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OPINION: Sacramento Mass Shooting Confirms What Experts Already Knew, But Media Won’t Tell

A 2020 study done as a part of the RAND Corporation’s Gun Policy in America initiative, revealed that of the 27,900 research publications on the effectiveness of gun control laws, only 123 (0.4%) were found to meet a base level of academic rigor. They also noted that the only reliable conclusion one could get from those 123 studies was that there is zero evidence that gun control laws have any effect on violence in general or gun violence specifically.

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Craig DeLuz. Photo courtesy of the author.
Craig DeLuz. Photo courtesy of the author.

By Craig DeLuz, Special to California Black Media Partners

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting that took place in Sacramento, California, politicians and media pundits have rushed to their soapboxes to proclaim, once again, that guns are the root of all evil and the cause of the recent violent crime wave that has gripped our nation. They share with whoever will listen their prognosis for ending crime as we know it.

“We need more ‘common sense’ gun laws,” they say.

But there are a number of underlying truths that they will dare not share with the public. Because if they do, it will become clear that they and their policies are not the solution. They are, in fact, the root of the problem.

Here are just a few of those truths they will not dare share:

We do not have a gun violence problem. We have a violence problem.

Guns have been a part of the American lexicon since the very beginning. For generations, society had a healthy relationship with the Second Amendment. Firearms were given their proper respect as tools to be used to feed one’s family, defend one’s home or fight for one’s liberty.

It is only recent generations that have concluded that violence is an acceptable way to address the myriad issues confronting them. The firearm is not the cause of this. In fact, it is not even the weapon of choice.

While it is true that 77% of homicides in 2020 were committed with firearms, 92% of all violent crimes do not involve firearms. The overwhelming majority of violent offenses — including robberies, rapes and other sex crimes — almost always involve other weapons or no weapons at all. And there is no doubt that the number of instances of all these offenses are increasing.

Guns are no more the cause of this violence than cars are the cause of drunk driving.

Gun control does nothing to reduce crime in general, let alone violent crime.

There is a popular saying amongst statisticians, “There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics.” Politicians and the media have been using all three to push their false narrative about gun control laws. They would have you believe that studies support the idea that the best way to reduce violent crime is to pass more gun laws. But nothing could be further from the truth.

A 2020 study done as a part of the RAND Corporation’s Gun Policy in America initiative, revealed that of the 27,900 research publications on the effectiveness of gun control laws, only 123 (0.4%) were found to meet a base level of academic rigor. They also noted that the only reliable conclusion one could get from those 123 studies was that there is zero evidence that gun control laws have any effect on violence in general or gun violence specifically.

The recent increase in violent crime is directly linked to “Smart on Crime” (read soft-on-crime) policies

Violent crime was at an all-time high in the early 1990s fueled by gangs and the drug trade. This led to federal, state and local initiatives aimed at stemming the tide. Tough-on-crime initiatives were enacted that included, among other things, increased policing and mandatory minimums for a number of crimes.

Crime (especially violent crime) would go on the decline for the next 20-plus years.

Then in the 2010s, several states began instituting “Smart on Crime” policies that decriminalized a number of criminal offenses and let violent criminals out of prison. That wasn’t the intention of those who supported these policies. But that is, in fact, what happened.

Case in point: Back in 2018 Smiley Martin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for punching a girlfriend, dragging her from her home by her hair and whipping her with a belt.

But, sadly, under California law, these are considered non-violent offenses, making Mr. Martin eligible for a reduced sentence under Proposition 57. So, instead of sitting in a jail cell serving the fifth year of a 10-year sentence, he was walking the streets of Sacramento with a modified automatic pistol.

This story is not the first. It is not even unique to Sacramento. Just a month earlier, three children and their chaperone were killed by their father who should have been in ICE custody. But under California’s Sanctuary State policy, David Mora Rojas, who was locked up for assaulting a highway patrol officer was released from police custody, was free to kill his children.

While the media and politicians deny the correlation and instead seek to blame guns; the increase in crime, especially violent crime, directly corresponds with the change in our criminal justice policies.

This is about race. But not in the way you think it is.

Gun control has always been about keeping “Those People” from being able to own firearms. Following the Civil War, Southern states enacted ‘Black Codes’ making it illegal for newly freed slaves to own guns. In the 1870s, California would pass laws preventing the sale of firearms and ammunition to Native Americans (then referred to as Indians.) In the 1920s, California acted again, prohibiting the sale of firearms to the “Chinese” or “Mexicans.” Then in the 1960s, California would pass the Mulford Act, eliminating the ability to openly carry loaded firearms in public as a way to disarm the Black Panther Party.

The truth is that the gun debate has always been rooted in racism. However, those who push these policies are the true victimizers.

Consider that the last gun case to be heard by the U. S. Supreme Court (McDonald v. Chicago) was brought by a Black man who simply wanted to be able to defend his home from the ravages of gang and drug violence. This underscores two very important, yet often overlooked truths:

  • Policies that release habitual criminals into our neighborhoods lead to the victimization of people in those communities. These policies disproportionately impact people of color.
  • Gun Control Laws only serve to restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to own or possess firearms they may need to protect themselves and their loved ones. These laws also disproportionately affect people of color.

We are often told that young Black and Brown men are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. But it is rarely noted that young Black and Brown men are disproportionately the ones pulling the trigger. The sad fact is that people who seek to victimize others (Black, White, Latin, Asian, etc.) tend to go after people who look like them.

So, while it is noble to try and reduce the number of young Black men in our criminal justice system, we cannot ignore that in doing so, we have put Black men, women and children at risk of being their victims.

At the same time, we are limiting the ability of these very same folks to be able to defend themselves from the very danger we have put in their path.

To any objective observer, these truths are self-evident. Most of the media and political elite have proven themselves to be anything but objective observers. If we are to ever address the scourge of violence in our streets, it will only happen when we all come to grips with these and many other truths.

Craig DeLuz is president of 2ANews Corporation and hosts a daily news and political talk show “The Rundown.”

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Activism

With a 97.3% Strike Vote, More Than 500 Richmond Educators Rally Before School Board Meeting

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

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Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day
Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day

By Post Staff

United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) held a rally urging West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) officials to reach a “fair settlement” and avoid a strike.

Teachers, school psychologists, school nurses, school counselors, program specialists, librarians, and speech-language pathologists are calling for a settlement that includes community schools, shared decisions, and competitive compensation that keeps outstanding educators in the community — and brings the next generation of educators to the district.

The rally was held at Lovonya Dejean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond.

“We don’t want to strike, but we will if it means doing what is best for our students. Over 90% of all union members who participated in the strike authorization vote are ready to meet this crisis created by a board and management team not working in the interests of the district. We are hoping our actions through the fact-finding process will show WCCUSD that we are serious about fighting for the best resources for our students. They deserve the best, and nothing less,” UTR President John Zabala said.

In mid-November last year, the Legislative Analyst Office of California announced additional guaranteed, ongoing funding for the 2023-24 school year. The district intends to only provide less than half of the percentage of ongoing permanent funding it receives from the state for educator compensation, according to a statement released by the UTR.

Despite that projection of continued funding by the state, the school district declared an impasse in negotiations with UTR. Educators across the district have weathered crisis after crisis: from budget cuts due to poor financial management, to building new virtual learning systems during the pandemic, or giving up countless prep or non-contractual hours to ensure students are with a credentialed adult every day.

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Activism

Probationers Share Tales of Reconciliation

Once a year, an emotional celebration is held for those who come to a similar realization and make it on the Wall of Change, selected by a committee for providing the department’s most inspirational success stories of the year. The Wall of Change stories and photos include a first-person account from the honoree and words from their assigned probation coach. The annual ceremony also shows appreciation for the Probation officers and other supporters who sometimes find themselves as the only people who believe in their ability to succeed.

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(from left) Marin County Superior Court Judge Paul Haakenson, Wall of Change honoree James Mayberry, and Marin County Probation Chief Marlon Washington at the Wall of Change ceremony.
(from left) Marin County Superior Court Judge Paul Haakenson, Wall of Change honoree James Mayberry, and Marin County Probation Chief Marlon Washington at the Wall of Change ceremony.

Marin Probation’s inspiring ‘Wall of Change’ newcomers honored at special event

San Rafael, CA – James Mayberry’s painful childhood and young adult years were the start of a long path toward healing and his second chance at life.

He was a young boy when he witnessed his mother’s death at the hands of his father. James was quickly separated from his siblings — they settled with relatives, and he entered the foster care system. Depressed and traumatized, his teen years became overpowered by his alcoholism, and soon after began his period of lawbreaking. By his late 20s, Mayberry was separated from his job, his house, his car, and most importantly, his kids and “everyone I loved.”

A domestic violence charge in Marin County forced him to a relationship with the Marin County Probation Department, where for almost three years he struggled to commit to get sober and turn his life around.

Mayberry, now 31, did commit. He was one of 14 people honored Jan. 18 at the Marin County Civic Center’s Board of Supervisors chamber for accepting renewed responsibilities and becoming a positive role model for others. The group are among the newest probationers honored on the Wall of Change, where personal stories of their transformation are documented in the department’s lobby for all probationers to see. The event opened with a short documentary film about the honorees created by Vincent Cortez of Mitchell Street Pictures.

In addition to Mayberry, the 2022 honorees were Deann Ashley, Hannah Cahoon, Kimberly Clayton, Abdalla “Jimmy” Khaled Sayed, Samuel Lawrence, Cody Lewis, Matthew McCarthy, Gabino Mendoza, Hengly Osiel-Calderon, Fletcher Pinkham, Justin Sheets, Tino Wilson Jr., and Nordia Valdivia-Rodriguez. All of them have powerful stories to tell.

In a statement to the Wall of Change committee, Mayberry wrote that his struggles were rooted in the death of his mother.

“At such a young age I was left to navigate my grief and pain alone, then eventually I became numb to my own emotions,” he wrote. “All I knew was pain, and the thought of happiness was far from my reach. I felt like I had no one to go to even though I knew I had people who knew my situation and loved me, but I didn’t want to be a burden to them.”

Heather Donoho, a senior deputy probation officer assigned to Mayberry’s case, said Mayberry once blew one of the highest blood-alcohol measurements she had ever seen during a compliance check. She said he was testing positive for alcohol use — a violation of probation terms — twice a week on a regular basis.

“We had a serious conversation,” Donoho said. “I was prepared to recommend that he go to jail for a year. Then I found that James had never been offered an addiction treatment program, a recovery coach, or medication and counseling to help him with his trauma. He deserved a shot.”

As those recovery tools became available, Mayberry stopped testing positive for alcohol and stopped missing scheduled appointments. Today, he is sober and no longer homeless. He has a good job walking distance from his home, he helps others in the recovery community, he has reconnected with his childhood church family, and his four kids are back in his life.

“His willingness to work with me changed drastically for the better,” Donoho said. “It sounds cliché, but he’s a good reminder of why I went into this field. Unfortunately, there are so many negative situations we deal with as probation officers, but when you get a chance to work with somebody like James, it’s incredibly rewarding.”

“One day,” Mayberry wrote, “I just decided to be honest with myself and tell the truth because I could not continue living the way I was living.”

Once a year, an emotional celebration is held for those who come to a similar realization and make it on the Wall of Change, selected by a committee for providing the department’s most inspirational success stories of the year. The Wall of Change stories and photos include a first-person account from the honoree and words from their assigned probation coach. The annual ceremony also shows appreciation for the Probation officers and other supporters who sometimes find themselves as the only people who believe in their ability to succeed.

The in-person ceremony was hosted by Marin County Probation Chief Marlon Washington and his staff. Terry Wright, the Probation Department’s Adult Division Director, served as the emcee. Dr. Todd Schirmer, the County’s Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, delivered the keynote speech.

For Mayberry and many other Wall of Change honorees, it’s not just the Probation staff that proves vital to their transformation but also trusted workers from law enforcement agencies, the judges of Marin County Superior Court, the Public Defender’s Office, detoxification centers, supportive nonprofits, social workers, and others. Several recovery coaches and counselors who played critical roles in supporting the honorees attended the Wall of Change ceremony.

Mayberry is finally getting used to hearing that friends and family are proud of him.

“I’m truly blessed to have a second chance at life with all the help and support system that has been given to me,” he wrote. “I also want to help someone else who may be going through the same thing that I have experienced. There is hope in every situation, good or bad, but you have to believe within yourself and have faith that all things will work out for the good once you start making changes for yourself.”

Learn more about Marin County Probation online.

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. Named National Co-Chair of No Labels

“As a veteran of the civil rights movement, during the last six decades, I’ve learned a few things about the importance of people working together across lines of race, ethnicity, language, geography, and the things that divide us. I want to work on things that unite us as Americans. I believe No Labels offers that opportunity but also that responsibility to move forward,” Dr. Chavis said.

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Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

No Labels, a nonprofit think tank that describes itself as a national movement of Democrats, Republicans, and independents working to solve the country’s most complex problems, has named Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. as its national co-chair.

The formal announcement occurred during a Zoom news conference on January 22.

It included welcome messages from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and former Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, among others.

Recording star Deborah Cox opened the introductory news conference by performing a spirited song about No Labels, who created the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus and an allied Senate group that led passage of some of the most important legislation of recent years, including the CHIPS Act, a gun safety bill, and a rewrite of the Electoral Count Act in 2022.

Voiceovers were woven in of former U.S. Presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

The organization then played a tribute video that included Dr. Chavis’ family and his legendary career as a civil rights leader.

“I’m very pleased to join Sen. Lieberman and Gov. Hogan as co-chairs of No Labels,” Dr. Chavis exclaimed.

“As a veteran of the civil rights movement, during the last six decades, I’ve learned a few things about the importance of people working together across lines of race, ethnicity, language, geography, and the things that divide us. I want to work on things that unite us as Americans. I believe No Labels offers that opportunity but also that responsibility to move forward,” Dr. Chavis said.

Lieberman, a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut, who changed parties in 2006 and is now an Independent, said No Labels is fortunate to have Dr. Chavis on board.

“Based on his history as a civil rights leader and the kind of person he is, I’m thrilled. Dr. Chavis has always been a bridge-builder and will bring civility, which is sorely needed in our government and our country,” Lieberman asserted.

Hogan, who served two terms as Maryland governor, also congratulated Dr. Chavis.

“I’m thrilled to congratulate Dr. Chavis and welcome him to No Labels. I know Dr. Chavis will be a great addition to the leadership team of No Labels,” Hogan stated.

“He shares our commitment to bringing people together to achieve common sense solutions for all Americans. Having worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Chavis knows what it means to fight for freedom and respect for all Americans, and that’s exactly what No Labels stand for,” Hogan concluded.

Manchin, the conservative-leaning Democrat, said he got involved with No Labels more than 12 years ago because the organization works to unite America.

“We’re still working to unite this country,” Manchin declared.

“What we’ve done in the last two years in a bipartisan way because of No Labels has been [major].

“So, I’m thrilled to have the experience of Dr. Chavis and the wealth of knowledge he’s gained over the years that he’ll share with us to help make us a more perfect union.”

In welcoming Dr. Chavis, Senator Susan Collins, Maine’s longest-serving Senator, lent her voice.

“As a highly respected civil rights leader, his service alongside Sen. Lieberman and Gov. Hogan will help move our organization and nation forward,” Collins insisted.

“Dr. Chavis has dedicated his life to championing equality and encouraging our nation to live up to its ideals. He believes in American unity, democracy, and opportunity for all.”

Dr. Chavis said his life’s work had taught him that if everyone works together, divisions can be overcome.

“And when we overcome divisions, we make progress,” he insisted.

“I believe we need to restore bipartisanship in the American Congress. We need to restore bipartisanship at the state legislative level.

“We need to restore bipartisanship at the local and municipal level. Americans today are worn out with all the divisions and looking for a way forward. No Labels offer that way forward.”

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