AFTER SANDY HOOK: Look Beyond Gun Control!

A year ago, Americans were shocked by the tragic loss of 20 children and 6 teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Are you surprised Congress has not passed any new gun control laws? If legislators can’t pass laws, perhaps, we need to focus in a different direction!

All school shooters and violent gang members have something in common. Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, was an angry, lonely, troubled young man who was socially isolated with access to guns and violent video games. Just like other violent young men, he lacked strong male role models in his life and a neighborhood and community support system. He didn’t have any spiritual guidance to help develop his coping skills in order to handle his emotions. He was a candidate for mental problems and violent behavior.

If we are going to stop gun violence, let’s start a discussion on what city leaders can do to help strengthen families.

As a crime and violence prevention specialist for 38 years, I see a critical need to address fear and social isolation that drives people to buy guns. When we understand the importance of involvement and neighborhood responsibility, we can restore a sense of community. Disconnected families will discover they are not alone. New neighborhood mentors and role models will emerge as neighbors build trust. Youth need people who care and offer support to help them reach their potential.

Connected and involved neighbors can help cities save millions of dollars. Citizens would no longer feel the need to buy a gun for protection as they help youth stay out of the criminal justice system. Everyone benefits.

WHAT ELECTED, CIVIC AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS CAN DO to create positive, citywide change!

Civic and religious leaders can talk to local elected officials about creating a…

Citizens’ Task Force to focus on strengthening families.
GOAL: Strengthen families through neighborhood support and encourage healthy role models for youth! Citizen involvement reduces fear, anger, stress and isolation, as neighbors work together and build trust.

HOW? Elected and religious leaders have the ability to influence citizens to take charge of their neighborhood safety, which will help strengthen families.

WHY? In cities large and small, families experience divorce, bullying, domestic violence, child abuse, and drug and alcohol abuse. When neighbors get connected, they can help restore a stronger sense of community support.

WHO? Encourage city leaders to appoint a volunteer citizens’ or youth task force to develop a plan to help residents get connected. Depending on city population, appoint a group of 8 to 10 community “doers” to discuss local concerns and focus on a plan of action.

RESIDENTS NEED ENCOURAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP:

Task Force members can take an active role in speaking to schools, civic and religious groups about the plan. For example: “Adopt-A-Block” can be implemented citywide. Encourage adults and youth to conduct a neighborhood survey. Get willing neighbors together and appoint leaders. Evaluate results and address concerns.

Ideas to get neighbors and youth involved:

– Clean up graffiti and/or the neighborhood

– Plan a potluck Block Party or social gathering

– Hold an emergency Preparedness meeting

– Moms organize a baby-sitting co-op

– Plant a community garden

– Paint house numbers on curbs (Project for teens)

– Offer leadership training

Reducing fear and building trust is a long-range approach to stopping gun violence. We can no longer afford to ignore the importance of family support and neighborhood involvement if we are going to keep citizens safe and protect our children.

Stephanie L. Mann, Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant

Stiff Penalties for Bringing a Gun Into the Memphis Airport

According to a recent Memphis news article, eleven individuals have been charged this year with taking a firearm into the Memphis International Airport. Many, if not all of them likely were travelers who simply forgot that they left their handgun in their carry-on bag. When these travelers got to the security gate and put the bag on the machine, the gun turned up on the scanner and they were charged.

The Memphis airport, which is located off of Airways Boulevard and just south of Interstate 240 in Memphis, serves over 10 million fliers a year. It is within the jurisdiction of both Tennessee state laws and numerous federal aviation security laws. If a gun owner even accidentally takes a gun into the airport, the penalties will be stiff.

In Tennessee, under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-17-1307, it is an offense to carry a firearm with the intent to go armed. There is an exception to this law for holders of Tennessee handgun carry permits or permits from reciprocal jurisdictions. Permit holders may carry their handgun in any place that otherwise allows guns. However, and this is an exception to the exception, under TCA 39-17-1359, any establishment may post a sign prohibiting guns, including those carried by permit holders.

The Memphis airport is posted under 39-17-1359, thus carry permit holders may not bring their guns inside. Furthermore, there is another law which brings additional penalties on absent-minded gun owners. Tennessee Code Section 39-17-109 is titled “Airport and Aircraft Security.” This law makes it a crime “to knowingly trespass or unlawfully enter upon…an airport serving the general public, if the trespass or entry is in violation of or contrary to security requirements established by federal regulation.”

Obviously bringing a gun into the airport, even if you do not mean to, is against federal regulations. What makes this law tough is that the “unlawfully enter” provision is strict liability. The state is not required to prove any culpable mental state, and merely forgetting that you still have your gun in your bag when you get to the security gate is enough to be charged. It does not matter that it is essentially a mental lapse with no criminal intent. A Memphis criminal defense lawyer should be contacted immediately if this happens to you.

A violation of airport and aircraft security is a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to 11 months and 29 days. However, jail time and a permanent conviction are not likely for otherwise law abiding gun owners. If the defendant qualifies, he or she may be placed on judicial diversion for the duration of the sentence. At the end of the sentence, provided there are no violations and the conditions of probation are met, the charge will be dismissed and removed from the defendant’s record. Probation will require monthly fees and court costs, and the gun may be confiscated. Additionally, he or she will likely have to pay a fine to the Transportation Security Administration.

Here is the Memphis Commercial Appeal article.

Gun Control in America

For centuries, guns are used as weapon of peace to fight criminality. However, some individuals have abused and used guns to frighten people in their criminal activities such as kidnapping, murder, robbery and many more. With the rising rates of criminality, legislators promised to address the issue and one of the options they are considering is the imposition of the gun control law in the U.S. However, some individuals and lobbyists raised their brows on its efficacy in controlling and lowering the criminality rates in the country. Is gun control really the answer to the criminality problems we have?

After the horrific situation in Virginia Technology campus, residents and lawmakers have pondered on the importance of controlling the use and possession of guns and other ammunition countrywide. Is it really effective? I believe that controlling gun possession is not really the solution to the rising rates of crimes in the country but what the government should address is the root causes of the problems on why these criminals and delinquent individuals engage in such criminal acts. I believe that the government should address poverty and drug abuse first because these are the primary factors why these criminals engage in such acts.

The government has made heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other substance of abuse illegal, but despite such move, these were not totally eradicated and it paved the way for the bigger market of organized crimes. This is also applicable in the proposed gun control legislation because no one can derail the minds of these notorious individuals to do criminal actions because they fear no law or law enforcers.

Even if liberals pursue in passing the gun control law to create their dream of having a better community and society, they failed to examine both sides of the coin. They only consider its advantages, but what about the negative outcomes of such move. I believed that only the law-abiding individuals will participate and will comply with the said law, but criminals are not afraid to buy guns from their secret sources. For years, bad guys have more advantage over the good guys and purchasing guns has become a commodity for criminals because they can easily purchase them anywhere, thus law enforcers have the tough job of tracing their point of origin and sources. Why do you think is the reason for these failures? I believed that there are big fish behind all these things. If ever no powerful individuals are behind these criminals, do you think they would have the nerve to do such illegal things? They are not afraid to do something unlawful and illegal because there are powerful people who will protect them if they failed in their transactions and activities. These criminals and gangs are just the branches of a bigger tree lurking behind uniforms and power.

I guess, gun control is not the solution to all these crimes. The only answer is to address the root causes of crime and to know the influential individuals behind them.

Tennessee Weapons Charges: The Laws and Penalties

The State of Tennessee has numerous laws that govern gun crimes. These laws can be found in the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 13: Weapons. Gun crimes are very serious offenses, and if you have been charged you should contact a Tennessee criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case. This article will explain how Tennessee weapons possession laws work, their elements, and their punishment.

Most Tennessee gun charges depend on location and/or the person’s status. Some examples of the location category are guns carried on school property or during judicial proceedings. Examples of the status category are guns carried or possessed by convicted felons or people under a restraining order.

The general law in Tennessee, under TCA 39-17-1307, is that it’s an offense to carry a firearm with intent to go armed. By default this is a misdemeanor punishable up to 30 days, but if the gun was carried in a place open to the public where one or more persons were present then it is punishable up to 11 months and 29 days. Not surprisingly most weapons possession charges occur in public, so most offenders are facing 11 months and 29 days. A Tennessee gun crimes lawyer can review the case and tell you what the potential punishment may be.

Some Tennessee weapons possession charges are more serious, depending on the circumstances. For instance it is a felony for a convicted felon to possess a handgun. It is also a felony for a person who has been convicted of a felony involving force, violence or a deadly weapon to possess a firearm (which can include guns other than handguns). It is a misdemeanor for a person that has been convicted of domestic violence or is subject to a restraining order to possess a firearm. Many of these offenses can be prosecuted in federal court as well as state court.

It is a felony to possess or employ a firearm during the commission of or the attempt to commit a dangerous felony. “Dangerous felony” can include offenses like attempted murder, carjacking, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and drug possession with intent. That means that in addition to the underlying felony, a person who has or uses a firearm during that felony can be charged in a separate offense. The additional gun charge can be either a Class C or D felony punishable from 2-15 years. Many of these laws in fact have mandatory minimum prison sentences anywhere from 3-10 years, with no possibility of probation or judicial diversion. That means that, if convicted, prison time must be served and the defendant cannot later have the charge removed from his or her record. In addition, the sentence must run consecutive to the underlying offense, which means it doesn’t start until after the first sentence ends.

Carrying a gun on school property with intent to go armed is an E felony punishable from 1-6 years. Additionally, it is a misdemeanor to carry a firearm on a public park, playground, civic center, or government affiliated recreational area. As you can see there are numerous situations where an individual can be charged with a weapons crime in Tennessee. Whatever the facts, a Tennessee criminal lawyer can analyze the case to determine what the best strategy should be.

What You Should Know About Gun Control Laws

Federal gun control laws state that certain classes of people may never sell guns, purchase guns for sale or possess guns. These are people who have been imprisoned for more than a year, fugitives, drug users, mentally incompetent individuals, illegal aliens, dishonorably discharged veterans, people under 18 for rifles or 21 for handguns, those with restraining orders placed against them and people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Additionally, federal law mandates that anyone convicted of a violent or drug-trafficking crime with the possession of a firearm is punishable by up to 20 years in jail. Additionally, if the firearm is a machine gun or equipped with a silencer, the perpetrator is subject to life imprisonment without parole.

The National Firearms Act of 1934 was the first of modern gun control laws to pass. Following Prohibition, this act imposed an excise tax of $200 on the manufacture and transfer of all Title II weapons, while also mandating their registration. Firearms moving past state lines had to be reported to the Department of Treasury (which is now the function of the Department of Justice). During this time period, rogues and gangsters ruled the streets, with headline catchers like Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson, which prompted President Roosevelt to take drastic measures.

The next bout of gun control laws didn’t come to pass until 1968 when The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 was passed by Congress. Analysts say the assassination of President John F. Kennedy created public outcry over guns for sale and in possession in America. The Gun Control Act specifically defined specific groups of people who were not allowed to own firearms, such as those under 18, people on parole, citizens with criminal histories or restraining orders, dishonorably discharged veterans, ex-cons, the mentally incompetent and drug users. People could no longer purchase guns for sale from online/mail-order dealers or buy from individuals outside their home state.

Different presidents have had different policies concerning gun control laws over the past few decades. Reagan was pro-gun, but took a firmer stance after his attempted assassination. President Clinton passed the first-ever Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, which was questionably enforced. Critics said Clinton’s gun policies inflamed NRA members and led to the Democrats losing control of the House. President Bush let some of the old gun regulations expire and President Obama has remained ambivalent thus so far, allowing the Supreme Court to uphold Second Amendment rights.