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Wednesday in Philadelphia, a man with a long criminal history wounded six police officers during a 7 1/2-hour standoff after they tried to serve a narcotics warrant. During the standoff, two cops were stranded inside the row house where the man lived. Fortunately, none of the cops faced life-threatening injuries. A couple hours after a SWAT team rescued the trapped cops and three others inside the house, the man surrendered when police fired tear gas into the house.

The shooter, Maurice Hill, had a long criminal record -- 12 pages long, including "burglary, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment of another person and gun charges." It's not clear yet how many guns and ammo he had beyond the pistol he was arrested with, USA Today reports:

SWAT officers "preliminarily confirmed" there was a long gun inside the residence, as well, but said the scene has not yet been processed because of the use of tear gas inside the house.

As a felon, Hill shouldn't have had a gun at all, leading the Usual Suspects to insist that gun laws are pointless, because look, here's a dangerous criminal ignoring the law, hurr hurr you stupid liberals. Which ignores one rather significant detail, as Slate's Amanda Marcotte points out: The more legal guns are out there, the easier it is for bad guys to get their hands on weapons -- particularly since defenders of the Holy Second Amendment have done so much to make the transfer of guns from "good guys" to "bad guys" so easy. Whenever it's a choice between guns and measures that would reduce the number of guns in circulation, Republicans care a hell of a lot more about unfettered access to firearms than protecting the Blue Lives (who sometimes matter!).


Wednesday, while the Philadelphia standoff was still in progress, Kamala Harris said on CNN that cops would be a lot better off if it was harder for bad guys to get guns.

When will it stop, right? Part of my focus on what we need to do around smart gun safety laws is recognize we have to have more enforcement around gun dealers.

She called attention to her own gun plan, which would use executive action and new laws to crack down on dirty gun dealers. Not surprisingly, Marcotte notes, wingnut media figures were shocked, shocked, at Harris's terrible attack on lawful gun owners:

Beth Baumann of Townhall scolded Harris, accusing the former California attorney general of not understanding this issue and pompously declaring that "Americans are sick and tired of politicians exploiting tragedies," as if there was anything exploitative about wanting public safety policies that make both citizens and police safer.

Fox News helpfully ran an article collecting the outraged reactions of right-wing mouth-breathers who denounced Harris for "politicizing" the shooting and saying she shouldn't "pre-judge the shooter," as if it were possible that the guy had some good reason for shooting cops and terrorizing the neighborhood.

Well maybe he was fighting against tyranny, huh? At the time, how could we know for sure he wasn't also defending a cattle herd in his guest bedroom from being taken by jackbooted federal thugs? (Fox News was not yet aware that the shooter was black, which we're sure would have made no difference whatsoever to their principled stances.)

The gun safety plans put forward by Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren all devote substantial attention to empowering ATF to clamp down more aggressively on the nation's gun trafficking problem, which would make it harder for bad guys to get their hands on guns originally owned by good guys. (Just plain locking up your guns would help, but requiring that is tyranny.)

Fewer loose guns out there could be good for everyone's health -- both police and the communities they patrol. And the fact is, most guns used in crimes start out belonging to "responsible gun owners," at least on paper. Crimers get their guns in multiple ways: gun thefts, the "private party transaction" loophole which requires no background checks, straw buyers, and bad dealers.

A 2000 report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) found that a tiny fraction of gun dealers -- just one percent -- were responsible for nearly 60 percent of the guns traced back from crimes in 1998. But in 2003, Congress passed a law prohibiting ATF from releasing information on which dealers sell guns linked to crimes, because that might inconvenience gunhumpers and result in tyranny.

Marcotte points out two studies suggesting a correlation between gun laws and police shootings. Cops constantly fear encounters where they may face a gun; add in a bit of racial bias, and a lot of cell phones and wallets held by unarmed black people result in shootings. But there may also be a connection to the likely number of guns out on the street: A Vox analysis showed a correlation between "weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership" and police shootings; and a 2017 study from the American Journal of Public Health found that stronger gun control laws correlate with fewer police shootings of civilians. Correlation isn't causation and all that, but that could be a fruitful area for research, if research into gun deaths hadn't been banned by Congress.

This being the USA we actually live in, we have little doubt Republicans will offer far smarter plans than merely making it harder for bad guys to get guns. What if, for instance, police simply adopt airstrike-assisted warrants? Philadelphia already has some experience in that area.

Of course, there's also the option of just accusing a liberal of causing the shooting. Philadelphia's District Attorney, Larry Krasner, was elected on a platform of reducing mass incarceration and stopping police abuses. The police union haaaaates him. And so does William McSwain, Donald Trump's appointee as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Philadelphia. In a truly remarkable public statement Thursday, the federal prosecutor laid the blame for Wednesday's shooting where it clearly belonged: On a DA whom William Barr condemned without naming earlier in the week as "anti-law enforcement." Talk about reinforcing the talking points! McSwain knows how to sound like a serious US Attorney:

What I witnessed last night was true heroism by the Philadelphia police. But the crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement – a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance. Only by the grace of God did they survive.

Where does such disrespect come from?

There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in this City that is promoted and championed by District Attorney Larry Krasner – and I am fed up with it.

McSwain went on to complain about diversion programs aimed at keeping nonviolent offenders out of the prison system, and insisted Krasner must "aggressively enforce" all laws, especially "gun and drug laws" -- to keep cops and the public safe. Mind you, decisions about prosecution of state and local laws aren't up to the federal prosecutor, but when have little jurisdictional details mattered to Team Trump? Still, McSwain held a presser Thursday to read his statement in front of cameras, and to promise that he'd bee keeping a close eye on Krasner's office so he could provide "adult supervision" if needed.

Gotta love that conservative deference to local control.

McSwain also went on the Tucker Carlson Smile-Time White Supremacy Hour Wednesday to explain Krasner was literally part of George Soros's insidious plot to destroy America by electing progressive DAs and unleashing a wave of crime and predators on ordinary Volk:

What Mr. Soros, I think, wants to do is that he wants to implement his radical agenda, and he realizes he can't do that through the normal democratic process [....] He's taking what I would describe as an illegitimate, anti-democratic shortcut by trying to purchase DA elections, and then once the DA is in place, he or she doesn't enforce the law. And presto, you've got "criminal justice reform."

And why is Soros doing this? He just loves criminals, as does Krasner, that's all. It's all really obvious: The Jews shot those cops.

We should point out that Swain's war on Krasner ignores the minor detail that, during the standoff, Krasner was on a conference call with Hill, an attorney who had previously represented Hill, and the city police commissioner -- all of them working to persuade Hill to give himself up. Krasner later said the tear gas probably had a more direct influence on Hill's leaving his house, but he accompanied the lawyer to a spot near the scene, in case they could help police with the situation.

Krasner, for his part, issued a statement pointing out that

The U.S Attorney is not a political elected office. I'm surprised that William McSwain would seek to detract from the great collaborative work of law enforcement last night ― for which bipartisan leaders in City Hall just minutes ago had nothing but praise, and rightly so ― for his own political agenda and personal gain.

Clearly, McSwain had some talking points to amplify, handed to him directly from his boss: This shooting happened because bad local DAs set a bad example by letting innocent people out of prison. Boy, just wait until McSwain hears about the white power terrorists who take their manifesto's language directly from the "president" of the United States.

[Salon / WaPo / New Yorker / US Department of Justice / HuffPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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