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Monday, November 07, 2005

San Francisco Local Election Guide

San Francisco has some important local issues to vote for in the Special Election.

For Assessor, vote Gerardo Sandoval. He's a solidly liberal Supervisor who promises to bring a strong moral voice to an importantjob. His main opponent, Phil Teng, is Mayor Newsom's choice.

For Treasurer, vote Calvin Louie. The progressives in San Francisco have lined up behind Louie mostly because Incumbent Jose Cisneros is Mayor Newsom's appointee. Newsom needs to get a message that his pro-corporate agenda needs to be toned down.

My recommendations on local initiatives: VOTE YES ON EVERYTHING

YES on A - $246 million for City College of San Francisco.

YES on B - $208 million for street paving and added bicycle lanes.

YES on C - Lessen the mayor's power to change the budget for the ethics commission and increase ethical standards for city dealing.

YES on D - Change the standards for appointing the Muni directors. Right now Newsom gets to appoint all 7; this would change it so that he appoints 4 and the Board of Supervisors appoints 3. That's more than reasonable.

YES on E - Uh, I guess. Just changes the election date of 2 minor city offices.

YES of F - Protect local firehouses and set basic emergency standards.

YES on G - Allows the de Young museum garage to have entrances and exits both inside and outside Golden Gate Park.

YES on H - Gun safety initiative. This is perhaps the most important iniative on the ballot because it is guaranteed to save lives. A yes vote bans the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammo in San Francisco. As well, the possession of handguns will be prohibited except for police officers and security guards. I personally despise guns because they have just one purpose -- killing.

YES ON I - Yes vote simply affirms that the people of San Francisco are opposed to the federal government's use of public schools to recruit for the military. Considering the military's homophobic "don't ask, don't tell" policy, allowing the military's presence on campus affirms that it's ok to discriminate against gays.

Comments on ""


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:44 PM) : 

I just voted and I couldn't believe how little attention these local measures have got in our local press.
H - I was shocked to find H on the ballot (San Francisco doesn't have power to regulate guns under CA law, not to mention 2nd amendment). My basic thoughts are that if you outlaw guns then only outlaws will have guns. Of course I want our city to be safer, but the people who are willing to commit murder will have no problem violating a city ordinance banning guns.

I - Weakening our military by not allowing them to recruit is not the answer if you disagree with the military's policy of discrimination. Interested students should be allowed to hear what the military has to say, for some people it is one of the only viable options of getting a higher education.


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (4:22 PM) : 

I agree that H and I should have gotten more attention.

H - There's no constitutional issue here. The Supreme Court has consistently held that the 2nd amendment is a communal right, not an individual right. The government makes all sorts of regulations about who can own guns and what type of guns that they can own. Barring handguns is just as constitutional as barring semi-automatic weapons. Neither has any rational sporting use; both are intended solely to kill human beings.

Of course SOME people will still have access to handguns, but the point is that MANY won't. Many people don't plan to kill but the availablility of a handgun when someone enters a state of rage creates a dangerous situation. Otherwise law abiding people might kill with a gun when they would never do so with a weapon like a knife. Obviously, SOME lives will be saved because of this bill, so I think that easily justifies the inconvienience. Concealable handguns have no place in a modern day metropolitian environment.

I'll admit that there still might be a Due Process issue, however -- mere possession of handguns becomes criminalized overnight, which could give rise to the Lambert exception.

I - Telling the military that they must conform with civil rights norms in order to recruit is not an extreme stance. It certainly does not "weaken the military" -- if the military doesn't want to lose the chance to recruit, they should end their anti-gay policy which by it's very nature stifles recruitment by forbidding gay recruits.

Interested students are still welcome to visit military recruiters on their own, but sanctioning their presence in our public schools is tantamount to San Francisco sanctioning the military's homophobic policies. We don't do business with racists and we shouldn't do business with homophobes either. Both are bigots.


Blogger Tran said ... (1:13 PM) : 

RE: Your comments on H.

A handgun is a valid tool for self-defense, purposed not to kill, but rather to deter criminal endeavors. The police simply cannot be in all places at all times. Assault weapons have been banned, and yet, criminals seem to have a limitless supply.

While the ban will certainly keep guns out of many peoples' hands, let us not forget that it is far more probable that a criminal will be thrown into such a rage as to kill. That is a fact and simple statistical analysis demonstrates that almost all gun related homicides are perpetrated by those with a pre-existing criminal record.

When people want to kill that badly, they will kill. OJ did not use a gun, he used a knife (and we all know he did it). People in a rage tend to commit brutal murders, and the presence of a gun is not the deciding factor. Statistically speaking, it is not the average person who loses his or her temper that poses the threat of gun-related death. The vast majority of gun-related deaths occur during the commission of another crime or from gang-related violence.

Furthermore, criminals do not purchase guns at Wal-Mart, or Zeke's Gun Emporium, like the average citizen. They buy them "black market" with the serial number filed off. No ban will stop the influx of guns through the black market. Criminals don't purchase guns to defend, they purchase them to offend. Criminals do not purchase guns simply to kill either - they are used to intimidate and rob the innocent.

Undoubtedly, this measure will save some lives. Unfortunately, it will cost many lives as well. The defenseless make an enticing target to predators, and violent crime in SF is certain to increase as a result of this ban. The net costs will outweigh the gains. With the "black market" thriving world-wide, the SF gun ban does not take guns out of the hands unfit to hold them, but rather, out of those in greatest need of the protection they afford.


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (5:17 PM) : 

Tran said:
Undoubtedly, this measure will save some lives. Unfortunately, it will cost many lives as well. The defenseless make an enticing target to predators, and violent crime in SF is certain to increase as a result of this ban. The net costs will outweigh the gains.

There is simply no logical reason why decreasing the supply of firearms will increase gun related fatalities. If citizens do indeed become "defenseless", then even a rise in crime would not mean a rise in death because, presumably, criminals wouldn't have to kill their defenseless victims. On the other hand, if the victims of crime have guns themselves and are initiating deadly firefights, that's going to result in a lot more deaths of both criminals and victims.

A bigger problem with your argument, however, is that criminals are simply not going to start committing more crimes in San Francisco because they believe their victims are unarmed due to Prop H. Criminals commit crimes for all sorts of reasons and it seems silly to think that some thug is going to say "I wouldn't rob anyone in a city where people can possess firearms, but since people can't here, I'll start robbing." The motivations behind crime are much more complex and self centered.

Guns do not "protect" anyone and they don't save lives. People may FEEL safer with guns, but that doesn't mean they ARE safer.

Here's the fact that proves my point that guns in the home kill and fail to protect: Guns kept in the home for self-protection are TWENTY TWO TIMES more likely to kill someone you know than be used in self-defense. That's 22 accidental deaths for everytime someone gets to actually use a gun in self-defense.

The benefits here clearly outweigh the costs, 22 times over.


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (5:19 PM) : 

Here's the source for the fact that guns in the home are 22 times more likely to kill someone you know rather than be used in self-defense:



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:26 AM) : 

I checked out the Brady site. It does claim that 22 times more deaths are attributable to handguns in the home. But, it is clearly a bogus statistic. No hard numbers are provided from which this number was derived.

Furthermore, the site attempts to spin the numbers:

"You may be surprised to know that, in 1999, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, there were only 154 justifiable homicides committed by private citizens with a firearm compared with a total of 8,259 firearm murders in the United States."

Sounds appalling, unfortuneately those shootings which stem from a lack of justification is "crime." But, rather than state the fact that only 1.86% of shootings are non-criminal and that the remaining 98.14% of shootings are criminal, the site spins the figures. "Justification" has absolutely nothing to do with the numbers being cited elsewhere in the article. In fact, that is the only place in the article where justification is even considered.

The article essentially reads as follows: guns are bad, 22x more people die from guns in home (no stats), only 154 out of 8259 shootings are justified (aka, the remainder are shootings resulting from criminal behavior), guns are bad.

Furthermore, the article strengthens the point that gun violence in the home is the result of negligent parenting:

"Because handguns and other firearms are so easily accessible to many children, adolescents and other family members in their homes, the risk of gun violence in the home increases dramatically."

"No. A 1998 study by Peter Hart Research on behalf of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (now the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence) found that, even though most parents realize that guns in the home endanger their children, many parents still leave guns accessible to kids."

Yes. When improperly used (by criminals) and improperly secured (by negligent parents) guns become a highly dangerous tool which may be used to take innocent life. However, the best solution would be to impose severe criminal penalties upon parents who fail to secure their firearms, rather than to take firearms out of the hands of those who are constitutionally guaranteed the right to bear arms. This would serve to reduce the incidence of gun violence in the home, without leaving the everyone else defenseless.


Blogger Michael Alexander said ... (1:24 PM) : 

Even if just 1.86% of killings are non-criminal, that's a whole lot of accidental death. All of those people would still be alive but-for the legality of guns.

Gun violence in the home IS caused in part by negligent parenting. But there's another concurrent cause: guns. Since negligent parenting is inevitable and impossible to eradicate, accidental gun violence is also inevitable and impossible to eradicate unless we shrink the supply of available weapons. Handguns, which have no reasonable sporting purpose and can easily be concealed, are exactly the type of weapon that the general public has no business owning.

I just think it's pretty clear from all available evidence that if we banned all handguns, there would be less death. Less accidents would happen, less criminals would steal guns from lawful gun owners, less people would purchase guns while under distress. Less suicide would result. Less spousal abuse turning into murder. And the only potential counterweight is that citizens would no longer be able to kill intruders with guns. Citizens could still arm themselves (baseball bats work great) and all the benefits of eradicating handguns would still be present.


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