Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V
Forensic Criminologist/Law Enforcement Expert
Copyright © October 5, 2015
The other night, Bill O’Reilly invited me on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss the most recent mass school shooting at Umpqua College in Roseburg, Oregon. We discussed the psychological profile of the killer and gun control. Bill asked me for my opinion on gun control because a retired detective and a forensic criminologist, specializing in homicides, indubitably has expertise in murderous behavior, gun violence and gun control. I like to think that Bill has good taste in his experts.
Almost immediately after the college killings, President Obama held a series of press conferences where he extolled the masses to pressure congress to enact yet more laws restricting the purchase of guns and ammunition. Make no mistake about it; our POTUS is on the anti-gun, gun control war path.
Once again, I heard President Obama blurt out the false narrative that “the states with the most stringent gun control laws, have the least amount of gun violence.” Really? This guy needs to get out more and visit some urban neighborhoods without his Secret Service entourage.
The question you want to ask yourself is who do you want to pay attention to; a former community activist and anti-gun far left ideologue who lives in an encapsulated environment protected by literally hundreds of armed to the teeth Secret Service, FBI and military personnel; or a former urban beat cop and violent crimes detective who has seen and personally experienced more gun violence and death than a decade of Miami Vice episodes?
Choose wisely because some day your life may depend upon your answer.
My 5 Step REAL “Gun Control” Plan
Step 1 – It’s Not Gun Control – It’s Behavior Control
It’s been said many times, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” This is a forensic fact. It’s not the inanimate object committing gun violence; it’s the criminal with their finger on the trigger. Committing crimes and shooting and killing people are behaviors. You can remove all of the guns from society and people will ultimately find some instrument with which to injure or kill someone else. Knives, screwdrivers, hammers, baseball bats, vehicles, bombs, poison; you name it and it’s been done, absent the presence of any firearm. The key to reducing gun violence is not gun control; but behavior control. Before you can begin to have real reductions in gun violence, you must modify behavior. If you can’t wrap your head around this psychological fact, you simply can’t move forward towards creating a safer American society.
Step 2 – Change the Statute and Sentencing Paradigm
We already have plenty of gun laws already on the books, but criminals still buy, possess and increasingly use firearms in the commission of violent acts. The problem is that the sentencing laws have been so watered down, by our capricious and nonsensical criminal justice systems, that street thugs, gang members, dope pushers and their ilk laugh at these laws. They know that they can usually plea bargain down their gun possession case and get probation. Gun possession is a misdemeanor in most states if you’re not already a convicted felon. In many states the cops begrudgingly release illegal gun-toters with a citation. What?! That has got to stop. How? You stop it by changing the criminal mindset, which in turn modifies behavior. Here’s my plan to do just that.
“Shock and Awe” – Bill O’Reilly says make all gun possession crimes a federal crime and then be tough on sentencing. I agree. However, my follow through is multiphasic to change the behavior paradigm.
First, enact a harsh sentence structure so even your dumbest street thug recidivist knows you mean business. In my plan, the first offense for illegal gun possession would draw a mandatory non-plea bargainable five year federal prison sentence with no time off for “good behavior.” If a defendant is convicted of a second gun possession offense; or they are already a convicted felon; and/or they had a previous state/federal gun-related crime; and/or they committed any crime with a firearm; they would receive a mandatory ten year no plea bargain sentence in a federal prison with no time off for good behavior. Ouch! Now that’s a head spinner. Just wrap your head around the idea of not being on the street for five to ten years and you get my point. So will the crooks.
Fast track the court process for gun crimes – Placing gun possession and use crimes within the Federal justice and prison systems frees up state courts and local and state incarceration facilities which are already clogged with gun related cases, pre-trial detainees and convicted inmates. The Federal government has far more monetary, personnel, logistical and brick and mortar resources than state and local governments have. If President Obama and his uber-liberal, gun hating followers are really committed to severely reducing gun violence, then these politicians should put their federal monies where their mouths are. After all, isn’t it the Federal Government’s primary responsibility to protect its citizens?
Establish Federal “Gun Courts” and Special Juries to Hear Gun Cases – I wasn’t kidding when I said we need a real paradigm shift in both our criminal justice system and the criminal mindset to make a serious dent in reducing gun-related violence. I propose that Congress and the POTUS fast track the development and passage of special legislation that would create special courts with smaller juries to fast track the adjudication process for gun-related offenses. The process of arrest to adjudication to sentencing in this country is a time consuming and ridiculously expensive farce. Everyone in the system from cops, to judges, to attorneys, to probation/parole officers know it. Let’s stop kidding ourselves here. Like O’Reilly says, let’s stop all the spin and get serious about trials and sentencing.
If defense attorneys threaten prosecutors and court systems with “Well, we’ll just go to trial on every case,” my response would be, “Fine. Let me know how that works out for you after your client is doing five to ten years in Sing Sing. We’ve had enough of gun violence.” Look; bleeding heart uber-liberals and so-called civil rights advocates have got to Man-Up. Stop the tedious platitudes we hear about trying to make a broken system work and start becoming part of a real solution to significantly reducing gun-related murder and mayhem.
This is a cost effective solution when one considers that no plea bargains means we don’t need probation/parole officers to write sentencing reports; prosecutors and defense attorneys, far more likely than not, will only get one shot at each case; fast tracking the court calendar and fewer jurors mean less money will be spent overall. Here are the hidden costs of gun-related violence. Dying, crime ridden neighborhoods where citizens are being held hostages in their homes; overflowing hospitals filled with victims of gun violence; overcrowded municipal and state court dockets; overcrowded and dangerous municipal and state incarceration facilities. I could write a separate article just on the incredible expense of not proactively addressing the problems of gun violence.
When municipal and state governments have to diminish their budgets to address gun crime; they can’t afford to provide us with desperately needed social and other badly needed citizen services. Just where and how do you want your tax dollars to be spent?
Where are we going to house the thousands of newly convicted gun crime inmates? You have to ask yourself just how committed to seriously reducing gun violence you are. We are going to have to build a few new federal prisons just for these inmates. That’s going to cost some money. No pain, no gain. Think of it as real “shovel ready” jobs. However, also think again about how much it is currently costing us right now to keep things the way they are.
Step 3 – Restructure Our Deplorable Mental Health System
Nearly all of the mass shootings our nation has tragically experienced have been committed by “ticking time bombs” with severe mental health and behavioral problems. Since the mid 1960’s we have essentially abandoned those among us with serious mental health and behavioral issues. These people who have been adjudicated as mentally dysfunctional, gravely disabled and a danger to themselves and others are free to walk our streets, absent critically needed medical and mental health care. When they “explode,” they take many of our best and brightest with them. The mentally dysfunctional are protected by misguided and myopically focused civil rights “protectors” such as the ACLU and other “advocacy” groups. This must change. Our Federal and State governments must enact special legislation that recognizes and fairly balances the sanctity of the human spirit with public safety concerns.
Our Federal and State governments must prioritize the restructuring of laws that adversely “protect” the psychotic, deranged and/or dangerous among us. They must restructure our decimated mental health systems and they must fund the systems so they work to the benefit of all.
Step 4 – Federal and State governments need to get serious about vetting who gets to own firearms
One thing that angers me about the government’s idea of so called “gun control,” is that while they talk a good game, they are nothing more than inept “paper tigers” who can’t even competently fund, staff, or vet the very system of checks and balances they have created to protect us from people who should not be allowed to own or possess firearms. An excellent example of such systemic failures is Dylann Roof who massacred church goers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC this year. Embarrassed FBI Director James B. Comey was forced to admit that Federal and State firearms background checkers failed to detect that Roof should have never been allowed to purchase the .45 caliber pistol he used to kill parishioners. Federal and State governments need to get serious about the firearms ownership vetting process and adequately fund, staff and monitor vetting systems.
Step 5 – Stop Forwarding the False Narratives – People Aren’t Stupid
The President and his gun control minions need to stop telling the American people that, “The states and cities with the most restrictive gun laws have the lowest incidents of gun-related violence.” This is a patently false narrative that is easily resolved simply by researching the violent crime including homicide rates of all of the major cities of those states. The cities of New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and Washington DC share the most restrictive gun control laws on the books; yet have the highest gun violence and homicide rates in the nation.
Be Honest About Who Is Really Killing Who in America and Proactively Address the Root Causes of Gun Violence
#Every96minutes – Black on black homicides – The Department of Justice/FBI Uniform Crime Reports indicate that between 2009 and 2012, there were a total of 40,300 homicides of males. Of these, 22,020 of the victims were identified as black males. Therefore, during those four years, black male homicides made up approximately 54.6% of all male homicides, and 42.2% of all homicides (male/female) in the United States. Extrapolating these figures into a 365 days a year, 24 hours in a day equation; we discover that one black male is actually murdered every 95.5 minutes; and 15 black males are killed every day.
In conducting similar socio-criminal research, University of Toledo criminologist Professor Richard Johnson, Ph.D., found that 90% of black male homicides are committed by another black male.
The extreme level of gun violence by black males within the black community is an inconvenient truth for the black community and President Obama in particular. Since the Umpqua College killings sparked this most recent gun control debate, let me put things in perspective for you.
From 1990 to September, 2015, there were a total of 144 school shooting incidents nationwide where 160 students and faculty were murdered and 261 were wounded. This equates to approximately 10.6 deaths per year; or one murder every month nationwide. In sharp contrast, the City of Baltimore had 108 homicides during the past three months of this year alone. So far this year, through September, Baltimore has experienced 256 homicides, of which 217 or 85% have been black on black homicides. In other words, in less than ten months Baltimore’s black on black homicide rate is over 130% of all of the school shooting homicides nationwide for the past fifteen years! The City of Chicago had 60 homicides last month, with ten of those murders occurring within a twenty-four hour period. Has anyone else from the federal government told you that? Nope. Why not? Because it doesn’t fit their intended false narratives about gun control; that’s why.
When POTUS riles for increased gun control before the assembled media during his press conferences, you never hear him utter the words, “black on black crime.” Our leaders need to be both honest and transparent with us. Their failure to recognize and discuss the incredible black on black gun violence homicide rate is disingenuous and harmful to our citizens.
All communities need to be honest and forthright about addressing the root causes of violence. This means not assessing blame vaguely upon others; but accepting ownership and responsibility for personal failures and making poor decisions. A sociopathic mindset is not created in a vacuum. It takes time to develop and is nurtured by a lack of parental presence and mentoring; neglect and abuse; distractions from education; the young and impressionable following deviant role models; introduction to alcohol/drug abuse; and the instant gratification of money through the sales of drugs, the commission of robberies and burglaries; and stolen property.
The gun violence problem plaguing the black community could be significantly reduced if there was a demonstration of commitment by black leaders to use the bully pulpit of their leadership positions to bring about much needed change. Until the right people demonstrate their heroic courage and commitment to bringing about change, I fear increasing gun violence will be their lasting legacy.
The states that have the least restrictive gun laws and who have open and/or concealed carry firearm statutes have much lower gun violence crime. There is a reason for that. Criminals I have arrested have often confided to me that they don’t like to rob people or break into their homes if they think they might end up staring down the working end of a gun. It’s just that simple.
Here’s a simple question for all you naysayers. You’re in a college classroom when an active shooter enters, lines up everyone, asks them what their religion is and then begins to systematically shoot every Christian in the head. What would you rather have in your hand; a cell phone, or a Glock 40 caliber pistol? As we say in my line of work, “In a gun fight, there is only First Place. We call Second Place the victim or the decedent.” Here endith the lesson.
About the Author
Ron Martinelli, Ph.D., CMI-V, BCFT, CFA, is a forensic criminologist and Certified Medical Investigator who directs the nation’s only multidisciplinary Forensic Death Investigations & Independent Review Team. Dr. Martinelli is a retired police detective and a forensic law enforcement expert and Certified Medical Investigator who directs the nation’s only Forensic Death Investigations & Independent Review Team. He has personally investigated over 200 homicide cases. His law enforcement/forensic site is http://www.DrRonMartinelli.com.