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Whataburger Defies Texas Law, Will Not Let Customers Openly Carry Firearms

Whataburger Defies Texas Law, Will Not Let Customers Openly Carry Firearms


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The company will, however, continue to permit the concealed carrying of weapons on its properties.

Texas restaurant chain Whataburger has chosen not to allow customers to openly carry firearms on its premises, defying a new Texas state law that allows residents to do so in many public areas beginning in January 2016.

“As a representative of Whataburger, I want you to know we proudly serve the gun rights community,” CEO Preston Atkinson wrote in a letter to the public, noting that the chain will continue to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.

“I personally enjoy hunting and also have my concealed carry license, as do others at Whataburger.”

However, Atkinson wrote, “We serve customers from all walks of life at more than 780 locations, 24 hours a day, in 10 states and we’re known for a family-friendly atmosphere that customers have come to expect from us... We’ve had many customers and employees tell us they’re uncomfortable being around someone with a visible firearm who is not a member of law enforcement, and as a business, we have to listen and value that feedback in the same way we value yours. We have a responsibility to make sure everyone who walks into our restaurants feels comfortable.”


Whataburger fan commissions fast-food-themed pistol from Houston company

3:04 PM on Mar 26, 2019 CDT

Texans can't seem to get enough of a Houston firearms retailer's latest design: a Whataburger-themed paint job on an AR pistol.

The orange-and-white "Whata-pistol," which features the eatery's logo and a magazine disguised as a side of fries, took a few days to paint, HTX Tactical co-owner Javier Garcia said.

"A crazy Whataburger fanatic … came in with the whole theme," said Garcia, whose company's previous designs include a "tequila sunrise" Houston Astros throwback, the American flag and a mash-up of Wonder Woman and the "thin blue line."

Whataburger said in a statement that the paint job was not affiliated with or licensed by the fast-food chain.

"Whataburger did not give HTX Tactical permission to use our brand and logo, and we are reaching out to HTX Tactical to cease distribution of this product," the statement said.

The company doesn't plan on selling any more Whata-pistol paint jobs, and Garcia said he spoke to a lawyer Tuesday about copyright law.

HTX Tactical's video of the gun has been viewed more than 1 million times since being posted on Facebook last week, and some commenters have included videos of their own Whataburger-themed weapons.


Staving off the day

President Donald Trump is likely to win re-election next year, asserted Patrick, a Trump supporter.

But "one day, [Democrats] could have the White House again, and they could have Congress, and they will pass draconian laws that dramatically impact our Second Amendment rights," he said. "And if Republicans do some common sense things, that helps us stave off that day."

The Texas Democratic Party said Patrick's past actions cast doubt on his Friday statements.

"Dan Patrick can say what he wants now, but the fact of the matter is that his racist rhetoric was echoed directly by the El Paso shooter before the shooting," party spokesman Abdi Rahman said in a text. "Directly after the shooting, Patrick blamed video games and a 'lack of God' for the shooting instead of guns. Actions speak louder than words. Where's Patrick's plan and commitment to eradicate white supremacist language from his own discourse and his party's? Nothing changes until Patrick's rhetoric changes."

But Texas gun control advocate Ed Scruggs said he welcomes Patrick's stand.

"One thing you could never accuse Dan Patrick of is not being politically aware, he sees what's going on across the state," said Scruggs, president of the board of Texas Gun Sense. Among other things, the group supports curbs on "high lethality" firearms such as assault rifles.

"People are waking up and they're starting to ask questions and saying, 'OK, y'all have been in power now for the last 20 years. What have you done to prevent this and what are you going to do now?'" Scruggs said. Patrick "does see the writing on the wall, that they have to do something. . Any talk about closing background check loopholes is positive."

Scruggs and Patrick are members of a Texas Safety Commission that Gov. Greg Abbott appointed after the El Paso massacre that killed 22 people and injured 24 others.

On Thursday, Abbott issued executive orders designed to close "information gaps" in the reporting and analysis of suspicious activities. The Republican governor also said "legislative solutions are still needed." An Abbott spokesman has indicated the governor could make some bill proposals soon.

Most Democrats in the Legislature are pressing Abbott to call a special session on gun violence prevention. Abbott has urged some Democrats to soften their recent rhetoric, which he dubs overblown. He appears not to have made a final decision on whether a special session could be productive and brief, especially as the 2020 election looms.

On Friday, Patrick dodged questions about whether Abbott will call a special session and the prospects for Senate passage of gun-violence measures, including his suggested change on stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

"I want to protect the family and the friend transfer," he said of existing private sales that are exempt from background checks. "If other members have a different idea, then I will follow the will of the Senate."


After Texas and Vegas killing sprees, House votes to expand concealed carry and Senate eyes bump stocks

A survivor of the Las Vegas massacre tearfully pleaded with senators Wednesday to ban bump stocks, the device the killer added to his rifles so he could gun down scores of concertgoers in minutes. And the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said the agency will review its decision to allow the unregulated sale of the devices.

Lawmakers are grappling with conflicting approaches to gun violence. Two of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history took place 35 days apart this fall, claiming more than 80 lives.

The House voted Wednesday afternoon to let gun owners use a concealed carry permit from their home state anywhere in the country.

Politics: If federal funding doesn't come through, Texas may have found a way to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program a few more weeks.


Whataburger Defies Texas Law, Will Not Let Customers Openly Carry Firearms - Recipes

Originally Posted By: muddslinger_lp
I wouldn't carry open, you're just putting a target on your back. Lets say you're in the local 7-eleven checking out, some one walks in to rob the place, they see you and your side arm, now you're their focus. All eyes are going on you cause everyone knows your have a gun. They may just shoot you, knock you out or who knows what. I like concealed, gives that element of surprise.

Mmmmm, nope. You are just going to prevent that 7-eleven from being robbed. Criminals aren't totally stupid, they just want a quick and easy strike. They sure don't want to get in a gunfight and maybe end up with a murder charge. They'll just reverse course and hit the 7-eleven a couple of miles down the street.

Exactly, I hate when I hear people regurgitate what they hear on the MSM about open carry. A bad guy is not going to target you because you have a gun on your hip. Like TexasRecurve said, they like soft targets and will just wait and go to the gas station down the road. They don't want to be in a gun fight with a possibly more trained individual that could bring their life of crime to an abrupt stop. Same reason people don't target off duty cops, or cops in general. You think a thug goes into a gas station wanting to rob it and then a cop walks in with a gun on his hip and the thug says to himself ok, he has a gun I'm going to take him out first and then deal with the clerk all for the $80 in the cash register. No, they get the hell out of the gas station and go on to the next soft target. Please cite any statistics from any of the other 44 states that allow open carry, where someone that was open carrying a gun was targeted for that reason. Thats right they don't exist because it is a none issue.

Disclaimer, this is coming from someone that will still conceal carry, I just hate when people perpetuate stupid crap they hear on TV.

I agree for simple hit and run robbery type crimes.

However, if the scenario is jihadists or other nutjobs busting in to commit mass murders - I just can't see them quietly slinking away because a guy has a pistol visible. I personally feel that there are times that concealed would be an advantage.


Open carry puts retailers in a quandary

1 of 6 Green Bank in Houston has a sign posted prohibiting handguns at its location on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. This is a temporary sign and the bank should have permanent signs by the end of the month. ( Elizabeth Conley / Houston Chronicle ) Elizabeth Conley/Staff Show More Show Less

2 of 6 Green Bank in Houston has a sign posted prohibiting handguns at its location on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. This is a temporary sign and the bank should have permanent signs by the end of the month. ( Elizabeth Conley / Houston Chronicle ) Elizabeth Conley/Staff Show More Show Less

3 of 6 Off-duty HPD Officer Christopher Dominguez keeps an eye on customers at Houston Jewelry in Houston on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Houston. The business is allowing customers to shop while wearing their guns. ( Elizabeth Conley / Houston Chronicle ) Elizabeth Conley/Staff Show More Show Less

4 of 6 Off-duty HPD Officer Christopher Dominguez keeps an eye on customers at Houston Jewelry in Houston on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Houston. The business is allowing customers to shop while wearing their guns. ( Elizabeth Conley / Houston Chronicle ) Elizabeth Conley/Staff Show More Show Less

5 of 6 Off-duty HPD Officer Christopher Dominguez keeps an eye on customers at Houston Jewelry in Houston on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Houston. The business is allowing customers to shop while wearing their guns. ( Elizabeth Conley / Houston Chronicle ) Elizabeth Conley/Staff Show More Show Less

6 of 6 Off-duty Houston police Officer Christopher Dominguez keeps an eye on business at Houston Jewelry. If a customer "wants to carry a gun in and they're licensed, that's fine," says the store's president.  Elizabeth Conley/Staff Show More Show Less

Rex Solomon briefly considered hanging a sign in the window of Houston Jewelry to prohibit customers from coming inside while openly carrying guns. He made a business decision not to.

"It's going to make more people angry than feel comfortable," said Solomon, president of the jewelry store. " . If someone wants to carry a gun in and they're licensed, that's fine."

If thieves were coming to rob his store, Solomon reasoned, they wouldn't draw attention by openly carrying a weapon. If an armed shopper is acting suspicious, the off-duty police officer contracted to work at his store is there to defuse the situation. Plus, the law gives property owners the right to ask anyone with an openly holstered gun to leave if they feel uncomfortable.

Still, the implementation of open carry on Jan. 1 has left business owners grappling with a politically charged decision. How they decide could cost them customers or, at the very least, bring unwanted attention.

"The unfortunate part is that retailers are being drawn into that discussion," said George Kelemen, president and CEO of the Texas Retailers Association.

The association hasn't taken a stance on open carry. Kelemen said most businesses take into consideration long-standing policies, corporate culture and customer feedback. But it's the pro-gun and anti-gun advocates steering the debate, he said.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which pushes for legal reforms, maintains a list of Texas businesses prohibiting open carry for people who prefer a gun-free environment.

At the other end of the spectrum, Second Amendment Check already had a list of businesses to boycott "for their lack of respect for the rights of gun owners."

"If we were to join together in an effort to avoid businesses hostile toward us, while also bringing our business to companies that supported our rights, we might bring positive attention to the right to keep and bear arms in public, and possibly influence companies in our favor," Peter Upton, founder of Second Amendment Check, said in an email.

This isn't the first time retail and politics have intersected, putting retailers on the front lines of cultural turf battles, Lamar University political science professor David Castle said. Public accommodations and restaurants were at the core of integration battles in the 1960s, for example.

"Businesses have always found themselves in politics, taking political stands or ones they didn't think were political stands and turned out to be," Castle said.

Still, many businesses want to avoid the spotlight and declined interviews or provided prepared statements. Dimitri Fetokakis, owner of Niko Niko's, said in emails that he didn't want to be involved in the "political debate" and instead wants people "to relax and enjoy Greek food."

Among large grocery stores, Kroger has decided to allow armed customers with open-carry permits to enter its stores, as it does in all states where that is permitted by law. Competitor H-E-B has decided otherwise, citing Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules regarding guns and alcohol. H-E-B will continue to allow people with concealed-handgun permits in its stores.

Neither company would comment beyond previously issued statements.

Wal-Mart Stores decided to allow open carry but requires the highest-level manager in each store to check for the proper permits, spokesman Brian Nick said. Employees who notice someone carrying a firearm must notify managers. A shopper who cannot produce a license will be asked to take the weapon back to his or her car before shopping, Nick said.

He said Wal-Mart has a "compliance team" of people who look at laws that could affect store locations.

Seeing holstered weapons could make some shoppers uneasy. Elizabeth Brick, 28, of Bellaire said that she saw someone openly carrying a weapon at a Kroger and won't shop there anymore. Even though Brick and her husband own a handgun and take it to the shooting range, she said seeing a holstered weapon in public makes her uneasy.

"I just would like to limit my exposure to it," she said.

Chris Tripoli, president of A'La Carte Foodservice Consulting Group, said smaller independent restaurants seem to be leaning against allowing openly carried weapons and they hope people will understand that diners may feel uncomfortable around guns.

Tripoli advises clients to be friendly and pro-active about their decision, either way, and have servers explain it to customers or include this information in a newsletter.

Whataburger also asked for understanding when it released a statement in July explaining why it doesn't allow open carry in its restaurants.

"As a company serving customers with many different viewpoints, we're sometimes caught in the middle on controversial issues like this one," President and CEO Preston Atkinson, a hunter who has a concealed-handgun license, explained in a statement. "We hope you and your members, along with our other friends in the gun rights community, understand our position and will continue to visit us."

Choosing to prohibit open carry was an easy decision for Houston-based Green Bank.

"My No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 concerns are the safety of my employees," said Geoff Greenwade, president and CEO of the bank. He said employees work around a lot of cash, and they're in an industry historically susceptible to robberies.

Many Green Bank locations have magnetic locks on the front door and visitors must be let in by lobby personnel with a remote control. It would be difficult to determine if someone with a gun was legally carrying or there to rob the bank. "It's just impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys in a situation like that," he said.

Full Armor Firearms already has had customers come in with holstered guns. "Being a gun store, we are open to most people legally, openly carrying in the store," salesman Daniel Plum said.

Plum said the store is more comfortable with concealed weapons, however, because when the gun is out of sight it's also out of mind. If someone does come into the store openly carrying a weapon, he said, employees are paying enough attention to know if that gun ever leaves its holster.

Despite the back and forth among advocates, businesses and experts, the reality remains that many shoppers don't care and will stick to their usual shopping habits.

"It wouldn't affect my decision," said Derek Causey, 29, "because I don't choose where to shop based on their thoughts of open carry."


Drama in /r/quityourbullshit when a user asks why Americans would need a gun when ordering fast food.

If you're a former defense contractor who just divorced his wife and is trying to get across early ➐s Los Angeles to get to your daughter's birthday party, but you keep running into subtle, grotesque critiques of commercialism, economic inequality and the essential hypocrisy of modern post-industrial America you probably need to take a gun to a fast food restaurant.

what that other guy said, except for a quibble about the word "subtle"

It's bizzare how so many people take that movie as a validation of their beliefs, D-FENS never kills anyone who wasn't trying to harm him first. They completely miss that he killed a Neo Nazi and gangbanger.

Why? Because they put onions on your McDouble when you specificially said No Onions one too many times.

Why do restaurants bring out the crazy in people? Your servers are human. You try working behind the griddle for 8 hours and matching every order perfectly. Fucking please, calm yourselves.

They put onions in your parfait?

Edit: That poster has gone downhill from trying to sue McDonalds. I'm both impressed and horrified

isn't onions like a primary part of ketchup?

If we really need to carry guns everywhere 24/7 because "anything can happen", why do other countries (western ones) not have people dying left and right? I understand the country (animals) and rough areas (drugs), but that's not the entire US.

Ironically, because far fewer people have guns in those other countries. Other countries decided there should be less guns to keep people safe. America decided that maximum safety could be best obtained with maximum guns for all.

They do have people dying left and right, but because semi-auto pistols and carrying them is banned we cannot know how many people could be saved, there's no reference point.

If you want to justify carrying a gun everywhere, yes this is a common thought. And there's a lot of people in the US that want to carry a gun everywhere.

Some people take their morning coffee very seriously.

Some people in the right wing media were talking about how Guardian Reporter Ben Jacobs was a wuss for calling the cops after getting body slammed by Gianforte last week. Saying that's not how a Real Man(tm) from Montana handles his problems. The subtext, when you consider that their gun policy is essentially that people should concealed carry to defend themselves, is that they think Ben Jacobs should have shot and killed their congressional candidate in self defense.

So yes, it's a disturbingly common thought pattern. Guns are a religion here, and the fantasy that one day you'll be in a situation to use your gun and become a hero is more of an aspiration than just idle daydreaming.

Yup. Grew up around guns, worked in a gun shop, and heard more or less this exact thing every time the subject came up. The subtext is usually that they're afraid of ending up in the middle of a mass shooting or terrorist attack.

I'm in the UK and I completely agree with you. It is kinda amazing how large of a cultural difference there is.

The idea of lots of people carrying a gun everywhere is terrifying to me.

(also not intending to start drama just .. thoughts)

It combines our love of guns with our love of rugged individualism. The lone hero saving the day with his fists or preferably gun/s is a very common story. Westerns, The Punisher, Jon Wick, etc.

It's good to be prepared but some people adopt an American-Police style paranoia about how anyone could have a CC and commit an act of violence and combine it with a perspective where if everyone had a gun and training, violence wouldn't exist because weɽ all be warrior-monks.

Yes, it seems to be a common idea. As an American though, it's my considered opinion that it being common does not make it any less batshit bonkers.

At the risk of starting r/subredditdramadrama - is this a common thought pattern in the states?

Because like, I'm sorry, but this guy sounds absolutely insane.

Yup. And if you point out that they're way more likely to use that hand gun to blow their own brains out than protect themselves you'll just get downvoted

You know how some people, while daydreaming, imagine how a shooter scenario would play out for them and, if they're like me, imagine valiantly taking a bullet to save someone's life?

These people take that meaningless daydream, and actively wish for it happen, except they're shooting instead of being shot.

It is common in the US, but it's also insane.

If I'm getting my morning coffee and someone in the place starts stabbing or shooting people.

. so for people to vilify gun carriers is just ridiculous. We're not hurting anyone so why are you so upset.

I'm just really interested in hearing how the boogy man shooting up the coffee shop isn't a gun carrier and/or isn't hurting anyone. But what do I know?

It is insane, and it's specific to rural parts of the United States, with some urban exceptions in the deep South (yes, Texas, I'm looking at you the most).

I live in Massachusetts, and the entire position sounds batshit nuts to me, but I've heard country people in rural parts have that kind of argument. Though few apply it to handgun carry in my experience, that's because I live in New England. They do use it to justify their need for a shotgun for home defense, which is a different kind of stupid.

I'm okay with hunting if you intend to eat the meat, and preferably also use the hide of the animal. Other than that, no, I don't think you should have weapons.

Maybe if the McDonald's is located in a maximum-security prison, and they accidently shipped a bunch of sharp steak knives to the prison, and there's been a month of building racial tension. Maybe then it might happen.

It sadly is. A lot of idiots think that the best thing in the world to add to a violent confrontation is another gun.

I work with a few whackjobs like this. And yeah it's real. I'm pretty sure they're just super insecure or like. Unable to process basic statistics. What's scary is that they leave their guns laying around and have small children at home. They're definitely out of touch with reality.

And then they say they are scared of muslims. In all my life around all kinds of people have I never ever felt the need to own gun or even a knife for self defence and my protection. These guys are mad.

is this a common thought pattern in the states?

Despite what other people are saying in efforts to pile in on the drama, no, this mentality is not common at all. It's why the cliche of "etc. wouldn't have happened if the victim(s) had a gun themselves!" exists, because the vast majority of people do not live their lives on the verge of a shootout. However, gun nuts are a very very very vocal group so you will inherently hear a lot from them and subsequent drama that follows them.

There's a lot of people who like to imagine that they are some kind of badass that would drop some serious heroics if shit ever went down.

Carrying a gun constantly lets them feel like this fantasy is more realistic.

I don't know anyone who even owns a pistol, much less had a CCP though, so it depends on where you are in the states for how common it is.

I wouldn't say its a common thought pattern, but people who do carry guns should have the training and the thought exercises to know how to handle unexpected and escalating violent situations. I wouldn't want an unprepared and untrained gun owner walking around ready to pop off at a seconds notice. I guess think of it as more a big responsibility. When you carry a weapon you should know how and when to use it safely and purposefully.

Texan here. Yeah. It's how my brother justifies the absurd amount of guns he and my SIL own and they genuinely, truly believe they are making themselves and their children safer. Our dad agrees and while he doesn't have guns, he firmly believes it's safer to have a gun in the home than not. Whole thing infuriates me and my mother.

As an American, I can tell you that yes, gun nuts genuinely believe that they may need to be doling out Batman levels of justice at any given moment. Many of them also believe that the government is coming any day now to take away their guns by force, so they're going to have to form militias and fight back with these very guns.

And yes, they're completely bananas and paranoid as all get out.

The existence of rampaging hordes of rapemurdercannibals lurking around every corner is an incredibly common ammosexual delusion. And yeah, it creeps the rest of us out. They never seem to realize that while they're worried about that we're worried about them.

The guy that can't go to McDonalds without his handgun thinks everyone else sees him and thinks "what a relief, we're safe" when we're all actually thinking "Jesus, another one of these nutbags. hope nothing startles him."

Depends on who you hang out with I guess

No kidding, Iɽ be very worried that there's a guy behind me in line that can shoot a person as easily as that.

I served in the military, and there's a very big difference when you know you're carrying tracing bullets and live rounds.

Shit makes you re-evaluate everything you stand for, are you really ready to make a judgement and take someone's life? And see them writhe in pain, gurgle on their own blood, and see the spark disappear from their eyes, right before the BODY, not a person, the body goes limp and relieves itself of excesses.

Are you really ready to live with that for the rest of your life?

If that guy answered yes in a split second, I'm betting he would be the one "stabbing and shooting people" first thing in the morning.

I don't agree with it, but it's not irrational to think that the place where guns are banned (or some form of carrying guns is banned) would be the likeliest place for robbers to target.

But really this threat of violence, I think, is more fantasy than anything.

America is a first world country with a third world mentality.

There's also thst old quote, "when seconds count police are only minutes away."

Adding my brick to the wall, I'm from France (no guns for civilians, no knifes above a certain length, etc) and I like to think that getting hurt is a part of learning. But guns are too much power enthrusted to your average citizen.

The problem is when you hit someone with a gun, in 95% 29.7% of the cases he is dead. Not disabled, not hurted, not-ow-my-shoulder-I'm-hit. No. Dead. In a most gruesome way.

He is absolutely off his fucking rocker, and no this isn't a common mentality in the states, thank god. For idiots like this guy it's a mix of an itchy trigger finger and an obsession with shooting some robber dead so they can be a hero.

You could have at least mentioned me. If I sound insane then what's your plan if someone attacks you? Curl into a ball and hope it stops before you die? Honestly do you ever give any thought to defending yourself at all?

I would also remind you that the United States is an entirely unique country just like all others. The culture of the United States was largely developed around guns given that they were instrumental - pun intended - in the country earning its freedom. Guns have been ingrained in this country since it's inception. You're not going to see the United States take your moral high horse on guns in your lifetime. Not only do we have unique laws and freedoms that a lot of countries don't have, but we have a population almost 5 times that of the UK spread over land that could comfortably fit the entire UK in just Texas. Some people absolutely rely on guns for their safety because calling the police means waiting a half hour or more for any help to arrive.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Sword & the Tome

H/T: America's 1st Freedom, February 2009, p. 28 by Dave Kopel

Did you read this article? Maybe you ought to. Go get a copy of the NRA's (yeah, that's right, the National Rifle Association!) America's 1st Freedom magazine and study up.

Any more questions? Get your hands on a copy and read the whole thing for yourself. It's worth it.

God Bless Ya'll !

Howdy!

I'm glad you found this site. It's a continuation of TheWearableGospel.BlogSpot.com with a somewhat shorter URL - AnAnglicanGN.BlogSpot.com.

God Bless Ya'll !

Soldier doubts eligibility, defies president's orders

The title link, and this one, highlight fundamental issues facing our newly elected "president."

Is he or isn't he?

He certainly hasn't demonstrated much of the "openess" and "transparency" that he campaigned for. I guess "openess" and "transparency" are the schlobs in fly-over-country. You know, like you and me. It's certainly not for the Obama-messiah and his minions.

I am continually astonished at both the arrogance and incompetance of this administration. The Presidency of the United States is not a job to be learned on-the-go.

God Bless Ya'll !

Have "That Talk" With Your Older Kids!

I kike Brigid's way of thinking about life, guns, kids and guns, and most every thing else.

I know many of my readers are married. I would think that more than a few of you have older daughters. But how many of you have had "that talk" with them. You know the one. The one about carrying concealed?

Read her whole post. In fact, make up some of her recipes. I'll be happy to provide the taste testing service. Just send your efforts to . . . . . .

God Bless Ya'll !

Foreboding Photos - AKA "Idiots with Guns"

The referenced blog by Xavier is kinda hard to read. It's sad, truly sad, that these people possessed guns.

Please note I didn't write that they were "allowed" to possess guns. With Liberty comes responsibility. On that note, they failed. For the male in the story, his failing is obvious. For the female "victim" her failing is just as serious though perhaps not so obvious.

For she chose to associate with an "Idiot with a Gun".

My heart goes out to the surviving family. Perhaps they failed these two individuals. Perhaps these two were not taught the Rules of the Gun - or the Rules of Life - PERIOD. Perhaps these two just didn't "get the memo", were out to lunch or skipped that class. Nevertheless, lives are changed forever by irresponsibility.

We'll re-visit the Rules of the Gun right now (courtesy of Xavier).

GoDaddy, go! Christians exit over Super Bowl ad

During a good portion of the month of February, I spent my "spare" time migrating our web site, The Wearable Gospel!, from one hosting company to another.

GoDaddy, go! Christians exit over Super Bowl ad

GoDaddy's famously risque Super Bowl ads always pull lots of eyeballs, but the company's latest spots may have resulted in a little too much attention of the wrong kind.

Entrepreneur Brian Harrell, who manages hosting services for dozens of Christian churches and faith-based organizations and uses GoDaddy to host over 160 domains, says he's pulled several of his clients off of GoDaddy's servers after receiving numerous complaints about the company's racy ads that aired during Sunday's game.

"I know they're trying to make sales, but that kind of content is not going to fly in the Christian community," he says.

During Sunday's Super Bowl telecast, the domain registrar and hosting company ran two sexually suggestive ads featuring auto racer Danica Patrick -- one featuring Patrick and a few busty models tossing around double-entendres about their breast size, and another featuring Patrick stripping down and stepping into a shower.

In the hours after the game ended, Harrell says he began receiving complaints from his Christian clients, who demanded their hosting and e-mail services be moved to a different provider.

And the calls kept coming. By Tuesday, Harrell says he has orders to move 20 of his clients' domains off of GoDaddy's hosting service and another 40 off of its web-based e-mail service. He anticipates more calls as word spreads across the Christian community.

GoDaddy has developed a great deal of notoriety for its Super Bowl advertising. The company has ads rejected by broadcasters multiple times for being too racy, and even had one of its ads pulled mid-game before it aired. The company also makes non-sexually suggestive ads for NASCAR and other televised sports with larger Christian fanbases.

In addition to working with churches and faith-based organizations, Harrell runs a sales portal for the wedding and event planning industry at alltimefavorites.com. He has been a GoDaddy customer for almost ten years, so he's more than familiar with the company's sexually charged ads. But after seeing Danicka Patrick showering and nearly showing off her bare breasts, he decided to put his foot down.

"They have to be careful. I think they definitely crossed the line in this case," he says.

Harrell also sent a strongly-worded e-mail to the company, which he provided to Wired.com:

We have clients leaving GoDaddy e-mail and servers due to your non-Christian advertising and exploitation of females in your advertising.

We currently have over 160 domains with you.

Please re-think how your morals and values are looking to the public. It seems that the GoDaddy President seems like a bit of a sex addict or pervert.

I'm assuming you will just respond in "corporate speak" that "I'm sorry you feel that way. It was not our intention to offend (translation to blah blah blah) and we will take your comments under advisement (meaning we will delete your email shortly as we really don't give a crap about morals and Christians, only sales, no really, we don't give a crap.)

I have been in marketing for over 25 years and you really should PRINT this and bring this to your management meeting and read it word-for-word (what really will happen? You will bring it up at the meeting maybe, and everyone will laugh like crazy but inside they know this is a disease that will keep eating at the foundation of GoDaddy until someday it does some serious damage - or when you ALL have to be judged for your sins when you die)

Sincerely,Brian Harrell

The company responded with a boilerplate letter, which reads in part:

When Harrell contacted us our first thought was, Christians are using GoDaddy.com for hosting? Haven't they seen the ads?

Harrell, who is a Christian himself, says he's no stranger to the ads or to the suggestive nature of advertising in general. But the ads are costing him business, and he feels it's time the company owns up to what he calls its "immoral and irresponsible" public image.

But what impact will it make on the world's largest registrar of domains? GoDaddy creates its ads in-house, and it does so on the cheap. The spots are incredibly lucrative. According to The Arizona Republic, the Scotsdale, Arizona company's hometown paper, GoDaddy's ads last Sunday resulted in a flood of new customers -- a 110 percent increase over the number of orders it received after the 2008 Super Bowl.

The ads were hugely popular. TiVo says GoDaddy's "Enchanced" ad (the one showing women joking about their breast size) was the game's most-viewed spot. The Associated Press speculates it's because the ad aired during the final moments of the tense game, but it's also the fourth-most-watched ad at Hulu.com's Super Bowl ads microsite. GoDaddy's other ad, featuring Patrick in the shower, ranked at #15 according to Hulu. The "Shower" spot ran during the game's first half.

Even though GoDaddy may think he's small potatoes, Harrell is going to continue his campaign.

He plans to expand his business this year by adding between 1,000 and 2,000 churches to his online directory, and he's not about to recommend GoDaddy's services to any of them.


Gun laws are getting looser across much of U.S.

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Adaydream

This story has got to be a lie. Barack Obama is trying to take away all guns, the republicans tell me this everyday. I walk into my gunsmith shop and they have this fictous story about Obama taking away guns.

Then every time that the democrats come up with a new bill, the republicans come out with emails that say there is a provision that strips guun rights.

So this has to be all lies. < :-)

Beelzebub

This quote from AP: There are "too many guns on the streets," NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday. "This is one of the great public health threats. And our police officers are clearly in danger."

What was a Hispanic CD pedlar doing in Times Square armed with a machine pistol? Why is poor America still locked into its "Back to the Future," 19th century, Dodge City mentality? Spread the body count over 50 states and "every day is Virginia Tech".

Skipthesong

Beelzebub: Did you really have to state the guy's race? Why not just a CD pedlar? You are going to give others the impression that it is us who the gun toting people and we are not!

5SpeedRacer5

“This is all a coordinated approach to respect that human, God-given right of self defense by law-abiding Americans,” says Chris W Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist. “We’ll rest when all 50 states allow and respect the right of law-abiding people to defend themselves from criminal attack.”

Translation: Authority. Patriotism. Law. Fear. Fear. Fear.

It is nice to see that the NRA has its gloves off. Apparently the purpose of gun ownership is not hunting or sport. It is defense from criminal attack. This really says it all. Law enforcement has become an oxymoron in America. People are being taught to rely on firearms to resolve problems.

Juxtapose that with this from a 69 year old who knows better:

“People go in there and start drinking and then they want to start a fight. What are they going to do if they got a gun in their hand?”

Mr. Cox, meet Mr. Speck. When is starting a bar fight the same as protecting yourself from criminal attack? Any old time you want it to be. This will not end well.

Skipthesong

Apparently the purpose of gun ownership is not hunting or sport. It is defense from criminal attack. This really says it all. Law enforcement has become an oxymoron in America. People are being taught to rely on firearms to resolve problems."

That's the only reason I keep guns with me back home. Never hunted in my life. Having lost someone to a crime who refused to have a gun with the idiots basically getting slaps on their wrists, I agree 100% with the poster above. If I go to my mother's town, calling a cop is almost like asking a god to help you, because he may the one taking your money.

Badsey

It's not the guns that's the problem -it's the ammo shortage right now.

Just recently bought a Remington 597 .22 (Gander Mountain only) blue laminate. -but beware, since Cerberus Capital bought them out quality/customer service has been down.

Zurcronium

25,000 per year shot to death by guns in the USA last year, NRA must be proud of that as well. Fact is gun owners are more likely to get shot than those that do not have guns. Many times gun owners shoot themselves.

Skipthesong

Fact is gun owners are more likely to get shot than those that do not have guns." Well, I guess my dad was just one off the stat then. Oh, the guys that did it, they weren't legal gun owners.

anyway, before I get ticked, your number 25,000 a year. that's the whole point why I keep a few on me in most places in the states, and you can not tell me that number represents people who are owning guns legally. The gov instead of saving guppy fish, should be trying to figure out ways to kill the crime on the streets, which is not by legal gun owners, but street gangs who own guns illegally. If you like, I'd invite you to my mom's neighborhood, who refuses to leave, and when someone holds a gun to your head, ask them if they own that gun illegally, or when you are getting jacked at a stop light, which I've been, ask the one doing it if they own that gun legally. I'm not a member of the NRA btw. Get the crime off the streets, and I will gladly melt my guns down to make pachinko balls. badsey: what are you going to do with a rifle like that?

TravelingSales

I see zurcronium is not going to be a challenge to Albert Einstein any time soon.

People going to hospital are more likely to die than people who don't. Is that because hospitals are dangerous? No (unless you live in the UK with their super-bugs). People who go to hospitals are disproportionately sick and sick people are disproportionately likely to die.

People who buy guns are more likely to die than people who don't. Is that because buying guns is dangerous? No. People who go buy guns include a disproportionate number of people who reasonably believe themselves to be in danger (because they live in a bad neighborhood, have a dangerous job, believe their former spouse to be potentially dangerous, etc.) and people who reasonably believe themselves to be in danger are disproportionately likely to die.

There are creatures lying on their backs in the bottom of ponds that can handle this level of logic.

Numbskull

skipthesong:Did you really have to state the guy's race?

Why not? It gives a clearer mental picture of the scene. If it makes you feel better, I am sure you can dig up a gun crime for every race on the planet but happened in America, land of the gun-loving idiot. Not to say all Americans are such, just that America has far too many.

So did Obama try to take any one's guns away yet? Yeah, that paranoid lot really showed their paranoid colors with that one. Why don't we want them to have guns? Uh. maybe because they are PARANOID?

Numbskull

skipthesong: Having lost someone to a crime who refused to have a gun with the idiots basically getting slaps on their wrists, I agree 100%

Sorry for your loss, but forgive me for being skeptical about your take on the causes and solutions for that horrible event. The gun is the easy and lazy answer, and the easy and lazy answer is rarely the best one. In some rare situations it is, but most of the time, its not.

Numbskull

TravelingSales: People who go buy guns include a disproportionate number of people who reasonably believe themselves to be in danger

Because. somebody else has a gun! And around and around we go.

But I wonder if you, Einstein, could even show us some sort of proof that people who reasonably believe themselves in danger outnumber those who are simply PARANOID? Or just love guns and will make any excuse to possess a deadly weapon that just makes their insecure fragile little egos feel warm at night?

Skipthesong

numbskull: Let me say it better, I'm scared in a lot of places in the states, and the ones scaring me are not the usual right-wing white guys, its my own. Like I said, something changes where street crime is minimal at the least, by any way possible, and I will throw my gun away. I would also like people who shoot others during a crime get hefty sentences. Not get out because on "good behavior" in less than five years. Do you realize what a slap in the face that was? My mother to this day is still kind of a nervous wreck (she was next to him when it happened). She couldn't/wouldn't work, we went on some sort of state assistence, moving back to her old neighborhood which was already in a state of emergency. So, I ask you, why does anyone have to go through just a sample of what we went through because you decided that guns are bad, even for self defense?

Timorborder

The more things change, the more than stay the same.

Could never really understand the US fascination with firearms. Don't get me wrong, I received my first rifle at the age of 8, and then commenced to decimate the local rabbit population. But then again, I grew up on a farm in rural Australia, a place where firearms are tools, used to shot feral animals and fend off undesirables who are after the women folk (that is joke). Anyway, I just don't get it. Indeed, if firearms are so necessary for city folk, etc, is that necessity itself just a symptom of a sick society? Just an idea.

Skipthesong

Could never really understand the US fascination with firearms" You are aware that regardless of the all the regulations and laws they pass year after year, illegal gun use increases. What is the fascination? You know the answer to that.

TravelingSales

Or a knife, look at this recent link:

And guns do work in self-defense - look at this, also recent:

People have a right and duty to defend themselves.

Zurcronium

Homicide apologists, aka NRA losers, can never just accept the truth. Gun owners die at a higher rate because they shoot themselves. Or they shoot their families. In the news everyday in the US. In Japan, homicide rate is 1% of the USA. Why, gun control.

Skipthesong

NRA losers, can never just accept the truth. Gun owners die at a higher rate because they shoot themselves." I'd thought you be happy that the right winger NRA losers are shooting themselves.

Numbskull

skipthesong: So, I ask you, why does anyone have to go through just a sample of what we went through because you decided that guns are bad, even for self defense?

Because every time you reach for the easy and false answer, you lose your resolve to do what really needs to be done.

A good start the nation would be to protest to get non-violent crime punished less to free up room in prisons. Far too many marijuana users and statutory rapists (who marry their "victims's" after release) etc. clogging the prison system now.

Guns are false security anyway. There are a plethora of other things you can do personally that offer better security. Bar your windows, buy burglar alarms, get to know your neighbors and set up emergency plans with them, buy and TRAIN a dog, buy a stun-gun, exercise, don't go into bad neighborhoods, don't go out at night, walk quickly, hold your head up, don't look people in the eye until they challenge you, learn how to defuse situations (and other psychological techniques), start a neighborhood watch, move, etc. etc.

America has been awash in guns for a long time now, but America is not getting more secure for them, is it? The easy and lazy answer is the not the best one.

Suzu1

This article is misleading in its mention of state laws passed in Tennessee and Montana. ATF, the agency responsible for enforcing Federal gun laws, has made it clear that the law does not provide any relief from Federal law. There has been no change whatsoever in the enforcement of laws. If the U.S. does ban guns, it should start with all the foreign manufacturs first - no more Sig Sauer (Switzerland), Glock (Germany), Heckler & Koch (Germany), Taurus (Brazil), Sako (Finland), Star (Spain), Beretta (Italy), FEG (Hungary), FN (Belgium), Walther (Germany), IMI (Israel), Izhmash (Russia), Norinco (China), CZ (Czech Republic), Miroku (Japan), MKE (Turkey) and Astra (Spain) among others. Then see how much the world reacts to gun control efforts in the U.S.

Suzu1

Here is the open letter ATF sent to all Montana firearms dealers informing them that the new State law did not relieve them of any responsibilities they had prior to the law's passage:

An identical letter was sent to Tennessee dealers.

“We’ll rest when all 50 states allow and respect the right of law-abiding people to defend themselves from criminal attack.”

Wouldn't it be better to spend more time and energy on not spawning so many violent criminal types?

Suzu1

“We’ll rest when all 50 states allow and respect the right of law-abiding people to defend themselves from criminal attack.”

Wouldn't it be better to spend more time and energy on not spawning so many violent criminal types?

Both efforts should be supported.

Skipthesong

Because every time you reach for the easy and false answer, you lose your resolve to do what really needs to be done." Not sure what you mean, but I've never shot anyone.

A good start the nation would be to protest to get non-violent crime punished less to free up room in prisons. Far too many marijuana users and statutory rapists (who marry their "victims's" after release) etc. clogging the prison system now." good point.

Guns are false security anyway." true, but merely holding one up works.

There are a plethora of other things you can do personally that offer better security. Bar your windows, buy burglar alarms, get to know your neighbors and set up emergency plans with them, buy and TRAIN a dog, buy a stun-gun, exercise, don't go into bad neighborhoods, don't go out at night, walk quickly, hold your head up, don't look people in the eye until they challenge you, learn how to defuse situations (and other psychological techniques), start a neighborhood watch, move, etc. etc." Wow, so not only are you saying I must be a prisoner, I shouldn't go into my mom's neighborhood. Trying to difuse a situation with words, is that what you are saying? That doesn't even work in a fight without gun. Not the young people of today at least, who are the ones shooting everyone up. I hope you are not over 40, because then what ever I say is moot.

America has been awash in guns for a long time now, but America is not getting more secure for them, is it?" Well, we had less gun crime when we had zero regulations. The easy and lazy answer is the not the best one." Why do you paint me as lazy?

TravelingSales

I am not going to be confined to my house at night. That's crazy.

In general states with minimal regulation of guns (think Alska and Vermont) are far safer thsn states which are very restrictive (New York and Illinois). That is partly because politicians perversely react to illegal use of guns by restricting legal possession of guns so that only people who do not feel constrained to obey the law are armed. However, even when you compare large urbanized states, freer states have less crime than restrictive states (e.g. Florida & California).

The people who are most disadvantaged here are those in retricted states living on the border of free states. If you are a thief and you break into my house in Connecticut, I will shoot you. If you drive 5 miles north and rob my neighbor in New York, he is not allowed to have a gun. Which would you choose?

Numbskull

TravelingSales: I am not going to be confined to my house at night. That's crazy.

Then exerise the host of other options I gave you. Or Cleo's. Or accept that there will be some risk to everything you do in life. I have been shot and robbed at gunpoint. I guess I just have the nads to not run for guns.

In general states with minimal regulation of guns (think Alska and Vermont) are far safer thsn states which are very restrictive (New York and Illinois).

Now you tell us the tail wags the dog, as if Vermont and "1 person per 1000 miles" Alaska were ever as dangerous as south-eastern N.Y. or Illinois. States with easier gun restrictions are that way because they can afford to be, because the people there are more sane. The easier restrictions most certainly did not make those places safer. Nor did more gun restrictions make anyplace more dangerous.

And before you bring up the FAT LIE of Washington D.C.'s hand-gun ban (which did not concern shotguns..hello?) the rise and fall of crime does not correlate well to laws but correlated perfectly to the rise and fall of crack cocaine.

The spin and lies of the gun lobby are there because of two kinds of people: the ones with ulterior motives (money, love of guns) groping for excuses and the fools who actually believe the hype.

Numbskull

I have been shot and robbed at gunpoint.

Sorry, should be shot AT. I was not hit. And I certainly was not trying rob anyone either.

Sarge

"made it illegal to ask job candidates whether they own a gun"

If I was a job candidate and the interviewer asked me if I had a gun, I'd have to assume that a "Yes, I do" answer would deny me the job, and so if I did own a gun ( I've never owned a gun ) and I really wanted the job I'd lie.

Skipthesong

Props, numbskull. You come straight from the street, baby. like so many of us progressives." hardly any so called progressives I met are from the street. most of you are some rich white gated community types who believe you have all the answers. And don't come back with I'm a winger crap, that another word reserved for your kind.

Unfortunatetely, I cant always spot them. Caribou barbie Palin really scares me" And I am sure you might have the urge to shoot her!

numskull: I think you are getting me wrong, I'd prefer that guns never existed. But until they meet their demise and can fall into some idiots hands and illegally, please allow me to defend myself until you guys find a better method.

TravelingSales Your list got me, the countries that have strict gun laws actually have some of the top makers? Odd, really odd.

Seijichuudo9sha

Skipthesong - Why do you gotta be like that? Look, I am down with the whole demonize white America thing. Okay? I could NEVER live in a gated community. I bought a Beretta pistol after I heard Vice President Joe Biden mention he had one. But I am afraid to take it out of the box.

Sarge

"I bought a Beretta pistol after I heard Vice President Biden mention he had one."

Gosh, Biden's not setting a very good example, is he?

Nandakandamanda

Gun use in crime needs to be highlighted and discouraged.

Maybe the Yakuza or Saudi Arabia have something positive to offer.

Use of a gun in a deliberate crime to bring automatic minimum loss of one section of small finger. Three sections max. (Besides the regular fine, imprisonment, lashes, etc.)

After that, lop off the right hand.

USARonin

Is there anyone who thinks this 56 YO woman did the wrong thing?

Noliving

25,000 per year shot to death by guns in the USA last year, NRA must be proud of that as well. Fact is gun owners are more likely to get shot than those that do not have guns. Many times gun owners shoot themselves.

Half of those are suicides plus that statistic also includes killed by law enforcement and law enforcement are obviously going to be carrying guns.

So lets see here, 25,000 divided by 300 million+ (Total number of legally owned firearms in the US) equates to a fatal death rate of around .0000083. Wow that is really a threat isn't it.

In the news everyday in the US. In Japan, homicide rate is 1% of the USA. Why, gun control.

Actually no, it has actually been successfully proven that the primary reason why is culture not the absence of a weapon. In order for your example to work you would have to also explain why non violent crime that involves no weapons are also lower in the Japan then in the US. If it was indeed because of gun control then Japan's non violent crime rate should be a lot higher then what it currently is. Also when you factor in that nearly half of all gun deaths in the US are suicides shouldn't the US then have a higher suicide rate then Japan when considering how much easier access to a gun? So why doesn't the US have a higher rate of suicide? Cultural views regarding suicide are the culprit, again suicide is seen as a cowardly way in the US, it does not necessarily have the same stigma in Japan as it does in the US as a result suicide is not as widely frowned upon in Japan as in the US.

Noliving

Numbskull

USARonin: Is there anyone who thinks this 56 YO woman did the wrong thing?

I did not hear a dog barking, you? How did he get in? No bars on the windows I expect. She admitted having no other rooms to lock herself into except the bathroom. The problem is that she decided to skip steps 3, 4, and 5 and go straight to step 6 when things she found herself in a pinch. She took the easy and lazy way out, and by the sounds of her voice, even she regrets it.

Rather than scanning the net for cherry picked evidence to support something you already made your mind up about, why not look at more generalized evidence and draw conclusions from it. If you do that and your brain works, you will change your mind. I think that is what you are most afraid of though, even more afraid of that than the possiblity of a house invasion.

Numbskull

Noliving, what you have not considered is that it has been easier for the Japanese to reject all use of violence in part through the government's and society's of highly restricting many weapons and not just guns, which are tools of violence.

A great deal of America's culture of violence thrives on the fact that real guns and other real weapons are widely available.

USARonin

it has been easier for the Japanese to reject all use of violence in part through the government's and society's of highly restricting many weapons and not just guns, which are tools of violence

numbskull, I gotta admire the Japanese in a weird sorta way. They like to do all their killin' up close and personal, usually with a blade.

Me? I prefer keepin' threats at a distance. Firearms are good tools for doin' just that.

If your government has neutured you from gun ownership, you may wanna address that. Northern Irelanders enjoy their gun rights apparantely, and mainland Brits are demonstratin' in the streets that the government has left them defenseless against criminals who have no problem gettin' firearms.

Bobbies wearin' bullet-proof vests nowadays agree with these civilians.

USARonin

numbskull, I didn't cherry-pick the net. That story was on the news this week. I only Googled a link just for you.

So accordin' to you, numbskull, this elderly woman should have owned a dog to save her life from any dark eventuality. She should've turned her home into a fortress with bars on the window to keep potential rapist-murderers out. She should have let herself be cornered - unarmed - in a small confined space which is easy to break in to. Accordin' to you, the death of this criminal with a long history of criminalty is the fault of this law-abidin' 56 YO woman who was alone and mindin' her own business within the alleged safety of her own home.

Do you know how you sound, numbskull?

Seijichuudo9sha

So accordin' to you, numbskull, this elderly woman should have owned a dog to save her life from any dark eventuality.

Dogs are out with the progressive crowd. Keeping a pet like a dog is too great a strain on Gaia.

Alphaape

These laws that are coming into play are restrictions for those who are law abiding and have gone through the proper process of regisering for a gun and had the background check. No where does it say that now anyone can own and carry a concealed gun. This article is trying to play on the anti-gun movment by not presenting the facts.

Here's a little fact, most of the criminals who commit violent crimes with guns do so with guns that are bought illegally. So they are not following the gun laws in the first place since a parolee is not allowed to purchase a gun and would in no way be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Before the "then just ban all guns" posters come out, let's look at this logically, and not ideologically. Ban all guns, then criminals who do not obey the laws in the first place will still have them. Guns are banned here in Japan or strictly controlled, yet we still see cases reported here of criminal types using guns in killings. So that will not work.

Numbskull

USARonin, you cannot be cornered if you live in a fortress and have a cell phone.

Had she just had one room to go to with strong doors and this one room had bars on the window, she could have held up there long enough for police to arrive. Open your ears and listen to the poor woman. She did not want to shoot the man. But she did so because people like yourself advocate taking the quick and lazy way out, and sadly, she listened. She has to live with that the rest of her days.

A dog is just another option in a sea of them.

Numbskull

Here's a little fact, most of the criminals who commit violent crimes with guns do so with guns that are bought illegally.

Which could be found because of a massive market in legal guns! Why is this all so hard for you to see? Those guns had to come from some where, and most of them were originally purchased legally. If your logic held water, gun crimes would be largely comitted with fully automatic weapons. They are not, because the illegal market did not appear out of thin air.

Come on. What is your real reason for promoting guns. Your arguments are terrible and it is impossible to believe you really put stock in them. So what is the real reason? Love of a warm barrel? They look so cool? Holding one makes you feel adequate? What?

Seijichuudo9sha

"Had she just had one room to go to with strong doors and this one room had bars on the window, she could have held up there long enough for police to arrive."

Numbskull - now you promote the "live in constant fear" mantra of the bush years.

USARonin

numbskull, you're puttin' the burden of defense from a violent criminal on a defenseless elderly woman.

You believe in the concept that she had the obligation to run.

In my country, we overwhelmingly believe in the concept that the innocent have the right to stand their ground.

It is also a Western concept that it is morally permissable to use lethal force in the face of the threat of lethal force.

numbskull, why do you put all the onus on a defenseless elderly woman? She hadn't done anything wrong and she was within her own home? Not only that, but you call her lazy and takin' the easy way out by protectin' her own life. How low can you go?

You're really somethin' else, numbskull.

I enjoy your handle and the reason you picked it.

TheQuestion

Now, the general argument of NRA is that people in cities own firearms to protect themselves from criminals with illegal firearms. I wholeheartedly disagree even if you managed to take every gun from every criminal I would still have my firearm, heck if you managed to take away every gun, knife, baseball bat, rock, and sharp stick from all the criminals I'd still want it around. Why? Because it's the safe bet. I've got government training, I'm registered, and I've been in unsavory situations before and know how to get myself out of them so long as I have some leverage in the situation.

Plus I enjoy recreational target, trap, and range shooting as well as deer, pheasant, goose, and boar hunting with the little arsenal that I've accumulated over the years via gifts, heirlooms, or by just spoiling myself. I just wish the people would chill out, they're driving up the cost of ammo.

USARonin

Question, I believe the argument of the NRA is the Second Amendment to the United States Constition.

Since President Obama's election, firearms sales in Hawaii have gone up something like 400 percent. I believe national trends may be similar.

If anything, with high volume sales, President Obama should be a one-man tidal wave in drivin' your and my costs down.

'The range is now hot. Fire at your targets at will.'

Nessie

heck if you managed to take away every gun, knife, baseball bat, rock, and sharp stick from all the criminals I'd still want it around. Why? Because it's the safe bet

The safer be is on you shooting yourself, since that's statistically more likely than you using the gun to shoot someone in self defence.

USARonin

Truth be told, the average American gun owner is more proficient, i.e. accurate, with his personal weapon than the average police officer or average soldier.

The average American gun-owner doesn't shy away from gun safety courses and was probably reared by a responsible firearm-ownin' adult.

You may know already that 'America gun deaths numbers' would drop precipitously if we took 'urban' gun statistics outta the equation. Fools with guns and their lives are soon parted.

There used to be a word for a factor that skewed truer gradin' indications but it escapes me right now.

For me, the best part of shootin' is usin' a quality weapon and hittin' what I aimed at. The worst part?: Bein' a responsible gun owner and meticulously cleanin' the firearm afterwards.

Most of my quality firearms are made in Eurabia, not the USA. I don't, however, dispute that the US makes the finest firearms. It's a good argument.

Noliving

Noliving, what you have not considered is that it has been easier for the Japanese to reject all use of violence in part through the government's and society's of highly restricting many weapons and not just guns, which are tools of violence.

Again, research has shown that the primary reason why violence along with non violent crime is less in Japan then in the USA has more to do with culture then with absence of a weapon. Again if the presence of a weapon is the cause of crime, then non violent crime in Japan should be the same level as that of the USA but it isn't. You can easily see culture at work when it comes to suicides between the culture, by your argument, the USA should have a higher rate of suicide then Japan considering the wider availability of weapons and tolerance of violence. I mean after all half the gun deaths in the USA are suicides. The problem here is that my position is supported by years of research. Your argument doesn't really, believe me I've looked. One of key questions has always been how is it possible that Japan, which has a significantly higher population density then the USA, is able to maintain lower violent crime but more amazingly non violent crime, crime committed without weapons. The conclusions have always primarily been culture.

Really just how restricted are they? Will they be able to stop me from taking a knife outside of my house and stabbing people? Do they prevent me from buying matches to light things on fire? Do they prevent/restrict me from buying knives at a store? Do they restrict me from buying a hammer? How about nails? How about screw drivers? How about an ax or a drill? Ya they have laws that prevent you from carrying blades out in public but what real means do they have of enforcing it? Do they have police officers that pat your body down as soon as you step outside? Seriously what do they have in place that is effective that prevents me from taking a knife and walking to my neighbor's and killing them. Nothing! No country in the world has an effective policy to prevent someone from stabbing another, from taking a blade out into the public. Japan has easy access to lethal weapons, especially the ones I just listed.

A great deal of America's culture of violence thrives on the fact that real guns and other real weapons are widely available.

Yea there is no denying that just like how UK and Australian violence thrives on the fact of alcohol. Did you know that on a per capita basis the UK has 2.5 times more violent crimes per 100k of people then USA. In the UK the per capita of violent crime is 1500 per 100k, in the US it is 600 per 100k. Pretty amazing too considering that the US much looser rules when it comes to firearms.

it has actually been successfully proven that the primary reason why is culture

Time to try and do something about the culture, then?

Also when you factor in that nearly half of all gun deaths in the US are suicides shouldn't the US then have a higher suicide rate then Japan when considering how much easier access to a gun?

Actually, among young males (the group most likely to have a morbid and immature fascination with guns?), the suicide rate is higher in the US, in fact considerably higher:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_sui_rat_you_mal-health-suicide-rate-young-males (you need to put underlines before and after all the italics to make the link work)

TheQuestion

The safer be is on you shooting yourself, since that's statistically more likely than you using the gun to shoot someone in self defence.

Once got beaned by a ricochet from my pellet gun trying to scare a squirrel away from my bird feeder, if that counts, but as long as you know what end the ouchie ball comes out of you either have to be really stupid, really drunk, or really unstable to shoot yourself. And considering how many firearms there are in the U.S (223 Million) as compared to how many accidental deaths (30,536 in 2006) I'd say the numbers are on my side for not shooting myself. I'm actually more likely to die in a motor vehicle (45,316 same year) or by accidental poisoning (37,286 same year). Numbers courtesy of the CDC. Heck, I'm more likely to get killed by an asteroid in 2029, that one has a 3% chance of hitting. Thats courtesy of NASA.

Noliving

Time to try and do something about the culture, then?

Absolutely, I mean if I'm not mistaken the swiss have a higher gun ownership rate then the US when it comes to high power assault rifles, (because of forced military duty?) in their homes and yet their deaths by guns are lower then the US.

Crime has more to do with culture then with the presence or absence of a weapon.

Actually, among young males (the group most likely to have a morbid and immature fascination with guns?), the suicide rate is higher in the US, in fact considerably higher: Japan 10.1/100,000 US 21.9/100,000 http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/heasuiratyoumal-health-suicide-rate-young-males (you need to put underlines before and after all the italics to make the link work)

To be fair though I'm talking about the overall suicide rates between the countries, not a certain demographic of the statistic. For example according to the world health organization the Japanese male suicide rate per 100k is around 35-36 while in the USA is around 10-11 per 100k. For females, in Japan it is around 13 and around 3 in the USA per 100k. Which country do you think has a higher overall suicide rate?

USARonin

because of forced military duty

NoLiving, what are you talkin' about? In America 'forced military duty'?

Noliving

Here is another thing to consider numskull, the swiss. The swiss have an incredibly high gun ownership rate, not as high as the US though mind you. The vast majority of guns in private homes in Switzerland is a SIG SG 550 assault rifle. In 2006 they had 34 people either killed or attempted murder by a gun, they had 69 people killed or attempted murder by blades and over 526 people who were bodily harmed by knives versus the 89 that were bodily harmed by guns.

Noliving

because of forced military duty NoLiving, what are you talkin' about? In America 'forced military duty'? Please explain.

Well since it clearly states I'm talking about the swizz and not about America, I don't really see how your getting it that I'm talking about america when it comes to forced military duty.

Numbskull

Noliving, cleo has an interesting point by focusing on the group more likely to have an immature fascination with fire-arms. Now we just need to know how many of those actually used a gun.

This is more about guns than suicide you know.

USARonin

because of forced military duty

NoLiving, what are you talkin' about? In America 'forced military duty'?

TheQuestion

Now we just need to know how many of those actually used a gun.

In 2006 firearms accounted for 54.6% of suicides. I guess if you're going to off yourself a chunk of lead travling about a thousand feet per second is about the fastest way to do it. Tad bit messy though.

Numbskull

Noliving: Did you know that on a per capita basis the UK has 2.5 times more violent crimes per 100k of people then USA.

I am actually more concerned about violent crimes that end in death. I would hope not to experience a violent crime, but I prefer it do death. I prefer hundreds, maybe even thousands. After that, I may prefer to die. And I like having the option of running. I can run pretty fast! But I don't think I could even outrun an old Derringer bullet! They were slow, but deadly.

Again, research has shown that the primary reason why violence along with non violent crime is less in Japan then in the USA has more to do with culture then with absence of a weapon.

I agreed with that. But I suggested that part of the reason the culture is like that is because the culture is sending a clear message that guns and weapons are not cool. America sends mixed signals by only paying lip service to peace while guns and weapons are so easily available. There are more reasons why a culture is like it is to be sure, but that is one that I see and maybe you don't.

Noliving

It is an interest point but again that statistic deals with suicides. There are 25k gun deaths half of those are suicides that means there are only 12,500 suicides by guns spread out over all age groups unfortunately. I don't know the exact number of suicides by teenagers that commit suicide but over half of them are from guns. However though I do know that according to teendepression.org website that 90% of teens who commit suicide had a mental illness such as depression, bipolar, Schizophrenia, alcoholism. In fact according to them 20-50% of teen suicides in the US have to do with drug problems/use. Based upon teen suicide statistics in the US it most likely that when it comes to young people it has nothing to do with a immature fascination or even a fascination of any kind when it comes to firearms.

As you said this more about guns than suicide, and I'm successfully proving that you are wrong and that it is culture not guns when it comes to why japans violent crime rate as well as non violent crime rate is lower than the USA, just like how it is culture when it comes to suicides.

Numbskull

TheQuestion I've got government training, I'm registered, and I've been in unsavory situations before and know how to get myself out of them so long as I have some leverage in the situation.

I realized long ago that I am the best driver on the street. The reason I got into accidents was simply because other people have cars!

I am also the most responsible gun owner, and I have owned and shot firearms. Its everybody else having guns that bothers me. I cannot wear a gun on my hip 24/7, so I would rather face other weapons if I am unarmed than some guy with a gun. In fact, I did assist in taking a knife off a belligerent dude one time. I am very very happy he did not have a gun.

Dolphingirl

USARonin: 'It is also a Western concept that it is morally permissable to use lethal force in the face of the threat of lethal force.' --I'm from Canada and I don't believe in this concept. I believe in the right to defend myself, sure. And if I had no other choice but to use lethal force to defend myself, I would. But I truly do not understand how people feel it is their right to carry a gun.

Logically, looser guns laws mean more people with guns in more places, which means a higher chance of someone discharging their firearm, which means a higher chance of someone being shot, which means more people being injured or dying from being shot. It's probability 101.

Fewer guns doesn't necessarily lead to reduction in crime but fewer gun does lead to few gun-related crimes, murders and accidents.

USARonin

I don't think I could even outrun an old Derringer bullet*

M16. Derringer. There ain't any real significant difference if the shooter with either has anyone in his physical sights, numbskull.

You should be "concerned about violent crimes that end in death". You should also run your (dame-da) cyberspace mouth to support those who end up havin' to use lethal force against those lowlifes who would use lethal force against them.

C'mon, numbskull. When push comes to shove, dya think people with your philosphy will save their lives?

Ho, ho, ho. It's Christmas, not April Fool's.

Noliving

But I suggested that part of the reason the culture is like that is because the culture is sending a clear message that guns and weapons are not cool. America sends mixed signals by only paying lip service to peace while guns and weapons are so easily available. There are more reasons why a culture is like it is to be sure, but that is one that I see and maybe you don't.

I agree with that but you were basically suggesting that primary reason why the culture was like that is because of the government's restriction. I think your overstating it. Especially when you consider the fact that the primary reason why non violent crime and just crime in generally is lower in Japan has to do more with honor and losing face and the family name honor. These are values that are not really held as strongly by people in the US. Gun's really are not as easily available as people think.

Noliving

Fewer guns doesn't necessarily lead to reduction in crime but fewer gun does lead to few gun-related crimes, murders and accidents.

Yes that is true but so can be the opposite. The USA for example has more guns and more ammunition on the streets today then it did back in the 90's and yet gun crime has fallen more then 80% since 1992.

USARonin

dolphingirl, it's estimated that in America a firearm is brandished between two and three million times a year to prevent crime. By 'brandished' I meand 'displayed openly' to someone bent on naughtiness.

From personal experience, I can tell ya that one time someone tried to come on to my property to either steal something or kill my wife and rape the dog.

Seriously, all I had to do was brandish my lethal weapon to that dude and he ran in the opposite direction as fast as he could, probably to victimize someone who was not so well armed.

Did I call the police? No. I didn't want to spent a lotta useless time explainin' my lawful conduct. Did the bad guy call 911 and report me? I guess not, 'cause nobody came back and queried me on that.

Did I want to kill that guy? Probably. Did the situation legally warrant grantin' me my fantasy? I don't think so. When merely met with threat of lethal force, your - your - worst nightmare chickened out.

the primary reason why non violent crime and just crime in generally is lower in Japan has to do more with honor and losing face and the family name honor. These are values that are not really held as strongly by people in the US.

Time for the US to pick up a few valuable values?

I can tell ya that one time someone tried to come on to my property to either steal something or kill my wife and rape the dog. Seriously, all I had to do was brandish my lethal weapon to that dude and he ran in the opposite direction as fast as he could, probably to victimize someone who was not so well armed

Or maybe he was just someone looking for a Halloween party in the wrong place, but was a bit more street-wise than young Hattori-kun. Maybe you looked to him like a rabid Rodney Peairs.

Dolphingirl

USARonin: Yeah, what exactly do you mean by 'someone tried to come on to my property'? Do you mean a person was on your front lawn, or trying to break a window or what? And as you pointed out, this guy will probably just find some other house to rob, if that was his intention. So in fact, brandishing your gun does not prevent crime but merely pushes crime to go somewhere else.

USARonin

Cleo, there are over 300-million Americans and you point to one incident that I believe shamex one American husband and his wife? So, Cleo, how did - was it Louisiana - react? Was the husband charged?

Even in England you've got bobbies in bullet-proof vests and protestin' citizens demandin' their gun rights back exactly because people who believe as you have left them defenseless.

Your violent crime rate has risen since you - you - disarmed law-abidin' Brit citizens.

Enjoy your dogs, play on the computer, save the whales, ignore your husband who already ignored you, play at moralizin' about stuff you don't live.

I love ya, Cleo. I hope we can enjoy some tea and biscuits some day.

So the would-be miscreant goes to ronin's neighbour's property, where he kills the wife, rapes the dog and steals the family silver. But that's OK, because it's not ronin's problem. Naturally the neighbour vows 'Never again' and gets himself a lethal arsenal.

Then the next time ronin pops over one dark evening to borrow a cup of sugar, neighbour sees a shadowy figure 'trying to come on to his property' and . bham!

USARonin

dolphingirl, listen to yourself.

By your reasonin' I should've lied back and enjoyed it and not troubled anyone else.

The police? They don't normally show up to prevent anything. They show up to try and stop what may still be ongoin' and count the bodies before they even got the call.

dolphingirl, don't be silly. my guy was not there to sell me Girl Scout Cookies in the middle of the night at my back door.

Yes, dolphingirl, you're right. I should've allowed my wife, my family or myself to be terrorized or murdered. At least I would've spared someone such as yourself whose philosophy towards non-violence supercedes my own philosophy of self-defense against someone who will only show his intention to murder when he's followin' through with it.. I'm sorry I put some non-violent person such as yourself at personal risk. Mea culpa.

Presto345

What the NRA is saying is 1) Guns are toys for boys and 2) the US government is unable to protect its citizens. And what is implied and accepted by the GREED is that peddling firearms is good business. You only need to look at violent crime statistics in which firearms were used and the number of prison inmates in this country and compare that with European states to see that something is seriously wrong. But we have known that for decades, haven't we. We will talk about abandoning nuclear weapons, WMD if you will, but by all means, let Americans have their private guns.

30061015

Got a whole lotta guns here in Montana and its a real peaceful place.

Noliving

Time for the US to pick up a few valuable values?

Ya absolutely but I wouldn't over do it though of course.

USARonin

30061015, like the bumper sticker says:

"Everyone's polite when you don't know who's armed."

30061015, makes some jobless punk givin' someone the finger on the highway think three times about it beforehand, eh?

USARonin

Preston, it's what we call our Second Amendment.

The 56 YO elderly woman who killed an intruder at the same time she was on the line beggin' for help used a shotgun which is legal in most Western and non-Western countries. Do you object?

It may difficult for you to understand but America is a nation of rebels as well as a nation of laws.

Dolphingirl

'Everyone's polite when you don't know who's armed.'--If you are only being nice because you are afraid someone is gonna shoot you, it doesn't say much about your morals.

Flatearther

The thing that bothers me about some of these recent gun laws is the effect they have on businesses and workplace safety.

I really don't care about Americans in America owning guns. It's a personal choice and a constitutional right.

I do care about my coworkers being able to bring a gun in to work. I do care about going to a bar and having to worry that some guy with an itchy trigger finger and a beef is going to shoot up the place.

My right to personal safety should trump somebody else's right to carry a gun, ALWAYS.

Does anybody here watch "The Office"? Would you be comfortable with Dwight bringing a gun into work? I've worked with a few people in my time that I would classify as "Dwights" and the last thing I would want is for this person to be armed near me at my job.

Dolphingirl

USARonin: I didn't mean your morals, personally but rather the morals and values of a nation. My point is that people should be polite and kind to each other for the sake of being polite and kind. Not because of fear. Living in fear is not how I want to live. Maybe I am a bit naive but I believe in the good in people. If you choose to see the bad, that's likely what you are going to get.

Numbskull

All these excuses for guns. they all sound to me like "I loves me guns. LUVS ME GUNS!" And I cannot help but feel that the love for guns is due to a feeling that God shortchanged them in some department of masculinity.

USARonin

dolphingirl, it's not a matter of national paranoia.

dolphingirl, this: It is morally acceptable - man, woman or child - to defend with lethal force the threat of lethal force upon them.

Do you disagree that an individual is morally correct to kill someone who would kill them?

Nevermind bazookas, grenade launchers and other silly, implausable arguments,

Dolphingirl

numbskull: Glad someone finally said it!

USARonin: The problem is '. someone who would kill them'. I'm sure there are many cases where a person with a gun overreacted to the situation and someone died. If someone robs me at gunpoint, they may or may not be intending to kill me. But if I have a gun too and pull it out, the odds of someone (or both of us) dying goes up quite a bit. There are many ways of defending oneself without using a gun. Besides, if there are fewer guns around it also means that there are fewer criminals with guns.

If people are allowed to take guns to work, to bars and restaurants that wouldn't make me feel safer at all but a lot more scared!

USARonin

you live in a land where you think half the population is out to get you

Cleo, that's hysterically nonsensesical. d The Second Amendment of my Constitution legally gives a citizen the right to defend themselves with a firearm. Period.

Madverts

Living in the woolie-backs I support gun-owning rights to a certain extent.

How in hell anybody can argue for machine-pistols or asault rifles, however, is anyone's guess. A 12 bore sending rock-salt into pikey ass is enough to freak out the most hardened thieving gypsy MOFO sneaking around in your barn out here.

Badsey

I think I am the "go ahead, make my day" open-carry type of gun-owner.

However with security cameras being so cheap and everyone having a cell phone -that can be a potent weapon also.

-I think criminals/bullies days are becoming limited.

5SpeedRacer5

Cleo was using someone else's text. Look back over the thread and you will see that Cleo and Numbskull and Dolphingirl make all the right points. Very nice accounting of themselves I see. Cleo even beat me to the Hattori-kun comment.

Just to flesh that out more and weave some of their points together, in one world, three people could come knocking on your door or jumping around in your back yard, and you could assume they were Jehovah's Witnesses, a kid chasing his boomerang, or someone selling something you sure don't need. In another world, they are a black kid, a rapist, and a thief trying to get into the house. In white suburbia, the difference has to do with how much TV you watch.

Oh sure, cases like that of Hattori kun are just honest cases of mistaken identity until you give someone a loaded weapon that can kill at 50 yards and instill all the fear in them that Steven Seagal, John Wayne, and David Duke possibly can. It becomes easy to imagine things and pull a trigger and end someone's life. Civilized societies do not give a jury and judge the power and authority to take a life, why does that power belong in the hands of absolutely anyone who wants it? Oh yeah. The second amendment.

I have had relatives killed by guns and knives. So what. Do I blame the person or the gun? Well, the person. But we all know that the gun makes it easier to kill, and that one whacko with a gun can kill 30 or 40 reasonable people in a heartbeat. They can even do it on a military base in Texas, or a school in Colorado, or in a post office, or in a McDonald's in San Ysidro. In the end, it IS the guns. Guns are the fulcrum that can leverage one person's internal turmoil into body bags by the dozen. The homeless guy in Times Square had a Mac10 with a 20 round magazine. Think he could have shot 20 people in Times Square? (Oh, but a police officer shot him dead! Whew! Thank God for guns!)

I will also tackle that .000083. How pitifully safe each gun is. Astounding. Ever play russian roullette? Get enough bullets in those chambers or play long enough and BAM! Everyone in the US is playing just by walking down the street. Everyone is a target. clicclicclicclicBAM there goes another clicclciclicBAM ooops another. Now acknowledge that those are DEATHS. 25,000 per year. How many injuries is that? Like 10 times as many? The more guns there are and the more people have them, the higher the cumulative probability gets. Dolphingirl is so correct. If you make gun laws less strict, you increase the cumulative probability that unbalanced people are going to wind up with killing force. .000083 is not a number to get smug about.

Multiply it by a lifetime just for fun. The probability reaches 7 per thousand. A 7 per thousand chance of dying from a gunshot DYING from a gunshot during your lifetime. DYING from a gunshot. Not in war or by cancer, but by a private person's firearm. That is almost 1 in 100. That is insanity. Forget the probablity of merely being disabled for life or losing an organ or limb or eye or just having a hole in you. That probability is probably more like 1 in 10. Having a newborn baby facing a 1 in 100 chance of dying from a gunshot wound is just sad. Why bother curing cancer if you are just going to kill em all anyway?

There is a point at which a lottery jackpot gets so exciting that everyone wants to play. In the US, this is kind of a bizarro lottery where the more people have to lose, the more they want to play. Truly. The US fascination with guns is one of the modern wonders. It shines like a beacon of idiocy. It defies reason. I am sure that things will get worse. As we know, it is already headed that way, and the vicious circle of violence will not be stopped there. ever. But Americans sure do love the ride! Yeeehaaaa!


Texas-Style Injustice

It was 105 and thick outside, the heat melting the morning along Route 20. Chris Scott had been holding himself together on the three-hour drive from Dallas, taking in the baked-brown pastures and the steers seeking shelter under pecan trees, all the while thinking, “Why do they always build these prisons in the middle of country-ass nowhere?” But then he hooked a left onto a two-lane road, and Scott felt his blood begin to cook. He was sweating through his dress shirt as he passed the prison farm and its razor wire rolls. He saw the inmates picking okra and squash, black men in long sleeves to protect against being bled by the nettles and spines of the produce they were cutting in narrow rows, and the white guards above them, mounted on horseback and barking out threats. “Slavery ain’t over. They just moved it where no one sees it,” Scott thought as he drove inside the wire.

At the first of two checkpoints, guards searched his rented van and stuck mirrors under the chassis to look for guns and bombs. “They made me get out of the van and checked between the seats for drugs. I’m wearing a blazer and dress slacks, I got a film crew with me, and I’m Texas Man of the Year in 2012,” says Scott. “But to these simple bitches, I’m a nigger inside the walls. Ain’t a damn thing changed since I left.”

Scott, now 44, spent 13 years in prison for a murder he had no part in, one of dozens of wrongfully convicted inmates Texas has freed in the last decade. In the six years since he proved what’s called actual innocence — that is, innocence borne out by post-conviction evidence that is exculpatory and persuasive — and was released with a seven-figure sum in compensation, he has lobbied for, and helped win, a radical increase in the monies the state pays to the wrongfully convicted, opened a thriving men’s store in a suburb of Dallas, and bought a big house with a Jacuzzi and pool that he shares with his girlfriend, Kelly, and his grandson Trey.

But Scott hadn’t driven out there on that broiler of a day to parade his triumphs before the warden. He had come to interview inmate Isaiah Hill and assess his long-held claim of innocence. Twenty-seven years after his own life was cracked wide open by the Texas criminal justice system, Scott was here as the lead investigator for House of Renewed Hope (HRH), a detective outfit staffed by three exonerees whose mission is to help free other men who’ve been wrongly imprisoned for decades.

Scott, who looks like Idris Elba would if Idris Elba benched 320, has the barn-door shoulders and mailbox quads of a man who made the best use of his jail-yard time. He drinks nothing stronger than Sprite, doesn’t smoke cigarettes or anything else, and is very rarely out past 10 pm, when he settles in front of the TV for the night. “Ain’t nowhere safer than being home watching sports,” he says.

Because he’d brought a film crew to record his meeting with Hill, it took another half hour to clear the metal detectors once inside the prison. Scott was shooting a scene for True Conviction, a documentary that is slated to air nationally on PBS’s Independent Lens next fall. But stage fright wasn’t what had set his heart racing and cause perspiration to pool down his back. It was the sight of those men in the fields outside the gate, the sharp reek of Pine-Sol in the prison foyer, all those sense-memories doubling back unbidden and raising havoc with his nervous system. By the time he was seated at the bulletproof window, Scott had to pray in order to calm himself down, asking God to get him through the hour.

At last they brought Hill in: a small, stooped man in his mid-sixties with a thwarted, birdlike frailty in his eyes. He looked at Scott and put his hand on the glass between them. “I’ve prayed 37 years for someone to help me,” he said, weeping. “Please help me, sir: I didn’t do this thing they say, and they raped me real bad, them four guys!”

Scott put his hand on the glass, holding it up to Hill’s as the two men prayed. When they finished, he brought the phone to his ear again and said, “Tell me everything that happened at that motel.”
Chris Scott was one
of nine kids raised poor but proper in the mixed-race streets of Oak Cliff in southwestern Dallas. His father, Oliver, was a roofer who went where the jobs took him and sent cash home when he could. His mother, Zeddie, was a seamstress who worked double shifts at Sears out of necessity, her children learned to cook, clean, and iron by the age of eight. If they didn’t see her much, they didn’t lack for nurture: “It was the kind of block where the whole street fed you,” he says, and where Mrs. Pearl, two doors down, “would whup you for cussing, then call your mama at work and tell her why.”

A born athlete, Scott grew long and lean and was a ferocious hitter on his varsity football team despite never weighing more than 150. He’d get into fistfights at the park, usually over girls, but having seen three brothers get hooked on smack and go to jail for theft, Scott was scared straight from an early age. “I was the kid that cut lawns and delivered papers. I wasn’t going nowhere near them streets.” But in his junior year of high school, the Scotts’ house burned down in an electrical fire. They lost everything and were homeless for months, putting up at shelters and motels. Though he was a solid B student, Scott quit school to flip burgers. By 19 he was living with his older siblings and had fathered two boys with a sometime girlfriend. But he was a motivated kid with a gift for hard work and an easy grace with customers. He followed his brother Tony into the grocery business and in 1993 became the produce manager at Tom Thumb, an upscale market. He seemed ticketed for big things, his own store or start-up franchise, by the age of 30. Scott surely looked the part: Cole Haan loafers, Polo crewnecks, a used but glossy Acura in forest green. Here was a man with his eyes on the prize and a ticket out of the hood.

He’d already met the love of his life, a lovely young cashier named Brandi Simmons. She was going places herself, earning credentials to become a nurse, and she adored his two boys, who were school-age now and mostly living with him. They’d put a down payment on a just-built house in the middle-class suburb of Mesquite. A month before moving in, they were sitting up one night, talking about furniture and wedding plans, when the phone rang at about 10. Scott’s friend Claude Simmons was depressed about a drug problem and needed someone to talk to could Scott drive over and hang? Scott, who started his weekdays at 5 am in order to pick up his kids after school, said no, he had to work the next morning. But Simmons kept calling, pleading with him to come. On the fourth call, Scott relented and drove over.

He picked up Simmons at his house and circled the block as his friend unburdened himself. On the drive back to Simmons’, there were cop cars swarming the street. Scott, on probation for a drug arrest (for “possession” of three Benadryl tablets, he says), ducked into a friend’s house until things calmed down outside. The next thing he knew, a riot of cops barged through the door. They yanked everyone out of the house, planted them facedown at the curb, and demanded to know where the drug stash was hidden. Scott was dragged to a waiting cruiser, where his hands were dusted for gunshot powder. He tried to tell the officers that he sold groceries, not drugs, and had an uncashed paycheck in his wallet to prove it. The uniforms snickered and called a detective over, introducing him as “Columbo,” Scott recalls. “You know why we call him that? ‘Cause he always gets his man,” the cop told him. “You’re going to jail for the rest of your life, boy.”

(From left: Scott, Phillips, and Lindsey review documents in a Dallas barbecue joint. Photograph by Jack Thompson)

At the precinct, Detective Columbo (real name: Ken Penrod) grilled Scott for hours but wouldn’t divulge what they’d actually picked him up for: the murder of a drug dealer named Alfonso Aguilar in front of his girlfriend, Celia Escobedo, earlier that night. Baffled and exhausted — the questioning went on until dawn — Scott offered to take a polygraph then and there. He asked for a lawyer three times. Penrod, an interrogator famed for extracting confessions, laughed at him. “A lawyer can’t help you,” he said.

As he was being led to a cell, Scott was stopped by one of the cops who’d been at the scene of his arrest. “He said, ‘You know what you’re being accused of ?’ I said, ‘No, sir, they won’t tell me.’ ‘Well, it’s capital murder, but I don’t think you did it. One, you don’t fit the description over the scanner, and two, your tires don’t match the tracks we found.’ He said, ‘If this goes to trial, you subpoena me as your witness. All we got is the girlfriend’s word, and she lied about everything.’ ”

Scott spent seven months in county jail awaiting trial. During that time, a number of notable things happened. First, the gunshot-residue test came back negative, strong evidence that Scott was not the shooter. The prosecutor tried to deal him down, but Scott flatly refused to plead. Second, people from the North Park section came forward to tell the cops who the real killers were — a pair of vicious crackheads named Alonso Hardy and D-Mite Anderson, who’d plagued the community for years. The cops ignored these tips and didn’t pass them to Scott’s lawyer, as they were required to do. The third was that said lawyer, a court-appointed attorney by the name of Jerry Birdwell, spent less than 30 minutes consulting with Scott in the run-up to his capital murder trial. Birdwell, according to Scott, failed to do even basic legwork, like confirming Scott’s alibi with his soon-to-be fiancée, Brandi, or obtaining phone records that could have proved that Scott was at home when Aguilar was killed across town. (Birdwell, who now runs an inn in Lake Tahoe and is no longer practicing law, repeatedly claimed that he couldn’t recall Scott’s case, then denied that his work had been substandard.)

The trial went on as scheduled that fall, though the case, which hinged entirely on witness testimony, couldn’t commence until a jury was chosen — three dozen prospective members said no when asked by the judge if they could convict a man of murder without evidence, motive, or weapon. When an all-white panel was finally seated, the prosecution called its witnesses. The first, a crackhead, told an incoherent story, then recanted it on the stand and was dismissed. The next was the patrolman who’d pulled Scott aside and told him he wasn’t the killer. Both he and his partner testified that the victim’s girlfriend had lied and failed to pick Scott out of two lineups.

That left only the girlfriend, Escobedo. She was not a blue-chip witness, having radically changed her statement before trial. She’d told detectives, first, that Scott was the one who shot her boyfriend, then that he’d handled the gun but didn’t fire it, and then that he’d merely stood by the door and watched the shooting happen. Any minimally competent lawyer would have cut her testimony to shreds. But Birdwell, Scott’s lawyer, barely raised these flaws on cross-examination and never troubled to mention the lies she’d told the cops before they searched her house. (She’d claimed there were no drugs or firearms in the house and that she and her boyfriend didn’t deal crack. The cops found guns, scales, and large amounts of crack there.) She was on the stand less than 30 minutes, including direct examination and Birdwell’s cross-examination.

The case lasted a day. Scott was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole. Simmons, his co-defendant, was tried separately the next day. His guilty verdict came back in six minutes. Two weeks later, Scott boarded the “chain bus,” shackled wrist and foot to the inmate next to him for the three-hour drive to prison. They were bound for Coffield Unit, the most notorious, mobbed-up pen in the state, a viper pit of Crips, Bloods, Aztecs, Aryan Brotherhood, and Mexican Mafia. “I’m listening to these dudes, 6-foot-3, 240, talk about Coffield like it’s hell on Earth,” says Scott. “I weighed a buck-40 and ain’t never been in a gang. I’m thinking, ‘How am I gonna do these 50 years?’ ”

On a broiling fall day in Cedar Hill, a prosperous suburb 20 minutes south of Dallas, I join Scott for lunch with Johnnie Lindsey and Steven Phillips, his associates at HRH. Lindsey, sentenced in 1982 to 26 years for a rape he didn’t commit, is a nattily dressed black man with the laconic charm of a single-malt scotch served neat. He favors Italian dress slacks and two-tone loafers, spends a tidy sum on singing lessons, and speaks with the careful cadence of someone who knows how much one mistake can cost him. Phillips, a white man in his middle sixties, is the wild hair of the outfit. Jailed 24 years for a series of rapes that were done by another man who went on attacking women after Phillips was convicted, he is a coil of spring-wound energy whose appetites weren’t dulled by the years in prison. He gulps a beer before lunch, shows off the selfies he’s taken with strippers, and gets around Dallas on a mountain bike, having squandered the better part of his post-release fortune on entanglements with women and fraudsters. Despite his misadventures, he is cuttingly smart and the last guy you’d step to in a brawl.

The three men met at Scott’s exoneration hearing and joined forces about a year later. (It’s a tradition in Dallas for exonerees to show up whenever someone else wins his freedom.) Now they get together about once a week to brief one another on cases in progress. Since Scott founded it four years ago, HRH has sifted through hundreds of pleas from inmates with minimal hopes. Its mission is to take on only those men for whom DNA testing isn’t applicable, either because the cops failed to gather it from the scene or because wrongdoers left nothing to sample. That means that HRH must unearth a major piece of exculpatory evidence many years after the fact, or persuade the real criminal to confess to his crime and turn himself in to cops. “These guys are really doing the Lord’s work,” says Peter Neufeld, co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, which has won the freedom of 340 inmates, the vast majority through DNA testing. “Without biological evidence, proving innocence is backbreaking because the system sees these cases through the prism of guilt.” In several cases, HRH has found compelling proof of innocence and identified the actual perpetrator. But in Texas the wheels of justice creak, to the extent that they turn at all. Hence the weekly meetings and progress reports, where the ground gained is in inches, not yards.

“What’s the situation with Dawson’s mom? Did you show her that picture of Thirty-Pack?” asks Phillips. “I swung by her yesterday,” says Scott. “The dude who’s coming around her, she says it ain’t him. We need a better photo of the guy.”

The mother he referred to has a son, Tim Dawson, who’s spent 24 years in prison for a nightclub murder. Like most of the cases that come HRH’s way (Scott keeps a P.O. box to receive inmates’ letters and collects the stack twice a month), Dawson’s was a clown show of bad lawyering, zero evidence, and lazy police work. Dawson, who was tall and thin with a medium complexion and long hair cut in a shag, got picked up by cops a day after the killing of a bystander, though people at the scene said the man who opened fire was short and stocky with dark skin. At trial, only a single witness came forward to point the finger at Dawson after the verdict, however, her neighbors said they had overheard her boast of having falsely accused him.

“Talk about reasonable doubt,” I say. “How did 12 jurors find him guilty?”

Scott and Lindsey exchange glances, then burst into laughter. “Shit, the same way they did all of us!” says Scott. “They put 12 white people on that jury, and had a white judge, white D.A., and a bitch-ass white guy puttin’ on our case.”

“Yup, that’s Texas,” says Lindsey.

Indeed, in Dallas, jury-packing is a time-honored tactic dating from the early 1950s. It was codified and practiced with ruthless precision by the iconic district attorney Henry Wade. A onetime agent for the FBI and near-perfect doppelgänger of J. Edgar Hoover, Wade was the bulldog face of the law-and-order South for his 36 years in office. He prosecuted Jack Ruby for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, was the named defendant in Roe v. Wade, and ruthlessly built his brand as America’s toughest D.A., sending hundreds to death row and winning thousand-year sentences, even in cases that didn’t involve murder. He famously jeered to staffers that “any lawyer can convict the guilty convicting the innocent is the trick.” His assistant D.A.s withheld evidence from defense attorneys, coached witnesses to falsely identify plaintiffs, and turned a blind eye to cops with histories of misconduct resulting in wrongful convictions. The office bible was a manual containing, among other things, explicit instructions for keeping “minority races,” “overweight people,” and “free thinkers” off juries.

These truths about Wade trickled out after he left office. But nothing much was done until Craig Watkins was elected the first black district attorney in the history of Dallas County. Watkins served two tumultuous terms, from 2006 to 2014, during which he fired or forced out dozens of senior staffers for doing unethical and illegal things to win convictions. “I had A.D.A.s who’d brazenly woodshed witnesses, meaning they coached them on whom to pick out of a lineup or told them what to say on the stand,” says Watkins, who now runs his own legal practice in Dallas after a narrow loss in his last election. He leaked to reporters the names of rogue cops who “falsified evidence or coerced confessions” and did everything in his power to purge the office of Wade’s ethos, which had been carried forward for 20 years by his two successors.

But Watkins’ boldest stroke by far was the creation, in 2007, of America’s first Conviction Integrity Unit, a stand-alone department in the D.A.’s office that checked out inmates’ claims of innocence. Consisting of two lawyers, one full-time investigator, and a small group of law-school students, the CIU went to work on hundreds of pleas left unread by Watkins’ predecessor, Bill Hill, who had been hired by Wade.

Watkins sent evidence for testing at independent DNA labs. What came back was pure thunder: irrefutable proof that dozens of prisoners had been falsely convicted, men who, in all, had served centuries in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. In his first term alone, Watkins exonerated 35 inmates. Steven Phillips was number 18 on that list Johnnie Lindsey was right behind him at 19. A year later came Chris Scott, number 26. He and Claude Simmons, released together to an overflow crowd of hundreds, were the first — and thus far only — men in Texas exonerated of murder. They are also the only two who have won their freedom without DNA testing, a fact that gives some sense of the hurdles involved. According to the Innocence Project, DNA evidence is available in about 10 percent of conviction appeals. Meanwhile, Texas has an inmate population of 170,000, more than the combined total of that of the U.K. and Germany.

“I was told by everyone I wrote to that I had no shot without DNA,” says Scott, whose bulging right biceps is tattooed with the phrase against all odds in block letters. “But I just said, ‘Fuck y’all, I’ll be the first one then.’ I got down on my hands and knees and said, ‘God, if you give me a second chance outside, I’ll spend the rest of my life helpin’ guys in my shoes.’ That’s why we go and go on these cases and never see a dime for all our work. Ain’t no one else here tryin’ to help them out.”

Like Lindsey and Phillips, Scott has no training in the art of private investigation. What he does have is the tenacity to get to the bottom of cases that the system botched beyond all recognition. He also has the time to run down every lead, no matter how frayed or improbable.

The day before, we’d driven to South Dallas to speak to Tim Dawson’s mother. In its digging, HRH has identified the person it suspects may have done the shooting. He’s a short, dark man who goes by several street names, one of them being “Thirty-Pack.” No one has heard from Thirty in ages, though Dawson’s mother thought a man who fit his description had been dropping by her block. On the squalid lip of porch outside her sun-beaten house, we knock on the front door and wait. At length, a grizzled woman in an ill-fitting housecoat peers through the glass at us. Shown a picture of the man reputed to be Thirty, she shakes her head no, then launches into a rant while we absently stand there, shooing away clouds of brazen flies.

“This ain’t like what you see on 48 Hours,” says Scott as we walk to his silver Infiniti. “Twenty-five years done come and gone. We hit a lot of dry wells out here.”

(Scott’s girlfriend visits him in 1998. Photograph Courtesy Christopher Scott)

Still, Scott would drive out the following week to reinterview Dawson in prison. Surely he knew someone who might have recently seen Thirty. If so, Scott would get a current physical description, hire a sketch artist to rough out a likeness, then go around the neighborhood with Phillips and Lindsey, papering delis and pool halls with flyers. Some of the people canvassed recognize the men, having seen or read their stories at the time of their releases, and are eager to be of use — to call around on their behalf or put up posters where they shop. Or sometimes they’re secondary parties to a case, such as the woman in the industrial town of Brownwood, Texas, whose husband, a cop, had assisted in the investigation of Hill and been troubled by its outcome for years.

“We turned up several folks in Brownwood who were bothered by how they did Hill, but none of them wanted to go on record,” says Scott. “Then we found the juror Lois Coppic, and she gave us the whole damn story.”

Coppic, a stately blonde in her sixties who looks at least a decade younger, now works as the comptroller for an oil-services company and lives in San Angelo, Texas. Thirty-seven years have passed since the trial, but her memory of it is vivid and sour, a guilt-stone stuck in her throat. “They put on such a bad case, the cops and district attorney,” she says. “No evidence, no lineup, and the only witness they had changed his testimony to say he was sure.”

In June 1978, someone robbed a motel in Brownwood, pulling a knife on the counter clerk and making off with a small sum of cash. Hill, a 30-year-old man who was mentally challenged (he had a tested IQ of 69 and quit grade school without learning to read), had checked into the motel with a man named Don Wallace and Wallace’s girlfriend, Dianne Clemons. Hill had known Wallace, a prolific felon, from a jail stint he’d served as a teen, when he was busted for joyriding. A decade later, the men crossed paths again, and Wallace invited him to take a ride up to Brownwood. The three rented a double room, swam in the motel pool, and watched TV together. Then, according to Hill, Wallace grabbed Clemons’ wig and went downstairs with a knife. Several minutes later, he came back with a bag of money that he claimed he’d “talked” the clerk into giving him.

Shortly thereafter, cops knocked on their door and hauled the three of them, including Clemons, to the lobby. But the white clerk couldn’t tell which of the two men had robbed him, saying they looked alike to him. That’s when Clemons declared it had to have been Hill her boyfriend had been in bed with her all day. That was enough for the Brownwood cops. They arrested Hill, paraded him in front of the clerk in cuffs, and told the couple they were free to leave.

“What happened next’ll make you straight sick,” says Scott. “The D.A. came to Isaiah and said, ‘Listen up, nigger: You’re in a white man’s town. If you don’t plead guilty, I’m gonna make an example of you.’ Isaiah told him, ‘Sir, I don’t mean no disrespect, but I can’t plead to what I ain’t do.’ The D.A. said, ‘Fine. Have it your way, nigger.’ ”

That D.A., Gary Price, had no evidence to present except for a snapshot of Hill wearing the wig — though Price couldn’t say where or under what circumstances the picture had been taken. That meant the case hinged entirely on the testimony of the motel clerk, Tammy Blanton. But right up until trial, Blanton said he couldn’t be sure who robbed him. “So we dug a little deeper,” Scott says, “and came to find out that the D.A. paid a visit to his house. He straight up told the clerk, ‘Look here, you’re gonna say it was him, or he’s gonna walk scot-free.’ That right there was grounds for a mistrial, but Hill’s lawyer barely mentioned it in court!”

Coppic, the juror, picks up the story. “On the stand, Tammy Blanton contradicted himself — said he wasn’t sure before trial but now suddenly he was positive about Isaiah. I voted ‘not guilty’ when we took our first jury poll. But the other folks, they wanted to find him guilty and go home for lunch.” When asked if anything improper had happened in deliberations, Coppic barked her disgust. “One juror brought in a newspaper clipping and read it out loud to us! It said Isaiah Hill was a habitual offender and had served time in jail before. I yelled, ‘You can’t bring that in here. The judge said he’d slap us silly if we violated the rules he gave.’ ?”

Coppic sent word up to the judge, William Breedlove. He addressed the jury in chambers but refused to declare a mistrial or to order the juror’s arrest. A day later, after much badgering, Coppic gave in and voted guilty, convinced that if she didn’t, they’d just pick another jury and convict him. “To this day I’m haunted by what happened to Isaiah,” she says. “I wish I’d have stuck to my guns.” Hill was sentenced that day to life in prison. Total proceeds of the robbery: $200.

Within weeks of his arrival at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Hill says he was raped by four hulking inmates as prison guards ignored his screams. Hill’s ribs were fractured, and his rectum was torn so badly that they couldn’t stanch the bleeding he was carted to a hospital in Sugarland, where he spent weeks. When he was well enough to speak, he reported the crime and was transferred to a federal prison in Georgia. With that, the state of Texas wiped its hands of him — until Scott and Lindsey took his case in 2014. Scott first visited Hill at the Robertson Unit, east of Dallas (he’d been returned to the state system in 2013), obtained his trial transcript and Coppic’s jury statement, and prevailed upon the Austin Police Department for Don Wallace’s mug shots and records. Then he and Lindsey set out to find the real perp and confront him face-to-face.

It took months of road-tripping and knocking on doors, but they finally ran down Wallace. Now in his mid-seventies and holed up at a senior home in Austin, he was surprisingly willing to sit with them and talk. He bragged to Scott and Lindsey about his life of crime, crowing about “pimping hos” and beating robbery charges at trial. But when the talk came around to the motel heist, “that’s when shit got squirrelly,” says Scott. Wallace sputtered that the robbery had been Hill’s idea, that Hill was actually living in Brownwood at the time, and that the wig worn during the crime belonged to Hill.

“I told him, ‘You’re a liar: Isaiah Hill didn’t do it you and your hooker girlfriend set him up,’ ” says Scott. “ ’For once in your fucked-up life, tell the truth.’ ?”

Lindsey, playing the good cop, laid out the incentives to confess. The statute of limitations, five years for felony robbery, had run out decades back. They could provide him a lawyer who would guarantee no risk of incrimination. All he had to do was give a statement and take a poly. There might even be some money in it for him. “I said, ‘I know you’re a son of a bitch, but that’s OK — I was an SOB, too,’ ” said Lindsey. “ ’But I’m out here now trying to do a good thing, and if there’s one speck of goodness, one shred of heart in you, please find it in you and help this man.’ ”

Wallace fell silent and mulled the thought over. His eyes, a shade of hangdog gray, moistened as his belly rose and fell. “I can’t do it,” he said finally.

“I’m sorry, man. I just . . . can’t.”

Since his release from the Coffield Unit of the Texas criminal corrections system, Scott has been paid about a million and a half dollars by the state in compensation. Lindsey and Phillips have each received north of $3 million, as they were in for roughly twice as long. That computes to a lump-sum payment of $80,000 for every year the men were wrongly imprisoned, and monthly checks that total another $80,000 a year in a tax-free annuity for life. It doesn’t begin to repair what the justice system shattered. It is, however, the country’s best reparations program and one of the very few that guarantees timely payments to the people it exonerates.

Before the spate of innocents released in Dallas D.A. Watkins’ first term, the state was less fair-minded. For years it forced them to sue for damages, and when it paid out, the award was an insult, pennies a day for years in prison. But eventually Texas agreed to pay $25,000 per year of wrongful time served and later upped the sum to $50,000. In late 2009, a group of Watkins’ exonerees went to the Texas Capitol to lobby for — and ultimately win — the current benefit scale.

Among them were the three men of HRH, who spoke movingly of what they’d lost behind bars: the connections to their children, who were mostly preschool age when the men were convicted their wives or longtime girlfriends and the attachments to their parents, siblings, and friends, many of which were ruptured beyond repair. Lindsey’s mother had a breakdown after he was sent to jail, went into a diabetic coma that she barely survived, and was in such poor health for the rest of her life that she couldn’t visit him in jail. Scott’s lovingly raised sons were shipped to foster care, where they weathered terrible hardships. One spent a year in a juvenile psych ward after attempting to harm himself. The other wound up serving several years in jail. They began to rebuild their lives only after Scott’s release in 2009.

“When I got out — and every one of us has dealt with this — my son told me it was my fault I was gone,” says Lindsey. “Said, ‘It had to be something you were in for,’ and I just looked at him like, ‘Are you really that ignorant? What happened to me could happen to you next week.’ ”

What happened to Lindsey and Scott defies lucid explanation. Scott shivers to recall his first night in county: “They put me in the cell and I actually pinched myself: Is this the Twilight Zone? I kept thinking I’d wake up and be back with Brandi.”?Six months later, he was on the chain bus to Coffield with a life-sentence pinned to his shirt. He had a pretty face and no friends on the unit he knew he’d have to fight to stay alive. Sure enough, a Crip called “Tone-Tone” stepped to him as they stood on the commissary line. Sensing it was now or never, Scott told him to knuckle up. They went to an alcove where the guards couldn’t see them fight. Two dozen inmates formed a circle around them, laying odds and making bets. “He outweighed me by probably 60, but I busted his eye open with my jab. Everybody’s laughing at him — ‘You can’t do nuthin’ with this little bitch?’ — and then I straight punished him. I cut his face good, and they stopped the fight.”

The fight wasn’t Scott’s last, but it earned him respect from the men in his wing. For seven years he managed to keep his nose clean, waking shortly after dawn to work the fields until a job opened in the kitchen. There he upped his calories, put on 80 pounds of muscle, and had his afternoons free to write anyone he could think of who might help him file an appeal. But then a mass breakout at another unit sent the entire prison system into convulsions. Despite his spotless record, Scott was dumped in segregation, where everyone with more than 50 years to serve was suddenly sent en masse. Segregation is the Guantanamo of Texas prisons. You spend 23 hours a day in an intolerably hot cell and are fed through a slot in the door. There is no yard time, no mess hall, no dayroom, no job — just you and the vermin with which you share your space.

“Every morning I wake up to these big-ass roaches” and rats so bold “they push your meal tray away before you even get it,” says Scott. Seg was on the side of the prison compound that got sun all day long. Scott would turn on the tap, flood the floor of his cell with water, then lie in it to bring his temperature down. He filled the time reading any book he could get his hands on and studying for a GED. But the loneliness closed in on him hard. Each day the mail cart passed without his name being called. His family had stopped writing and putting money on his books, and Brandi had moved on to another man. “Chris was the love of my life and always will be: We were supposed to be married forever,” says Brandi Simmons, a nurse’s assistant and single mom now raising a teenage daughter. “But I was all alone, and he had 40 years to go. It hurts me even to think about it still.” In parting, she withdrew her life savings of $3,500 and put it on his books to see him through.

The desolation of the six-month stretch in seg could’ve driven Scott mad. Instead, he came out determined to win his freedom. He sent urgently worded letters to Watkins, then the new D.A., and to law-school clinics across Texas. Simmons, his co-defendant, also sent a post to Watkins. That email, read by staffers, took a while to reach Watkins’ desk. He was determined to clear the pipeline of DNA claims, of which there were several hundred backed up. In Scott’s unit alone, eight men were exonerated in the first two years of Watkins’ term. With each man’s release, the cellblock erupted, cheering like a war had ended.

Then, early in 2009, Scott got a surprise visit from a law student named Natalie Ellis, who had come on behalf of the D.A.’s office to check Simmons’ claim of innocence. Ellis asked Scott if he would admit to the killing so his co-defendant could go home. Scott told her to shove it and was getting up to leave when Ellis urged him to sit back down. She asked him to retrace his steps the night of the murder he gave her a blow-by-blow account. “Interesting,” she said. “That’s just what Simmons told me — and by the way, Alonzo Hardy confessed.” (Hardy was one of the two men named by neighborhood tipsters as the actual killer.) Scott sat there slack-jawed, the blood hammering in his ears, as she brought him up to speed. Prompted by Simmons’ email, the D.A. had tasked a team of law students at the University of Texas, Arlington, to check his story against Hardy’s. They found Hardy ill with cancer and ready to tell the truth in exchange for treatment. He gave an affidavit about what happened that night and was about to take a polygraph to confirm it. If he passed that, then Scott and Simmons would soon do likewise. Conceivably, they’d be home in a few months.

Scott practically burst as he walked back to his cell. A month or so later, he got a notice in the dayroom: Bench warrant to Dallas — no return. “Man, I jumped on that table and let out a shout: ‘Free at last, motherfuckers! Free at last!’ ” The next morning he was driven to county jail, where he waited another month to take the poly. When the day finally came, Scott was sweating so profusely that he worried about shorting the machine’s electrodes. The technician asked him six questions, then repeated them in various orders and phrasings. At last he looked up and said, “Mr. Scott, you were telling the truth.” Scott, overwhelmed, barely heard what the technician said next: Every cop who’d helped convict Scott was in a room down the hall, hoping against hope he’d fail the test.

In the hallway, they all piled out to file past him. Detective Columbo walked over and extended his hand, offering congratulations. “I said, ‘All due respect, I don’t want to shake your hand,’ ” Scott recalls. “ ’You took 12 years of my life for no reason, because you didn’t bother to follow procedure.’ You know what he said to me? ‘Well, we all make mistakes,’ and turned and walked away.”

Scott may never prove actual innocence for Hill, though he’s produced enough evidence to strongly suggest that Hill didn’t get a fair trial. Still, you don’t fight your way out of a Texas prison by being the kind who gives up easy. Scott made three trips to see Hill in prison, bringing a camera crew each time. Those visits drew the attention of the Robertson Unit’s warden, Ron Fox. Scott sat down with Fox, told him his story, and laid out the facts of Hill’s case. Moved by what he heard, Fox apologized to Scott for the hell the state had put him through and commended him for “turning bad into good.” He agreed to take a look at Hill’s inmate file and, if possible, put him forward for a parole board hearing. After decades in oblivion, Isaiah Hill suddenly had a profile.

Last spring, Hill, now 68, was transferred to a less-restrictive prison, the Mark Stiles Unit, near Beaumont. Scott called over to the warden there, repeated Hill’s story to a senior staffer, and later informed her that he’d found Hill a bed at a medical halfway house. By the summer, Hill’s status had been upgraded: He was scheduled to meet the parole board in December.

On my last visit to Texas, I drove two hours to see Hill. He is a short, bald man bent forward at the waist, someone who looks like he has spent decades with his hands chained before him. Hill is still ravaged by his rape and kept raising it every few minutes. Each time he did so, he shook with sobs. “All I have is God, sir. I keep asking him to help me, ’cause I can’t carry this load!”

I assured him that many people were trying to help, and that a place had been arranged for him, pending release, at a halfway house in Dallas. He brightened at the news and wept again that an angel, Chris Scott, had been sent his way. Asked what he wished for if he made parole, he thought about it, wet-eyed, and said, “A friend.” A friend? “Yeah, a nice Christian lady to be my wife and teach me how to read and write. It’s so lonely when you’re all alone in your mind. And my mind is real messed up, mister.”

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