local governments

Guns & Ammo Publishes ‘Best States For Gun Owners 2015’

Yesterday I happened to come across an article entitled “Best States for Gun Owners 2015” on the Guns & Ammo website. Keith Wood wrote Tuesday:

For the third consecutive year and first time in print, Guns & Ammo presents our assessment of each state’s gun laws in a format that ranks them from worst to first for gun owners…

G&A has conducted a thorough review of each state’s laws and considered initiatives pending in state legislatures. Every effort has been made to create a ranking system that is fair, equitable, accurate and objective. States were ranked numerically in each of five categories: right-to-carry, right to own “black rifles” (i.e., firearms possessing a tactical appearance), presence of the Castle Doctrine, subjects relating to the National Firearms Act (NFA) and a catchall miscellaneous column…

Interesting. Considering the amount of activity in the state recently as it concerns gun rights, I was real curious to see where Illinois ranked on this list. From the piece:

43. Illinois

Illinois has gone from one of the worst states for gun owners to “not so bad as long as you don’t live in Chicago” these last few years. The state’s “shall issue” concealed carry permit system is up and running for both residents and nonresidents, and the sky did not fall. Illinois’ Firearm Owner’s Identification, or “FOID,” requirement remains in effect for all residents wishing to touch a firearm or ammunition except for those possessed by nonresidents in accordance with state law. Suppressors are not permitted in Illinois, though a bill to change that is currently before the legislature. Short-barreled rifles are not allowed. At the point of sale, there is a three-day waiting period before picking up a handgun, and a 24-hour waiting period is applied to all long guns. The state has strong use-of-force laws, and all tactical rifles are legal outside of municipalities such as Chicago and Highland Park…

To expand on that bit about “all tactical rifles are legal outside of municipalities such as Chicago and Highland Park,” Don Babwin reported on The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois) website back on July 20, 2013:

According to the Illinois State Rifle Association, at least 16 municipalities – including Chicago – enacted ordinances banning or regulating assault weapons. Every one of them was in the Chicago metropolitan area. Around 30 other municipalities took up the issue but voted down the bans.

The list of towns that took action includes places such as Evanston, Highland Park, Hazel Crest and Calumet Park…

So that’s Illinois. How about north of the state line where I pursue the bulk of my outdoor activities (when I have the time, that is)? From the article:

25. Wisconsin

Life improved markedly for gun-owning Wisconsin residents when former Gov. Jim Doyle was replaced by Gov. Scott Walker. Wisconsin’s hard-won CCW law gets good marks for strong reciprocity and very limited “gun-free zones.” The state has a Castle Doctrine statute on the books and doesn’t restrict NFA items or tactical-looking firearms. A bill to repeal the state’s 48-hour waiting period on handgun purchases was recently signed by Gov. Walker, yet another step forward for gun owners. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is about as outspokenly pro-gun as it gets, which is a rare thing in a major metro area…

Nearby Indiana, by the way, actually placed 16th in this year’s rankings. Nice job.

Where does your state fall in the 2015 list? Head on over to the Guns & Ammo website here to find out.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Babwin, Don. “By deadline, few Illinois towns pass assault weapons bans.” The State Journal-Register, 20 July 2013. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20130720/News/307209909). 23 July 2015.

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Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Hunting, Legal, Self-Defense, Shooting Sports Comments Off on Guns & Ammo Publishes ‘Best States For Gun Owners 2015’

Chicago-Commissioned Study Confirms Crime Increases With Streetlight Outages

One of the things I noticed right away about this subdivision in the Chicago suburbs that I now live in is that it is incredibly dark at night.

I’m guessing that has to do with the fact that there aren’t any streetlights here.

While the area is safe, such minimal nighttime visibility is a concern for me should crime ever pick up or TSHTF.

I was reminded of this situation when I came across the following on the website of NBC Chicago affiliate Channel 5 this afternoon. Chris Coffey reported this morning:

A new study commissioned by Chicago’s Department of Transportation confirms what many people have feared: crime goes up when the lights go out.

The study, which was conducted by data experts and Ph.D. students from Northwestern University, found on average crime went up 7 percent across the city when entire blocks of streetlights were not working

The city-commissioned study compared crime report data with streetlight repair service requests submitted to “311” over the period from April 2012 to July 2013. Researchers found an increase in theft, narcotics, battery and criminal damage associated with streetlight outages that impacted entire blocks…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yeah, my entire street gets pretty dark at night out here in the ‘burbs.

But at least my girlfriend and I have been purchasing and installing some security lighting around our property to combat the darkness. This includes:

• Outdoor motion-sensing wall lanterns- really light up the front and back when triggered
• Outdoor motion-sensing solar 300 lumen LED post lamps- With one in operation since spring (another on the way), it actually works pretty good so far considering the Chicago metro area is not exactly optimal for powering solar devices
• Outdoor motion-activated solar 600 lumen LED security light- on its way as I type this

All this is in addition to existing lighting that came with the house. With more coming (night vision is on the want list).

But more about security lighting in a upcoming “Project Prepper” post.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Coffey, Chris. “Report Links Chicago Crime to Streetlight Outages.” NBC 5. 3 July 2014. (http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/Report-Links-Chicago-Crime-to-Streetlight-Outages-265639931.html). 3 July 2014.

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Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 Crime, Government, Infrastructure, Public Safety, Security Comments Off on Chicago-Commissioned Study Confirms Crime Increases With Streetlight Outages

Disaster Preparedness And Response Funding Has Plummeted Since 2008

Any police, fire, or public health officials reading this who have been on the job since the early 2000s? Remember after 9/11, when the federal government made tons of money available to state and local governments to bolster disaster preparedness and response capabilities? I remember it clearly, as I used to help obtain these funds for the fire department I used to work at.

Since leaving the public safety field, I’ve heard a lot of this funding has dried up. According to a UPI piece I just finished reading, it looks like I heard right. From their website on January 9:

U.S. disaster funding distribution is deeply inefficient, with huge cash infusions disbursed after a disaster, only to fall abruptly later, researchers say.

Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office of Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences… said the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City and Washington prompted large increases in government disaster preparedness funding to help communities respond and recover after man-made and natural disasters. However, this funding has dropped considerably since 2008

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

How considerable? I pulled up a paper from The Institute of Medicine Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events (January 7 final submission date) which Dr. Pines helped author. From the piece entitled “Value-Based Models for Sustaining Emergency Preparedness Capacity and Capability in the United States”:

The Department of Homeland Security administered 5 key grant programs to state and local governments during the period 2002-2007. These programs were to include the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), and the Citizen Corps Program (CCP). The total appropriation for these five programs increased from $315.7 million in federal year (FY) 2002 to $1.66 billion in FY 2007…

In addition to the five key DHS-funded programs, HHS administered the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program and the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). From FY 2006 to FY 2007, these programs received more than $2.1 billion in grants to all 50 states in addition to U.S. territories and 4 metropolitan cities (New York, New York; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, California; and Chicago, Illinois)…

From FY 2008 to FY 2013, appropriations have been falling for emergency preparedness. For example, in FY 2010, Congress appropriated $3.05 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for preparedness grants to “strengthen out nations’ ability to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and emergencies.” In FY 2012, this appropriation was reduced to $1.35 billion- a 56 percent cut. During the same period, FEMA pre-disaster mitigations grants declined from $100 million to $35.5 million- a 65 percent cut. SHSP funding was reduced from $2.06 billion in FY 2003 to $354.64 million in FY 2013- an 82 percent cut. UASI was less affected but nevertheless was reduced from $596.35 million in FY 2003 to $558.74 million in FY 2013. Funding for seven key initiatives in DHS totaled $3.08 billion in FY 2003. By FY 2013, DHS funding was focused on only three categories of funding totaling $968.38 million- a total percentage cut of almost 70 percent…

The decline in [PHEP] funding from 2008 to 2013 has been slightly more than 17 percent, with a total of 31 percent since FY 2004…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Disasters don’t wait until there’s money in the till again, so it’s incredibly disappointing to hear of these cutbacks. As was pointed out earlier in the paper:

Since the September 2011, 2001, attacks, there have been periodic but unremitting public health emergencies across the United States. Weather events such a Hurricane Sandy, H1N1, the Boston marathon attack, and outbreaks of foodborne illness from Salmonella and E. coli serve as examples of major local and national public health emergencies demonstrating that no community is immune…

And what if a major terrorist attack occurs? Fine time for funding to be cut with that prospect looming. Consider what a distinguished Harvard professor whose work I first became familiar with back in graduate school said at a forum in April 2007. From Graham T. Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe:

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

“The chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent.”

By the way, Nuclear Terrorism was published back in July 2005.

I wonder what Dr. Allison would say America’s odds are now eight-and-a-half years on?

It’s only a matter of time before the next major man-made or natural disaster happens on U.S. soil. While public safety and public health personnel will strive to do all they can to lessen the impact of such events, ongoing cutbacks could have possibly impacted planning and preparedness for the incident and the overall response.

Keeping all this in mind, there’s probably no better time than the present for Americans to step up and take charge of their own emergency preparations.

You can read that paper (.pdf format) over on the Institute of Medicine website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Experts: U.S. disaster funding deeply inefficient.” UPI.com. 9 Jan. 2014. (http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/01/09/Experts-US-disaster-funding-deeply-inefficient/UPI-52981389329033/). 16 Jan. 2014.

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Thursday, January 16th, 2014 Emergencies, Europe, Government, Man-Made Disasters, Natural Disasters, Public Safety, Terrorism Comments Off on Disaster Preparedness And Response Funding Has Plummeted Since 2008

Three California Cities File For Bankruptcy In Less Than Two Weeks

Stockton, Mammoth Lakes, now San Bernardino.

Three California cities that have filed for bankruptcy in less than two weeks.

Is the prediction by Meredith Whitney, aka the “Diva of Doom,” about a wave of municipal defaults finally coming to fruition?

From NBC Los Angeles on the MSNBC website this morning:

San Bernardino became the third California city in less than two weeks to file municipal bankruptcy protection Tuesday night when the city council voted to make the move in the face of a $45-million budget shortfall…

Officials in Stockton said their June decision to seek federal bankruptcy protection was the “only choice” for the city that was unable to reach finance agreements with creditors to address a $26 million budget shortfall…

On July 4, Mammoth Lakes sought bankruptcy protection from a $43 million court judgment, according to Bloomberg News.

NBC Los Angeles staff pointed out:

In the six decades since Congress created bankruptcy protection for cities, fewer than 500 municipal bankruptcy petitions have been filed, according to the United States Courts website.

As much as I hate to say it, it’s my belief there will be a lot more local governments filing for bankruptcy before this ongoing economic mess is all sorted out. And Whitney will eventually be vindicated about the wave of defaults (her timing was just off). I come across stories about distressed municipalities on a daily basis out in cyberspace. The city that’s grabbing the headlines the last couple of days is Scranton, Pennsylvania. From Perry Chiaramonte on the FOX News website Monday:

Employees of a Pennsylvania city, who have all seen their salaries cut to minimum wage as the mayor grapples with budget problems, are hoping a judge restores their paychecks in full.

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty cut everyone’s pay — including his own — on Friday, saying the state’s sixth-largest city is broke because the City Council blocked his proposed tax increase. Doherty, a Democrat, warned nearly 400 police officers, firefighters and public works employees about his doomsday plan, prompting a Lackawanna County judge to order the city to pay full wages to all employees, citing that it is a violation of their contracts. Hours later, the payday envelopes went out, and, despite the judge’s order, they were light…

The city of Scranton has battled budget woes for years, but the problems reached a boiling point after the City Council blocked Doherty’s plan to raise taxes to cover a $16.8 million shortfall, opting instead to borrow money to cover the budget gap.

More to come (I’m sure)…

Sources:

“San Bernardino becomes 3rd Calif. city in 2 weeks to file for bankruptcy protection.” MSNBC. 11 July 2012. (http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/11/12675262-san-bernardino-becomes-3rd-calif-city-in-2-weeks-to-file-for-bankruptcy-protection?lite). 11 July 2012.

Chiaramonte, Perry. “Pennsylvania city workers to take mayor to court over across-the-board minimum wage salaries.” FOX News. 9 July 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/09/political-statemate-leads-to-city-workers-salaries-cut-down-to-minimum-wage-in/). 11 July 2012.

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Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 Bankruptcy, Defaults, Deficits, Government Comments Off on Three California Cities File For Bankruptcy In Less Than Two Weeks
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