Saturday, February 24, 2018

A Blockchain Solution To Gun Violence

Nearly every recent mass shooting involved a gunman who obviously should have been flagged and prevented from owning guns.  Unfortunately, there are numerous legal and structural barriers keeping us from proactively doing that today.  The current background check system only works after a crime has been committed, and by then it's usually too late.  And that's the best case scenario.  In reality, even after crimes are committed many instances go unreported, and gunmen still gain access to weapons.

These gaps have exasperated enough people to the point they are willing to eviscerate the second amendment, a politically charged and time-consuming process.  Therefore, closing the gaps in our current background check system and better tracking gun transfers seems like a good place to start today.

Putting aside the legal issues for a moment, the weak link in keeping guns from unstable people is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  NICS only works if every crime is properly recorded, and even then it is subject to the inherent flaws of any centralized database.  Blockchain would enable multiple entry points that could be cross-checked for accuracy and the information would be distributed to many nodes that would also be cross-checked.  Inputs and outputs would be more reliable and accessible, and no single failure could bring the system down. 

A simple, though imperfect, blockchain analogy is the way digital photos are handled today.  Some people take photos with one device and keep them on only one device.  If either device fails, they are out of luck.   Others take photos on multiple devices and store them in the digital cloud creating a coherent record of all photos taken.   Blockchain takes that one step further and maintains the photos on multiple clouds. 

In addition, blockchain technology can effectively track gun transfers, make FBI and local police tip lines more useful, and integrate mental health warnings into the NICS.  Of course, new laws including due process and privacy firewalls would need to be established for these changes to be implemented. 

The following paper on gun control and blockchain was written by:

Thomas F Heston, MD, FAAFP
Associate Professor, Washington State University, Spokane, Washington USA
November 13, 2017

It makes a strong case for implementing blockchain technology with our current gun laws. 
Abstract:   Blockchain technology can be utilized to improve gun control without changing existing laws. Firearm related mortality is at epidemic levels in the United States and not only has a significant impact upon public health, it also creates a large financial burden. Suicide is the most common way guns kill. Through better gun tracking and improved screening of high risk individuals, this technological advance in distributed ledger technology will improve background checks on individuals and tracing of guns used in crimes. 

Please read the whole thing here:  A Blockchain Solution to Gun Control and fwd it as you see appropriate.

Also, here's a short video for those completely unfamiliar with the concept behind blockchains. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

How Good Intentions Helped LEAD to Parkland [UPDATED]

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  That was never more true than in Parkland, FL, where a deranged 19 year old murdered 17 people at his former high school.  Thanks to the good intentions of programs like "Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion" (LEAD), "Data Driven Justice" (DDJ), and "Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education" (PROMISE), the deranged gunman was kept out of the criminal justice system despite 39 at least 45 warnings to local law enforcement, two three very specific tips to the FBI, about 40 visits to the shooters home, a desperate call from the shooter himself, and several crimes previously committed.  Despite all that, he remained free to buy a gun, enter a school, and commit a massacre. 

The pop media's approach to covering these lapses has been mostly to ignore them and blame the gun.  When the lapses are acknowledged, they are conveniently attributed to incompetence.  Unfortunately, these "lapses" were not incompetence.  They were deliberate.  They were pre-meditated.  

It all started in Seattle in 2011 when that city began experimenting with a program called LEAD.  LEAD was designed to "divert" low level criminals away from the criminal justice system and thus save them from the bad outcomes associated with incarceration and stigmatization.  The theory was that minority students were disproportionately ending-up in the criminal justice system and thus were unfairly being hurt.  Of course the premise was completely flawed, but that never stopped a government from acting.  Instead of being treated as criminals, these supposedly low level offenders were sent back to their schools and communities where cops, administrators and social workers were supposed to deal with them away from the criminal justice system.  Cities and states run by politicians of all stripes adopted versions of LEAD during the Obama administration, which took up the mantle and promoted its own expanded version called "Data Driven Justice" (DDJ).  Broward County adopted their own program called PROMISE in 2016.  

Here's a press release from Barack Obama's press office touting the fabulous money saved, the lower crime rates, and the freed-up jail space due to their DDJ program in of all places, the county adjacent to Broward County, Florida:
For example, Miami-Dade, Florida found that 97 people with serious mental illness accounted for $13.7 million in services over 4 years, spending more than 39,000 days in either jail, emergency rooms, state hospitals, or psychiatric facilities in their county.In response, the county provided key mental health de-escalation training to their police officers and 911 dispatchers. Over the past 5 years, Miami-Dade police have responded to nearly 50,000 calls for service for people in mental-health crises, but have made only 109 arrests, diverting more than 10,000 people to services or safely stabilizing situations without arrest.The jail population fell from over 7,000 to just over 4,700, and the county was able to close an entire jail facility, saving nearly $12 million a year.
They saved $12 million!  Isn't that great?  And made only 109 arrests from 50,000 calls!  Isn't that awesome?  This was about the same time when the local police were being called to the gunman's home 39 times for violent, and sometimes criminal, behavior!  

PROMISE, LEAD, DDJ, and similar programs started out as a way to "divert" low level criminals away from prison and it's negative consequences.  Though they started with good intentions based on a bogus premise, the programs quickly became a way to save money, show improved crime statistics, and arbitrarily lower incarceration rates.  Let me repeat: the lapses in Broward County LEADing to this massacre were deliberate attempts to save money and show better crime statistics so politicians could brag and win votes.

PROMISE, LEAD and DDJ need to be exposed and become part of the corrective action taken to prevent further tragedies like Parkland.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Do You Really Want to Stop School Shootings? [UPDATED]

You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?  (Hint: It’s the definition of insanity.) Here’s a radical but eminently logical proposal to finally stop the kind of school shooting that just killed 17 innocent people in Parkland, FL.:  Vote Republican!

I know, I know, you think Republicans are the problem.  Heck, they’re the NRA party, right? How can they possibly fix this?  Bear with me and I’ll explain...   

Democrats have had filibuster proof majority control of the federal government for 25 of the last 100 years.  That’s 25 years where Democrats held the Presidency, the House, and had at least sixty votes, or 66% prior to 1975, in the Senate.  Republicans have NEVER had control like that in over 100 years.  The score is 25 to 0.  Without a sixty-vote margin in the Senate, there is no real “control” of the legislative agenda.

The last time Democrats had sixty votes was way, way, back during... the Obama administration.  They could have done anything they wanted on guns a few years ago!  So what did they do?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

To understand why Democrats did not fix the “gun” problem and Republicans absolutely will, it is instructive to know who their respective voters are:  

The Democrat voting coalition is made-up largely of groups who are on some level dependent on the government.  Among them are the poor, the oligarchs, union members, government employees, social liberals, and single parent families. Democrats accrue power by maximizing the number of people who are dependent on the government.  

The Republican voting coalition is largely made-up of individuals who seek independence from the government.  Among these voters are the religious, much of the middle class, small and mid-sized business people, social conservatives, and nuclear families.  Republicans accrue power by creating more independent people.  

Now, who do you suppose wants people to live in fear of someone getting into a school and killing their kids?  Could that be why Democrats did nothing when they had the power 25 years in the last 100?  Could that be why an NRA supported bill since 2007 that would have prevented dangerous homicidal maniacs from obtaining guns has never been passed?  Could that be why every time there is legislation to screen these people, Democrats insert a poison pill to kill it? 

Democrats will never fix the problem because the incentives are for them to keep people scared, vulnerable, and dependent.  Give Republicans the Presidency, the House, and over sixty votes in the Senate for the first time in over 100 years and this problem gets fixed pronto (along with many others).  Or, keep voting Democrat and watch more kids die.  Your choice. 

From Hot Air 2/28/2018:

WaPo: Why Are Senate Dems Torpedoing Their Own Gun Bill?

As predicted, Democrats are killing their own "Fix NICS" bill!  They have no interest in fixing the problem because they are Democrats, and to keep power they need as many insecure, dependent, and helpless people as possible.  Fixing things is anathema to their mission.

From USA Today 4/10/2018
By Glenn Reynolds

Looking for 'solutions' to mass killings? Start with punishing failure.



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Useful Idiots, Revisited

Now that we know the American Left fell for the Russian disinformation campaign hook, line, and sinker, it's time to revisit the video below.   Apparently, cable news nets like MSNBC and CNN promoted Russian led protests against Donald Trump, and Leftist agitators like Michael Moore actively participated.  Vladimir Lenin and his comrades had a term for western Leftists who wittingly and unwittingly aided the Soviet Communists: they called them "useful idiots".

ICYMI, here's my Obama era version of this phenomenon: 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Drug Reactions and Mass Shootings [UPDATED]

Here we are again mourning the loss of innocents gunned-down by a crazed gunman.  And yet again the focus is on guns.  But what is often lost in the political fog of war is the fact that we've had guns and the second amendment for a long time, yet we never had these mass shootings by crazed gunmen until the advent of mass marketed psychotropic drugs.

We don't know enough after two days to connect the dots in this recent school shooting case.  Heck, we still don't know anything about the Las Vegas shooter, and it's been almost half a year!

But right after the Vegas shooting I read the most amazing account of psychotropic drugs by author John Ringo.  His personal experience with psychotropic drug reactions is frightening. His otherwise sweet, loving wife goes full violent psycho after taking Cymbalta for a while.  Read the whole thing, but here is a taste:
Miriam [my wife] is a 'limited case pharmacological phenotype.' What does that mean? You know where on the warning label it says: 'in rare cases may cause you to grow two heads and fly to the moon'? Miriam is 'rare cases.' Every single time she tries a new prescription drug (fill in reason here) she is 'rare cases.'
This involves the 'in rare cases' effect of a drug called Cymbalta. Notably, as Cymbalta NOW states 'in rare cases may cause homicidal or suicidal psychotic break. Should not be prescribed to teenagers.' (Because it turns out in MOST cases WILL cause psychotic break in teenagers.) 
We don't know at this time if either shooter was on any of these drugs, and unfortunately our HIPAA privacy laws make it impossible to obtain medical records and do accurate research on this subject, even after a shooter is dead!  THIS MUST CHANGE.   

Here's an article from 2013 correlating SSRIs and other psychotropics with just about every mass shooting up to that point.  Amazing.

Here's the list from that article:

  • Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold's medical records have never been made available to the public.
  • Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather's girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
  • Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
  • Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.
  • Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.
  • Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.
  • Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
  • Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.
  • A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.
  • Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..
  • A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.
  • Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.
  • TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.
  • Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.
  • James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.
  • Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania
  • Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California
  • Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.
  • Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.
  • Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.
  • Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.
  • Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.
  • Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.
  • Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.
  • Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.
  • Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara's parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn't take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…”)
  • Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,
  • (Gareth's father could not accept his son's death and killed himself.)
  • Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family's detached garage.
  • Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.
  • Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.
  • Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.
  • A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.
  • Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”
  • Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
  • Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.
  • Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
  • Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.
  • Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school.

Missing from list… 3 of 4 known to have taken these same meds….

  • What drugs was Jared Lee Loughner on, age 21…… killed 6 people and injuring 14 others in Tuscon, Az
  • What drugs was James Eagan Holmes on, age 24….. killed 12 people and injuring 59 others in Aurora Colorado
  • What drugs was Jacob Tyler Roberts on, age 22, killed 2 injured 1, Clackamas Or
  • What drugs was Adam Peter Lanza on, age 20, Killed 26 and wounded 2 in Newtown Ct
And here's another piece worth reading with some interesting takes on the Florida school shooting and another list of previous murderers and their drug intake:  Media ignoring 1 crucial factor in Florida school shooting