Nel's New Day

July 4, 2022

The Fourth of July 2022

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:28 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Back to prayers. A 22-year-old man killed at least six people and hospitalized another 40 when he shot Fourth of July paradegoers in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb. Those opposed to any gun safety laws will cry “mental illness,” but this is the kind of war that conservatives have promised since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) legitimately lost the 2020 presidential election. In another mass shooting, five people were injured in a shooting on Chicago’s South Side. As of early Monday morning, at least 57 people had been shot in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, nine of them fatally, not including the Highland Park shooting. Two other mass shootings on the Fourth of July Kansas City (MO) and Richmond (VA). Others over the weekend were in over the weekend in Mullins (SC), Tacoma (WA), Clinton (NC), Haltom City (TX), and New York City bringing the total for the first 155 days in 2022 to 309.

Others will blame Chicago for all the guns it has, yet Illinois has the ninth-lowest rate of gun ownership and the sixth-strongest gun safety laws in the country, including a background checks on all gun sales, an Extreme Risk (“red flag”) law, and removal of guns from domestic abusers, and ninth-lowest rate of gun ownership. Illinois also has these laws:

  • Permits required for concealed carry in public with denial authority for people who pose a danger.
  • Ban on open carry in public without permits.
  • No “stand your ground law,” allowing anyone to kill someone else with impunity in other states.
  • Mandates for locked storage of unloaded guns, separate from ammunition in some circumstances.
  • Prohibition of assault-style weapons originally designed for military use.
  • Childproofing features required for all new handgun models.
  • Ban on high-capacity gun magazines.
  • Microstamping for new handguns.
  • Mandatory tracing of all guns recovered at crime scenes, using the federal tracing system.
  • Prevention of concealed carry permits for people with assault or other violent misdemeanor convictions.
  • Prevention of gun possession by felons, fugitives, convicted stalkers, and those with hate crime convictions.
  • Requirement for school threat assessment programs to identify students at risk of violence.
  • Permission for towns and cities to make stronger gun safety ordinances.
  • Prevention of gun sales during ongoing background checks.
  • Requirement that all gun owners report lost and/or stolen guns.
  • Mandated notice to law enforcement when prohibited people try to purchase guns.
  • Mandates of all gun buyers to complete a training course before purchases.
  • Requirement of prescribed time for gun owners before completing purchases.

Because of no federal laws and permissive Supreme Court rulings, the surrounding states with much weaker laws permit guns trafficked across the border, especially from Indiana across the Chicago border. At least 60 percent of guns recovered in Chicago are from out of state. Even enlisted U.S. Army soldiers help gangs funnel guns into Chicago to worsen the violence within the city. Although 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was from Antioch, Illinois when he traveled 21 miles to kill two men in a Kenosha (WI) protest, the 20-year-old who illegally gave Rittenhouse the gun purchased it in Wisconsin.

As expected, many guns come from neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana, but a major contributor to Illinois’ gun problem is Mississippi, ranking fifth among source states. Of 5,782 guns recovered at Illinois crimes scenes in 2019, 1,882 came from Indiana, 485 from Missouri, 460 from Wisconsin, and 302 from Mississippi. No laws in Mississippi require permits to purchase, carry, or register firearms—rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Licensing of owners aren’t covered by any Mississippi laws.

Weeks ago, Congress passed the first “gun reform” law since banning assault weapons in 1994. These are the provisions:

Funding for crisis interventions programs, including red flag programs allowing the courts to remove firearms from people who may use them to endanger themselves or others. Originally, the money went only to states willing to incorporate red flag programs, but the final version gives money to all states, including those who reject these programs. [Red: states with red flag laws; teal: states prohibing red flag laws.]

Barring people convicted of domestic violence crimes against former cohabiting partners or those they share children with from having guns. Although the law lists a “serious relationship,” the provision isn’t retroactive, but it doesn’t include dating violence or stalkers. Those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes can get their guns back after five years if they don’t commit any other crimes. There is no research supporting the length of five years.

Gun sellers who use the sale of guns for a primary source of income must register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers, requiring background checks. No background checks are required from any other ways of obtaining guns.

States are “encouraged” to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system and implement ways of checking these records for people ages 18-21, but there is no requirement for this provision.

Law enforcement can more easily investigate guy buyers not allowed to purchase firearms on their own.

Funding for mental health programs and school security will be increased.

And states, with the reinforcement of the Supreme Court, will continue to put guns into the pipeline for killing, and conservative legislatures can reassure their constituents that they will be able to secretly buy guns and give them to killers.

The freedom for unfettered gun ownership is just way that conservatives try to identify themselves as patriots, a term now largely co-opted by white nationalists. Pledging allegiance to the flag has always been a strategy by people intent on destroying democracy. Confederates, segregationists, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, obstructionists call themselves patriots while demonizing a large percentage of people in the United States and calling on “liberty and justice” for only themselves.

At this turning point of history in the nation, Robert Reich ponders “the true meaning of patriotism.”

“It is not the meaning propounded by the “America first” crowd, who see the patriotic challenge as securing our borders.

“For most of its existence America has been open to people from the rest of the world fleeing tyranny and violence.

“Nor is the meaning of patriotism found in the ravings of those who want America to be a white Christian nation.

“America’s moral mission has been greater inclusion – equal citizenship for Native Americans, Black people, women and LGBTQ+ people.

“True patriots don’t fuel racist, religious or ethnic divisions. Patriots aren’t homophobic or sexist. Patriots seek to confirm and strengthen and celebrate the ‘we’ in ‘we the people of the United States.’

“Patriots are not blind to social injustices. They don’t ban books or prevent teaching about the sins of our past.

“They combine a loving devotion to America with a demand for justice.

“This land is your land, this land is my land, Woody Guthrie sang.

“Langston Hughes pleaded:

“’Let America be America again,

“’The land that never has been yet –

“’And yet must be – the land where every man is free.

“’The land that’s mine – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.’

“Nor is the meaning of patriotism found in symbolic displays of loyalty like standing for the national anthem and waving the American flag.

“Its true meaning is in taking a fair share of the burdens of keeping the nation going – sacrificing for the common good. Paying taxes in full rather than lobbying for lower taxes, seeking tax loopholes or squirreling away money abroad.

“It means refraining from political contributions that corrupt our politics, and blowing the whistle on abuses of power even at the risk of losing one’s job.

“It means volunteering time and energy to improve the community and country.

“Real patriotism involves strengthening our democracy – defending the right to vote and ensuring more Americans are heard. It is not claiming without evidence that millions of people voted fraudulently.

“It is not pushing for laws that make it harder for people to vote based on this “big lie”. It is not using the big lie to run for office.

“True patriots don’t put loyalty to their political party above their love of America.

“True patriots don’t support an attempted coup. They expose it – even when it was engineered by people they once worked for, even if it’s a president who headed their own party.

“When serving in public office, true patriots don’t try to hold on to power after voters have chosen not to re-elect them. They don’t make money off their offices.

“When serving as judges, they recuse themselves from cases where they may appear to have a conflict of interest. When serving in the Senate, they don’t use the filibuster to stop all legislation with which they disagree.

“When serving on the supreme court, they don’t disregard precedent to impose their ideology.

“Patriots understand that when they serve the public, one of their major responsibilities is to maintain and build public trust in the offices and institutions they occupy.

“America is in trouble. But that’s not because too many foreigners are crossing our borders, or we’re losing our whiteness or our dominant religion, or we’re not standing for the national anthem, or because of voter fraud.

“We’re in trouble because we are losing the true understanding of what patriotism requires from all of us.”

May the United States have a democracy on the Fourth of July 2023.

June 25, 2022

The Blame Game Continues in Uvalde

The last victim has been buried after an 18-year-old used his newly-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to kill 19 small children and two teachers on May 24 in a Uvalde (TX) classroom. Reasons for how it was allowed to occur have grown murkier because officials keep changing their answers and concealing the problems. Searching for answers, the relative of a victim, a local chaplain, and journalists were even forced to leave City Hall this past week before a closed-door hearing of the Texas House of Representatives and law enforcement because an official felt “intimidated.” Uvalde law enforcement stopped briefing the public about the shooting and refuse to respond to the media about surveillance footage, 911 calls, and bodycam.

Uvalde’s mayor Don McLaughlin accused state authorities of scapegoating local law enforcement and cherry picking details about state’s response to the massacre. He said Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, “continued to … lie, leak … mislead or misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and rangers from the response.” He said he would release information about the investigation and that “the gloves are off,” yet city officials wouldn’t comment on the probe.

After early reports from the state department needed to be corrected, the agency stopped public briefings for a week. One revision was how the shooter gained entrance into the school through a door with a faulty lock after erroneous initial accusation of a teacher leaving the door open. The conflict may also come from McCraw’s statement three days after the shooting that the school district police chief PetebArredondo was in charge of police response and made the “wrong response” in not immediately confronting the shooter. McLaughlin immediately asked for an investigation from the federal DOJ, independent from the one by the Texas Rangers. The State House inquiry makes three separate probes.

No longer providing updates on the shooting, Uvalde law enforcement officials have hired a private law firm to block the release of public records about the shooting that contain “highly embarrassing information.” A legal loophole allows them to refuse the release if no one has been convicted of the crime. Killed by a Border Patrol tactical team, the shooter can never be convicted.  

In a special State Senate committee hearing, McCraw described the law enforcement response an “abject failure” where the on-scene commander placed the “the lives of officers above the lives of children.” McCraw said, “The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander.” Three officers armed with rifles, pistols, and body armor arrived outside the unlocked classroom three minutes after the shooter entered the school, and Arredondo said they had to wait to get keys to a locked classroom door before entering. McGraw said that neither video nor interviews had evidence that anyone checked the doors and that law enforcement could have entered through the windows. Arredondo’s decision delayed entering the classroom for almost an hour.

Arrendondo said he did not consider himself in charge, but McCraw said, “If you’re going to issue commands, if you’re going to direct action, you’re the on-scene commander.” The delayed confrontation with the gunman was “antithetical to everything we have learned over the past two decades since the Columbine massacre” in 1999, according to McCraw.

After the city council rushed to swear in Arrendondo, elected before the shooting, Council members voted to not offer him a leave of absence. He has not attended any meetings since his swearing in, and he will be forced to leave the Council after missing three consecutive meetings without being excused. Members of the Uvalde have called for his removal.

After almost a month after the massacre, the Uvalde school district has put Arrendondo on administrative leave after allegations against him. Uvalde school superintendent Hal Harrell didn’t give a reason for the action. No one confirmed whether the leave was paid, and “personnel decisions” won’t be made until the investigation is finished.

The Texas Tribune collected other revelations about the shooting: 

  • Officers doubted the decision to wait.
  • Communications and tactics suffered breakdowns.
  • Law enforcement delayed confrontation although they knew people were injured and possibly dying in the classroom.
  • Officers had sufficient firepower, equipment and motivation to breach the classrooms.
  • Footage and records show a well-equipped group of local officers entering the school amost immediately were pulled back after the shooter started firing inside the classroom and then waited over an hour.
  • The shooter was seen walking unobstructed into the room and then going in and out at least three times.
  • Up to 19 officers were outside the classroom while the shooter was inside, and 60 law enforcement officials were around the school during the shooting. 

The Tribune also gives a timeline beginning when the planning of the shooter and after he arrived on campus.

In mid-June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state agencies fought the release of any information clarifying the contradictory statements. DPS claimed that releasing bodycam footage would provide criminals with “invaluable information” about its investigative techniques, information sharing, and criminal analysis. Republicans have claimed that the shooter’s gun making no difference in the number of deaths, that he could have killed them all with a bat, a theory that McGraw refuted. Texas AG Ken Paxton has 45 days to consider requests from government and law enforcement officials to withhold records from the public. Both Paxton and Abbott are up for re-election in four and a half months.

The day after the Uvalde shooting, Abbott, who has been obsessed about the immigrants on the southern border, said that the shooting “could have been worse.” Yet during his seven years as governor when firearms were loosened, gun deaths for children 17 and under grew from 54 in 2015 to 146 in 2020. Avoiding the topic of guns, Abbott outlined the topics for his special legislative committee for shooting solutions.

Paxton doesn’t even have a solution for mass shootings. Asked what he would Texas lawmakers, who have legislated looser and looser gun laws, have a variety of solutions. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz wants to “harden” schools, limited the buildings to only one door in and out. Others want to arm teachers or train students to fight shooters or to provide body armor for all students and educators. Other suggestions are taller fencing, tripwires, and metal detectors. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) recommends more “prayer.” Their ideas have not worked in the past and have nothing to do with restrictions of guns, but Republicans repeat past ideas.

With no solution for mass shootings, Paxton said he would tell families of the victims, “God always has a plan. Life is short no matter what it is.” After Texas lawmakers heard heart-wrenching testimony from the family members, only five Republicans voted to raise the age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 and toughen the loose gun laws. Paxton did recommend arming teachers, adding to their multiple responsibilities beyond educating their students. 

As usual, Paxton said, “We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things.” Federal law prevents Paxton from buying a gun because he has been under indictment since 2015 for breaking state securities law.

A review of 89 journal publications and media reports by researchers at the University of Toledo and Ball State University found no help relief from armed school resource officers, restrictions on the number of school exits, active-shooter drills, and arming teachers and school personnel. The researchers concluded that the “ideal method for eliminating school firearm violence by youths is to prevent them from ever gaining access to firearms,” adding that “unfortunately, studies have found an alarming rate of firearms accessible to youths.”

Despite the majority of Texans supporting universal background checks, including at gun shows and from private sellers, the GOP legislators reject the idea. In February 43 percent of Texas wanted stronger gun laws while only 16 percent want to loosen them. The Texas GOP also rejects red flag laws, a process by which courts can temporarily take guns from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others, and safe storage laws requiring guns to be locked when stored. Reducing mass shooting by ten percent reduces homicides by 20 percent.

The media protects people from the horror of the mass shooting aftermaths. In Uvalde, dead children had to be identified through DNA because they were “pulverized” and “decapitated,” according to a doctor who saw the bodies. Only green sneakers revealed the identity of one victim. In the argument of whether this protection should continue, Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2017, wrote, “We need an Emmett Till moment.” Till was a 14-year-old Black shot in the head after being tortured for lipping off to a white woman in Mississippi. It was August 1955. Till’s mother insisted on an open casket to show the bloated, mutilated body left in a river by two White men later acquitted of the crime by an all-White Mississippi jury.

Johnson wrote, “Something graphic is required to awaken the public to the real horror of these repeated tragedies.” He cites other horrific images of brutality showing what words cannot describe. If the six Supreme Court justices had seen these images, would they have so casually lifted New York’s commonsense gun safety law passed 109 years ago?

Uvalde had “good guys with guns,” like Republicans and the NRA recommend; they just didn’t use them. What is needed is bad guys without guns.

June 6, 2022

GOP Definition of ‘Freedom’ Equals Mass Fear

Twelve days ago, 19 children and two teachers died in a Uvalde (TX) classroom while school district police chief Pete Arredondo, with no training in hostage situations, blocked 140 law enforcement officers representing 14 different agencies, including Border Patrol agents, from going into the classroom for 78 minutes. Also blocked was the Uvalde police force, who has active training in these situations and cost the town of 13,000 at least 40 percent of its budget. Motives for the 18-year-old’s shooter include lies by GOP Nevada state treasurer candidate and present Las Vegas city Council member Michelle Fiore who repeated false rumors that the cause was the drugs taken by the shooter because he was “transgendering,” which made his mind “defective.” Earlier Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) lied that the shooter was a transgender. “It’s a transsexual leftist illegal alien. It’s apparently your kind of trash,” he tweeted to a question about the shooter being the type of “trash” who supported Gosar and other of his similar ideological allies such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

A few days after the shooting, all law enforcement and state officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott stopped proving any information or holding press conferences, but AG Ken Paxton has initiated an investigation—into Twitter for possibly deceiving Texans with fake bot accounts. Conservative multi-billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Texas-based Tesla, threatens to withdraw his offer to purchase Twitter if the social media platform has over the estimated 5 percent bots it claims. Paxton said he had “a duty to protect Texans.”

Arizona GOP legislators are praising the law enforcement mistakes made in the Uvalde massacre. State Sen. Kelly Townsend explained how school shootings can’t be stopped and compared them to abortions, but she wants vigilantes to guard ballot drop boxes in upcoming elections. Her senator colleague Rick Gray, GOP majority leader, said school shootings are because “for decades, we’ve been teaching our children in school that there is no God.” Yet some state Republican lawmakers want teacher licenses pulled if they don’t carry guns in the classroom and teach lessons on religion. Any call for action from Democrats have been ignored. The GOP ignores needs for a stable water supply, mitigation of wildfires, and affordable housing.  

Ohio got on the GOP teacher-with-guns movement. A new law allows teachers to have firearms in their classrooms after completing 24 hours of training. Gov. Mike DeWine said he had “worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety.” The bill was opposed by major law enforcement groups, gun control advocates, and the state’s teachers’ unions. Ohio teachers can lose their licenses, however, if they talk to students about issues of race and ethnicity.

In New York state, where an 18-year-old killed ten people in a Buffalo grocery store ten days before the Uvalde massacre, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new laws to bolster existing ones and loopholes. New laws

  • Microstamping of bullets and new semiautomatic pistols to help law enforcement solve gun-related crimes.
  • Elimination of grandfathering high-capacity feeding devices.
  • Expansion of the “red flag” law taking guns from people who could be a threat to themselves or others to allow the involvement of more people, including healthcare professionals. It also requirements, not permits, law enforcement to seek an order with credible information.
  • Requirement of a license for purchasing semiautomatic rifles, former mandated only for handguns.
  • Age limit of 21 or higher to purchase semiautomatic rifles.
  • Expansion of a “firearm” definition to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive including modified firearms to be shot from an arm brace.
  • Restriction of bullet-resistant vests and armor to people in certain professions.
  • Criminalizing mass harms threats. 
  • Enhanced law enforcement reporting by law enforcement to state and federal gun databases—seized  or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse, participation in the ATF’s collective data sharing program, and the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the gun entered into the national crime information center.
  • Gun dealers required to enact uniform security and reporting standards and employee training on conducting firearm, rifle, and shotgun transfers, including identification of and response to illegal purchases with State Police inspections every three years.
  • Prohibition of those under 18 who are not accompanied by a parent from entering certain locations of a gun dealer’s premises.
  • Mandate for social media platforms to improve policies in responding to hateful conduct and “maintain easily accessible mechanisms” for public reporting.

Hochul said that the law was passed “in the name of the lives that have been lost, for the parents who will no longer see their children stepping off the school bus.” If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the New York concealed carry law, lawmakers will return to pass a new law to limit those who may be allowed these permits. Because of the state’s tough laws, most violent crimes use handguns, not AR-15 style rifles, from out of state.  

Almost half the Republicans, 44 percent, love their huge caches of guns so much that they prefer dead children to giving up their “freedom.” They say that the violent U.S. just has to live with mass shootings. Of all the people in the nation, however, 62 percent want a nationwide ban on semi-automatic rifles, used in two thirds of the mass shootings during the past three years. Support for “red flag” laws to stop gun purchases by people considered a danger to themselves or others are at 72 percent. In a new poll, 77 percent want the minimum age for buying an assault to be over 18—32 percent at 21 and 45 percent at 25. Support for federal background checks on all gun purchases is at 81 percent. All these percentages are over 60 percent, the number required to pass the Senate, but that 60 percent represents only 43.3 percent of the population—and most of them Republicans.

This 44 percent of Republicans stall with “thoughts and prayers,” using fake excuses such as mental illness and security issues for blame instead of the 400 million guns in the United States. Even without the new gun safety laws, New York’s death rate is 5.3 per 100,000 people, half the U.S. average and 18.5 percent of the 28.6 death rate per 100,000 people in Mississippi which has a 50-percent gun ownership. Red states have the highest rate of gun deaths and gun ownership; blue states have the lowest.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) complained about “elite” gun control advocates in government and media who have “great bulwarks of safety, from gated communities equipped with private security or, at the very least, from safe and expensive neighborhoods protected by high home prices and low crime rates.” In 19 months, Cruz has spent about one-half million dollars to a protection firm; as a Harvard graduate, Cruz belongs to the “elite.” His expenditure on “security” is slightly more than the gun lobby gave him.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who refused to traumatize children by requiring them to wear masks protecting them from COVID, wants to bring back veterans with guns to fill classrooms.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is all for “stopping things before they happen” but not if it means gun safety regulations. No limiting access to deadly weapons, no “red flag” laws,” no keeping guns from “a 19-year-old.”  He claims these ideas are “unconstitutional” although the courts haven’t made that decision. His complaint about removing weapons through “red flag” laws takes away due process, but the procedure uses judicial reviews and court orders. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is the only recent prominent U.S. politician who wanted to violate due process in connection to guns. After an expelled student killed 17 people and wounded another 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (FL), DDT said, “Take the firearms first and then go to court.”

In 11 mass shootings this past weekend, at least 17 people died and over 60 were wounded in eight states from Pennsylvania where multiple shooters shot into a crowd enjoying Philadelphia nightlife to Chattanooga (TN) where another 3 people were killed and 14 injured near a nightclub. It was the second mass shooting there in a week. A drive-by shooting hit at least eight people at a graduation party with a 32-year-old woman killed and the others wounded, six or seven age 17 or younger. In Arizona, a 14-year-old girl died, and eight other people were hospitalized. Nearby Mesa (AZ) saw two more people dead and two others injured outside a bar. Texas, Georgia, New York, and Michigan had more mass shootings this week, resulting in a total of at least 246 throughout the U.S. since January 1, 2022—157 days. A mass shooting is defined as “one that injures or kills four or more people.”

The definition of freedom to 44 percent of Republicans is forcing fear on everyone as they walk on the streets, shop, send their children to school, go to a hospital or doctor’s office, honor their religious faith, attend festivals, have a night out on the town, even stay home. The only safe place where Republicans ban guns is at an NRA convention.

June 4, 2022

Uvalde Killings Brings Many Questions

Mass shootings: On June 4, gunfire killed one person and injured eight others ages 18 to 24 at a north Phoenix (AZ) strip mall during an early morning fight. In Chester (VA), one man was killed and seven other young people from 16 to 21 were injured during a graduation party. Update on the Tulsa mass shooting: The shooter who killed four people at the hospital was distraught because his doctor wasn’t treating his pain after back surgery. He was released from the hospital a week earlier and bought his AR-15 style rifle the afternoon of the shooting.

In the past ten days since 19 children under 11 years old and two teachers were killed in a Uvalde (TX) classroom while waiting 78 minutes for help, Texas has tried to cover up its mistakes and misrepresentations, including the timeline. 

Texas DPS stated that the school district-employed police officer at the elementary school was injured while confronting the shooter. He wasn’t at the school. When he responded to the 911 call, he drove by the perpetrator and mistakenly accosted a teacher.

A teacher was blamed for blocking a door open with a rock, permitting the shooter to enter the school unobstructed. She shut the door after learning about the shooter and watching him hop the fence with one of his guns. The teacher is now suing Daniel Defense, the company manufacturing and selling the AR-15 style rifle purchased by the shooter soon after his 18th birthday and a few days before he used it for murder. Remington settled with Sandy Hook victims’ families for $73 million after the Connecticut elementary school massacre.  

The door didn’t lock, but the assertion has no proof. 

Officials said the shooter wore body armor, but later another DPS spokesman said he wore a vest with additional magazines instead of armor.

Pete Arredondo, chief of the six-person school police force, was in charge of law enforcement to save the Uvalde children. He assumed all the classroom occupants were dead and declared the situation  a barricaded subject, not an active shooter, despite hearing ongoing gunfire during the time he kept the 19 police officers outside the classroom. This “commander” stopped Border Patrol agents from entering the classroom; they finally got a key to the classroom from a janitor and took down the shooter. Arredondo may never answer questions asked by the public because he said he was waiting until the parents had stopped grieving.

During the 78 minutes while the police stayed in the hallway outside the classroom for 78 minutes, children made at least eight calls to 911 on their cellphones, but Arredondo hadn’t turned on his radio to get messages. He claimed he needed more help, violating the protocol from the police department of charging the room.

The Uvalde police will no longer cooperate with state authorities investigating the massacre. People are wondering what the Uvalde police are hiding. (Right: the team that didn’t save the children.) 

According to the Supreme Court decision in Castle Rock v. Gonzalez (2005), police officers should protect the public but have no responsibility for individuals. The case dealt with domestic violence, but the ruling could also be used for mass shootings. That defense is being used for Scot Peterson, a school resources policeman who stayed outside at the Parkland high school while the shooter killed 17 people inside. 

Authorities have admitted that law enforcement was wrong to not immediately storm the shooter in the classroom, but criminal charges are very unlikely. The Texas law for criminally negligent homicide has a high standard. Civil negligence means acting “without using the level of care that an ordinary person would have used in similar circumstances,” according to Rebecca Roiphe, a former New York prosecutor and an expert on prosecutorial ethics at New York Law School. “Criminal negligence, on the other hand, requires a greater degree of carelessness. The risk of harm must be substantial, and the failure to perceive the risk must be a gross deviation from the norm.” Like British common law, Houston lawyer Robert Luke, said, “The starting point is that if the government hurts you, they cannot be held liable.”

Uvalde police officers had body cams, but they are protected by the Texas “dead suspect loophole.” The premise is that information can be given only if the suspect is convicted, and a dead suspect cannot be convicted. All the documents related to the shooting can be hidden unless police agree to release them. Police used this loophole 81 times between 2003 and 2018. A week after the shooting, the school district police told journalists that the city police would arrest them if they didn’t leave.

Finding the real motive for the shooting is impossible because he is dead. Neil Meyer, a former Uvalde resident, wrote an opinion piece about the racial problems in the community of 15,000 largely run by white people although the Latinx population is over 80 percent. He describes the statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis at the courthouse and the heavily-armed population, especially white people, with love of guns. Meyer also wrote about the large law enforcement presence in Uvalde—the police department, the sheriff’s office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI. And the school police force.

Fortunately, the DOJ plans an independent investigation into all the problems and inconsistencies behind the Uvalde massacre. CLEAT, a large police union in Texas, advised its members to fully cooperate with any government inquiry into the police response to the mass shooting. The union statement:

“There has been a great deal of false and misleading information in the aftermath of this tragedy, Some of the information came from the very highest levels of government and law enforcement. Sources that Texans once saw as iron-clad and completely reliable have now been proven false.”

Republicans are displaying their usual indifference to the problems of murders from guns. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) said about raising the age for military-style weapons to 21: “I got my first rifle for Christmas when I was 14. You know, I think this is just not the time to be trying to change major policies. During the first funerals of Ulvalde children and the evening of the Tulsa mass shooting, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote he was having “ridiculous fun” sharing a video of himself playing a charity poker game with celebrities. 

People who blame mass shootings on mental illness should look at the statistics

  • Over 80% of mass shooters were in a noticable mental health crisis prior to their shooting.
  • Most shooters who were in crisis exhibited 1-4 of eight symptoms—paranoia, abusive behavior, depression, mood swings, loss of reality, increased agitation, isolation, and inability to complete daily tasks. One-third of the shooters showed five or more of these signs.
  • Almost 71 percent of mass shooters were suicidal.  
  • Psychosis played no role for nearly 70% of mass shooters; only 10.5 percent showed major evidence of psychosis.

Every day, over 50 people are murdered with a gun and another 1,100 are threatened during a violent crime. Seventy-seven percent of mass shootings are committed with legally bought guns, and percent of school shooters have been under 18.

Republicans have bragged about blocking anything Democrats want, even if the GOP constituency prefers the Democratic policies. And they lie about their reasons. Eight days after the murders in Uvalde, Gavin Wax, president of the New York Young Republican Club, presented his lies on the far-right conspiracy media source:

“We certainly have a lower rate of mass shooting from many other countries across the world, and if you take out some of the big cities in the U.S. and the gang and drug-related instances of mass shootings, the United States is actually one of the safest places in the world. But of course, you know, the Democrats and the media are going to politicize and weaponize this issue because their end goal is to disarm law-abiding U.S. citizens and make us a less free country as a result.”

Statistics can always be “fixed” by removing numbers that contradict a message. The U.S. is far more violent than European countries where people are horrified at the danger in this nation. Wax’s flippant comment mirrors one from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) who said maternal mortality in his state isn’t a problem if Black women are not counted.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to work with Democrats in developing bills to protect people from shootings, but this ploy is likely a stalling technique. Cornyn proved that belief when he answered a right-wing talk show’s claim that he is “open to making gun laws more restrictive.” Cornyn answered, “It’s not gonna happen.”

Next Wednesday, survivors and others affected by the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings will testify before the House Oversight Committee.

May 31, 2022

New Revelations about Uvalde School Mass Shooting, Research about Firearms

News about the mass shooting in Uvalde (TX) on May 24 keeps leaking out. Killed were 19 students under 11 years old in an elementary classroom with their two teachers while 19 law enforcement officers stayed in the hallway and heard shots inside the room. Another 17 people were injured, and the shooter was finally killed after 78 minutes while children kept calling 911 for help and parents begged to get inside to save their children.

Texas was supposedly investigating police mistakes, but the city police and the school district are no longer cooperating with any probe after a press conference on May 27 when DPS Director, Col. Steven McCraw, said delaying policy entry to save the children was “the wrong decision” and contrary to protocol. ISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who ordered law enforcement to wait over an hour, was sworn onto the Uvalde city council on May 31 despite the claim it would wait. He stopped cooperating with state investigators and has not responded to requests for information since Friday, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Police chief and school district spokesperson are not commenting about these events. 

The police had tried to blame a teacher for blocking open a door and allowing the shooter to enter, but their accusation has now been proved wrong by a video showing that the woman slammed the door shut. It was supposed to automatically lock. She ran inside and called 911 but returned to shut the door when she heard someone yelling about the attacker and saw the shooter with a gun jump the fence.

On May 25, a federal judge in New York ruled that manufacturers can be held liable when “a manufacturer or seller of a [firearm] knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product.” A New York law permits gun violence victims, their families, and the state of New York “to hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable for their role in fueling the epidemic of gun violence.” The industry has tried to claim the law “unconstitutional.” A 2005 law signed by George W. Bush gave the weapons industry almost complete immunity from charges by victims of their products, preventing them from the lawsuits controlling Big Tobacco.

On May 17, the day after his 18th birthday, the shooter bought two Daniel Defense DDMA V7 rifles, modeled after the military’s go-to rifle the M4 carbine. Each one sells for over $1,870. This rifle has become popular with mass shooters because it shoots a heavier round at much higher velocities. Greater momentum results in greater tissue damage in the body, guaranteeing death if a person is hit in the pelvic area or upper shoulder, unlike being shot by a handgun. The NRA raffled off the Daniel Defense DDMA V7 rifle as part of its conference festivities three days after the murders.

The popular manufacturer of AR-15 style assault rifles has a questionable history of advertising. Days before the shooting, the company posted a photograph of a toddler cradling one of its guns with the verse form Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The NFL refused a Daniel Defense Ad during the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII. It focused on a man coming home to his wife and baby with this voiceover:

“I am responsible for their protection, and no one has the right to tell me how to defend them. So I’ve chosen the most effective tool for the job.”

Owner Marty Daniel turned the rejection from the NFL into free publicity. He targets younger customers with pop culture icons and video games as well as older people in the U.S. and gun control. On the day of the shooting, Daniel Defense tweeted, “Do you run a DDM4 V7? With a photo of the company’s branded ball cap and vest with the rifle in full view.

After the Uvalde killing, he echoed the GOP standard reaction—“our thoughts and our prayers.” Since then, he has kept a lower profile in not attending the NRA convention. In 2017, the shooter who killed 58 people at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas had four Daniel Defense semi-automatic rifles. Daniel’s Facebook page used the “thoughts and prayers” message. He thinks God granted “the right to bear arms.” 

Daniel has “hardened” since a mass shooter killed 26 people in the Sutherland Springs (TX) First Baptist Church, and he briefly backed a federal bill to strengthen the nation’s firearms background check. With a domestic violence record, that killer should not have been able to purchase firearms, but the charges weren’t logged into the right database. Congress corrected that problem. Daniel’s customers were furious, and he backed down. About mass shootings, Daniel said:

“The first thing you do is hope your gun wasn’t used. And if your gun was used, you would try to rationalize it. We did everything legal, right? What else could we have done?”

After mass shootings, the media make much of the firearm but almost nothing about the bullets. But bullets in the military-style weapons purchased in Texas with no license can produce so much damage that the dead children could be identified only through DNA. In his online messages, the shooter bragged about his expanding, hollow-point bullets, the most destructive form of ammunition thus far. Their use on the battlefield is a war crime, the Hague Convention bans them, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court bars their use. The 18-year-old teenager bought 375 of these rounds for his rampage. The U.S. has no federal law against stacking these bullets in a high-capacity magazine for weapons of war used by civilians in their mass killings.

Guns now kill more children than car accidents. More children die of gunfire than on-duty police officers and active military members. When the CDC began to examine gun violence in the 1990s as a public health issue, the NRA led opposition to strip the research of funding. By 2020, the rate of deaths from gun injuries was 25 percent higher than those in car crashes. Legislation has made cars safer while many states legislate greater danger from gun ownership. The U.S. has far more guns than industrialized European and Asian countries along with a homicide rate 49 times higher and a firearm suicide rate eight times higher. Assaults with firearms in states with the most guns were 6.8 times more common in 2015 than states with the least guns. Higher gun ownership equates to higher rates of homicide, and having a gun in the home doubles the chance of chance of being killed with a gun. In places where guns or gun dealers open for business, killings increase. When Missouri repealed its permit law, gun-related killings increased 25 percent.

Shootings of over 8 people doubled in frequency in the decade after 2010, according to University of Alabama criminologist Dr. Adam Lankford. They also worsened in number of fatalities and targeted elementary school children. Shootings aren’t random, and shooters learn from each other in contagion copycat effects. In over half the U.S. incidents, the shooter had more than one firearm, and many of them didn’t own any guns until the last year of their attack.

More research about gun ownership:

Last year, a poll showed people wanted to stop people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns by a majority of 87 percent to 12 percent.

The same poll showed people wanting background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows by 81 percent to 18 percent.

Even a majority, 64 percent to 36 percent, favor “banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.”

In 2005, California had 9.5 firearms deaths per 100,000 people that year, Florida had 10 and Texas 11. California tightened its gun laws while Florida and Texas loosened them. With one of the ten lowest rates of gun deaths in the nation, California’s rate of gun deaths declined by 10 percent; rates in Texas and Florida climbed 28 percent and 37 percent respectively.

Chicago is often cited for its large number of gun-related homicides, but the vast majority of guns used in these crimes come from neighboring states having lax laws.

The states with America’s lowest rates of gun-related deaths all have strict gun laws; states allowing easy availability of guns have higher rates.

Banning assault weapons in 1994 reduced mass shootings killings by 43 percent; repealing it in 2004 shot it up by 239 percent.

In a move against a Texas law, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked Texas’ mandate preventing large social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from moderating any content. Justice Elena Kagan joined three conservative justices—Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas—in agreeing that posts promising kidnapping, murder, rape, etc. as well as disinformation about COVID, election rigging, ISIS proselytizing, and Russia pro-invasion of Ukraine propaganda should not be blocked. Neither the majority nor Kagan explained their rationale.

Fortunately, the DOJ is also investigating the tragic fiasco in Ulvade, Texas. State officers appear to be too incompetent to carry out the probe. This isn’t the end. 

May 30, 2022

GOP Says Guns Have No Relationship to Shooting Deaths, Injuries

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:15 PM
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Once again, conservatives prove they love guns more than life—that of children as well as adults. Memorial Day Weekend saw 11 mass shootings—Chattanooga, Colorado Springs, Fresno, Malabar (FL), Chicago, Port Richmond (PA), Mecosta County (MI), Mesa (AZ), Memphis, Taft (OK), Nevada—shootings that killed at least seven people and 49 injured. Tampa, Atlanta, Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia saw other killings during the weekend. 

The “solutions” to mass shootings always begin with conservatives whining about how any criticism of guns is an attempt to “politicize” the tragic event. They stick to “thoughts and prayers” instead of working on safety for people. Guns aren’t responsible all the shootings, according to conservatives talking about last week’s massacre: the killing of 19 children and two teachers in an elementary classroom in Uvalde (TX).  

  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who lied about his athletes being molested by a doctor while he was at the University of Ohio, lack of faith, family, and freedom is responsible.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) supports Jordan by saying that schools don’t have enough “God.”
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) laid the blame on “fatherlessness” as the “root cause” of shootings. He did say there are questions about “glorification of violence” as he and his fellow Republicans glorify the insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) accuses ADHD medication for the shootings.
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) blamed killer for being transgender, which he wasn’t. Gosar got the names mixed up, but a trans person was killed after his accusation that went viral throughout the right-wingers.
  • Erich Pratt said gun control is the problem because “killers love gun control.”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have the greatest variety of reasons for the increasing number of mass shootings: “the elites who dominate our culture,” the media, corporate leaders, Hollywood, homelessness, gangs, “radical” district attorneys, “cultural sickness,” despair, isolation, “sick souls,” broken families, absent fathers, lack of “moral values,” declining church attendance, social medial bullying, violent online content, video games, and drugs. Cruz expanded the most on what might be the most serious problem, however—doors. “The problem isn’t that there are too many guns out there, it’s that schools have too many doors—specifically more than one.”

The Uvalde school should have had “one door that goes in and out of the school,” according to Cruz. He didn’t address the number of windows and separate buildings on school campuses, and he didn’t explain how his solution would have stopped the killing of ten shoppers in Buffalo earlier this month. Juliette Kayyem, an expert in security, called the “one door” strategy “bad safety planning.” She tweeted:

“A ‘psychopath’ would then just target the kids backed up in line and waiting for this ‘one door’ to let them through.”

The NRA has more reasons beyond the need for a “good guy with a gun.” Members at the conference three days after the massacre blamed mental illness, evil, no demon control, and the “destruction of our children” from the teachings of the left. Several of the attendees accused the left of setting up conservatives because of the shooting by a teenager on two days before school was released for the summer. Guns aren’t the problem because the shooter “could have walked in there with a baseball bat and possibly killed as many kids,” according to an NRA benefactor.

https://www.alternet.org/2022/05/tucker-carlson-2657394885/?utm_source=123456&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=10535    Fox’s Tucker Carlson asked—in his clever insinuating manner—if COVID lockdown is responsible for mentally-ill teenagers. HuffPo answered Carlson’s question:

“Many countries implemented lengthy and isolating lockdowns during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Australia and New Zealand, which have stricter gun control measures than the U.S., experienced some of the world’s longest lockdowns, yet saw no comparable shootings.”

A Fox guest said that COVID vaccinations were responsible for mass shootings although they didn’t start 18 months ago.

Schools are at fault for mass shootings on their premises, conservatives repeated after the tragedy at Uvalde. They call for “hardening” schools to prevent future massacres. This school, however, already had the security measures they recommend, many of them except for arming all teachers and having only one door.

Uvalde received a grant to upgrade school security two years ago, but no one has clarified how the money was spent. The school has perimeter fencing, security cameras, portable metal detectors, radios for campus communication, locked doors, and other safety best practices, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) requested through a clearinghouse. The school spent $450,000 on security and monitoring services in the 2019-20 fiscal year, up from $200,000 the prior year. There was a school resource officer, but he wasn’t on campus when the shooter appeared and drove by the shooter in response to a 911 call before he approached a teacher who he thought was the criminal.   

New York Times National Correspondent Mike Baker examined Uvalde police active shooter training materials and tweeted how law enforcement conduct contradicted their training:

“In the past two years, the Uvalde school district has hosted at least two active-shooter training days. One of them was just two months ago.

“The trainings included both classroom teachings and role-playing scenarios inside school hallways.

“The Uvalde training session 2 months ago relied on guidelines that give explicit expectations for officers responding to an active shooter.

“The training is clear: Time is of the essence. ‘The first priority is to move in and confront the attacker.’

“But how should officers confront the gunman? With a tactical team? The training says that’s probably not feasible, because the urgency is so high.

“A SINGLE OFFICER, the training says, may need to confront the suspect on their own.

“The guidelines provide sobering clarity: The first officers may be risking their lives. But, it says, innocent lives take priority.

“A first responder unwilling to place the lives of the innocent above their own safety should consider another career field.”

“If you know children are being murdered, why do you wait? Get in there.”

Yet police officials said officers were reluctant to engage the gunman because “they could’ve been shot.” Guidelines explain that if one officer is shot, the second “is expected to go on responding solo.” The 19 officers were outside the classroom for 78 minutes while children kept calling from inside the classroom for help and shots were heard.

In initial press conferences, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised law enforcement for “showing amazing courage” and rapid response, but the story changed within a few days as bystanders gave factual information. The on-scene commander, Uvalde chief of police, had told law enforcement to not go into the room because “there were no kids at risk,” that despite hearing shots fired it was not an active-shooter situation. Officers could see the shooter killing children and teachers in the room when they arrived at the school, according to a Public Safety Department member. Initial officers “received gunfire” and failed to go inside because they received gunfire. They called for such additional resources as tactical teams, specialty equipment, body armor, and precision riflemen. Meanwhile, the shooter, who had 1,647 rounds for AR-15s kept firing.

Border patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement waited 50 minutes after they arrived at 12:00 to breach the classroom and kill the shooter. The timeline is here. At 12:15, 35 minutes before the room was breached, “eight or nine students” were still alive, according to a 911 call from a child inside the classroom. One student may have bled out in the time law enforcement took to go into the classroom. One classmate told another to stay quiet, but the police called out, “Yell if you need help.” The student said “help,” and the shooter killed him.

While parents were kept from going into the school to rescue their children, one mother even handcuffed, police officers went into the school and brought out their own children, according to a Texas Department Public Safety spokesman.

Abbott said the shooter had no red flag warning problems, but he threatened kidnap, rape, and killing with photos of guns. On Yubo, he posted images of dead cats and said, “Everyone in this world deserves to get raped.” Yubo never answered complaints about his posts. Texas has just passed a law, permitted by the 5th Circuit Court, to force social media to allow all this language on any platform.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), who represents Uvalde, prayed for the 19 dead children two dead teachers. With a perfect NRA score, he proudly voted against any gun safety including expanded background checks and closing some background-check loopholes.

GOP senators sent their thoughts and prayers before running away from Washington for the next two weeks after blocking a domestic terrorism bill, not even allowing debate of questions about hate crimes and gun safety. A small bipartisan group discussed background checks for guns purchased online or at gun shows, red-flag laws to keep guns from people who could harm themselves or others, and programs to bolster security at schools and other buildings. Republicans say that the domestic terrorism bill doesn’t put emphasis on far-left groups because it addresses white supremacists and neo-Nazis groups.

Memorial Day is a commemoration for military members giving up their lives to preserve freedom. It should also commemorate the continuing murders of people, many of them small children, who lose their lives because of the conservatives’ definition of “freedom.”

May 27, 2022

Clarity about U.S. Gun Stalemate from a Foreign Newspaper

[Correction! France has 20 guns per 100 people, compared to 120 guns per 100 people in the U.S.]

In the industrialized countries of the world, the United States is an outlier. When Joe Biden was elected to replace to replace the autocrat that alienated U.S. allies during his four-year term, they hoped for a change. But the recent mass shootings have horrified the allies, and gun-loving Republican congressional members like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) resort to running away from foreign reporters’ queries.

Two editorials in the moderate French newspaper Le Monde explains how the U.S. is viewed after May’s mass shootings. The first one is headed “Texas Shooting: America Is Killing Itself, As the Republican Party Looks the Other Way: A young Texan killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Ulvade on Tuesday. In the face of tragedy after tragedy, Republican elected officials continue to oppose any legislation that would regulate the gun market.”

Carnage at an American school, the endless distress of families, a solemn speech from the president, then nothing, until the next one. Americans know this cycle of despair by heart since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. The one in Parkland, in 2018, changed nothing despite the exceptional activism of students who had escaped. They believed it was possible to bring a country sick of its violence back to its senses and remind elected officials of their responsibilities, but they failed. If there is any American exceptionalism, it is to tolerate the fact that schools in the United States are regularly transformed into bloody shooting ranges.

The unbearable happened this time in the small town of Uvalde, Texas, and took the lives of 19 students and two teachers of an elementary school just two days before vacation. The 18-year-old alleged perpetrator was killed by law enforcement. This tragedy came 10 days after a racially-motivated mass shooting at a New York state supermarket and another at a California church. In each case, the determination of the alleged killers was not met with any legal safeguards that would have complicated access to the firearms used.

Indeed, America is killing itself and the Republican Party is looking the other way, ideologically complicit in one tragedy after another. Decades of brainwashing have meant that its elected representatives no longer need even the iron grip of the main gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, which is riddled with crises, to oppose the slightest legislation that would provide a framework for this particularly lucrative market. The defense of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, understood in its most absolutist sense, has become a quasi-sacred duty that now escapes any questioning. The families of victims must be content with the prayers of elected officials, who are not stingy with them.

Thus, the state that was the scene of the last bloodbath after eight other mass shootings in 13 years found nothing better, just a year ago, than to abolish gun permits for people aged 21 or older. “It’s time” for Texas to align itself with the most lenient states in this area, argued the governor of this solid conservative bastion, Greg Abbott.

More and more guns: This is the only Republican credo. Americans bought nearly 20 million guns in 2021, the second-largest amount in American history. They also had more than 20,000 gun deaths, not counting suicides, which are even more numerous, and 693 shootings resulted in four or more injuries. Republicans are clearly unable to establish a causal link between the two phenomena. One despairs to imagine them expending the same energy to prevent killings, the perpetrators of which are overwhelmingly men, as they expend selflessly to prevent women from having control over their own bodies.

The dictatorship of the minority had already wielded its power after the Sandy Hook massacre when the Senate wanted to pass background checks for gun buyers, a commonsense measure supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. Elected officials representing 118 million of their fellow citizens were able to defeat those nominated by 194 million. There is every reason to believe that the same would be true today in this country trapped in this madness.

The second editorial is headed “US Is Flooded with Guns: A Justice Department report shows that US firearms production has tripled since 2000, while Americans have been buying automatic assault rifles and 9mm semi-automatic pistols en masse.”

US firearms makers produced over 139 million guns for the commercial market over the two decades from 2000, including 11.3 million in 2020 alone, according to a new government report released on Tuesday, May 17.

Another 71 million firearms were imported in the same period—compared to just 7.5 million exported—underscoring how the country is literally swimming in personal weapons that have stoked a surge in gun violence, murders and suicides, according to the Justice Department report.

The report shows that while Americans have made favorites of semi-automatic assault rifles seen in many mass shootings, they have bought en masse the increasingly cheap, easy-to-use and accurate semi-automatic 9 mm pistols like those that most police now use.

And, the report shows, authorities face a surge in unregistered “ghost guns” made at home with parts that can be bought online and produced with 3-D printer, and pistols and short-barreled rifles that are as powerful and lethal as the semi-automatic assault rifles used in mass shootings.

“We can only address the current rise in violence if we have the best available information and use the most effective tools and research to fuel our efforts,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

“This report is an important step in that direction. The Department will continue to gather the data necessary to tailor our approach at the most significant drivers of gun violence and take shooters off the streets.

The report came out after a shocking weekend showed how the vast surplus of guns has made its mark on US society.

In Buffalo, New York an 18-year-old white man driven by racist hate used an assault rifle to murder 10 African Americans; in Laguna Woods, California a man shot five people in a church frequented by Taiwanese with a 9 mm pistol; and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, more than 20 people were wounded in shootings in one evening in the downtown entertainment district.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of gun deaths in the United States underwent an “historic” increase in 2020.

The US racked up 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35 percent over 2019, and 24,245 gun suicides, up 1.5 percent.

The firearm homicide rate stood at 6.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020, the highest for more than 25 years.

The CDC said the rise might be blamed in part by the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic and poverty.

The gun industry has rocketed in two decades. In 2000, there were 2,222 registered active manufacturers. By 2020, the number hit 16,936.

Annual commercial gun production likewise surged: 3.9 million in 2000, hitting 11.3 million 20 years later. But that was down from the peak of 11.9 million in 2016.

Of those sold in 2020, almost exactly half were pistols, doubling their share of the market since 2000: the year 2020 saw 5.5 million pistols, and nearly a million revolvers, enter circulation.

Firearms made by official manufacturers must have serial numbers that allow them to be traced by law enforcement.

But officials are increasingly worried about homemade “ghost guns” that have no such markings and are increasingly found in crimes.

In 2021, the report said, officials recovered 19,344 such guns, compared to just 1,758 five years earlier.

In April President Joe Biden announced a crackdown on ghost guns, pushing back at pro-gun advocates who called his ideas “extreme.”

“Is it extreme to protect police officers, extreme to protect our children?… It isn’t extreme, it’s basic, common sense,” Biden said.

The new report was the first in a four-volume study of gun markets and illegal trafficking.

[Note: France has an average of 20 guns per 100 people, compared to the 120 guns per hundred in the U.S. French rate of deaths per 100,000 is 2.42 while the U.S. has a rate of 13.6 guns per 100,000. The Republican position is to vaguely indicate talks to calm people down until they forget these tragedies. Congress has gone home for two weeks after the Senate Republicans unanimously rejected even a domestic terrorism bill.]

April 20, 2022

Easter 2022: A Time of Death, Not Resurrection

 

On this Easter, Donald Trump Jr. celebrated the holiday in the same way that Reps. thoma Massie (R-KY) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) celebrated Christmas–with guns. It’s something that his five children can remember about the event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the NRA, 25 states allow the legal purchase of buying and carrying a firearm with no permit, testing, or training. The rationale for these laws is that the greater the number of guns, the more safety. Almost 40 million firearms were sold in 2020 and 2021, but the murder rate soared 30 percent in 2020, DDT’s last year in the White House. The U.S. averages over one mass shooting of four or more people every day, and violent crime is also up.

On Easter weekend, the U.S. had at least ten mass shootings with eight dead people and dozens injured. That makes a total of 144 mass shootings in the first 106 days of 2022, following the definition of a mass shooting being four or ore people shot not including the shooter. Earlier in the week, the attack on a Brooklyn subway train left ten people shot out of almost 30 injured.

Stockton (CA): Two men killed and two others wounded with no suspect or motive.

Miami-Dade (FL): Four people shot at a residence.

Baltimore (MD): One person dead and three others injured; two other male victims were found at a hospital.  

North as Vegas (NV): Four people injured, a result of an argument and no one in custody.

Syracuse (NY): One person killed and four others wounded.

Portland (OR): One man killed and three boys wounded in the Centennial Neighborhood.

Pittsburgh (PA): Two 17-year-old boys dead and over a dozen injured after over 90 shots were fired at a party in an Airbnb.

Philadelphia (PA): Four men shot in the Fairhill neighborhood.

Columbia (SC): At least nine people shot and five others injured with two men arrested and an arrest warrant for a third.

Furman (SC): Nine people shot at an Easter party in a lounge.

 Russia spent Easter Day continuing his strikes on churches and residential areas from Lviv in the east to the east, primarily Mariupol when about 1,000 people are hiding in the tunnels below the steelworks. These were built by the Soviet Union after German bombed the area during World War II. Russian President Vladimir Putin bragged about his new barrages and promised to capture the eastern area. Ukraine has refused to surrender Mariupol so Russia plans to close the city for entry and exit with people not permitted to move throughout the city without Russian-issued “movement passes.” In the south, regions surrounding Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are being transferred to “the ruble zone” and subordinated to Russian administration. The Ukrainian president said Russia’s actions in the territories were following the example of the so-called separatist republics of the DPR and LPR.

For war crimes and mass killings, Putin awarded the Russian military brigade responsible for Bucha’s horrible killings with the honorary title of “Guards” for “great heroism and courage.” Putin made no mention of his war in Ukraine when he cited the soldiers for “mass heroism and valour.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has classified soldiers in Russia’s 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade as war criminals. Russia claimed images of graves, dead bodies, and bombing aftermath as “fake.”

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin ally, has turned on his parishioners in Ukraine in his support for the Russian invasion; almost half these parishes are under Moscow jurisdiction. Of those 45 Orthodox dioceses, about half of them have stopped praying for Kirill, a leader asking, “How can you accept prayers for the patriarch who is blessing the soldiers trying to kill your son?” In a rare church tribunal, hundreds of Ukrainian Orthodox clergy have signed a petition from Archpriest Andriy Pinchuk accusing Kirill of committing “moral crimes by blessing the war against Ukraine” and asking global Orthodox leaders to sanction their Russian colleague for “heresy.”

In Northern Italy and Amsterdam, Russian Orthodox–aligned churches in Northern Italy and Amsterdam have formally severed ties to the Moscow Patriarchate. Parishioners are switching churches in the U.S., and Orthodox seminarians in France asked their bishop to break with Kirill. Orthodox priests in Russian Orthodox priests are either fined or fired for criticizing the war. The head of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church for called for “greater church independence” from Moscow. The world-wide leader of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew, criticized Kirill for calling Russia’s war against Ukraine “sacred.”

Six Supreme Court justices have accepted the racism tainting a Black man’s death sentence in Texas by refusing to take his case. At the 2018 trial of Kristopher Lowe, his attorneys asked prospective jurors if they believe some races “tend to be more violent than others,” searching for illicit bias. One white juror, Zachary Niesman responded, “Yes. Statistics show more violent crimes are committed by certain races. I believe in statistics.” During preliminary examination he gave his belief that “news reports and criminology classes” bore this out but said he could be fair and impartial because he gets this belief from “statistics.”

In Texas, defendants are eligible for capital punishment only if the jury concludes they’re likely to “commit criminal acts of violence” in the future. Love’s attorney tried to strike Niesman “for cause,” in this case his bias, but the trial judge denied the challenge with no explanation. The attorney attempted a peremptory challenge which requires no specific reason for the juror’s exclusion but had none left. The jury found Love guilty and likely to commit violent crime in the future. The judge imposed the death penalty.

The appeal argued that the sentence violated Love’s constitutional right to a trial by an impartial jury because one juror was “racially biased.” The all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled against the appeal because the trial judge’s refusal to strike the juror for cause was “harmless” because the attorney had expended his peremptory challenges.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated, “An already-expended peremptory strike is no cure for the seating of an allegedly biased juror.” In frustration, she wrote the Texas courts “deprived Love of any meaningful review of his federal constitutional claim” by deploying a non sequitur. She was joined by only Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Thus the U.S. Supreme Court joins the conspiracy to overturn a decades-long tradition of blocking jury bias by protecting a defendant’s ability to question and strike a biased juror, especially a problem in capital trials which kill people. The death of a person is never “harmless.”

In Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado (2017), a similar situation, the Supreme Court reaffirmed no amount of racism in the jury box is ever acceptable in a criminal trial: the biased juror believed racial minorities are more prone to violence and may have played a role in convicting the defendant. Before DDT’s appointments to the Supreme Court, a five-justice majority followed its duty to “enforce the Constitution’s guarantee against state-sponsored racial discrimination in the jury system.” At a minimum, Sotomayor wrote the lower court should have “meaningfully reviewed Love’s allegations of racial bias” rather than ignoring it. Once again, vital precedents are being struck down.

Almost two years ago, George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in Minneapolis for being suspected of trying to pass a $20 counterfeit bill. On April 4, a Grand Rapids police officer killed Patrick Lyoya, a Black man, during a traffic stop. A private autopsy shows he was shot in the back of the head while he was on the ground. Lyoya, 26, died instantaneously from the “contact shot,” the gun pressed to his head. He had been driving in a residential area and stepped out of the car when he was stopped. The video shows he looked confused when the officer told him to get back into the car before he tried to run away.

The officer said he stopped Lyoya for an improper license plate, but he couldn’t have seen the plate. They were driving in opposite directions when the officer stopped Lyoya. During the struggle, the officer’s bodycam stopped working so a period of time is missing. The officer claimed Lyoya had grabbed for his taser, but it had already been used twice, the maximum usage before re-loading.

Between 2016 and 2021, police killed more than 400 drivers or passengers who were not wielding a gun or a knife or under pursuit for a violent crime. Many vehicle stops begin for common traffic violations or questioning about nonviolent offenses. Traffic stops are a money-maker for communities. Grand Rapids residents have protested police actions. In 2017, officers searching for a middle-aged woman wanted for a stabbing handcuffed an 11-year-old girl. Months earlier, other officers held five innocent teenagers at gunpoint.

Happy Easter!

December 4, 2021

‘Learn Not To Get Caught!’  

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 8:51 PM
Tags: , , ,

Merry Christmas! Here’s your gun! That was the scene of a happy U.S. Midwest family, a couple and a 15-year-old boy. The parents love their Second Amendment and Donald Trump. The mother wrote a letter to Trump to tell him to thank him for “allowing my right to bear arms.” 

“Mr. Trump, I actually love that you are a bad public speaker because that showed sincerity, and humility. You changed your mind, and you said ‘so what.’ You made the famous ‘grab them in the pussy’ comment, did it offend me? No. I say things all the time that people take the wrong way, do I mean them, not always. Do I agree that you should of [sic] shown your tax returns? No. I don’t care what you do or maybe don’t pay in taxes, I think those are personal and if the Gov’t can lock someone up over $10,000 of unpaid taxes and you slipped on by, then that shows the corruption.”

She wrote she wasn’t a racist because her parents were from Italy, but she loved the border wall and complained about how schools’ “kids come from illegal immigrant parents” and “don’t care about learning.” (The family lives in Oxford, over 95 percent white.) She signed the letter to Trump, “A hard working Middle Class Law Abiding Citizen who is sick of getting fucked in the ass and would rather be grabbed by the pussy.” The boy’s father called the letter “spot on.”

And the couple love their son. The father took him to buy his semi-automatic handgun, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol. The boy was happy. The same day, he posted pictures of himself and his new gun on Instagram with the caption, “Just got my new beauty today.” The mother was happy. She referenced Ethan’s “new Christmas present” on social media and posted, “Mom and son day, testing out his new Christmas present.” 

This is the Crumbley family–Jennifer and James Crumbley with their 15-year-old son Ethan—one of the tens of millions of Republican Second Amendment lovers in the United States.   

The Crumbleys protect their son. When a teacher told the couple Ethan was searching for ammunition on his cellphone during class, the parents didn’t answer. Instead, the mother texted Ethan: “LOL, I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” When a teacher found Ethan’s violent message, the parents were called to meet with school to meet with officials. They told the couple they must get counseling for Ethan and asked them to take him home with them, but the loving couple gave Ethan his privacy. They didn’t ask him if he had the gun at school or whether it was in his backpack, and they refused to take Ethan out of school.

On his message, Ethan had drawn a semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” He added, “Blood everywhere,” “My life is useless,” and the “World is dead.” He finished it with a drawing of a laughing emoji.

Guns are for self-protection, right? Ethan had his gun at school and slaughtered four classmates after his parents left him there. He only wounded another seven others, six of them his classmates, but some of them were seriously wounded. His mother heard about an active shooter and texted him, “Ethan don’t do it.”

Ethan went to jail on two dozen charges including homicide. Hearing that they might be charged for involuntarily manslaughter, Ethan’s parent got $4,000 from a bank and ran away. Their lawyers said they left town “for their own safety.” Law enforcement called them fugitives and posted wanted posters and rewards of up to $10,000 for their capture. The next day, someone reported seeing their car, and they were discovered inside a Detroit warehouse, 40 miles from their little town of under 5,000 people, across the Detroit River from Canada. The Crumbleys, now also in jail, weren’t happy anymore; Detroit Police Chief James White said they were “very distressed” for being detained. Now they are in the same jail where Ethan is.

Some of Ethan’s classmates heard about rumors of an imminent shooting, “really scary stuff,” and stayed home from school. On his Instagram account, Ethan posted, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow, Oxford.”

Ethan became a model for other teenagers who want to kill classmates. The shooting was followed by over 100 threats and the closing of over 100 Michigan schools. A 17-year-old student brought a gun to his school, and another threatened to “shoot up” her school. A 12-year-old got off his school bus and said he was going to “shoot it up.” Police have arrested some of these teens. 

James Crumbley has worked several places, but a company providing GPS tracking to the transportation industry fired him in July 2021 after only six months. Jennifer had been a real estate agent, but her license lapsed in 2018. She has had several charges against her in a number of places—letting animals run at large, driving under the influence, passing a worthless check, driving with a suspended license, and failure to appear in court. James was accused of check fraud and arrested for driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license.

What’s missing from this story is the National Rifle Association saying, “This is not the time to talk about gun control,” its usual statement after mass shootings. Right now, the NRA is hiding from its conspiracy to funnel Russian money into electing Donald Trump and other illegal activities. But the family has Republican support. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a representative during the horrific Sandyhook Elementary School massacre by another teenager, asked for unanimous consent in expanding background checks. Up for reelection this year, 88-year-old Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) blocked a request to proceed to House legislation. Thanks to the Senate version of democracy, the bill would also need 60 percent of the 100 senators to pass. Grassley also wants the mentally impaired to more easily buy guns.

Murphy said:

“[T]he reason that we can’t get anything done in the Senate is not because there is a disagreement amongst our constituents about what to do. Our constituents, Republicans and Democrats, support measures like universal background checks. In fact, there’s almost nothing in the political world that enjoys such high support as universal background checks.

“But we can’t get it done because it seems as if many of my colleagues here care more about the health of the gun industry and their profits than they do about the health of our kids. Gun industry profits are being put ahead of the safety of my children, of our children. Shooting after shooting, Republicans in this body have refused to do anything meaningful that would reduce this pace of carnage both in our schools [and] on the streets of America.”

The mother of the Sandy Hook shooter didn’t go to prison. He shot and killed her before killing another 26 people, 20 of them small children.

Soon after the shooting at Oxford High School leaving four dead and seven wounded, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) sent out this Merry Christmas greeting asking Santa for “ammo.” 

Ethan’s shooting was the 222nd school shooting thus far in 2021 on the 332nd day of the year, 30 of them at football games. Shooters tend to be current or former students of the school and inspired by other school shooters. They leak their plans to peers and usually get their guns from family and friends. September 2021 saw 151 school shooting threats—not counting the 100+ since Ethan’s shooting—up from a monthly average of 29. September 2021 had 55 school shootings, over double the 24 in the same month of 2020 and 14 in September 2019. In the U.S., taking access from children as young as six years old would have stopped half the shootings since 1999. Following a 1996 school shooting in Scotland, killing 16 children and a teacher, new gun regulation stopped all school shootings. The U.S. has no practical plans.

 

 

Thirty states have laws mandating child access prevention to guns. Michigan does not. Instead of these laws, states pass laws preventing any education about racism and minority rights. Parents exhibiting violence about the mythical “critical race theory” curriculum in K-12 schools also want to do away with counselors in school. The Michigan legislature refuses to stop the state’s killings. GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said, “We [could] evolve into a country we won’t recognize.” He is right: we would not recognize a country without thousands of children being killed and wounded at school from almost daily mass shootings.

Because Republicans refuse to take any action and the Supreme Court is intent on unfettered gun ownership and use, no parent can assume that their children will be alive at the end of a school day. Yet GOP candidates will continue to be re-elected because of the gun-loving and the gun-manufacturing donors. Life is important only for a fetus.

Merry Christmas!

December 16, 2019

Despite Congress, Gun Culture May Change

Last Saturday was the seventh anniversary of the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown (CT) when a 20-year-old killed 20 children between six and seven years old and six adult staff members. People hoped that this tragedy would change the culture of unrestricted gun ownership in the U.S., but the number of mass shootings accelerated with more huge tragedies such as the one on Valentine’s Day in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (FL) where a 19-year-old killed 17 people.

In a study of mass shootings since 1966, the DOJ discovered these commonalities among shooters: an experience with childhood trauma, a personal crisis or specific grievance, a “script” or examples that validate their feelings or provide a roadmap, and access to a firearm. The study used the FBI definition of killings of four or more people in a public place excluding the shooter(s).

Mass shootings are more frequent and deadly with 20 percent of the 167 episodes in 53 years occurring in the past five years. Those shootings in the past five years show a dramatic increase of shooters motivated by racism, religious hate, and misogyny. More shooters are motivated by hate than by mental health issues. Nearly 70 percent of shooters were suicidal before or during the shooting with higher numbers for school shooters.

One theory of curbing the number of mass shootings is giving them no attention in the media and connecting people with outside resources. But the study also recommends limiting access to weapons. That’s the one thing that the current Congress refuses to do. Yet almost half the shooters bought weapons legally, and another 13 percent got them from friends and family.

One month ago, two Democratic senators were trying to persuade Republicans that they should strengthen background checks for gun purchases to make them for all people, not just those who buy from licensed dealers. People can buy from individuals and at gun show with no checks. The House had already passed the bill. At the same time of the debate, a student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita (CA) shot and killed two schoolmates before killing himself.

During the Santa Clarita school shooting, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) objected to “fast-tracking” a background check bill because she might not be able to lend a rifle to her grandson. She saved her GOP colleagues from being forced into a vote that would get them in trouble with either their constituents or the NRA. A year ago, Hyde-Smith told her constituents that voter suppression is a “great idea” to make it harder for liberals to vote. Video here.

The 42 “active shooter” incidents at Pre-K through 12 school grounds between 2000 and 2018 identified by the FBI overlook many shootings that go under the radar. Definitions of school shootings differ. Everytown, an independent, non-profit group studying gun violence, reported at least 99 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in the first 345 days of 2019. These included three suicides and 63 injuries in addition to the FBI “active shootings.” In a database from the Gun Violence Archives defining a shooting by at least one person shooting at another person at a school during regular hours or an extracurricular activity on the property, ABC found 26 shootings since January with half of them on Fridays. Six people were killed and 44 were injured, not including the assailant. The majority of incidents—57.6 percent—were at the end of or during sporting events, specifically basketball and football games. Those events are detailed here.

Overall, over 370 mass shootings occurred in the first 330 days of 2019, an average of eight mass shootings a week, according to the Gun Violence Archive. It defines mass shootings as four or more people, not including the shooter, shot but not necessarily killed.

People minimize school shootings because they are a small fraction of firearm crimes, but these occurrences devastate schools and communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children exposed to violence can suffer “a wide array of negative health behaviors and outcomes, including alcohol and drug use and suicide.

Families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre gained a victory from the Supreme Court that ruled they can sue Remington, the maker of the AR-15 used in the attack. The case proceeds in the Connecticut courts. Although Remington will likely win the case, discovery will require the company to turn over documents that reveal its marketing secrets that may show the company encouraged the shooter to use the weapon for the slaughter. Suing gun manufacturers has been almost impossible since a congressional law passed in 2005.

The Supreme Court is also hearing a case that has been settled by law. When the NRA objected to New York City transportation restrictions, the state changed the law, and the case was settled—until SCOTUS decided to hear it. To “win” the case, plaintiffs need Chief Justice John Roberts who only cared about the fact that plaintiff wouldn’t suffer if a majority declared the case moot. The DOJ, on the side of the NRA, claimed that a declaration of moot would keep the plaintiffs from seeking damages for a past violation of their rights. In the past six years they have not made that request, and their lawyer admitted that this has never before come up in a case. Samuel Alito’s and Neil Gorsuch’s questions favored the plaintiffs, and Brett Kavanaugh joined Clarence Thomas in staying silent. The plaintiffs’ lawyer Paul Clement wants the court to send a message.

The existing background check has a loophole that keeps people from complying. Hundreds of thousands of gun background checks are never completed because those that take longer than 88 days must be stopped and purged from the computer system. The FBI fails to complete over 200,000 checks a year—over 1.1 million background checks in the past five years. Background checks may be delayed because law enforcement agencies fail to provide incident records or other records.

Buyers don’t need to wait for a complete background check. After three business days, the dealer can sell the gun; the killer of nine people in the Charleston (SC) church could buy a gun because the background check wasn’t completed. Of the 276,000 background checks now completed within three business days last year, the buyer couldn’t legally own a gun in at least 3,960 cases. The FBI asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to reclaim the weapon.

Because of the 88-day deadline, the FBI concentrate on ones it could quickly complete and largely ignored those taking longer than the three days. Almost three-fourths of checks taking longer more than the initial deadline are never completed. The House has passed a bill to extend the deadline before a sale, but Hyde-Smith blocked it.

A loophole in Florida’s gun laws allowed a Saudi Arabian man to legally buy the gun that he used to kill eight sailors and wound eight others at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. All the 21-year-old foreigner in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa needed for the purchase was a hunting license.

Since Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault-style weapons and all guns to those under the age of 21, its net sales grew 5.6 percent, the best quarterly same-store sales performance in six years, showing the success of exchanging narrowly focused hunting goods in favor of items with broader appeal, including women’s and athletic apparel. Now, the chain removed all guns from 20 percent of its stores.

Despite the GOP resistance to saving lives from guns on the federal level, Sandy Hook is having an influence on the state level. In seven years, 21 state legislatures expanded background check requirements, 17 states pass red flag laws allowing law enforcement to take guns people who can be a danger to themselves or others, and 28 states enacted laws requiring people convicted of domestic abuse to give up their firearms in the past seven years.

On the downside, several states passed laws for easier carrying of concealed firearms, even without a permit, and others allow firearms on school grounds with the belief that it will stop mass shootings. NRA claims 460 pro-gun measures have passed state legislatures. Yet several Democrats winning the most competitive Virginia legislative races promised to pass stricter gun controls after Republicans abdicated their responsibilities after the Virginia Beach mass shooting.

With gun safety laws more of a partisan issue, big donors are coming out against the NRA stranglehold. They spent more than the NRA for campaigns and elections in recent history. In the third straight annual Gallup poll, over 60 percent want stricter laws for the sale of firearms, 64 percent in October.  A Fox poll shows that 67 percent want a van on assault weapons, up from 54 percent after Sandy Hook and including 61 percent of rural white people in the U.S. The NRA popularity is down to 42 percent, below the unfavorable rating of 47 percent.

Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action the day after the Sandy Hook shooting, said, “Congress is where it ends, not where it begins.” The states have begun.

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