Month: April 2018

Hon. Barbara Bellis, Superior Court Judge, to speak May 2, 2018

Hon. Barbara Bellis, a judge with the Superior Court in Bridgeport since 2003, will talk about how the court resolves civil and criminal cases on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, at the Darien Men’s Association (DMA).

Judge Bellis will explain how cases are handled from filing to disposition, the difference between civil and criminal cases, and how the court responds to self-represented individuals.

She is a graduate of Boston College and the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.

Video: https://youtu.be/EjQRS53hJdM

2018 Annual Cookout at Weed Beach
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Weed Beach Cookout
Thursday, June 14, 5-8:30 p.m.
$35 per person. All inclusive.
Wine, beer, soft drinks, water.
Reservations required.
If you have not paid, do so now. Alex knows who you are.
Contact Alex Garnett
(203) 273-7403
23 Middlesex Road
Darien, CT  06820
Menu
Appetizers: sliders, shrimp cocktail, cheese platters
Entrees: salmon, steak, grilled chicken
Side dishes: pasta salad, potato salad, grilled veggies, roasted potatoes, salad
Dessert: sheet cake, brownies
Entertainment
Guitarist Rob Smith

Kevin Peraino to speak in honor of Joe Sexton, May 10, 2018, 6:30PM

Mel Krugman and the Ferguson Library are holding a lecture in honor of Joe Sexton at the Harry Bennet Branch May 10, 2018 at 6:30.

Kevin Peraino will be the featured speaker.  Kevin Peraino is the author of “A Force So Swift : Mao, Truman, and the Birth of Modern China, 1949”

 

 

Current Affairs: Gun Control, June 21, 2018

8:15 Lilian Gade room

Discussion Leader: Charles Salmans

Gun Control

Interpreting The Second Amendment – The Right to Bear Arms

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The historical debate over the language of this amendment, as to whether this is an individual right or a right in conjunction with service in “a well regulated militia”, has antecedents before the amendment was drafted. John Adams wrote that Congress should not prevent peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms. James Madison, in Federalist Paper 46, wrote about the right to bear arms within state militias as a means to keep in check a federal army.

In a 2008 Supreme Court ruling, District of Columbia vs. Heller, Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, argued that the right to bear arms was a “right of the whole people, an individual right.” Justice Stevens disagreed in a minority opinion, arguing that this was a right in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia.

The following Wikipedia entry summarizes interpretations and rulings over the years:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Legal restrictions on weapons ownership that comply with the Second Amendment

The right to bear arms does not guarantee the right to buy or possess any weapon. Wikipedia on Federal Gun Control Laws

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_law_in_the_United_States

In 1939, in US vs. Miller, the Supreme Court upheld the law banning the right to buy, sell or possess a sawed-off shotgun.

From 1994-2004, there was a Federal ban on assault weapons, but that lapsed when Congress refused to renew it under pressure from the NRA. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban for definition of “assault weapons” under the law.

In the 2008 Heller decision, Justice Scalia wrote that the right to bear arms had boundaries. “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” For example he cited laws that prohibit the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or that forbid them in places such as schools and government buildings, or impose conditions on their sale. In other words, gun enthusiasts are wrong when they claim that any limitation on firearms is unconstitutional.

President Trump has called for a ban on “bump stocks” that effectively turn a semi-automatic weapon into a full automatic weapon, but although this has been filed as a proposed rule change by the Justice Department, it has not yet been implemented by the Justice Department and will be challenged.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bump-stock-ban-trump_us_5ab92cf5e4b0decad04cb02a
There are also concerns that it will be hard to enforce, as some 500,000 are in circulation.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/proposed-bump-stock-ban-would-be-tough-to-enforce-1523185201

The President has also called for the age limit for purchase of a firearm be raised to 21. That proposal is opposed by the NRA and has not been implemented as yet. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trump-vows-care-bump-stocks-executive-action/story?id=53421961

CDC and other Data on Gun Deaths

Gun death statistics kept by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) counted 38,658 deaths in 2016 (including suicides). Data collected by Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks media and law enforcement reports of shootings estimated that

3,964 children and teenagers were shot in 2017 including fatal and nonfatal shootings (CDC: 6,400 children and teens have been shot each year)
Incidents of defensive gun use were 2,030 in 2017 (the majority of gun owners cite self defense as their primary reason for owning a gun.
Unintentional shootings dropped by 9%. Only four states have some form of law requiring gun owners to safely store their guns when not in use, a practice linked to lower rates of accidental shootings.

The First Estimate of 2017 Gun Deaths Is In

A trauma surgeon describes high velocity wounds, such as from an AR-15 or an AK-47, that are much more destructive than those from a low velocity weapon. The bullet destroys whole areas of the body and shatters bone into hundreds of microscopic pieces.

When a Bullet Enters a Body: Gun Violence as Seen by a Trauma Surgeon

Correlation between rate of gun ownership and gun violence, effect of Background Checks on gun deaths and suicide rates

Among US states and among countries, there is a correlation between the rate of gun ownership and gun violence.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-charts

Gun ownership correlates with gun deaths. Connecticut and other New England states rank low in gun ownership and gun deaths.

Developed countries with more guns have more gun deaths.

America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, 16 times as many as Germany.

The US has 4.4% of the world’s population, but nearly half of all civilian-owed guns around the world.

There have been more than 1,600 mass shootings since Sandy Hook (defined as four or more people shot in an incident) but these are a tiny percentage of firearm deaths.

States with Universal Background Checks had fewer gun deaths and those with stricter gun provisions had fewer suicide deaths.

https://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21739193-washington-dithers-and-argues-some-states-show-way-what-works-reduce-gun-deaths?fsrc=scn/fb/te/bl/ed/whatworkstoreducegundeathsfirearmsandthelaw

Federal law requires background checks for anyone purchasing a firearm through a licensed dealer, but says nothing about private sales or transactions at gun shows. Many buyers slip through this loophole. A survey of 1,613 gun-owners published in 2017 found that 42% had acquired their most recent weapon without a background check. The internet has made sales even harder to police. A probe by private investigators hired by New York City in 2011 found that 62% of online private sellers agreed to sell guns to people who stated they “probably could not pass a background check”.

Proposals to further restrict gun ownership

Constitutional Amendment or Supreme Court ruling that departs from the 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller ruling and links the “right to bear arms” to militia (National Guard?) membership.

Both these seem unlikely.
Proposals by the Parkland Students.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2018/mar/23/parkland-students-manifesto-americas-gun-laws?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=268684&subid=13072209&CMP=GT_US_collection
Ban semi-automatic weapons that fire high velocity rounds.

Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons such as bump stocks.

Establish a database of gun sales and universal background checks paired with data on individuals’ infringement of gun laws, criminal offenses, and mental records.

Change privacy laws to allow healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement.

Close gun show and secondhand sales loopholes.

Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform.

Raise the firearm purchase age to 21.

Dedicate more funds to mental health.

Increase funding for school security.
Other proposals:

“Red Flag Laws” – Extreme risk protection orders allowing the police to take away guns from people deemed by a judge to be dangerous, often after a family member or acquaintance raises concerns. Connecticut was the first state, in 1999, to pass such a law.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/23/us/red-flag-laws-guns.html

Require gun-buyers to apply for permits or licenses and to pass safety training. Twelve states and Washington, DC have such laws, several of which require would-be handgun-buyers to pass safety training. Canada has such a requirement. Some require people to turn up at their local sheriff’s office or police department. This may deter so-called “straw purchases”, in which someone stands in for a debarred buyer.

The Australian Solution. Make it illegal to own an unregistered firearm and then have periodic amnesties to allow people to turn over firearms without prosecution. To date, some 700,000 firearms have been surrendered to authorities in Australia.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-43236421
“The good guy with a gun” proposal.

Australia had a serious problem with gun violence. Here’s what happened after the country tried gun control

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-05-31/australia-tried-gun-control-and-here-s-what-happened-video-jhuqhlci?utm_campaign=news&utm_medium=bd&utm_source=applenews 

Allow teachers and officials to carry guns in K-12 schools. Case history of an Ohio school where unnamed teachers have received training and have secured access to firearms.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/01/us/armed-teachers-guns-schools.html

Allow concealed carry without a permit and in more places. Concealed carry reciprocity would allow citizens who live in a state that allows concealed carry to legally carry in states that do not have concealed carry.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_States

Problem of Overhang of Guns already in Private Possession

If new controls were imposed upon the sale and/or possession of firearms of various types, there still would be the problem of the weapons already in circulation. Presuming that the US attitude toward guns is different than in Australia, it’s unlikely that a high percentage of guns in private ownership would be turned in. Arguably, those that remained would command a high price on the black market (and bid on by those with nefarious purposes).

Of the roughly 300 million firearms owned by Americans, an estimated 8.5 million to 15 million are AR-15 and similar assault style rifles according to the NRA
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article201882739.html

Even if the ban on “bump stocks” was imposed today, there are some 500,000 in circulation.

I was unable to find an estimate of the number of high capacity magazines in circulation.

American Gun Violence and Culture

It is not more difficult to buy guns or ammunition in Canada than the US, but the rate of homicide by guns is much less. Homicides in Canada are 5.1 per 100,000 vs 29.7 in the US. Virtually every gun used in an American mass shooting is legally available for purchase in Canada.

One difference: nobody legally buys a gun in Canada without first taking the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. Then they have to submit an application for a license where they are screened for risk factors such as criminal history and mental health. Unlike the US, where gun ownership is closely correlated with self defense, according to surveys most Canadians believe the only reason for owning a gun is to kill animals or to shoot at paper targets.

Most guns in school shootings come from home.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-school-shootings-most-guns-come-from-home-1522920600?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

 

NYT’s Opinion – How to Reduce Shootings
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/06/opinion/how-to-reduce-shootings.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

 

NBC News: Rural America is mad about proposed gun laws. So they’re creating ‘gun sanctuaries.’

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/rural-america-mad-about-proposed-gun-laws-so-they-re-n877481

Active Shooter Video Game
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/us/parkland-shooter-video-game.html

We don’t have much that discounts the importance of gun control relative to psychology/sociology. I was listening to The New Yorker Radio Hour on NPR this morning and there was an 11 minute segment by Malcolm Gladwell that argued that there are too many guns already in circulation to make gun control an effective way of stopping school shootings. (He also pointed out that there were plenty of guns out there before school shootings became commonplace.

The segment cites a study that showed that incidents once regarded as so rare as to be almost unique motivate copycats as the second, then third, then fourth…incidents take place. In effect, school shooters have become part of a self-perpetuating subculture.
https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/the-new-yorker-radio-hour/malcolm-gladwell-on-school-shootings-and-the-return-of-paul-schrader

Women Should Be at Vanguard of the Gun-Control Movement –
Murders by firearms by husbands, boyfriends and other male partners surpass the number of victims of mass shootings.
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-30/women-should-be-leading-the-fight-for-stricter-gun-laws

Town of Darien Spring Cleanup Saturday April 21, 2018, 8 a.m.

“We will meet at 8 a.m. this Saturday in the parking lot behind the Gofer Ice Cream store, 1020 Boston Post Road,” reports Jack Fitzgibbons, chairman, DMA Community Services.

Trash bags, sanitary gloves and pickup sticks will be handed out to everyone.

“We also will take a group photo of DMA members before starting,” notes Jack.

Traditionally, DMA cleans up at the train station, the nearby parking lots and along Mechanic Street.

It usually takes about an hour and a half to do the job.

For questions, contact Jack Fitzgibbons (203) 274-5811 or jpfitz@earthlink.net.

Clothing Drive for Hudson Link, May 2, 2018 before our meeting

As you can imagine, for someone who has been wearing prison greens for years, proper civilian clothing is a must and is sorely needed. (New York, which is not atypical, gives a released inmate only $40 and a bus ticket home.) This year’s drive will take place on Wednesday, May 2. Just bring those gently worn items (suits, ties, shirts, pants, sweaters, coats, etc.) that’s been clogging up your closet to the DCA parking lot before our meeting on May 2; a Hudson Link van will be waiting to take it to the Hudson Link office in Ossining, where it will be Ossining office where it will change someone’s life. It will be much appreciated!

Harlem Wandering, Tuesday April 17, 2018

Harlem Wandering, Tuesday April 17, 2018

 

Board the 8.58am train from Darien or the 9.02 am train from Noroton. Get off at the Harlem/125 th St Station and remain on the platform where we will congregate before we head down to street level to begin our wandering. ( Do not  head to Grand Central station).

 

No rain is presently forecast for Tuesday. Should this change, necessitating a postponement of our wandering, an email will go out Monday night/Tuesday morning.

 

Our wandering will cover the following areas:

 

 

–Mt Morris Park Historic Residential district, 120th St  environs.

— A loop from 120th St to 140 th St, Between Lenox Ave and Frederick Douglas Blvd

–Libation stop at Corner Social on Lenox around 11am

–135 th St –the birthplace of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s to the 1930s. This period saw a burst of creative energy in Black literature, art, dance and music (Jazz)

–Visiting Harlem Hospital’s Famous WPA murals, Cotton Club and site of Savoy Ballroom

–Abyssianian Baptist Church

 

–Townhouses on Strivers Row

 

— Bill’s Place where Billie Holliday was “discovered”

–Shriner’s Music Venue, hippest music spot in Harlem today

–Lafayette Theater where the first Shakespeare play with an all black cast was performed

–Theresa Hotel

–Apollo Theater

Lunch around 1 pm at Sylvia’s “Queen of Soul Food” Restaurant at Lenox Ave  Menu:  http://sylviasrestaurant.com/menus/

 

Train back to Darien around 3 pm

 

 

Photo courtesy of Harvey Mogensen

Hike Pomerance Park, Thursday April 12, 2018 , Greenwich 10.00 am

This 100 acre property is now owned by the Town of Greenwich, but was at one time the estate
of a Mr Wertheim, a New York investment banker. The property is of interest because the
mansion that sits atop a small hill was home to Barbara Tuchman, the noted historian, who was
Mr Wertheim’s daughter and who wrote her Pulitzer prize- winning book “The Guns of August”
while secluded in a small cabin on the property. The mansion itself fell into disrepair and was demolished by the Town , but its skeleton was preserved for its historical interest.

Except for a couple of gentle slopes, the hiking trails on this property are fairly flat and suitable for almost anyone who is interested in hiking. Its a very pretty property, rustic and wooded and you will marvel that so much open space has been preserved in the middle of a residential area.

We expect to hike about 2-2 1/2 hours followed by lunch, which is optional will be at the Little
Pub at 531 East Putnam Ave Greenwich at about 12.30pm

Directions:​ On Google Maps mark your destination as Pomerance Park, Greenwich or 101
Orchard Street, Greenwich. Take I-95 South towards Greenwich and get off at Exit 5. Off the Exit ramp make a left turn onto Route 1 South ( also called East Putnam Ave).. Proceed just over a mile and then make a sharp right turn onto Orchard Street(there is a Gulf station at the corner). Drive up Orchard
Street about 0.75 miles and you will see Pomerance Park on your right. Pull into the parking lot
where we will meet at 10.00am

Contact :Sunil Saksena ssaksena44@gmail.com
203-561-8601