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Guns and Crime

Did a clerical error by the Air Force allow Devin Patrick Kelley to purchase firearms?



Did a clerical error by the Air Force allow Devin Patrick Kelley to purchase firearms

Debates have been raging across social media about how a court-martialed, dishonorably discharged Devin Patrick Kelley was allowed to purchase firearms, one of which was allegedly used to kill at least 26 people yesterday. Some say he wasn’t truly dishonorably discharged. Others say the law didn’t really prohibit it. Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirms Kelley was denied a gun license. So, what happened?

The latest report may shed some answers. NPR is reporting that following Kelley’s conviction, the Air Force didn’t report him to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that would have flagged him as ineligible to purchase firearms. In other words, they’re saying it was a clerical mistake.

“This was mishandled by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where Kelley was serving when he was arrested,” NPR’s Tom Bowman said, referring to word from an Air Force source. “An investigation is now underway, and the Air Force is taking it very seriously, said the source.”

No perfect system

In our technologically advances society, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing everything pertaining to data is close to perfect. We don’t always account for human error because with so many automated system, things generally run pretty smoothly. That’s the perception. The reality is that there’s human error, technological error, and procedural flaws that come into play all the time.

It gives no solace to the family of the victims to know that this tragedy may have been avoided by proper filing of paperwork, but as with any system, it’s not perfect. It’s prone to errors. Can it be made perfect? Can things as serious as a violent criminal being barred from owning firearms be a reasonable expectation? One would hope the answer is yes, but the Texas church shooting tells us there’s a gap between reasonable expectations and true safety.

Procedural failure, not a failure of the law

Those calling for more or harsher gun control laws should know that this was not a failure of current laws. Kelley should never have been allowed to own a firearm, but the procedures were not followed and people died as a result.

We do not need more gun control laws. If anything, they’re too oppressive already in some states. Laws generally prohibit law-abiding citizens from owning firearms but do very little to keep guns out of the hands of would-be criminals.

What we really need is better enforcement of current laws. We need procedures to be followed. The law says Kelley should not have owned a gun but procedures made it possible for him to purchase them. That doesn’t mean we need more laws. We simply need better procedures to allow the laws to be enforced.

Final Thoughts

There will be plenty of fingers pointing in plenty of directions over the next few days. We cannot allow the emotion of the gun control arguments to sway us from reality. No gun laws would have stopped Kelley. Let’s evaluate this and previous situations with level heads and find real solutions for enforcement rather than wasting our time and making the nation less safe with harsher gun ownership laws.

Further Reading

BREAKING: Investigators Discover How Texas Shooter Purchased Gun Despite Ineligibility | Daily Wire new report on Monday stated that the United States Air Force did not submit Devin Patrick Kelley’s criminal history to the FBI as required by the Pentagon, which would have prevented him from purchasing firearms.

Kelley, 26, opened fire on a congregation of churchgoers on Sunday, killing at least 26 people in the deadliest mass shooting at a place of worship in American history.

Guns and Crime

Why isn’t Katie Brennan’s #MeToo accusation getting national attention?



It’s the type of story that should have received national attention immediately. It was sourced by a respected major news outlet, the Wall Street Journal. Both the accuser and the accused are high-ranking public official in New Jersey’s government. The accused stepped down two weeks ago when approached by WSJ for comment. Katie Brennan’s story is a major newsworthy scandal.

As of Monday morning, a day after the story officially broke and four days after it was leaked to other major news outlets, both mainstream media and the #MeToo movement are essentially silent.

That will change soon, possibly today. Brennan, a prominent volunteer for Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign and current Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, released this statement:

On April 8th, 2017, Al Alvarez raped me. On April 9th, 2017 I learned that the system is broken.

I have pursued every form of justice available. But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors.

The details of the assault portrayed in reporter Kate King’s Wall Street Journal report published today are accurate. But to date, I have received no justice.

I decided to come forward because I know that Al Alvarez, and all perpetrators, must be held accountable, must never rape again, and the justice system needs a complete change with regard to sexual violence.

New Jersey residents are only given a two-year window to file a civil suit. After spending an entire year pursuing a criminal case before hitting a dead end, I am left with less than one year to pursue civil action.

It is clear that leadership from the Murphy administration is needed to create meaningful policy change on several levels to make sure future victims do not have to endure what I have. I urge Gov. Murphy and the Attorney General’s Office to eliminate the statute of limitations on civil action related to sexual assault, and to direct prosecutors to be more aggressive in taking on these criminal cases. Further, the Murphy administration and the General Assembly should pursue legislation to ensure New Jersey’s police and other first responders are better trained to handle sexual assault victims.

Finally, sexual predators like Al Alvarez are only able to stay in power when those around them do nothing. Several senior level members of the Murphy administration were aware of my assault and failed to take meaningful action. Al Alvarez remained employed at a senior level in the Murphy administration until just a few weeks ago, when he knew the Wall Street Journal article was coming out and opted to resign. The failure of members of Gov. Murphy’s staff to respond in an aggressive, proactive fashion is unacceptable.

To other sexual assault survivors in New Jersey, I urge you to join me in coming forward if you are able. I will stand with you, because when we stand together, we are safer and stronger. Our voice is our power. Together, we can finally receive the justice we all deserve.

Murphy has not commented other than saying Alvarez should not have been hired. He was made aware of a “sensitive matter” that needed to be discussed by Brennan in June and claimed his staff would set up a meeting. That was the last Brennan heard from Murphy.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of aide sex assault allegation questioned accuser, Katie Brennan, was a Murphy campaign volunteer who said she spent more than a year seeking action against Alvarez for the alleged sexual assault before directly emailing Phil and Tammy Murphy in June. Phil Murphy responded within the hour, according to the Journal.

“Hang in,” he wrote. “We are on it.”

But Alvarez remained in his $140,000-a-year position until October. The alleged assault happened in April 2017.

Standards set by the #MeToo movement dictate that credible accusations should be believed. Brennan appears to be extremely credible, having reported her rape immediately after it allegedly occurred. Alvarez offered a $15,000 settlement that would have been attached to a non-disclosure agreement, which Brennan refused.

Where is MSNBC? Where is CNN? Where is Alyssa Milano?

Social media is starting to take notice. In particular, they’re going after Murphy and his wife for speaking out in support of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Katie Brennan

My Take

I am a strong proponent for what the #MeToo movement once promoted and how it started. The original intent was to embolden women who had experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of men in power over them. The goal was to give courage to those who were in very tough situations.

Recently, the #MeToo movement has been weaponized. I’m not going to draw comparisons between accusations against Kavanaugh and Alvarez. That would be unfair to Ford since Brennan’s accusations against Alvarez are much more recent and have the benefit of an immediate report to the authorities. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that as of now, either the story hasn’t reached the right people or the right people have chosen to ignore it.

We can’t let them.

It’s not as if this is a political hit job against Democrats. Brennan’s image was used in Murphy’s campaign handouts and she was outspoken as a “Young Democrat of the Week” in New Jersey as a result.

Katie Brennan NJ Democrat

I don’t like when something as heinous as rape gets politicized, but silence from mainstream media and the #MeToo movement is deafening. Would they be avoiding the story if Brennan had accused a Republican?

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Guns and Crime

Infographic: Opioid overdose deaths in the United States



Infographic Opioid overdose deaths in the United States

The use of opioids in the United States has dramatically risen in recent years, prompting calls for action from both sides of the political aisle. It’s not like the old drug wars on the streets of New York or the suburbs of Dallas. This drug epidemic is affecting all races, economic conditions, and ages.

In this infographic from Visual Capitalist, they examine the death rates county by county. Of note is West Virginia, where in some areas the opioid death rate is approaching the cancer death rates.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

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Guns and Crime

Inmates on death row in Washington state given life sentences after capital punishment struck down by Supreme Court



Inmates on death row in Washington state given life sentences after capital punishment struck down b

The Washington state Supreme Court has ruled the death penalty is unconstitutional based on racial bias. This move affirms Governor Jay Inslee’s moratorium in 2014.

“We are confident that the association between race and the death penalty is not attributed to random chance,” the justices wrote in a majority opinion.

Racial bias was cited following a study commissioned by Allen Eugene Gregory, a death row inmate convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. The study found that black convicts were 4.5 times more likely to receive the death penalty than white inmates with similar charges.

The bias was attributed to juries rather than prosecutor recommendations. There was no evidence that prosecutors were more likely to pursue the death penalty based upon race but juries were more likely to sentence with racial bias.

Source: NPR

Washington State Strikes Down Death Penalty, Citing Racial Bias’s ruling makes Washington the 20th state to abolish capital punishment. According to the ACLU, this state supreme court is the third to do so citing concerns about racial disparities, along with Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The court decided to convert Washington’s current death sentences to life imprisonment. The state’s corrections division says that there are eight people currently on death row.

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