Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Firearm Tort Reform: Part II

If you're a regular reader, you may recall that last week (April 21) I commented on a new federal bill intended to protect firearms manufacturers from third-party lawsuits (not claiming the product was defective or misrepresented).

I urged you to write your congressional representative, and included the full text of a letter which I had written to my congressman, Peter DeFazio. (D-OR)

Today I received a reply from Mr. DeFazio, and I would like to share it with you:

Thanks for your message supporting H.R. 800, legislation to protect firearms and ammunition manufacturers and sellers from liability in certain circumstances. I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I oppose frivolous lawsuits whether they are against a government agency or a private entity. However, I have always been reluctant to limit citizen access to redress through the courts. I have opposed limiting liability on a wide-range of issues including limiting commercial or individual appeals of actions taken by the federal government around land use issues, prohibiting actions against manufacturers who knowingly sell defective products like the Ford Pinto, and restricting the ability to bring suit against securities brokers for negligence or fraud.

I have carefully watched this issue develop. Thus far, two dozen cities and counties have filed suit against the firearms industry for law enforcement and public health expenses incurred from firearm injuries and deaths. A number of courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and three state Supreme Courts have already rejected these lawsuits. I believe other courts will continue to find in favor of manufacturers. It doesn't make sense to hold manufacturers liable for the illegal use of a firearm anymore than it would to hold a car manufacturer liable for damage caused by a drunk driver or other improper use of an automobile.

In the last Congress, the House passed similar legislation, H.R. 1037 by a vote of 285-140. I voted for the bill. Unfortunately, the bill was defeated in the Senate after a number of controversial amendments were added to it. The House is expected to consider the bill in the near future and I intend to vote for it again this year.

Again, thanks for your message. Please stay in touch.

Rep.Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON

****Please do not reply directly to this email******
Please submit further correspondence from

I applaud Representative DeFazio for his boldly reasonable stand.

This is a much more thoughtful reply than I had expected. Democrats, we are told, are knee-jerk anti-gun extremists who not only do not recognize the right of a law-abiding citizen to own a firearm, but are all too ready to undercut this right by imposing draconian legislation against firearms, and even ammunition, manufacturers (cf: the recent California bill to require bullet manufacturers to engrave serial numbers on every bullet!)

Mr. DeFazio, however, is a refreshing exception to this picture.

I've been a registered democrat Republican since shortly after Bill Clinton was elected. (Actually, I was voting Republican for several years before I changed my registration, with the expectation that I could make a difference in Democratic primaries; but when Clinton introduced his-and-her egregious socialist health care proposal, I changed my registration immediately.) I've since voted the straight ticket with a few notable exceptions. DeFazio is one of those exceptions, because of his proven intergrity and willingness to cross the assumed 'party lines'.

Here are just a few examples of why I consider DeFazio a Democrat worth voting for:

* October 8, 2004: introduces HR5250, the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program
* October 8, 2004: votes against exporting American jobs (HR4520)
* August 3, 2003: releases report showing Medicare Drug Discout Cards provide little benefit to seniors.
(You're right; I disagree with the president on this issue, and I am a senior)
Sure, there are a lot of issues on which I disagree with my representative. Often, though, his positions are either those which I support or those about which I have no overwhelming opinion, either way.

Until the Republicans can find and field a better candidate, I'll continue to vote for DeFazio.

While I don't always agree with him, I'm glad that he at least listens.

Correction to brain-typo;
I've been a registered Republican since shortly after Bill Clinton was elected ....
Thanx to WhiteFish for pointing out my errors. I can always depend on my readers to be smarter and more alert than I am.

Kalifornia: Bullet-coding scheme clears first political hurdle

You've probably heard by now that California is preparing to implement a scheme which requires bullet manufacturers to stamp a serial number on EACH INDIVIDUAL BULLET.

(Hat Tip to John H. of The Unofficial IPSC List)


3:11 p.m. April 26, 2005

SACRAMENTO – A major new gun-control scheme – a numerical coding and tracking system for bullets – began moving through the Legislature Tuesday with heavyweight political support.

Sponsored by Democratic Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the measure passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 4-2 vote after a brief hearing. In addition to Lockyer, the bill is co-authored by Senate Leader Don Perata, D-Oakland, and another prominent Democrat, Sen. Joe Dunn of Garden Grove.

The prominent backing should carry the measure – SB 357 – through the Democrat-dominated Senate, leaving any legislative fight to the less-predictable Assembly.
Senate Bill 357 ?!?!?!? (The irony is exquisite; the bill is unworkable.)

Well, if it saves 'just one child' ... but of course, it won't.

Among other reasons for rejecting it, this bill doesn't provide any preventative measures. It DOES (presumably) provide the ability for the police to remove a bullet from the corpse of a murder victim and track it to the killer

Actually, were it to be enacted, it would allow the police, at best, to track it to the purchaser of the ammunition.

This isn't necessarily the same thing as finding the murderer; we know already that criminals use stolen guns for crime more often than not. This only requires potential murderers to either (a) steal the ammunition as well as the gun, or (b) remove the bullet from the body of their victim. Chances are, they will choose option (a).

No other state or country has ever attempted to set up a system to tag and track ammunition. Under Lockyer's proposal, the bullet or slug in each cartridge would be microstamped with a serial number during the manufacturing process. Ammunition would be packaged in boxes carrying the same code and the purchaser's identify would be recorded with the swipe of a driver's license.

Randy Rossi, the attorney general's firearms specialist, said the system would not be much different than the coded tracking system in place for most consumer products, from cans of soda to Tic Tac breath mints.

When the manufacturers of Tic Tac Breath Mints are required to stamp a serial number on each Tic Tac, I will accept this as a reasonable analogy.

And Lockyer (Lockyear?) is perhaps best remembered as the man who took advantage of a 1989 firearms registration scheme imposed by his predecesor (Attorney General Dan Lundgren) upon Californians, and when he was elected California Attorney General ten years, later used the registration lists to confiscate the firearms trustingly documented by their naive owners. We won't soon see THAT scenario played out in Kalifornia!

Initial testing has found the microscopic serial numbers still legible more than 90 percent of the time after a bullet is fired, Rossi said. Only handgun ammunition would be covered, and the legislation would not take effect until mid-2007.

The California Police Chiefs Association and several law enforcement leaders embraced the measure Tuesday.

"We have more than 1,000 murders every year in Los Angeles County, many of which go unsolved," said Los Angeles Assistant Sheriff Doyle Campbell.

I don't know whether the 'microscopic serial numbers' would remain legible after having been fired, and impacting a solid target; but I'm pretty sure that the inability of the LA County Sheriff's Department to solve murders is as easily attributable to the culture of the county and the ineffeciency of the department as to any other cause. I have criticized the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in previous posts, and I see no reason to expect superior performance from the county if the mindset of Assistant Sheriff Campbell is a valid reflection of their mindset.

Opponents already are focused on (California governer Arnold) Schwarzenegger. They distributed an April 25 letter to the governor from U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, an El Cajon Republican and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, warning that the legislation raises national security concerns.


But representatives of the firearms industry said the measure would force financially prohibitive changes to the high-volume, low-margin production of most ammunition.

"Any manufacturer that attempts to comply with this would simply go bankrupt in the process," said Lawrence Keane of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute.

Keane called the attorney general's estimate that coding would add less than a penny to the cost of each cartridge, "pure fantasy."

In his letter, Hunter expressed "strong opposition" to the bill "because of the harmful impact it will have on the manufacturers of ammunition used by our nation's armed forces and law enforcement agencies."

Probably the primary objection to this measure is the procedural expectation which has already been mentioned in this article:

... the bullet or slug in each cartridge would be microstamped with a serial number during the manufacturing process. Ammunition would be packaged in boxes carrying the same code and the purchaser's identify would be recorded with the swipe of a driver's license.
This demonstrates a gross failure to understand the manufacturing process.
First, the manufacturer of the bullet is often NOT the manufacturer of the complete cartridge. This would require the bullet maker to create batches of 50 bullets with the same serial number, and then 'someone' (either the bullet maker or the ammunition maker) would have to insure that all 50 bullets are of an acceptable quality to be included in a single box.

Also, the ammuition maker would have to insure ... infallibly ... that all of these bullets, and ONLY these bullets with the same serial number, were used to assemble the complete cartridge. If one bullet was found to be unacceptable in quality, the entire box of loaded ammunition would have to be discarded. *(Actually, they would have to be destroyed.) Without a doubt, this would require the manufacturer to fill out a governmental form which attests and affirms that the ammunition had been destroyed.

Remember, it only takes one imprefect bullet, or one imperfectly formed cartridge, to reject the entire batch ... of fifty cartridges.

The ammunition manufacturer would have to initiate some kind of inspection process to insure that only those bullets with the same (microscopic) serial number were used to construct this box of ammunition. (Note that the actual language of the bill refers to "assembled ammunition" and 'bullets" interchangeably. This implies that each cartridge would be required to display a serial number corresponding with the serial number of the bullet.)

Mass Production vs hand crafting: who loses?
Usually, bullet makers run a continuous process, in accordance with the much-vaunted American invention of Mass Production, to create their product.

Ammunition manufacturers follow the same technique; thousands or millions of rounds of ammunition are constructed every working day. Each round of ammunition (or 'cartidge') is assumed to be the same as any other round in that batch. They are constructed in 'batches' containing a large number of cartridges, and are dumped into a hopper or assembly line. The cartridges are packaged in a non-serial process, and the BATCH NUMBER will probably be stamped on the package.

Assuming that each package (of 50 or less) of ammunition must be stamped with the unique serial number of every cartridge in the package, there are quality control measures which would make it impossible to economically control the serialization sub-process. If a single serial-stamped cartridge were to be inadvertantly ruined during the process, it would no longer be legally sufficent to dispose of the 'blemished' cartridge and continue the production process. Instead, the manufacturer would have to pull all of the cartridges in the blemished batch, and dispose of them as unmarketable. This would only be feasible if the serial number was stamped in a manner which would allow the inspectors to read the serial numbers of the individual bullets without disassembling the cartridge.
The added cost to the manufacturing process would be astronomical. No manufacturer would be willing to sell ammunition assembled under these onerous requirements, because the cost would have to be passed on to the consumer and it would not be possible to absolutely GUARANTEE that the serial number of the bullet matched the serial number stamped on the package.

Consequences of passage:
Not only is this unacceptable to the purchaser of the ammunition, but it raises certain moral and legal questions.

There is no guarantee that the process of stamping (engraving?) the serial number on the bullet would not unbalance the projectile to the degree that acceptable accuracy would be preserved.
If someone were to use this inaccurate bullet in a self-defense situation, missed his attacker and instead struck an innocent bystander with the bullet, the 'someone' (perhaps a Law Enforcement Officer?) would perhaps fail to defend his/her self, and the result could conceivably be that the defender would be killed. Also, the bystander might be killed. And a murderer would be free to kill again.

Who would be liable in this situation? Why, it would be the bullet maker, and the ammunition maker, because they knowingly created a defective product.

I hadn't intended to present this as a realistic scenario. It's not likely that a 'blem' on the surface of a pistol bullet would cause such a wide variance in accuracy at self-defense distances. But it's fodder for the lawyers, and they wouldn't pass up any excuse, no matter how unreasonable, as grounds for a lawsuit.
Also, the serial number isn't likely to be engraved on the side of the bullet, if only because the chances that the rifling would obscure it. And we have no idea how to carve an unique serial number (given the number of digits required to insure uniqueness) on the base of a soft-lead .22 caliber bullet.

It's all about politics:
Ignoring the practical usage of handguns, and the legal and moral considerations of their use, and also ignoring the economic considerations, this bill makes perfect sense. If you're a politician, and your only purpose is to make life difficult for your constituents, there's no reason why ammunition shouldn't cost 1000% more than it does today. There is no reason why lives shouldn't be lost because of the mandated inherent accuracy of ammunition which might be used for self defense. After all, if someone is (inevitibly) killed ... you know where to point the finger. That looks really good in the tabloids!

Innocent Bystander Killed: Self-Defense Gun-Nut Deemed Responsible!

Yeah, I'm liking that ... as long as I'm not the bystander, or the 'gun-nut' trying to protect himself or his family.

History/Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the 1000% tax on Ammunition:
This entire proposal is reminiscent of the bill (among others) presented by Daniel Patrick Moynihan to tax ammunition at 1000% of the original purchase price.

Moynihan probably had no expectation that this bill would pass, but he proposed it anyway?


Because, brilliant man that he was (and an emminently quotable man), he had a blind spot where firearms were concerned. He was an agenda-driven way-far leftist who only had two colors in his spectrum: Black, and White. There were only Black guns in his world, and he wanted to impose his views on the whole world.

Here is a partial list of anti-gun bills introduced into both the House and the Senate.

These bills were introduced by Moynihan, were read twice, and were moved 'to committee' where they languished (rightly so) and were never voted on by the senate.
Note that the bills all died in commitee, and the list is out of date since Moynihan has been dead for two years.
(These bills were presented during the 106th Congress, in 1999. You can search for them here. Be sure that you specify that the search be conducted for the 106th Congress.)

S. 152 Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (NY-D)- would increase the tax on handgun ammunition and impose special occupational tax and registration requirements on importers and manufactures of handgun ammunition. To the Committee on Finance.
Real Cost of Destructive Ammunition Act - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to increase the excise tax on handgun ammunition. Provides for such additional taxes to be added to the general fund.Imposes a special (occupational) tax on importers and manufacturers of certain handgun ammunition for each place of business.

S. 153 Sen. Moynihan- would prohibit the use of certain ammunition. To the Committee on the Judiciary.

Destructive Ammunition Prohibition Act of 1999 - Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit the use of destructive ammunition, defined as any jacketed, hollow point projectile that may be used in a handgun and the jacket of which is designed to produce, upon impact, sharp-tipped, barb-like projections that extend beyond the diameter of the unfired projectile.

S. 154 Sen. Moynihan- A bill to amend title 18, US Code, with respect to the licensing of ammunition manufacturers, and for other purposes; To the Committee on the Judiciary.

Handgun Ammunition Control Act of 1999 - Amends the Federal criminal code to: (1) require each licensed importer and manufacturer of ammunition to maintain records of, and submit an annual report on, the importation, production, shipment, sale, or other disposition of ammunition, including the amount, caliber, and type of ammunition, as prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury; and (2) increase licensing fees for manufacturers of ammunition.

Directs the Secretary to request the National Academy of Sciences to: (1) prepare a study of the criminal use and regulation of ammunition; and (2) report to the Congress, not later than July 31, 1998(sic), on the potential for preventing crime by regulating or restricting the availability of ammunition

S. 155 Sen. Moynihan- would require the collection and dissemination of information on injuries, death and family dissolution due to bullet-related violence; require the keeping of records with respect to dispositions of ammunition, and increase taxes on certain bullets. To the Committee on Finance.

Title II: Increase in Excise Tax on Certain Bullets - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to set the excise tax rate on .25 and .32 caliber and nine millimeter ammunition at 1,000 percent, with an exemption for law enforcement agencies.

S. 156 Sen. Moynihan- would prohibit the manufacture, transfer or importation of .25 cal., .32 cal. and 9 mm ammunition. To the Committee on the Judiciary.

Violent Crime Reduction Act of 1999 - Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit the manufacture, transfer, importation, sale, or delivery of .25 or .32 caliber or nine millimeter ammunition, except for: (1) the use of the Federal Government or any State or local government; and (2) testing or experimenting authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury. Imposes a licensing fee of $1,000 per year upon manufacturers and importers of .25 or .32 caliber or nine millimeter ammunition. Requires licensed importers and manufacturers to mark all .25 and .32 caliber and nine millimeter ammunition and packages containing such ammunition for distribution.

Includes .25 and .32 caliber and nine millimeter ammunition as restricted ammunition, the use of which during the commission of a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime carries a mandatory five-year prison term.

S. 157 Sen. Moynihan- would tax 9 mm, .25 cal. and .32 cal. bullets at 1,000%. To the Committee on Finance.
Real Cost of Handgun Ammunition Act of 1999 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to increase the excise tax on the sale of certain ammunition, except sales for law enforcement purposes.

S. 158 Sen. Moynihan (D-NY)- would regulate the manufacture, importation and sale of ammunition capable of piercing police body armor. To the Committee on the Judiciary.
Law Enforcement Officers Protection Amendment Act of 1999 - Amends the Federal criminal code to expand the definition of "armor piercing ammunition" to include a projectile that may be used in a handgun and that the Secretary of the Treasury determines to be capable of penetrating body armor.

Directs the Secretary to promulgate regulations based on standards to be developed for the uniform testing of projectiles to determine whether such projectiles are capable of penetrating National Institute of Justice Level II-A body armor.

Authorizes appropriations for the Secretary and the Attorney General to develop and implement, and promulgate regulations for, performance standards for armor piercing ammunition.

(See NOTES at the bottom of this article)

Even though Moynihan had no expectations that these bills would pass committee, let alone be enacted, he had no compunctions about spending your tax dollars just to make his own private point.

That's what we're seeing today in California. A bunch of monochrome maniacs want to spend their expensive time (paid for by their constituents) just to divert the attention of their opposing party from the real issues confronting their state.

It's about Gray Davis, and their anger that he was deposed. It's about the 2nd Amendment, and the power it gives to the citizenry. It's about fear, and the special vulnerability which politicians feel when they consider that their constituents just won't LIKE the laws which are imposed upon them.

The polilticians will say it's about crime control, and violence, but not everyone believes them.

Basically, it's about controlling the people. The politicians could address the issue of VIOLENCE by dealing with social issues. But that's too difficult, and too expensive. Silly, when you think of it, that they're reluctant to spend your tax dollars to resolve the root causes of violence in this country. They're ready to spend money on socialist causes, but not on social causes of violence. Could it be that they don't want to stop the violance? Could it be that they just want to stop the private ownership of firearms? (Not because they are the instrument of violence, but because they are the instruments of civil insurrection.)

The references to the Moynihan bills cited above are sometimes contradictory. This may be because the original source for the list confused the text of the bills with the senate bill numbers. My advice is, when an apparent contradiction is found ... go with the Thomas citations which are distinguished by the italics typeface or the links in the "Latest Major Action".

I've just read the text of the bill, and it's even worse than the newspapers described it:
the preceding sentence includes a link to the actual text of the bill, amended as of April 18, 2005.)

(1) It doesn't apply to just 'bullets'; it applies to "handgun ammunition". This implies that the bullet and the 'ammunition' be 'serialized', and the serial numbers must match.

(2) if you own ammuntion which is not 'serialized', you must dispose of it by July 1, 2007. You will NOT be reimbursed for the cost, if you are found to be in posession of ammunition which is not 'serialized' after that time, you are subject to confiscation, fine, and imprisonment.

(3) Vendors of ammunition (and, we suppose, bullets) must be licensed, registered, and are subject to fine and imprisonment for each 50-round or less quantity of non-serialized ammunition they possess. That is to say, if you have 253 rounds of ammunition which is not serialized, you are liable to penalties for five 50-round quantities, plus another penalty for the extra 3 rounds.

(4) The AG office will keep copies of, among other documents, "dealers' records of sales of firearms" (handguns)

(5) The AG (and "peace officers", etc.) may keep records of sales of firearms which are not handguns under certain circumstances.

(6) Even a person who is "loaned" a handgun must be registered with the AG. (The term "Loaned" is not defined.) Waiting periods apply to "loaned" handguns.

(7) The Department of Justice (DOJ) may assess and collect an 'end-user-fee' not to exceed "one-half cent per round of ammunition or per bullet."

(8) The DOJ may also apply an annual licensing fee of $50 (adjustable annually for inflation) per retail location against retailers of ammunition.

(9) If YOU bring non-serialized ammunition into the state of California, you are liable to be sentenced to a period 'not exceeding' one year in prison, and a fine not exceeding $500.

(10) .22 caliber rimfire ammunition IS included in the requirement to be 'serialized'

(11) Bullets provided for reloading or handloading ARE included in the requirement to be 'serialized'.

(12) The possession of non-serialized bullets or ammunition by the executor or administrator of any estate IS subject to to penalty, except under certain circumstances.

(13) The serial number of the contained ammunition or bullets must be "uniquely identified" on the exterior of any container; ammunition or bullets of differing serial numbers must not be mixed with any container. No package or container shall be identified by the same unique manufacturer's serial number as any other package or continer. The term "container" is not defined. No exception is mentioned for auto-loader magazine, revolver cylinder, range-bag, or box containing reloaded ammunition. No exemption is mentioned for per-duration or actual usage of the ammuntion. No exemption is mentioned for reloaded ammunition.

(14) Ammunition manufacturers must keep strict records of all serialized ammunition sold, lent or transferred in California for not less than 7 years. Failure to abide by state restrictions may result in a fine of not more than $10,000 for the third and subsequent violations.

(15) The National Guard is specifically exempted from this bill. Law Enforcement Officers are NOT exempted, except:
Possession by peace officers from other states during the discharge of their official duties in California.
(16) Note again that the following phrase is frequently repeated in this bill:
... every 50 pieces or fewer of
assembled ammunition or bullets used for reloading or handloading
shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


A week ago (April 19), I complained in my ANNOUNCEMENTS blog-entry that my sidebar had somehow been relegated to the footing.


I spent a lot of time emailing, and checking over my template carefully looking for some non-standard coding. Blogspot responded with a suggestion that I check my links for 'too long' text, and they even added a technical note to their HELP FAQ site.

Last night I spent two hours going through my template, eventually deleting every link and script .. but the 'preview' function still showed the sidebar in the wrong place.

Finally, I just corrected all of the errors I had found during the process, posted my latest blog (at 1am on a school night) and went to bed.

Tonite, I posted a new entry and when I viewed the updated blog I found the sidebar back where it belonged.

Success! Elation!

I don't know which 'fix', among the dozens I applied, resolved the problem. And I don't care. I don't have to live with an ugly web page anymore (your opinion of the esthetic value of this blog may vary). I'm at least performing to my technical minimal standards, and that's a big load off my mind.

BTW, if you see something you don't like about the format of the blog, please email me at the address presented at the foot of this page. Sure, I'll probably ignore your sage advice, but at least I would like to hear from you anyway. All too often the comments are sent by 'anonymous', which means even when I get feedback I don't know who it came from.

My stats help; I use STATSCOUNTER (which reports, incidently, that this blog has been read over 4000 times since December 15, 2004) to keep track of who is reading this, and where they are coming from. The majority of the readers are in the USA, but there are many international readers: England, France, Italy, Germany, Finland, Hong Kong, The Phillipines, Japan, South Korea, and Canada are the countries which I see often. They are referred here by Yahoo, Google, Wadcutter, Publicola, Gullyborg / Carnival of Cordite, Cowboy Blob, and others. (See the LINKS on the sidebar).

Looking at the STATSCOUNTER analysis of the visitor activity, I am surprised to learn that the search engines (Yahoo, Google, etc.) hit on this website for a wide variety of political, firearms-related and cultural issues. That's good. I don't want this to be a purely IPSC website, even though that was the original purpose.

I even get fan mail.

Here's a typical example:

We heard that you are a Blog! Bullshiters logged on globally.
We understand that you are one of the biggest!
& who said that bigger isn't better!

Okay, so that's the ONLY fan mail I've received. But you have to admit, it's typical. I'm expecting a lot more fan mail in the same vein, so ... start writing today.

Hey, that fan mail is a GOOD thing, isn't it?

Shoot the lock off

Remember the movies where the actors are always shooting the padlock off hasps, chained gates, treasure chests and other secured places and objects?

According to the link from "DVCtracker" at Life, Liberty, etc. (purveyors of fine RKBA-related products such as pins, decals, bumper-stickers, cups, patches and shirts), it's not really that easy to do.

You mean ... the Movies lie?
Boy, are we surprised!

The Box O' Truth is one of our favorite firearms-related surf-sites. My only complaint is that "Old_Painless" doesn't run enough 'experiments' to keep me amused with fresh material every day, so I admit I haven't stopped by to check out their website for a while. I was pleased to receive the Life, Liberty, Etc. newsletter yesterday which included a link to ...

The Locks O' Truth

Apparently, shooting a modern padlock with a pistol just doesn't get it done.

Rifles ... maybe. But if you want to REALLY 'shoot the lock off', drag a 12-gauge slug round out of that beat-up cardboard box labelled "GUN STUFF" and go to town.

Looks easy, doesn't it?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Oregon Only: Unsolved Murders

Willamette Week Online | News | COVER STORY | The Murder that WOULD NOT DIE

SHORTLY AFTER 6:30 pm on Jan. 17, 1989, Michael Francke, a tall, athletic man, walked out of the Dome Building, headquarters of the Oregon Department of Corrections. Six hours later, his blood-covered body was found, outside the office building's north entrance. He had been stabbed in the heart.

It took the Oregon State Police more than a year to arrest Frank Gable, a small-time drug dealer, and in June 1991 prosecutors persuaded a jury to convict him. The prosecution's theory: Gable killed Francke when the prison director caught him breaking into his car. He was convicted of seven counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

It was an undeniably weak case. No physical evidence, no credible witnesses tied Gable to the crime; prosecutors relied on testimony dominated by drug dealers and meth users. Elyse Clawson, probably Francke's closest deputy at the Department of Corrections, says she doesn't think we know the real story. "It was never cleared up to my satisfaction," says Clawson, now living in Boston. "I thought there were a lot of unanswered questions."

Fifteen years later, independent Investigative Reporters are revisiting the case. And the victim's brother, Kevin Francke, has never given up looking for the "real murderer".

This is a true instance of Sex, Lies and Videotapes. Okay, so maybe the videotapes are only of interviews (not available to the the public). But the rest of it is verifiable. Sort of.

Most interestingly, several of the principles of the investistigation ended up married to each other ... some of the relationships being most curious. For example:

* During the murder investigation, some journalists, including Phil Stanford, were chasing rumors that Tim Natividad, a low-level crook, might be involved. But in 1989, before Gable's trial, Natividad was shot to death by his girlfriend, Elizabeth Godlove, who convinced authorities it was self-defense. Kevin Francke, who believes Natividad killed his brother, married Godlove in 1993. They're still married today.
There are no real 'answers' in this article, but there are curiousities to make it an interesting read.

Me? I don't know who killed Michael Francke. I never believed that the man who was convicted of the murder, Frank Gable, was definitively identified as the killer.

Check out the article in the link provided above. You may find it as intriguing as I do.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Culture Club

Pop singer Moby: Make my kid 'gay':
Musician also rips DeLay, Coulter, Hannity as 'immoral' right-wingers

(Hat Tip for all articles:)
� 2005

Pop star Moby, known for his political statements as well as his music, says he'd do everything he could to make his future child homosexual should the singer ever have a family.
He's also blasting conservatives Tom DeLay, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich as 'amoral/immoral' right wingers.

In an interview with Planet Out, a publication geared toward homosexuals, the musician, who is not 'gay,' was lamenting so-called homophobia in society when he suggested his future child should be raised to be a homosexual.

The Power of Soy!
And a Darwinian means of terminating bizarre genetic strains.

Woman facing firing squad for marijuana
27-year-old Australian insists drugs planted in luggage

© 2005

Schapelle Corby

A 27-year-old Australian beauty student is facing a firing-squad sentence in Indonesia for smuggling marijuana she claims was planted in her luggage.

Schapelle Corby yesterday remained sedated in her prison cell as her lawyer questioned whether she'll be mentally strong enough to take the stand in a final bid to win her freedom.

Okay; she's better looking than Moby.

The question remains whether this genetic strain really needs to be preserved.

Corby yesterday broke down and said her life was over after Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantanu argued that she should be found "officially and convincingly guilty" of attempting to smuggle 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali last year.

Wiswantanu said the former beauty student's actions threatened to make Bali look like a drug haven and could have destroyed the lives of thousands of young Balinese.

Let me do the math:
4.1kg is appromately 8 pounds of grass. What is it about the Balinese that turns them into hopeless drug addicts on (8 pounds of grass divided by 1,000,000 Indonesians)? Okay, so it's too much grass to justify a 'personal usage' defense, but I ask you ... the entire Indonesian archipelago? Geez! At that rate, Osama Bin Laden could turn the entire American population into a bunch of gibbering idiots with a mere 1600 pounds of grass!

Apparently, Pal Osama was unable to amass the grass ... he only provided sufficent TCP-laden fodder to idiotize the DemocRats.

Well, there must be SOME reason they're so spaced out.

Good news, though for the fair (and grieving innocent) Ms. Corby: The Brilliant Mind of Russell Crowe will save her assets!

Meanwhile, Corby's plight has attracted support from Hollywood actor Russell Crowe, who says he was heartbroken by the sight of her tears on Australian newspaper front pages.
Yeah, I just bet that was it. Big tears. Right.



Son Froze Mom To Collect Benefits?

(CBS/AP) A 15-hour standoff with a man suspected of shooting his neighbor turned into a homicide investigation after authorities found a body believed to be the man's mother stashed in his freezer.

Philip Schuth, 52, surrendered to authorities on Saturday morning after a standoff that lasted through the night. At some point during the standoff, Schuth told authorities his mother's body was in his freezer.

Authorities inspected a basement freezer, chipped away ice and eventually discovered what was believed to be Schuth's mother.
Gee, that's cold!
And Mother's Day only two weeks away! We have to wonder how Schuth planned to celebrate the event.

Surely not with a BBQ.


FEMA's inspectors included criminals

Agency relied on them for honest reports

(No kidding, Sherlock!)

Government inspectors entrusted to enter disaster victims' homes and verify damage claims include criminals with records for embezzlement, drug dealing and robbery, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation has found.

Federal officials have pointed to the inspectors as their primary defense against accusations of widespread fraud for their payout of more than $31 million in Hurricane Frances disaster aid in Miami-Dade -- a county spared hurricane-force winds.

Yup, in order to insure that FEMA funds were approved only for legitimate disaster victims, Florida relied upon the strong professional ethic of such licensed inspectors as James A. Dewan.

Here's the Money Quote:

"We know this for several reasons," said Dan Craig, FEMA's director of recovery programs. "Foremost among them is that FEMA's contract inspectors personally inspect and verify the claims. … Our contract inspectors are our first line of accountability."
Uh huh.
"We had these hurricanes, y'know? And we sorta thought that maybe, just maybe, there was some damage. But we couldn't really tell for sure, y'know, until, like we sent out the stalwart Jimmy Darwin to confirm it. what's that? You say his name is Dewan?. Oh well, like, y'know ... whatever."
Okay, so maybe FEMA director Craig didn't actually SAY this, in exactly these words.
But maybe he should have.

Plausible deniability, doncha know?
First Line of Accountability.

You bet your ass.