All I know

is that it is too damn easy to get guns in America.  Period.  And that has to change.  From Wisconsin:

Neenah —A father and his 11-year-old daughter were among the three people killed when a man upset over a broken engagement opened fire Sunday night in Menasha, police said at a news conference Monday.

The gunman, identified as Sergio Daniel Valencia del Toro, 27, then shot and killed himself on the Trestle Trail Bridge, police said.

The three killed by the gunman were identified by police as Johnathan Stoffel, 33, his daugther, Olivia Stoffel, 11, and Adam Bentdahl, 31.

Police also identified the victim who survived the shooting as Erin Stoffel, 32, the mother of the girl who was killed. Erin Stoffel is in critical condition at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah.

Valencia Del Toro, identified as a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student, had left a Menasha home Sunday after an argument with the woman he had been engaged to a little more than a year. Valencia Del Toro rode by bicycle to the Trestle Trail armed with two handguns. He opened fire unprovoked, Chief Tim Styka said at the news conference, held at the hospital.

About 75 people were in the area at the time of the shooting.

The Stoffel family — mom, dad, and three young children — was enjoying a beautiful spring Sunday evening on the bridge connecting the town and city of Menasha when their path tragically crossed that of Valencia del Toro’s.

Bentdahl, who liked to go for walks across the bridge and Fritse Park, also just happened to be in Valencia Del Toro’s path.

At about 7:30 p.m., Valencia Del Toro fired handguns at almost point-blank range without saying anything, Styka said. Witnesses described hearing 10 to 12 shots.

Johnathon and Olivia Stoffel and Bentdahl died on the scene. Erin Stoffel was bleeding from gunshot wounds in her abdomen, right thigh and left hand. She and her two other children, ages 7 and 5, made it off the bridge as she told her 7-year-old son, Ezra, to go for help, but by then numerous 911 calls were flooding into police headquarters.

Something tells me that even if 70 of those 75 bystanders in the area had been packing heat of their own, this horrible tragedy would not be averted.  I don’t know anything about Sergio Del Toro except that 1) he was extremely mentally ill (really, how else can you explain his actions); and 2) it was too easy for him to get a gun.

Photo of the day

We had a pretty awesome double rainbow in Raleigh last week.

Following a line of thunderstorms that brought pea-sized hail as it moved through the Triangle on Thursday, April 30, 2015, a double rainbow appeared over downtown Raleigh, drawing crowds to the Boylan Street bridge to get a glimpse.

Following a line of thunderstorms that brought pea-sized hail as it moved through the Triangle on Thursday, April 30, 2015, a double rainbow appeared over downtown Raleigh, drawing crowds to the Boylan Street bridge to get a glimpse.  John Hansen.  jhansen@newsobserver.com

Police Unions

I’ve certainly complained many times on how frustrating it is that seemingly good cops stand by for the horrible behavior of bad copies.  Thus, even if it is only a “few bad apples” the whole barrel is hopelessly corrupted.  A lot of this is not just cultural, but institutional/organizational in the form of police unions seemingly predicated on the belief that police officers are incapable of doing no wrong.  Democrats don’t want to take on police unions because they are unions, and conservatives, while pretty much hating all other public-sector unions, still support police unions out of their misguided fealty to “law and order” at all costs.  Ross Douthat has a nice column taking on all the wrongness that police unions thus perpetuate:

Police unions do have critics on the right. But thanks to a mix of cultural affinity, conservative support for law-and-order policies and police union support for Republican politicians, there hasn’t been a strong right-of-center constituency for taking on their privileges. Instead, many Republican governors have deliberately exempted police unions from collective-bargaining reforms — and one who didn’t, John Kasich of Ohio, saw those reforms defeated.

In an irony typical of politics, then, the right’s intellectual critique of public-sector unions is illustrated by the ease with which police unions have bridled and ridden actual right-wing politicians. Which in turn has left those unions in a politically enviable position, insulated from any real pressure to reform.

In an irony typical of politics, then, the right’s intellectual critique of public-sector unions is illustrated by the ease with which police unions have bridled and ridden actual right-wing politicians. Which in turn has left those unions in a politically enviable position, insulated from any real pressure to reform.

With this important difference, however: Even with the worst teacher, the effects are diffused across many years and many kids, and it’s hard for just one teacher to do that much damage to any given student. A bad cop, on the other hand, can leave his victim dead or permanently damaged, and under the right circumstances one cop’s bad call — or a group of cops’ habitual thuggishness — can be the spark that leaves a city like Baltimore in flames.

The cases from all over the country where unions and arbitration boards have reinstated abusive cops make for an extraordinary and depressing litany. Baltimore is no exception. Last fall, The Baltimore Sun reported on the police commissioner’s struggle to negotiate enough authority to quickly remove and punish his own cops, and the union’s resistance to swift action and real oversight persists.

Not to say there’s no value to police unions, but largely unchecked from either the left of the right, it seems pretty clear they are creating far more harm to society than good in protecting individual police officers.  Time for left and right to come together and seek some meaningful change here.

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