Diary

In Stunning News, The Washington Post Discovers What We Already Knew . . .

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2014 file photo, California State Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, displays a homemade fully automatic rifle, confiscated by the Department of Justice, as he discusses his proposed legislation dealing with "ghost guns," at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Two weeks after turning the calendar on a year that saw four members of the state Senate face criminal charges, the body's new leader on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, defended one of his own bills amid reports the FBI had questions about it. De Leon said his office has not been contacted by the FBI about a failed clean energy bill he presented two years ago. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

. . . but comes to the wrong conclusions anyway:

The Daily 202: Police officers keep getting shot by people with criminal records who are not allowed to own guns

By James Hohmann | August 15, 2019 | 11:23 AM

With Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: The man who allegedly shot six police officers in Philadelphia before surrendering just after midnight, following a 7½-hour standoff that ended when tear gas was fired into his home, has a very long rap sheet that makes it a felony for him to possess a firearm. That clearly didn’t stop him.

It is part of a pattern that underscores how difficult it is to curb the epidemic of gun violence, even when there is political will. Despite the laws that are already on the books, criminals find ways to acquire weapons without background checks — whether at lax stores, through the gun show loophole, via the Internet or on the black market. This is possible, in part, because it’s breathtakingly easy for most Americans to legally acquire guns. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge that policymakers must grapple with as they debate new forms of gun control.

There follows a long list of incidents in which police officers were shot and killed by convicted felons legally barred from owning firearms.

The suspect in last night’s firefight in Philly, 36-year-old Maurice Hill, has a remarkable history of firearm-specific convictions. “Hill’s history in the adult criminal justice system began in 2001 when he was 18 and was arrested with a gun that had an altered serial number,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Public records show that he has been arrested about a dozen times since turning 18 and convicted six times on charges that involved illegal possession of guns, drug dealing, and aggravated assault. Along the way, he beat criminal charges on everything from kidnapping to attempted murder. He has been in and out of prison; the longest sentence handed to him came in 2010, when a federal judge gave him a 55-month term. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to federal firearms violations after he was caught with a Smith & Wesson .357 and later a Taurus PT .45 semiautomatic. His prior felony convictions should have barred him from owning those weapons.”

What the article doesn’t say is that Maurice Hill should still have been in prison, as we noted previously:

More recently, Hill was convicted of perjury in 2013 and sentenced to seven years of probation. He appeared before Common Pleas Court Judge Rayford Means for three different alleged violations of probation — at least two of them related to new cases, which he later beat.

Why was a man with a rap sheet as long as Mr Hill’s sentenced to seven years probation? And when he was charged with probation violations, why didn’t Judge Means revoke his probation and send him to prison? Had Judge Means done that, Mr Hill would still have been in prison two days ago, when he opened fire on police officers.

Robert Stacy McCain reported on the problem:

Two years ago, left-wing billionaire George Soros wrote a $1.45 million check to Larry Krasner’s campaign for district attorney of Philadelphia. This is a gigantic sum to spend on a local election, and enabled Krasner to defeat six rivals in the 2017 Democrat primary, then coast to a landslide victory in the general election. Krasner ran as the anti-police candidate, and has made it his official policy to turn dangerous criminals loose on the streets of Philadelphia. One of the beneficiaries of Krasner’s policies, Maurice Hill, had an extensive criminal record — drug charges, aggravated assault, perjury, fleeing and eluding, escape and weapons offenses — before he engaged in a shootout Wednesday in North Philadelphia that wounded six cops. This incident resulted in a statement from Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney William McSwain:

What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement — a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive.

Where does such disrespect come from?

There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner — and I am fed up with it.

It started with chants at the DA’s victory party — chants of “F*** the police” and “No good cops in a racist system.”

We’ve now endured over a year and a half of the worst kinds of slander against law enforcement — the DA routinely calls police and prosecutors corrupt and racist, even “war criminals” that he compares to Nazis.

This vile rhetoric puts our police in danger. It disgraces the Office of the District Attorney. And it harms the good people in the City of Philadelphia and rewards the wicked.

The alleged shooter last night, Maurice Hill, is a previously convicted felon with a long rap sheet. We have plenty of criminal laws in this City — but what we don’t have is robust enforcement by the District Attorney. Instead, among other things, we have diversionary programs for gun offenses, the routine downgrading of charges for violent crime, and entire sections of the criminal code that are ignored.

The criminal laws in this City — and especially the existing gun laws and drug laws — should be aggressively enforced in order to protect the public and the police. My Office is doing all that we can. We have prosecuted 70% more violent crime cases this year than we did last year, in response to the District Attorney’s lawlessness. But it is now time for the District Attorney and his enablers to stop making excuses for criminals. It is time for accountability. It is time to support law enforcement and to put the good people of this City first.

To be fair, Mr Hill wasn’t the beneficiary of Mr Krasner’s policies; he had been convicted of perjury in 2013, before Mr Krasner was elected, and Judge Means, who has been on the bench since 1992, well before Mr Krasner was elected, was the one who decided not to revoke Mr Hill’s probation.¹

The “gun control” that should have applied to Mr Hill would have been the gun control that he was still locked up. And when James Hohmann, the Post’s article author, wrote “it’s a challenge that policymakers must grapple with as they debate new forms of gun control,” the answer is, and has always been simple: when you have criminals in custody, you keep them locked up for as long as the law allows.

When Philadelphia Police Officer Patrick McDonald was shot to death by Daniel Giddings, Mr Giddings had been out on parole, released early from an already too-lenient sentence, despite having orchestrated an assault on a prison guard and having 25 in-prison misconducts. Had the state parole board done its job properly, Mr Giddings would still have been in prison on the day he killed Officer McDonald.

When Lewis Jordan gunned down Officer Charles Cassidy during an armed robbery, he was free because then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham’s office had allowed him to skate on drug possession charges, even knowing that Mr Jordan lived with his mother, a city corrections officer who carried a firearm. The District Attorney, in her zeal to be good and compassionate, left a known thug to live freely in a home with a firearm,² and the consequence was a dead police officer.

The Morning Call reported:

(Then-Mayor Michael) Nutter beseeched officials within the criminal justice system – including the police department, the courts and the prisons – to stop finger-pointing, saying that tragedies are best prevented by working together. “I’m calling for a sense of unity,” he said.

The police union has been vocal in blaming judges and parole board members for releasing criminals too soon. At least three of the officers’ deaths this year involved paroled or repeat criminals whom the union said shouldn’t have been out on the street.

It seems that politicians everywhere are calling to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding people, justifying it as a way to fight crime, to prevent people who are not law-abiding from getting firearms. As Mr Hohmann’s article cataloged, people who are already criminals, who have already broken the law, don’t care about breaking the law again to obtain weapons if they want them; the only gun control that works on them is keeping them locked up for as long as the law allows.

Nothing else works.
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¹ – Judge Means previously served as an Assistant District Attorney from 1980 to 1988, and then as Chief Assistant District Attorney from 1988 to 1992.
² – Had Mr Jordan completed a drug rehabilitation course and kept his nose clean, his record would have been expunged.
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