Hypocrisy by fiat: Obama commutes 12 violent criminals’ sentences
President Barack Obama on March 30 commuted the federal prison sentences of 62 criminals, including 12 behind bars for gun-related drug crimes. During his administration, Obama has commuted the sentences of 248 individuals — more than his six predecessors combined — including 33 of whom were convicted of firearms-related offenses.
The ironic hypocrisy of commuting the sentences of criminals who have committed violent gun-related crimes while imposing executive orders that limit legal gun ownership by law-abiding citizens was not lost among gun rights advocates.
“If one listens to the president, one might conclude that he really intends to reduce violent crime in America,” writes Bob Adelmann in New American on April 11. “If one watches his actions, however, one could very well conclude that he is doing what he can to increase it.”
“At the same time Obama is calling for tougher regulations on law abiding gun owners and dealers, he is releasing violent gun criminals into our communities,” writes Daniel Horowitz in Conservative Review on March 30.
The NRA in a press release called Obama’s actions “a glaring contradiction to his previous assertion that ‘the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common sense gun laws,’ so you would think he’d be using every tool at his disposal to deal with the violent crime threat. But, rather than focus on violent criminals, Obama’s most recent and highly-touted gun control offensive targeted hobbyists and collectors who make occasional gun sales, licensed dealers, and expanding the attack on veterans to include Social Security recipients.”
In a March 31 letter to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby (R) pointed out that Obama ignored and overrode his own administration’s guidelines passed along to the Office of Pardon Attorney (OPA) in granting 12 of the 62 March 30 commutations.
In August 2014, Shelby’s letter notes, the OPA said the commutation criteria included non-violent criminals who would not pose a threat to public safety if they were released; low-level offenders with no significant ties to large-scale criminal organizations, gangs, or drug cartels; those without a “significant” past criminal history; and those who had no history of violence prior to the crime that sent them up.
Shelby said 12 of those receiving commuted sentences do not meet the criteria:
* Seven convictions of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
* Four convictions of possession of a firearm by a felon.
* Two convictions of use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.
Shelby said two of those 12 will be returning to Alabama: Ian Gavin and Jerome Harris. Gavin was sentenced to 15 years n 2007, plus another eight years of supervised release for possessing both a firearm and drugs with intent to distribute.
Harris was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute while carrying a firearm. For that he got 25 years behind bars in 2006 to be followed by 10 years’ supervised release.
In his letter to Attorney General Lynch, Shelby said, “The President is sending a mixed message to Americans when he issues new executive actions in an attempt to change gun regulations [on] one day and the pardons criminals with gun-related convictions the next.
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Democrats say gun control will reform mental health system
Everyone agrees that Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) proposed Mental Health and Safe Communities Act is the most promising and comprehensive mental health reform bill currently on the Senate’s legislative docket but, apparently, that doesn’t matter to gun control zealots because, apparently, it is a mental health reform bill that addresses mental health reform rather than gun control.
Cornyn’s bill, which last appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 10, enjoys bipartisan praise for its sweeping revisions of the nation’s inadequate mental health system but, because it calls for a full judicial hearing to ban a person from buying guns on the grounds of mental illness, it will not garner Democratic support.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) recently told The Hill that this provision would keep him from supporting the bill, noting some Democrats feel “mental health reform is not a substitute for better gun control.”
Of course, as Cornyn and others notes, this is a mental health reform bill, not a gun control bill. Cornyn told The Hill he disagrees with “this whole idea that we’re not going to have a fulsome discussion about mental health and [the] problems it creates with the criminal justice system, housing and the healthcare field,” but also indicated he is open to discussion changes and would like to find a solution.
“Democrats are fighting tooth and claw to defeat provisions which would require the government to actually prove that someone is crazy before suspending their Second Amendment rights,” writes The Hill.
The “horrific provisions” under discussion are one which would require a court hearing where a person suspected of being a danger to themselves or others could be adjudicated as being too dangerously incompetent or mentally unstable to be trusted with a weapon.
The provisions would also restore the gun rights of individuals who had reached the end of such a court order unless it could be demonstrated that they were still a danger to society.
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Bloomberg to pay for another Washington state anti-gun initiative
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fascist Everytown for Gun Safety, a front group financing anti-gun hate campaigns across the nation, has pledged $500,000 to pay for another initiative in Washington state.
Bloomberg announced on April 13 that he would put up the half-million dollars to lobby for Initiative 1491, an “extreme risk protection order” scheme, two days after the Nevada Secretary of State announced that another Bloomberg gun control initiative will be Question #1 on the November ballot in Nevada.
Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman writes in an April 14 Examiner blog that Initiative 1491 is backed by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility (AGR), the newest incarnation of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. WAGR was founded and partly funded by Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.
Initiative 594 was passed in 2014 after WAGR raised and spent more than $10.3 million of Bloomberg’s bucks. I-1491 could be on the ballot this fall if it qualifies with enough signatures.
Of course, as Workman writes, I-594 was a “universal background check” initiative a “that does not appear to have been enforced anywhere, nor has it kept guns out of the wrong hands during the past 16 months since it took effect. It is the subject of a federal lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation and other groups and individuals.”
I-1491, Workman writes, is “the so-called extreme risk protection order scheme that, according to critics, skirts due process to allow people to obtain restraining-protection orders that strip people of their gun rights.”
Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said the 20-page I-1491 is unnecessary.
“What we really need is a restraining-protection order law that stops Bloomberg and his cadre of anti-rights organizations from spending millions of dollars to violate our right of due process,” Gottlieb told Guns.com. “This is not just about guns. It is about the rule of law in a free society.”
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IN THE COURTS
Despite ruling, little momentum for imposing liability on gun-makers
A Connecticut judge on April 14 rejected a motion to dismiss a 2014 lawsuit against the maker the Bushmaster AR-15 used by Adam Lanza to slaughter 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012.
In ruling the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) wasn’t enough to have the case thrown out, Judge Barbara Bellis may have opened the law, which protects gun-makers from being liable for crimes committed with their products, to legislative and litigative scrutiny.
The case was brought by families of nine children killed in the shooting. The families are suing for wrongful death, and they’re accusing the gunmaker of selling a so-called civilian weapon that’s, according to the Hartford Courant, “designed and marketed for combat.”
The suit’s defendants include Remington Arms Co., the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15; Camfour Inc., a gun distributor; and Riverview Gun Sales, a now defunct gun shop in Connecticut where the rifle was purchased by the shooter’s mother in 2010, according to Newsweek.
Despite the ruling, there isn’t much support for doing away with the PLCAA outside the most fervently-hysterical anti-gun zealots.
“Suing gun makers and gun stores for selling a weapon used by a deranged young man to slaughter people is not unlike suing the maker and seller of a car that a demented driver slams into a crowd of people,” writes The USA Today editorial board.
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