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Zimmerman: Guilty or Innocent?

“Zimmerman: Guilty or Innocent?” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

I don’t claim to know the answer to the question. It’s obvious that the public, aided and abetted by the media, has already made up its collective mind. ZIMMERMAN IS GUILTY AS CHARGED! This was the opinion of the general public even before the trial started. Add to this the general opinion of the masses that an accused person is guilty because the person was arrested and charged.

Wow! Think of all the tax dollars that could be saved if we just substituted the media, leading the masses to popular “opinion”, for the legal system.

But, hold on a minute. Our legal system is based on the practical assertion and principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. I guess the media and the masses don’t get it. Here’s a Facebook post you might want to read just to get some perspective on cases like this where a defendant is claiming self defense to justify a homicide. And remember that “homicide” is a morally and legally neutral term. Its meaning is too narrow for making decisions about how to treat the act and its results. Homicide can be “justified”, as in the case of legitimate self defense, or “unjustified”, as in the case of premeditated murder.

 

Gun Free Zones-An Oxymoron in the Gun Control Debate

“Gun Free Zones-An Oxymoron in the Gun Control Debate” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

The only real gun free zones are closed and secured locations with controlled access, staffed by armed guards and requiring inspection of persons entering, including anything they are wearing and carrying. Areas marked with gun free zone signs, either required by law or policy, are a fraud on the public and are, in fact, a threat to public safety.

If a licensed citizen carries a gun into such an area, that person commits a crime even though the only crime is violating the law or policy establishing that zone.

If a person with criminal intent wants to go into that zone to actually use that gun to shoot one or more people, what makes anyone think that the sign would deter that person with that intent from that behavior? And, if an otherwise lawful citizen were to violate the law or policy and deploy a prohibited weapon to stop the person with murderous intent, why should that citizen be declared a criminal? Since when is exercising the right to self-defense, a Constitutional and Human Right, a crime?

Irrational, feel-good measures, such as gun free zones do not stop criminals or the insane. Such laws and policies only disarm those who are no threat to anyone. Gun free zones create an illusion of safety only to those deluded enough to believe they work.

Public officials who promote such ideas are either deluded themselves or are acting in a calculated and cynical manner in pandering to the fears of the public they work for. Do you hear me, Seattle Mayor McGinn? And Mayor Bloomberg of NYC and all the other mayors in this country who have joined your club.

 

Understanding the Second Amendment Easy, If…

“Understanding the Second Amendment Easy, If…” by John F Hays, Seattle Private Investigator.

You don’t have to be a lawyer and a constitutional law expert to understand the Second Amendment. The meaning of the Second Amendment is obvious to anyone who knows (1) our history, (2) knows that the Bill of Rights is about individual rights, not government rights and (3) understands grammar.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment acknowledges our human right, pre-existing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, while stating the interest of the government in not restricting or interfering with that right.

A study of our history leading up to the formation of our country and the writing of the Constitution, shows no evidence of government interest in controlling citizens’ possession of arms. If you know of any evidence to the contrary, provide it to me as a comment to this post.

Stipulated: The Bill of Rights is about individual rights, not government rights. Any argument?

The action part of the wording of the sentence that makes up the Second Amendment refers to a right that “…shall not be infringed.” This wording obviously recognizes a right that pre-exists the Second Amendment, as you can’t infringe on something that doesn’t already exist. The first part of the sentence does nothing more than state the government’s interest in maintaining and not interfering with that right. Does anyone reading this post claim that our language has changed so much since then that my interpretation is wrong.

If you accept this argument but you believe that the Second Amendment is an anachronism that should be eliminated from the Bill of Rights within the Constitution, good luck getting that changed.

 

Is Self-Defense a Social Evil?

“Is Self-Defense a Social Evil?” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The issue

Is self-defense an anachronism and a social evil?

Do you believe you have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as stated in the Declaration of Independence? Who is responsible for insuring that right? At the societal level, it’s the government aided by the community. At an individual and family level, it’s the individual, the family and community, aided or not by the government.

I’ve heard people claim that personal security is the job of the police and that self defense is an anachronism in our modern country, especially when the means of self defense is a gun. This claim is often made by otherwise intelligent people who are too frightened to see the truth and who are afraid to recognize their own responsibility. Recognizing and acting on this responsibility requires people to do the work to prepare to protect themselves and their families and it requires them to suppress their fear of getting their hands dirty. It’s odd that these same people are OK with hiring mercenaries to do their dirty work for them. Is this the self-righteous piety of the pseudo-pacifist? Is it fear? Is it cowardice? Is it self-delusion? Is it some combination of these factors or something else entirely.

The truth

The police are not responsible for your individual security. Rational/logical argument: it’s the math. Legal argument: it’s the law.

The math argument only requires that you determine two numbers, the number of police officers in your community and the population of your community. The ratio of the first number to the second gives you a small fraction, doesn’t it?

The legal argument is that the courts have ruled on a number of occasions that the police aren’t responsible for your personal security. Just read the following references.

A 2005 Supreme Court decision: http://nyti.ms/V9cUKG

An example: Warren v. District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. App. 1981), the court stated: ” Courts have without exception concluded that when a municipality or other governmental entity undertakes to furnish police services, it assumes a duty only to the public at large and not to individual members of the community. . . .”

A good general discussion: http://bit.ly/V9dDvl

The question

It’s obvious that you have both the right and the responsibility for your own self defense and that of your family. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

 

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification?

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification? by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The Drug War is a total failure. What started out and continues as a way to target minorities for discriminatory police attention has become one of the biggest domestic and foreign policy failures in our history. One set of beneficiaries of this domestic and foreign “war” are the police officers, the prosecutors and the judges who are paid drug-war-subsidized salaries. The only other beneficiaries are the cartels and gangs that were formed to take full advantage of this controlled, high value market. The gun-toting gangs and the shootings on our streets are the bloody pay-off we get along with the tax bill we pay to support this deadly boondoggle. We continue to pay for years for each conviction, resulting in the largest per-capita prison population on the planet. Don’t you just love getting so much value for your hard earned tax dollars?

When legislators pass bad criminal laws and police, prosecutors and judges continue the charade by enforcing the bad law via the criminal justice system, the public has few options to stop the ongoing tragedy.

The root of the problem is bad law; so going after the law makers is one route to take. But this is very slow and subject to the usual political BS. Washington and Colorado have recently passed laws legalizing limited pot sales, possession and use. The Feds will probably try to coerce the states to counter the voters’ will. We do not have to sit still for that.

There is a tool we have as citizens that is little known and seldom invoked that might break the back of the Drug War. It’s not a total solution; and it has some potential negative side-effects to consider. But it might speed up the process of converting the “war” into the medical/mental health issue it actually is.

[At this point I feel the need to state that I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice. I am a citizen and voter and have a right to speak out. The law belongs to the people, not the lawyers.]

What I propose is a minor rebellion. What if no court of law, federal, state or local, could get a jury to convict a person technically (under Federal law) guilty of limited drug sales, possession or use in the States of Washington and Colorado? What if this rebellion spread across all 50 States? See my earlier post on jury nullification and think about it.

Of course, the legislators who pass irrational, illogical, unenforceable laws and the police, prosecutors and judges who get paid to enforce these laws don’t want the public to be fully informed about such a subversive concept. So get informed and spread the word. If we can cripple the courts on these cases and, at the same time, pressure the law makers to eliminate the laws and funding underlying the war, we can have success in years, rather than generations.

What do you think?

 

 

A Seattle Shootout: Some Lessons for Citizens, the Police and Mayor McGinn

“A Seattle Shootout: Some Lessons for Citizens, the Police and Mayor McGinn” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

The shootout

At about noon on a Saturday in July, my wife and I were standing, talking, on the SE corner of an intersection in the business district of a popular Seattle neighborhood. We were with friends and were on our way to a day of fun at a festival in the International District. We had stopped at a coffee shop so our friends could go inside to get coffees-to-go. It was a beautiful morning with lots of people out strolling and going in and out of restaurants and shops.

My attention was attracted to yelling coming from the north side of the cross-street we were on, mid-block and east of our position. I looked to see a stocky black male, 30-something, in a green shirt, yelling while facing west towards our location on the arterial street. I couldn’t make out what he was saying; but his voice had an angry tone.

While making these observations, I became aware of a 30-something, tall, slim black male and a short, slender black female crossing from a restaurant on the NE corner of the intersection, toward a point just east of us on the cross-street. These two people were obviously together and would have been unremarkable but for three things. One: She was paying a lot of attention to the yelling man up the street and seemed to be reluctant to follow the man she was with. Two: He gave a couple of sharp and abrupt hand signals to her, indicating that she should come along with him and quit lagging behind. Three: When he made these gestures, he pulled up his gray t-shirt and exposed what appeared to be a gun tucked in his dark colored pants. The view I had was so brief in duration that I couldn’t be sure I had seen a gun. She continued to hold back as he headed east on the sidewalk, moving closer to the yelling man. When she finally speeded up to catch up with her companion, I turned my attention back to my wife. Then the shooting started.

I pulled my wife to me and took cover behind a metal utility pole. Simultaneously, our friends came out of the coffee shop. I ordered them and the people at the tables in front of the shop to get down and stay down. Thankfully, they complied.

The shooting lasted only seconds. When it stopped, I looked east up the street and saw the woman who had been with the guy in the gray t-shirt coming out of a hairdressing salon behind the coffee shop. I saw a black SUV leaving the scene headed east. People flooded out onto the street. The woman headed east and away from me; I followed her.

When the police started to flood into the area, I directed the attention of one officer to the woman, an associate of one of the shooters and a material witness. When I tried to explain why he should talk to her, he asked me if I was a cop. When I told him no, he said “Then be quiet”. Not wanting to risk arrest for interfering, I stood and waited, listening to her lie about not being involved. I expected him to next turn to me. Instead he turned and walked away. A second attempt to get the same officer’s attention resulted in another rebuff when he directed another officer to talk to me. At that point all I could tell this officer was that the woman had already left the scene but that she had been in the salon and the folks in there might be able to ID her. Having done all I could, I rejoined my wife and friends. We went on to have a great day.

I was left angry and frustrated by the way I was treated by the officer who rebuffed me twice, allowing a material witness to leave a crime scene, unidentified. Rather than forgetting the matter, I sought out a meeting. I wanted to talk to the officer, his boss and the watch commander for the unit involved. The watch commander set up a meeting at the precinct.

Without going into the details, I’ve got to say that I left the meeting pleased that we had been able to talk openly about the situation. They listened actively and attentively to my concerns and were able to explain to my satisfaction how officers responding to such situations can be, or can appear to be, a bit rude. The safety of the public and the responding officers and securing the scene of the crime takes precedence over everything else.

They also informed me that the woman had been ID’d by the folks in the salon and that she and the shooters were gang associated.

The lessons for the public? Chill; it’s not about you. Oh, and get out of the line of fire.

Don’t expect polite and respectful behavior from police officers at active crime scenes, especially when the crime is violent and the scene is still chaotic. They are under a lot of pressure and are trying their best to re-establish safety and order.

Do demand answers when you have not been treated with respect; but do it after the situation is over.

When the shooting starts, don’t stand up and gawk. Don’t move closer to the action. Take cover or escape safely. Stay out of the fight unless it comes to you. Then fight as if your life depended on it, because it might.

For those who legally carry concealed firearms, the situation I describe did not warrant drawing a weapon. None of us standing or crouching behind cover on the corner were being directly threatened. We were within range of the bullets being fired; so cover and/or escape were our best defense.

Lessons for the police? Lighten up.

Command and control doesn’t require rudeness. Polite but firm will work for most otherwise good citizens who want nothing more than to help you do your job, if they can.

Unnecessary use of authority can be a barrier to getting the cooperation and information from the public necessary to do your work. Use your authority only as much as you have to in getting the job done.

Lessons for Mayor McGinn? It’s the gangs, not the guns.

Rather than trying to constrain our Second Amendment rights, strictly enforce existing gun laws. They are more than adequate, if enforced.

Aggressively go after the gangs that are the cause of the vast majority of gun violence in Seattle. And to help you accomplish that…

Go to Olympia and ask legislators to introduce mandatory, minimum sentences for those convicted of crimes where guns are used in crime or where persons committing violent and non-violent crimes are found possessing guns.

There should be no compromise with violent felons who endanger the public as well as each other. Ask the legislature to change the law to disallow plea bargaining on gun charges associated with any other felonies.

 

McGinn’s Oxymoron: Common Sense Gun Control Laws in Seattle

“McGinn’s Oxymoron: Common Sense Gun Control Laws in Seattle” by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Mayor McGinn wants “common sense” gun control laws in Seattle. And he wants to define the term. Common sense should focus on root causes, not empty, feel good measures that create the illusion of  safety in the city. He should listen to Danny Westneat, a columnist for the Seattle Times.

Common sense is enforcing the laws on the books. Common sense is focusing on the criminals, in this case, gangs, not legal gun owners and inanimate objects.

Instead of going to Olympia demanding that Seattle be allowed to draft its own, stricter gun-control rules, he might want to consider demanding that the Legislature pass laws that make the punishment for illegal gun possession and crimes committed while in possession of a gun much more severe than they are. Punishment should be mandatory. Plea bargaining should be strictly limited or eliminated entirely for gun crimes.

It’s time for the police to be allowed to declare war on gangs; and it’s time for severe minimum sentencing for illegal gun possession and use.

But I don’t expect our short-timer Major to do anything that makes “common sense”.

 

Seattle Mayor finds scapegoating guns easier than going after root causes of violence

Seattle Mayor finds scapegoating guns easier than going after root causes by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

It’s really disappointing, but not unexpected, that Mayor McGinn’s gun control response to recent shootings in Seattle is to blame inanimate objects for the violence, rather than the complex social problems that drive the behavior of people who respond to life with violent acts.

Violence is an ever-present problem that has root causes that have nothing to do with the tools used to act out in violence. The tools reflect the technological level of society. Violent behavior reflects the social conditions of society from the national level down to the level of local communities and individual families.

Blaming guns is what you do when you don’t have the ability or the will to tackle root causes and want a scapegoat to deflect attention from your impotence. Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz and Assistant Chief for Operations Paul McDonagh blame the gun, as well (seattletimes.nwso…); but this is just politically expedient, coded speech to deflect citizen ire from the Mayor and the police.

The Mayor and the Seattle Police Department are no more at fault for the recent violence than are the rest of us. Since they don’t seem to be able to lead, where are the leaders who can direct our attention and efforts away from useless, easy-answer, non-solutions and towards addressing the underlying social issues that create violent people?

See my earlier blog posts on the topic:

Guns, Violence and Society – Family and Community Level Solutions

The Gun Violence Fantasies of Seattle Mayor

Guns, Violence and Society – Causes

Guns, Violence and Society – Addiction

Guns, Violence and Society

Domestic Violence – Protection Orders Useless?

I have two more posts coming on the same topic. The last in the string (the second to come) will specifically address guns.

 

Guns, Violence and Society – Family and Community Level Solutions

Guns, Violence and Society – Family and Community Level Solutions by: John F. Hays,  a Seattle Private Investigator.

Violence in our society is a problem with no easy solutions. Since the “experts” and our social institutions haven’t fixed the problem, the subject is wide open for conversation. I don’t have “the answer”; but I’d like to offer up some ideas, in the form of assertions, for conversation.

The causes of violence are many and are linked together in a complex web of interrelationships. Possible fixes for the myriad small and large defects in our personal, family, community and national lives are as numerous as the causes. The interrelationships of the causes makes applying fixes a societal level experiment demanding careful observation of consequences within that web of interrelationships. Real solutions will come out of a concerted effort over a time-line measured in generations.

The solutions to criminal violence in our society lay primarily in the environment we create within which we raise our children. To save society, save the children.

Children are the future of society and of every subgroup into which we can divide society. Children are future contributing citizens and future criminals, the future rich and the future poor, the future workers and the future unemployed, the future leaders and the future led.

The United States of America is an incredibly wasteful society, the saddest example being our treatment of poor and minority children and any children who are “different”. We throw away our positive potential as a nation when we throw away our children. Those thrown away don’t disappear. Many fail to overcome their situations. Some turn to the dark side.

In the majority of cases, the potential for violent criminal behavior is indicated by earlier behavior and environmental factors that are visible to anyone who cares to watch and listen. The earlier we can identify and intervene with a person moving toward criminal, and, especially, violent criminal behavior, the more opportunities we have to intervene and divert the person from that path.

Violent criminals often arise from dysfunctional families. If a dysfunctional family is described as having some combination of poor or nonexistent parenting, intra-family emotional and physical violence and other mental health issues, drug abuse, unemployment and poverty, then possible solutions should address those factors.

Addressing causes within the family requires community level social programs aimed at positively improving the environment in which children are raised. We must work harder to identify children at risk and lower the threshold at which community level social service agencies can intervene to deal with the conditions jeopardizing children’s welfare. A child’s welfare should trump parental rights whenever the child is threatened by parents who don’t parent at all or who are so incompetent that the child’s mental and physical health are threatened. The same should apply to parental abuse or neglect arising from parents’ drug abuse, mental health issues and criminal activities. Parents who are emotionally or physically violent or who are sexually abusing children should lose all parental rights.

Children who develop their potential to be involved and productive citizens are less likely to become violent criminals. Each child should receive the best possible education, with the purpose of developing all the potential that each individual has, with no limits based on anything but that potential. High quality education should not be treated as a commodity that only the wealthy can afford.

Children, even those in loving and supportive families, cannot take full advantage of even the best educational opportunities if they have poor health care. Health care should not be treated as a commodity only the wealthy can afford. Health care should be nationalized, taking control from insurance companies and returning it to the hands of the people and their health care providers.

Good nutrition is the foundation of good health. Junk food is an oxymoron. Those who produce real food should receive the subsidies that now go to the corporations that produce the junk food to which so many people seem to be addicted. Organic, locally sourced food producers should get the subsidies that go to factory farms.

With so much of our future in the balance, why do we continually fail to prepare each and every child to grow up to be positive contributors to that future? Why do we write-off so many who happen to be born into poor and/or minority families. Why do we write-off so many who happen to be square pegs in a round-peg educational system. We create the future through the way in which we raise our children.

If you ask how we can afford to do any of these things, consider the money wasted on subsidies to corporate entities claiming to be free enterprise capitalists. Real free enterprise capitalists wouldn’t take subsidies. And don’t forget the subsidies mislabeled as tax breaks for the 1%. Public money should be spent on public good, not private profits.

Next: Guns, Violence and Society – The National Violence Addiction 

 

The Gun Violence Fantasies of Seattle Mayor

The Gun Violence Fantasies of Seattle Mayor by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

Mayor McGinn persists in trying to stem gun violence by trying to create a Seattle Parks gun ban in spite of courts rejecting the idea as contrary to state law. The courts are correct; so the mayor and the city attorney will go to the state legislature to try to get them to give cities the right to make their own gun control laws. My prediction? It won’t happen.

“A park is no place for a gun,” says the mayor. This simple minded statement shows that either the mayor is incredibly ignorant regarding human behavior or extremely cynical in offering up feel-good but ineffective laws to please the gun control crowd. I’m sure that will get him some votes in the next election; but if he were to get what he wants, it would have absolutely no impact on gun violence in Seattle.

The problem with this effort and the sentiment behind it is the irrationality of expecting that thugs with guns are going to be deterred by unenforceable laws. Does the mayor have a budget for fencing and gating all the parks in Seattle and then setting up a TSA style “security” system at the gates to detect weapons?

The thugs with guns who actually pose a threat to people in parks and everywhere else in the city will continue to carry and act as predators. Those who have State concealed carry licenses will continue to carry. Stalemate!

Legally armed citizens aren’t the problem. The mayor needs to concentrate on dealing with criminals through the efforts of the community groups and social service agencies trying to get at the root causes that turn innocent children into armed thugs. He also needs to do more to support the police whose job it is to deal with the consequences of parents, communities and society-at-large failing to prevent children from choosing lives of violent crime.

 
© 2012 HSI Investigations, A Seattle Private Investigator