Friday, March 14, 2014

A Crime Post: On Gun Rights And Rape Kits

Which covers the love of guns, its consequences and the way rape kits are analyzed in the US.  Or, rather, not analyzed.

First, on guns.  The state of Georgia has a new proposed bill about "gun rights":

In addition to overturning current state laws and dramatically rolling back concealed-carry restrictions, HB 875 would loosen other gun regulations in the state. The law would:
    •    Remove the fingerprinting requirement for gun license renewals
    •    Prohibit the state from keeping a gun license database
    •    Tighten the state's preemption statute, which restricts local governments from passing gun laws that conflict with state laws
    •    Repeal the state licensing requirement for firearms dealers (requiring only a federal firearms license)
    •    Expand gun owner rights in a declared state of emergency by prohibiting government authorities from seizing, registering, or otherwise limiting the carrying of guns in any way permitted by law before the emergency was declared
    •    Limit the governor's emergency powers by repealing the ability to regulate the sale of firearms during a declared state of emergency
    •    Lower the age to obtain a concealed-carry license from 21 to 18 for active-duty military and honorably discharged veterans who've completed basic training
    •    Prohibit detaining someone for the sole purpose of checking whether they have a gun license
The sweeping bill would also expand the state's Stand your Ground law into an "absolute" defense for the use of deadly force in self-protection. "Defense of self or others," the bills reads "shall be an absolute defense to any violation under this part." In its current wording, the bill would even allow individuals who possess a gun illegally—convicted felons, for example—to still claim a Stand Your Ground defense.

Don't you think the list sounds like civil rights demands for weapons?  Not even for the people owning them, but for the guns themselves?  Less regulation of guns!  Guns should be allowed everywhere and there should be no trace of the guns in any statistical source!

To put all that in perspective, for about ten days I have made a note of any story which tells us how a child has killed or hurt someone with a gun or gotten killed or hurt by a gun.  This is not an actual search for those stories, by the way.  I just made a note when I saw one.  Here is the recent crop.  David Waldman at Daily Kos writes frequently about various types of "gun fails."

Second, on those rape kits.   A rape test kit in the United States is

a set of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence following an allegation of sexual assault which can be used in rape investigation.
One big problem with the analysis of rape test kits is the backlogs.  That's technical language for many of them not getting analyzed at all:
In 2011, the National Institute of Justice published a report, “The Road Ahead: Unanalyzed Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases," providing an overview of deep problems nationwide and the contributing factors to ongoing bureaucratic difficulties. These backlogs and delays may lead to a lack of justice for victims, the report notes, and “in worst-case scenarios … lead to additional victimization by serial offenders or the incarceration of people wrongly con­victed of a crime.”

Consider what happened when over 11,000 "abandoned" rape test kits finally received some analysis in Detroit:

Over 11,000 sexual assault kits, some dating back to the 1980's, were found abandoned in a Detroit Police storage facility back in 2009.
Not long after the rape kits were discovered, Worthy pushed to start the processing with Michigan State Police.
So far, 1,600 rape kits have been processed, resulting in the identification of about 100 serial rapists and ten convicted rapists, according to Worthy.
Worthy told reporters that perpetrators have moved on from Michigan to commit similar crimes in 23 other states.
The point here is that a timely analysis of the rape test kits is important not only for the sake of  justice in the case they apply to, but also for preventing future rapes by serial rapists.