South Austin’s Narcan Dispenser: A Good Idea – A Frightening Precedent | SARC

Image: Fox7

Image: FOX7

As Texas deaths caused by opioid use have risen, Austin has installed its first Narcan vending machine. This machine was deployed by the N.I.C.E. Project (More Narcan In Case of Emergency) in conjunction with Sunrise Homeless Navigation.  

What is Narcan? It is a nasal spray drug that prevents death from overdosing on opioids like Fentanyl. It is so effective and can be successfully administered to people who are in such dire conditions that it has been referred to as a “Lazarus drug.”  

The vending machine is located in South Austin and is free to use, allowing those who may be at risk of overdosing to have a life-saving drug on hand. Of course, those at risk are very likely to be addicted to illegal drugs, causing some to worry that Austin is subsidizing addiction.  

However, as a life-saving measure, the vending machine isn’t a terrible idea. It strains credulity to think that someone would decide to begin taking opioids only because the city now had a free Narcan dispenser, and it is unlikely that drug users who are considering quitting their dangerous abuse would suddenly double down on their addiction because of a vending machine. It does, however, seem likely that an opioid addict, worried for their life, might use Narcan. Perhaps a near-death experience will convince them to seek help. Without Narcan, an opioid OD is essentially a death sentence.  

Drug addicts deserve our sympathy and help; their deaths are tragedies even if they know their behavior is risky.  

That being said, Austin’s decision to deploy a Narcan vending machine looks like only a first step in a general campaign of so-called “Harm Reduction.” And if that’s the case, it is opening a door, I would rather remain shut.  

Regarding drugs, “Harm Reduction” has noble goals; rather than criminalizing drug addiction and making the lives of those afflicted by addiction harder, it focuses government agencies instead on rehabilitation and care. Again, these are noble goals. Anyone who has seen a loved one laid low by addiction has seen the need for radical love and mercy in attending to them. 

But anyone who has seen addiction knows the fine line between care and subsidy, between showing mercy and enabling. We’ve all heard of parents with a child who cannot seem to escape the terrors of addiction. The parents provide housing, food, water, medicine, and sometimes even cash to purchase more of the substance that’s killing them—out of love for their child whom they see slipping away. 

It has been said a million times: that an addict must hit “rock bottom” before changing his or her way. Of course, some people’s rock bottom is lower than others. Some find theirs, in a circle of loved ones, being told just how important their life is and what it means to know them. Others only find theirs under six feet of earth—leaving families devastated.  

When a government follows a policy exclusively of “Harm Reduction,” the government risks rapidly shifting its relationship with addiction from one of reform and rehabilitation to one of enablement. And it almost always ends in enablement.  

Case in point: San Francisco. San Francisco began a campaign of “Harm Reduction,” in the early 2000s, along with California as a whole. Drugs were increasingly decriminalized. Resources increasingly focused on addiction care. But deaths by overdose stubborn refused to decline. Quite the opposite. San Francisco, like Austin, massively outstripped the national average increase in opioid deaths. As deaths increased, so too did open-air drug markets, where poison is peddled in broad daylight, and primarily homeless and the working poor buy their pleasant suicides.  

To try to combat this growth in open usage, the city has now deployed secretive “safe use” sites in the city. The drug-addicted may now go to a government-administered site under the care and protection of government-funded staff. The City of San Francisco has become the administrator of the soul- and life-destroying sickness of addiction.  

To say that this is morally questionable is an understatement.  

To give someone a life-preserver when they go for a swim in dangerous waters is one thing; to drive them in a boat into the middle of the storm and watch as they struggle to stay afloat is altogether another.  

The groundwork for going further with “Harm Reduction” is already being laid as the vending machine is being used much more frequently than anticipated, with the supply that was intended to last months now almost exhausted. The City Council itself is getting in on “Harm Reduction,” has declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis in a resolution that specifically calls for employing “harm reduction strategies.”  

Should we follow the San Francisco model, we can expect worsening addiction, greater expenditure supporting that addiction, and more and more deaths. 

Austin’s first step in “Harm Reduction” is one that many Republicans may support. However, we must all now be on the lookout for further steps that will take us down a dangerous, morally bankrupt path.  

South Austin’s Narcan Dispenser: A Good Idea – A Frightening Precedent | SARC

South Austin News | SARC

“Roughly a dozen families living at a mobile home park in South Austin who received 60-day notices to leave will be able to stay for the time being after a Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday.” KUT 5 Fun Things in South Austin – DO512 “A 25-year-old man has been arrested for … Continue reading South Austin News | SARC

Are We Rewarding Failure? | SARC

Austin City Council voted to increase their pay by 40% last week by an overwhelming margin. Out of the eleven members, only three opposed this egregious hike in pay; Paige Ellis (D8), Vanessa Fuentes (D2), and the redoubtable Mackenzie Kelly (D6).

The incident happened inside Zilker Park. (CBS Austin)

Murders in the Park | SARC

In 2020, the city council removed $150 million from the Austin Police budget. While this author has given special attention in the past to the obscenity of losing our sex crimes unit, there is another element that was eliminated causing all too tragic consequences. 

Are We Rewarding Failure? | SARC

 It is not unusual for legislators to pass pay raises for themselves. It’s understandable to ensure that our public servants are well fairly compensated. You don’t want the level of pay so low that you only attract mediocrities or create an environment in which accepting bribes is the only way for a legislator to make ends meet. It’s sensible to try to make sure that those in public employment have pay that keeps pace with out-of-control inflation. Sure, we don’t all just get to say “today, I make 10% more,” but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

But a 40% pay raise…is a bitter pill to swallow.  

Austin City Council voted to increase their pay by 40% last week by an overwhelming margin. Out of the eleven members, only three opposed this egregious hike in pay; Paige Ellis (D8), Vanessa Fuentes (D2), and the redoubtable Mackenzie Kelly (D6).  

This raise is more unseemly than most for reasons beyond its staggering scale—can you imagine what you would do with 40% more in your paycheck? No, the timing of this massive spike is particularly galling in a few ways.  

First, there’s the obvious; the economy is slowing down. Inflation is essentially giving all of us a major pay cut, and the cost of living in Austin is growing rapidly, forcing many people who have spent much of their lives in the city to look elsewhere. As businesses struggle to find workers, workers struggle to find jobs that cover their needs, and goods still seem oddly short on the shelves, the image of Council Members giving themselves tens of thousands more dollars is irritating. It’s bad policy and it’s political malpractice. Bill Clinton once famously said, “I feel your pain.” The current council seems more interested in cementing its own gain.  

Second, anyone with an eye on local issues and a memory that stretches back to last year may recall Save Austin Now’s fight for Proposition A, which would have refunded APD, and required certain levels of staffing. Those individuals who recall this ballot measure may also recall what we were told about the city budget. Simply put, we were led to believe that any increases in APD’s funding would need to be taken from other vital services. Now, the cost of the pay raise for the council—about $340,000/year—pales in comparison to what Prop A would have cost. But the argument that there simply wasn’t any more money in the budget was made so often, that I heard it in my dreams. Then we find out that the city had a surplus of $20 million (from its large sales tax on local businesses), and the first thing the Council does is give itself a raise. Perhaps the reader will understand why this particular vote got under the skin of many in Austin.

Third and finally, pay raises usually follow good, if not excellent, performance. Very few of us have the option of just choosing to make more money. Most have to prove to an employer that the work they have done is deserving of increased compensation. And any honest review of the Council’s performance lately would certainly be “mixed” at best. Let’s start with the good.  

Life has returned mostly to its pre-pandemic normal in the city, with large events taking place and schools opening as they should. Our city is still a boom town with thousands of new people flocking in every week. That, of course, is primarily due to the excellent business environment provided by the state government, from which every major city benefits.

Now, let’s get to the bad:

  • Failure of basic services. We have had three water shutdowns in four years. One of them was caused by rain. How was the city not ready for rain? Another was just a misunderstanding. Nothing went wrong—someone just thought it had and told everyone the water was unsafe. Our electrical grid is suspect. The whole state’s grid is probably inadequate for our needs and deserves a major investment, but the city has become undeniably worse in recent years. Lately anytime we get more than a sprinkle I hear from across the city of power outages.  
  • A gutted police force. APD is nowhere near fully staffed. As a result, APD is pulling detectives from desk work and sending them on patrol, has scrapped the DUI department, makes next-to-no traffic stops (meaning there are more reckless drivers, and yes; more traffic deaths), and has retired the sex crimes unit. Let me reiterate; there is no sex crimes unit in the city of Austin. This most basic service that every city should provide the victims of unspeakable crimes—overwhelmingly poor women of color, for the record—was cut because of the Council’s rash decision to remove about one-third of the police budget.  
  • Rising crime, especially murders. Given that in 2020, APD’s funding was slashed, it is sadly unsurprising that we have had more murders in the past couple of years than our city has ever experienced.  While we are not on track to set another new record for the number of homicides in the city, in 2020 and 2021, we hit all-time highs, and have established a new normal. While our murder rate is lower than that of poorer major cities, such as Houston, we are no longer the surprisingly safe, pristine city we once were.  
  • Homelessness. In 2019, the council removed a ban on homeless camping, leading to a massive surge in shanty towns under our bridges and homeless on our street corners. These sprawling camps were dangerous places of open drug use and casual violence. The homeless, for whom we should all feel deep compassion, were left to their own devices, preyed upon by human traffickers and drug dealers, and left to freeze and die in large numbers during winter storms. Too many of these men and women are drug-addicted or mentally ill—or both. They are not capable of making rational, long-term decisions. They should be cared for, as Community First! Village does. Instead, the Council’s response was to buy a hotel, house an infinitesimal percentage of the homeless, and pretend that the open camping wasn’t a major threat to the city’s wellbeing. The vast number of fires that broke out in these camps should dispel the idea that these were safe spaces. With no action being taken by elected officials, the voters of Austin mobilized to pass Proposition B. right before its passage, Kitchen and Kelly spearheaded the admirable H.E.A.L. Initiative which banned camping in a few key areas but left most of the city open to the blight of massive homeless camps. Even after the passage of Prop B, the council dragged its feet to enforce the law, taking many months before finally going about the sad business of clearing out the dangerous camps that had become all too common in our city.  
  • The rising cost of living. Despite this loss of safety, people continue to move to the city. Not to the dangerous parts, mind you; to the nice areas. But the ever-growing population has not been met with a commensurate investment in housing. There have been a number of luxury condos built, but for those who do not make mid-six-figure incomes, finding a home has become an increasingly difficult process. And forget about buying a home. The cost of a house in Austin has skyrocketed, leaving many longtime residents with no choice but to leave. The Council doesn’t set home values, and they don’t decide on rent in the city. But they have made building new homes so expensive that most investors don’t see the possibility of making a return on their investments in building new affordable units. Similarly, the Council’s fixation on increasing non-car traffic by adding bike lanes and increasing walkability has left our major roadways clogged and everyone outside of the dense urban core—most Austinites—underserved.  

In conclusion, this council’s record is one of failure. Our budget is bloated. Our taxes are too high. And, our services are too low.  

The Council is in the thrall of a small population of wealthy downtown dwellers who don’t have to see the effects of terrible policies elsewhere in the city.  

The Council Members didn’t deserve a raise. Most deserve to be fired.  

But most importantly, the city deserves better.  

Are We Rewarding Failure? | SARC

Image: Fox7

South Austin’s Narcan Dispenser: A Good Idea – A Frightening Precedent | SARC

Image: FOX7 As Texas deaths caused by opioid use have risen, Austin has installed its first Narcan vending machine. This machine was deployed by the N.I.C.E. Project (More Narcan In Case of Emergency) in conjunction with Sunrise Homeless Navigation.   What is Narcan? It is a nasal spray drug that prevents death from overdosing on opioids … Continue reading South Austin’s Narcan Dispenser: A Good Idea – A Frightening Precedent | SARC

Murders in the Park | SARC

The incident happened inside Zilker Park. (CBS Austin)

 Image: The incident happened inside Zilker Park. (CBS Austin)

In 2020, the city council removed $150 million from the Austin Police budget. While this author has given special attention in the past to the obscenity of losing our sex crimes unit, there is another element that was eliminated causing all too tragic consequences. 

APD was forced to cut patrols specifically designated for our once-pristine parks.  

We have had two reported murders in Austin’s parks in two days. This can hardly come as a surprise. Where the police go, criminals flee; where they don’t, criminals gather. Adding police officers to a city has a measurable impact on the murder rate.  

No doubt the leaders of our city will splutter and attempt to explain away these actions as part of a national trend—ignoring the fact that Austin followed the national trend of tearing police budgets to ribbons.  

But those of us who understand how criminals operate, whether through research or purely common sense, know that the city is witnessing what could be normal in murder rates because the Council chose to ignore all warnings. There was history to be made. There were ideologies that needed backing. There were activists to be appeased. 

And now there are bodies to be buried. There are losses to mourn.  

Sources say that APD is sending patrols back into the parks, but with fewer and fewer officers, this means crime will simply move to another underserved area of the city.  

Murders in the Park | SARC

An anti-gun violence rally on the steps of New York City Hall in 2019. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)

America the Violent | SARC

In the wake of mass shootings, Americans are regularly told that these atrocities do not happen in other developed countries. This, we are to believe, is the damnable result of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Austin’s Doomed Experiment | SARC

Austin has decided to launch an experiment with Universal Basic Income (UBI) in partnership with the nonprofit UpTogether. The program, when implemented, will send $1000 per month to 85 low-income individuals in the city.

A Heartbreaking Tragedy; A Dangerous Lawsuit 

https://www.statesman.com/story/news/crime/2022/07/10/parents-sue-city-of-austin-after-shooting-of-alex-gonzales-jr/65369555007/

(Image: Aaron E. Martinez/Austin American Statesman)

The family of a man shot and killed by police is suing APD.  

Alex Gonzales Jr. was shot by APD officers after pointing a gun at an off-duty officer and then driving away when the officer fired on him. After a brief chase, Gonzales stopped his car, at which point his girlfriend, who had been shot by the off-duty officer, exited the passenger side and began yelling for her baby—who officers later found in the back seat. Gonzales also exited the vehicle and, ignoring police commands to put his hands up and get down, went to the back door of his car, and reached in. At that point, several APD officers fired, killing Gonzales. The child in the back seat was unharmed. 

The family’s lawsuit states that Gonzales’ wounds “compromised his physical and mental functions and his comprehension.” It says that APD, in particular the officer who first fired on Gonzales, Gabriel Gutierrez, should have known that Gonzales was no longer a threat.  

However, a gun was found in the car after Gonzales was shot. 

While I cannot imagine the pain of the loss Gonzales’ family is experiencing, Austin must stand firm against this lawsuit.  

I fully support the rights of Texans to carry firearms and use them to defend themselves, however, what we know of the initial incident would mean that Gonzales had unlawfully brandished his weapon. Gutierrez, the off-duty officer, says that he was turning into an intersection when Gonzales sped around his vehicle and cut him off while pointing a gun at him. 

 In no way would this be a legal, justifiable brandishing of a firearm.  

Even if Guitierrez had not seen Gonzales’ car, and had cut into Gonzales’ lane, Gonzales would not have the right to aim his firearm at another motorist. 

Again, Gonzales acted in an unjustified manner.  

Furthermore, when Gonzales had stopped his car, there was no way that the police could reasonably confirm Gonzales’ intent. They knew he had driven recklessly and pulled a gun. And that’s not even counting his evading pursuit—which could be theoretically dismissed since Gutierrez was off-duty in his personal vehicle, Gonzales may not have known he was being pursued by police until Gutierrez’s backup arrived. What the officers knew at the moment they fired on Gonzales was that he was unpredictable and armed. He had committed a felony by pointing his weapon at another driver.  

Police are not hired to be mind readers. They are not expected to understand every nuance of a perpetrator’s behavior. They cannot assume the best intent on the part of every person they encounter. They are heavily trained and the longer they are officers the more experiential knowledge they can apply to the actions they need to take in the moment. While in hindsight, it may sound as though Gonzales had been, in a state of shock, unaware of the police’s commands and was seeking to comfort the child, police knew he had a gun—which again was recovered in the car—and reasonably believed that he was seeking his weapon to fire at police.  

It is always a tragedy when a young person dies. This man was the same age as I a.. He, like all of us, was a wellspring of potential. But he committed a crime. He persisted in his crime. He had threatened lives. 

In doing so, he put his own life at risk. 

Should the City of Austin settle with this family, it will be yet again sending the message, that APD is not to be trusted; that it should receive no benefit of the doubt; that every police shooting should be treated as a murder in which the defendant—the officer who pulled the trigger—is presumed guilty and must prove his or her innocence.  

That is an unsustainable process. We will lose more officers. Our remaining officers will hesitate in protecting themselves and others; this will cost lives. Police will continue to pull back, leaving Austin a more dangerous city.  

The City of Austin must stand its ground and fight this suit.   

A Heartbreaking Tragedy; A Dangerous Lawsuit 

Winter Weather Preparedness

Severe winter weather can be deadly and we want you to be as prepared as possible for the next major storm that will hit the Austin metro area. Below, you will find ways to be prepared. Please take every suggestion seriously. The intention of this article: To ensure you have the soft/hard skills and options … Continue reading Winter Weather Preparedness

Press Release: Keep Voting | SARC

6:07PM – Austin, TX USA South Austin Republican Club Dallas Emerson, Communications Director & Data Analyst dallas@southaustinrc.org Keep Voting Former President Donald Trump released the following statement yesterday, October 13th, 2021:   This message has been received as a threat to the Republican Party; somehow to address the alleged fraud of the 2020 election.   There are … Continue reading Press Release: Keep Voting | SARC

America’s Mass Shootings: A Few Problems Confused with One Name 

(Photo: Live 5 News)

(Photo: Live 5 News)


In our last post, we examined the role of guns—specifically semi-automatic rifles—in crime.  


Today, we will specifically look at mass shootings, trying to understand what exactly they are. By striving to understand the horrors that rock our headlines all too often, we may gain insight into how to prevent them.  

Generally, when we talk about mass shootings, we are referring to events like those in Uvalde, Buffalo, or Parkland. The term immediately conjures a pretty clear picture in our minds; a lone gunman entering a school, place of worship, or store and killing many defenseless people for no clear reason beyond psychiatric disturbances. However, given a bit more time to think, we begin to realize there are other types of mass shootings. There’s workplace violence, once so common in America’s Postal Service, that violently lashing out at your co-workers became colloquially known as “going postal.” There are shootings that occur in larger areas such as the Vegas shooting (the largest mass shooting on record). There are clear incidents of terrorism in which the attacker chooses a firearm rather than a bomb or vehicle, such as the Fort Hood shooting

Even still, these examples do not account for anywhere near all of the mass shootings that occur.  

So, what is a mass shooting? 

Believe it or not, there’s no one answer.  

Some organizations define a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot and killed. 

Some define it as an incident in which four people other than the gunman are shot and killed. 

Others define mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people other than the gunman are shot—regardless of how many people died.  

The FBI does not even define mass shootings, instead, defining an event in which four or more people are killed—regardless of the weapon used—as a “mass murder.” 

To understand any topic, we have to choose a definition, so for the purposes of this article, we will be going with the broadest definition; a mass shooting is an event in which four or more people, other than the shooter, are shot.  

It’s important to understand how broad this definition is. This definition combines events like the Uvalde shooting with gang-related gunfights like this one in Providence, Rhode Island, in which two groups of individuals shot at one another.  

However, if we were to try and limit the definitions to exclude cases in which victims of a shooting fired back, we would discount any case in which, say, church security shot the gunman or an armed vice-principal stopped a shooting.  

Given this, the media and political leaders rely on data of questionable value when discussing waves of violence.  
 
Consider these headlines:  

The Washington Post
CNN

Both of these appeared on major outlets, and both articles specifically call out the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings. However, neither makes any attempt at clarifying, as we have done in this piece, that parsing out gang-related violence is extremely difficult when looking at mass shooting data. 

These stories are rarely run after horrifying shootouts such as this one in St. Louis, last year or this shooting on June 30th in Colorado in which multiple police officers were shot executing a search warrant. 

We are left with the impression that marauders are entering our schoolyards and places of worship daily and committing unspeakable acts. The reality is that we are in the midst of a large spike in violent crime in America, which started in 2020.  

This distinction is extremely important to understand.  

As the headlines above noted, there have been over 250 mass shootings in the United States in 2022. There have been 27 school shootings. That means that if every single school shooting were a mass shooting—and not all are, as in some cases, the number of victims is fewer than four—they would only make up 10% of the total. It should be clear that we cannot hope to prevent a school shooting in the same way that we would prevent gang violence.  

The type of person who shoots school children has a different profile than the individual who joins a gang, for example. The difference that’s easiest to identify? School shooters are almost always extremely socially isolated. Gang members, on the other hand, by definition, identify with a group of people and have strong bonds with that group.  

While both of the youth in these cases would certainly benefit from healthy socialization, in the case of a gang member, one would have to ensure the safety of the youth that one is trying to break out of the gang; a difficulty simply not present in the profile of a young school shooter.  

That’s just one example.  

There are numerous profiles of shooters; some are nihilistic, and some are true believers in a twisted ideology. Some are acting alone, and others choose to be the vanguard of a movement.  

But all of them cause mass casualties, tearing families apart, and staining communities.  

We must find new ways of identifying these crimes, rather than simply relying on the term “mass shooting.” It is so broad that it blurs the nature of the crimes involved.  

This may lead many to say, “what they have in common is the gun. Target their guns!” 

While at first blush this makes sense, we covered the nature of American gun crime in our previous post. Simply put, most guns used in crime are acquired illegally; if every single legally obtained gun were removed from criminals’ hands, it would account for about 10% of the total.  

Instead, we must treat these problems as different as they appear.  

We must create a better method for discovering potential school shooters. At the moment, school resources are stretched beyond their limits in attempting to find any potential mass shooter. 

We have to better fund anti-gang forces in local law enforcement, while also providing clear alternatives to those already trapped in gang life.  

We have to secure potential targets of mass shootings, to ensure that when the systems fail—as they inevitably will—the targets of a shooter are better prepared and safer.  

In a later post, we will detail what these solutions might look like.  

In the meantime, remember; that America’s mass shootings are not all the same. Treating them as such makes our efforts to save lives less effective.  

America’s Mass Shootings: A Few Problems Confused with One Name 

South Austin News | SARC

“People who live in South Austin and use Stassney Lane will soon have safer and more convenient ways to cross the street or get to a public transit stop.” @KVUE

November 2021 Propositions | SARC

On November 2nd, 2021 Texans will have the chance to vote on 8 statewide propositions. Austinites will have the chance to vote on 2 city propositions. You can learn about them here and we encourage you to vote!

South Austin News | SARC

“A colorful, 140-foot mural was installed by the Southern Oaks neighborhood of Austin to greet travelers on Buffalo Pass in south Austin.” @KXAN_News

America the Violent | SARC

An anti-gun violence rally on the steps of New York City Hall in 2019. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)

An anti-gun violence rally on the steps of New York City Hall in 2019. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)


In the wake of mass shootings, Americans are regularly told that these atrocities do not happen in other developed countries. This, we are to believe, is the damnable result of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Americans are told again and again that the key to solving this problem is to drastically reduce the number of firearms in circulation; specifically, the number of semi-automatic rifles. 

Of course, America isn’t entirely unique. As we’ll examine later, many other developed countries experience mass violence, including France, Norway, and New Zealand.  

Despite the hyperbole, though, there is an element of truth in the idea that America’s violence is unique in the developed world. As a country, we are much more violent, both in mass settings that capture our imaginations and headlines and in individual cases that tend to be accepted as somehow normal.  

For example, when we compare US cities to those of comparable nations—Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia—we find that American murder rates are startlingly high in comparison.  Murder rates may not be a perfect indicator of overall violence but work very well as a way of identifying serious violent tendencies.  

Glasgow, Scotland ranks as perhaps the most dangerous major city in America’s peer nations with a murder rate of around 5.1/per 100,000 residents in 2020. 

That murder rate would make Glasgow, Europe’s deadliest city, the 62nd most deadly city in America in 2020, landing between San Francisco and Anaheim.  

So, does that prove it? Is it true that because Americans have access to so many guns, we are much more likely to murder each other?  

Not exactly.  

As it turns out, Americans do not rely on a single tool to commit murders.  

Indeed, according to the FBI in 2019, the most common murder weapon was the handgun, used in 45.7% of murders. Firearms of unknown type were used in 23.9%.  Knives were the second most common identifiable weapon at 10.6%.  

It is worth mentioning that murders with hands and feet (600) outstrip murders with rifles and shotguns combined (564).  

Now, there’s no doubt looking at those numbers, that the number of firearms almost certainly increases the number of murders—it’s just a lot easier to kill someone with a gun than with your hands. 

But when we have gun control debates, lawmakers focus almost exclusively on one type of firearm: the semi-automatic rifle. A weapon so rarely used in murders the FBI does not distinguish its use from that of other rifles. I’ll say that again; rifles are so seldom used that the FBI does not count semi-automatic rifles separately from other, slower-firing rifles.  

To further put this in perspective, in 2019, there were estimated to be 16,425 murders. 10,255 of these were committed with firearms. 364 were committed with rifles—that we can prove. We have to assume some of the unidentified firearms are rifles.  

Even so, this is a tiny fraction of the overall number of murders; about 2.2%.  

To put this further in perspective, there were 36,096 vehicular homicides in 2019.  

There are 271,000,000 cars in the US.  

There are believed to be more than 400,000,000 guns. 

Despite this, a regular point of argument is that if we had the same kind of regulations around cars as we did guns, there would be fewer deaths. The belief is that by requiring training, licensing, registration, and other qualifications, deaths caused by firearms would be reduced. But as we have seen, the numbers don’t really bear this out, as cars—which have numerous, onerous regulations to own and operate, are involved in far more yearly deaths than guns, despite there being far more firearms.   

But even if we were to impose greater regulations on gun ownership, we wouldn’t expect it to have much impact on their use in crimes. Simply put, weapons that are acquired through legal means are very rarely used in crimes. 

In 2019, just about 10% of guns used in crimes were obtained in retail environments according to the Department of Justice. Retail environments include gun stores, sporting goods shops, gun shows, pawn shops, and flea markets. While it is often difficult to prove the provenance of firearms otherwise acquired, very few purchased in this verifiably legal way are ever used in crime.  

About 20% of guns used in crimes fall into a legal gray zone, in which the criminal claims to have acquired the firearm from someone else, either through purchase or as a gift.  

In total, 70% of firearms are acquired in an explicitly illegal fashion.  

What this points to is that criminals generally seek out non-verifiable means to obtain firearms, meaning that adding further regulation to the acquisition of guns would have, if not negligible, very minor effects.  

But again, given Americans’ highly violent nature, even if we were to ban all guns, and remove all firearms immediately, Americans would still attack one another by other means more commonly than our peer societies. 

America, however, is not merely more violent than our peer nations. 

We are much more criminal overall, with 715 per 100,000 people being held as prisoners. Some might say this is because of over-incarceration, with nearly 45% of those in federal prison being held for drug offenses. However, the statistic is still meaningful, as it demonstrates that Americans incur the risk of incarnation at a higher rate than our peer societies.  

This tendency also appears when we look at traffic fatalities. We have nearly three times as many traffic deaths per capita as the European Union—11.7 vs 4.2, suggesting more reckless driving in the US. 

Indeed, social science regularly demonstrates that Americans perceive less risk than those of other developed nations.  

Lack of risk aversion is highly correlated with crime, and those who commit even low-level offenses are much more likely to also commit violent crimes.  

All of this suggests that guns are not the root cause of violence in America.  

American people are.  

A murder committed with a firearm is just as evil and tragic as it would be with a knife.  

Let us turn our attention now to mass shootings, the crimes that most often grab headlines and shake our nation.  

Even looking exclusively at these horrifying crimes, the handgun is the weapon of choice for offenders, not the semiautomatic rifle. Handguns were used in 98 mass shootings since 1982 compared to 52 in which rifles were used.  

Now rifles are disproportionately favored in mass shootings as compared to the more common individual murder—making up about 30% of the weapons chosen in mass murder, but only 2% in individual cases. They are, however, not universally, nor even particularly often used, making up—of the three categories (rifles, shotguns, and handguns)—about one-third of the weapons.  

To sum all of this data up, targeting semi-automatic rifles would have a negligible impact on the overall American murder rate, and would not even prevent the majority of mass shootings. It is worth noting, that once a person has come to the point of deciding to murder a classroom of eleven-year-olds, the choice of which type of firearm is probably not extremely important to the outcome. In the cases of Uvalde, Parkland, and Sandy Hook, it would be foolish to suggest that had the shooters chosen handguns, rather than AR-15 style rifles, there would have been less carnage. The AR-15, firing once every time the trigger is pulled would not kill any more efficiently than a handgun operating in the same manner.  

This makes the proposed ban on semi-automatic rifles—often erroneously called an “assault rifle ban”—window dressing, intended to allow lawmakers to claim to have “done something,” with little regard for the actual results of this policy.  

This might lead one to ask, “why not ban all guns?” This is a topic we will turn to shortly in another post.  

There is basically no support in the US for a handgun ban, despite this being the most commonly used murder weapon.  American support for such an idea is actually shrinking, reaching an all-time low in 2019 according to the latest available data from Gallup. This is likely because Americans understand that the handgun is also an essential self-defense weapon.  

In conclusion, we are a more violent people and a less risk-averse people than our peers. We kill each other at much higher rates than our peers, but rarely with rifles—semi-automatic or otherwise. Simply calling out our differences in gun laws and gun violence is not a strong enough reason to ban an entire class of firearms.  

As we continue, we will examine what such a ban might look like, and what laws would need to be altered to implement it. However, our next piece will examine mass shootings specifically. How are they defined, who commits them, and where do they occur?  

America the Violent | SARC

South Austin News | SARC

“Legend says in the ’20s, it was a hangout spot for train robbers the Newton Gang, Carvalho said. Roughly 50 years later, the likes of Willie Nelson and Janis Joplin performed at the venue.” COMMUNITY IMPACT

Austin’s Doomed Experiment | SARC

by Dallas Emerson, Communications Director & Data Analyst

dallas@southaustinrc.org


Austin has decided to launch an experiment with Universal Basic Income (UBI) in partnership with the nonprofit UpTogether. The program, when implemented, will send $1000 per month to 85 low-income individuals in the city.  

This is part of a series of experiments with Universal Basic Income occurring throughout the country.  

And they’re all pointless.  

Let’s set aside the principle and even the theory underlying UBI.  Those are arguments to be taken up when the discussion is whether to implement such a program.  

No, I want to talk about this “experiment,” and its guaranteed unhelpfulness.  

The idea behind running the pilot program is, at first glance, understandable. Rather than unrolling a multi-billion dollar program, we will study a small group of people, and how their lives and behavior is changed by receiving additional income.  

But the results will be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted; indeed, I would go so far as to say that the results will be meaningless

Let’s look at the pilot program again: 85 low-income people receiving $1000/month. That’s not chump change. I would certainly not turn my nose up to that kind of money. And certainly, we can expect that their spending habits would change. Their work habits will likely change.  

And that means nothing when only 85 people are receiving this money.  

However, if every single Austinite, all 950,000 of them, were to receive $1000/month—or about $12 billion dollars a year—we can only guess at the rapid, unprecedented rise in inflation as we poured an additional one billion dollars every month into our economy. Keep in mind, that nothing else will have changed—there will not be more goods being produced or more workers contributing. There will not be higher quality goods.  

We can guess what kind of wild effect this will have on the prices of low-income housing, food, fuel, and childcare in the city.  

They will go up. 

As we have seen on a national scale, subsidizing demand, by sending cash out to consumers, leads to price increases. This is not an argued point. The only question is how much of the inflation can be attributed to government disbursement of funds.  

If the Council agrees to this experiment, they will be putting Austin on a path to receiving information that we know will be misleading. We know that the relatively small disbursement will help these few, chosen families. We also know that these families will be the most likely to suffer from inflation—low-income families are always hit hardest by price increases.  

The Council must exercise prudence and take any result of this futile experiment with skeptical eyes. 

Austin’s Doomed Experiment | SARC

Flood Preparedness | SARC

Austin will experience consistent rain in the coming days and possibly weeks, requiring us to be prepared in order to stay safe and help others.

Press Release: South Austin Republican Club Announces Endorsement for Texas Attorney General

10:26AM – Austin, TX USA

South Austin Republican Club

Dallas Emerson, Communications Director & Data Analyst

dallas@southaustinrc.org


Primaries are often ugly—and Republicans’ primaries have been uglier than usual lately.  

When politicians disagree on policy or ideas, primaries can be enlightening, allowing voters to partake in choosing the direction of the party, and the evolution of our shared ideology.  

When politicians share essentially the same ideas, the debate comes down to one of character; which means that everyone should grab their ponchos, because the mud will be slung.  

The Texas Attorney General’s Republican Primary is an example of this phenomenon. Heading into the runoff, Ken Paxton, the incumbent, and George P. Bush, Texas’ Land Commissioner, must be thoroughly examined.  

Both are dedicated followers of President Trump’s MAGA movement, with Paxton holding Trump’s endorsement, but Bush is a close ally of the former President as well.  

Both men are conservative. Ken Paxton has been a staunch defender of Texas’ rights as a state and fought to ensure that the Federal Government abides by its own laws. George P Bush has worked within his power as Land Commissioner to secure the Southern border during unprecedented waves of immigration in Texas. 

Neither could be described as “moderate” or as a “RINO.” 

So, we at South Austin Republicans Club have interrogated the character of these two men.  

And as a result, we believe Ken Paxton to be compromised in his role as Attorney General, beset by scandal, and in his seventh year of indictment for securities fraud.  

The bedrock of our legal system is the presumption of innocence. In no way are we commenting on his innocence or guilt; that is to be determined by a jury of Paxton’s peers.  

But the role of Attorney General relies in large part on moral authority, not just a bright legal mind. And after seven years of investigation, Paxton is a tarnished man.  

He has faced widespread staff resignation, has chosen to recuse himself from some of his duties as Attorney General, and faces scrutiny regarding ethical violations for the funding of his legal defense fund.  

Within weeks of joining the Texas State Senate, his wife, Senator Angela Paxton, filed legislation that would allow the Attorney General to issue exemptions for the very actions he was under investigation for allegedly committing.  

Rather than pushing for his day in court, Paxton has sought every delay, every legal tactic to avoid a verdict being reached.  

Texas’ credibility is weakened by this spectacle.  

He has operated under this cloud for too long, and with his court date approaching, he will, by necessity be focused on his defense, not on the legal needs of the state. Texas needs an Attorney General that can be 100% dedicated to the job at hand.  

This brings us to the other man in the race, Land Commissioner George P. Bush. 

Son of former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, George P Bush carries a name and legacy that evokes mixed emotions. While it is unfair to judge a man by his father’s, uncle’s, or grandfather’s actions, it cannot be denied that the Bush family is a dynasty in American politics. 

The concept of one family wielding so much power is rightfully unsettling to most Americans. Many Republicans are reflexively distrusting of Kennedys for this reason, and after decades of dominance by the Bush family, the GOP is wary and weary of further Bushes.  

Bush is not without controversy of his own; primarily the bizarre, emotionally charged, debate over the Alamo, which Bush was charged with renovating. During this time, it was alleged that Bush wanted to erect a statue of Mexican Dictator Santa Anna—a claim made without any evidence. Bush responded that these rumors were due to his ethnicity, as his mother is a naturalized citizen from Mexico. We do know that Bush wanted the Cenotaph—an absolutely staggering monument to the brave defenders of the Alamo—moved off the Alamo grounds. This plan was defeated.  

However, the strongest critics of Bush voice few concerns other than the arcane Alamo fight and his family name.  

Frankly, these criticisms have little bearing on his ability to execute the duties of the Office of Attorney General.  

George P. Bush, as was previously stated, is a conservative Republican. He has campaigned on further securing the border and cracking down on crime—which he notes has risen under Paxton’s watch. 

It is never enjoyable to take sides in an intraparty fight. SARC usually avoids endorsing before primaries as this unnecessarily divides the party, leaving us weaker. And in a city like Austin, we cannot have that weakness.  

But sometimes, a line has to be drawn.  

In this case, the Executive Committee of the South Austin Republicans Club felt that AG Paxton’s scandal has outweighed his ability to faithfully execute his duties. If he were the employee of a small business, under investigation for fraud, accused of violating ethics, unable to perform all his duties because of these investigations, and his work being judged as suspect because of the scandal he refused to put to rest—he’d be fired. And in this case, SARC agrees; he should be fired. 

For these reasons, we the Executive Committee have chosen to endorse George P. Bush for Attorney General of Texas.   

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Press Release: South Austin Republican Club Announces Endorsement for Texas Attorney General

South Austin News | SARC

“The Austin Police Department on Friday identified the man who was found dead lying in the road with multiple gunshot wounds early Wednesday morning in South Austin.” CBS AUSTIN “Commercial developer and operator Unico Properties has sold Bouldin Creek, a 170,000-square-foot office building in South Austin to San Francisco-based DivcoWest for an undisclosed price. Unico … Continue reading South Austin News | SARC

South Austin News | SARC

“If you’ve been wanting to add a four-legged ball of love and affection to your family, start with these South Austin area animal shelters for a pet to take home.” @KXAN_News

Press Release: Austin City Manager Selects New Police Chief | SARC

5PM – Austin, TX USA

South Austin Republican Club

Dallas Emerson, SARC Senior Communications Director & Data Analyst

southaustinrc@gmail.com


Austin City Manager Selects New Police Chief

Congratulations to Austin’s new Chief of Police, Chief Joseph Chacon. He has been Austin’s Interim Chief during difficult times of rising crime and a police staffing crisis.

We do wish that the City Manager had considered a potential Chief from outside the department, aligning with the wishes of the police officers.

But, we hope the council will show its full support, not just for the new Chief, but for all officers going forward. We wish Chief Chacon the best of luck, and ask all Austinites to pray for him as our city faces unprecedented challenging times.

Statement from City Manager Spencer Cronk

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South Austin News | SARC

“..fears someone will get hurt riding on the stretch of Hether Street near South Lamar Boulevard, where Urban Motorsports is located.”-KXAN

The Party of Lawless Disorder | SARC

By Dallas Emerson, SARC Senior Communications Director & Data Analyst

The rule of law is essential in a free society. Law and liberty are not opposed; they go hand in hand. In a lawless world, the powerful do what they wish, regardless of consequences. In a free society, even the rich and powerful can be held accountable.  

In America, there are essentially only two parties—regardless of what my Libertarian friends and Green Party…acquaintances say. Unfortunately, one party is increasingly clear that it opposes the rule of law at every level, from municipalities to the Presidency.  

While neither party is free of malcontentsviolent rule-breakers, or outright corrupt leadership, only the Democratic Party, at the moment, seeks to drive the country further away from the rule of law and brags about it.  

Here at home, in Austin, our Mayor imposed lockdowns and asked us all to stay home—while he vacationed in sunny Cabo. Democratic-aligned council-people gutted police funding, sewing the seeds of a heartbreaking spike in murders. These same councilors buried their heads in the sand about the frightening homeless problem until it became so glaring that it couldn’t be ignored. Their solution? Spend tens of millions of dollars on the problem—to no avail. When the citizens of this city put forward a plan to reverse this problem, the Mayor, and his predictably far-left associates, suddenly found they could take a firm stand—against implementing any kind of common sense law. Even while acknowledging their leadership had failed. When the initiative passed, the Mayor, and his predictably far-left associates, dragged their feet, refusing to do much at all to enforce the new law.  

When Save Austin Now PAC worked to get a new initiative on the ballot, the City Council so badly mangled the language of the measure that the Texas Supreme Court ordered a change.  

And this makes no mention of this city’s illegal “sanctuary” status.  

But the lawlessness continues to higher levels than our Council.  

The Texas Democratic House Caucus fled the state—in direct violation of the law—because they were afraid they might not get what they wanted. They were hailed as heroes by their national counterparts.  

 At the same time, this party opposes any kind of anti-majoritarian institution that doesn’t benefit them; the Senate, the filibuster, the Electoral College, and the Supreme Court come time mind. They even abhor it when state legislators flee to avoid losing a vote—so long as they’re Republican.  

The Democrats rightly bemoan the awful riot on January 6th yet have nothing but kind words for those who looted, vandalized, and murdered during the summer of 2020. They also had nothing to say as far-left demonstrators attempted to burn down a courthouse in Portland—while people were inside. Almost nothing was said about the separatist movement that seized several blocks of Seattle until there were enough murders to force the City Government to step in. The Seattle Councilors found it in their hearts to speak against vandalism. Of their own homes. In Minneapolis, the Council has cut police funding, while boosting their own security staff. Safety for me, but not for thee.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  

In California, the Governor gave orders to shut the state down, but exempted his own winery and did not stop dining out with lobbyists at gourmet restaurants. In Michigan, Governor Whitmer’s husband attempted to use her authority to take his boat out (she claims this was a joke—oh if only that defense worked for the rest of us.). In New York, the third straight Governor has left office under a shadow of doubt and a cloud of corruption. This was a man who said there should be zero tolerance for sexual harassment. His brother, allegedly a journalist, violated his professional standards by actively working on communication strategies with him. 

The last governor of New York to leave with honor and dignity? George Pataki—also the last Republican.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  

The Supreme Court ruled that President Trump’s eviction moratorium was illegal—a decision I believe is completely correct. The CDC has no jurisdiction over anyone’s lease.  

However, that didn’t stop prominent members of the Democratic party from calling on President Biden to directly refuse to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling and reimpose the moratorium. 

Think about that for a moment. When a judge rules in court, his or her decision is law. Short of the Constitution, there is no higher legal authority in this country than the Supreme Court. Members of the Congress are sworn to uphold the Constitution. As is the President. In this instance, members of the House were violating their Oath of Office by demanding the President violate his.  

And he did.  

Even while admitting his decision was unconstitutional, President Joe Biden, reinstated the eviction moratorium.  

Which, again, is illegal. And, again, everyone was clear on this.  

And Joe Biden won plaudits from his chorus in the media and his co-conspirators in government.  

And then he did it again.  

After having professed for months that the federal government cannot instate a vaccine mandate, President Joe Biden unilaterally declared that all companies of 100 or more staff must ensure all staff are vaccinated.  

And more praise followed.  

To repeat, the President has now twice told us that he can’t do something only to turn around and do it.  

In Democratic politics, this is described as a reversal.  

For the rest of us, it’s a called a confession. 

The Democratic party is completely uninterested in enforcing the law. Our largest, most chaotic cities are dominated by Democratic machines. Our own city, once a beacon of safety, is increasingly dangerous, setting a record for the number of murders this year. The second most dangerous year? 2020.  

Yet they are intensely interested in ruling. President Biden even spoke of getting Governors “out of the way.” As though elected officials are mere obstacles to his rule. 

Lawless rule in other countries would be called corrupt or authoritarian. Here, we call it “progressive.”   

It may seem that this is all too big. I’ve written of several states, numerous cities, governors and presidents.  

But reform start at home. Waves start as ripples. Local elections become national landslides.  

Let’s fight here at home, together. Our city is not too far gone, and I do not believe our nation is either.  

Release: South Austin Republican Club Takes Official Stances on May 1st Propositions

Charter amendment regarding binding arbitration  Proposition A: Shall the City Charter be amended to give the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the authority to require the City to participate in binding arbitration of all issues in dispute with the Association if the City and the Association reach impasse in … Continue reading Release: South Austin Republican Club Takes Official Stances on May 1st Propositions

On May 1st a Change In Course Must Be Made | SARC

The City Council of Austin has failed to address homelessness in the city.
Think that’s too harsh? Mayor Adler agrees.
Don’t misunderstand, he doesn’t have a plan, and doesn’t want to reinstate the camping ban. He doesn’t really have any suggestions. Honestly, it feels a bit like he’s phoning it in at this time, given that can’t run for reelection.
In June 2019, the Council legalized…