Glimpse of a gun criminal

Gun-control advocates need to get out more. Specifically, they need to meet some of the real people who repeatedly commit gun crimes.

One such individual in Craighead County made the news this past weekend by posting a Facebook video in which he admitted to killing a woman, and also threatened to kill others as he drove toward Jonesboro.

As he cursed incessantly, he occasionally reached over, grabbed a handgun and held it up for emphasis.

In an mf-bomb-laced monologue, he was brazen about his alleged crime (“the b * * * h deserved it”), who his next victims might be (“I’m coming for y’all … in Jonesboro”) and what his intentions were (“I’m shooting in the m * * * * * f * * * * * g face”).

The man filmed himself while driving around in the victim’s vehicle, and later surrendered to police and was charged with capital murder. Despite his video-recorded comments and police reports of a full confession, he is presumed innocent of the murder charge until proven guilty in a court of law.

But like so many other gun criminals, he’s guilty of plenty of previous crimes–including breaking gun laws without blinking.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree terroristic threatening and possession of a firearm by a felon in 2008, and it’s disconcerting to consider the possibility that ever since he could have been illegally carrying guns around.

Like so many other domestic-violence victims, the murdered woman had taken out a protective order against the man on Aug. 8. It now looks like he violated his parole, the restraining order, and the prohibition against possessing a firearm.

Once again, we have a prime example of the rampant recidivism among gun criminals.

When it’s clear that the main violators of gun laws are criminals who “don’t give a f***,” as this man said over and over on his video, about what the law says about guns, it’s laughably ludicrous to suggest that the way to stop them is to enact additional gun laws.

Once again, the operative word in the phrase “gun criminal” is the second one. Criminals who decide to carry guns often wind up using them. A violent felon can always get a gun as long as he is part of free society.

It’s so common for a felon with a previous gun crime to wind up committing another gun crime that it’s essentially predictable. And all too often, the severity of the crimes escalate; what started out first as flashing a gun for effect ultimately becomes firing a gun in a murder or maiming later on.

Had this man gotten 15 years of prison time without parole instead of a suspended sentence in 2008, he would not have been free to shoot anyone. And the victim would not have died Saturday from multiple gunshot wounds.

It’s time for a two-prong, divide-and-conquer fundamental change in our crime fighting strategy and justice system.

The first prong: Divide criminals in a way that aligns with human nature. Some people are capable of maliciously hurting innocents on a regular basis, others are not. It’s logical, smart and right to treat them differently.

With repeat violent offenders, the question isn’t if, but when. It’s much easier to simply keep a ticking bomb far away from a neighborhood than to try and protect the local population from an imminent detonation next door.

People also need to know who the dangerous criminals among them are, which is why Arkansas needs a violent offender registry (like the sex offender registry), with double asterisks on those convicted of gun crimes.

The latest state to add a violent offender registry is Ohio, where the measure passed the state’s House unanimously and the Senate 24-3.

Also, anyone convicted of a felon-in-possession charge who becomes the subject of a protective or restraining order needs to be immediately searched as a matter of protocol. They should be presumed recidivist, and primed and ready to open fire if certain situations escalate.

Felons have no Fourth Amendment protections, and if an illegal gun is found in his home or car, he can be immediately jailed—which will provide real restraint and protection for the petitioning woman who fears for her safety.

The second prong: Conquer gun crime by stiffening sentencing laws for felons who possess firearms before they graduate to actually shooting people.

That’s the point in time—before they’ve killed anyone—to put them away for enough years so they will come out older, weaker and perhaps wiser than when they went in.

If a twice-convicted felon re-arms himself, it should be a life sentence, period. That’s the best way to protect society from what is the highest-risk criminal known to police: a repeat gun offender with a violent past.

Longer sentences will run prison costs up. But a steep reduction in gun crime will push victimization costs, such as health care and missed work and lost productivity, down to offset the increase in incarceration expenses.

Life is the most basic right and the priceless precursor to other rights deriving from liberty and pursuit of happiness. Filling prisons with disarmed felons will undoubtedly save innocent, productive lives.

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