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Thread: FBI: Justifiable homicides at highest in more than a decade

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    FBI: Justifiable homicides at highest in more than a decade

    By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

    The number of justifiable homicides committed by police and private citizens has been rising in the past two years to their highest levels in more than a decade, reflecting a shoot-first philosophy in dealing with crime, say law enforcement analysts.

    The 391 killings by police that were ruled justifiable in 2007 were the most since 1994, FBI statistics show. The 254 killings by private individuals found to be self-defense were the most since 1997.

    The FBI says a homicide committed by a private citizen is justified when a person is slain during the commission of a felony, such as a burglary or robbery. Police are justified, the FBI says, when felons are killed while the officer is acting in the line of duty. Rulings on these deaths are usually made by the local police agencies involved.

    Some law enforcement analysts say the numbers represent changing attitudes on the streets, where police have felt more threatened by well-armed offenders, and citizens have taken greater responsibility for their own safety.

    Northeastern University criminal justice professor James Alan Fox describes an emerging "shoot-first" mentality by police and private citizens. For several years, police departments have armed their officers with higher-powered weapons to keep pace with criminal gangs. "Clearly there is a message out there that citizens may be able to defend themselves" as well, he says.
    FIND MORE STORIES IN: United States Supreme Court | Wisconsin | Hurricane Katrina | National Rifle Association | Carnegie Mellon University | Second Amendment | Wayne LaPierre | James Alan Fox

    Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist, says the gun "legalization movement" also may have helped create a "greater willingness" among citizens to act in self-defense.

    Forty-eight states provide various rights to carry firearms. Illinois and Wisconsin do not, according to the National Rifle Association. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court in June carved out a right to individual gun ownership, ruling that the Second Amendment allows citizens to keep guns in their homes for self-defense.

    The NRA and other analysts say most laws allowing gun possession have existed for years and would not likely account for a recent spike in self-defense killings.

    Instead, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president and chief executive officer, says the Sept. 11 attacks and the widespread looting and violence after Hurricane Katrina spurred some people to take more responsibility for their own safety.

    Immediately after those events, LaPierre says the group's gun-safety trainers reported "big increases" in NRA-sponsored courses. "Americans are simply refusing to be victims," he says.

    Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck says the FBI underestimates self-defense killings by citizens because the ones that are not precipitated by felony crimes may not get counted. "Less than a third of (citizen killings) are reported," he says.

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    Interesting article. I'd like to see the breakdown of stats between police and private citizens. Combining the two makes for a muddy conclusion.

    I have to disagree with Prof. Fox's theory of a "shoot first" mentality. I think it's the result of a "fed up with violent crime" mentality.

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    I agree that it isn't a "shoot first" mentality. From the private citizen standpoint, I think many have come to the realization that the police won't be there to protect them -- only to respond and try to solve the crime. I think that LEOs realize that the BGs are better armed, more desensitized to violence, and much more inclined these days to shoot rather than run.

    The article in USA Today has a graph that helps sort out the police/citizen numbers a bit, but not much. Maybe another paper will pick up the story and give more detail. If I find time, I'll check out the FBI site and see if there is a report there.

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    Good point: criminals are far more violent than in decades past and with greater frequency. The most frightening aspect is that they are often motivated by nothing more than "looking for a thrill."

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    I'm glad to hear that collectively, we are improving our aim!
    I put it this way....
    If someone has to call the police and a meatwagon to the crime scene, would you rather it be yourself or the BG they have to mop up?

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    The desensitizing and looking for a thrill is result of the pop-culture that makes this type of act seem "cool". Hip-Hop music and Grand Theft Auto video games that make being a thug the goal.

    I am not one to blame video games and music on violence increases, but when those same types of media are expressly encouraging violent acts, well it doesn't take a doctorate to see the affect that has on society.

    Unprovoked violence should be met with a well trained and prepared violent response.

    Forty-eight states provide various rights to carry firearms. Illinois and Wisconsin do not, according to the National Rifle Association. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court in June carved out a right to individual gun ownership, ruling that the Second Amendment allows citizens to keep guns in their homes for self-defense.
    Oh really? So that is what the SCOTUS decided? We are now allowed to keep guns in our home for self-defense? Nice to know.

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    Regular Member John Hardin's Avatar
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    In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court in June carved out a right to individual gun ownership
    Fire mission! I've already written to USA Today correcting this bit. Pile on. The email links are at the bottom of the page.

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    well it doesn't take a doctorate to see the affect that has on society
    I would submit to you that the games and music are a reflection of the society that already existed, not the other way around. I enjoy Grand Theft Auto and Hip-Hop music, as do many people I know, and neither I, nor them, are or want to be thugs. We are honest, hard working, tax paying Americans, most of us with families to support and normal lives to lead.

    Occam's razor: Which is more likely: Thugs and criminal masterminds engineer music and games to drive a society to commit crimes they would not otherwise be inclined to commit? Or, music and games are created by normal people that naturally reflect the existing mannerisms and behaviors of society at that point in time?

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    The problem is that one element feeds the other, not that one is a direct cause of the other. Taboo sells, and it sells big, but it's all relative. When society becomes desensitized to a level of violence then you need to take it to the next level in order to stand out and be noticed (and turn a serious profit). Everybody jumps on the bandwagon and pretty soon this new level of violence becomes mainstream. Time to bump it up a notch once more.

    This doesn't just apply to the entertainment industry, it applies to all media. News organizations watch their ratings jump every time they air something shocking. Ratings = money. It gets harder and harder to shock people as time goes by so they have to come up with increasingly heinous sh:t to broadcast.

    There is no check to this downward spiral, no balance. There is, however something which slows its progress: Backlash. If they push too hard, too fast, a media or entertainment organization will feel the financial hurt of poor sales because the masses have been offended beyond reckoning. But even in such a situation, that organization has pioneered the next level, making it easier for others to step down into it.

    There are plenty of dung clods feeding this fire...

    1. The media
    These people use the First Ammendment to shield their garbage

    2. Society at large
    This kind of demoralization requires funding, and consumers keep forking over the money for it.

    3. Parents
    They enjoyed getting laid, but don't want the burden of its consequences. Piss poor parents breed a higher quantity of lower quality human being, effectively creating the audience that will fund society's next step downward.

    4. "Freedom" fighters
    These folks rally around the cry "if you don't like it, don't watch it" as if this were the ultimate solution.

    It's no wonder that Democrats and Socialists believe the masses require a nanny. There are too many "adults" who, just like children, have no concept of self-restraint.

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    You make many good points that I agree with. With regards to "shock value", you're absolutely right, many people are striving to reach the next acceptable low for profit. That being said, people desensitized to on-screen or lyrical violence are not necessarily desensitized to real life violence. Anyone raised with a half decent set of parents understands right from wrong. Millions of people enjoy mowing down virtual crowds with guns or cars in Grand Theft Auto, but none of those people actually think this is a good idea to do in real life. I would submit that the select few who actually do go on murderous rampages have significant other problems in their lives and do this irrespective of cultural "influences." Note that most of the shooters kill themselves after finishing their rampages; these are suicidal maniacs to begin with, they weren't spurred on by video games and rap music.

    Responding to your points:

    1. The first amendment exists specifically to shield their garbage and I wouldn't have it any other way. In a free society, we have to take the good with the bad. Once we begin legislating what people can or can't say, which lines can or can't be crossed, it's only a matter of time until someone decides something YOU enjoy doing or saying should be illegal. Note that I'm not advocating a free-for-all, see my response to point 4 below.

    2. No arguments here.

    3. You're absolutely right. In fact, it is my opinion that a lack of parenting is, by far, the biggest contributor to this problem. The problem grows exponentially because dumb people out breed the rest of us by a large margin. Watch the movie "Idiocracy" to see this taken to hypothetical extremes.

    4. "If you don't like it, don't watch it" really is the solution to those who object to various forms of media. We do have basic decency laws that must be adhered to in public and public broadcast media, but when it comes to private matters such as non-broadcast and subscription based services, the moral majority doesn't deserve a say here. See my response to #1. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is nobody's business. This does not mean I support anyone's right to scream obscenities in public, bare their naked bodies on national broadcast television, etc.

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    USA Today wrote:
    In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court in June carved out a right to individual gun ownership, ruling that the Second Amendment allows citizens to keep guns in their homes for self-defense
    No they didn't. The SCOTUS can't "carve out" any rights at all. All they can do is confirm the fact that the right previously existed. This is the most ignorant or willfully argumentative and wrong statement I have seen on the issue.

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    Tricity: You and I are pretty much on the same sheet here. I don't advocate the legislating of morality because it immediately turns into a quagmire of "whose morality becomes law?" followed by "how do we enforce it?" There are plenty of examples, past and present, that illustrate why it is such a bad idea. The separation of church and state was an act of wisdom.

    This really boils down to the whole "raindrop" theory: No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood. People want to indulge their individual pleasures and, though most understand there are consequences on an individual level, they tend to forget there are often also consequences on a collective level as well.

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    By no means am I encouraging anyone to impose laws of morality on us. In fact I am completely against this and consider myself a libertarian. I too play "violent" video games, but I choose not to play games that involve unprovoked assaults and theft. I also do not enjoy music that sensationalizes and often encourages this behavior.

    I think 3/325 clearly grasps and articulates the concept and tricityguy has some good points.

    Now let's get this thread back on topic.

    The 254 killings by private individuals found to be self-defense were the most since 1997
    Does anyone know why 1997 had a higher number of "killings"? What was so special about 1997 and what similarities exist today as with 1997 that we are seeing an increase?

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    I don't 'have time to look it up at the moment, but IIRC, 1997 was the year prior to the big decline we had in the last '90s in violent crime. If my memory is correct that is the obvious explanation that justifiable homicide rates directly correlate with the violent crime rate.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    It's also significant the differene in justification between citizens and police. Police are considered justified if they kill somone while involved in doing their duty(traffic stop?) while citizens are only justified when it's a felony.

    I also choked over that "carved out" phrase... biased much?
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    3/325 wrote:
    Interesting article. I'd like to see the breakdown of stats between police and private citizens. Combining the two makes for a muddy conclusion.

    I have to disagree with Prof. Fox's theory of a "shoot first" mentality. I think it's the result of a "fed up with violent crime" mentality.
    Graphical 'breakdown' http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum4/17287.html

    We should turn to Dr. Lott for analysis of this report.

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