Monday, August 07, 2006

The Blame Game (cont.)

No "news" here - just a continuation of Boston Mayor Tom Menino's "Blame _______ (insert New England state of your choice here) Game", being played out yet again by his willing and sympathetic cohorts in the gun safety control movement. Though, these stories are accompanied, thankfully, by statements from authorities in our neighboring states telling these useless idiots to go pound sand, more or less.

Leading the charge, once again, for the Realty-Detached Brigade, it's our old friend, and gun safety control zealot extraordinaire, Johnny "Billboard" Rosenthal.

First up, from the Portland Press Herald:

Maine gun-sale laws under fire

For the last five months, a 252-foot billboard near Fenway Park has been warning Boston motorists that Maine and its lax gun-control laws help supply local criminals with their weapons.

Even before the billboard went up, Boston officials had been pointing fingers north, saying that Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont must stop what they said had become a pipeline of illegal guns flowing into the city.

But what neither the huge sign beside the Massachusetts Turnpike nor city officials have revealed is exactly how many people buy guns in Maine to illegally resell in Massachusetts or to commit other crimes there.

No one can answer that question with certainty - and federal law makes it difficult to obtain these numbers. The best estimate comes from trace data on illegal guns made public by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts this spring.

These records show that 8 percent of the illegal guns confiscated in the Bay State in 2005 that could be traced were originally purchased in Maine. That makes Maine the second largest source for out-of-state crime guns coming into Massachusetts, just behind New Hampshire. But by far the largest share of illegal guns in Massachusetts, 37 percent, were traced back to gun dealers within the Bay State.

Like many statistics in the gun-control debate, these numbers are open to widely different interpretations. The top federal law-enforcement official in Maine said she believes the data undercuts any claims that guns from Maine are fueling a crime spree in Boston.

"That's a negligible number," said Paula Silsby, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine. "When you go to the extent of putting up a billboard blaming crime in Boston on another state, I think the rhetoric has gotten a little heated."

The owner of the Boston billboard, however, said he sees no problem with shaming Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Georgia for their looser gun laws. John Rosenthal, who uses the billboard to promote the message of his gun-safety group, Stop Handgun Violence, points out that the majority of crime guns in Massachusetts come from out of state, and these states top the list.

What's that? The "majority" of crime guns comes from out of state? Why, it's a veritable "pipeline of death"! For the love of God! That's just terrible!!!

Um...isn't it?


Here's a little perspective on that statement.

(click for larger image)

I'd expect that 63% to be much higher, actually. Given the geography involved here and the total number of guns privately owned throughout the country, frankly, I'm surprised such a low number of crime guns are found to be coming in from out of state.

But, for Rosenthal to raise a stink over this "statistic" is like saying there's some troubling significance to the fact [note: I'm pulling figures out of my ass now, but you'll get the point] that 92% of the people arrested in Boston this past year were born elsewhere. And, the map above is only taking the fifty states into account, as far as alternate sources for "crime guns" are concerned.

Now, stick that 37 percent number for Massachusetts onto a map of the world, and then tell me whose problem it is that our local officials can't get a handle on the rising tide of gun-related crime and violence in the Commonwealth.

(click for larger image)

OK, so maybe, that one's a stretch. But, you get the point.

And, it looks like Mr. Rosenthal's been putting in some overtime on the fax machine getting his press releases out there, as this nearly identical article, attempting to blame Vermont's gun laws for the gun crime in Boston, appeared earlier last week in the Burlington Free Press.

Boston billboard pins crimes on Vermont guns

Not far from Fenway Park in Boston and visible from some of the busiest highways on the East Coast is a 252-foot-long, 20-foot-high billboard with a message: "Stop Traffic: Background Checks Prevent Crime," alongside enormous silhouettes of handguns. The accused? In equally large letters: Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, city police leaders and a group called Stop Handgun Violence unveiled the billboard's message to raise public support to change federal law so background checks would be required for private handgun sales. Federal law requires background checks only on purchases from licensed firearms dealers -- primarily gun stores.

Although many states have more rigorous laws, Vermont and 31 other states do not. And the coalition's contention is that Massachusetts is paying a price for the neighboring states that don't require checks.

Roughly translated: Blah blah blah, for the children. Blah blah blah. If it saves just ONE life, blah blah.

The money quote:

[Darren Gil, the resident agent in charge of the Vermont field office of ATF] hesitates to place blame on specific states' laws for the trafficking problem. "Nationwide," he said, "if you want illegal firearms, you can get them."

Of course, Mumbles' answer to all of this is what I would describe as (using his terms) a "four-pronged strategy":

1. When in doubt, pass a lot of useless, feel-good, do-nothing laws that punish, and restrict the rights of, only the most law-abiding of citizens. After all, they're the biggest threat to your reign of power, not some two-bit junkie with a stolen Glock. You've already got his vote.

2. As you're doing all of this, make sure there are a lot of TV cameras and reporters around to make you look good on the evening news and in the morning papers. After all, you've got an electorate to manipulate.

3. Reassure the people of Boston, for the 819th time in your tenure as mayor of Boston, that you're not going to let the city be taken over by hoodlums. It's worked wonders, so far, in getting your fat ass re-elected time after time, why stop now?

4. After all else fails, blame someone else.