Friday, June 27, 2008

Gun Wavin' New Haven: Know Your Rights (All Three of Them)

There's got to be a better way. The US Supreme Court upheld our right to own handguns yesterday. I don't want to see rights eroded; I also don't want to see them abused. Many handgun owners are responsible. Many are not.

There's got to be a better way. Maybe we can own handguns, but not be allowed to carry them. Maybe we can own them, but only shoot them at ranges, for sport. I don't know. I haven't given it enough thought. But the fact is that I am not comfortable living in a society without the right to own handguns when our police forces will certainly always carry them. And what's the point in making them illegal when psychotic suburban white kids hell-bent on shooting up their classes are always going to find a way to do it, just like the hothead city kid will shoot at a gang rival and his friends sitting on their stoop on a summer night? Maybe outlawing guns will reduce this kind of crime. Maybe. I'm not convinced.

I'm not convinced because it's NOT JUST GUNS that produce the problems that lead to this kind of violence. The recipe is full of classic ingredients: inequality; disadvantage; disenfranchisement; isolation; anger; repression; rage; poor education; etc etc etc. And in some cases, just full-blown crazies find a way to hurt others.

I do not envy the Supreme Court Justices. But they have been appointed to their seats on the bench in the hopes that they, more than anyone, will instill and maintain laws and values in this country that will support a healthy, free society. I'm not so sure yesterday's decision fulfilled that goal.

So here is a story from last night in New Haven, only blocks from Ian's house:

Three Shot On Winthrop
by Melissa Bailey June 26, 2008 7:41 PM

Bishop Kenny Peeples’ nephews, ages six and nine, had front-row seats at the latest burst of gunfire on Winthrop Avenue Thursday.

Peeples said his nephews were standing outside 310 Winthrop Ave. at 5 p.m. Thursday when a car pulled up.

A gunman let out a spray of bullets, hitting three people: a 17-year-old woman and two men, ages 17 and 27. All were being treated for non-life threatening wounds at Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to Capt. Peter Reichard.

Peeples said the nephews’ mother cried out to the gunman to save her boys. “They’re just kids,” she protested. The boys were spared.

“By the grace of God, they weren’t hit,” Peeples said. “They’re shook up, but they’re OK.”

Tammy Brunson wasn’t so lucky. She rushed to the scene after learning that her 17-year-old niece had been shot in the face. Brunson said the niece lives with her sister at 310 Winthrop Ave. The home is near the intersection of Chapel Street in the Edgewood part of town.

“They just moved in here three weeks ago,” Brunson said. She believed her niece was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a gang-related beef.

“She was shot in the face for no reason,” Brunson said, fuming.

The pain hit close to home for her: Brunson’s 19-year-old son was the victim of a shooting in March, just a few blocks down, at Winthrop and Percival. He was struck by a bullet in the rear. It shattered his leg. “Now he has to walk like a baby,” said Brunson. She teemed with anger as she awaited news from her sister’s family, who could be seen poking their heads out of the home. They had been instructed not to leave the house until police were done checking the scene.

Police put down markers in the street next to shell casings and were photographing where the bullets had pierced the second story of a house. A crowd of neighbors waited behind police tape to get back onto a porch.

Reichard said police did not know whether the victims were the intended targets of the shootings. Here’s what police believed happened, as preliminary details were worked out Thursday evening:

At about 5 p.m., a car pulled up to 310 Winthrop Ave. The car was a blue Scion. A person in the front passenger seat let out a spray of bullets.

One bullet hit a 17-year-old woman in the cheek. Another hit a 17-year-old man in the ankle. They had been standing outside the house on the sidewalk. The woman ran into the driveway for cover. The man ran and sat on a nearby porch.

Police later found a 27-year-old man at 499 Elm St. He had been shot in the groin. Police believe he was shot at that same scene.

Three bullets struck a three-family home at 312 Winthrop Ave. Eight shell casings were found at the scene, though there may have been more shots fired.

Neighbors believed the trouble started two doors down, at 304/306 Winthrop.

“That house is a drug house,” said a grandmother with curly braids who declined to give her name. She said the home (pictured) has been a problem for all 11 years that she has lived on the street. Every day, the house draws a crowd of young people, hanging out, up to no good, she said.

Reichard said police didn’t know whether the gunman had intended to hit that house or not. He did confirm that police have “a lot of info” about drug sales going on at 304/306 Winthrop. Recent arrests have been made at that address for narcotics charges, he said.

The woman said gunfire happens “almost every day” in the area of Winthrop Avenue. “Until that house is cleared out,” she said, “it’s going to be that way.”

Sing it:

This is a public service announcement
With guitar
Know your rights all three of them

Number 1
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights

And number 2
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Dont mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Know your rights
These are your rights

Know these rights

Number 3
You have the right to free
Speech as long as youre not
Dumb enough to actually try it.

Know your rights
These are your rights
All three of em
It has been suggested
In some quarters that this is not enough!

Get off the streets
Get off the streets
You dont have a home to go to

Finally then I will read you your rights

You have the right to remain silent
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down
And used as evidence against you

Listen to this

Happy Friday!

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