Wisconsin’s Lax Gun Laws Impacts Crime Nationally

Some interesting data is contained in a newly released report from the City of Chicago which underscores what many have known for a long time.  Not only do certain gun dealers who operate in a very slimy fashion contribute to a high percentage of gun-related crimes, but neighboring states with lax guns laws also must share in the blame, too.

According to this year’s Gun Trace Report, 40% of “crime guns” are from parts of Illinois outside of Chicago, but a sizable 20% of those guns come from neighboring Indiana.   For a precise definition the report defines a crime gun as a firearm recovered by the Chicago Police Department that was illegally possessed, used, or suspected to be used in furtherance of a crime.  These guns, sadly, make the news on a daily basis.

The failed argument that some pro-gun advocates use is that even in Chicago, where there are strong gun laws, crimes associated with guns seems out of control.  So goes their claim that gun laws do not work.  What those people miss, however, and what this latest report proves, is that the number of soulless gun dealers who work to evade sales laws combined with neighboring states with weak gun laws allows for the funneling of guns into places with strong gun laws!

According to this report in Chicago, almost 25% of crime guns came from just 10 gun stores, and over 50% of their guns came from out of state.  Those numbers are impossible for pro-gun forces to deny.

Source States

Those who have squeezed the numbers and poured over the data are seeing that in the states with the strongest gun laws, the percentage of crime guns that were originally sold in-state is at least 20 percentage points lower than in states with the weakest gun laws.  Therefore it is easy to determine that Wisconsin, with lax gun laws, is part of the problem in making the streets of Chicago much more dangerous.

Gun Laws

The numbers for Wisconsin are not good, regardless of how one tries to position them.  In fact, they prove what two of the problems are with too many guns in circulation, and the ease with which they can be purchased.  In 2016, Wisconsin was the source state for 3,772 guns used in crimes in our country.  Of those, 2,944 guns were recovered in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s weak gun laws enable gun traffickers, and other criminals and dangerous individuals to purchase, possess, and use guns in crimes in cities, towns, and neighborhoods outside Wisconsin.  

We all know instances when shootings in predominately black neighborhoods in Chicago makes the national news.  We also are aware of the types of remarks made from a certain demographic in this nation to such reports.  Some of it is bigoted and totally wrong.  But how many times do those same people recognize the role our state plays in making the streets of cities like Chicago unsafe?

With this report there is at least reason to hope that more people will be educated as to the way weak gun laws impact places far beyond one’s political borders.

Trump’s Russian Scandal Vs. Nixon’s Watergate

There was no way to watch the events unfold in Washington this morning and not think back over the decades, and mentally land in the 1970’s with President Nixon dealing with Watergate.   After all, there has been nothing as troubling to the nation, or the presidency, since those dark days when the country came to know of the existence of a taping system at the White House and then the evidence of Nixon working to obstruct justice.

With the news today that President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former business partner Rick Gates were indicted from the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller we now know there is a most serious intention to get to the facts.   All are aware that Manafort is not the end game, but the means to the end.  There will be strong attempts to alert him to the wisdom of coming clean and providing information about the bigger fish up-stream.  And the Mueller team, as has been noted this summer on CP, has employed some men who excel at this very thing.

While it is easy to skip many months ahead in my thinking and see the legal quagmire getting closer to the Oval Office, I am also fully aware these investigations can be a many-year effort at a painstakingly and tedious pace.  But as I sift through the news reports flowing today I can not help but think what might happen as the end of Trump’s days in office draw closer.  That is why my mind takes me back to 1974 and it is a point worth considering.

For all of Nixon’s darker sides, which have been well-documented and written about, it also needs to be said at the end of the day he still believed in the rule of law.  Nixon did the right thing when some wondered if there would be a truly horrific Constitutional crisis should the Supreme Court order to turn over the tapes not be met with complete obedience.  He knew by turning over the tapes his presidency was over.  Yet he complied with the rule of law.

Meanwhile President Trump has shown his disdain for the Constitution, his lack of understanding or faith in our judicial system, and his hatred by troubling attacks on reporters in this nation.  Those characteristics all lead me to think when Trump is surrounded and facing his last legal stand before falling from power we all may wish to have someone like Nixon in office.  Nixon, after all,  at the end of his hold on power always knew the will of the people, as demonstrated through the legal and political process, is what had to be adhered too.

I do not think Trump will have the same temperament as Nixon had when being forced to leave the White House.

There is another stark difference between Nixon and Trump at the time of their legal troubles, and that has to do with the way their perceptions of their role in the world varies.

Nixon was most aware of the limitations he could make in the arena of international affairs as the lawyers and congress investigated Watergate, and even knew resigning would be best for American interests.  He certainly felt he had the brains and concepts to make the world a better place but also realized how his situation was also posing problems for ongoing policy goals.

Meanwhile Trump is dismissive of the role Russia played in the 2016 election, in the face of overwhelming evidence.  He pretends that his own image is more vital than the needs of America.  Even today former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper  stated that no matter how much Trump rants about the “Russia hoax,” the 2016 hacking was not only real and aimed at electing Trump but constituted a major victory for a dangerous foreign adversary.

Nixon would have been deeply concerned about such a fact.  But then Nixon had a higher calling to the country he served.  He proved that by listening to the words from the Supreme Court.

Sign Petition About Anti-Gay Actions Of Bishop Morlino Against Deceased People

This should be the easiest thing you do all week since the actions by Bishop Robert Morlino against deceased gay people are so disgusting.

Tell Bishop Morlino that gay and lesbian Catholics deserve full funerals.  I can not even believe that in 2017 one needs to even argue the point!  Share this petition with friends and encourage them to sign too.

Thank you!

The Other Story Concerning 10-Year-Old Girl With Cerebral Palsy And ICE

This afternoon on a website, which is an off-shoot of a radio show I listened to for many years on WGN radio, the sad topic from this past week was raised about the 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who was stopped while in an ambulance by ICE.

I still find it hard to believe that CBP, and, ICE, zealous in finding, and, deporting “undocumented aliens” as President Trump has directed them to be, could be so seemingly heartless. A 10 year old girl, with cerebral palsy, who was undergoing surgery, was treated like a criminal. This has to be a black eye for these agencies, and, the cabinet department (Homeland Security) they belong to. I’d love to see these departments’ directors, much less the Secretary of Homeland Security, or, even the President, defend these actions.

That is so correct.

As a response I offered a larger view which needs to be considered as to why these types of stories do not get the traction they deserve from the public.  Or the responses that need to be given by our government.   Here is what I wrote.

“Let me speak to this matter of the girl and at the same time address a larger concern—both are related.  There is a determined undertaking by this administration to create so much chaos in the form of tweets and fact-less statements that reporters are left to chase and respond to a degree, and in such volume, as we have ever seen.  As a result far too many stories—such as the girl of this thread—are then left in the dust because the next day there is a whole new series of chaos to chase and report.  This is done by design to overload the ability of the citizenry to engage on the weighty topics that deserve all-out attention.  Recall that most here are old enough to think a news cycle was between the morning newspaper and ‘Uncle Walter’, but now most newspapers online update their stories two or three times a day,  News cycles now happen in minutes.  The rush of events—often contrived–has outpaced reporters from doing their job fully and then our ability to gather information and ponder it with the degree of fullness which a democracy requires.”

And so it goes.

Two Thumbs Up For Madison’s First-Ever Historic Preservation Plan

Longtime readers are much aware of my desire to see historical sites maintained in Madison.  Being connected to our past allows for a smarter and more reasoned approach moving forward with development and land use.  As the Wisconsin State Journal so correctly stated in their lead sentence of the story above the fold in this morning’s newspaper, “So much of Madison’s culturally diverse history is uncelebrated, unrecognized, unnoticed.”

It is from that point which I much applaud the efforts now taking place to create a first-ever Historic Preservation Plan.

As the news story noted there are now 182 landmarks and five historic districts, but those sites have not necessarily taken into account historically underrepresented communities — African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, LGBT people and women.  The effort now under way will help preserve their stories and places as part of the city’s collective history.

“We’re trying to discover history,” city historic preservation planner Amy Scanlon said. “We want this to be a community-driven plan.”

At the end of the two-year effort, the plan will recommend strategies to better weave historic preservation into public policy, apply land-use and zoning tools, use economic-development and financial incentives, and encourage heritage tourism.

In some cases, it could mean more landmarks or adding historic districts, but it could also simply mean better identification, education opportunities, signage, financial incentives, or letting property owners know the significance of the site.

“As the city grows and changes, what will be the places that will be important to our kids and grandkids so they will feel connected to it?” city principal planner Bill Fruhling said. “I think people will care about this because it’s personal for them. People want to be connected to a place.”

Living in one of the city’s designated historic districts has cemented my passions about history since childhood to my now day-to-day life.  Continually I speak with folks who walk through this neighborhood about the need for old homes to have strong advocates.  I share insights about square nails which made our 1892 Victorian home, or the first cemetery in Madison just down the street where soldiers from both sides of the Civil War were once buried.   (The cemetery and the remains were removed in 1877.)  Over and over I speak with grad students, who live in the area as they write their dissertations, about where the Lutheran Seminary once stood, or the bottling company,  or the orphanage where children from the Civil War were placed.   I speak fondly of the carriage stones–which I had a hand in making sure were preserved on my street–and on it goes.

As with the neighborhood where I live, and have learned from, so there are numerous other such places in the city where the buildings tell a story, the streets hold historical meaning, and the fabric of who we are all combine to add to the narrative of this place we proudly call home.

I am so pleased with the mission of the Historic Preservation Plan and will be following its success.

Cheers To Simpson Street Free Press For Calling Attention to ‘Imagination’

I absolutely applaud and endorse the work and spirit which takes place at Simpson Street Free Press.  Bless those who make a space and provide funding for this undertaking as well as the bright curious minds who write the stories.

Today in the Wisconsin State Journal one of those stories appeared and hit on a great love of mine–books–and the placing of books into the hands of youngsters.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has gained popularity across the country and around the world. The Imagination Library, gives young children exposure to books, and is a practical and fun way to support youth literacy. 

Parton founded the program for children in Sevier County, Tennessee, where she grew up. Her goal was to spread the love of reading to children. Parton decided to expand the program after its success in Tennessee.

A United Way donor plans to bring that success to Dane County.

“We have a donor, who wishes to be anonymous, and is making this gift, who wants all Dane County’s children to love reading and enjoy the magic of books, and encourages parents to snuggle and read to their babies and children every day,” said Deedra Atkinson of United Way.

The program works this way in Dane County: Parents register their children up to 5 years of age for the Imagination Library online at www.unitedwaydanecounty.org/imagination-library by entering basic information such as the address and birthday of the child. Every month, an age-appropriate book will be shipped to that child, bringing an enriching literary experience for the intended child.

Catholic Hatred For Deceased Gay People Pumped By Bishop Morlino

Having long felt that Madison Bishop Morlino is a closeted homosexual–just based on my gaydar when watching and listening to him, and Lord knows that makes me want to poke out my mental eye–makes his continual attacks on gay men and woman utterly mystifying.  His views are more than just bigotry, but instead are outright deplorable acts of hatred disguised as some religious gobble-gook .  This past week there was yet another layer of utter disgust that spread across Southern Wisconsin when Morlino went after gay people–WHO ARE DECEASED!

You read that correctly.

A weekly newsletter to priests in the Madison Catholic Diocese by Bishop Robert Morlino’s top aide spelled out a series of “considerations” to use in deciding whether to provide funeral rites for people in same-sex unions, angering gay advocates who slammed it as offensive.

The confidential email, sent last Saturday by Vicar General James Bartylla with Morlino’s backing, said rites “may be denied for manifest sinners” if providing the services would cause unavoidable “public scandal of the faithful.”

Someone needs to hold Morlino’s vestments down as I feel a storm  brewing from those with working brain stems in this diocese.   In addition, those of us in the secular world have some things to say to moldy, bigoted, misogynistic men like Morlino.

Steve Starkey, executive director of LGBT OutReach, a Madison-based secular, advocacy group self-described as “South Central Wisconsin’s LGBT Community Center,” said Bartylla’s overall message was backward and homophobic.

“The ‘gay lifestyle’ is we work, we go to school, we own homes, we own cars, we have children,” Starkey said, expressing frustration that “other faiths have evolved on this issue” while Morlino “just refuses to budge at all.”

“It’s really negative when a big institution like the Catholic Church practices discrimination and then encourages other people to discriminate against a group of people,” Starkey said. “If it was people of color or people with disabilities who were being singled out, it wouldn’t stand.”

Can any gay person now say they can feel at home in the Catholic Church?   I spoke with a gay person this week and heard first hand how he does not feel accepted in a local parish.    Morlino continues to do a grave injury to the Catholic Church by his foolish utterances and actions.  The sad reality is there is much anti-gay hatred within the Catholic Church and Morlino could be the poster-child for such behavior.

Unsolicited Review For My Book “Walking Up The Ramp”

I was perfectly delighted this week in receiving a review of my book Walking Up The Ramp as it was warm and most generous.

I just want to tell you both how much I enjoyed reading Gregory’s book.  I was very interested in all the details, both the happy ones about family life and the radio station and work in the legislature and the sad ones about hard times in school.  I especially loved the descriptions of Gregory’s parents and his relationship with them.  I could see instantly how beautifully it paralleled James’s relationship with his family.  It was obvious long before you two met in the book that you would be perfect kindred spirits and soulmates.  Of course the best part was about your life together, keeping your parents present in your shared life,.treasuring your keepsakes from home and paying kindness forward.  Through it all there was such a wonderful sincere, honest, spirit, such a genuinely friendly interest in people and curiosity about life.  It was a delightful and warming read.