Saturday, July 13, 2002

You say you've never heard of Tony Martin? He's the British farmer that shot two burglars in 1999. One of the perps died, the other was held by Mr. Martin until the police arrived. Mr. Martin was then arrested and convicted of murder. The conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal, and Mr. Martin is facing his fourth year in jail. If the parole board hasn't gone as crazy as the rest of the British justice system then it will be the last year he has to stay in the stir.

But what about Brendan Fearon, the criminal who survived? True to the current mood in the U.K. courts he only had to serve 1 year. He's been out and about for years, a free man while Mr. Martin rots in jail. Now Mr. Fearon has petitioned for legal aid so he can sue Mr. Martin. The British taxpayers are going to have to fork over five thousand pounds to this felon so he can sue the man he tried to rob. When it was pointed out that Mr. Martin will face certain financial disaster if he has to pay for lawyers while Mr. Fearon uses public money, officials from legal aid suggested that he sell the family farm to pay for his defense.

Okay, I've heard enough.

I'm now considering offers of marriage from any female British citizen who wants to move to a civilized country. Single moms get priority, since I have a soft spot for kids in trouble. I own dogs so allergies will automatically disqualify.

I was exchanging Emails with blog goddess Natalie Solent a few months ago. She mentioned that the failure of gun control in the U.K. wasn't well known. I found this hard to believe until I looked up this U.K. government website. The site agrees that reported crime is skyrocketing, sure. But they claim that the increase is due to changes in recording practices. They even go on to claim that crime is falling, and that the 7% increase in violent crime is actually a 5% reduction in violent crime. I figure that they got the same accounting firm that WorldCom used.

But it looks like they won't be able to deny it for much longer. More and more media outlets are reporting the increase.

Read the article and pay special attention to paragraphs 3, 4 and 5. It seems that the figures were actually reported months ago, but are only now getting some attention. The other thing that jumps out at me is the way the gov is trying to wriggle off of the hook by saying that the increase is only a recent development. They claim that it's only because they had to pull officers off of the streets since 9/11 that there has been any more crime.

Not very likely. How many street cops are qualified for anti-terrorism work, anyway? And even if it is true the U.K. gov should have cleaned up the terrorists in their own backyard before 9/11. Then there wouldn't have been a problem.

Many European media sources and politicians like to portray violent criminals as being a uniquely American problem. Any violence is just an aberration, a blip on the radar screen, something that is due to influence from the U.S.

But attempting to distract the voters from their own failure to develop effective anti-crime policies means that the police don't get the recognition they deserve. After all, if violent crime is so low then why should the police get any recognition for a safe and routine job?

That's why I was glad to see this editorial about some officers in the U.K. that went above and beyond.

Just when I've got a handle on events and seem to understand how the world works something comes along to kick my feet out from under me.

Case in point: it seems that the Ukraine wants to join NATO.

The Ukraine??? Aren't these the guys that are selling weapons to Iraq? I mean, they're selling weapons to Iraq right now, not back when everybody did it as long as Saddam kept Iran busy. Not to mention that their President was elected under conditions that wouldn't be considered democratic. And these guys want to join NATO?

Who's next? Syria? Cuba? Hey, how about some drug cartels? They have enough guns to equip an army, and they weren't elected to office either.

According to Jane's Defence Weekly, armed guards will now be stationed at all airline ticket counters. This is in reaction to the July 4 shootings at the Los Angeles airport.

Not a bad idea. I notice that the U.S. has finally come to the realization that the only real way to stop a violent attack is through an overwhelmingly violent response. This is a sensible decision since it's impossible to keep everyone, everywhere from carrying an attack out. The best that anyone can hope for is to make it more difficult in certain areas and be vigilant for when it happens everywhere else.

I just saw the new Tom Hanks movie, Road to Perdition. It had both good and bad points. On the bad side it was long, deliberately paced and depressing. On the good side it was very well acted, was well directed and the combat scenes were reasonably realistic for a movie. One of the things I liked the most about it was the gunplay was portrayed as being very scary and dangerous, instead of an oppurtunity to make wisecracks.

Most of the reviews I've read of the film say that Mr. Hanks is miscast in the role of a Depression era gang enforcer. They say that they just can't see ol' Tom, who's put on a few pounds since he starred in Castaway, as being much of a threat or tough guy. The common view seems to be that someone can't be dangerous if they're soft around the middle.

Hollywood certainly has presented an image that's not a true reflection of reality. They only actors they cast for tough guy roles who are rippling with muscle, or those that are incredibly thin. No one else, it seems, could actually do any damage.

I'm reminded of the Appalachia Law School shooting, where a disgruntled student killed three people and wounded three others. He was only stopped when two of his fellow students ordered him to give up after grabbing their own guns from their cars (where they had left them, since it's against Federal law to carry a gun on school grounds). So what did these two heros look like? Were they buff and toned action stars? Well, not exactly.

You can see in the second picture down that they would never be chosen to open a movie. The two guys in the middle are the ones who stopped the attack, and the largest of the two is Tracy Bridges. He was the one who first aimed his gun at the shooter and ordered him to surrender. For some reason people have a hard time accepting the fact that he managed to stop an armed attack, all due to his weight. Weird, huh?

Just to give another example, here's a picture of Jim Cirillo (he's the older gentleman with the big gut). Mr. Cirillo has lost a great deal of weight from when he was a member of New York Police Stake Out Squad. He was only on the squad for five years, but during that time he was involved in 17 shoot outs with armed felons. On every one of them he was the guy left standing when the smoke cleared. He's probably the last of the great gunfighters.

Heck, I wouldn't want to get in a gun fight with either one of them.