, for in ordinary cases they cannot live where they cannot work,” the Court declared. “And, if such a policy were permissible, the practical result would be that those lawfully admitted to the country under the authority of the acts of Congress, instead of enjoying in a substantial sense and in their full scope the privileges conferred by the admission, would be segregated in such of the States as chose to offer hospitality.”

Reason goes on to restate the ruling as if they believe it applies to the current controversy:

Put differently, Congress possesses the constitutional power to regulate the admission of aliens to the United States. Once an alien has been lawfully admitted under federal law, no state may “deny them entrance and abode.” That standard plainly covers the treatment of Syrian refugees that have been lawfully admitted to the United States.

Is the Supreme Court designated the ultimate decider of issues pitting state sovereignty against federal prerogatives?


As this reporter has observed in a previous article on the subject of Supreme Court supremacy:

Thomas Jefferson had something to say in the matter. In 1804, he wrote that giving the Supreme Court power to declare unconstitutional acts of the legislature or executive “would make the judiciary a despotic branch.” He noted that “nothing in the Constitution” gives the Supreme Court that right.

In this Mexican standoff of states, Supreme Court, and federal government, the last man standing is the people acting in their collective political capacity as states.

Abraham Lincoln recognized the lack of constitutional authority for the Supreme Court’s assumption of the role of ultimate arbiter of an act’s conformity with the Constitution.

Lincoln said that if the Supreme Court were afforded the power to declare whether an act of the federal government was constitutional, “the people will have ceased to be their own masters, having to that extent resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.”

In his 1887 book The Constitutional Law of the United States of America, renowned German-American constitutional scholar Hermann Von Holst explained the error in accepting the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter of constitutional fidelity. 

“Moreover, violations of the Constitution may happen where the injured cannot, whether states or individuals, obtain justice through the court. Where the wrongs suffered are political in origin the remedies must be sought in a political way,” he wrote.

He continued, regarding this “aristocracy of the robe,” “That our national government, in any branch of it, is beyond the reach of the people; or has any sort of ‘supremacy’ except a limited measure of power granted by the supreme people is an error.”

Finally, in his statement discussed above, Governor Ducey of Arizona cites the provision of the U.S. Refugee Act requiring the federal government to consult with states prior to placing refugee populations.

He then pleads for the president and Congress to “immediately amend federal law to provide states greater oversight and authority in the administration of the placement of refugees.”

With respect to the difficult and potentially dangerous position in which Governor Ducey and the other 30 or so state executives find themselves, one wonders where in the Constitution states are required to ask the federal government’s permission to exercise a power they specifically retain under the Bill of Rights, namely the power to grant or refuse permission for entry into their sovereign territory to an immigrant, no matter what label that immigrant is given by the federal government.

Anti-gun Democrats Push to Remove Constitutional Rights Without Due Process

November 28, 2015

From The New American by Bob Adelmann, November 25, 2015

Seeking once again to take advantage of an opportunity, anti-gun Democrats are using the horrific massacre in Paris to revive a moribund bill by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to remove precious rights from anyone on the government’s “no-fly” or “terrorist watch list.”

Senate Bill 551, offered back in February, was dead on arrival, but the Paris massacre is being seen as an opportunity to breathe life back into it. In re-introducing the bill, she says if they can’t fly, they shouldn’t be able to buy a gun: “If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous to own a gun.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called it a “terrorist loophole”:

By leaving this terrorist loophole open, Republicans are leaving every community in America vulnerable to attacks by terrorists armed with assault rifles and explosives purchased legally, in broad daylight.

What, exactly, is that loophole? It is the whole host of protections provided by the Constitution, and more specifically the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to it, that guarantee that rights may not be infringed without probable cause and without due process. That’s the “loophole” that Reid and Feinstein want to close. Merely being on the list does not automatically disqualify an individual from buying a gun. It takes much more than that — a fact that Reid, Feinstein, and others seem willing to ignore.

Those others would include Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said:

Under current law, suspected or known terrorists who are on a no-fly list can legally purchase firearms in this country. They can walk into a gun show, no questions asked, and buy a gun or buy explosives.

His excessive hyperbole notwithstanding, Schumer then blames the National Rifle Association (NRA) for standing athwart the effort:

Because of the NRA it hasn’t happened, but because of Paris we’re hoping there will be new impetus to do this and do it now.

Slamming this appalling loophole ought to be a no-brainer.

Looking carefully at the language of the bill, one can see exactly how precious rights would be abrogated, potentially leading to the disarmament of anyone “suspected” of terrorist activities. First, the bill would empower the attorney general “to deny the transfer of firearms … to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.” (Emphasis added.) The bill expands the definition of suspected:

The Attorney General may deny the transfer of a firearm … if [he] … determines that the transferee is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support of resources for terrorism; and has a reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use a firearm in connection with terrorism.

This is such a far cry from constitutional protections that it’s no wonder that the NRA has cried foul ever since Feinstein’s bill was first introduced years ago by then-Senator Frank Lautenberg, the infamous anti-gun Democrat from New Jersey.

Such a far cry that Charles Cooke, a staff writer at National Review, took umbrage at the outrage of Feinstein’s bill:

This idea flies directly in the face of every cherished American conception of justice, and it should be rejected with extreme prejudice.

You will note, I hope, that Reid [and] Schumer … are not proposing to place restrictions on those who are “accused,” “charged,” or “convicted,” but upon those who are “suspected”….

Loudly and proudly, they are arguing in favor of removing fundamental rights from anyone whose name has been written down on a list.

Already rights are being violated. At present nearly one million names are on the no-fly watch list, but 280,000 of those names “have no recognized terrorist affiliation,” as noted by TechDirt. One of those on the list was Weekly Standard writer and Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes, who learned that fact to his dismay while leaving for a cruise. Someone had added his name to the list and, under Feinstein’s bill, he would be forever prohibited from owning a firearm. No charges filed, no hearing, no trial, nothing.

Sean Davis, the co-founder of The Federalist, made it personal:

You don’t have to be convicted of any crime whatsoever to end up on the terrorist watch list. You don’t even have to be charged with a crime to lose your constitutional rights under the proposed law.

If this proposed legislation were to become law, some DHS [Department of Homeland Security] bureaucrat … only needs to snap his fingers and add your name to the blacklist in order to immediately deprive you of your Second Amendment rights and your constitutional right to due process.

You don’t even get to review the entirety of the evidence against you.

The bill, if it passed into law, would not target just Muslim jihadists harboring hatred against the Great Satan but the average citizen upset with government intrusions such as this one into his life. According to Charles Kurzman, writing an opinion piece for the New York Times last June, “The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists.” He quoted an officer from a large metropolitan area who said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat faced by citizens.

It is unlikely that Feinstein’s bill, like Lautenberg’s before it, will get much traction, especially during an election year. But it is more evidence, if more be needed, that (1) the long war on guns continues apace, and (2) eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Nothing less than the survival of the country as a free Republic is at stake. 

FBI Statistics Prove: More Guns, Less Crime

October 3, 2015

Inconvenient facts the gun control lobby cannot answer

Paul Joseph Watson,, January 7, 2013

Despite the onslaught of media propaganda in support of the Obama administration’s anti-second amendment agenda in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, the statistics clearly illustrate that gun control does not reduce violent crime and in fact has the opposite effect.

Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports.

As the graph above highlights, according to the latest figures obtained by the FBI, violent crime offenses in the United States have been falling since 2007. The five year trend clearly shows that, despite there being an ongoing national debate about gun violence in America, violent crime itself is actually becoming less of a problem.

The graph below from the Department of Justice also highlights the fact that over the last 40 years, the amount of guns in America per 1000 people has increased, whereas serious violent crimes have decreased.

In addition, despite the media drumbeat that murders involving guns represent the number one safety threat to American citizens, the reality is completely the opposite.

Amongst the “top ten killers” in the United States, homicide by firearms is at the bottom of the list, according to figures from the CDC and the FBI. Almost 20 times more people die in the United States from medical errors than they do from firearm homicides, but there is no outcry to slap draconian regulations on the medical industry.

In addition, the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs in the United States routinely outpaces the number of homicides committed using a rifle. Should US lawmakers introduce urgent legislation to outlaw hammers and baseball bats?

The figures clearly illustrate that rising gun ownership does not cause a rise in violent crime.

Look at Chicago, which in 1982 passed a ban on all handguns except for those registered with the city before the ban was enacted.

Since the handgun ban took effect, the number of murders in Chicago committed using handguns has been 40% higher than before the ban, and has spiked even higher in recent years, proving that the gun ban actually served to cause an increase in violent crime.

In comparison, let’s take a look at Britain, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the developed world. Given that one of the most vocal advocates for gun control in the aftermath of Sandy Hook has been a British citizen – Piers Morgan – who has used his platform on CNN to attack the second amendment, the contrast is illuminating.

Despite the fact that it is virtually impossible for an average citizen to obtain a gun through legal channels in Britain, the rate of violent crime in the UK is higher per capita than the US and the highest in the world amongst “rich” countries aside from Australia, which also instituted a draconian gun ban in the 1990’s.

Preventing law-abiding people from owning guns clearly has no impact on violent crime, and if anything causes it to rise because the criminals know their victims will not be able to defend themselves.

In addition, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK than you are a victim of gun crime in the United States, but there is no media debate about banning kitchen knives.

Despite virtually all handguns being outlawed in 1996 following the Dunblane school massacre in Scotland, with law-abiding people people rushing to turn in their firearms, over the next decade gun crime in the UK more than doubled. This proves that while law-abiding citizens willingly disarmed themselves, criminals were unfazed by the new laws and continued to use guns illegally. Therefore gun control only disarms innocent people since criminals do not follow the law.

As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres.”

In summary, despite a widespread ban on gun ownership in the United Kingdom, it is the most dangerous place to live in terms of violent crime in the entire western world.

Another country where violent crime and rapes are soaring is India, recently in the news because of the tragic death of a woman who was gang raped and savagely beaten in New Delhi.

India has a gun control policy just as draconian as the United Kingdom, and despite Indian women begging the police to allow them to own firearms for personal protection, the vast majority of license applications have been rejected, leaving women defenseless against rapists and murderers.

Now let’s take a look at a country which is geographically-speaking a stone’s throw away from the United Kingdom – Switzerland.

With a population of just six million, Switzerland has 2 million publicly-owned firearms. Despite the fact that guns are everywhere in Switzerland and are a deeply-ingrained part of Swiss culture, the gun crime rate “is so low that statistics are not even kept,” reports the BBC.

Indeed, with its population of law-abiding armed citizens, Switzerland is one of the safest countries to live in the entire world, with homicide rates at just 2.2 people per 100,000.

So the UK is one of the most dangerous places to live in the developed world, while Switzerland is one of the safest, and yet Switzerland is a nation of gun owners. How then can we possibly conclude that gun control reduces violent crime when in virtually every instance it has proven to have the opposite effect?

The figures clearly show that gun control does not reduce violent crime, and in fact only emboldens criminals to use guns illegally – safe in the knowledge that their victims have been disarmed courtesy of government legislation.

Recent cases involving law abiding citizens in America, largely ignored by the mass media, who have exercised their second amendment right to prevent a crime and save lives, emphasize this reality, including an incident just two days after the Connecticut massacre during which a gunman entered a theater in San Antonio after killing his ex-girlfriend but was shot dead by an off duty policewoman.

In addition, last month’s mall shooting in Oregon was brought to an end when 22-year-old Nick Meli, who has a concealed carry permit, pulled a gun on the killer, prompting masked shooter Jacob Tyler Roberts to use his final bullet on himself.

In both cases, the media virtually ignored the fact that potential massacres were stopped by responsible Americans using firearms. Similar cases emerge on a weekly basis, including another incident on Friday where a woman in Atlanta defended herself and her young children against an intruder by using a legally owned firearm.

The National Safety Council notes that guns are used some 2.5 million times a year in self defense against criminals, meaning that firearms are utilized to protect innocent lives in 80 times more cases than they are used to end lives.

These figures, not just from America but from other countries around the world, send a clear and consistent message – gun control actually increases violent crime, more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens equals less crime, and only by allowing responsible, law-abiding people to be armed and not by disarming the victims can we hope to prevent or lessen the scale of future tragedies like the Sandy Hook massacre.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for and Prison He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.


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