Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

About last week…

Post by Brian O'Neill on April 1, 2013 at 8:52 am with 11 Comments »
April 1, 2013 8:57 am

When the sun came out last week, I was sifting through several interesting news stories for a topic. Let’s just say I got distracted. Now that I’m somewhat back on track, let’s take a look at a few.


Early in the week we learned that  an Italian court had ordered Amanda Knox’ murder case reopened (Trib 3/26). Though not unexpected, the judicial quicksand into which Knox stepped after being implicated in the death of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, continues to tug on her. More than anything, the court’s recent decision highlights two major differences between our system of justice and the European one currently stringing Knox along.

  1. Speedy trial: The four long years Knox withered away in prison while awaiting her “final” judgment are an affront to our notion of liberty.
  2. Double jeopardy: An Italian judge’s authority to override an equittal, used in this case to order Knox’ retrial, means that the accused never truly is finished  defending him or herself.

As metaphors, these respective concepts are little more than 1) a state of limbo and 2) the dangling Sword of Damocles. Neither has any place in a legal system.

Another incident that garnered regional attention was the shooting death of three men in an Auburn bar shortly after closing time last Saturday (Trib 4/1).

Fueled by booze and testosterone, and urged on by jealous women, a group of young alpha males took their disagreement outside where at least two of them decided to prove the point that, “the only way to defeat gun violence is by arming yourself.” In a scene reminiscent of a spaghetti western, gunshots rang out in the midst of the large crowd, and three men in their 20’s were gunned down.

Given the current status of the gun debate in this country, a violently nostalgic scene such as this will continue to be recycled well into the foreseeable future. What else is there left to say about a shooting in a bar?


Another type of crime which has survived the millenia, child prostitution, was documented in a series of articles by The Toronto Star (and republished by The Trib 3/31).

According to the paper, Cuba has made a name for itself as a destination for sex tourists, especially for Canadian (and Spanish) travellers whose sexual depravities require child prostitutes. While Canada does not restrict its citizens from travelling to Cuba, the article calls out the Canadian government for failing to halt sex offenders from visiting Cuba, where their crimes go largely unnoticed by both countries.

This is a real black eye for Canada, a country with a crime rate a mere fraction of our own and a tendency to editorialize on that point. Unlike the U.S., where convicted sex offenders must comply with innumerable restrictions on their movements, the Canadian government has failed in its obligation to keep children – whether at home or abroad – safe from the clutches of its own monsters.

With all due respect to Canada, it’s time to take a page from America’s book.


On a completely different, more positive note, the new Mariners roster was just released. Not sure if it’s the sunny weather, or the smiling faces on the guys who made the cut, but the thought of a fresh season of baseball sounds pretty good right about now.

Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. smokey984 says:

    I have a suggestion for an article of news from last week you can write about:

    Chicago Mobs and the Case For High Capacity Magazines!

  2. Brian O'Neill says:

    Mob action like the Chicago example are routine occurrences in many jurisdictions. I can’t see how public access to high-powered weaponry solves this problem. Without universal background checks, criminals like these ones will be just as likely to carry AR15’s with 30-round mags.

    We don’t need an arms race on the streets.

  3. smokey984 says:

    Ya i didnt mean to necesarily address it here as its unrelated to your article. and other than the comments section i dont have a way to communicate with you. I rememer a while back when you asked your readers for suggestions for writing topics.

    Feel free to delete my comment if you choose. No worries.

  4. Gun nuts seem to think (if one can call it that) that having everyone armed will turn out fine like it does in many of the old movie westerns. Guns going off everywhere inside a crowded saloon and the only people who get hit are either the good guys or the bad guys.
    It’s not reality and neither is their call for arming more people.
    The only solution that will work is to reduce the number of firearms we have floating around in our society. Remember, the Supremes put forth their bad decision only with a 5-4 majority. And there have been other bad decisions that have been undone over time.

  5. simonsjs says:

    Pubico, solution to what problem? Let me guess, people being killed by guns. It’s really not a problem when you consider 300,000 plus deaths a year from guess what? Food, that’s right food. Way too many people over eat and indulge in foods that aren’t good for you. They die on a massive scale! Where are your comments about this tragedy?

  6. Just how will universal background checks stop criminals from obtaining guns? Do you think the local gang banger is going to go to an FFL to make sure the stolen gun he’s buying off his homie is legally transferred?

    You’re kidding, right? Oh, and just how will you know I went through an FFL to do that background check on this pistol I purchased in Texas in 1987? Wait, doesn’t that mean all existing firearms have to be registered first, in order for you to keep track of what’s been sold where to who? Without registration, isn’t any “universal background check” law pointless? Isn’t it against the law, by order of congress, to keep a firearms database simply for this reason?

    Oh, I forget, liberals don’t want to register guns, or make it easier for the government to confiscate them. Oh no, that can’t be what they want. Gun owners are just paranoid bitter clingers, right?

  7. Gandalf’s rant sure sounds like paranoia to me.
    I like the idea of the Supremes’ decision concerning gun ownership being an individual right being undone. I like the idea of permanent records of gun ownership whether it is called registration or whatever. I like mandatory additions to sentencing for committing a crime while in the possession of a gun. I like mandatory annual permits for each gun and annual mandatory qualifications for safety and use training.
    We license plumbers, electricians and drivers and we require vehicle registration renewal each year. And cars are not purposely designed to kill as a first use.
    Gandalf is concerned about criminals getting guns because they will avoid background checks. How about the guy who killed his grown kids? He was not a criminal and he passed a background check. Why don’t you worry about someone like him? You see gandalf, your position is fraught with hypocricy.

  8. Brian O'Neill says:

    I appreciate your comments.

    I can tell you from experience that background checks will not keep ALL firearms out of the hands of criminals or unstable people. However, when current gun owners face repercussions for allowing anonymous individuals to walk in with cash and walk out with their weapons, many of them won’t want to do so anymore. That will limit the free flow of guns, which is one of the reasons all levels of gun possession – through theft, the black market, private parties and FFL purchases – feed the violent folks on the bottom.

    And since I have yet to see a time when law-abiding gun owners have been stripped of their rights and their firearms confiscated, I believe much of the rhetoric is paranoia.

  9. smokey984 says:

    Brian, you may have not seen it, however history is chalk full of these examples. Heres a link:

    So i would ask people keep an open mind towards other’s ideas concerning statistical facts.

  10. Brian O'Neill says:

    As I said, and your link points out, America has never demonstrated a propensity to confiscate weapons from its citizens. Given that fact, at what point does this fear become paranoia?

    It would be a philosophical debate were it not for the real deaths from the epidemic of gun violence.

  11. smokey984 says:

    It has actually, in slow motion for past 70 years, bit by bit. And i can go on with dozens of examples, and maybe in a future writing of yours i will. So i will change directions slightly with a parallel approach, slightly different angle, etc to instigate further thought.

    What’s not being addressed is the individual and his or her right to freedom of choice. Because pacifism projects right and wrong onto actions it removes the right to choice from the person under threat.

    To understand this you need to understand the use of force continuum. When one person raises the threat of force against another, the recipient of the force, the pending victim, has the right to use reasonable force to stop the threat. Once the threat is gone the defender is no longer authorized in continued force. Should the original victim continue to use force he or she becomes an offender. This is why defense of self is utterly reasonable. The victim’s right to life and limb supersedes the assailant’s right to life so long as the assailant is attacking with force a reasonable person would see as deadly. This is predicated on the concept that there is no right without a remedy. If you have the right to life and someone tries to take your life, it is reasonable for you to use the force necessary to stop the attack – not to “kill” the person, i.e., you are not authorized to fight until that person is dead. You are authorized to fight until the assault stops. If your use of reasonable force during that time results in death, then you can be found not guilty of murder. You may be found to be civilly liable, and many people who defend themselves end up in debt due to lawsuits, but that is a separate matter which is related but different to the discussion of pacifism and reasonable force.

    There are two additional concepts that are key in understanding reasonable force. Imminence and reasonableness. The guy on the 50 yard line waving a pipe isn’t an imminent threat, but the same person at twenty paces can get to you and deliver a deadly blow before you can get a gun out of your holster. The first is not an imminent threat, the second is. The second question, is it reasonable to perceive the person as a threat? Many look at the probability the threat would result in death or serious bodily injury, prior violent acts by the offender, and such things as the nature of the danger.

    I take the approach outlined in law as a ground up approach. The behavior and actions of the assailant determine the reasonable force a defender can take. Of course, de-escalation is step one. If an person is hurling personal threats and insults the best thing to do is to walk away. In fact, staying and pumping someone up so they become more violent is not a legal behavior. The courts will look back through the interactions to see what the “defender” did. Was this person inciting violence to create a shroud of self-defense around a predisposition or intent to cause harm to the other person?

    This component of de-escalation and civil discourse may be what some people are talking about when they describe pacifism. However, if this first stage of the use of force continuum is the only tool the individual is willing to see, they are truncating the full range of reasonable responses and implementing a “might is right” approach to violence. The strong are able to defeat the weak, and the weak are exalted as holy, a sour prize if they are pressed into their role.

    For this reason, when pacifists begin to regulate defense it is actually tyranny of the minority. Because they don’t believe in force they believe that the force is what should be banned. They begin to regulate other’s remedy to the right to life. What they don’t realize is that by regulating the force, rather than by upholding the use of force continuum, they are really destroying the most fundamental human right.

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