Sunday, April 05, 2009

A true tragedy ...

Since it happened roughly six blocks from my house, I feel more compelled to say something about the killing of the three police officers than I might otherwise. Except there really isn’t much to say beyond what has been said. It was truly a senseless killing. One co-worker (I did my second job yesterday) remarked that Poplawski’s life is over, while someone else suggested he would get the death penalty. I think if he doesn’t get the death penalty, it will be life in prison and I would hope he would never be paroled.

A couple of thoughts do occur to me that I would like to remark on. First, Poplawski’s back story reads like the poster child for tougher gun control. Dropping out of high school, joining the marines and then being dishonorably discharged during basic training (apparently to chase a girl), having protection from abuse orders in his past history; this is a person that should never have been allowed to buy an AK-47 or a concealable handgun. I remember last summer, during the debate about the election, how gun enthusiasts commenting on the Burgh Report were claiming that gun control makes countries less safe, and linking to web sites that used statistics purporting to prove that. Now, the shooting yesterday is just one anecdote, but, when I think about it, the gun crimes I hear about are a series of anecdotes where guns are almost never used by innocent parties to successfully defend themselves against criminals. Instead it is drug gang violence, or some drunk carrying a pistol into a bar, pulling it out over some random argument and shooting several people, or just recently three senseless bouts of shootings including the Poplawski affair.

At the very least, I hope and also suspect Congressional Democrats will bring back the assault weapon ban. I believe they will get it passed too; there is talk about using an obscure rule/tactic in the Senate that I have not looked into yet (but I believe is called reconciliation) that nullifies the need for the 60 vote super majority. I can see that being used here because the assault weapon ban is actually popular among Americans. Not that I believe one party rule is good for us, and I strongly suspect the Democrats will soon collapse under their own weight, and find a way to fritter away their majority. Frankly, House Democrats seem determined to do just that as soon as possible.

Anyway, back to the topic of this post; the last thought that occurred to me was that this issue might show up in the Mayoral race. Obviously the Mayor would have nothing bad to say about the police department. It’s hard for me to think of any local ordinances that could have even the remotest chance of preventing or minimizing an incident like this in the future. Since I believe that’s true, I hope Pat Dowd does nothing more than join the Mayor in offering condolences to the families of the slain police officers. The debate tomorrow will undoubtedly be colored by this tragedy.


Schultz said...

Ed - I am with you on the assault weapons ban. NRA nuts always cling to the second amendment, which grants "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." My cousin is one of him. He often sends me emails and videos that are anti-gun control. What they won't concede is the middle ground, which is to ban Ak47's and other weapons that serve no other perpuse than to murder people, isn't an infringement on someone's liberty to "bear arms." They can keep their pistols and hunting rifles.

Don't forget about Carmen Robinson in the debate Monday night. I believed worked with at least one of the officers. In her interview with Bill Toland she seemed much more knowledgeable about crime and public safety than the other candidates.

Infinonymous said...

This -- the gun angle, the 'dear old mom' angle, the 'richie delicious' angle -- was enough to unclog my arteries.

EdHeath said...

Chris, you are right, I did neglect to mention Ms Robinson. She is likely to bring a personal perspective, but as I say there is not really anything that can be done at the City level to address this tragedy. But with all that has gone on in the last few weeks, I can not believe that Congress will not act. Maybe the reinstatement of the Assault weapon ban won't make it through the Senate, but I expect Congress to try.

Infinonymous, I don’t know if there is any point to vilifying the family and friends of Mr. Poplawski. Family wants to avoid thinking the very worst, if not the best of their children or relatives. And I would say it would be nearly impossible for any parent to simply order a child out of the house.

That said, I can see why the mother would want to escape as soon as possible during the siege. Apparently Mr Poplawski used his mom as a human shield while he shot the first officer (he might have done it for the second officer too). That had to have been terrifying.

No, the lesson I would like to take away is the larger, more abstract one. Our guns have gotten too powerful for our own good. We need to limit the distribution of any more assault rifles, encourage people to turn in their existing assault rifles, and maybe ban the carrying of concealed handguns. Those are the kinds of common sense restrictions I think would be a good idea.

Infinonymous said...

Jean Devine, one of Mr. Poplawski's family members, appears to see things my way:

"If I saw my child buying guns, trading guns, stockpiling food and all that [bulletproof vests, white supremacist websites, protection-from-abuse orders, multiple police calls, convictions, railing about Zionist-Obama invasions], I would have some issues with it."

Ms. Devine is reported to have said this, by the way, in connection with throwing Margaret Poplawski out of Ms. Devine's house.

I'll stand with Ms. Devine.

EdHeath said...

Well, I am not sure I want to stand by anyone or anyone's account in this incident. The police who could have recounted what happened are dead. There were witnesses to the death of officer Sciullo, whose handgun was apparently unable to penetrate the bullet proof vest of Mr Poplawski, while Mr' Poplawski AK-47 rounds had less trouble with the officer's vest.

Mr. Poplawski's story is that his mom saw him putting on the vest and loading his weapons before the officers arrived. Her subsequent behavior and the accounts of her 911 call lend credence to his account, unfortunately. While I sympathize with a parent trying to protect her son, she also had an obligation to the officers she had summoned to inform them about what they would have to deal with. So, not that it matters to anyone, my view of Mrs Poplawski is quite a bit dimmer now. It appears likely she was aware of what might happen when the officers arrived, and yet took no steps to prevent it.

Matt H Exposed said...

Any idea on what the US would be like without guns?

EdHeath said...

Well, we might be negotiating with Native Americans for the rights to open tax free casinos on our reservation.