A Rolling Stone Gathers No Facts

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Back in the long ago days of 2014, Rolling Stone published an article titled A Rape on Campus about a supposed gang rape that was a fraternity initiation at UVA.

As it turns out, the young woman interviewed by Rolling Stone was a serial liar with a long history of making stuff up for sympathy.  Rolling Stone took this fake sob story and ran with it, making up their own “facts” to fill in the gaps, and produced an article so bad that they were sued for defamation and lost.

Rolling Stone lost all of its credibility in one article.

But have no fear, not to be deterred by a Ratheresque act of getting one’s hand caught in the bullshit jar, Rolling Stone has found a fan in Moms Demand Action.  One group of liars supports another.

Somehow I don’t believe the headline of the story.  Let’s have a read.

This is how it starts:

Martinez Smith-Payne as he lay recovering in a bed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He was 10 years old, and had discovered a firework in a barren field in the northern part of the city. After he lit the fuse, it exploded in his left hand, blowing off all of his fingers except the thumb. When he later appeared on television, his destroyed hand was wrapped in a ball of gauze, and his eyes were covered with a mask, partially concealing his delicate face.

OK…?   Starting with a sob story about a boy mangling himself with a firework.  Emotionally evocative but what does this have to do with the justifiable killing of a 13 year old.

An ambulance transported Martinez to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, his second visit there for an emergency. This time, he would not get the chance to speak to his mother and assure her everything was fine. He was pronounced dead at 1:37 a.m.

Oh, so Martinez is the boy who was killed.

Seems between these to paragraphs, there was some important details that Rolling Stone sort of glossed over with poetic license.

Outside, Ernest, the 14-year-old, stood watch by the driver’s door while Martinez and the other boy, whose name has not been released, poked around in the car. They spotted a container in the center console. Inside were four dimes and 15 nickels.

Martinez and two friends were stealing stuff out of some guy’s car.

Shortly before 12:45 a.m., the boys came upon a blue 1991 Oldsmobile sedan, parked in a carport behind a closed chain link gate, next to a white garage.

They were stealing stuff out of some guy’s car after midnight.

[U]nder a full moon from the St. Louis neighborhood of Walnut Park East, one of the most dangerous areas of a city with the highest homicide rate in the United States.

They were stealing stuff out of some guy’s car after midnight in a bad part of town in one of the most dangerous cities an America.

The interior light had been left on, and it caught their attention. They were children with little access to spending money, and thought there might be some in the vehicle. They set down their bicycles and hopped over the gate.

Oh, it’s alright that they were stuff out of some guy’s car after midnight in a bad part of town, they were poor and they might have found some money.

Up to this point, nothing that they did justified a shooting.  However, a word of advice, advice explained quite well by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: nothing good happens after midnight.

The owner of the car, Lervurance McDade, was a 60-year-old black man who worked at Taco Bell. He was in his bathroom when he heard a rattling sound and looked out a window. There was movement. He retrieved a Colt Hammerless .380 semiautomatic pistol he had purchased from a friend, switched on a light attached to the garage, and opened the back door.

Nothing good showed up in the form of the owner of the car getting broken into, armed with a pistol.

McDade peered into the night. From where he stood, the boys were more than 70 feet away. Another chain link fence, this one separating the carport from the backyard, stood between McDade and the unarmed children.  Seeing the boys, McDade yelled, according to an account he gave to police. Then, as they fled back over the gate and into the alley, he fired four shots in their direction.

Uh-oh.  That doesn’t sound like a good shoot to me.

When police did their first interview with McDade, he told them that he was legally barred from owning a firearm due to a felony conviction two decades earlier. After handing over the weapon, he was arrested and taken to homicide headquarters, downtown.

A felon in possession.  I don’t see how this really is the NRA’s fault yet.

I have to say, this is the saddest part of this whole story to me.  That Colt Hammerless is a rare and beautiful collector’s piece, they go for upwards of a grand or more in working condition.  You know that McDade’s friend sold him this old gun not knowing what he had.  Now that beautiful old Colt is either going to spend its life in the police evidence locker, or more likely it will be destroyed.

Don Tyson, a veteran city prosecutor, had made his way over to the department. A stout, gray-haired man whose glasses tend to rest on the edge of his nose, Tyson is a member of the National Rifle Association and has taken part in well over 200 trials. The city’s homicide crisis – 188 people were killed murdered in St. Louis in 2015, 178 of them with guns – was constantly on his mind, and he felt there was nothing worse than when the victim was a child. He watched from another room as detectives questioned McDade.

The prosecutor is an NRA member.  This is the first mention of the NRA in this piece.

McDade had used an illegal gun to shoot at three unarmed kids some 70 feet away from his home, killing one of them. In other places, and at other times, this would be the kind of reckless behavior that could at minimum lead to a charge of manslaughter. But Missouri’s legislature, along with those in many other states, had adopted a statute known as the “castle doctrine,” which says people can use deadly force to defend themselves on their property, so long as the individual “reasonably believes” he or she is about to be attacked.

Here we go, a mention of of “castle doctrine.”  In typical Rolling Stone mishandling of facts, they get castle doctrine wrong.

In the last decade, gun rights groups – especially the NRA – have pushed to expand legal protections for people who shoot in self-defense. In 2005, Florida enacted a castle doctrine statute, crafted by the NRA, that permits people to not only kill home intruders, but also anyone they believe will do them “imminent” harm in any location they have a right to be.

Just nope.

After the killing death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida in 2012, the provision of the new laws that applied to public spaces became widely known as “stand your ground,” after a phrase that appears in the statute.

This is the Travyon Martin defense.  It is the Chewbacca Defense of anti-gun logic.  They may get castle doctrine and stand your ground totally wrong, but Trayvon Martin!  A poor black kid was murdered over some skittles and so your law is bad.   Who cares about the factual accuracy of any of this, Trayvon Martin!

In 2013, a Tampa Bay Times investigation found that, since the law was enacted in Florida, almost 70 percent of those using “stand your ground” as a defense had gone free.

See, according to Rolling Stone, “stand your ground” is a magical shibboleth in the law, and once you say it your can’t get prosecuted.  It’s a get out of jail free card that comes with an NRA membership.

The newspaper also found that it was much easier to mount a successful defense if the victim was black.

It’s racist too.

Don Tyson’s challenge, as he picked up his new case in St. Louis, was to determine whether the fear that led McDade to pull the trigger was reasonable and if it would be possible to prove otherwise.

A felon in possession shot at three kids , 70 feet away, running away from him.  I don’t think his fear was reasonable.

“He said, ‘I want you to know that everyone in the area knows that kids are carrying guns. That guy was scared,'” She says, adding, “If everyone believes everyone else is armed, it doesn’t make the city safer; it makes people more willing to shoot.”

About a week before Christmas, Joyce convened a meeting in her office with the attorneys who had participated in the investigation. A framed picture of a black St. Louis teenager brandishing a firearm sat on a table. The photograph had made the rounds on social media. Joyce saw in the photo the hungry vortex of the city’s gun culture, swallowing up everyone it touched.

See, it’s not the poverty or gangs or lack of police presence because of the scale back by police in St. Louis following the backlash against the shooting of Michael Brown the year before.  It’s the guns.  It’s always the guns.

Tyson characterized the discussion as “very collegial.” Everyone agreed on the course of action: They would bring against McDade a single charge of wrongfully possessing a firearm.

“The layout seemed to corroborate his story,” Tyson says. “All Mr. McDade knows is that he has three guys in his locked yard, breaking into his car. And the first move he sees is towards him.  “What’s reasonable comes down to a calculous by us. We’re not going to require a someone to be shot or shot at before he clears the hurdle of reasonable fear.”

 That’s called prosecutorial discretion.  The city attorney filed charges that he was sure he could get a conviction on.

“All of us are very concerned about gun violence in St. Louis,” Joyce says. “Particularly when a young person is killed like that – if there was a way to prosecute that case, we would do it. We’re not afraid of tough cases.”

They could have chosen to prosecute McDade if they wanted.  Prosecutorial discretion means that if they wanted, a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich.  The issue is could the prosecutor get a conviction.  They decided not to try and prove McDade’s fear was justified.  Castle doctrine is not an absolute.  You can’t shoot the postman in the face for delivering the mail and then claim “castle doctrine,” it doesn’t work like that.

On a recent visit to his home, there was a sign on his front lawn seen frequently around St. Louis. “We must stop killing each other,” it reads.

That sign is going to fix EVERYTHING.

Another added yet more protections for gun owners who injure or kill for putative protection, making Missouri the first state to pass a “stand your ground” law since Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012. As of October 14th, the ambiguous standard governing the use of deadly force now applies anywhere a person has a right to be, not just within certain boundaries, such as the fencing around McDade’s property.

So you don’t have to run away if you are attacked in your own back yard.  How horrifying.

The NRA fought for these laws. Its influence over the heavily Republican legislature is hard to overstate. Seventy percent of Missouri state lawmakers have received a grade of A-minus or better from the group.

The NRA murdered this poor, innocent boy, just like they killed Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

She sighed and added, “Who the hell is the NRA that they’re grading our politicians? Who’s the NRA that they’re holding such sway? Why are they running my state? I gotta hand it to them – they’re masterful, like Lex Luthor.”

That’s a totally reasonable and balanced statement from a city attorney.  It’s clear she never lets politics get in the way of her job.  If only the NRA wasn’t a super villain, kinds wouldn’t be breaking into cars in people’s yards after midnight, felons wouldn’t have illegally obtained guns, and peace would rain and cars would would be powered by water and unicorn farts.

Joyce was angry that the rural and suburban districts of the state were not only unwilling to address the city’s gun violence problem, but, as she sees it, actively making it worse. Aside from the immense challenges posed by Missouri’s broad self-defense laws, measures that make it easier for people to carry guns mean that more of them will show up in her city.

Maybe the suburbanites want their guns because they are scared shitless of going into your murder capital city.  I didn’t feel like I needed to carry concealed in downtown Naperville.  I always carried when I went into Chicago.  That was my run through the Green Zone.

“But when we go to the legislature to talk about the loss of life we’re seeing, we sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown,” she says. “They really don’t care.”

Your gang problem shouldn’t restrict my CCW rights.

St. Louis’ police chief, Sam Dotson, fears “stand your ground” legislation could have dire implications for his city’s public safety.  “Suddenly it’s, I’m skeptical of everybody, and if you cut me off on the road, I’m going to assume you have a gun and you’re going to shoot me, so I’m going to shoot you,” he says.

Still waiting for this to happen.

Research supports his concern. Studies have found that states that implement “stand your ground” have experienced rising gun homicide rates. One paper, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November, determined that in the nine years after Florida instituted its “stand your ground” law, the state’s gun homicide rate had soared 31.6 percent.

And Chicago’s went up 72% but I don’t think that has anything to do with lawful CCW owners.  There are other factors at play.

“Martinez wanted to be a chef,” she says, sitting beside me on a couch. “The morning before he died, he cooked fried chicken, waffles, and eggs. Then he went to his friend’s, where he’d gone many times. He was having a sleepover.” Smith looked at her knees. “He went out the door. I didn’t see him alive after that.”

“Martinez is irreplaceable,” she says. “He was a wonderful little boy. He loved to dance. If he caught a beat, he would stop, drop and shake a tailfeather.”

Don’t break into cars after midnight.

I’m not at all saying the shoot was justified.  It wasn’t.  But you are less likely to get shot if you don’t get yourself into situations like that.

“We understand what he did was wrong,” she says. “But to take his life for going through a car?”

Yeah, that’s a little severe, but it’s still not the NRA’s fault.

If Rolling Stone wanted to cover this fairly, they’d bring up the shooting of Jordan Davis.  Florida CCW permit holder and idiot, Michael Dunn shot Jordan Davis in a car after confronting him and two other boys over loud rap music.  After the shooting he claimed “stand your ground” and the prosecutor tired and convicted him anyway.  In the Gunshine State.  Because it was a bad shoot.

The NRA isn’t killing kids.  The expansion of self defense for law abiding citizens reduces crime.  But just like “A Rape On Campus” the facts don’t fit the narrative, so screw the facts.  This article is a bunch of half lies and bullshit that only a bunch of lying bullshit artists are going to believe, e.g. Moms Demand Action.

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Comments

  1. patrickhenry2nd : January 3, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Really good fisking of that article. Its amazing how wrong they get the law and who is at fault. Or maybe not, because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

  2. “Joyce was angry that the rural and suburban districts of the state were not only unwilling to address the city’s gun violence problem, but, as she sees it, actively making it worse.”

    My hunch is that those folks are neither the cause nor the solution to the city’s violence problems. I might be going out on a limb here, but my WAG is that the city’s residents are the cause and the solution to the city’s violence problems.

  3. Florida CCW permit holder and idiot, Michael Dunn shot Jordan Davis in a car after confronting him and two other boys over loud rap music. After the shooting he claimed “stand your ground” and the prosecutor tired and convicted him anyway. In the Gunshine State. Because it was a bad shoot.

    Not entirely a bad shoot, either.

    Dunn fired 10 shots total: a volley of three shots, followed by another volley of three shots, followed by a volley of four shots as the SUV Davis was in was pulling away. He was arraigned on multiple counts of murder (with the lesser manslaughter charge included) and assault with a deadly weapon. The prosecutors pushed to get convictions for all of his shots, but failed for the first six — the first two volleys were considered justified (and as it was one of these that killed Davis, by definition it was considered justified, too).

    Dunn got convicted for those last four shots, and ONLY those last four shots; the threat had ended, the suspects had disengaged and were pulling away. It’s important to remember and report accurately that Dunn was not convicted of manslaughter or murder over Davis’ death; he was acquitted of those specific charges. Rather, he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, and ONLY because he kept firing when he shouldn’t have. THAT was where his actions crossed the line into illegality.

    I don’t mean to nitpick, but no media outlet outside of Legal Insurrection’s Andrew Branca seems to get the facts right, and it’s the facts that should (and do) determine the outcome.

    • Nope:
      http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/michael-dunn-sentenced-life-without-parole-loud-music-killing-n228191

      “A Florida man convicted of first-degree murder for shooting a teenager to death over loud music was sentenced to life without parole Friday. Michael Dunn, 47, was convicted of killing Jordan Davis, 17, in November 2012 after he shot into a SUV of four teenagers 10 times when an argument broke out over loud music coming from the teens’ vehicle. Dunn was sentenced to an additional 90 years in prison for three attempted murder convictions and another 15 years for firing into an occupied vehicle.”

      I think you got confused that the secondary charges he was convicted on, but the murder charge ended in a mistrial.

  4. That was really well written. Bravo.

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