{PINNED} I hate this part, but… (with thoughts added later)

I have bills coming, and just about no money. If anyone was thinking maybe my law, policy, research paper, and polling analyses — here and at The Zelman Partisans — not to mention free books (I’ve noticed some folks linking to those recently, for which I am thankful) are worth anything, now would be an excellent time.
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New Zealand “Buyback” Report: 27,632

Previous reports

Oddly enough, even though the average payout per surrendered firearm has increased by NZ$145.95, Kiwis still seem reluctant to give up their property to authorities who have failed to protect them.

Here are last month’s numbers in comparison to the latest NZP official numbers (10/14/2019).

Cat A banned: 19,184
Cat E banned: 3,126
Total: 22,310
Program cost is averaging NZ$1883.21 per firearm
Estimated total cost at NZ$451,970,400

Cat A Banned: 23,729
Cat E banned: 3,903
Total: 27,632
Program cost is averaging NZ$2029.16 per firearm (up)
Estimated total cost at NZ$486,998,400 (up)

Running Compliance total: 11.51% (using last .gov estimate of 240,000 firearms)

Cat E compliance: 26.92% (using estimate of 14,500 firearms). Nearly 3 in 4 registered owners of registered Cat E firearms are not complying yet.

Projection: They are averaging 2.56% compliance per month, for 4.5 months. I guesstimate 15.35% final compliance if rates remain steady.

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Corollary for Criminals

Over at The Zelman Partisans, I commented on ABC’s little “mistake” of thinking a Knob Creek shoot was a major Turkish military offensive.

[W]hat US gun owners consider play time is what a major news outlet can mistake for a major military offensive by the forces of a NATO nation. Tell us again how resisting a tyrannical government is futile.

Closer to home, imagine how quickly the crime problems in Baltimore, Chicago, or Saint Louis could be fixed if honest gun owners shifted ROE from “give them what they want” or “minimal force necessary” to “Fuck this shit; we’re done screwing around.”

There’s a reason a little Southern town had the quietest, most peaceful BLM protest in history, instead of a riot.

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I’m having a Twitter discussion about the killing of Atatiana Jefferson. For once, it’s a reasonable discussion with someone willing to look up related data. (ferndog, I hope you realize how much I appreciate sanity on Twitter for once. Thank you.) Some things get a little complicated to explain in Twitter-sized bites, thus this blog post.

Said ferndog raises what can be a valid point. I call the killing murder. He says:

Took your advice, looked it up. Since it happened so quickly, intent will be hard to prove. Manslaughter should be open and shut, with the given evidence.

I think he may be mistaking intent for premeditation. In Texas law, intent is the factor that distinguishes between murder and manslaughter.

But intent does not mean the officer planned to kill Atatiana. It doesn’t even mean he decided to kill her in a surge of emotion under pressure.

Intent simply means: 1) he knew he was exercising deadly force, he meant to aim at a person, and he meant to squeeze the trigger. In fact, this was outlined rather well in the trial of Amber Guyger for murdering Botham Jean, which is why the jury rejected the judge’s suggestion of manslaughter; even if she thought she was in her apartment, she meant to shoot the “intruder.” (The question of whether she reasonably could have thought she was in her apartment was a separate issue — that of self defense — and was also rejected by the jury; her alleged belief was not reasonable, given all the cues she claimed to have missed.)

A hunting accident can be manslaughter. He wasn’t wearing an orange vest, so I thought he was a deer, so I shot him (an actual case in Georgia in the ’90s). The intent was to shoot a deer, not a person.

A child or idiot playing with a handgun and negligently discharging a round through a door, striking and killing someone who wasn’t targeted could be manslaughter. (Again, a real case; though complicated by possession of a stolen firearm.)

Another real case, from New Hampshire: informal police training on clearing a building. After the exercise, a sergeant was explaining some fine details and demonstrating. He pointed his sidearm at an officer and pulled the trigger. But he’d forgotten that he’d reloaded after the exercise proper. The officer survived, but that could have turned into a manslaughter charge, versus murder, because, while he meant to aim at a person, and he meant to pull the trigger, he did not mean to discharge a round he — stupidly — didn’t realize was in the chamber. (Actually, I always wondered about that case, but the thin blue line of silence…)

But in Fort Worth… Officer on a nonemergency call for a welfare check.* Instead of checking, he sneaks around the property with gun drawn. He sees a person in a window. He deliberately aims at the person. He begins a verbal command. He shoots the person.

For manslaughter, the officer would have to show at least one of four things.

  • That he didn’t know that the object to which he was giving a verbal command was a person.
  • That he wasn’t aiming at the person that he struck, while addressing that person.
  • That he didn’t realize a round was chambered when he fired.
  • That, even though he was aiming his drawn gun, and shouting at the person, and has already claimed he “perceived a threat,” that he didn’t mean to pull the trigger.

Murder, not manslaughter.

All that said, I expect the department fallback position to be “justifiable homicide,” which is more complicated yet, but also doesn’t apply.

* Yes, the FWPD is already spinning this as dispatch mistakenly coded the nonemergency welfare check call as an “Open Structure” call, in an attempt to give the officer some CYA. Unless they charge the dispatcher with manslaughter too, I don’t buy it. I’ve seen the excuse used so often, in so many jurisdictions, that I strongly suspect it’s a deliberate ass-coving policy to protect trigger-happy cops. And it still doesn’t change the facts of the shooting. The officer deliberately shot an innocent resident in her home.

[UPDATED: Good God] Welfare Check: Yes, another killing by police

See update below. It’s as bad as it sounded, if not worse.

I’ve asked my family to never call the police if they think my “welfare” needs to be checked.

Fort Worth police officer fatally shoots woman in her own home
A Fort Worth police officer shot and killed a woman inside her own home early Saturday morning, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reports. Just before 2:30 a.m., police responded to a welfare call in the Hillside Morningside neighborhood, where the front door to a residence was reported open.

When officers arrived, they searched the perimeter of the house and saw a person standing inside the residence, near a window.

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the Fort Worth Police Department said an officer perceived a threat then drew his weapon. He fired one shot, striking and killing 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson.

Let’s look at everything they did wrong.

This was reported as a “welfare check.” (Be ready for that story to change to “possible burglary.”) Instead of going to the door and… checking, they prowled the perimeter. Which means they never properly identified themselves as police.

They saw someone at a window. In Texas, civilians in their own homes are suspicious for checking for prowlers.

They treated a woman looking out her window as a threat. Boom! Dead resident. Please note that, based on years of reading news and police reports, if an actual weapon — or possible weaponized cellphone, flashlight, “finger gun,” etc. — had actually been seen, the cops would damned well have made sure that was in the news. (But that won’t stop them from revising the story to suggest some object that a trigger-happy lunatic could “reasonably” have mistaken for a weapon.)

The victim has been identified. The perp’s identity is being kept secret. That shit — cops protecting apparently bad cops — has to end. It’s hard to tell the “one bad apple” from the unspoiled fruits if all the apples do their best to look spoiled.

If any civilian had shot and killed a woman in her own home, that person would be instantly charged pending further investigation. For cops, it’s no charges and a paid vacation.

I’ll wait for more info — though god save Ms. Jefferson’s family if the Texas Rangers “investigate” this case as they did Guyger’s murder of Botham Jean — before making my final call, but as described in the above article, this already looks like cops acting like prowlers in the middle of the night shot and killed a woman for spotting them.

It’s decades past time for police to change their “welfare check” procedures. A welfare check should presuppose that someone might need help, not killing. Police should immediately identify themselves as, “Police. We’re here to see if you need assistance because [name of reporting individual] in worried about you.”

That simple statement identifies the police as someone other than — I hope — home invaders, explains their presence without fear of arrest, and reassures the subject that this is based on concern by someone they know (and if a setup, begins the process of letting them face their “accuser).

At this point, I expect someone to tell me how dangerous “welfare checks” are for cops. My answer to that would be: so long as they conduct welfare checks by acting like burglars searching for a way in at 2:30 in the morning, checks should be dangerous for them.

Post-incident: Police need to drop the thin-blue-line crap. If you act like a an enemy separate from the citizens, people are going to treat you as the enemy. No more dual rules; one set for civilians who do exactly the same thing as cops, and another set for cops.

Stop pretending you only had a fraction of a second to act, and that excuses any “mistake.” Dual rules again; every concealed carrying civilian has the same time to evaluate and respond, but we don’t get special protections. I’m tired of cops being held to lower standards than everyone else.

I’m tired of civilians getting the presumption of guilt (whether shooting in self defense, or looking out her window), while cops get presumed innocence for the most egregious acts.

Update: More info, bodycam video.

Holy fuck. Two cops visible sneaking around the home exterior. Neither ever identifies themselves. Not even when the BWC wearer looks in the “open” front door (main door open, screen door closed… which I do around here when the temperature finally drops.

The shooting itself: “Put your hands up! Show me — BANG — your hands.”

Yes, the motherfucker shot her so fast that not only was compliance physically impossible, but it was impossible for the cop to even give his “order.” One second from when he began shouting to the shot. One fucking second… for a woman inside her own home to decide if a cop or a home invader was threatening her.

The “welfare check” call came from a neighbor who thought it unusual for the front door to be open. But rather than walking over and asking, Atatiana, are you okay?, he called a nonemergency police number.

There has been a fairly recent occasion when I thought a neighbor should be checked. So I walked over, rang the bell, knocked, and called out loud, letting her know who I was. No one was killed. I didn’t even pull a gun to do the “welfare check.”

No wonder I’m no longer a peace officer.

More: This shit doesn’t wash anymore either:

Near 02:25 a.m., Fort Worth Police Central Division officers responded to an Open Structure call for services…

No. They were responding to an nonemergency welfare check call. I’m damned tired of “dispatch” “accidentally” upgrading the officer dispatch to something else so the officers have an “excuse” to be on unnecessarily heightened alert in which they can pretend it was “reasonable” to perceive a “threat.”

Fuck that. I’ve seen it multiple times, in multiple jurisdictions. It’s nothing but dispatch — maybe — presetting a defense argument for out-of-control psycho cops. If the dispatch was bad, charge the dispatcher as an accessory to murder, too.

And release the dispatch recordings to prove it. Or would that prov e they were correctly sent on a welfare check, undermining the bogus “perceived a threat” claim?

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Redneck Credentials Renewed

The last few years, I’ve been doing stuff like computer repair, web site administration, graphic design, and — of course — a bunch of writing.

The other day, I noticed my sister’s barbecue grill was rusting out, so this afternoon I set out to repair it.

  • snare wire
  • hardware cloth salvaged from an old rabbit hutch
  • metal support straps from some old benches

And done. Grill should be good for another year or so.

I think that renews my official redneck card.

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The Ajar Door

Let me tell you a story.

Officer Smith was off-duty, and it had been a long day. He’d been up for 17+ hours, and — hopefully, this time — he’d be awake a bit longer. He escorted his lady guest to his apartment door, got his key out and…

The door was slightly ajar; closed, but not enough to latch. “What the hell?” he muttered. “Why’s the door open?” His hackles rose. He glanced up at the number nailed to the door; yep, right apartment.

He turned to his guest and said, “Seems silly, but I know I locked my door. Could you wait out here a bit?” She agreed, if a bit dubiously.

Smith listened at the door. When he heard nothing, he opened it slightly and listened again. Nada. He opened it more and looked in; the slight outdoor ambient light left the interior a mess of shadows, but nothing seemed out of place. He again reminded his lady friend to wait, released the flap on his holster and stepped inside, eyes and ears observing for anything.

He slowly entered and swept corners, and under the desk. Nothing. Kitchen clear. He approached the bedroom in the same fashion, then the bathroom. Back to the bedroom, he listened again, and opened the closet. Clear.

Feeling quite relieved, he turned on some lights and looked around again. On a kitchen counter, he found it.

A business card from the apartment complex’s regular pest control service explaining that they’d been spraying again. The dumbasses had left the door unlocked; that was all.

Smith went back to the front door and escorted the woman inside, feeling rather stupid. He apologized profusely for the drama queen performance, and told her that finding the door open was not merely unusual, but unique, so he wanted to be extra careful for her.

He thought it best — particularly for the chance of further extracurricular activities — not to mention that he takes this shit seriously because, in the course of his work, he’d picked up a few death threats from violent felons.

This time was just a false alarm.

Punchline: That isn’t fiction. It’s a true story to the best of my recollection. “Officer ‘Smith'” was me, and this happened back in the ’90s. Note that while my weapon was ready, I never drew it, though my hand was on the grip (why the holster had a flap rather than strap is another story; but there was a reason for it). I really did sweep the apartment as described. I really did verify the apartment number before entering.

Unlike Amber Guyger, I had neither direct access to police backup via two-way radio, nor a cell phone. But I exercised reasonable caution, also unlike Guyger.

I could also tell a –also  true — story about unexpectedly encountering a person while on duty, in a time and place that person shouldn’t be, and who disregarded verbal instructions. I didn’t shoot that person, because — after calling for backup — I de-escalated and handled it non-lethally; no one got hurt.

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