Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year of the Gun & Christie's Christmas Gun Study

CPD victims Bettie Jones and Quintonio LeGrier 
Looking back, 2015 was a pretty sobering year for the concept of justice in the United States. 

As Dylan Petrohilos' article on Monday reported, estimates for 2015 reveal that between 975 and 1,186 people were killed by police across America over the course of the past 12 months - easily surpassing the totals for 2014.

Those grim statistics have been brought into focus once again after a Chicago police officer shot and killed two people after being called to a residence at about 4:25am last Saturday in response to 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier (who was mentally ill) threatening members of his family with a baseball bat.  

While Chicago PD called Jones' death "accidental", when officers arrived at the scene 55-year-old Bettie Jones, a grandmother and mother of five who lived in the apartment downstairs, opened the front door of the residence and was promptly shot three times; including once in the neck.

Like many of the names on that list above, Jones was innocent and unarmed; but accidentally shot.

There were 1,930 accidental shootings in America in 2015 according to data collected by the gun control organization

GVA statistics tracked 52,254 gun-related incidents in America in 2015, including 13,270 gun fatalities  and an astounding 329 different mass shootings - in case you were wondering 3,366 children between the ages of 0 to 17 were killed by guns over the past 12 months.

Considering numbers like that, 2015 could very well be considered the Year of the Gun in America.

Which makes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's actions four days before Christmas a bit puzzling.

As Claude Brodesser-Akner reported on last week, on Monday December 21st an entity known by the unwieldy moniker of the New Jersey Firearm Purchasing and Permitting Study Commission released a report through Governor Christie's office that was some five months in the making.

In short, the NJFPPS Commission report recommended that local municipalities around the state begin amending New Jersey's notoriously strict handgun laws to make it easier for people to carry concealed handguns.

As a fairly observant individual interested in politics who also works in the real estate industry in New Jersey, I deal with a lot of people from all walks of life on a daily basis in person and on the phone.

I also enjoy discussing politics and current events with the locals who hang out at my favorite local haunt, The Franklin Tavern in Lawrenceville; Jon Stewart used to be a bartender there when he went to Princeton.

So let me just say that I've yet to meet New Jerseyeans who feel that the most critical issue facing the state is the restrictive handgun laws that make it almost impossible for a private citizen in New Jersey to carry a concealed handgun.

The real kicker?

Not only was the NJFPPS Commission established the night before Christie's presidential campaign launched back in June, the commission that made these recommendations is made up of three people; all of whom are close personal associates of (wait for it...) Chris Christie.  

As Akner reported:
"The commission, whose members were not previously announced by Christie, is comprised of Adam Heck, a retired police officer from Morristown who until this year worked as as associate counsel to the governor and is currently in the General Counsel's Office of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority; Eric Jaso, a former assistant United States attorney under Christie 2003-2008, and Seton Hall Law School Vice Dean Erik Lillquist, who is married to the governor's chief ethics officer, Heather V. Taylor."

So in a year in which over 13,000 Americans were killed by guns, Christie decides that what New Jersey needs is more people walking around with concealed, loaded handguns. 

It's vintage Christie, throwing his political weight around the state to tailor laws (that keep us safe from gun violence) that will help him pander to the right-wing Republican political spenders who are aligned with the NRA in order to boost his national appeal with Republican voters.

It's absurd and he's rightfully taking a lot of heat for it. 

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the irony of Christie appointing the husband of his own chief ethics officer to a three-person commission that releases a report favorable to his own presidential campaign.

And yes, that's from the same New Jersey Governor who recently made headlines for telling voters in Iowa that his record low job approval rating as Governor in New Jersey is proof he "knows how to get things done."

On that note, I must conclude my last blog entry of 2015 and get ready to head over to my friend Will's house for good friends, good food and of course drinks to ring in the new year.

Have a safe and Happy New Years and I hope to see you back here in 2016!

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