Killing You’s the Right Thing to Do

Killing You’s the Right Thing to Do

Scott Lehr, no prior record, convicted murderer and rapist from Phoenix Arizona.
Scott Lehr, no prior record, convicted multiple murderer and rapist from Phoenix Arizona.

 

Why the death penalty is required in America

By Amanda Chen (The People’s Republic of China)

I read this article which I saw posted on a facebook page by an adamant supporter of the Death Penalty in America. The article was really a compilation of criminals who had murdered, been incarcerated and eventually released, only to murder again.

EnforceDPI was taken aback by this seemingly strong argument and I thought I should re-visit my position on the matter. So I researched and investigated the facts of the cases and I wanted to share what I found and how it changed my perception of the use of the death penalty and executions in the United States.

The numbered examples, given as reasons why executions are needed form the basis of the article / compilation.

 1. “John McRae — Michigan/Florida. Life for murder of 8-year-old boy. Pedophile. Paroled 1971. Convicted of 1965 another murder of a boy after parole, in Michigan 1998.”

John McRae was convicted at age 16 in Michigan for the murder of an 8 year-old boy. He was sentenced to life in prison. He served 20 years for the murder. His life sentence was commuted in 1971 by then Governor William Milliken at the recommendation of the state parole board.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.obituaries/qg3ztdxwP6o

That’s completely appropriate. You do not sentence a sixteen year-old to death for murder. That’s true even today. The murder was committed in 1951, when the very high recidivism of child molesters was much less understood. It is also very well known that victims of molestation, physical abuse, and childhood sexual abuse are far more likely to become the perpetrators of sexual abuse than the general population,

china_death_penaltyMcRae was convicted in 1998 of killing another young boy. The State of Florida violated McRae’s rights as McRae was denied a lawyer when he confessed to the crime. The Florida State Supreme Court overturned the conviction. The State of Florida appealed this to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the State Supreme Court ruling. The State of Florida then re-tried McRae, this time not using his confession.

This perennial problem of confessions being illegally obtained under conditions of duress, force, and intimidation, can be addressed by performing thorough investigations and making sure that the facts of the case and the evidence match up tightly with the confession. Some States even require a trial even if the defendant has pleaded guilty and given a confession for just this reason.

In this case, nothing was done wrong on the part of the state of Michigan in light of what was then known about child molestation / pedophilia. The only one at fault here is the state of Florida, for obtaining a confession illegally and violating the Constitutional rights of the accused.

2. “John Miller — California. Killed an infant 1957, convicted of murder, 1958. Paroled 1975. Killed his parents 1975”

Miller was a juvenile delinquent who went to the home of a family friend with burglary on his mind. He went to get money and guns from the home which he hoped was unoccupied. He found the family friend’s 22 month-old daughter completely unsupervised outside the home.

Who leaves a 22 month-old baby home alone? Miller smothered the baby and hid the body under several blankets in her crib. He was 15 years-old at the time and he served 18 years in prison.

Nothing different would happen in a case with similar facts today, and the death penalty would never be imposed on this first offense then or now.

What did the parents of the child have to say about the death penalty?

“The father of the murdered girl said: “We don’t want revenge. We just want to see him put behind bars for the rest of his life. He’s a sick soul.””

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2007/11/toddler-slain.html#sthash.d2A9OAZi.dpuf

This child killer, who was a child himself, in all probability suffered abuse and possibly sexual abuse by a neglectful, ignorant parent.  Intense therapy in concert with a prison sentence, education and a new direction in life would have served this child better than 18 years of simple incarceration.

John was tried as an adult and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Deputy Dist. Atty. Ted Sten called him “vicious, treacherous and coldblooded. Here is a person devoid of feeling, an ill-tempered wild animal who wanted to kill someone to see how it felt.”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Allen Field said John told his probation officer that he couldn’t cope with the outside world after being released from prison. He said his parents had mistreated him and he blamed his father for being sent to prison in Laura’s death.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2007/11/toddler-slain.html#sthash.d2A9OAZi.dpuf

Miller, irrationally or perhaps even rationally, blamed his father for his arrest and conviction for the death of the child. Two months after release on parole, Miller killed both his parents.

Miller would not have been sentenced to death under these facts back then or even today, and given the circumstances of his life, the death penalty is still not appropriate, in light of the failures of his parents and of society to at least attempt to address his tortured psychology.

3. “Charles Crawford — Missouri. Life term in for murder. Paroled 1990. Convicted of murder again in 1994.”

Charles Lee Crawford, charged as a second offender, was found guilty by a Laclede County Circuit Court jury of murder in the first degree. The court fixed the punishment at life imprisonment. On appeal to this court, the conviction was affirmed. State v. Crawford, Mo.

http://www.leagle.com/decision/19691068436SW2d632_11051

In this case, Charles Lee Crawford was found guilty of the 1st degree murder of Edward L. Pridemore on February 2, 1965, in Laclede County, Missouri (MO). There was no prior murder.

Crawford was sentenced to life in prison. His case was appealed to the MO State Supreme Court where it was upheld. Crawford is still in prison today, and is a threat to no one.

Charles Ray Crawford is on Mississippi's death row and scheduled for execution.
Charles Ray Crawford is on Mississippi’s death row and scheduled for execution.
Kristi Ray College student abducted, raped and murdered by Charles Ray Crawford.
Kristi Ray College student abducted, raped and murdered by Charles Ray Crawford.

Charles Ray Crawford of Mississippi (MS) 43, was sentenced to death in 1994 for the murder and rape of Northeast Mississippi Community College student Kristi Ray in rural TippahCounty.

In 1993, Charles Ray Crawford was out on bond awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault and rape in 1993.  He had not committed a prior murder

Four days before his first trial, the 20-year-old Ray was abducted from her parents’ home in Chalybeate and Crawford was charged with her rape and murder.

These are two different people in two different states and their crimes are 30 years apart. The first case is a prime counter-argument to the original article which stated that “LWOP is not the answer when it comes to pure evil.”

This man committed murder, served 25 years and has not proven to be a further danger or harm to society.

1461252_557046384370990_1310799225_n bbIf any of the defendants discussed in the article were sentenced to LWOP for a first murder offense, they would never get out of prison to be able to commit a subsequent murder. So, even the title of the article is flawed. LWOP is the answer to pure evil, under the proper facts and circumstances.

Mississippi may soon be finished grappling with the higher courts and the Supreme Court, getting the go-ahead to executed Charles Ray Crawford. Will this bring finality, healing and closure to the family of Kristi Ray?  Not a chance, and they will be forever changed and forever mourning the murder of their family member.

4. Jack Ferrell — Florida. Committed Murder 1981. 15 years to life, 1982. Paroled 1987. Murdered again 1992.

Jack Dempsey
Jack Dempsey

The aptly named Jack Dempsey Ferrell (Jack Dempsey was a famous early 1900’s heavyweight prize-fighter) had his own unique way of knocking out his girlfriends and (permanently) resolving conflicts of the domestic nature.

“Jack Ferrell and Mary Williams lived together, and their relationship was marked by verbal and physical confrontations, including Ferrell threatening to kill Williams.”

“On April 18, 1992, neighbors overheard the couple arguing and observed Ferrell enter and exit the apartment several times.  When he left the apartment the final time, he told one of the neighbors that he had killed Williams and the cops should be called.  Ferrell then drove away in his car.”

Jack Dempsey Ferrell
Jack Dempsey Ferrell

“Williams was found on the apartment floor with two gunshot wounds to the head, and she died ten days later due to hemorrhaging in the brain.   At the time of Ferrell’s arrest, his breath smelled of alcohol, and he admitted to drinking heavily that day.”

“Ferrell was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment for Second-Degree Murder in 1982.  He was released in 1987.”

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/fl-supreme-court/1186038.html

Under the facts of this case, who in their right mind would release this convict back into society after just 5 years in prison? Clearly this man needed alcohol counseling and rehabilitation followed by intensive therapy for anger management and conflict resolution.

These could have been undertaken in concert with incarceration before finally undergoing intensive therapy to address the underlying causes for his alcohol abuse. These causes usually include poor parenting, an absentee parent, or no parent, psychiatric issues, and possible abuse and neglect as a child.

Instead, the State of Florida warehoused him for just 5 years in a “gladiator academy” where he must have learned more about hatred and the devaluation of human life, and then unleashed a new and improved alcoholic criminal to further prey on society.

Ferrell was released in 1987 under terms of parole. The parole term was most likely 5 years. At the end of that five year parole term, the untreated Jack Dempsey Ferrell’s future was entirely predictable

Under the influence of alcohol, Ferrell shot his girlfriend to death for “being a bitch”.

“Upon the defendant’s arrest, he stated that he had shot the victim and was glad he did and hoped she died.”

death-penalty-drugsHere, the State of Florida seems clearly at fault. The original idea propagated by so many psychologists and psychiatrists working in the prisons system in the 60’s and 70’s was that many criminals were victims of poor childhoods and limited opportunities prior to their crimes. Society had an opportunity to rehabilitate these criminals and help right the wrongs originally done to them.

This idea gave way in the 80’s and 90’s to the idea that criminals were “evil” and needed to be locked away from society. Locking prisoners away was costly and prisons were overcrowded, so they let them go far too soon.

Then along with private sector involvement in the prisons, the prison industry emerged, and prisons became a growth industry in America, employing many people, creating and augmenting many businesses, and becoming very profitable and politically influential.

Then came a paradigm shift where it was suddenly economically feasible and even politically preferable to lock people up for a much longer time. Problems with recidivism only fed that momentum. Truth in sentencing, toughness on crime, and mandatory minimums became the new norm.

So, while a death sentence for a severe alcoholic who shot his wife to death may have prevented the taking of another life, a longer sentence would have also saved one life. A combination of rehabilitation, counseling and therapy could have saved two lives, and early intervention could have saved all three.

http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/flsupct/81668/op-81668.pdf

5. Timothy Buss — Murdered five-year-old girl. Sentenced to 25 years in 1981. Paroled 1993. Murdered 10-year-old boy.

The victims of Timothy Buss
The victims of Timothy Buss

“Mika Moulton, the mother of 10-year-old murder victim Christopher Meyer, stood at the courtroom railing Friday and stared at Timothy Buss.

Tara_Sue_PicChristopher_Pic

“Burn in hell, Buss, burn in hell,” Moulton said quietly from the front row as Buss was led from the courtroom.”

Buss also had been convicted for the 1981 murder of 5-year-old Tara Sue Huffman and had served half of a 25-year sentence when he was paroled in 1993.

The defense had argued that Buss suffered from parental neglect and abuse as a youngster. His mother, Rose, left when he was 5 years old, and his father, David, who had custody of the four children, admitted he was a “terrible” father.

Mr. Jaquays, the defense attorney, said Buss never had a chance for a normal life. And he said a language-based learning disability and an attention deficit disorder were two reasons why Buss’ punishment should be less than death.

“Timothy Buss suffered from a defective mind,” Jaquays told the jury. “It was like building a house of cards. It was a matter of time before it collapsed. His problems were left undiagnosed and untreated.”

Jaquays asked several times for mercy for his client during his closing argument, and asked the jurors not to have revenge in their minds.

“It is always difficult to ask for mercy,” Jaquays said. “The voice of revenge and outrage is always louder. But it’s wrong. I ask that you not hesitate to base your decision on mercy.”

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1996-07-06/news/9607060051_1_penalty-timothy-buss-christopher-meyer

death-penalty-pros-and-cons4This is the case of a pedophile who killed a child, served time, was released and killed again. He served just twelve years for killing a child?  Now, the tenacious recidivism of child predators is better understood, and longer sentences are now given and more protections are sought against child molesters. It is also better understood what the most abundant cause is: prior physical and / or sexual abuse of the offender.

There are plenty of such cases, and professionals in the field continue to seek better solutions for controlling and treating criminals while protecting society from their horrible and monstrous acts.

Does the author or compiler of the article advocate putting a man to death for a senseless and terrible act he committed at the age of 13?

Evil is learned and vengeance is learned. Selfishness is learned and intolerance is learned.

Benevolence, mercy, and generosity are also learned and they’re enshrined in the bible. Ministering to and saving wayward, damaged and lost souls was Christ’s life’s work. His worldly ambition was not throwing damaged people to the wolves and praying they will burn in hell. That some people cannot or will not be saved is no reason not to try and take on the task.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-08-13/news/9508130235_1_timothy-buss-christopher-meyer-boy

6. Dwain Little — Oregon. Raped/Stabbed 16-year-old girl. Life term 1966. Paroled 1974. Returned as Parole Violator 1975. Again Released 1977. Then shot family of 4.

Murdrpedia

The article neglects to mention that Dwain Lee Little was just 17 years-old when he murdered 16 year-old Orla Fay Fipps.  He showed no remorse and his wise-guy attitude only subsided when he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He served just 8 years before being released on parole.

Here again, minors are more readily tried as adults these days, and Little received that treatment back then. Even now, under these facts, a 17 year-old is very unlikely to be sentenced to death.  If a case were tried now under the same facts, the defendant would serve a much longer sentence than 8 years.

Is the person who wrote the article really stating that LWOP is too good for a teenager who commits murder? They probably would not say that, if the defendant were his or her child.

Does this person feel that American society would be better served by executing a person who committed a terrible act as a teen?  Does that appease society for a senseless act of murder?

What does that say about a society that answers murder with murder?

imagesCAUCXK6F ltShould we try to act more like a reckless and remorseless perpetrator of murder, or should we show that we are more forgiving, more merciful, and more noble than a lost and disturbed adolescent or sociopath who takes a life, by trying to salvage a damaged life ?

Why does America have the most perpetrators of violent crime and by far the highest population of criminals? Is it just the freedom, the openness, and the permissiveness of the society, or is it embedded in the culture?

7. Chad Allen Lee — Convicted of capital murder. Sentenced to other than death. Released and went on murder spree. Murdering Linda Reynolds, a pizza delivery person, and 9 days later robbed and murdered David Lacey, a taxi cab driver. Lee then robbed a mini-market 7 days after than. Shooting the owner, Harold Drury, multiple times without reason.

Murderpedia. Juvenile records sealed.

Chad Lee was 20 years-old at the time of his second and third murders. The records from his first murder were sealed and must have been in his early teens. Most teens have problems, experiment, and make mistakes. A few cross the sacred line into chaos and murder.

Do parenting, society, and the culture play any role in what causes a still developing child to cross that line?  The overwhelming evidence shows us that it does. Can a more collaborative approach to parenting and a more nurturing role of society help to mitigate these ills? Intuition says that they can.

untitledThe compiler of the article advises us to euthanize the “bad seed”. This person comes from the same mentality which advocates bringing every human conception to fruition, no matter what the circumstances.

Conception can lead to the birth of a human being, but not a complete human being. There is only the form and a potential, but the baby must develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The compiler of the article is suggesting we execute disturbed young teens as a prophylactic measure.

If something goes wrong in post-birth development, do we abort the human being, lock them away forever or cast them into hell? Maybe we, as a society, should at least make an attempt to bring damaged teens to full term in the hopes of saving some lives.

8. Scott Lehr — Convicted of capital murder. Sentenced to other than death. Later released. After release, between Feb 91 and Feb 92 lured 10 different female victims, between the ages of 10 and 48-years-old, into his car. Raping and beating them unconscious, stripped and adandoned them in the desert. Three of his victims died in those acts.

Maricopa logic: Palm fronds were found near the victim, Scott Lehr trims palm trees, therefore Scott Lehr killed the victim.
Maricopa logic: Palm fronds were found near the victim, Scott Lehr trims palm trees, therefore Scott Lehr killed the victim.

“Lehr, a Phoenix, Aizona resident at the time and father of three daughters, became known as the “Baby Seat” rapist in 1991 and 1992 for his use of a baby seat in his car to lure 10 young girls and women.

Through various ploys, Lehr would lure the women, either hitchhiking or walking alone, into his car and drive them to a remote desert area. There, he sexually assaulted, choked and beat the women with large rocks.

This sentencing re-trial for Lehr began in January.

“Our office will seek justice for the victims of heinous murders as often as necessary, including those cases in which the death penalty has already been imposed once before,” Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said in the statement.

Lehr was also sentenced in 1997 to 17 consecutive life sentences on 32 counts of attempted murder, sexual assault and kidnapping”

Since this is an Arizona case, we should look a little closer.

Andrew Thomas, Maricopa Arizona’s top prosecutor at the time and quoted above, was disbarred in 2010 by an Arizona ethics board.

“Prosecutor Andrew Thomas joined forces with Sheriff Joe Arpaio to wage a war against County officials, judges and others in 2008 and 2009. Sheriff Joe and Thomas conducted “a coup in MaricopaCounty by arresting, prosecuting and suing all of the county elected officials, including sitting Judges they did not like”.

As a result, many of the targets of these attacks sued MaricopaCounty, costing the county millions.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/04/16/20090416abrk-deathsentence0416.html#ixzz2nvZhL8a6

There is also reason to believe that the “Baby Seat Rapist / Killer” is not the rapist / killer at all.

– Many of the victims reported build, face, age and hair color much different than the defendants’. These reports were later amended to instead report that the suspect matched Lehr’s description.

– Several witnesses completely changed their descriptions of the make, model, and color vehicle Lehr was driving after they spoke with prosecutors working on the case.

– Also the observation of a “baby seat” in the back of Lehr’s car, supposedly used to gain a victim’s confidence and lure the victim into the car, was not a part of most eyewitness descriptions, until after talking with prosecutors. One reported she saw a maroon baby seat, while Scott’s baby seat was blue.

-Scott Lehr was sitting at the defendant’s tables at the front of the courtroom right in front of an eyewitness / victim, when she was asked to identify her attacker. The victim pointed at a man standing in the back of the courtroom.

She repeatedly stated that the man in the defendant’s chair (Scott Lehr) was not the man who attacked her.

-The prosecution expert DNA witness admitted that some of the DNA evidence could be from insects. Scott Lehr “could not be excluded”, and neither could millions of others people and animals.

Appeal:      http://www.supreme.state.az.us/opin/pdf2002/cr-97-0317-ap.pdf

Finally, the idea that Scott Lehr was arrested and sentenced and then let go to commit further crimes is mistaken. Lehr was arrested and charged with multiple violent crimes. Convictions for violent acts from one set of charges were used as “prior capital offenses” in another set of charges from concurrent cases.

So perhaps we should take a much closer look at the facts and evidence in State v. Lehr, before deciding to take Scott Lehr out of this world by way of execution. The many exonerated prisoners from death row, and particularly in Arizona, are the best reason to abolish the death penalty, not sustain it.

9. James Erin McKinney — Convicted of capital murder. Sentenced to other than death. Later released. Then murdered Christine Mertens in a home invasion robbery. Later murdered James McClain in another separate home invasion robbery.

As support for imposition of a noncapital sentence, McKinney presented evidence at sentencing as to what even the sentencing judge found to be an “extraordinary” and “traumatic childhood,” which would be “beyond the comprehension and understanding of most people . . . .”

imagesCAJYBIUXMcKinney grew up in extreme poverty, living in filth, lacking adequate clothing, and suffering constant physical and emotional abuse, largely at the hands of his stepmother. McKinney consistently arrived at school poorly dressed, dirty, and covered in welts and bruises from beatings he received at home. Unsurprisingly, McKinney ran away repeatedly, appearing at the homes of relatives and friends bearing signs that he had been beaten.

http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special32/articles/0903mckinney-ON.html?&wired

Also, the compiler of the article is misrepresenting the facts. “Convicted of capital murder. Sentenced to other than death. Later released. Then murdered Christine Mertens in a home invasion robbery. Later murdered James McClain in another separate home invasion robbery.”

This is not true. James McKinney was not convicted, sentenced, and released when he committed later murders.

McKinney was arrested for both murders. Each concurrent murder was used as a prior conviction for the other. This is another Arizona case, and this tricky way of creating a prior convictions aggravator is the way they do things in Arizona. If the compiler was concerned enough to know anything about Arizona capital cases and researched his compilation of “facts” carefully, he would know this well.

10. Robert Lee Massie — Sentenced to the DP, but overturned by Furman, which resulted in him committing further new murders.

robert e leeRobert Lee Massie (Why do all these criminals seem to be named after Robert E. Lee, the famous Civil War Confederate General?) was 24 years old when he committed robbery, attempted murder, and murder, and was sentenced to death in California’s gas chamber.

Furman vs. Georgia changed his destiny, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty had been applied unfairly and arbitrarily to certain people and crimes. There was a moratorium on the death penalty in all states.

“Massie’s first death sentence came after he committed a series of robberies and assaults between January 7 and January 15, 1965, in Los AngelesCounty.

Robert Lee Massie was convicted of one count of first-degree murder in the Jan. 3, 1979 death of Boris G. Naumoff. A San   FranciscoCounty jury sentenced Massie to death on May 25, 1979.

dpMassie shot and killed Naumoff during a liquor store robbery, and wounded Charles Harris, another store employee. This crime occurred while Massie was on parole for a murder he committed in Los Angeles County in 1965. He had been given a death sentence for that crime, but it was overturned in 1972 when the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty was unconstitutional.

Along with Charles Manson and the other Manson killers, Robert Lee Massie’s sentence for his 1965 crime was commuted to life. Massie served less then six years for murder and was paroled in 1972. Massie served only six years for robbery, assault with a deadly weapon with serious injuries and murder?

Fortunately, this no longer happens, and first degree murderers now face minimum mandatory prison sentences and very strict parole requirements. So, execution is not the only way or the most effective way to protect the public and prevent recidivism.

11. Kenneth McDuff – Sentenced to the DP, but overturned by Furman. Subsequently released, and murdered as many as 19 young women after his release. Finally executed in 1998 for the murder of Melissa Ann Northrup  … Who once remarked “Killing a woman is like killing a chicken. They both squawk.”

Kenneth McDuff
Kenneth McDuff

Kenneth Allen McDuff is one of the most hated and reviled names in Texas criminal history. Often called “the Poster Boy of Capital Punishment,” he is the only man in US history to be sentenced to death, released from death row and then sentenced to death again and executed for a different crime.”

“At the trial, FallsCounty sheriff Brady Pamplin, a former Texas Ranger, described McDuff as the most remorseless and sadistic killer he had ever met.

Twenty-seven years later, Pamplin’s son Larry, the current sheriff of FallsCounty, appeared at McDuff’s Houston trial for the 1992 abduction and murder of Melissa Northrup.”

“”Kenneth McDuff is absolutely the most vicious and savage individual I know,” he told reporters. “He has absolutely no conscience, and I think he enjoys killing.”

If McDuff had been executed as scheduled, he said, “no telling how many lives would have been saved.” At least nine, probably more, Texas authorities suspect.”

Murderpedia

A longer prison sentence may have accomplished the exact same goal, bringing McDuff into his fifties, when spree-type violent crimes become statistically rare.

“Dr. Labowitz never examined McDuff but said he based his conclusions on what he had learned about him, particularly his early days in the tiny town of Rosebud in Central Texas.”

“In some people we can find behavior antecedents in childhood. An absent father, a drunken mother, an abusive home. But it appears there was none of these. It seems his incredible lust for evil appeared spontaneously and full blown.”

No matter how thorough the studies of the Ted Bundys and Charles Mansons of the world, Labowitz said, “none of this can prepare us for an encounter with Kenneth McDuff.”

McDuff was certainly an aberration, and there will always be some of these in society. In America, we don’t play to the aberration. Will we execute prisoners who may be innocent of their crimes, execute teens, and execute those who can be salvaged to protect against a one in a millions aberration like McDuff?

Murderpedia

Of course, you will want to include the worst case scenario in your argument. Police methods have grown more capable and parole officers now do a better job as well. A man with this kind of record should never have been let out of prison so early.

This man could be a hopeless crack addict and an incurable sociopath, or perhaps at some point he gave up on society, and vowed to do whatever he wanted lashing out at the world until he was caught or killed.

12. Darryl Kemp — Sentenced to the DP, but overturned by Furman. Subsequently released. Authorities now say he raped and strangled a woman jogging, less than 4 months later.

“July 18, 1959, Darryl Thomas Kemp was the nylon stocking murderer of nurse Marjorie Hipperson, one of the most sensational Los Angeles crimes of the 1950’s.

The man sentenced to death last month in the 1978 killing of Armida Wiltsey bears little resemblance to the 23 year-old who was arrested in 1959 on charges of kidnapping and raping a woman in Griffith Park while posing as a ranger. At 73, according to news reports, Kemp often dozes behind dark glasses and uses a wheelchair although some doctors say he is faking his mental and physical illnesses and is perfectly capable of walking.

TentsignKemp’s story is a triumph of criminal forensics in which investigators working nearly 50 years apart used crime scene evidence to link him to two notorious unsolved killings. And for supporters of capital punishment, his life highlights the tragedy of failing to enforce the death penalty.”

This is another worst case scenario, also made more unlikely by the improved communication and coordination between law enforcement agencies and the use of scientific crime-fighting techniques such as DNA and modern forensics.

More restrictive policies such as mandatory minimums and stricter parole policies have also reduced the possibilities of career violent offenders recklessly attacking victims . Mental health initiatives and early intervention also work to reduce the chances of a psychotic madman terrorizing society.

So, we have evolved in our approach to the dangers of extreme criminal violence, by increasing efforts on the front end, aimed at prevention, efforts at the middle, aimed at better detection and apprehension of criminals, and efforts on the back end, aimed at attempts to salvage broken lives. If none of these efforts work for some individuals, we them have no choice but to isolate them like viruses from the rest of society.

So let’s review:

  1. John McRae: was convicted of murder at age 16. He could not have been executed or kept in jail indefinitely.

2.  John Miller was age 15 at the time of the murder. He could not have been executed or kept in jail indefinitely.

3.  Charles Lee Crawford committed one murder and is still serving a life sentence in Missouri

Charles Ray Crawford committed a single act of murder and was sentenced     to death in Mississippi.

4.  Jack Dempsey Ferrell, an alcoholic, killed his girlfriend, showed no remorse, was released after serving only 5 years, and he killed another girlfriend.

5.  Timothy Buss murdered an infant at age 13. He could not have been executed or kept in jail indefinitely.

6.  Dwain Little was age 17 at the time of the murder. He was released after just 8 years.

7.   Chad Allen Lee was age 15 at the time of the murder.

8.   Scott Lehr was arrested for a series of crimes including assault, kidnapping, sexual assault, attempted murder and murder. He was never released from prison. There are serious discrepancies in his case. Elements from one murder were used as prior capital offenses in the others.

9.  James Erin McKinney was never released from prison. He was arrested for two separate murders. Each murder was used as a prior capital conviction in the other.

10.  Robert Lee Massie committed a robbery/murder, served less than 6 years and was released, and committed another robbery/murder.

11.  Kenneth Allen McDuff was a convicted triple-murderer who was sentenced to death. Due to chronic overcrowding, Texas inexplicably paroled him. This spree killer and crack addict was one of the most savage killers in American history. McDuff is responsible for Texas completely overhauling their prison, parole, and sentencing systems.

12.  Darryl Kemp was arrested for assault and rape, but not murder. These could have been capital offenses in the 1950’s, but now only murder is a capital offense. He was paroled and went on to commit a series of murders.

To use cases going back to the 50’s and 60’s (1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 12), cases which contradict or don’t fit the very premise of the article (3, 8, 9, 12) cases where the State made bad judgments or provided no services (1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11) and cases of severely disturbed teenagers (1, 2, 6, 7), as examples in an argument for sustaining something as outmoded and barbaric as the death penalty, is more than a little intellectually dishonest, to say the least.

UncleSamSo, while originally viewing the article gave me pause and made me re-evaluate my position, a closer look at these cases makes me even more adamant that this way of looking at and dealing with the worst of society by the best of society needs to be relegated to the museums and the history books.

The death penalty IS required in America.

Condemning this practice and realizing we have outgrown this backwards policy will continue to drive a Cultural Evolution for a more caring, engaged and enlightened society. Beginning with the federal government, spreading to the last State hanger’s on, and then throughout the world, the death penalty is required…

…to be allowed to die a quick and painless death.

r-CALIFORNIA-DEATH-PENALTY-large570

http://www.wesleylowe.com/repoff.html

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Jane Velez Mitchell: “Our Toxic, Toxic Culture (Dec 17)

CNN’s Jane Velez Mitchell:

“We need to change our “toxic, toxic Culture”

Opinion by Amanda Chen and Rob Roman

toxic

CNN’s Jane Velez Mitchell, a self-described recovering addict, had something to say tonight about our American Culture. Velez-Mitchell stated that “There is something wrong in our culture”. There is a sickness, a toxic, toxic situation in our country”. Jane likened it to an addiction.jane velez mitchell

She says we must acknowledge that there is a problem with our culture before we can deal with it. Jane, as an anchor on CNN’s Headline News, has a front row seat to the pressing crises in America. She sees it, reports on it, and works with it every day, and her conclusion is that we have a serious cultural problem.

prisonSpecifically, Jane referenced our prison system which houses 25% of the world’s prison population, while the United States represents just 5% of the world’s population. Instead of treating addicts, we lock them away in our prisons. Instead of rehabilitating non-violent and first time offenders, we choose as a society to lock them up for decades, throwing their lives away.

People who work in the field of addiction know very well that a drug or alcohol problem is an effect, not a cause. imagesCA3ODVJVThe addict must acknowledge, confront, and begin to address the addiction before they can get real help for the underlying cause. This underlying cause can be childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, or a host of other traumas. In the same way, our violent culture (deficits in civil conflict resolution, impulsive anger, gun violence, a callous view towards and a low value placed on life, numerous addictions, disregard for others, competition to destruction, and a distorted view of reality) are really effects with an underlying, contagious cause.

131213185313-13-arapahoe-denver-post-restricted-horizontal-galleryWe don’t put resources into the front end, carefully nurturing our children and bringing up people with a positive, hopeful, and productive attitude, who help each other and cooperate with one another. Instead, the idea of the supremacy of the individual is embedded in our children in many ways from an early age, and we produce adults who see few opportunities and become hardened to life, giving the lives of others little value.

Instead, we put more resources into the back end, locking away the products of our diseased culture, and cleaning up the messes they make. In this one way, the serial killer Charles Manson was right. The behavior of people is a product of our culture just as much as our culture is the product of our behaviors.

healthcare yesOur Congress, our politics, our media, our schools, and our justice system all share responsibility for how our toxic culture is developed and perpetuated.

Our Lawmakers set a terrible example of gridlock, vitriol, and shutdown in the one place where civility, cooperation, and the general welfare should be paramount. Our politics are caustic, divisive, and dominated by personal attacks.

Our media tells us what to think about and how to think about it instead of just delivering the objective information. healthcare no

Our schools teach to the test and practice “zero tolerance” instead of concentrating on developing informed, curious, and concerned citizens.

Our justice system uses the same “zero tolerance” with mandatory minimums and barbaric sentencing laws to lock people away for decades for very minor offenses.

healthcareWith more people like Jane Velez Mitchell speaking out in our media, perhaps we can finally acknowledge that we, the people of the United States of America have a serious cultural problem. We can realize that what we are witnessing on the news is, in reality, the effects of a larger, deeply ingrained cause. It’s a disease of poorly evolved values and priorities.

cycle of changeA Cultural Evolution is the cure, and it must be reflected from all of the above sources. It must also come from the private sector as well as from individual parents, children and citizens, all over this great nation.

We see it in a President, who strives to bring affordable healthcare to everyone in our society.

We see it such figures as Nelson Mandela, who brought two warring sides of a country together, to the consternation of many and for the betterment of all. We see it in the countries of the world, who are organizing together to address world problems.

imagesCAFTGVF3

We see it in a new kind of religious leader, who endeavors to heal a broken church and set a proper example for its members. We see it in our grass roots activists, who organize to address grievances and restore personal liberties and personal responsibility.

We need to see more of these structural changes and new initiatives. Evolution of our shared culture revolves around choices, it comes from each of us and it affects all of us.

nelson mandela

The cure can be as infectious as the disease.

biohazardLike Jane said, we need to look at the shameful effects, acknowledge the cause, and begin to heal the wounds and work on the cure.

Instead of sitting in a big chair and idlelly grousing about much more accomplished people and such abstract concepts as “Communism” and “Socialism”, let’s apply our thinking within the framework of a dynamic, sustainable and just Capitalism which can challenge and elevate us all.

imagesCAADVFEX

What’s your opinion?

All comments are welcome.

The God Factor

The God Factor

Sistine-Chapel

By Rob Roman

America is a melting pot of religious persuasions. People who are agnostic (the question of God is not relevant to living a moral life) and people who are atheists (do not believe in God) have been around throughout the existence of the United States.

Let’s look at the official definition of God. From the Merriam Webster dictionary:

1 capitalized:  the supreme or ultimate reality: as 

a   :  the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe

 

b   Christian Science   :  the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit :  infinite Mind 

2:  a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically:  one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality

3:  a person or thing of supreme value

4:  a powerful ruler

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god

god 6More and more, agnostics and atheists are asserting their rights and feel excluded by the government as God appears in our pledge of allegiance, on our money, and in many other places. They invoke the “separation of church and state” and our notion of equal rights to try to persuade the government to remove all references to God.

People who are against this cite the fact that our nation was founded mainly by deeply religious people who fled Europe due to religious persecution. They cite our strong history of a Judeo– Christian ethic and structure of laws. They will say that America is by and large a Christian Nation, and has always been so.

god 2We hear the perennial argument that it’s not inclusive of everyone to say “Merry Christmas” or to suggest that Christmas is only a Christian celebration. People point out that there are many other holidays around this time of year, including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Being inclusive does not mean that others should give up their rights or that we should neglect our history. How does having the word “God” stricken from everything serve the public interest? Isn’t it just as divisive to exclude the word “God” as it is to embrace it?

god 1Then what is “God”? How many people use the same definition? Many Christians see God as an all powerful creator in the same image as man. But divinity students may not agree, and they talk about a trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Muslims speak of “Allah”. This is their word for God, but is it the same as the God the Christians believe in? Buddhist are thought not to believe in a separate, personal God, but in the “Buddha Dharma”, which permeates everything, including all space and time. All three of these interpretations of God are creative and sustaining forces.

god 4Atheists say they don’t believe in God. Then what do they believe in?  What is most important to them? What is their driving force? What do they base their lives on and put their trust in? Many would say they put their trust in Humanity.

Being atheist or agnostic has moral implications. That doesn’t mean that they are amoral or immoral. True agnostics and atheists must have some sort of moral code.

Then we have the science vs. God argument. The truth is they are not mutually exclusive and can’t be. Some people believe that science is imperfect and attempts to deny the existence of God. Many people believe in both God and science and some trust neither.

Some people say they do not believe in God, but they say they do believe in a “higher power”, even if this comes from within themselves.

evil 2What would be a more universal interpretation of God? Maybe it’s a higher power, a higher consciousness, or a higher responsibility. Maybe everyone, including agnostics and atheists, can agree to at least one of these three interpretations.

humanity 2

There are three things we all want to do, if we are caring sentient beings. We all want to move in a direction. We want to move away form the darkness of ignorance and towards the light of understanding. We want to moves away from hatred and depression, and towards love and joy. We want to move away from selfishness and towards generosity.

god 5Within the idea of a higher power, a higher consciousness, or a higher responsibility, I think we all can agree that we all adhere to at least one of these as a driving force. Within the three directions, I think we can all agree that we embrace at least one of these.

So, instead of believing we need to remove the word God from everything, maybe everyone can define it for themselves within the parameters of these three interpretations and these three directions? This would be more inclusive than shutting out so many of our citizens and so much of our Nation’s history.

Now, this way, even Agnostics and Atheists (and Buddhists) can comfortably say “In God we trust” and “God bless America”.

What is your Opinion? We would like to know! All comments are welcome.

The Sandy Hook Atrocity, JFK, and 154 Magic Bullets (part 3)

Fact based reporting

by Kenneth Jameson Jr.,

research by Amanda Chen,  edited by Rob  Roman

A 4-part series by a Sandy Hook Elementary alumnus on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. An overview of Newtown from the inside, a description of what is now known about what happened on December 14, 2012 (Including a possible motive), an analysis of  the different sides of the issues, and what the prognosis is for slowing the rate of mass killings and gun violence in America are all discussed.

Part 3: The Aftermath

St. Rose Church Vigil (click to enlarge)
St. Rose Church Vigil (click to enlarge)

$(KGrHqRHJBMFIPnT5rLkBSMLKtn5(Q~~60_35First of all, when discussing firearms, don’t mistake the word “clip” for the word “magazine”. A magazine can be external or integral to the firearm. The difference between a clip and a magazine is the presence of a “feeding device”. Of course, some law abiding gun owners and gun enthusiasts believe that if you don’t know about firearms, you are not qualified to opine on how to reduce gun violence or save the lives of future gun victims. They have a point, except for one small problem. Too many law abiding gun owners and gun enthusiasts, clever as they are about such things as caliber and rate of fire, offer zero solutions.

Of course, the landlord in Vermont who shot the unarmed young couple to death over a parking space and the man in Georgia who shot an unarmed young man dead because he mistakenly pulled into his driveway, were both “law abiding gun owners”. They were law abiding at least until they lost control and murdered people so easily with guns.

The young man pulled into the driveway by mistake because of a G.P.S. error. The homeowner who shot him dead probably did so because of all the far right hype he was hearing on TV and over the internet about the government coming to confiscate his guns.

download (3)“A father of a Sandy Hook Elementary School student testified on January 28, 2013 in a Working Group Public Hearing at the Connecticut State Capitol on gun violence prevention. While Bill Stevens’ fifth grade daughter was not harmed in the incident, she was one of the children that were in “lock down” during the shooting and following it. However, Mr. Stevens said that his daughter’s friend’s little sister was one of the children that was murdered “when 911 and ‘lock down’ were not enough to protect her from an evil person, not protect her from an ‘assault rifle’ or some type of an inanimate object, but from an evil person.”

“He then stated that he was not there to quote statistics, the number of lives saved with a gun or even the economic impact. He also said he wasn’t there to discuss “asinine legislation” gun control laws that were being talked about.”

Bill Stevens, whose daughter Victoria was in 5th grade lock down in another school during the Sandy Hook shooting, and knows someone who knows one of the victims, said that the laws on the books are good enough if enforced, and personal responsibility and enforcement are the key.

He went on to say that his constitutional right to own firearms and to protect his daughter comes from God and not from the government.  He said at home if there is a break-in, he will call 911 AFTER security has been restored in his home. Bill Stevens said you will have to pry his gun and the ability to protect his child “from his cold dead hands”. Fair enough.

I guess Bill Stevens wins the Newtown Golden Cock award for January, 2012.  Adam Lanza was under no obligation to seek treatment and the firearms in the Lanza Household were legally purchased and some (the most dangerous) were properly stored in a gun vault. Actually, no laws were broken that day besides driving without a license and trespassing. Oh yeah, and mass murder. That’s against the law, too.

usa-connecticut-school-shootingAnd, Billy, no one ever threatened to take your gun away, so relax.

We should be tired of hearing this tired lie over and over.

Victoria Stevens may be a cool kid, but Bill Stevens, who seemed to be some corporate big shot, cold and lifeless as an inanimate object, like the Newtown cock at the top of the meetinghouse in February, did not lose a child and is no different than any other citizen of the USA. Some how, a simple fact such as gun ownership has fired him up and makes him feel like a man. His idea is to do nothing. He wants every law on the books enforced, but he would not vote to pay for this enforcement, because that’s part of his “core values” – translation: Let’s do nothing.

My sister’s daughter was also on lock down that day, and she doesn’t even live in Newtown. That’s because they have a very good system in Fairfield County so that when there’s a shooting alert, all the schools in the surrounding area are locked down, too.

My sister would have just as much right to speak at the Connecticut hearing as Bill. Does she own any firearms? Maybe, but I don’t know. It’s not the prime subject of conversation. It’s not her life, it’s just a firearm. That’s the difference. My sister would say to do anything you can to reduce the chance that another mass shooting will happen. Maybe that’s what God would want, too, not just letting Bill Stevens have a gun.

598429_10151333210605479_466605897_nA real Sandy Hook parent is the father of James Mattioli, 6, who actually was gunned down at Sandy Hook. He is also against any gun legislation.  What he said, was that we need more civility and better parenting in this country and that the gun laws in Chicago did not save the 500 or so killed there in 2012. He said we need mental health legislation.

Mark Mattioli was smart in saying that we need some mental health legislation to help prevent mass shootings. The problem with that is that Adam Lanza didn’t drive over to the Sandy Hook School and expose himself or throw crayons at 1st graders, he took 3 firearms, over 20 magazines, 301 rounds of .223 hollow point rounds, and another 100 or so rounds of 10 mm and 9 mm ammunition. All that was required was that he point and shoot, and not care a fig about other human beings.

earth globe made with flags of the worldMark Mattioli was wise to point out that it is partly a cultural problem.  He’s correct that all the laws in Chicago did not save the lives lost to gun violence. But we were talking about mass shootings, not general gun violence.

Who knew that cities and states with the highest population have the most murders? Go figure. Maybe that’s why gun legislation needs to come from the federal government, so there is a uniform policy across all states and cities. Now, that wouldn’t be fair to suburban and rural communities because cities are different. Translation – Let’s do nothing.

While liberals were moving to re-impose a previous ban on “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines”, plus universal background checks for all firearms purchases, conservatives were recommending that all schools be protected by the police and that teachers and school staff be allowed to carry concealed weapons. “Gun-free zones” are an open invitation to shooters and should be eliminated, they say.

The “assault weapons” ban met with disapproval because people want to possess and enjoy semi-automatic rifles. They claimed that the difference between some of these rifles and others are merely cosmetic, such as folding stocks, grips, and muzzle fire suppressors.

The ban on “high capacity” magazines was scoffed at because, there are already so many of these in circulation. In addition it was claimed that a person could easily fabricate homemade magazines.

The Universal background check was viewed with alarm by conservatives because this would necessitate  the government to create a database of gun owners and their purchases, and this could be used to forcibly remove arms from homes in a future government takeover in violation of the 2nd amendment.

Most of these are very good points and people who want to see more restrictions should listen to responsible gun owners on these points. But not all gun owners are responsible or reasonable when it comes to guns or the 2nd amendment.

c1218cjThe often repeated idea that some people in some states need high powered semi-automatic military style rifles with high capacity magazines to protect and defend their homes from multiple invaders is just laughable. I haven’t heard of any “Scarface” type home invasions happening anywhere in America.

Warning: Language and Violent Content

The idea that there will be a government tyranny conspiracy where the government military goes door to door and confiscates weapons is just absurd. Who thought that one up, Adam Lanza?

la-sp-sn-20130214-001People who are against any further gun restrictions also point out that current laws on the books are not enforced. Of course, this is due to the limits of budgets of governments and the priority choices they are forced to make. The next thing they will say is that this is a mental health problem and not a gun problem. This sounds good and most people agree that mass shootings have a strong relationship with undetected troubles and untreated mental illness.

Some of these same people offer no solutions, however. The other thing pointed out is that again, areas where many people gather such as school, movie theaters, etc. are labeled as gun free zones. This draws the shooter to these places because there are no armed people who can fight back.

In Arizona, Colorado, and some other states there are currently attempts to pass legislation which makes it legal for anyone qualified to conceal carry on college campuses. The measure failed for now in Arizona but it has passed in Colorado. This “gun free zone” argument doesn’t seem reasonable. Shooters go to places like schools, malls, and theaters because there are large concentrations of people there. If some of them were armed, why do you think shooters would not go? Most of them want to die. They go to where they can make a statement.  Why would people with weapons make a difference? By the time they realize what’s happening, most of the damage has already be done.

Sandy-Hook-2The damage is done in mere seconds or just a few minutes, and it takes time to react. The shooter always has the element of surprise. That’s why at Sandy Hook, even with all that firepower, 11 out of 18 survived in the first  classroom because they heard the first gunshots outside and in the hallway and they had time to react.

If people in schools and malls are carrying weapons, the shooter will just adjust to this new condition to maximize the element of surprise.

images (7)As far as arming teachers and staff, have gun control opponents really thought this out carefully? The recent school shooting in Sparks, Nevada illustrates why this may not be such a great plan. “The 12-year-old boy, whose name has not been released, began by shooting a fellow student in the shoulder. Then he turned his gun on math teacher, Mike Landsberry, killing him before shooting a second student in the abdomen, Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras said.

After that, he shot himself to death with his pistol, which Sparks Deputy Police Chief Tom Miller identified as a Ruger 9mm semiautomatic.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/22/justice/nevada-middle-school-shooting/

What happened was the math teacher was a combat veteran. He immediately and heroically tried to get the attention of the student and have the student concentrate only on the math teacher. This would allow other students to escape and find cover, while also preventing the shooter from entering the school where he could do even more damage. While trying to talk the shooter down, Mr. Landsberry was fatally shot. Now, had he been armed, gun-control opponents claim he could have just shot the student to death and ended the danger, as well as creating a deterrent for future shooters to consider. But what this “solution” doesn’t consider is the chaos and confusion of a shooting incident, as well as the ability of teachers and people who work with children to take a child’s life.

images (12)Up to the point that the math teacher got involved, only one student was injured in the shoulder. Could the math teacher then shoot a 12 year-old to death? How would he live with that? Would he be sued by the child’s parents? The only fatality would be the shooter and people would question why deadly force had to be used. What if a teacher mistakenly shoots an innocent student or a student gets caught in the cross-fire? What happens when students know that teachers and staff are carrying loaded weapons? Could they overpower the teacher and get hold of a weapon? These are some things to think about.

One of the Newtown teachers echoed the sentiments of many when he said if he were ordered to carry a loaded weapon, he would quit immediately.

This 12 year-old kid in Nevada wanted to and was ready to kill and to die. This was a mental health problem and could have had a solution, only he happened to have a weapon in his hand, which he probably got from a “law abiding gun owner”. What do you think would happen if the math teacher was armed and ordered him to drop the weapon? Most likely it would be “suicide by teacher”. Also, teachers with a spouse and children will think twice about walking into a live fire shooting and especially with high-powered weapons and large capacity magazines being used.

Because people were shocked and in fear right after the shooting, gun sales increased. Because people feared coming bans, restrictions and other legislation, gun sales increased even more. Gun manufacturers and the NRA ramped up the propaganda and sales increased even more.People were told that the government was coming for their guns, so they bought a lot of AR-15s .

The reluctance of many states and school districts to allow teachers and staff to conceal carry, led gun sales to increase even further. Political organizations have made it almost a right of passage for people of certain political persuasions to own and use guns, and this has led to even more gun sales. In Arizona and possibly other states, 2013 was Christmas for concealed carriers.

George Zimmerman would get strapped with his firearm just to go down to the local deli.

ct-shooting-bodies-2Adam Lanza’s weapons came from a “law-abiding gun owner”. Kip Kinkle’s guns came from a “law abiding gun owner”. James Holmes was a “law abiding gun owner”, until he took his weapons to the Aurora theater and started blasting away, shooting 72 people and killing 12. Yet the opponents of sensible gun control want you to know that this problem has nothing to do with guns, and that the proper solution is to do nothing.

People who are in favor of sensible gun safety legislation get angry because some people who own guns and call themselves “responsible gun owners” offer no reasonable solutions to gun violence or mass shootings. They show no responsibility for a problem which directly involves them. Also, the rolls of gun owners are increasing dramatically. Of course, a big part of the problem is mental health issues, yet it is the combination of a disturbed person and the ready access to firearms which are inextricably linked.

You can not address one without the other. Both these problems need to be addressed in a coordinated way.

628x471In debating the issues, the first thing conservatives like to do is to join the two separate issues of mass shootings and general gun violence together. Now they will say “how can a ban on 30-round magazines or some semi-automatic rifles save the victims of gun violence, mostly killed by handguns? These proposed bans have nothing to do with general gun violence but are directed at slowing the rate and the lethality of mass shootings.

How did Adam Lanza kill as many people as quickly as he did? He had 30-round magazines. How did James Holmes shoot 72 people in a movie theater? He mail ordered a 100-round capacity drum magazine for his rifle. Why weren’t more people killed in Aurora Colorado? Holmes was a bad shot and the drum magazine jammed. Why weren’t more children killed at Sandy Hook? Adam Lanza took time or fumbled while changing out magazines and 6 children were able to escape.

80b83026baef2727440f6a706700ff75Adam Lanza brought 10 30-round magazines and used seven, He had to reload six times. If he only had 10 round mags, he would have had to reload 14 times. Remember, Lanza also changed out mags before he ran out of ammo and at the most opportune times. He wouldn’t have been able to do that with a 10 round magazine.

The universal background check is aimed at both mass shootings and general gun violence. Some conservatives like to point out that places like Chicago have the most gun laws and also the most gun violence. This is the recurring theme that laws do not stop illegal gun owners and more laws, regulations and restrictions will do nothing. “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns”. This is the same thing as saying that in Iowa, there are more laws, regulations, and restrictions on corn than in Alaska, but there is much more corn in Iowa. In Chicago, there is more gun violence, so more restrictions were put on guns. Guns still find their way into Chicago illegally due to lax laws in other states and districts.

Any argument which advocates doing nothing should be rejected. Any opinion which offers no solutions is not a constructive opinion. The starting point has to be that we want to do something to reduce the incidents and the lethality of mass shootings.

sandy-hook-girls-AP84355411_620x350We want to do something to slow and reduce the rate of gun violence. If this can be done without further laws, regulations, and restrictions on firearms, then that’s wonderful, it should be tried.  But gun owners and enthusiasts should not expect that the 2nd Amendment is unlimited and that the government should not be concerned about public safety. They also should not feel that they have no responsibility to help solve the problem.

A gun is not equal to a car, an axe, or a fork, which are necessities. Yes. All three can be deadly, but cars are heavily regulated and controlled, and they are not designed to kill people. A an axe and a fork can be as deadly as a gun, but you would be hard pressed to kill 26 people in 5 minutes with a fork or an axe.

images (13)Where do we go from here? First, for good or ill, we do have the 2nd Amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. A firearm is as safe as the person operating it. But the idea that that right “shall not be infringed” can never be seen as an unlimited right. These firearms need to be safely kept in responsible hands and many people who want to own them need to be instructed on how to be responsible gun owners. There must be some sort of regulations on gun use and some restrictions on what weapons or “arms” can be kept and how and under what conditions people can “bear” them. Not to accept this is irresponsible and it weakens the 2nd amendment.

The full quote is: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Where is the “well-regulated militia”? Will you rise up and protect me if the country is overthrown by external enemies or by a tyrannical government? I bet you would.

“The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of individual Americans to keep and bear arms, regardless of service in a militia. The right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of firearms and similar devicesState and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right. The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments comprising the Bill of Rights.

images (10)The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common-law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state.””

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Another thing is that at some point, Americans need to realize that the overwhelmingly high rates of violent deaths, gun deaths, and mass shootings compared to the rest of the world shows that it is in part a problem of our culture. Temporary conflicts lead to permanent solutions where someone must “win”. The way to win is to totally defeat or kill your opponent. When drugs and alcohol or mental illness are added into this mix, it becomes even more deadly. A conflict can also be, as the Chinese say, an opportunity to grow and to improve a situation. It depends on what your culture is and what your learned response is to conflict.

Let’s look at our culture

Highest-grossing films of 2013:

1. Iron Man 3
2. Despicable Me 2
3. Fast & Furious 6
4. Monsters University
5. Man of Steel
6. The Croods
7. Gravity
8. Thor: The Dark World
9. World War Z
10. Oz the Great and Powerful

Doesn”t this tell you something? Think about it.

bildeOur society is based on the supremacy of the individual, competition and aggression. This is what is taught from early childhood and is reinforced everywhere in our society. This needs to evolve into a society based on group advancement, cooperation,empathy, and kindness. We need to at least head in that direction. Because, if not, violent criminals and mentally ill people will take this ingrained competitive and aggressive culture to its extreme conclusion, and these tragedies will continue again and again. The frequency and scale of the attacks will only increase.

So a change in culture where children learn to look out for others and to respond to and help troubled people can help our society immensely. A change in culture where people see violence as a weakness instead of as a strength could transform America. A culture where the value of human life is enhanced rather than degraded is also needed. A culture where people cooperate together to solve problems and advance together is better than our culture of zero-sum games where someone must win all and all the others must lose all.

There are more and more articles in the news where teens are attacking and even murdering their parents because their video game or smart phone was taken away.

We should look into the extent by which our culture both induces and increases mental illness.

ef7d724ed4b02827440f6a7067005a22Look around at our society, our politicians refuse to respect each other’s views and will not compromise in the least for the greater good. We take teenagers who have gone wrong and we throw their entire lives away in prison. We prey upon the weakest among us, we compete at everything and we reward aggression. Our society teaches our children to devalue human life in so many ways.  We cherish an absolute right to bear arms with no restrictions over the most basic and fundamental of all rights, the right to life.

Almost everyone agrees that there is a cultural element to the violence

On this, the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary atrocity, Zero has been done to address mental health issues and Zero has been done to address gun safety and sensible gun control.

To the State of Connecticut: Show some, not all and not most, but some of the photos from the Sandy Hook massacre. The people have a right to see what happened and the families will be strong and they will understand. 

Show the world what Adam Lanza did, and what we can expect again soon. You are not protecting the wounded parents and families by hiding the full horror of this vile act. Actually, hiding this is nothing short of criminal.

Gun control opponents should be listened to and respected. Educate yourself on firearms, the NRA, and know and understand this point of view. Thr 2nd Amendment is here to stay.

Gun control proponents should also be listened to and respected. The right to bear arms is not unlimited and it can never be so.

Don’t let gun control opponents tie general gun violence and mass shootings together. These are two separate issues.

If you truly believe that armed security should be in all schools, are you prepared to help pay for it?

memorialDon’t let gun control opponents tell you this is solely a mental health problem. The best way for mental health services to be available to all is for everyone to have access to affordable healthcare. Do they support affordable health insurance for all ?

Gun control opponents are right to say that eliminating certain high powered semi-automatic military-style weapons and high capacity magazines will not end violent behavior or mass killings. But in Australia, England, and Scotland, it has reduced mass killings.

It takes time to make bombs and to devise complicated plans. During that time, a person may have a change of heart. They have more time to deliberate. With guns, you take it with you and you point and shoot. It’s immediate and many times there isn’t as much time for reflection.

ang_4802_6gvau1n1_sji0jzq7Gun control opponents are right to say that there are millions of high powered semi-automatic military-style weapons  in use being operated carefully and legally right now. But, judging from many articles in the news, obviously not carefully enough

Gun control opponents are right to say that it’s not fair to restrict the rights of a large group because of a few hardened criminals and a few mentally disturbed people. Then these people need to be the ones to come up with a more viable answer to gun safety.

Don’t accept anyone’s view who is not offering an actual solution.

The vast majority of the people, including military veterans, police officers, NRA members, and gun enthusiasts believe there should be Universal Background Safety Checks for every gun purchase and transfer. There is no reason not to have this legislation passed. There must be some way to achieve this in a fair way that respects the Constitution.

The Constitution belongs to ALL of us, and is not the distinct property of a minority of people who enjoy owning and using high powered semi-automatic military-style weapons and high capacity magazines.

web_sandy_school-525x429We need to think about making changes to our current culture, where bullying, gun violence, political intransigence, and school and workplace shootings are expected and have become all but routine. The Jewish Rabbi at the Newtown High School meeting had it right, we need to have classes for our children about how to treat people and behave in civilized society. We should also have classes about mental illness and how to recognize it and support those who exhibit symptoms. We should have mandatory gun safety classes and continuing education and training requirements for gun owners.

Mental health issues and gun safety are inextricably entwined.

ae1b6415baeb2727440f6a70670041ea ltIntransigence and bluster are found on all sides of this issue. We should try to see this issue from all perspectives. But intransigence and bluster is what caused the Sandy Hook Massacre in the first place.  We are all one nation.

It’s time to get serious and to pass coordinated mental health AND sensible gun safety legislation to keep the mentally ill away from firearms and firearms away from the mentally ill, even if we have to step on a few snakes to do it.

Please see Part 4: Response

Any and all comments are welcome and appreciated

Please let us know your opinions

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The Sandy Hook Atrocity, JFK, and 154 Magic Bullets (part 1) ( Dec 1)

Fact based reporting by Kenneth Jameson Jr.

Research by Amanda Chen,    Edited by Rob Roman

A 4-part series by a Sandy Hook Elementary alumnus on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. An overview of Newtown from the inside, a description of what is now known about what happened on December 14, 2012 (Including a possible motive), an analysis of  the different sides of the issues, and what the prognosis is for slowing the rate of mass killings and gun violence in America are all discussed.

Part 1: Overview

window rounds newNo man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of
thy friend’s or of thine own were.

Any man’s death diminishes me because I am
involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee. . . .

-from Meditation 17 by John Donne

downloadNewtown Connecticut, the home of the Sandy Hook School Elementary School shooting, is a wonderful and magical town in New England. Many nice people proudly call Newtown their hometown and many good people live there today. Here is a nice article on the brighter side of Newtown.

http://restlessromantic.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/this-is-newtown/

There is also a darker side to Newtown, and 6a00d8341c339953ef00e551f70ccf8833-640withat’s what I want to talk about.

This is not a journalistic exercise. For just a few thousand American citizens, this story is intensely personal. To show why, I will tell you this: In the cafeteria of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on the wall by the exit, was a plaque dedicated to John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. This bronze plaque includes a profile bust of Kennedy and the inscribed words “Ask not what your Country can do for You, ask what You can do for your Country”.

A plaque such as this will almost certainly be prominently displayed in the rebuilt school.

old poppy topCountless Cub Scout “pinewood derbies” were held there in the cafeteria and the adjoining hallway. Right at ground zero of the killing zones and right next to the front doors and classrooms was where Cubs built their own small cars out of blocks of balsa wood to see who can come up with the race-winning design. The cars were powered by good old gravity. There were always advanced programs and excellent teachers there, including 3rd graders learning about biology and computers even in the first years of the 1970’s.

The high school mascot used to be the Indians. The Newtown Indians became the Newtown Night Hawks after a misguided campaign of political correctness. The decades long controversy ended in 1996 under High School Principal, Bill Manfredonia. Nearly 20 years earlier, as a high school wrestling coach and teacher, Bill Manfredonia, was rumored to have paralyzed a student and wrestler for life while demonstrating a wrestling hold. This incident was swept under the rug.

_wsb_278x272_Old_School_Indian“In 1705, English colonists purchased the Town site from the Pohtatuck Indians, a branch of the Pasgussett. It was originally known as Quanneapague. Settled by migrants  from Stratford and incorporated in 1711, Newtown residents had many business and trading ties with the English.”.-from Wikipedia

Rumor had it that the Sandy Hook School was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, and three teens were buried alive in the early 70’s while playing in a sandpit right at the edge of the school. Only months out of Sandy Hook school, one very pleasant and studious girl stopped showing up at school. The children at Newtown Middle School were told she had died “in an accident”. The 5th graders later found out she was shot to death by her own brother with a shotgun.

One student in 1972 was standing outside the school right where Adam Lanza’s car was parked when he claimed to see the bricks and mortar of the old chimney and wall actually expanding and contracting as if the entire building was breathing in and out. That student became deathly afraid, and never returned to Sandy Hook School again. That student was me. Also in the 70’s, the High School was closed for a day when the prom king and queen were found dead of CO1 poisoning in the back seat of a car. This was swept under the rug.

Bruce_Jenner_eating_WheatiesNewtown’s claim to fame is Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Olympic track champion who graced the front of Wheaties cereal boxes all over America. Bruce attended the school for a few years, where some of his track and field records still stand. People familiar with the TV show “the Kardashians” know that Bruce Jenner, then a motivational speaker, married Kris, the divorced wife of Robert Kardashian,, one of the lawyers from the OJ Simpson murder trial.

A highly reliable eye witness reported that in high school, Bruce Jenner’s favorite cereal was actually “Fruit Loops”. Newtown named their stadium, really a crater shaped pit lined with cement bunker type seating, “Bruce Jenner Stadium” in honor of their hometown Olympic hero. At the 25th anniversary of the dedication, Bruce Jenner was off in California and he wasn’t interested in returning to Newtown or contributing money to his stadium. Bruce refused to return phone calls from the Principal. The high school leadership angrily responded and Bruce Jenner’s name was removed forever from the stadium.

sandyhook exterior_0 new

Both Newtown high school and Sandy Hook Elementary School are close to Route 34, which travels along Lake Zoar and the Housatonic River to New haven, home of Yale University. Sandy Hook is one district of Newtown, which used to be the poorer section of Newtown and probably still is. One of the most famous events in Sandy Hook was a gunfight in the streets of Sandy Hook center in the 70’s between two rival motorcycle gangs, the Huns and the Hell’s Angels. The son of one of the Huns, who’s dad kept his prize Harley in the living room cordoned off by thick velvet ropes, is the eye-witness who saw Bruce Jenner in the morning munching on Fruit Loops. This son of a Hun’s father later opened up a gentleman’s club in nearby Danbury.

DSC_9175copyDanbury was famous in the 1800’s as a manufacturer of hats. Mercury was used in the production of hats and many workers were poisoned and lost their minds. This is the home of and the original meaning of the term the “Mad Hatter”, from Alice in Wonderland. Bordering Newtown is the town of Bethel, where actress Meg Ryan attended High School. Another district in Newtown is called Dodgingtown. This District was so named because when tax collectors from the town of Newtown came to collect, the border residents said they were residents of Bethel. When Bethel tried to collect, the residents told them they lived in Newtown. Dodging taxes became somewhat of a local sport in this district.

Newtown has always been the home of many writers, bankers, college professors and airline pilots. In the center of town are stone churches and white churches and the most picturesque New England town imaginable, with a town Hall and country store, old colonial and a few Victorian homes lined with beautiful trees, crisp hedges and flower gardens.

download (1)In earlier decades, summer pastimes included jumping off the silver bridge, when it was actually silver (it’s finally being renovated), and swinging from the locally manufactured firehoses attached to high tree branches into the Housatonic river below. Because the General Store had an old fashion Bryer’s ice cream sign, the town center became the focus of a famous Bryer’s commercial. Kids waterskiing and tubing on Lake Zoar became the focus of a famous Mountain Dew commercial

Sometime in the 70’s between Newtown center and Sandy Hook village, near an old overhead train bridge, an ice cream shop, imaginatively named the “Ice Cream Shop” opened and quickly became very popular. images (8)For decades the owners have closed the shop in the wintertime, leaving a sign on the glass doors that simply says “gone fishing”. Decades later, this store is still in existence, looks exactly the same and is still a big hit. From Time to time in the 70’s and 80’s,, a too-tall tractor trailer coming off  I-84, would smoke up the tree lined streets of Route 34, through the tiny village of Sandy Hook, up the hill and past the Ice Cream Shop to the narrow and low overhead railroad bridge, and get wedged under the bridge, its top being all but peeled off. The engineering solution would seem to be to dig the street a few feet deeper or to lift the bridge a few feet higher. But in typical Newtown fashion, nothing was ever done about it and so, of course, the same thing is still happening from time to time, even today.

In the center of town are the crossroads of Route 25, leading to Danbury and Bridgeport and Route 34, leading to New Haven and adjoining both Newtown High and indirectly, the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the center of this crossroads is the iconic and huge flagpole waiving a giant American flag. Near the crossroads is a white colonial meetinghouse topped with the quintessential Newtown icon, the famous golden cock (or rooster). During the Revolutionary War, many residents of Newtown, then a manufacturer of furniture, firehoses, hats, and tea bags, were torries or British loyalists, who supported the British Army. Some of the meetings in that meetinghouse were about how best to help the Redcoats. “Late in the war, French General Rochambeau and his troops encamped there in 1781 during their celebrated march on their way to the siege of YorktownVirginia, which ended the Revolution”.

While encamped at Newtown, some French soldiers who were no friends of the American torries, took over the meetinghouse and used the golden cock for target practice. So the golden cock has three or so bullet holes in it which were later patched with silver. This was very good shooting, by the way.

Town_of_Newtown_seal_SMALL_FOR_WEBSITE_ONLYNovember 19, 1996 is a date known to Newtown residents. On this date, a Danish flight attendant went missing during a severe snowstorm. Later that night, airline pilot Richard Crafts was spotted by a snowplow driver a long way from his home near LakeZoar and the “silver bridge” using a chainsaw and a woodchipper. Small pieces of his wife, Helle Craft’s body were later recovered from the shore and in the lake itself. This was the famous Woodchipper Murder. Helle Crafts was “disappeared” by a woodchipper, but evidence at the home indicates that she was probably murdered with a blunt instrument or gun. It’s the easiest way. Richard then hid his wife in a new freezer and transported her to the lake by means of a rental truck. Newtown couldn’t keep this quiet. This event was just too big to sweep under the rug.

One more thing about Newtown. It’s as different now from the Newtown of the 70’s and 80’s as JFK airport is from Idlewild Airport. Idlewild became JFK airport after the assassination 50 years ago in November, 1963. Newtown is no longer a typical New England town. Newtown is fast becoming one of the richest towns in America.

home3Newtown is located in Fairfield County, one of the wealthiest counties in one of the wealthiest states in one of the richest countries in the world. It is and always was 95% white. The median income is $95,000 per year. The median home price, even in this economy is near $400,000 (the Lanza home is valued at $553,000). There are a large number of homes that are  priced at $700,000 and above. Many people who grew up there cannot afford to live there. Fairfield County abuts New York City directly, and as the surrounding towns to the east developed and filled up, Newtown real estate increased in value exponentially.

home 2It is jammed packed with corporate heads (Mr. Lanza is a Vice President of General Electric), stockbrokers, politicians, bankers military contractors and insurance executives. This is somewhat of a red town in a blue state, there are plenty of conservatives and tea party patriots. When the High School changed its name from the Indians, one of the alternatives could have been the Newtown Golden Cocks. Instead, with many professional residents commuting to the giant military contractors Sikorsky Aircraft (United Technologies) in Stratford and General Dynamics nearby, the Night Hawks was found to be a more apt choice.

But the richness of Newtown doesn’t seem to translate into good school facilities or top-notch high school teachers. Any school student from Newtown will notice something when they go to visit other schools in the surrounding towns. The schools and facilities are much nicer. This may be because some of the more vocal people in Newtown are “fiscally conservative”. This means they are cheap. To be fair, many improvements have been made to the high school over the decades. But for some strange reason, the administration at the high school has always been somewhat obtuse and the majority of the teachers there have always been not so good, while teachers in the lower grades are generally excellent.

Earlier this year, the towns people seemed to be against either building a new school on another site or demolishing and rebuilding a new school on the same site. The majority were calling for refurbishing the old Sandy Hook School, but fortunately, common sense prevailed. Where did these vocal people get this insane idea? Probably from the far right media, where they were squawking about how Newtown would be wasting money by demolishing the school.

Here is the news report”: “Some Newtown residents say the school should be demolished and a memorial built on the property in honor of those killed Dec. 14. Others believe the school should be renovated and the areas where the killings occurred removed. That’s what happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., after the 1999 mass shooting.”

“Those appear to be the two prevailing proposals as the community begins discussing the school’s fate. A public meeting on the building’s future drew about 200 people to Newtown High School on Sunday afternoon, with another meeting set for Friday. Town officials also are planning private meetings with the victims’ families to get their input.
Sunday’s meeting was an emotional gathering with many speaking in favor of keeping the school.”
This mirrors the very emotional far right talking heads and posters from around the country concerning the plans for the Sandy Hook School.
So out of the 200 who went to the first meeting, the majority were very vocal about the renovation idea. That’s real nice if YOUR child doesn’t have go the school where the bloodbath occured and sit in the same classrooms where the children urinated and defecated in utter fear as the little bodies were torn apart by fragmented shrapnel fired at 880 meters per second into their little bodies in the second worst school shooting in American History.

Yes Columbine was renovated and re-opened, but Columbine was a newer, more modern school. The Sandy Hook School, which originally was an “L” shape, but has been added onto over the years, was built in 1954.

images (11)

This refurbishing was an option that could never be allowed to happen and just made no sense. Probably out of embarrassment because the whole nation was watching, and with some additional funding of $50 million by the state, the townsfolk finally voted to demolish the school and rebuild on the same site. I believe that was the best solution. The Indians would say “Bad idea, townsfolk. You should have rebuilt on a new site”.

Down route 34 and not far from the Newtown High School and the Sandy Hook school is a large, rambling home right on the route which used to be called the Wheeler house. This was purchased in the late seventies by Starsky and Hutch star, Antonio Fargas, who images (15)played”Huggy Bear” a pimp and informant, a sort of friend and wiseguy nemesis of Starsky and Hutch. Antonio taught theater classes at nearby Western Connecticut State College (now University) in Danbury.

His wife happened to be white. Antonio was a very friendly and hospitable man with a great personality and he had endless hysterical stories to tell. He welcomed and invited many Newtowners to come and talk to him and visit him at his home, and for a brief time he was Newtown’s resident celebrity. Antonio’s father was a garbage man in New York City, and his is a true story of the American dream.

Antonio wasn’t living in Newtown long and he abruptly moved out when a large wooden cross was ignited and burned in his front yard. This history was “disappeared” and swept under the rug.

2009 NFL - Oakland Raiders Minicamp - May 10, 2009One of Antonio’s children, Justin, later became a star of the Oakland Raiders American football team.

So Newtown has it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some things haven’t changed. By listening to the people at the town meeting they held shortly after the shootings, there are still some truly wonderful people there. And, yes, even some dedicated teachers. It’s not really the ideal New England town portrayed in the Bryer’s commercial. That’s the way reality works. It is and it isn’t.  It’s far from the threshold to the gates of hell either. For most past and current residents, it’s as close to heaven on earth as many will get.

newtown nighthawks ltThe Newtown Nighthawks football team, seen wearing the green and white colors of Sandy Hook Elementary in place of their traditional blue and gold, beat Bethel 22-14 at their first home game, and went on to end their regular 2013 season undefeated with a 12-0 record. That’s typical for the football team, which never gives up, works together as a team, often comes back from seeming defeats, and always strives for a victory.

images (9)Of course, everyone knows that on December 14th, 2012, in the halls of Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, the normal sounds of learning, scuffling footsteps and laughter, were suddenly broken by the sounds of shattering glass, riveting fear, smoke, screams and gunfire from a high powered AR-15 semi automatic rifle and seven, 30-round high capacity magazines packed with exploding hollow point rounds.  One mentally ill resident of this quiet bedroom community woke up that morning in a beautiful home stocked with a large variety of guns and ammo. He made his bed very neatly, and then he grabbed several of the weapons in that home and went on to shake the civilized world with a completely senseless and incomprehensible act of violence.

In the USA, since the Sandy Hook shooting, there have been 19 additional school shootings

In the USA, since the Sandy Hook shooting, there have been over 10,800 additional gun deaths.

*     1,676 women have been shot to death.

*     523 teens have been shot to death

*     193 children age 12 and under have been shot to death

*     Over 7,100 children were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/28/children-gun-injuries_n_4171208.html

*     Another school shooting……Now Coming soon to a killing theater near you?

jfkAsk Not ……

…..for whom the bell tolls,

it tolls for thee.

(Please see Part 2: The Killings)

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Any and All comments are welcome and appreciated.

What is your opinion?

All Rights Reserved