The paradox of bail reform

The Chief Judge of the New York court system, Jonathan Lippman, was correct in his State of the Judiciary speech last week that the bail system is both unfair to the poor and unsafe for the public. That paradox is not new; there was a pass at bail reform in the 1960s, pushed by then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Time has not cured the problem.

The paradox then and now is that poor defendants are jailed because they cannot afford bail, and dangerous defendants are freed because they can.


If we don’t listen to Gabby Giffords, who should we listen to?

I have to confess I watched not only former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s short, moving testimony Wednesday but also watched her making her way into the hearing room and leaving after she spoke.  

Accompanied by her husband, Capt. Mike Kelly, she walked carefully and deliberately, step by step, working her way past senators and staff who watched as she smiled at them, gave some hugs, gave others a kiss on the cheek. Silence does not begin to describe that room.


Gun issue could decide midterm elections

Only six votes truly matter in the fight over gun control. Five are vulnerable Senate Democrats from deeply red states.
The five senators (with Obama 2012 vote percentages) are Mark Begich of Alaska (40.8 percent), Max Baucus of Montana (41.7 percent), Tim Johnson of South Dakota (39.9 percent), Mark Pryor of Arkansas (36.9 percent) and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana (40.6 percent).


NRA brags about money from mass murder of children; Piers Morgan stands tall with Alex Jones

In my last column I suggested New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie could be the GOP Winston Churchill for warning Republicans about the direction of their party. Now, in one of the most crass, craven, ghoulish and insensitive acts in lobbying history, the National Rifle Association is gloating with glee about how much dues money it is raking in from the mass murder of the children in Newtown.

Meanwhile, Piers Morgan should be given a presidential medal of freedom for his leadership on guns while the nut wing of the right calls for him to be deported. The weird and bizarre performance by Alex Jones on Morgan's show is a great advertisement for banning military-style assault weapons, and a great example of attitudes that Republicans and conservatives should denounce and deplore.


The right lesson

Mass murders, as distinguished from smaller incidents, are all the same in one regard: They pit one armed man against many unarmed people. How did the Newtown shooting end? When Lanza saw the police, he killed himself. It was in direct response to force that the shooting ended.
Stupid gun laws don’t become smart because an incident so horrifying and unlikely as the Newtown shooting has happened. These suggestions are the wrong lesson to take from this harrowing incident. The right lesson? Those parents hugging their children — and not just their children but their spouses, their friends, their parents — even tighter.


Sen. Boxer idea for National Guard protecting kids a good start!

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is someone with whom I rarely — if ever — agree. But I applaud her move to protect kids in schools by at least coming up with some potential solutions that can work, even if some on the left and the right might disagree with her. I, for one, at least want to take a listen.
While there are details about her overall proposal to have the National Guard protecting schools around the country that are problematic, she is on the right track with the notion of armed, trained protection on location at schools. My concern now, however, is that because the NRA is proposing something somewhat similar by way of armed security at each school, Boxer might back off in deference to politics, with solutions to protect kids becoming prey to pressure from the heavy hand of the left. It has been noted that she did not specifically mention this part of the proposal in an appearance on Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC.


Mayor Bloomberg should give $100 million to support gun-control advocates

My last column, “The NRA and the USA,” was an olive branch I, for one, extended with respect and hope that the National Rifle Association would follow through on its promise to help protect the children of America from more mass murders as our outraged nation witnessed in Newtown, Conn. Today the NRA answered with hostility to those of us who wished it would join in a serious attempt to protect the innocents of America.

Today we heard more of the same rhetoric of intransigence, hostility, irresponsibility and neglect. Today the NRA's hostility to hope sold short our children, our parents and our nation.


Gun murders: Conservatives should talk to the NRA; liberals should talk to Hollywood

In my latest column I tried to extend an olive branch to the National Rifle Association in the hope that the NRA news conference Friday would bring news of a new willingness to limit military-style assault weapons, and I also tried to make the point that gun violence is a complicated problem that also requires Hollywood, the music business and the video game business to reduce their contribution to the cult of violence. And I called for a dramatically upgraded commitment to mental health research and care for both civilian and military life.

I do have various opinions I deliberately omitted in the hope of advancing an open-minded spirit and less partisan dialogue, and advancing some real action that must involve guns, must involve entertainment and must involve mental health research and care.


Emotional, ineffective gun legislation

The Newtown, Conn., massacre has once again placed the spotlight on the issue of gun control. There are many cries in the wilderness for more stringent gun-control laws. However, the application of such laws would not have prevented the most recent massacre.

The guns used were perfectly legal and the cold-blooded murderer had no criminal record. So even if you had removed from the streets all individuals with criminal records and removed all illegal weaponry, the incident would have still occurred.

Logic would demand that we begin to search for alternative solutions to ideologically driven and ineffective legislation. We should be asking ourselves, what could have prevented or lessened the senseless deaths? Analyzing the story, one can see that the principal and many of the teachers were incredibly heroic in their attempts to physically disarm the shooter and save the children. If they had been trained for physical combat or had access to appropriate weapons which they had been trained to use, the outcome would probably have been most significantly different.


Second Amendment remedy: Protect the hunter, save a kid, ban the machine gun

Today would be an outstanding moment for the leaders, management and members of the National Rifle Association to be statesmen and stateswomen and work to support the real Second Amendment remedy: bipartisan legislation that protects the constitutional right of hunters and others to bear arms but bans the military-style rapid-fire weapons that far too often are used to kill our children and neighbors. I mean this sincerely: I hope the NRA will use its expertise, good offices and influence in favor of legislation that will reduce the number of mass killings of American kids.