Identify or not–that is the question

So this, whether we have the right to identify ourselves when we’ve done nothing wrong, is a damned if you do or don’t situation. We (citizens) are led to believe that we have the right to refuse to identify ourselves when pulled aside, stopped and frisked, or pulled over by the police. We are given mixed messages from different legal sources about whether or not we can refuse to identify ourselves and the police have to tell us why they are detaining us. The article, “Can You Refuse to Identify Yourself to the Police?” (, still talks about both sides of the issue without giving readers a clear yes/no answer to that (sometimes lethal) question.

In the article there is a statement about officers having a “broad description” of a suspect (which is why they can stop you), is suspect in itself. That “description” can be fabricated on the spot and used to harass someone. And no one can say to me that “if you’re innocent you have nothing to worry about.” That’s bullish*t.

Way back in the 70s when my oldest son was small and I was in my fearless early years, I drove across country after a visit in Milwaukee going back to my home in CA. In Texas I was pulled over when passing through a roadblock when a cop looked at my son and me and asked me to pull to the side. It felt like it was 1000º in the Texas heat and I couldn’t sit there with my air conditioner running and we had no bottled water. I must have been there an hour at best as I watched this cop wave hundreds of cars past (all white folks that I saw), my son and I sat and sweated in the car. I was alone, scared, unsure of what was going on, fearful that I was in the dreaded south, and wondering why I was singled out. I had to keep reassuring my son that everything was going to be all right and that we would get something to eat when we could go.

Finally, the officer sauntered (and that’s exactly the way he walked) his fat ass back to my car and said I could go. I asked why I was pulled over and what was going on. You know what he (hurriedly) said to me as he was signaling for me to get back in traffic? He said they got a report of a Black MAN robbing a store and escaping in a blue car. Described as a shorthaired Black MAN in a BLUE car (can’t remember the model he said) with Texas plates! He stood there with his sh*t-eating grin on his smart-ass face at me through my window…the window, I might add, of a RED Pinto with a CA plate, and with NO trunk so there was no one hiding in there. I even had long hair at that time.

Again, I was alone, female, in Texas for G-sake, with a small child. The relief was mixed with anger when I was finally released and I can still remember the emotion being so strong I could hear my heart pounding in my own ears so strong I could have stroked out. I couldn’t even cry when I was so angry because I didn’t want to upset my son. Worry? Oh, yeah, I worried about all the unknowns in my situation. The frustration, disrespect, and helplessness, it was AWFUL. AWFUL. I can still feel the mental anguish after all these 40+ years later.

So when I hear Black men talk about the degradation of being stopped while Black, questioned, and disrespected in what amounts to having no rights, I understand. I get it. I’m not a man and I’ve been there and it was so frightening that I was even afraid to tell my family because they would have chided me about driving by myself, which they didn’t want me to do in the first place.

In his later years, Daddy told me about being arrested in Mississippi in the 1930s after he passed a white woman on the road because she wouldn’t move over, it was another emotional situation because when he got to town the sheriff arrested him because the white woman was pissed that an uppity Black man didn’t stay behind her until SHE was ready for him to pass. He was put in jail, he said, and no one knew where he was or for how long he would be there. It was Mississippi. The South. There were no attorneys for Black folk then. He was afraid that my mother was alone with an infant and didn’t know where he was. No one you could call. No “one call” rule when arrested.

In good ol’ boy country Daddy could have been killed and no one would even suspect and that was foremost in his mind the whole time he was there. Imagine how he had to soft-shoe his way out of that situation by remaining calm, saying yes sir, no sir, to an officer who called him, a grown-assed man, boy, and that pissed him off as well. Now, Daddy was over 100 years old in 2008 when we had this conversation last, and I can tell you that you could still feel his anger from the situation. He was still visually shaken and the words were spoken through clenched teeth. You get “past” it; you do NOT get “over” it.

As you can see this damned if you do or don’t article elicits more emotion from me because it doesn’t leave me with any resolution about what is right, or what is OUR right as citizens. It seems to boil down to us constantly being in a police state because they have the right to do as they please regardless of what is morally right. And it sure doesn’t factor in those racists with a badge, but I know that’s almost impossible.

I used to interview applicants for the SDPD for a couple of years as that “citizen” member (and only Black/person of color) of their interview board and we, as a group, could see (feel) when someone was going to be problematic. We discussed it after each applicant to decide which pile to put him or her in (advance or this is the end of the road for you buddy piles). Somehow the interview boards are not picking that up in many places, or maybe they see themselves and want a larger group in which to hide their misdeeds.

At the end of the article it says we just have to comply. Period. We might think we have a right to refuse to identify ourselves, but that’s a false sense of our legal standing. Failing to comply means we can be locked up and (in some places) have our DNA forcefully taken, fingerprinted, have all our personal effects confiscated, etc. A record of that incident (our standing in our truth) will be in the system to follow us forever, which is what we didn’t want in the first place.

The Issue of Guns in Today’s Society


The ongoing issue and dialogue IS NOT whether people can or cannot own guns. That was put to rest a long time ago, but some people haven’t caught up to the current dialogue and hang onto thinking this is the current administration is making an attempt to remove guns from gun owners. How frail their research…and thinking. The debate is really about what constitutes constitutional rights of the people and if those rights allow you to do whatever the hell you please. Let’s talk about the “right” to bear arms (i.e., open and carry).

But first, we need to recap on one of the major issues in the debate, the Brady Bill. Jim Brady, President Reagan’s press aide, was never against gun ownership, had the nerve to want to keep guns out of the hands of people like John Hinckley, Jr., who, in an attempt to impress actress, Jodi Foster (she wasn’t impressed), shot (then) President Reagan and Jim Brady. Both Brady and Reagan were gun owners.

“(CNN) — In 1981, James Brady was shot in the head and gravely wounded in a shooting that also wounded President Reagan — despite their both being surrounded by plenty of extremely well-trained “good guys with guns.” At that time, federal law set conditions, such as a felony conviction or being involuntarily hospitalized for a mental illness that prohibited a person from possessing firearms.

The 1968 Gun Control Act had established record-keeping requirements and regulated interstate transactions of firearms, but there was no federal law requiring proof from a prospective buyer that he or she was not prohibited from possessing firearms. It was, in essence, an honor system. You could purchase as many firearms and as much ammunition as you liked, as long as you signed a form stating that you didn’t meet any of the disqualifying conditions.

While James Brady started his long road to recovery from his brain injuries, he and his wife, Sarah, began what has been a three-decade endeavor to strengthen America’s gun laws and prevent others from becoming victims of gun violence. The Bradys and the organization they have helped lead have been successful in:
–Expanding disqualifiers for firearm possession to include perpetrators of domestic violence
–Advancing laws to prevent gun violence at the state level
–Litigating legal cases to protect the public from unsafe business practices in the gun industry
–Educating the public about how to protect children from being shot
But Brady’s best-known legacy will be the federal law he championed and that bears his name, the Brady Gun Violence Prevention Act.
The Brady Act was a huge leap forward toward fulfilling the objectives of the Gun Control Act of 1968: keeping guns from dangerous people. It required licensed gun dealers to submit information on the identity of prospective gun buyers to the FBI, which could then determine through searches of databases of criminal records whether the purchaser was prohibited.
Through this law, millions of prohibited buyers have been identified and prohibited from purchasing firearms from licensed dealers.”

Posted: August 5, 2014

“Reagan, who was a rancher, was never one for gun control. Brady, despite serious injuries after having been shot in the head, became a tireless advocate for gun control, aided by his wife, Sarah Brady. And more than three decades later, the Bradys’ efforts, which should have changed public opinion, given what had happened, have been for naught.

Court decisions have eviscerated attempts by states and jurisdictions to limit gun violence by controlling access to guns. Even a no-brainer of a bill in Congress, a measure that simply would have expanded background checks to include purchases on the Internet (where potential terrorists are thought to get their weapons) and at gun shows was defeated, as too many lawmakers feared the power of the National Rifle Association.”

The question keeps coming up about the Brady Bill and Brady being a gun collector. One person even called Brady a hypocrite because they felt that he couldn’t be both a gun collector and advocate for gun control (as if in their world, it’s all or nothing). And people also questioned whether or not Brady had the right to change his mind and stance on how he felt about the issue of gun control after being shot in an assassination attempt on Ronald Regan’s life. Sigh.

“The Brady Bill was a response to the use of a handgun in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Four people were injured in the attacks. The Brady Bill, formally known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, was passed by the Congress in November of 1993 as an attempt to restrict access to guns. The restrictions in the bills were not actually new. The Gun Control Act of 1986 established the laws governing who was able to obtain the weapons.

The Brady Bill only served to make the enforcement of previous laws easier. It originally established a five-day waiting period before a gun purchase could be completed. After challenges to the constitutionality of the bill the waiting period lapsed. In its place a federal system of executing background checks was established to make sure that only people who were not prohibited from doing so were allowed to purchase guns. The Brady Bill has weathered criticism well, and has served as a foundation of the gun reform movement for more than fifteen years.”

It is very difficult to argue with people who do not do their own research, but are quick to buy into those sound bites so handily processed by the republibandits. [NOTE: A bandit is defined as, “One who cheats or exploits others,” which has been a tradition of the current republican party, so this is a deliberate use of the specifically coined word.]

So, you see, this is NOT about taking someone’s right to own guns. It never has been. It’s just that some people have gotten stuck there in their arguments because that’s all the republibandits have prepared them to fight against.

The Brady Bill was merely to keep “guns from dangerous people” and make gun dealers complicit in trying to keep track of whom they sell guns to by keeping detailed records that is stored into national databases.

My mother owned a gun. Daddy owned several. Two of my brothers own guns, as do a couple of nephews and sons. These are all law-abiding people who were responsible for their gun ownership (well, maybe not my mother). Anyway, gun ownership, in itself, has never been an issue in my family.

What bothers me immensely is when people can’t defend their positions about gun ownership and get into name-calling and other putdowns to anyone with a differing opinion. No one is out to take his or her guns, so get a better argument! No one is trying to keep them from letting their kids get ahold of their (“I swear I locked it”) gun boxes and kill their friends or themselves. No one is trying to take away the pain of countless parents who have lost a child because they owned a gun that the kid found, played with, and shot him/herself and/or someone else. That’s their own pain and they’re entitled to it. So then those who argue start throwing around which Amendment right of theirs is being violated and I’ve heard several (even though they quote the wrong ones).

The First Amendment (in summary), is about:
“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.”

The Fifth Amendment (in summary) is, “Protection against abuse of government authority.”

Now, that troublesome Second Amendment is the one that people fall back on. It’s original intent had to do with, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

But, in 2008, the Second Amendment was redefined to read: “However, the Supreme Court has now definitively held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that weapon for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Moreover, this right applies not just to the federal government, but to states and municipalities as well.”

Currently, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas (still disputed), Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming have state policies for people to openly carry firearms.

Some others can do that (carry), but have to be licensed like Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii (** = licenses rarely issued to individual citizens), Indiana, Iowa, Maryland (**), Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey (**), North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island (**), Tennessee, and Utah. This second group, those licensed, is more in line with what the Brady Act was calling for, not the wild west attitude of those who can do pretty much as they please.

As you can see, the actual Amendment has NOTHING to do with open-and-carry, which people have begun to associate with the Second Amendment as if it were written into it. There is not now, nor ever has been, any Amendment that protected people’s “right” to carry guns in public, or frighten people, or shoot unarmed people who are not threatening them in any way.

There is no distinguishable way to tell if a man coming into your store with a semiautomatic gun is there to rob you and kill all your customers, or just doing his shopping and he needed all that extra firepower because his mind is so focused on hurting others that he automatically thinks everyone is out to hurt him.

So, what are our rights? Well, we have several.

Constitutional rights n. rights given or reserved to the people by the U. S. Constitution, and in particular, the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments). These rights include: writ of habeas corpus, no bill of attainder, no duties or taxes on transporting goods from one state to another, (Article 1, Section 9), jury trials (Article III, Section 1), freedom of religion, speech, press (which includes all media); assembly and petition (First Amendment); state militia to bear arms (Second Amendment); no quartering of troops in homes (Third Amendment); no unreasonable search and seizure (Fourth Amendment); major (“capital and infamous”) crimes require indictment, no double jeopardy (more than one prosecution) for the same crime, no self-incrimination, right to due process, right to just compensation for property taken by eminent domain (Fifth Amendment); in criminal law, right to a speedy trial, to confront witnesses against one, and to counsel (Sixth Amendment), trial by jury (Seventh amendment); right to bail, no excessive fines, and no cruel and unusual punishments (Eighth amendment); unenumerated rights are reserved to the people (Ninth amendment); equal protection of the laws (14th amendment); no racial bars to voting (15th amendment); no sex bar to voting (19th amendment); and no poll tax (24th amendment). Constitutional interpretation has expanded and added nuances to these rights.

Now, did you know we have what’s called “natural rights” as well? We do, even a right not to be killed.

Natural Rights:
The classic definition of “natural rights” are “life, liberty, and property”, but these need to be expanded somewhat. They are rights of “personhood”, not “citizenship”. These rights are not all equally basic, but form a hierarchy of derivation, with those listed later being generally derived from those listed earlier.
Personal Security (Life):
(1) Not to be killed.
(2) Not to be injured or abused.
Personal Liberty:
(3) To move freely.
(4) To assemble peaceably.
(5) To keep and bear arms.
(6) To assemble in an independent well-disciplined militia.
(7) To communicate with the world.
(8) To express or publish one’s opinions or those of others.
(9) To practice one’s religion.
(10) To be secure in one’s person, house, papers, vehicle, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures.
(11) To enjoy privacy in all matters in which the rights of others are not violated.
Private Property:
(12) To acquire, have and use the means necessary to exercise the above natural
rights and pursue happiness, specifically including:
(1) A private residence, from which others may be excluded.
(2) Tools needed for one’s livelihood.
(3) Personal property, which others may be denied the use of.
(4) Arms suitable for personal and community defense.

So, while we have rights assured through several means, we have a right to not be killed, which I think, overrules all others. Those of you with limited information just don’t argue if all you’ve got is what Faux News tells you. No one wants your guns, but everyone wants you to be a responsible gun owner. No all people want everyone to have a gun, but most (reasonable) people want gun owners to be responsible and that includes not using those guns to intimidate others. Now let’s have another discussion about guns, but this time, make it about the facts, not your limited opinions.