Oregon militia

Jan 7, 2016

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. In this day and age of information overload our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .
The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and The Others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting; we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.
While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century. The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victim-hood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias .
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:
Thomas Jefferson.
Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Fools playing with fire; a fire that will get us all burned.
In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday.
The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.
During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Several days ago a group of right wing militiamen stormed a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. The group is engaged in an armed occupation claiming to be opposing the U.S. government for perceived violations of their rights. They have also made the demand that two rancher brothers convicted of arson, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, be released from prison. The 150-man strong occupation force is being led by three of Cliven Bundy’s sons, specifically Ammon Bundy. As you may recall they were engaged in an armed standoff with the F.B.I. in 2014 over a dispute involving cattle grazing land.

The militia men are arguing that they should own public land simply because they feel the government hasn’t been kind to them. Their goal is to build private businesses on the protected land. They’re trying to take away land that is being held in common for their own exploitation of it.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.” The White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet.

Jan 7, 2016

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. In this day and age of information overload our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .
The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and The Others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting; we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.
While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century. The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victim-hood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias .
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:
Thomas Jefferson.
Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Fools playing with fire; a fire that will get us all burned.
In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday.
The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.
During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Several days ago a group of right wing militiamen stormed a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. The group is engaged in an armed occupation claiming to be opposing the U.S. government for perceived violations of their rights. They have also made the demand that two rancher brothers convicted of arson, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, be released from prison. The 150-man strong occupation force is being led by three of Cliven Bundy’s sons, specifically Ammon Bundy. As you may recall they were engaged in an armed standoff with the F.B.I. in 2014 over a dispute involving cattle grazing land.

The militia men are arguing that they should own public land simply because they feel the government hasn’t been kind to them. Their goal is to build private businesses on the protected land. They’re trying to take away land that is being held in common for their own exploitation of it.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.” The White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet.

Guns in America

A Guide To Gun Stores And Ranges Declaring ‘Muslim-Free’ Zones Antonia Blumberg Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post Posted: 08/14/2015 08:06 PM EDT Expert advice on what to do if you ever find yourself at gunpoint Published on Apr 15, 2014 … Continue reading


A Guide To Gun Stores And Ranges Declaring ‘Muslim-Free’ Zones

Antonia Blumberg
Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post
Posted: 08/14/2015 08:06 PM EDT

Expert advice on what to do if you ever find yourself at gunpoint

Published on Apr 15, 2014

http://www.everytown.org/scenes
Warning: Some may find this video disturbing.
Two million American kids live in a home where this could happen. Will you help stop it?

Published on Jun 24, 2013

pro-gun laws; where can’t we carry them?

By CAMERON MCWHIRTER and KARISHMA MEHROTRA
June 29, 2014 9:11 p.m. ET

ATLANTA—Bars, houses of worship, and other public establishments are wrestling with what to do about a new law in Georgia that starting on Tuesday dramatically will expand gun-permit holders’ right to carry weapons where people congregate.

The law allows licensed gun owners to bring weapons to bars and houses of worship, unless forbidden by proprietors. Legally-owned guns also are allowed in unrestricted areas of airports and government buildings, and may be carried at schools and in colleges if permitted by officials.

Several other states allow guns in bars or churches, but Georgia’s “Safe Carry Protection Act,” which passed the state legislature overwhelmingly earlier this year, is unusual in that it expanded gun rights in multiple places with one omnibus law.


This is horrifying: According to multiple news outlets, a Target employee found a loaded handgun in the toy aisle of a store in South Carolina.

When you’re shopping at Target, you shouldn’t have to worry about someone parading around with a semiautomatic rifle, or whether your kid is going to find a loaded handgun while looking at toys.

More than 115,000 people have already signed the petition to Target asking for gun sense policies to protect customers and employees from gun violence — and over the next two days volunteers are going to be delivering these petitions all across the country.

Gun extremists armed with semiautomatic rifles have walked into Target locations around the country, weapons out and loaded, making sure customers saw their guns.
It’s often legal to do this, because many states have weak laws that allow people to openly carry around loaded weapons without any permits, training, or background checks. That means it’s up to companies themselves to protect their customers when the law won’t. Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, Target doesn’t have any policies to stop people from carrying weapons in its stores:

Target, which boasts on its website that between 80% and 90% of its customers are women, has no restrictions on customers carrying guns in its stores.

Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jack in the Box have already responded to petitions from moms and other gun sense supporters asking the stores not to allow guns. Now it’s up to Target to protect families who shop in its stores..

Sign the petition


Concealed weapon law tossed by fed appeals court

Published February 13, 2014Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California’s concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

“The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the majority.


September 24, 2013

It has been 577 days since George Zimmerman shot and killed our son Travyon. And it’s been 74 days since a jury set George Zimmerman free, in part because of broken “Stand Your Ground” laws that protect killers like Zimmerman — killers who first instigate conflicts and then claim self-defense.
In July, we started a petition on Change.org calling for “Stand Your Ground” laws to be reviewed and amended nationwide, but we need to turn up the pressure in order to change the same law in Texas.
Can you start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law so that people like George Zimmerman can’t kill with impunity?
Reviewing and amending separate laws in 22 different states isn’t going to be easy — we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’re asking for your help in Texas, because we know that Governor Perry and your state legislature will be most heavily influenced by the voices of constituents like you.
We already know that there’s a major groundswell of people who want to see these laws amended, because more than 400,000 people have signed our petition. Now it’s time to take that energy and harness it, state by state, to make sure no one can stalk, chase, and kill an unarmed child and get away with it.
Not in Texas. Not in Florida. Not anywhere in America.
Our grief is overwhelming, but we are fortified by our fight to honor Trayvon’s memory by fixing these broken laws. Starting a petition only takes a few minutes. Yours could be the voice that makes sure no child in Texas ever has to experience what happened to our son.
Click here to start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Thank you for standing with us, and with Trayvon.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton


Friend —

My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He’d just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School — one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It’s been 14 years since that horrible day — 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them — even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that it’s time to act by expanding background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

This Wednesday, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you’ll join in — say you’ll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The last questions you ever want to hear as a parent are: “What was your child wearing, and do you have any dental records?”

That’s what the police asked me the evening of the shooting at Columbine High, as they tried to establish who had been killed.

It was the most hopeless I’d ever felt.

Since Daniel’s death, I’ve found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I’ve advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws — even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns — more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act — expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That’s why this week, we’re asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say “enough”?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you’re going to keep asking until they act:

http://my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-for-Gun-Violence-Prevention

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado


January 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation’s toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

The
 statute currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers. The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-millimeter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure. A spokesman for the Governor’s office called us to say, “We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included.”


Published: 31 December, 2012, 18:57

There’s no country in the world where you can’t smoke a cigar in a bar, but you may sip bourbon with your Colt Python – only in America!

While the Pentagon assiduously burns billions of dollars to export the cult of violence abroad, in the meantime, back at the domestic front, the Connecticut carnage has resurrected the moribund discussion about the perennial issue: the national suicidal pastime which annually devours 30,000 people, including 2,800 kids.

Even US casualties in Afghanistan – 309 KIA in 2012 – is no match to 414 murders in New York City the same year, celebrated as the record-lowest level in over four decades, down from the apex of 2,000 annual homicides, which accidentally coincides with the overall Operation Enduring Freedom body-count since the beginning of the invasion.

I ain’t no gun-shy latte-lapping liberal or trigger-happy loony. As a veteran and responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit, I have to admit that the sheer enormity of violence in the US doesn’t jibe well with black & white, left & right polarized partisanship.

In essence, the debate is divided & dominated by one question – what is the main culprit of the homeland heinous crimes, a deadly gun or an evil mind?

In Utopia, nobody would pack heat and everybody would live in harmony, in Dystopia, everybody would be armed to the teeth and dangerously paranoiac.

Given a choice between disarmament & arms race, the USA today is on a fast track to destination D – distraction or despair, you name it.
Spiking the guns

There’s no doubt that all too often, firearms figure prominently as killing multipliers in endemic shooting sprees. Nevertheless, to single them out as the one & only reason that gnaws at the heart of America would be:

– Morally & intellectually dishonest, absolving society at large, the local community and individuals in particular from any duty & responsibility and shifting the blame from the perpetrators & collaborators to the material evidence to the crime.

– Disingenuous – if guns were intrinsically sinful, the US president, Congress and the Supreme Court wouldn’t kowtow to NRA. Stand united, and they’d show the true colors and call for abolition of the 2nd Amendment and comprehensive weapons ban.

– Cynical – drugs, fast food & soft drink legally and profitably hurt more kids than illegal access to alcohol, tobacco & firearms. Who would dare to infringe on ‘freedom of choice’ and prohibit all sweet & slow killers?

The point is it takes a wicked mind to convert a gun into a murderous accomplice, not the other way around.
Multiple delivery vehicles

The gun manufacturing industry is just a little bro of the omnipotent military industrial complex, but it wields tremendous clout over its customer base in the most politicized business in the US.

Some of its ethically-free members shamelessly exploit & condone the cult of violence, propagated by entertainment industry, as freebie product placement in toys, movies, TV and video training games, including the nefarious “Kindergarten Killer.”
Target audience

So what drives the restless minds to ubiquitous guns, making Americans pony up $12 billion for arms & ammo a year, come hell or high water? Here’s a cursory profiling, but some characters could be tempted by multiple motives:

Frontier spirit: The true believers in the sacrosanct right for any individual to bear arms under the aegis of the 2nd Amendment. They flatly refuse to consider a “states’ rights” view that the purpose of the clause is only to protect the states in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units which are currently substituted and overrepresented by the Pentagon and the National Guard.

Whether they need a gun or not, it doesn’t matter: for ‘the freedom fighters’, the ‘right’ to cling to firearms is article of faith in preordained exceptionalism, the ultimate totem of Americana, which, even if imported, is more symbolic than Stetson hats and Lucchese boots made in the USA.

‘The freedom fighters’ are the posse comitatus and the stormtroopers of the NRA who are ready to fight tooth & nail against Indians, Brits, aliens, commies, feds and legislators to protect their rights to bear arms any time anywhere, no matter what and the hell with individual responsibility and public safety.

Collecting spirit: This is a rarified breed of aloof connoisseurs which are mostly intelligence & military types, active duty and otherwise. They keep a low profile and enjoy the pleasure of quietly building up their exquisite caches to the envy of their pals at local SWAT teams. They keep their powder dry, but they’re the champs at burning their greenbacks on amassing the formidable arsenals of trophies.

Shooting spirit: They love it, they know it and they do it skillfully, safely & responsibly. As hunters and sports enthusiasts, ‘the weekend warriors’ wastemore ammo than all other categories combined, being the most active fun-loving crowd among gun owners. They don’t bullshit about guns & rights. For them, it’s all about shooting the bull’s eye.

Shopping spirit: Impulsive & skittish customers – prodded by the fear factor, peer pressure and propaganda of violence, these armchair commandos and wannabe Rambos ogle a gun as an adult pacifier with ‘cool’ bragging rights, a tangible insurance against intangible threats, however remote & imaginary.

This nervous Nellie types are suckers for bigger, ‘badder’ guns, which they honestly believe could compensate their total lack of situational awareness and friend or foe selective accuracy under the adrenalin rush of the enemy fire.

They are the driving force of consumerism and the firepower fetishism, oblivious to mundane murder depredations, only to be jolted into panic hoarding after media coverage of another shooting rampage or gun limitations rumor mill.
Possessed & obsessed

The extreme sides of the antisocial personality disorder are lopsidedly represented by the traditional ‘sane’ majority and deinstitutionalized & marginalized ‘insane’ minority:

Long-time active serial killers: career criminals who don’t have suicidal ideations or qualms of conscience. As outlaws and the main customers of the firearms black market, they illegally & easily get anything they want and couldn’t care less about regulations & restrictions for legit gun owners.

The committed killers, isolated & organized, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of homicides – with and without firearms – but haven’t gotten the public attention they deserve. The true heroes of the violence cult who made America exceptional by the notorious homicide rate (which exceeds Japan’s by 1,000 times), they represent & reproduce its core value, the freedom to kill & be killed.

One-time dormant multiple murderers: the miserable misfits aka psychos, while not necessarily ‘born to kill’, have their worst basic instinct awakened & conditioned by omnipresent propaganda of violence & vengeance.

They are the ultimate customers of the cult, who are capable to decode its subliminal message – death shall make thou free – into clarion call to action as the ‘ultimate solution’ to settle the scores with the hostile society.

The liberals have ‘liberated’ maniacs from involuntary commitment, exposing them to the ‘values’ of violence, while the NRA has lobbied to protect their rights to legally obtain & keep firearms, thus channeling their macabre fantasies into the outer world.

These ‘accidental’ murderers, neglected or abused by their families & communities, perpetrate less than 1 per cent of overall homicides, but attract 99 per cent of media attention, prompting publicity vultures of their kind to step out from the dark and copycat their horrific crimes.
Mind Control

To paraphrase the old adage, guns don’t regulate themselves, people do. No doubt, it’s a commendable idea to tighten up gun legislature: eliminate restrictions on tracing info sharing (Tiahrt amendments), close the gaping loopholes in state laws, ban assault rifles & high capacity clips and establish comprehensive national FBI & ATF data clearing house to encompass prospective buyers, owners & guns.

Alas, in the Disunited States of America, it is a daydream that will scarcely ever come true: a state of anarchy in firearms regulation has been created & guarded by a cabal of special interests, led by the NRA, which controls pusillanimous politicians, represents armed extremists & psychos and discredits responsible gun manufacturers & owners.

If Biden & Bloomberg have the mojo to win the undeclared war by Americans against Americans for Americans, they should set the priorities straight: liberate the USA from the bloody NRA!

Are you ready for the American Spring?

Godspeed and Happy New Year!


“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA

In Washington on Friday, influential National Rifle Association (NRA) broke a week-long silence with a robust defence of its pro-gun position.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticised politicians who had “exploited” the tragedy in Newtown for “political gain” and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.

“They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,” he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a “way of life”.

He spoke out against the media for demonizing lawful gun owners, and for suggesting a ban on certain types of weapon would be effective.

Congress should authorise funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an “extraordinary corps” of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.

Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had “blood on its hands”.

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US.

Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year.

But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.

In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry — sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Despite the recession, arms sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up. Imports of arms have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.
The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control. The estimate is based on a study of the N.R.A.’s “Ring of Freedom” program and very likely understates the industry’s total financial support for the association, which does not publicly disclose a comprehensive list of its donors and how much they have given.
Officials from the N.R.A. have repeatedly said their main goal is to protect the Second Amendment rights of rank-and-file members who like to hunt or want guns for protection. But that claim is at odds with surveys that show a majority of N.R.A. members and a majority of American gun owners often support restrictions on gun sales and ownership that the N.R.A. has bitterly fought.
For instance, a 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, which they do not have to do now and which the N.R.A. has steadfastly argued against. If lawful gun owners are willing to subject themselves to background checks, why is the association resisting? Its position appears only to serve the interest of gun makers and dealers who want to increase sales even if it means having dangerous weapons fall into the hands of criminals and violent individuals.
Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?

The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.

“I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us,” Schumer said. “If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.”

Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran’s name in the Criminal Background Check System.

A core group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has for several years wanted to prohibit the VA from submitting those names to the gun-check registry unless a judge or magistrate deems the veteran to be a danger. This year’s version of the bill has 21 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote, a tactic generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Coburn’s amendment to the defense bill contained comparable language.

“All I am saying is, let them at least have their day in court if you are going to take away a fundamental right given under the Constitution,” Coburn said in the Senate debate last Thursday night.

Congressional aides said Coburn will likely drop his effort to amend the defense bill with his proposal, but that he intends to try again on other bills coming to the Senate floor.

The number of veterans directly affected by the VA’s policy doesn’t appear to very large. Only 185 out of some 127,000 veterans added to the gun-check registry since 1998 have sought to have their names taken off, according to data that the VA shared with lawmakers during a hearing last June.

Still, the legislation over the years has attracted strong support from the National Rifle Association and various advocacy groups for veterans.

“We consider it an abject tragedy that so many of our veterans return home, after risking life and limb to defend our freedom, only to be stripped of their Second Amendment rights because they need help managing their compensation,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, wrote last year in an editorial.

The NRA did not respond to queries from the AP about Coburn’s latest effort.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun control advocates consider the VA’s current policy reasonable.

“We’re talking about people who have some form of disability to the extent that they’re unable to manage their own affairs,” Gross said. “If you’re deemed unable to handle your own affairs, that’s likely to constitute a high percentage of people who are dangerously mentally ill.”

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said veterans with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder but who pose no threat to others are possibly being barred from gun ownership. The current restrictions might even be a disincentive for veterans to seek needed treatment, he said.

“We want to remove these stigmas for mental health treatment. It’s a combat injury,” Tarantino said. “They wouldn’t be doing this if you were missing your right hand, so they shouldn’t be doing it if you’re seeking treatment for post-traumatic-stress-disorder or traumatic brain injury.”

VA officials have told lawmakers they believe veterans deemed incompetent already have adequate protections.

For example, they said, veterans can appeal the finding of incompetency based on new evidence. And even if the VA maintains a veteran is incompetent, he can petition the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.


Jul 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Last week, a federal judge permanently blocked Florida from enforcing a law that banned doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The law, the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed last year by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), prohibited “inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession…by licensed health care practitioners” and “discrimination…based solely on upon a patient’s firearm ownership or possession.”

Because the law’s exceptions, which allow inquiries about guns if a doctor believes in “good faith” that it is relevant to a patient’s care or safety, fail to provide standards for physicians to follow, the law violates the First Amendment rights of doctors:

In her ruling, Cooke clearly sided with the physicians, saying evidence showed that physicians began “self-censoring” because of the “chilling” effect of the legislation.

“What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke wrote, citing the benefit of such “preventive medicine.” […]

Cooke, the judge, said the legislation was based on anecdotal information and unfounded conjecture. Her decision was praised by the groups of plaintiffs, which included the Florida Pediatric Society and Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

Not only did the NRA-backed Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act violate doctors’ First Amendment rights, it interfered with routine, meaningful discussion between a doctor and a patient. Questions concerning safety and the home environment are a key part of preventative medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that guns constitute a public health issue and that doctors have a duty to ask about ownership.

Out of the 65 children shot in the U.S. every day, eight are killed. And of the one-third of homes with children that have firearms in them, 40 percent store them unlocked. Guns unquestionably affect the health of American children, just as “the presence of open containers of bleach, swimming pools, balloons, and toilet locks” do.

–Alex Brown

  Gold Star Open Carry State
  Open Carry Friendly State
  Licensed Open Carry State
  Non Permissive Open Carry State
  Rural Open Carry State

In the United States, open carry is shorthand terminology for “openly carrying a firearm in public“, as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.

The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years.[1][2] This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice.[3]

Proponents of open carry point to history and statistics, noting that criminals usually conceal their weapons: The 2006 FBI study “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers” by Anthony Pinizzotto revealed that criminals carefully conceal their firearms, and they eschew the use of holsters.[4] Encouraged by groups like OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and some participants of the Free State Project, open carry has seen a revival in recent years,[5][6][7] but it is not yet clear if this represents just a short-term trend.[8][9]

The gun rights community has been mixed in its response. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have been cautious in expressing support,[10] while special-interest groups such as the aforementioned OpenCarry.org and GeorgiaCarry.org, state-level groups such as the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), and certain national groups such as the Gun Owners of America (GOA) have been more outspoken in favor of the practice.

Open carry is strongly opposed by gun control groups such as the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

In the United States, the laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality.

Definitions

Open carry
The act of publicly carrying a loaded firearm on one’s person in plain sight.
Plain sight
Broadly defined as not being hidden from common observation; varies somewhat from state to state.
Preemption
In the context of open carry: the act of a state legislature passing laws which limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to regulate the possession or carrying of firearms.
Prohibited persons
People prohibited by law from carrying a firearm. Typical examples are felons, those convicted of a misdemeanor of domestic violence, those found to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, and those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Today in the United States, the laws vary from state to state regarding open carry of firearms. The categories are defined as follows:

Permissive open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry to all non-prohibited citizens without permit or license. Open carry is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle. Shown on the map to the right as “Gold Star” states; the term carries a pro-gun bias, as gun-control advocacy groups like the Brady Center generally give these states very low “scores” on their own ratings systems.
Licensed open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry of a handgun to all non-prohibited citizens once they have been issued a permit or license. Open carry of a handgun is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle.
Anomalous open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is generally lawful, but the state may lack preemption or there may be other significant restrictions. Shown in the map legend as “Open Carry Friendly” states; the term is questionable as the limitations and/or lack of pre-emption means that certain areas of these states are, in their judicial system and law enforcement societies, not very “friendly” towards the practice.
Non-permissive open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is not lawful, or is only lawful under such a limited set of circumstances that public carry is prohibited. Such limited circumstances may include when hunting, or while traveling to/from hunting locations, while on property controlled by the person carrying, or for lawful self-defense.

Open carry has never been ruled out as a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by any court. In the majority opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote concerning the entirety of the elements of the Second Amendment; “We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” However, Scalia continued, “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”[14]

Forty-three states’ constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, and none of those prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of carrying or bearing arms, and advocates argue that none rule out open carry specifically. Nine states’ constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature. Open carry advocates argue that, by exclusion, open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states. But this is not settled law.[citation needed]

Section 1.7 [15] of Kentucky’s state constitution only empowers the state to enact laws prohibiting “concealed carry”.

Concealed carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon), refers to the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in proximity.

While there is no federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry permits, 49 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local government and/or law enforcement.[1] Illinois is the only state without such a provision. The states give different terms for licenses or permits to carry a concealed firearm, such as a Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL), etc. Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun.
Some states publish statistics indicating how many residents hold permits to carry concealed weapons, and their demographics. For example, Florida has issued 2,031,106 licenses since adopting its law in 1987, and had 843,463 licensed permit holders as of July 31, 2011.[2] Reported permit holders are predominantly male.[3] Some states have reported the number of permit holders increasing over time.[4]

The number of permit revocations is typically small.


by Joshua Vogel on September 10, 2011

I’m a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer the term). I’ve always had mixed feelings about gun ownership. As a child, I enjoyed playing with cap guns, and a macho, caveman corner of my personality has always liked the idea of wielding a weapon. But, the rational pragmatist in me has never been able to actually justify owning a gun.

Every so often I’ll get the urge to buy a gun for defense purposes. But when I start to reflect on it, I realize that I can’t really envision a situation where I’d need to use it. I mean, sure- I can picture a home break-in, where I’d run to the closet and open my gun safe and pull out a hand gun… but such scenarios feel like the boyhood daydreams of fighting a terrorist (and/or ninja) takeover of my high school. Even if it were to happen, it seems like something that would always play out better in my head than it would in real life.

I’m not a paranoid person. I enjoy reading the masturbatory rants of the folks who contribute to forums about the upcoming collapse of society, or post survivalist or “prepper” videos on youtube, or fret about “Peak Oil”. But I take all these things with more than a grain of salt. For the most part they are unsupported (or poorly supported) fears mixed with outright delusions.

But a couple things happened this week that did finally tip me over the edge and seriously consider a gun purchase: I watched the Republican Presidential Debates, and I heard Obama’s Address to Congress.

As someone who was recently unemployed for well over a year, and who saw his father get laid off during the tail end of that period, I now know firsthand the deep despair that fills someone who can’t get a foothold in this economy. If I hadn’t had the support of my family and friends, I may well have ended up homeless (and that’s within months of receiving a law degree).

Multiply that anxiety by the 14 million unemployed folks in this country, and the countless underemployed, and it’s not hard to see that there are a lot of scared and angry people out there.

Other countries– large, stable countries– have begun to see riots. Without an immediate reversal in course, it is only a matter of time before we see riots in the U.S. –which brings me back to the debates, and the President’s speech.

All of the front-running Republicans have decided that the path to economic recovery is a return to the laissez faire system of government– the same philosophy that was in place when America’s working class was at its weakest, poorest, and most abused. This isn’t a big surprise. As other, well respected, authors have noted, almost all modern Republican policies can be traced back to a singular goal: the creation of cheap labor. That’s all well and good, unless you are the labor. And, in case you didn’t know: 99% of us are the labor.

The President’s speech the next day didn’t make me feel any better. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a terrific speech- or at least it would have been if he had given it two years ago when it might have done some good. But it’s too late in the game for half-measures. Even if the President got everything that he asked for (he won’t), it still wouldn’t make a significant dent in the unemployment crisis.

So I spent the next few days thinking about the state of nation, and imaging what America is going to look like in a few years. If Obama stays in power without a liberal Congress, things will be much the same for years to come: political gridlock and slowly worsening conditions for the middle class.

If the Republicans take back the executive branch, then political gridlock is the best we can hope for. If they’re able to get traction with their radical fiscal policies, they’ll keep feeding our money to corporations, banks and the ultra-wealthy. The middle class will shrink. More of us will fall into poverty, and with fewer people buying any products, even the large corporations will start to buckle and fail.

With more unemployment, more disparity between the haves and have-nots, and no clear path to prosperity in sight, I can no longer pretend that the U.S. is the stable and secure place I always knew it to be.

It is no longer unreasonable to think that things may go from bad to much, much worse. I’m not saying that an economic collapse will happen, or even that it it is likely to happen. Nor can I begin to predict the severity or duration of any crash that might occur. But in the current political climate it feels foolhardy to ignore the possibility that something very bad is on the horizon.

If you’re skeptically minded, you may be thinking that I’m being alarmist or that my anxiety is premature. You’re right of course. But there’s logic behind my madness. History is rife with examples giant social upheavals that happen with very little notice. Most recently, Egypt taught us that lesson anew. That country went from protests to revolution in a span of days.

I’m not saying that the U.S. is poised for such a revolution, of course- but I am saying that things could turn ugly here, very quickly. With the proper trigger, massive protests could form. If handled poorly, those protests could easily turn to riots. If it can happen in the U.K., it can certainly happen here. And how big could those riots be? And how long might they last? And by the time we’ve figured out the answers to those questions, will it be too late to prepare?

And so, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a gun shop, talking to the proprietor about a good beginner’s firearm for someone who is interested in home defense.

If you’ve never been to a large gun shop (and I’m sure many progressives have not), I strongly recommend that you step inside. For my part, I found the place unsettling. For the first time in my life I held a working firearm, but I didn’t feel any safer– quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

The thing about being a liberal in a gun shop is that you are privy to a lot of conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise hear. It was rather like walking into a Tea Party convention.

The shop I went to was near my home in North Carolina. When the gruff man behind the counter found out that I was from Massachusetts, he openly mocked it for being a “socialist” state. Moments later, I overheard a woman loudly ranting about how Obama’s job plan was “destroying the country” with more spending. She was interested in buying some gold coins for when the economy collapsed.

To be fair, most folks were just there to talk about guns, and play with guns, and buy new gadgets to affix to their guns. Their comfort and knowledge of firearms made me feel nervous. I was in store full of 50+ people who didn’t feel at all shy about expressing their distain for liberals and “socialists”. All of them, I’m convinced, would have had no trouble gunning me down in an honest firefight.

I went into that store to buy a gun to protect my family in the event of a riot. I walked out feeling very nervous that if their actually was major social upheaval in the United States, a lot of angry conservatives would have no problem forming an organized militia, and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the scores of unarmed “socialist” progressives out there.

Now I find myself wishing that liberals would flock to gun shops en masse so that they can see the world I caught a glimpse of, and so that they could interact with the same folks I did, and maybe engage in some lively political discussion. These gun shops are factories for unchecked Tea-Party-style nonsense. It means that a lot of angry and armed folks are spending their days amplifying each other’s misunderstanding and distrust of the rest of us.

And also- (and I realize that this part is just pure paranoia)– I’d like to know that if things ever really degrade, there would be a whole lot of armed liberals out there to keep the armed conservatives in check. Or at the very least, I’d like enough of them to lay down sufficient cover fire for me while I run from Whole Foods back to my Prius.


Why Americans now carry handguns in so many public places, from parks to college campuses. Is it making the country safer or more dangerous?

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / March 11, 2012

Garner, N.C.

Leaning against a scrub pine as preschoolers scurry about at his feet, Shane Gazda, father of 3-year-old twins, recalls a conundrum he faced earlier that morning: whether to take his Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun to a Groundhog Day celebration in this town’s White Deer Park.

After all, what was once against the law in North Carolina – carrying a concealed gun in a town park, square, or greenway – is now, as of Dec. 1, 2011, very much allowed. To Mr. Gazda, who likes to shoot targets in his backyard, an event as innocent as paying homage to a rodent could turn dangerous if the wrong person shows up.

“Part of it is being ready for cataclysm every day,” says Gazda, a hospital maintenance engineer. “And to be honest, I started carrying precisely to protect not just myself, but my family, and anyone around me who needs help.”

Gun laws: How much do you know?

In the end, Gazda left the gun at home. But his internal debate is emblematic of one a growing number of Americans are having almost daily. Thirty years after a powerful gun-control movement swept the country, Americans are embracing the idea of owning and carrying firearms with a zeal rarely seen since the days of muskets and militias.

A combination of favorable court rulings, grass-roots activism, traditional fears of crime, and modern anxieties about government has led to what may be a tipping point on an issue that just a few years ago was one of America’s most contentious. Gun rights have now expanded to the point where the fundamental question seems not to be “should we be able to carry guns,” but instead is “where can’t we carry them?

The answer: not very many places.

The new North Carolina statute, in fact, is one of hundreds of new gun-friendly laws enacted by states and localities in the past few years alone. Mississippi lawmakers, for instance, recently voted to allow gun owners who take an extra safety class to carry hidden weapons on college campuses and in courthouses. Ohio has granted people with permits the right to bring concealed weapons into restaurants, bars, and sports arenas. A 2010 Indiana law stipulates that private business owners let employees keep guns in their cars when parked on company property. And New Hampshire, along with several other states, has removed restrictions on bearing arms in the ultimate politically symbolic place – the State House.

In 2009, three times as many pro-gun laws were passed in the United States as antigun measures – a trend that experts say has only accelerated since then. Fully 40 states now mandate that anyone who asks for a concealed-carry permit and meets the qualifications must be issued one. One result: The number of concealed-weapon license holders in the US has gone from a few hundred thousand 10 years ago to more than 6 million today. In some parts of Tennessee, 1 out of every 11 people on the street is either carrying a weapon or has a license to do so.

“It’s a huge sea change, and one lesson to take out of all of this is that it’s amazing how fast attitudes on constitutional issues can change,” says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the author of “An Army of Davids.” “The thinking has turned in a way that many thought to be impossible only 15 years ago.”

By CAMERON MCWHIRTER and KARISHMA MEHROTRA
June 29, 2014 9:11 p.m. ET

ATLANTA—Bars, houses of worship, and other public establishments are wrestling with what to do about a new law in Georgia that starting on Tuesday dramatically will expand gun-permit holders’ right to carry weapons where people congregate.

The law allows licensed gun owners to bring weapons to bars and houses of worship, unless forbidden by proprietors. Legally-owned guns also are allowed in unrestricted areas of airports and government buildings, and may be carried at schools and in colleges if permitted by officials.

Several other states allow guns in bars or churches, but Georgia’s “Safe Carry Protection Act,” which passed the state legislature overwhelmingly earlier this year, is unusual in that it expanded gun rights in multiple places with one omnibus law.


This is horrifying: According to multiple news outlets, a Target employee found a loaded handgun in the toy aisle of a store in South Carolina.

When you’re shopping at Target, you shouldn’t have to worry about someone parading around with a semiautomatic rifle, or whether your kid is going to find a loaded handgun while looking at toys.

More than 115,000 people have already signed the petition to Target asking for gun sense policies to protect customers and employees from gun violence — and over the next two days volunteers are going to be delivering these petitions all across the country.

Gun extremists armed with semiautomatic rifles have walked into Target locations around the country, weapons out and loaded, making sure customers saw their guns.
It’s often legal to do this, because many states have weak laws that allow people to openly carry around loaded weapons without any permits, training, or background checks. That means it’s up to companies themselves to protect their customers when the law won’t. Yet according to the Wall Street Journal, Target doesn’t have any policies to stop people from carrying weapons in its stores:

Target, which boasts on its website that between 80% and 90% of its customers are women, has no restrictions on customers carrying guns in its stores.

Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Jack in the Box have already responded to petitions from moms and other gun sense supporters asking the stores not to allow guns. Now it’s up to Target to protect families who shop in its stores..

Sign the petition


Concealed weapon law tossed by fed appeals court

Published February 13, 2014Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – A divided federal appeals court on Thursday struck down California’s concealed weapons rules, saying they violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

By a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said California was wrong to require applicants to show good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

“The right to bear arms includes the right to carry an operable firearm outside the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the majority.


September 24, 2013

It has been 577 days since George Zimmerman shot and killed our son Travyon. And it’s been 74 days since a jury set George Zimmerman free, in part because of broken “Stand Your Ground” laws that protect killers like Zimmerman — killers who first instigate conflicts and then claim self-defense.
In July, we started a petition on Change.org calling for “Stand Your Ground” laws to be reviewed and amended nationwide, but we need to turn up the pressure in order to change the same law in Texas.
Can you start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” law so that people like George Zimmerman can’t kill with impunity?
Reviewing and amending separate laws in 22 different states isn’t going to be easy — we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’re asking for your help in Texas, because we know that Governor Perry and your state legislature will be most heavily influenced by the voices of constituents like you.
We already know that there’s a major groundswell of people who want to see these laws amended, because more than 400,000 people have signed our petition. Now it’s time to take that energy and harness it, state by state, to make sure no one can stalk, chase, and kill an unarmed child and get away with it.
Not in Texas. Not in Florida. Not anywhere in America.
Our grief is overwhelming, but we are fortified by our fight to honor Trayvon’s memory by fixing these broken laws. Starting a petition only takes a few minutes. Yours could be the voice that makes sure no child in Texas ever has to experience what happened to our son.
Click here to start your own petition calling on Governor Perry and the Texas legislature to review and amend Texas’ “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Thank you for standing with us, and with Trayvon.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton


Friend —

My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He’d just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School — one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It’s been 14 years since that horrible day — 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them — even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that it’s time to act by expanding background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

This Wednesday, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you’ll join in — say you’ll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The last questions you ever want to hear as a parent are: “What was your child wearing, and do you have any dental records?”

That’s what the police asked me the evening of the shooting at Columbine High, as they tried to establish who had been killed.

It was the most hopeless I’d ever felt.

Since Daniel’s death, I’ve found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I’ve advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws — even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns — more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act — expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That’s why this week, we’re asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say “enough”?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you’re going to keep asking until they act:

http://my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-for-Gun-Violence-Prevention

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado


January 17, 2013

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation’s toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

The
 statute currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers. The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-millimeter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure. A spokesman for the Governor’s office called us to say, “We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included.”


Published: 31 December, 2012, 18:57

There’s no country in the world where you can’t smoke a cigar in a bar, but you may sip bourbon with your Colt Python – only in America!

While the Pentagon assiduously burns billions of dollars to export the cult of violence abroad, in the meantime, back at the domestic front, the Connecticut carnage has resurrected the moribund discussion about the perennial issue: the national suicidal pastime which annually devours 30,000 people, including 2,800 kids.

Even US casualties in Afghanistan – 309 KIA in 2012 – is no match to 414 murders in New York City the same year, celebrated as the record-lowest level in over four decades, down from the apex of 2,000 annual homicides, which accidentally coincides with the overall Operation Enduring Freedom body-count since the beginning of the invasion.

I ain’t no gun-shy latte-lapping liberal or trigger-happy loony. As a veteran and responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit, I have to admit that the sheer enormity of violence in the US doesn’t jibe well with black & white, left & right polarized partisanship.

In essence, the debate is divided & dominated by one question – what is the main culprit of the homeland heinous crimes, a deadly gun or an evil mind?

In Utopia, nobody would pack heat and everybody would live in harmony, in Dystopia, everybody would be armed to the teeth and dangerously paranoiac.

Given a choice between disarmament & arms race, the USA today is on a fast track to destination D – distraction or despair, you name it.
Spiking the guns

There’s no doubt that all too often, firearms figure prominently as killing multipliers in endemic shooting sprees. Nevertheless, to single them out as the one & only reason that gnaws at the heart of America would be:

– Morally & intellectually dishonest, absolving society at large, the local community and individuals in particular from any duty & responsibility and shifting the blame from the perpetrators & collaborators to the material evidence to the crime.

– Disingenuous – if guns were intrinsically sinful, the US president, Congress and the Supreme Court wouldn’t kowtow to NRA. Stand united, and they’d show the true colors and call for abolition of the 2nd Amendment and comprehensive weapons ban.

– Cynical – drugs, fast food & soft drink legally and profitably hurt more kids than illegal access to alcohol, tobacco & firearms. Who would dare to infringe on ‘freedom of choice’ and prohibit all sweet & slow killers?

The point is it takes a wicked mind to convert a gun into a murderous accomplice, not the other way around.
Multiple delivery vehicles

The gun manufacturing industry is just a little bro of the omnipotent military industrial complex, but it wields tremendous clout over its customer base in the most politicized business in the US.

Some of its ethically-free members shamelessly exploit & condone the cult of violence, propagated by entertainment industry, as freebie product placement in toys, movies, TV and video training games, including the nefarious “Kindergarten Killer.”
Target audience

So what drives the restless minds to ubiquitous guns, making Americans pony up $12 billion for arms & ammo a year, come hell or high water? Here’s a cursory profiling, but some characters could be tempted by multiple motives:

Frontier spirit: The true believers in the sacrosanct right for any individual to bear arms under the aegis of the 2nd Amendment. They flatly refuse to consider a “states’ rights” view that the purpose of the clause is only to protect the states in their authority to maintain formal, organized militia units which are currently substituted and overrepresented by the Pentagon and the National Guard.

Whether they need a gun or not, it doesn’t matter: for ‘the freedom fighters’, the ‘right’ to cling to firearms is article of faith in preordained exceptionalism, the ultimate totem of Americana, which, even if imported, is more symbolic than Stetson hats and Lucchese boots made in the USA.

‘The freedom fighters’ are the posse comitatus and the stormtroopers of the NRA who are ready to fight tooth & nail against Indians, Brits, aliens, commies, feds and legislators to protect their rights to bear arms any time anywhere, no matter what and the hell with individual responsibility and public safety.

Collecting spirit: This is a rarified breed of aloof connoisseurs which are mostly intelligence & military types, active duty and otherwise. They keep a low profile and enjoy the pleasure of quietly building up their exquisite caches to the envy of their pals at local SWAT teams. They keep their powder dry, but they’re the champs at burning their greenbacks on amassing the formidable arsenals of trophies.

Shooting spirit: They love it, they know it and they do it skillfully, safely & responsibly. As hunters and sports enthusiasts, ‘the weekend warriors’ wastemore ammo than all other categories combined, being the most active fun-loving crowd among gun owners. They don’t bullshit about guns & rights. For them, it’s all about shooting the bull’s eye.

Shopping spirit: Impulsive & skittish customers – prodded by the fear factor, peer pressure and propaganda of violence, these armchair commandos and wannabe Rambos ogle a gun as an adult pacifier with ‘cool’ bragging rights, a tangible insurance against intangible threats, however remote & imaginary.

This nervous Nellie types are suckers for bigger, ‘badder’ guns, which they honestly believe could compensate their total lack of situational awareness and friend or foe selective accuracy under the adrenalin rush of the enemy fire.

They are the driving force of consumerism and the firepower fetishism, oblivious to mundane murder depredations, only to be jolted into panic hoarding after media coverage of another shooting rampage or gun limitations rumor mill.
Possessed & obsessed

The extreme sides of the antisocial personality disorder are lopsidedly represented by the traditional ‘sane’ majority and deinstitutionalized & marginalized ‘insane’ minority:

Long-time active serial killers: career criminals who don’t have suicidal ideations or qualms of conscience. As outlaws and the main customers of the firearms black market, they illegally & easily get anything they want and couldn’t care less about regulations & restrictions for legit gun owners.

The committed killers, isolated & organized, are responsible for the overwhelming majority of homicides – with and without firearms – but haven’t gotten the public attention they deserve. The true heroes of the violence cult who made America exceptional by the notorious homicide rate (which exceeds Japan’s by 1,000 times), they represent & reproduce its core value, the freedom to kill & be killed.

One-time dormant multiple murderers: the miserable misfits aka psychos, while not necessarily ‘born to kill’, have their worst basic instinct awakened & conditioned by omnipresent propaganda of violence & vengeance.

They are the ultimate customers of the cult, who are capable to decode its subliminal message – death shall make thou free – into clarion call to action as the ‘ultimate solution’ to settle the scores with the hostile society.

The liberals have ‘liberated’ maniacs from involuntary commitment, exposing them to the ‘values’ of violence, while the NRA has lobbied to protect their rights to legally obtain & keep firearms, thus channeling their macabre fantasies into the outer world.

These ‘accidental’ murderers, neglected or abused by their families & communities, perpetrate less than 1 per cent of overall homicides, but attract 99 per cent of media attention, prompting publicity vultures of their kind to step out from the dark and copycat their horrific crimes.
Mind Control

To paraphrase the old adage, guns don’t regulate themselves, people do. No doubt, it’s a commendable idea to tighten up gun legislature: eliminate restrictions on tracing info sharing (Tiahrt amendments), close the gaping loopholes in state laws, ban assault rifles & high capacity clips and establish comprehensive national FBI & ATF data clearing house to encompass prospective buyers, owners & guns.

Alas, in the Disunited States of America, it is a daydream that will scarcely ever come true: a state of anarchy in firearms regulation has been created & guarded by a cabal of special interests, led by the NRA, which controls pusillanimous politicians, represents armed extremists & psychos and discredits responsible gun manufacturers & owners.

If Biden & Bloomberg have the mojo to win the undeclared war by Americans against Americans for Americans, they should set the priorities straight: liberate the USA from the bloody NRA!

Are you ready for the American Spring?

Godspeed and Happy New Year!


“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA

In Washington on Friday, influential National Rifle Association (NRA) broke a week-long silence with a robust defence of its pro-gun position.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticised politicians who had “exploited” the tragedy in Newtown for “political gain” and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.

“They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,” he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a “way of life”.

He spoke out against the media for demonizing lawful gun owners, and for suggesting a ban on certain types of weapon would be effective.

Congress should authorise funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an “extraordinary corps” of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.

Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had “blood on its hands”.

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US.

Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year.

But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.

In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry — sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Despite the recession, arms sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up. Imports of arms have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.
The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control. The estimate is based on a study of the N.R.A.’s “Ring of Freedom” program and very likely understates the industry’s total financial support for the association, which does not publicly disclose a comprehensive list of its donors and how much they have given.
Officials from the N.R.A. have repeatedly said their main goal is to protect the Second Amendment rights of rank-and-file members who like to hunt or want guns for protection. But that claim is at odds with surveys that show a majority of N.R.A. members and a majority of American gun owners often support restrictions on gun sales and ownership that the N.R.A. has bitterly fought.
For instance, a 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, which they do not have to do now and which the N.R.A. has steadfastly argued against. If lawful gun owners are willing to subject themselves to background checks, why is the association resisting? Its position appears only to serve the interest of gun makers and dealers who want to increase sales even if it means having dangerous weapons fall into the hands of criminals and violent individuals.
Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Should veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs be prevented from buying a gun?

The issue, for a time last week, threatened to become the biggest sticking point in a $631 billion defense bill for reshaping a military that is disengaging from a decade of warfare.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to amend the bill to stop the Veterans Affairs Department from putting the names of veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their finances into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from buying or owning firearms.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., objected, saying the measure would make it easier for veterans with mental illness to own a gun, endangering themselves and others.

“I love our veterans, I vote for them all the time. They defend us,” Schumer said. “If you are a veteran or not and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.”

Currently, the VA appoints fiduciaries, often family members, to manage the pensions and disability benefits of veterans who are declared incompetent. When that happens, the department automatically enters the veteran’s name in the Criminal Background Check System.

A core group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has for several years wanted to prohibit the VA from submitting those names to the gun-check registry unless a judge or magistrate deems the veteran to be a danger. This year’s version of the bill has 21 co-sponsors. It passed the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote, a tactic generally reserved for noncontroversial legislation. Coburn’s amendment to the defense bill contained comparable language.

“All I am saying is, let them at least have their day in court if you are going to take away a fundamental right given under the Constitution,” Coburn said in the Senate debate last Thursday night.

Congressional aides said Coburn will likely drop his effort to amend the defense bill with his proposal, but that he intends to try again on other bills coming to the Senate floor.

The number of veterans directly affected by the VA’s policy doesn’t appear to very large. Only 185 out of some 127,000 veterans added to the gun-check registry since 1998 have sought to have their names taken off, according to data that the VA shared with lawmakers during a hearing last June.

Still, the legislation over the years has attracted strong support from the National Rifle Association and various advocacy groups for veterans.

“We consider it an abject tragedy that so many of our veterans return home, after risking life and limb to defend our freedom, only to be stripped of their Second Amendment rights because they need help managing their compensation,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, wrote last year in an editorial.

The NRA did not respond to queries from the AP about Coburn’s latest effort.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun control advocates consider the VA’s current policy reasonable.

“We’re talking about people who have some form of disability to the extent that they’re unable to manage their own affairs,” Gross said. “If you’re deemed unable to handle your own affairs, that’s likely to constitute a high percentage of people who are dangerously mentally ill.”

Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said veterans with a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder but who pose no threat to others are possibly being barred from gun ownership. The current restrictions might even be a disincentive for veterans to seek needed treatment, he said.

“We want to remove these stigmas for mental health treatment. It’s a combat injury,” Tarantino said. “They wouldn’t be doing this if you were missing your right hand, so they shouldn’t be doing it if you’re seeking treatment for post-traumatic-stress-disorder or traumatic brain injury.”

VA officials have told lawmakers they believe veterans deemed incompetent already have adequate protections.

For example, they said, veterans can appeal the finding of incompetency based on new evidence. And even if the VA maintains a veteran is incompetent, he can petition the agency to have his firearm rights restored on the basis of not posing a threat to public safety.


Jul 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Last week, a federal judge permanently blocked Florida from enforcing a law that banned doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. The law, the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed last year by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), prohibited “inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession…by licensed health care practitioners” and “discrimination…based solely on upon a patient’s firearm ownership or possession.”

Because the law’s exceptions, which allow inquiries about guns if a doctor believes in “good faith” that it is relevant to a patient’s care or safety, fail to provide standards for physicians to follow, the law violates the First Amendment rights of doctors:

In her ruling, Cooke clearly sided with the physicians, saying evidence showed that physicians began “self-censoring” because of the “chilling” effect of the legislation.

“What is curious about this law — and what makes it different from so many other laws involving practitioners’ speech — is that it aims to restrict a practitioner’s ability to provide truthful, non-misleading information to a patient, whether relevant or not at the time of the consult with the patient,” Cooke wrote, citing the benefit of such “preventive medicine.” […]

Cooke, the judge, said the legislation was based on anecdotal information and unfounded conjecture. Her decision was praised by the groups of plaintiffs, which included the Florida Pediatric Society and Florida Academy of Family Physicians.

Not only did the NRA-backed Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act violate doctors’ First Amendment rights, it interfered with routine, meaningful discussion between a doctor and a patient. Questions concerning safety and the home environment are a key part of preventative medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that guns constitute a public health issue and that doctors have a duty to ask about ownership.

Out of the 65 children shot in the U.S. every day, eight are killed. And of the one-third of homes with children that have firearms in them, 40 percent store them unlocked. Guns unquestionably affect the health of American children, just as “the presence of open containers of bleach, swimming pools, balloons, and toilet locks” do.

–Alex Brown

  Gold Star Open Carry State
  Open Carry Friendly State
  Licensed Open Carry State
  Non Permissive Open Carry State
  Rural Open Carry State

In the United States, open carry is shorthand terminology for “openly carrying a firearm in public“, as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.

The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years.[1][2] This has been marked by a number of organized events intended to increase the visibility of open carry and public awareness about the practice.[3]

Proponents of open carry point to history and statistics, noting that criminals usually conceal their weapons: The 2006 FBI study “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on Our Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers” by Anthony Pinizzotto revealed that criminals carefully conceal their firearms, and they eschew the use of holsters.[4] Encouraged by groups like OpenCarry.org, GeorgiaCarry.org and some participants of the Free State Project, open carry has seen a revival in recent years,[5][6][7] but it is not yet clear if this represents just a short-term trend.[8][9]

The gun rights community has been mixed in its response. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have been cautious in expressing support,[10] while special-interest groups such as the aforementioned OpenCarry.org and GeorgiaCarry.org, state-level groups such as the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), and certain national groups such as the Gun Owners of America (GOA) have been more outspoken in favor of the practice.

Open carry is strongly opposed by gun control groups such as the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

In the United States, the laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality.

Definitions

Open carry
The act of publicly carrying a loaded firearm on one’s person in plain sight.
Plain sight
Broadly defined as not being hidden from common observation; varies somewhat from state to state.
Preemption
In the context of open carry: the act of a state legislature passing laws which limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to regulate the possession or carrying of firearms.
Prohibited persons
People prohibited by law from carrying a firearm. Typical examples are felons, those convicted of a misdemeanor of domestic violence, those found to be addicted to alcohol or drugs, and those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Today in the United States, the laws vary from state to state regarding open carry of firearms. The categories are defined as follows:

Permissive open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry to all non-prohibited citizens without permit or license. Open carry is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle. Shown on the map to the right as “Gold Star” states; the term carries a pro-gun bias, as gun-control advocacy groups like the Brady Center generally give these states very low “scores” on their own ratings systems.
Licensed open carry states
A state has passed full preemption of all firearms laws. They permit open carry of a handgun to all non-prohibited citizens once they have been issued a permit or license. Open carry of a handgun is lawful on foot and in a motor vehicle.
Anomalous open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is generally lawful, but the state may lack preemption or there may be other significant restrictions. Shown in the map legend as “Open Carry Friendly” states; the term is questionable as the limitations and/or lack of pre-emption means that certain areas of these states are, in their judicial system and law enforcement societies, not very “friendly” towards the practice.
Non-permissive open carry states
In these states, open carry of a handgun is not lawful, or is only lawful under such a limited set of circumstances that public carry is prohibited. Such limited circumstances may include when hunting, or while traveling to/from hunting locations, while on property controlled by the person carrying, or for lawful self-defense.

Open carry has never been ruled out as a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by any court. In the majority opinion in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote concerning the entirety of the elements of the Second Amendment; “We find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” However, Scalia continued, “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”[14]

Forty-three states’ constitutions recognize and secure the right to keep and bear arms in some form, and none of those prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Five state constitutions provide that the state legislature may regulate the manner of carrying or bearing arms, and advocates argue that none rule out open carry specifically. Nine states’ constitutions indicate that the concealed carrying of firearms may be regulated and/or prohibited by the state legislature. Open carry advocates argue that, by exclusion, open carrying of arms may not be legislatively controlled in these states. But this is not settled law.[citation needed]

Section 1.7 [15] of Kentucky’s state constitution only empowers the state to enact laws prohibiting “concealed carry”.

Concealed carry, or CCW (carrying a concealed weapon), refers to the practice of carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or in proximity.

While there is no federal law specifically addressing the issuance of concealed carry permits, 49 states have passed laws allowing citizens to carry certain concealed firearms in public, either without a permit or after obtaining a permit from local government and/or law enforcement.[1] Illinois is the only state without such a provision. The states give different terms for licenses or permits to carry a concealed firearm, such as a Concealed Handgun License/Permit (CHL/CHP), Concealed (Defensive/Deadly) Weapon Permit/License (CDWL/CWP/CWL), Concealed Carry Permit/License (CCP/CCL), License To Carry (Firearms) (LTC/LTCF), Carry of Concealed Deadly Weapon license (CCDW), Concealed Pistol License (CPL), etc. Thirteen states use a single permit to regulate the practices of both concealed and open carry of a handgun.
Some states publish statistics indicating how many residents hold permits to carry concealed weapons, and their demographics. For example, Florida has issued 2,031,106 licenses since adopting its law in 1987, and had 843,463 licensed permit holders as of July 31, 2011.[2] Reported permit holders are predominantly male.[3] Some states have reported the number of permit holders increasing over time.[4]

The number of permit revocations is typically small.


by Joshua Vogel on September 10, 2011

I’m a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer the term). I’ve always had mixed feelings about gun ownership. As a child, I enjoyed playing with cap guns, and a macho, caveman corner of my personality has always liked the idea of wielding a weapon. But, the rational pragmatist in me has never been able to actually justify owning a gun.

Every so often I’ll get the urge to buy a gun for defense purposes. But when I start to reflect on it, I realize that I can’t really envision a situation where I’d need to use it. I mean, sure- I can picture a home break-in, where I’d run to the closet and open my gun safe and pull out a hand gun… but such scenarios feel like the boyhood daydreams of fighting a terrorist (and/or ninja) takeover of my high school. Even if it were to happen, it seems like something that would always play out better in my head than it would in real life.

I’m not a paranoid person. I enjoy reading the masturbatory rants of the folks who contribute to forums about the upcoming collapse of society, or post survivalist or “prepper” videos on youtube, or fret about “Peak Oil”. But I take all these things with more than a grain of salt. For the most part they are unsupported (or poorly supported) fears mixed with outright delusions.

But a couple things happened this week that did finally tip me over the edge and seriously consider a gun purchase: I watched the Republican Presidential Debates, and I heard Obama’s Address to Congress.

As someone who was recently unemployed for well over a year, and who saw his father get laid off during the tail end of that period, I now know firsthand the deep despair that fills someone who can’t get a foothold in this economy. If I hadn’t had the support of my family and friends, I may well have ended up homeless (and that’s within months of receiving a law degree).

Multiply that anxiety by the 14 million unemployed folks in this country, and the countless underemployed, and it’s not hard to see that there are a lot of scared and angry people out there.

Other countries– large, stable countries– have begun to see riots. Without an immediate reversal in course, it is only a matter of time before we see riots in the U.S. –which brings me back to the debates, and the President’s speech.

All of the front-running Republicans have decided that the path to economic recovery is a return to the laissez faire system of government– the same philosophy that was in place when America’s working class was at its weakest, poorest, and most abused. This isn’t a big surprise. As other, well respected, authors have noted, almost all modern Republican policies can be traced back to a singular goal: the creation of cheap labor. That’s all well and good, unless you are the labor. And, in case you didn’t know: 99% of us are the labor.

The President’s speech the next day didn’t make me feel any better. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a terrific speech- or at least it would have been if he had given it two years ago when it might have done some good. But it’s too late in the game for half-measures. Even if the President got everything that he asked for (he won’t), it still wouldn’t make a significant dent in the unemployment crisis.

So I spent the next few days thinking about the state of nation, and imaging what America is going to look like in a few years. If Obama stays in power without a liberal Congress, things will be much the same for years to come: political gridlock and slowly worsening conditions for the middle class.

If the Republicans take back the executive branch, then political gridlock is the best we can hope for. If they’re able to get traction with their radical fiscal policies, they’ll keep feeding our money to corporations, banks and the ultra-wealthy. The middle class will shrink. More of us will fall into poverty, and with fewer people buying any products, even the large corporations will start to buckle and fail.

With more unemployment, more disparity between the haves and have-nots, and no clear path to prosperity in sight, I can no longer pretend that the U.S. is the stable and secure place I always knew it to be.

It is no longer unreasonable to think that things may go from bad to much, much worse. I’m not saying that an economic collapse will happen, or even that it it is likely to happen. Nor can I begin to predict the severity or duration of any crash that might occur. But in the current political climate it feels foolhardy to ignore the possibility that something very bad is on the horizon.

If you’re skeptically minded, you may be thinking that I’m being alarmist or that my anxiety is premature. You’re right of course. But there’s logic behind my madness. History is rife with examples giant social upheavals that happen with very little notice. Most recently, Egypt taught us that lesson anew. That country went from protests to revolution in a span of days.

I’m not saying that the U.S. is poised for such a revolution, of course- but I am saying that things could turn ugly here, very quickly. With the proper trigger, massive protests could form. If handled poorly, those protests could easily turn to riots. If it can happen in the U.K., it can certainly happen here. And how big could those riots be? And how long might they last? And by the time we’ve figured out the answers to those questions, will it be too late to prepare?

And so, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a gun shop, talking to the proprietor about a good beginner’s firearm for someone who is interested in home defense.

If you’ve never been to a large gun shop (and I’m sure many progressives have not), I strongly recommend that you step inside. For my part, I found the place unsettling. For the first time in my life I held a working firearm, but I didn’t feel any safer– quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

The thing about being a liberal in a gun shop is that you are privy to a lot of conversations that you wouldn’t otherwise hear. It was rather like walking into a Tea Party convention.

The shop I went to was near my home in North Carolina. When the gruff man behind the counter found out that I was from Massachusetts, he openly mocked it for being a “socialist” state. Moments later, I overheard a woman loudly ranting about how Obama’s job plan was “destroying the country” with more spending. She was interested in buying some gold coins for when the economy collapsed.

To be fair, most folks were just there to talk about guns, and play with guns, and buy new gadgets to affix to their guns. Their comfort and knowledge of firearms made me feel nervous. I was in store full of 50+ people who didn’t feel at all shy about expressing their distain for liberals and “socialists”. All of them, I’m convinced, would have had no trouble gunning me down in an honest firefight.

I went into that store to buy a gun to protect my family in the event of a riot. I walked out feeling very nervous that if their actually was major social upheaval in the United States, a lot of angry conservatives would have no problem forming an organized militia, and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the scores of unarmed “socialist” progressives out there.

Now I find myself wishing that liberals would flock to gun shops en masse so that they can see the world I caught a glimpse of, and so that they could interact with the same folks I did, and maybe engage in some lively political discussion. These gun shops are factories for unchecked Tea-Party-style nonsense. It means that a lot of angry and armed folks are spending their days amplifying each other’s misunderstanding and distrust of the rest of us.

And also- (and I realize that this part is just pure paranoia)– I’d like to know that if things ever really degrade, there would be a whole lot of armed liberals out there to keep the armed conservatives in check. Or at the very least, I’d like enough of them to lay down sufficient cover fire for me while I run from Whole Foods back to my Prius.


Why Americans now carry handguns in so many public places, from parks to college campuses. Is it making the country safer or more dangerous?

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / March 11, 2012

Garner, N.C.

Leaning against a scrub pine as preschoolers scurry about at his feet, Shane Gazda, father of 3-year-old twins, recalls a conundrum he faced earlier that morning: whether to take his Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun to a Groundhog Day celebration in this town’s White Deer Park.

After all, what was once against the law in North Carolina – carrying a concealed gun in a town park, square, or greenway – is now, as of Dec. 1, 2011, very much allowed. To Mr. Gazda, who likes to shoot targets in his backyard, an event as innocent as paying homage to a rodent could turn dangerous if the wrong person shows up.

“Part of it is being ready for cataclysm every day,” says Gazda, a hospital maintenance engineer. “And to be honest, I started carrying precisely to protect not just myself, but my family, and anyone around me who needs help.”

Gun laws: How much do you know?

In the end, Gazda left the gun at home. But his internal debate is emblematic of one a growing number of Americans are having almost daily. Thirty years after a powerful gun-control movement swept the country, Americans are embracing the idea of owning and carrying firearms with a zeal rarely seen since the days of muskets and militias.

A combination of favorable court rulings, grass-roots activism, traditional fears of crime, and modern anxieties about government has led to what may be a tipping point on an issue that just a few years ago was one of America’s most contentious. Gun rights have now expanded to the point where the fundamental question seems not to be “should we be able to carry guns,” but instead is “where can’t we carry them?

The answer: not very many places.

The new North Carolina statute, in fact, is one of hundreds of new gun-friendly laws enacted by states and localities in the past few years alone. Mississippi lawmakers, for instance, recently voted to allow gun owners who take an extra safety class to carry hidden weapons on college campuses and in courthouses. Ohio has granted people with permits the right to bring concealed weapons into restaurants, bars, and sports arenas. A 2010 Indiana law stipulates that private business owners let employees keep guns in their cars when parked on company property. And New Hampshire, along with several other states, has removed restrictions on bearing arms in the ultimate politically symbolic place – the State House.

In 2009, three times as many pro-gun laws were passed in the United States as antigun measures – a trend that experts say has only accelerated since then. Fully 40 states now mandate that anyone who asks for a concealed-carry permit and meets the qualifications must be issued one. One result: The number of concealed-weapon license holders in the US has gone from a few hundred thousand 10 years ago to more than 6 million today. In some parts of Tennessee, 1 out of every 11 people on the street is either carrying a weapon or has a license to do so.

“It’s a huge sea change, and one lesson to take out of all of this is that it’s amazing how fast attitudes on constitutional issues can change,” says Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the author of “An Army of Davids.” “The thinking has turned in a way that many thought to be impossible only 15 years ago.”

Public opinion matters

Even gun owners and NRA members overwhelmingly support background checks2 — although the NRA’s leadership opposes background checks and is at odds with its own members.3

Let’s make sure members of Congress listen to their constituents and not the gun lobby. Call your Senators right now and ask them to support the Fix Gun Checks Act:

http://DemandAPlan.org/100percent

Thanks for supporting common sense reform and spreading the word!

Mayors Against Illegal Guns
______________
1. “Background Checks Overwhelmingly Supported By Gun Owners In 4 States,” January 21, 2013.
2. “Does the NRA agree with Wayne LaPierre?” January 31, 2013.
3. “NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre,” January 31, 2013.


As a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen’s constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.  

It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans’ Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens’ Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our Second Amendment rights.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.
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My nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was murdered with a gun in Tucson, Arizona two years ago today.

Since that day, far too many families have gone through similar pain.

Families in Aurora, Colorado. Families in Newtown, Connecticut. Families of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every single day across America.

How many more families need to feel that pain before our leaders take action? What will it take for them to find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?

Today, please watch the TV ad I made with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and join me in calling on your leaders in Congress to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.


It’s past time for our leaders to take action.

Please make a donation of $35 or more to support the fight to end gun violence.

This July, I went to see a midnight movie with a couple of friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our fun night out turned into a nightmare.

At first, I thought it was a prank — just some kids setting off fireworks. But when I realized what was happening, I immediately thought about other mass shootings: Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson.

Could what happened there actually be happening to us? The terrifying answer was yes, and Aurora is now part of that list.

My friends and I were lucky. We were among the 58 people who survived their injuries. But twelve others weren’t so lucky.

In the weeks that followed, we heard a lot of promises from politicians. Unfortunately, those promises didn’t go anywhere. And now, not even six months later, the list of mass shootings has grown again:Newtown.

Is there anything more horrible than the mass murder of innocent children? Do we need a clearer reason to finally take action?

The time is NOW! Join me in supporting the fight to end gun violence with a donation of $35 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Demand A Plan campaign.

My survival, and the survival of my friends, was arbitrary. It all came down to where we chose our seats, where the shooter aimed his gun, where the bullets entered our bodies.

We can’t let fate be the difference between life and death in our country.

We need a real plan to end gun violence — a plan to stop mass shootings and protect the 33 people murdered every day with guns. We need to stop dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Will you step up and support our fight?

http://DemandAPlan.org/now

Thank you,

Stephen Barton
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

P.S. — I grew up just ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart goes out to the families of Newtown, and I’m committed to making sure our leaders hear their voices and take action. Your support today can make the difference.


That line of defense from gun proponents comes up again and again in the wake of mass shootings, like last week’s at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and seven adults dead. It’s true, in a sense: when holding objects that are specifically designed to be the most effective killing machines possible, people do, in fact, kill people.
And yes, people have gone on murderous rampages for all of human history, and have used whatever tools were at their disposal – rocks, knives, swords, their own hands – to inflict violence. The problem comes in when the tools at their disposal are really good at killing others without much work on the part of the killer, which is why lots of folks would like to see the United States institute some reasonable laws regulating gun ownership.
Time and again, though, the pro-gun right’s answer is the same: people will find a way to kill, and violence is inevitable, so taking away guns won’t work. Their solution seems to be a society where every citizen has a gun in one hand and crossed fingers on the other.

That perspective represents not just an intense cultural tie to guns, but a typically conservative view of humanity: people (other than me) are fundamentally bad and our time on Earth is in preparation for the afterlife, so why worry about making it better?

As we’ve seen in the debates on issues from climate change to gender equality to foreign policy, facts, statistics and rational arguments don’t really matter if the goal of offering them up is to improve things in the here and now. It’s a deeply pessimistic view of humanity that projects a strong sense of fatalism.
The point of being “good” isn’t because goodness is valuable unto itself or because goodness is widely beneficial. The point of being good is to earn heaven points. Goodness, then, is defined according to a very particular set of religious and cultural values, and is highly “in-group” focused. Goodness means going to church, marrying early, submitting to a husband-in-charge family structure, having children out of obligationand upholding the social pillars that organize society to keep a particular group on top.
Goodness isn’t necessarily helping other people or taking steps that are proven effective at decreasing violence or working to create a more accepting and happy world for our children. Goodness is upholding the power structures that have traditionally benefited the small group of men who think they have a monopoly on defining “goodness.”
Without strong social incentives and harsh social punishments for deviation from these structures, they collapse – and they collapse because they simply don’t serve large swaths of the American population (women who want equal rights, people of color, immigrants, poor people, non-Christians, gay people). There isn’t much of a reason for why these particular structures are the best, other than that the few people who benefit from them seem to like them. But the fundamental argument in their favor seems to be that without a social organization that puts white Christian men on top, the hordes of “bad” people will simply be out there – and there is nothing we can do other than arm ourselves against them.
That’s why “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is still considered an actual argument. It’s why the debates on gun control go in circles. One side thinks we have serious but fixable cultural problems with violence, with a masculinity that is tied to aggression and with the glorification of gun culture, and that the wide availability of all sorts of deadly weaponry in such a culture enables an unconscionable amount of lethal violence. The other side thinks people are just sinners, our time on this planet is meant to be trying and ugly, guns represent freedom and man’s dominion over the Earth, and gun deaths simply result from a lack of Christianity and the attendant breaks from a “traditional” model that necessitated the oppression of a great many Americans.
As Dennis Prager argued in the National Review, no one fears being massacred by a “decent” person. We fear being massacred by someone bad.
It is certainly true that “good” people don’t walk into a classroom and shoot a group of six year-olds. It’s also true that good people don’t murder their wives and girlfriends – yet five times more women are killed by intimate partners every year than by strangers, and 95% of the women who are killed with a firearm are murdered by a man. If there’s a gun involved, an incident of domestic violence is 12 times more likely to result in death. And while mass shootings understandably capture our national attention, the more than 30,000 American gun deaths every year (and their $37bn price tag) should spur us to action.
It’s easy to read those figures and conclude that conservatives are right: we are a world of awful, violent people who are going to keep on being awful and violent no matter what, so gun control serves no purpose and we’ll all be better off in Heaven anyway. But as is true with almost anything that makes life on Earth brutish and miserable, we have the power to change that. Gun deaths are lower in the states with the strictest gun control laws. And the majority of US gun deaths actually comprises suicides – acts committed not generally by evil, murderous people, but by individuals who are sick and hurting and need help.
Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What’s clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
The solutions, then, must be multifold: poverty alleviation; better mental health care with a focus on suicide prevention and depression treatment, not the stigmatization of the mentally ill, who are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and yes, gun control to make it more difficult for a firearm to be such an easily-accessed weapon.
To most people who believe in evidence-based policy and sociological realities, those solutions make sense. But to people who have no interest in actually finding solutions or making the world a better, safer, happier place, it’s like talking to a brick wall. Why improve life on earth if life on earth is temporary and all that matters is to secure a seat in the clouds?
That’s why you hear people like Mike Huckabee saying that mass shootings are somehow related to prayer in school and contraception, or Charlotte Allen arguing that the decline of traditional gender roles led to these shootings and that husky 12-year-old boys should throw their bodies at armed men.
Huckabee doesn’t actually think that saying prayers prevents gun violence or that contraception makes killers go on shooting sprees, any more than Allen believes that 12-year-old boys are made of Kevlar. They think that the world is divided into sinners and repentant sinners, and the only way to be a “decent” person is to fall in line behind their very narrow, often very harmful, beliefs.
Gun deaths, of course, are significantly more common in the most religious states of the nation. And gun deaths are very low in the relatively non-religiously-observant states of northern Europe. In the UK, the homicide by firearm rate is approximately one in a million. Ditto in France. That must be nice. More people are killed by guns in the US every day than in an entire year in Japan – by a factor of about 12.
Every nation in the world has people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. And yet, the kinds of regular mass rampages that have now happened several times this year alone in the United States seem to be a specifically American phenomenon.
As the Sandy Hook shootings unfolded, I watched many of the journalists I follow on Twitter post links to the articles about gun violence that they had written after the previous mass shooting, or the one before that. I watched friends on Facebook like and link to the inevitable memorial pages, this time around noting the too-short lives of 20 smiling kids who were practically infants, ensuring readers and supporters that these little angels are now safely in Heaven.
That’s an impulse I understand, but it’s not a solution.
Only in America do political writers all seem have a stable of articles about mass shootings that they can bring out and repost or revise when the next one occurs.
Only in America do we collectively shrug our shoulders when yet another young white man goes on a shooting spree.
Only in America do we remain convinced that people will kill no matter what, so we may as well give people virtually unlimited access to some of the deadliest hand-held weapons ever invented.
Only here, in America, do we think that the best we can do is a Facebook page and a plea to God.


More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported.

They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut.

The petition followed an interview with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, on CNN – in which Mr Morgan called his guest “a dangerous man”.

Petitions posted on the White House website only require 25,000 signatures to get a response from the government.

The campaign was started by a journalist in Texas following Mr Morgan’s CNN programme of 19 December.

The petition says the talk show host “is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment”, which protects an individual’s right to own guns.

“We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.”

Mr Morgan has responded, repeatedly, on his Twitter account.

“If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?” the 47-year-old joked after the 25,000-signature threshold was passed.

He added: “Wanting America to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines isn’t anti-constitutional – it’s called ‘common sense.'”

Later he said, in a reference to the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech: “Ironic US gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking Second Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?”

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has vowed to push for immediate and concrete gun safety proposals.

But the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA), which has more than four million members, has rejected the need for tighter gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey, there were 88.8 firearms for every 100 Americans in 2007.

‘Stupid man’
Mr Morgan’s interview, on his nightly chat show, came five days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Mr Pratt said tighter controls on gun sales would not put an end to similar tragedies.

“The problem occurs in those areas precisely where we have said ‘no guns’,” he said.

Mr Morgan hosts a nightly chat show on news network CNN
“Where the guns are allowed freely to be carried… we have very low murder rates.

“We only have problems in our cities and, unhappily, in our schools, where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves.”

Mr Morgan responded: “You’re a very stupid man, aren’t you?

“You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don’t actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America.”

He ended the combative interview by calling Mr Pratt “a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense” and declared, “you shame your country”.


The tone deaf and horrifyingly self-serving speech given by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Friday cast a pall over our holiday season. It took the NRA a full week to prepare THIS?

1. Blamed video games for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence video games implicated.

2. Blamed movies for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence movies implicated.

3. Urged creation of 100,000-strong new Federal bureaucracy of armed school guards, which implies big tax increase. Thanks, Wayne! (And did not mention that Columbine had an armed guard or that Virginia Tech has its own police department.)

4. Condemned “gun-free schools” policy as insane.

5. Scaremongered about rise in violent crime. Murder rate in US cut in half since 1990, but did not mention that firearms murder rate remains highest among advanced countries.

6. Condemns confusion of semi-automatic guns with “machine guns.” Does not mention how many bullets a minute a semi-automatic gun with expanded clip can shoot.

7. Seems to call for armed adult volunteers to show up at our elementary schools to engage in vigilante ‘guarding’ of them. Are these likely the people we want in our schools?

8. Wants cordons around schools instead of gun control.

9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms.

10. Does not mention that semi-automatic rifles were designed for military use and are not necessary for hunting, or that they are banned for civilians among all our NATO allies.


Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Today’s NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA’s extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn’t say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense.
Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.
You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.
What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.
What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.
Tell your members of Congress that it’s time to stand up to the NRA:
Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,
Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
P.S. — A group of 53 artists joined our effort to Demand A Plan and recorded a powerful, personal message. Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends and family:http://DemandAPlan.org.


(Reuters) – Gun makers are facing pressure from some major U.S. investors after the Newtown elementary school shooting, with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announcing it would sell the largest U.S. manufacturer of firearms and major public pension funds reviewing their gun-related investments.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would sell Freedom Group, whose AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle was used by a 20-year-old gunman to kill 20 children and six staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cerberus’ move came after some of its investors had expressed concerns, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which said on Monday that it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm.

“It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,” said Cerberus, which has more than $20 billion under management.

The $150.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is reviewing its investments in firearm manufacturers, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday.

New York City’s pension funds are also reviewing investments and may sell nearly $18 million worth of stock in four companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a leading advocate for gun control in the U.S.

The city’s $128 billion pension funds hold nearly $14 million worth of shares in ammunition maker Olin Corp, $1.7 million in gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp, $2.4 million in gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co Inc and $17,866 worth of stock in Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA.

Shares of Smith & Wesson fell nearly 10 percent, shares of Sturm Roger fell 7.7 percent, shares of Forjas Taurus fell 3.8 percent and shares of Olin fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

It wasn’t just public pension funds who were questioning whether they should have investments in gun companies.

King Lip, chief investment officer for San Francisco-based wealth adviser Baker Avenue Asset Management, said has received calls from clients wanting to make sure that the firm did not own or buy shares in gun-makers or gun-related companies.

“This one has especially hit close to home for a lot of people. A lot of our clients have kids or grandkids,” said Lip, whose firm has about $800 million in client assets under management. The firm does not own any gun-related stocks.

As outrage grew over the killings in Newtown, some gun retailers pulled rifles off their shelves. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Dick’s Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide. Cabela’s however, continued to advertise the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles on its website.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday asked CalSTRS and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to account for their investments in gun manufacturers. Lockyer proposed that the state’s public pension funds, the largest in the United States, sell their interest in any company that makes guns that are illegal under California’s assault weapons ban. California’s ban includes the Bushmaster rifle.

“We are not precluding the possibility of extending a divestment move to the retail sector, but right now we are focused on the source, which is the manufacturers,” Lockyer’s spokesman Tom Dresslar said.

KNEE-JERK REACTION?

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown killings have led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

While the latest moves by investors could herald a new chapter in corporate America’s stance toward the issue of gun rights, it remains to be seen if they will have lasting effects.

Several investors held firm about investing in gun-related stocks, seeing the debate more as a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. Vanguard Group Inc, the largest shareholder in Smith & Wesson, for example, said it was not in a position to meet what it called the “social concerns” of all shareholders.

Vanguard said in a statement it was “deeply saddened by the tragedy” but that most of its shares in Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger were held in index funds.

“All these stocks are getting hit, but ironically I think what we’ll find is that traditional gun purchases will actually rise,” said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

“People are scared, and there’s a good slice of America that very much believes they have a right to protect themselves,” said Ghriskey, whose firm has a small position in gun retailer Cabela’s. Cabela’s shares fell 5.9 percent.

A German fund manager, who focuses on “sin” stocks such as firearms, alcohol and gambling, said he was sticking with his recommendation to buy Smith & Wesson stock despite Newtown.

It’s a terrible tragedy, he said, “but everyone who changes his investment strategy now should ask himself if he really is surprised. Didn’t they read newspapers in the past?”

CERBERUS DELIBERATION

Still, investor outrage over the shooting was enough for Cerberus to decide to sell Freedom Group.

The firm’s decision came late on Monday night, after executives deliberated on the impact of the shooting, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The private equity firm, which was founded by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter in 1992, also has to be careful not to anger investors at a time it is seeking to raise up to $3.5 billion for a new buyout fund.

Feinberg’s father, Martin Feinberg, is also a resident of Newtown, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with him. Public records show a Martin Feinberg residing in a retirement facility in Newtown.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Cerberus filed for an initial public offering of Freedom Group in October 2009 but withdrew the registration in April 2011, without offering a reason.

“It’s an unusual move by Cerberus but it was a terrible event, so they are responding to some of their investors who are teachers’ funds. I’m sure they will be selling it at a low price because now would not be a good time to sell the business,” said Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago finance professor.

(Additional reporting by Martine Geller, Hilary Russ and Ashley Lau in New York, Lisa Baertlein and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles and Dan Burns in Newtown, Connecticut; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Tiffany Wu and Michael Perry)


Dec 18 (Reuters) – The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday it is “prepared to offer meaningful contributions” to prevent future massacres like the Connecticut shooting on Friday, marking a sharp change in tone for the nation’s largest gun rights group.

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the organization said in a statement sent to reporters.

The NRA plans a news conference on Friday after staying silent out of respect for families in Newtown, Connecticut, and as a matter of common decency, the statement said.


It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.


A US private equity firm has said it is to sell its stake in the maker of the AR15-style rifle used in the Newtown school shootings.

Cerberus Capital Management’s move came after pressure from one of its own biggest investors, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs).

Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006, and more gunmakers since, merging them into Freedom Group, which it will now sell.

The firm said it wanted to avoid being drawn into the gun control controversy.

The announcement by Cerberus comes four days after 20 young children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr Lanza then killed himself.

He had earlier killed his mother at her home before travelling to the school.

The murders have renewed the debate over the need for gun control in the US, with President Barack Obama promising “meaningful action”, and adding that “as a country, we have been through this too many times”.

The National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights organisation in the US, has not commented since the mass shooting.

Politicians previously against more gun control have also generally been quiet, while one, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said the Newtown attack had made him rethink his opposition to a ban on assault weapons.

However, gun control is difficult to tighten in the US, because the second amendment of the country’s constitution guarantees the “right to keep and bear arms”.

‘Senseless violence’
“We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so,” Cerberus said in a statement.

“We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition,” the firm added, noting that Freedom Group only sold weapons to federally licensed dealers and distributors, and not directly to US citizens.

Freedom Group claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial firearms, selling over two billion rounds of ammunition each year.

As well as Bushmaster, the maker of the AR15-style rifle, Freedom Group also owns Remington, the oldest US gunmaker established in 1816, and seven other gun arms manufacturers, as well as majority stakes in two clothing companies specialising in hunting and paramilitary apparel.

The group made profits before tax of $2.7m in the 12 months to September 2012, on $875m of sales.

Calstrs, which is the second largest pension fund in the US, had said on Monday that it was reviewing its own $750m (£460m) investment in Cerberus in light of the deaths of 20 school children and seven adults including teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Cerberus, which is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with over $20bn of assets under management, said that the shootings represented “a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level”.

Proceeds from the sale of Freedom Group would be returned to Cerberus’ investors, and not reinvested by the firm.

Even gun owners and NRA members overwhelmingly support background checks2 — although the NRA’s leadership opposes background checks and is at odds with its own members.3

Let’s make sure members of Congress listen to their constituents and not the gun lobby. Call your Senators right now and ask them to support the Fix Gun Checks Act:

http://DemandAPlan.org/100percent

Thanks for supporting common sense reform and spreading the word!

Mayors Against Illegal Guns
______________
1. “Background Checks Overwhelmingly Supported By Gun Owners In 4 States,” January 21, 2013.
2. “Does the NRA agree with Wayne LaPierre?” January 31, 2013.
3. “NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre,” January 31, 2013.


As a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen’s constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.  

It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans’ Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens’ Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our Second Amendment rights.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.
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My nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was murdered with a gun in Tucson, Arizona two years ago today.

Since that day, far too many families have gone through similar pain.

Families in Aurora, Colorado. Families in Newtown, Connecticut. Families of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every single day across America.

How many more families need to feel that pain before our leaders take action? What will it take for them to find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?

Today, please watch the TV ad I made with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and join me in calling on your leaders in Congress to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.


It’s past time for our leaders to take action.

Please make a donation of $35 or more to support the fight to end gun violence.

???This July, I went to see a midnight movie with a couple of friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our fun night out turned into a nightmare.

At first, I thought it was a prank — just some kids setting off fireworks. But when I realized what was happening, I immediately thought about other mass shootings: Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson.

Could what happened there actually be happening to us? The terrifying answer was yes, and Aurora is now part of that list.

My friends and I were lucky. We were among the 58 people who survived their injuries. But twelve others weren’t so lucky.

In the weeks that followed, we heard a lot of promises from politicians. Unfortunately, those promises didn’t go anywhere. And now, not even six months later, the list of mass shootings has grown again:Newtown.

Is there anything more horrible than the mass murder of innocent children? Do we need a clearer reason to finally take action?

The time is NOW! Join me in supporting the fight to end gun violence with a donation of $35 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Demand A Plan campaign.

My survival, and the survival of my friends, was arbitrary. It all came down to where we chose our seats, where the shooter aimed his gun, where the bullets entered our bodies.

We can’t let fate be the difference between life and death in our country.

We need a real plan to end gun violence — a plan to stop mass shootings and protect the 33 people murdered every day with guns. We need to stop dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Will you step up and support our fight?

http://DemandAPlan.org/now

Thank you,

Stephen Barton
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

P.S. — I grew up just ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart goes out to the families of Newtown, and I’m committed to making sure our leaders hear their voices and take action. Your support today can make the difference.


That line of defense from gun proponents comes up again and again in the wake of mass shootings, like last week’s at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and seven adults dead. It’s true, in a sense: when holding objects that are specifically designed to be the most effective killing machines possible, people do, in fact, kill people.
And yes, people have gone on murderous rampages for all of human history, and have used whatever tools were at their disposal – rocks, knives, swords, their own hands – to inflict violence. The problem comes in when the tools at their disposal are really good at killing others without much work on the part of the killer, which is why lots of folks would like to see the United States institute some reasonable laws regulating gun ownership.
Time and again, though, the pro-gun right’s answer is the same: people will find a way to kill, and violence is inevitable, so taking away guns won’t work. Their solution seems to be a society where every citizen has a gun in one hand and crossed fingers on the other.

That perspective represents not just an intense cultural tie to guns, but a typically conservative view of humanity: people (other than me) are fundamentally bad and our time on Earth is in preparation for the afterlife, so why worry about making it better?

As we’ve seen in the debates on issues from climate change to gender equality to foreign policy, facts, statistics and rational arguments don’t really matter if the goal of offering them up is to improve things in the here and now. It’s a deeply pessimistic view of humanity that projects a strong sense of fatalism.
The point of being “good” isn’t because goodness is valuable unto itself or because goodness is widely beneficial. The point of being good is to earn heaven points. Goodness, then, is defined according to a very particular set of religious and cultural values, and is highly “in-group” focused. Goodness means going to church, marrying early, submitting to a husband-in-charge family structure, having children out of obligationand upholding the social pillars that organize society to keep a particular group on top.
Goodness isn’t necessarily helping other people or taking steps that are proven effective at decreasing violence or working to create a more accepting and happy world for our children. Goodness is upholding the power structures that have traditionally benefited the small group of men who think they have a monopoly on defining “goodness.”
Without strong social incentives and harsh social punishments for deviation from these structures, they collapse – and they collapse because they simply don’t serve large swaths of the American population (women who want equal rights, people of color, immigrants, poor people, non-Christians, gay people). There isn’t much of a reason for why these particular structures are the best, other than that the few people who benefit from them seem to like them. But the fundamental argument in their favor seems to be that without a social organization that puts white Christian men on top, the hordes of “bad” people will simply be out there – and there is nothing we can do other than arm ourselves against them.
That’s why “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is still considered an actual argument. It’s why the debates on gun control go in circles. One side thinks we have serious but fixable cultural problems with violence, with a masculinity that is tied to aggression and with the glorification of gun culture, and that the wide availability of all sorts of deadly weaponry in such a culture enables an unconscionable amount of lethal violence. The other side thinks people are just sinners, our time on this planet is meant to be trying and ugly, guns represent freedom and man’s dominion over the Earth, and gun deaths simply result from a lack of Christianity and the attendant breaks from a “traditional” model that necessitated the oppression of a great many Americans.
As Dennis Prager argued in the National Review, no one fears being massacred by a “decent” person. We fear being massacred by someone bad.
It is certainly true that “good” people don’t walk into a classroom and shoot a group of six year-olds. It’s also true that good people don’t murder their wives and girlfriends – yet five times more women are killed by intimate partners every year than by strangers, and 95% of the women who are killed with a firearm are murdered by a man. If there’s a gun involved, an incident of domestic violence is 12 times more likely to result in death. And while mass shootings understandably capture our national attention, the more than 30,000 American gun deaths every year (and their $37bn price tag) should spur us to action.
It’s easy to read those figures and conclude that conservatives are right: we are a world of awful, violent people who are going to keep on being awful and violent no matter what, so gun control serves no purpose and we’ll all be better off in Heaven anyway. But as is true with almost anything that makes life on Earth brutish and miserable, we have the power to change that. Gun deaths are lower in the states with the strictest gun control laws. And the majority of US gun deaths actually comprises suicides – acts committed not generally by evil, murderous people, but by individuals who are sick and hurting and need help.
Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What’s clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
The solutions, then, must be multifold: poverty alleviation; better mental health care with a focus on suicide prevention and depression treatment, not the stigmatization of the mentally ill, who are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and yes, gun control to make it more difficult for a firearm to be such an easily-accessed weapon.
To most people who believe in evidence-based policy and sociological realities, those solutions make sense. But to people who have no interest in actually finding solutions or making the world a better, safer, happier place, it’s like talking to a brick wall. Why improve life on earth if life on earth is temporary and all that matters is to secure a seat in the clouds?
That’s why you hear people like Mike Huckabee saying that mass shootings are somehow related to prayer in school and contraception, or Charlotte Allen arguing that the decline of traditional gender roles led to these shootings and that husky 12-year-old boys should throw their bodies at armed men.
Huckabee doesn’t actually think that saying prayers prevents gun violence or that contraception makes killers go on shooting sprees, any more than Allen believes that 12-year-old boys are made of Kevlar. They think that the world is divided into sinners and repentant sinners, and the only way to be a “decent” person is to fall in line behind their very narrow, often very harmful, beliefs.
Gun deaths, of course, are significantly more common in the most religious states of the nation. And gun deaths are very low in the relatively non-religiously-observant states of northern Europe. In the UK, the homicide by firearm rate is approximately one in a million. Ditto in France. That must be nice. More people are killed by guns in the US every day than in an entire year in Japan – by a factor of about 12.
Every nation in the world has people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. And yet, the kinds of regular mass rampages that have now happened several times this year alone in the United States seem to be a specifically American phenomenon.
As the Sandy Hook shootings unfolded, I watched many of the journalists I follow on Twitter post links to the articles about gun violence that they had written after the previous mass shooting, or the one before that. I watched friends on Facebook like and link to the inevitable memorial pages, this time around noting the too-short lives of 20 smiling kids who were practically infants, ensuring readers and supporters that these little angels are now safely in Heaven.
That’s an impulse I understand, but it’s not a solution.
Only in America do political writers all seem have a stable of articles about mass shootings that they can bring out and repost or revise when the next one occurs.
Only in America do we collectively shrug our shoulders when yet another young white man goes on a shooting spree.
Only in America do we remain convinced that people will kill no matter what, so we may as well give people virtually unlimited access to some of the deadliest hand-held weapons ever invented.
Only here, in America, do we think that the best we can do is a Facebook page and a plea to God.


More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported.

They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut.

The petition followed an interview with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, on CNN – in which Mr Morgan called his guest “a dangerous man”.

Petitions posted on the White House website only require 25,000 signatures to get a response from the government.

The campaign was started by a journalist in Texas following Mr Morgan’s CNN programme of 19 December.

The petition says the talk show host “is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment”, which protects an individual’s right to own guns.

“We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.”

Mr Morgan has responded, repeatedly, on his Twitter account.

“If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?” the 47-year-old joked after the 25,000-signature threshold was passed.

He added: “Wanting America to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines isn’t anti-constitutional – it’s called ‘common sense.'”

Later he said, in a reference to the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech: “Ironic US gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking Second Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?”

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has vowed to push for immediate and concrete gun safety proposals.

But the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA), which has more than four million members, has rejected the need for tighter gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey, there were 88.8 firearms for every 100 Americans in 2007.

‘Stupid man’
Mr Morgan’s interview, on his nightly chat show, came five days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Mr Pratt said tighter controls on gun sales would not put an end to similar tragedies.

“The problem occurs in those areas precisely where we have said ‘no guns’,” he said.

Mr Morgan hosts a nightly chat show on news network CNN
“Where the guns are allowed freely to be carried… we have very low murder rates.

“We only have problems in our cities and, unhappily, in our schools, where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves.”

Mr Morgan responded: “You’re a very stupid man, aren’t you?

“You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don’t actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America.”

He ended the combative interview by calling Mr Pratt “a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense” and declared, “you shame your country”.


The tone deaf and horrifyingly self-serving speech given by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Friday cast a pall over our holiday season. It took the NRA a full week to prepare THIS?

1. Blamed video games for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence video games implicated.

2. Blamed movies for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence movies implicated.

3. Urged creation of 100,000-strong new Federal bureaucracy of armed school guards, which implies big tax increase. Thanks, Wayne! (And did not mention that Columbine had an armed guard or that Virginia Tech has its own police department.)

4. Condemned “gun-free schools” policy as insane.

5. Scaremongered about rise in violent crime. Murder rate in US cut in half since 1990, but did not mention that firearms murder rate remains highest among advanced countries.

6. Condemns confusion of semi-automatic guns with “machine guns.” Does not mention how many bullets a minute a semi-automatic gun with expanded clip can shoot.

7. Seems to call for armed adult volunteers to show up at our elementary schools to engage in vigilante ‘guarding’ of them. Are these likely the people we want in our schools?

8. Wants cordons around schools instead of gun control.

9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms.

10. Does not mention that semi-automatic rifles were designed for military use and are not necessary for hunting, or that they are banned for civilians among all our NATO allies.


Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Today’s NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA’s extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn’t say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense.
Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.
You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.
What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.
What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.
Tell your members of Congress that it’s time to stand up to the NRA:
Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,
Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
P.S. — A group of 53 artists joined our effort to Demand A Plan and recorded a powerful, personal message. Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends and family:http://DemandAPlan.org.


(Reuters) – Gun makers are facing pressure from some major U.S. investors after the Newtown elementary school shooting, with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announcing it would sell the largest U.S. manufacturer of firearms and major public pension funds reviewing their gun-related investments.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would sell Freedom Group, whose AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle was used by a 20-year-old gunman to kill 20 children and six staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cerberus’ move came after some of its investors had expressed concerns, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which said on Monday that it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm.

“It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,” said Cerberus, which has more than $20 billion under management.

The $150.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is reviewing its investments in firearm manufacturers, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday.

New York City’s pension funds are also reviewing investments and may sell nearly $18 million worth of stock in four companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a leading advocate for gun control in the U.S.

The city’s $128 billion pension funds hold nearly $14 million worth of shares in ammunition maker Olin Corp, $1.7 million in gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp, $2.4 million in gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co Inc and $17,866 worth of stock in Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA.

Shares of Smith & Wesson fell nearly 10 percent, shares of Sturm Roger fell 7.7 percent, shares of Forjas Taurus fell 3.8 percent and shares of Olin fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

It wasn’t just public pension funds who were questioning whether they should have investments in gun companies.

King Lip, chief investment officer for San Francisco-based wealth adviser Baker Avenue Asset Management, said has received calls from clients wanting to make sure that the firm did not own or buy shares in gun-makers or gun-related companies.

“This one has especially hit close to home for a lot of people. A lot of our clients have kids or grandkids,” said Lip, whose firm has about $800 million in client assets under management. The firm does not own any gun-related stocks.

As outrage grew over the killings in Newtown, some gun retailers pulled rifles off their shelves. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Dick’s Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide. Cabela’s however, continued to advertise the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles on its website.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday asked CalSTRS and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to account for their investments in gun manufacturers. Lockyer proposed that the state’s public pension funds, the largest in the United States, sell their interest in any company that makes guns that are illegal under California’s assault weapons ban. California’s ban includes the Bushmaster rifle.

“We are not precluding the possibility of extending a divestment move to the retail sector, but right now we are focused on the source, which is the manufacturers,” Lockyer’s spokesman Tom Dresslar said.

KNEE-JERK REACTION?

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown killings have led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

While the latest moves by investors could herald a new chapter in corporate America’s stance toward the issue of gun rights, it remains to be seen if they will have lasting effects.

Several investors held firm about investing in gun-related stocks, seeing the debate more as a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. Vanguard Group Inc, the largest shareholder in Smith & Wesson, for example, said it was not in a position to meet what it called the “social concerns” of all shareholders.

Vanguard said in a statement it was “deeply saddened by the tragedy” but that most of its shares in Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger were held in index funds.

“All these stocks are getting hit, but ironically I think what we’ll find is that traditional gun purchases will actually rise,” said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

“People are scared, and there’s a good slice of America that very much believes they have a right to protect themselves,” said Ghriskey, whose firm has a small position in gun retailer Cabela’s. Cabela’s shares fell 5.9 percent.

A German fund manager, who focuses on “sin” stocks such as firearms, alcohol and gambling, said he was sticking with his recommendation to buy Smith & Wesson stock despite Newtown.

It’s a terrible tragedy, he said, “but everyone who changes his investment strategy now should ask himself if he really is surprised. Didn’t they read newspapers in the past?”

CERBERUS DELIBERATION

Still, investor outrage over the shooting was enough for Cerberus to decide to sell Freedom Group.

The firm’s decision came late on Monday night, after executives deliberated on the impact of the shooting, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The private equity firm, which was founded by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter in 1992, also has to be careful not to anger investors at a time it is seeking to raise up to $3.5 billion for a new buyout fund.

Feinberg’s father, Martin Feinberg, is also a resident of Newtown, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with him. Public records show a Martin Feinberg residing in a retirement facility in Newtown.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Cerberus filed for an initial public offering of Freedom Group in October 2009 but withdrew the registration in April 2011, without offering a reason.

“It’s an unusual move by Cerberus but it was a terrible event, so they are responding to some of their investors who are teachers’ funds. I’m sure they will be selling it at a low price because now would not be a good time to sell the business,” said Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago finance professor.

(Additional reporting by Martine Geller, Hilary Russ and Ashley Lau in New York, Lisa Baertlein and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles and Dan Burns in Newtown, Connecticut; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Tiffany Wu and Michael Perry)


Dec 18 (Reuters) – The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday it is “prepared to offer meaningful contributions” to prevent future massacres like the Connecticut shooting on Friday, marking a sharp change in tone for the nation’s largest gun rights group.

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the organization said in a statement sent to reporters.

The NRA plans a news conference on Friday after staying silent out of respect for families in Newtown, Connecticut, and as a matter of common decency, the statement said.


It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.


A US private equity firm has said it is to sell its stake in the maker of the AR15-style rifle used in the Newtown school shootings.

Cerberus Capital Management’s move came after pressure from one of its own biggest investors, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs).

Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006, and more gunmakers since, merging them into Freedom Group, which it will now sell.

The firm said it wanted to avoid being drawn into the gun control controversy.

The announcement by Cerberus comes four days after 20 young children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr Lanza then killed himself.

He had earlier killed his mother at her home before travelling to the school.

The murders have renewed the debate over the need for gun control in the US, with President Barack Obama promising “meaningful action”, and adding that “as a country, we have been through this too many times”.

The National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights organisation in the US, has not commented since the mass shooting.

Politicians previously against more gun control have also generally been quiet, while one, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said the Newtown attack had made him rethink his opposition to a ban on assault weapons.

However, gun control is difficult to tighten in the US, because the second amendment of the country’s constitution guarantees the “right to keep and bear arms”.

‘Senseless violence’
“We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so,” Cerberus said in a statement.

“We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition,” the firm added, noting that Freedom Group only sold weapons to federally licensed dealers and distributors, and not directly to US citizens.

Freedom Group claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial firearms, selling over two billion rounds of ammunition each year.

As well as Bushmaster, the maker of the AR15-style rifle, Freedom Group also owns Remington, the oldest US gunmaker established in 1816, and seven other gun arms manufacturers, as well as majority stakes in two clothing companies specialising in hunting and paramilitary apparel.

The group made profits before tax of $2.7m in the 12 months to September 2012, on $875m of sales.

Calstrs, which is the second largest pension fund in the US, had said on Monday that it was reviewing its own $750m (£460m) investment in Cerberus in light of the deaths of 20 school children and seven adults including teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Cerberus, which is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with over $20bn of assets under management, said that the shootings represented “a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level”.

Proceeds from the sale of Freedom Group would be returned to Cerberus’ investors, and not reinvested by the firm.

Second Amendment to the Constitution

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

(Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.)

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

(Second Amendment to the Constitution.)


Wisconsin, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Newtown. By the time you read this column, there may well be a new locale to add to the list. Such is the state of enabled and murderous mayhem in the United States.

Gun advocates say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The truth, though, is that people with guns kill people, often very efficiently, as we saw so clearly and so often this summer. And while the right to bear arms might be written into the Constitution, we cannot keep pretending that this right is somehow without limit, even as we place reasonable limits on arguably more valuable rights like the freedom of speech and due process.

Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying concealed weapons has been struck down. The mass killings at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday will likely renew a serious national debate about an assault weapons ban and the Second Amendment.

Reports from Newtown, Conn., indicate that multiple shots were fired by a man who was dressed in assault gear, who had three weapons. This is a case of random mental derangement. Arming every teacher in every school is more a risk of than a safety against this.

The shooting comes right after another man opened fire inside an Oregon mall on Tuesday in an incident that left three people dead. The gun used the shooting, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, jammed during the attack, and it was a stolen weapon.

Since April, there have been mass killings in Oakland, Calif. (7 dead), Aurora, Colo. (12 dead), Oak Creek, Wis. (6 dead), Minneapolis (5 dead), Brookfield, Wis. (3 dead), Portland, Ore. (2 dead) and Newtown, Conn. (27 dead).

Talk of renewing the national Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was being debated after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and there will be more discussion about asking Congress to pass a stricter ban, with no time limit.

But the path of the any Assault Weapons ban becoming a reality faces several major obstructions.

First, gun ownership is at the core of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which grants citizens the rights to bear arms.

When the original Federal Assault Weapons ban was passed in 1994, gun rights groups decided not to pursue a challenge through the court system. An August 2012 analysis from Politico shows that given the recent history of assault weapon court cases, there is a strong indication that the NRA would pursue a Second Amendment challenge up to the Supreme Court—if a national law were passed again. And based on a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the fate of a Federal Assault Weapons case in front of the court could be problematic.

The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller found that while citizens had the right to keep guns for self-defense, the court also agreed with an older ruling that “finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

That ruling was restricted to people who lived in federal enclaves.

A subsequent ruling in 2010 that reinforced the right of gun ownership and that it extended to states and towns. But for any challenge to take place to a national gun law, Congress would have to pass a new law first.

Guns are tools, tools of death. Their function is to kill. All animals must kill to survive, and many must kill sentient beings. Among mammals many species kill their own kind. The cuddly hamster will kill its cage mate during its sleep and eat out its brain for breakfast. Apes, not only human, carry out organized attacks into other clans. From this perspective there is nothing special about humans killing each other for whatever circumstance.

However man is supposed to be above instinct and there is a claim of morality and rationality.  Nevertheless, through history the morality of killing has proven to be intractable. Despite the fact that many moral systems purport to ban killing, there are always ifs and buts, and even strict pacifist systems like Janism agree that violence in self-defense can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Some Christians sects, like the Mennonites, teach that because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, killing, even in war, is not a Christian response. Yet Christians kill under socially acceptable conditions even with praise and encouragement  from their Church.  Love toward oneself (myself, my mate, my children, my home, my country, my church, my …) remains a fundamental principle of morality.  It boils down to the right of the strong, Justice.

Nonetheless, The right to kill in self defense or whatever redeeming circumstance might occur is not the issue here. The question is the social convenience of unlimited availability of weapons for all individuals. Even to second amendment zealots is evident that unlimited availability of weapons is not desirable and they pose  something different, fuzzier, harder to define or implement. A qualification in the line of …individuals like I, using catch phrases like law-abiding citizens.

Let’s consider then a different question: Social stability increase or decreases with the availability of firearms? If we look at examples of social unrest, like the riots in L.A., things would have been a lot worst if more weapons were available to the general population. The riots took on tones of interracial conflict, blacks raiding commercial districts of stores owned by Asians. The Asians used small guns and hunting rifles and shotguns to repel the mob. What would happen if the battle hardened drug gangs of the black neighborhoods had taken the challenge and attacked with machine guns? This did not happen because the gangs were afraid of the government not just of the store owners. Therefore, the ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

militiaGun Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.  A violent bomb just waiting to go off.  It sounds like sedition.  In fact, there is a track of domestic right wing terrorism.

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The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed.

In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
They see themselves as free, armed men  that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box. It sound like fools playing with fire. The problem is that we all will get burned. Guns for peace is like condoms for virginity. The safety of all of us depends on social stability and the availability of guns undermines the social fabric.
image0077

I will point out that there is a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well being of children, regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence are used as argument for the need of more weapons. This, in itself, is a symptom that the social convenience of unlimited gun availability has weak support. The objection to unlimited availability is not an attack on the right of self defense per se, but rather a claim that this might not be the best strategy to uphold the Social Contract.

outlook

There is a trade off between social stability and the convenience, freedom, and safety of the individual.

secondamendment

The argument of guns for self defense makes an implicit assumption of asymmetrical force.  The scenarios depicted by gun advocates and those actually carried out in practice assume a tactical advantage and often an unarmed attack.  However in a world with unlimited gun availability the major treat is also from armed groups. Furthermore, since they know you are armed and willing to kill the stakes are higher. In terms of Game Theory, this is known as the prisoner’s dilemma. If I am the guy with the gun I am king of the mountain, if my neighbor is the man, I am at his mercy, if we both have guns, we better be in good terms, and we are both at high risk of dying of a shotgun. If neither has guns there is no risk of gun violence but none is in position to control the other. However small the probability of a gun being used in a serious injury or death, -accident, suicide, homicide, massacre-, is bigger than zero and multiplied by 85 million produces thousands of deaths a year.

During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStatbroken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and – controversially – the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying. There is a correlation between poverty and crime. Not that rich people do not like the easy way but they have other more effective choices and they take your money without going into your house. So if street crime is your worry, it is more effective to fight against poverty than spend resources on guns.  Fighting against poverty does not mean charity, but uprooting the causes.

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 25–34 years, and the fourth for persons aged 1–14 years. Similarly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years and the third leading cause for persons aged 10–24 years. Homicide and suicide are leading causes of death because of drugs and weapons are just tools.

Every year just over 30,000 people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Every two years more US citizens are killed by gunshot wounds than were lost in the entire Vietnam war.

With a population of 310 million about 2,573,000 people die in the US each year. Of which 30,000 die of Gun Shot – so if you live in the US you have over a 1 % chance that you will die of Gun Shot wound.

America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force. Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

(Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.)

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

(Second Amendment to the Constitution.)


Wisconsin, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Newtown. By the time you read this column, there may well be a new locale to add to the list. Such is the state of enabled and murderous mayhem in the United States.

Gun advocates say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The truth, though, is that people with guns kill people, often very efficiently, as we saw so clearly and so often this summer. And while the right to bear arms might be written into the Constitution, we cannot keep pretending that this right is somehow without limit, even as we place reasonable limits on arguably more valuable rights like the freedom of speech and due process.

Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying concealed weapons has been struck down. The mass killings at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday will likely renew a serious national debate about an assault weapons ban and the Second Amendment.

Reports from Newtown, Conn., indicate that multiple shots were fired by a man who was dressed in assault gear, who had three weapons. This is a case of random mental derangement. Arming every teacher in every school is more a risk of than a safety against this.

The shooting comes right after another man opened fire inside an Oregon mall on Tuesday in an incident that left three people dead. The gun used the shooting, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, jammed during the attack, and it was a stolen weapon.

Since April, there have been mass killings in Oakland, Calif. (7 dead), Aurora, Colo. (12 dead), Oak Creek, Wis. (6 dead), Minneapolis (5 dead), Brookfield, Wis. (3 dead), Portland, Ore. (2 dead) and Newtown, Conn. (27 dead).

Talk of renewing the national Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was being debated after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and there will be more discussion about asking Congress to pass a stricter ban, with no time limit.

But the path of the any Assault Weapons ban becoming a reality faces several major obstructions.

First, gun ownership is at the core of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which grants citizens the rights to bear arms.

When the original Federal Assault Weapons ban was passed in 1994, gun rights groups decided not to pursue a challenge through the court system. An August 2012 analysis from Politico shows that given the recent history of assault weapon court cases, there is a strong indication that the NRA would pursue a Second Amendment challenge up to the Supreme Court—if a national law were passed again. And based on a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the fate of a Federal Assault Weapons case in front of the court could be problematic.

The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller found that while citizens had the right to keep guns for self-defense, the court also agreed with an older ruling that “finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

That ruling was restricted to people who lived in federal enclaves.

A subsequent ruling in 2010 that reinforced the right of gun ownership and that it extended to states and towns. But for any challenge to take place to a national gun law, Congress would have to pass a new law first.

Guns are tools, tools of death. Their function is to kill. All animals must kill to survive, and many must kill sentient beings. Among mammals many species kill their own kind. The cuddly hamster will kill its cage mate during its sleep and eat out its brain for breakfast. Apes, not only human, carry out organized attacks into other clans. From this perspective there is nothing special about humans killing each other for whatever circumstance.

However man is supposed to be above instinct and there is a claim of morality and rationality.  Nevertheless, through history the morality of killing has proven to be intractable. Despite the fact that many moral systems purport to ban killing, there are always ifs and buts, and even strict pacifist systems like Janism agree that violence in self-defense can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Some Christians sects, like the Mennonites, teach that because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, killing, even in war, is not a Christian response. Yet Christians kill under socially acceptable conditions even with praise and encouragement  from their Church.  Love toward oneself (myself, my mate, my children, my home, my country, my church, my …) remains a fundamental principle of morality.  It boils down to the right of the strong, Justice.

Nonetheless, The right to kill in self defense or whatever redeeming circumstance might occur is not the issue here. The question is the social convenience of unlimited availability of weapons for all individuals. Even to second amendment zealots is evident that unlimited availability of weapons is not desirable and they pose  something different, fuzzier, harder to define or implement. A qualification in the line of …individuals like I, using catch phrases like law-abiding citizens.

Let’s consider then a different question: Social stability increase or decreases with the availability of firearms? If we look at examples of social unrest, like the riots in L.A., things would have been a lot worst if more weapons were available to the general population. The riots took on tones of interracial conflict, blacks raiding commercial districts of stores owned by Asians. The Asians used small guns and hunting rifles and shotguns to repel the mob. What would happen if the battle hardened drug gangs of the black neighborhoods had taken the challenge and attacked with machine guns? This did not happen because the gangs were afraid of the government not just of the store owners. Therefore, the ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

militiaGun Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.  A violent bomb just waiting to go off.  It sounds like sedition.  In fact, there is a track of domestic right wing terrorism.

sub_16299

The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed.

In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
They see themselves as free, armed men  that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box. It sound like fools playing with fire. The problem is that we all will get burned. Guns for peace is like condoms for virginity. The safety of all of us depends on social stability and the availability of guns undermines the social fabric.
image0077

I will point out that there is a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well being of children, regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence are used as argument for the need of more weapons. This, in itself, is a symptom that the social convenience of unlimited gun availability has weak support. The objection to unlimited availability is not an attack on the right of self defense per se, but rather a claim that this might not be the best strategy to uphold the Social Contract.

outlook

There is a trade off between social stability and the convenience, freedom, and safety of the individual.

secondamendment

The argument of guns for self defense makes an implicit assumption of asymmetrical force.  The scenarios depicted by gun advocates and those actually carried out in practice assume a tactical advantage and often an unarmed attack.  However in a world with unlimited gun availability the major treat is also from armed groups. Furthermore, since they know you are armed and willing to kill the stakes are higher. In terms of Game Theory, this is known as the prisoner’s dilemma. If I am the guy with the gun I am king of the mountain, if my neighbor is the man, I am at his mercy, if we both have guns, we better be in good terms, and we are both at high risk of dying of a shotgun. If neither has guns there is no risk of gun violence but none is in position to control the other. However small the probability of a gun being used in a serious injury or death, -accident, suicide, homicide, massacre-, is bigger than zero and multiplied by 85 million produces thousands of deaths a year.

During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStatbroken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and – controversially – the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying. There is a correlation between poverty and crime. Not that rich people do not like the easy way but they have other more effective choices and they take your money without going into your house. So if street crime is your worry, it is more effective to fight against poverty than spend resources on guns.  Fighting against poverty does not mean charity, but uprooting the causes.

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 25–34 years, and the fourth for persons aged 1–14 years. Similarly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years and the third leading cause for persons aged 10–24 years. Homicide and suicide are leading causes of death because of drugs and weapons are just tools.

Every year just over 30,000 people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Every two years more US citizens are killed by gunshot wounds than were lost in the entire Vietnam war.

With a population of 310 million about 2,573,000 people die in the US each year. Of which 30,000 die of Gun Shot – so if you live in the US you have over a 1 % chance that you will die of Gun Shot wound.

America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force. Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.

Dark Knights

A man alleged to have lured two US volunteer firefighters to their deaths in Webster, New York left a long note outlining his plans, police say.

No motive was given but the note left by William Spengler, identified as the gunman said he was planning to “do what I like doing best – killing people.”

Police searching Spengler’s burnt-out house say they have found human remains – believed to be those of his sister.

The firefighters were shot dead as they arrived to tackle a fire on Monday.

At a news conference on Tuesday, police said Spengler, 62, had three guns and aimed to burn down his neighborhood.

William Spengler spent 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother
Seven homes on a narrow stretch of land beside Lake Ontario were destroyed by the fire. Another two firemen and an off-duty police officer were wounded in the attack.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that Spengler, who apparently shot himself in the head, had used a .38 calibre revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Bushmaster .223 calibre rifle with flash suppression.

The same make and calibre rifle had been used in the murder of 26 teachers and children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December, he said.

The police chief told reporters in Webster that a two- to three-page note from the gunman had been found in which he said: “I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best – killing people.”

At a later briefing, Mr Pickering said human remains were found in the house Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl.

Police believe the remains are hers.

Spengler and his sister lived with their mother until her death in October.

‘Clear ambush’
Spengler had served 17 years in jail for killing his grandmother with a hammer but had done nothing to attract the authorities’ attention since being granted parole in 1998.

As a convicted criminal, he was not allowed to own weapons.

Police said he appeared to have set “a trap” by setting fire to his home. His older sister, Cheryl, whom he reportedly hated, is missing.

Two of the firefighters who responded to the call, Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, and Mike Chiapperini, aged 43, were shot dead in what was described as a “clear ambush” on emergency services.

Their two wounded colleagues are said to be in a stable condition with gunshot wounds.

The off-duty police officer, who was also shot and wounded as he came to their aid, was praised by the police chief for saving people’s lives.

Gerald Pickering cited “mental health issues” as a possible factor for the attack, which came months after the death of Spengler’s mother.

The Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, killed his mother with her own guns before launching his attack on Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

His murders of 20 children aged six and seven have prompted a national debate on gun ownership and mental health.

“It’s sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation,” Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn told AP news agency after the attack in New York state


Two volunteer firefighters have been shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state.

It appears the four were fired upon as they arrived at the scene of a fire early on Monday morning.

The blaze broke out just before 06:00 local time (11:00 GMT) and the shooting reportedly prevented firefighters putting it out for several hours.

A gunman has been found dead at the scene, local police say.

“Upon arrival of the first… engine company and some firefighters in their personal vehicles, they underwent gunfire from a location unknown,” Webster’s Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier told reporters.

The two dead firefighters were named by police as Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini.

An off-duty policeman who was driving by the scene at the time received shrapnel wounds and was also being treated, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters.

Police spokesmen said the area was “an active crime scene” but that no more shooters were believed to be present.

‘Senseless act’
Police teams moved in to evacuate residents after the shooting.

Firefighters were then able to return to the scene and are now tackling the blaze.

“All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“The contributions made by the fallen and injured officers in Webster will never be forgotten,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

“As this investigation unfolds, we stand with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that lethal weapons are out of the hands of dangerous people, so that the brave New Yorkers who risk their lives every day to protect us are not exposed to additional danger,” he added.

Also on Monday, a policeman was shot dead in the city of Houston, Texas after the driver of a car he pulled over opened fire on him.

The debate on gun violence in the US was rekindled earlier this month by the shootings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

“There’s a heightened awareness to this kind of violence in light of what happened in Connecticut,” said Maggie Brooks, leader of the local administration in Monroe County, the area which includes Webster.

“We have first responders and we have families who are in pain and crisis today and we need to, as a community, keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” Mrs Brooks said, adding that it was a “very, very difficult day”.

President Obama has promised to push for action on gun control while the National Rifle Association (NRA) has called for armed security in all American schools.


source: ThinkProgress

Immediately after the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say murdered his girlfriend at their home before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shooting himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager, thoughts turned to the role concussions and brain injuries may have played in the tragedy.

But during halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC’s Bob Costas brought up another angle: the role guns, and our nation’s lax gun laws, played in the tragedy. After a brief introduction, Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun


Thomas “Tres” Caffall, the man who police say killed two people–including a Texas constable–in a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus on Monday was a “ticking time bomb,” his stepfather says.

“He was crazy as hell,” Richard Weaver, Caffall’s stepfather, told KPRC-TV. “At one point, we were afraid that he was going to come up here and do something to his mother and me.”

Caffall, 35, opened fire as the Brazos County constable, Brian Bachmann, was attempting to serve him an eviction notice, College Station police said. Officers responded to the off-campus house shortly after noon following reports of shots fired, and found the 41-year-old Bachmann on the ground.
Caffall was shot during what police described as a 30-minute “gun battle.” Bachmann and Caffall were taken to College Station Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.


By Deanne Katz, Esq. at FindLaw.com
Wed Aug 8, 2012 12:22am EDT

Scott Smith was likely trying to emulate the horrific Colorado shootings when he brought a gun, extra ammo, and several knives to a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Luckily his performance was cut short when an observant manager and a security guard noticed him.

Off-duty Officer Jeremiah Bullins, that night’s security guard, approached Smith in the Crocker Park, Ohio theater where he was sitting and asked to check his bag. Smith complied which is when Bullins saw the weaponry.

Smith was charged with crimes related to carrying the weapons, especially given his personal status.

Prosecutors are charging Smith with carrying a weapon under disability, reports WKYC. The claim is that his prescription medications prevent him from owning firearms under any circumstances.

If proven, Smith will be in trouble for owning the weapons, never mind carrying them into a theater.

But that’s not the only charge against him. Smith is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Ohio, like many states, has laws requiring gun owners to get a special permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even if Smith turns out to be a lawful gun owner, it does not appear that he has a permit to carry concealed weapons.

For states that require a permit for concealed weapons, any gun owner who does not have a permit must keep their guns in view at all times while carrying them in public. Several states ban concealed weapons entirely.

Theater personnel have been on high alert since James Holmes gunned-down movie goers last month. Scott Smith’s foiled attempt is evidence that their efforts are not in vain.


(Reuters) – The white supremacist gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the FBI said on Wednesday.

A police officer shot and wounded the gunman, Wade Page, 40, in the stomach outside the temple in Oak Creek on Sunday, said Teresa Carlson, an FBI special agent in charge.

“Subsequent to that wound, it appears that Page died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” she told a news conference.

Police had said Page had been shot to death by an officer responding to the attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee.

Carlson said she had seen a video of the police officer wounding Page with a squad rifle. “It’s an amazing shot, and thank goodness,” she said.

Federal authorities have said they are treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism. Page, an Army veteran, was a musician who played in white power punk-metal bands. He was armed with a 9mm handgun during the attack.

Turban-wearing Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims in the United States. The Sikh faith was founded in the Punjab area of India and Pakistan and has an estimated 500,000 or more adherents in the United States.

President Barack Obama called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express his condolences over the temple shooting.

Carlson said investigators had not found any motive for the attack, which also wounded four people, including a police officer shot eight or nine times after responding to a 911 call.

The wounded officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, is up and walking, Carlson said.

Investigators have conducted more than 100 interviews with Page’s relatives, employers and associates, Carlson said. They are also following 101 leads worldwide and have issued 180 federal grand jury subpoenas.

Police have arrested Page’s former girlfriend, Misty Cook, on a weapons charge. Carlson said the arrest took place at Cook’s Milwaukee home late on Sunday and was unrelated to the shooting investigation.

Police said on Tuesday that a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm would be sought against Cook, 31. [ID:nL2E8J80OC] (Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch; writing by Ian Simpson; editing by Vicki Allen and Mohammad Zargham)


The White House gave a cool welcome on Monday to Democratic legislation that wouldeffectively ban online or mail-order purchases of ammunition in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
“I haven’t seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily press briefing. “But as that and other pieces of legislation make their way through the legislative process, we’ll evaluate them.”
The proposal, crafted by Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, aims to restrict the ability of Americans to buy unlimited quantities of ammunition over the Internet, or by mail order, anonymously.
President Barack Obama has called for a common sense response to the slaughter in Aurora. But the White House has played down his appetite for new legislation as opposed to tightening or toughening existing measures—such as background checks—to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. And the president has underlined his support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
“He believes in the second amendment of the constitution, in the right to bear arms,” Earnest said again Monday.  “But he also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law, to ensure that guns don’t fall in the hands of criminals or others who shouldn’t have them.
The new legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,  rests on four pillars, according to Lautenberg’s office:
It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.


Violent crime dropped in 2011, preliminary figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday show.
According to the FBI’s “Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report,” violent crimes fell 4 percent nationwide, part of a decade-plus decline in that category.
Murder was down about 2 percent, according to the FBI, while forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all fell 4.0 percent when compared to 2010. But in towns with populations of less than 10,000, there was an 18.3 percent increase in murder in 2011. There was also a 0.6 percent increase in murder in the Midwest.
The FBI did not give reasons for the trends.
Property crimes declined about 1 percent. Arsonwhich is considered a property crime though counted separatelyfell 5 percent, the FBI said. The only overall rise in property crimes was burglary, which was up marginally.
Data for the report is collected by the bureau from participating state and federal law enforcement agencies. Final figures will be published this fall.


Gun sales in Colorado have spiked since last week’s massacre, The Denver Post reports.
Background checks jumped more than 41 percent since Friday’s shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” at an Aurora movie theater. Over the weekend, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm, the Post said, an increase of 43 percent over the previous weekend.
“It’s been insane,” Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told the paper.
Spikes in gun sales are not uncommon in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one in Colorado. Following the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded more than a dozen others—including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—in Tucson, sales of handguns soared more than 60 percent in the state, according to FBI data. Similar spikes were seen after the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.
Some of those seeking to buy guns in Colorado over the weekend said they were seeking to arm themselves for protection in the wake of the shooting, according to the report. But many were likely fearful of a change in gun laws. Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora told the paper she wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.
“When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff,” Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Bloomberg.com after the rampage in Tucson.
They also get worried when a Democrat is about to take office. Before President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, there was a spike in gun sales, and gun shop owners and manufacturers have reported similarly brisk buying in 2012.
“It’s definitely the election year,” Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer, told Fox News in March. “People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights with taken away, so they are stocking up.”
In December, the FBI reported a record number of background checks—1,534,414—sent by gun dealers. “Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas,” according to CNN. In 2010, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System received more than 14 million requests, more than in any other year.
James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Friday’s massacre, was found with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock .40-caliber pistols and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun when he was arrested outside the theater in Aurora. And like Jared Loughner, the accused killer in the Tucson massacre, Holmes purchased the guns legally.

CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.

Dear Friend,
The shock and trauma from the images and stories from Aurora are still very much with us, and it is impossible to put into words the pain being felt by families and friends of the victims.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out. In the wake of this massacre, it’s time to put aside politics and reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.
After the news broke last Friday, President Barack Obama said that “there are going to be other days for politics, this I think is a day for prayer and reflection.” Governor Mitt Romney said, “I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, and American.”1 Both of their campaigns asked networks to pull their negative advertisements.
The gestures from the two men who are running for President were welcome steps. But, we need more than sympathetic words. We need real leadership to start to address the senseless gun violence that holds our communities hostage.
One of the principal weapons used by the shooter in the horrific Aurora massacre was an AR-15 assault rifle.2 This weapon features a magazine that holds 100 rounds of bullets, and its trigger is capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute.3
The federal assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, banned the sale of guns like the AR-15.4 Unfortunately, that ban expired in 2004 as a result of fierce lobbying by the NRA. It’s long past time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15.

CREDO members worked to pass the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. And we fought to stop its expiration in 2004. And we continue to advocate for a federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Aurora massacre.

Massacres on the scale of the tragedy in Aurora happen in part because our federal gun laws make it easy for civilians to obtain military-level firepower. We need to pass and enforce sensible federal gun laws restricting ready access for civilians to assault weapons. Reinstating a strong version of the federal ban on assault weapons known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is where we should start.
We’re not so naïve as to think that sensible gun laws are all that’s needed to stop the killings. There are many things that need to change in American culture to stop the next Aurora-like massacre. But we do know one thing we should put at the top of the list — keeping military-level assault weapons like the AR-15 with a high capacity clip out of the hands of civilians. Click below to automatically sign the petition.

r=6916339&p=obama_romney_guns&

id=43839-5154581-hC2Ah5x&t=10

Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Adam Serwer, “Politicizing Tragedy and the Aurora Theater Shooting,’ MotherJones.com, July 20, 2012.
2. Zack Beauchamp, “Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting,” ThinkProgress.org, July 20, 2012.
3. Caroline Hedley, “It Was Shockingly Easy For The Batman Shooter To Buy A Massive Arsenal,” BusinessInsider.com, July 21, 2012.
4. Beauchamp, “Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting.”

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The University of Colorado said Sunday it was investigating whether shooting suspect James Holmes used his position as a graduate student to order materials in the potentially deadly booby traps that police said they found in his apartment.

Holmes, 24, got deliveries over four months to his home and school, authorities have said. The university is looking into what was received at the school to assist police with their investigation, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery.

The suspect was described as a budding scientist, brimming with potential, who pursued a graduate program even as he planned the attack with “calculation and deliberation,” police said.

Investigators spent hours Saturday removing explosive materials from inside Holmes’ apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a movie theater minutes into a premiere of the “The Dark Knight Rises.” The massacre left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

His apartment was booby trapped with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that could have killed “whoever entered it,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.

Inside the apartment, bomb technicians neutralized a “hypergolic mixture” and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance, said James Yacone, an FBI special agent. There also were containers of accelerants, creating “an extremely dangerous environment,” he said.

Oates said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he had never seen a booby trap as elaborate as what was found in the apartment.

By late Saturday afternoon, all hazards had been removed from the apartment and residents in surrounding buildings were allowed to return home, police said.

The exception was Holmes’ apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Authorities covered the windows of Holmes’ apartment with black plastic to prevent anyone from seeing in. Before they did, a man in an ATF T-shirt could be seen measuring a poster on a closet that advertised a DVD called “Soldiers of Misfortune.” The poster showed several figures in various positions playing paintball, some wearing masks.

Police left the apartment building carrying a laptop computer and a hard drive about 8 p.m. Saturday.
Holmes was in solitary confinement for his protection at a Denver-area county detention facility, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing on Monday and has been appointed a public defender.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The city of Aurora planned a vigil to remember the dead and wounded in the shooting later in the evening.
Among the dead was a 6-year-old girl and a man who died on his 27th birthday and a day before his wedding anniversary. Families grieved and waited at hospitals, with police reporting 11 people still in critical condition as of Saturday.

While authorities continued to refuse to discuss a possible motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, details about Holmes’ background as a student and would-be scientist trickled out.
Holmes had recently withdrawn from the competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students at its Neuroscience Program to be funded by a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program of 35 students is dedicated to training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology, the university said in a statement.

In the first year of the five- to seven-year program, students take classes and complete three, three-month research rotations in the labs of different professors.

Professors who worked with him either did not return calls or declined to comment, saying police and university officials had told them not to speak to the media.

At one point in the year, Holmes was engaged in research about RNA and was to present a paper May 8 about RNA Biomarkers, according to a class schedule. It was unclear if he presented the paper.
Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don’t do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam.

University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.
“The focus of the program is on training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology,” the university said. The doctoral program usually takes five to seven years to complete, it said.

Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was “standard operating procedure” because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.

In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an “aspiring scientist” and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.

The resume, first obtained in Holmes’ home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.

He also worked as a cabin counselor to underprivileged children at a summer camp in Los Angeles in 2008. In a statement, Camp Max Straus confirmed Holmes had worked there for eight weeks. The camp provided no other details about Holmes but said such counselors are generally responsible for the care and guidance of roughly 10 children.

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show “Lost.”
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper.
Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said.
“I had one college class with him, and he didn’t even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an ‘A,'” said Duong, 24.
During the attack early Friday, Holmes used the military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.

The semiautomatic assault rifle used by the gunman jammed during the attack, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press, which forced the shooter to switch to another gun with less fire power.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just over $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, according to the company.
Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed.

The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. “The Dark Knight Rises” earned $30.6 million in the midnight screenings, and, according to industry estimates, roughly $75 million on that day as a whole. That put it on track for a weekend total of around $165 million, which would be the second-highest opening weekend ever, following “The Avengers.”

The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
Across the street from the movie theater, a man who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there has returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday’s shooting.
Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., began putting up the 3 1/2-foot-tall crosses Sunday on a hill across the street from the Century 16 theater.
___

Associated Press contributors to this report include Mead Gruver, Thomas Piepert, Kristen Wyatt, Steven K. Paulson, Ivan Moreno, P. Solomon Banda and Gillian Flaccus in Aurora; Dan Elliott, Colleen Slevin in Denver; AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York; M.L. Johnson in Chicago; Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Monika Mathur and Jennifer Farrar at News Research Center in New York; and Eileen Sullivan in Washington.


Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four weapons’ full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.
The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, a graduate student at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of “The Dark Knight Rises” audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said this afternoon.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including a AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle. Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was “The Joker,” referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, “The Dark Knight.” He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Police Chief Dan Oates said today that police and bomb squads have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes’ apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

“The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped,” police said outside of the apartment complex today. The “flammable and explosive” materials could have blown up Holmes’ apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and staff members, residents tell ABC News.
Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today recalled the real-life horror of the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” in Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting audience.

“People were running everywhere, running on top of me, like kicking me, jumping over me. And there were bodies on the ground,” Ramos said. “I froze up. I was scared. I honestly thought I was going to die.”

“The image in our heads is stuck in there. I still have the ticket right here and honestly, I’m never going to forget this night at all. Because it was the first time I saw something that was real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of,” Ramos told ABC News today.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told “Good Afternoon America.”

“You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going,” one witness told ABC News.

“I’m with coworkers and we’re on the floor praying to God we don’t get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding,” another theatergoer said.

The suspected shooter will face his first court appearance next week, according to district attorney Carol Chambers.

Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado medical center, living just blocks from the hospital in an apartment that police say is now laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams.

Federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, slipped out of the theater once it began and propped open the emergency exit before gathering his weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he opened fire.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
“You have the right person,” she said.

“I need to call the police,” she added. “I need to fly out to Colorado.”
The woman and her husband later released a statement saying their “hearts go out to those who involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.”

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman trilogy opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman’s motives and the movie.
Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley saying that “as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is playing.”

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. “Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time,” the movie’s producers said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.
Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting

“The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting,” said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. “It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running.”

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.
“We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,” witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. “I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.”
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, “They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people,” he said. “The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything…we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.”

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.
Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man’s background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital “an absolutely terrifying scene all night.”

“The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, “Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”


The American Rifleman, the official journal of the National Rifle Association, has deleted a tweet that appeared to make light of Friday’s shootings in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of “Dark Knight Rises.”

“Good morning, shooters,” the message, published at 9:20 a.m. ET on the American Rifleman’s Twitter feed, read. “Happy Friday! Weekend plans?”

Not surprisingly, the tweet sparked considerable outrage, with hundreds of users–including Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann–pointing their followers to it.
The American Rifleman deleted the tweet several hours later but has yet to issue a formal apology.

It’s unclear whether the tweet was intentionally insensitive, or if the magazine’s tweeter was unaware of the shootings that left 12 dead and 50 wounded.
“Is there a way they wrote this without seeing the news?” Audrey Wauchope asked on Twitter.

“This is what happens when you don’t read the news,” the Columbia Journalism Review said.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the NRA said that “a single individual, unaware of events in Colorado, tweeted a comment that is being completely taken out of context.”

The NRA wasn’t alone in appearing insensitive to the tragedy.

CelebBoutique.com–“the online boutique loved by your fave celebs”–took the “Aurora” trending topic as an opportunity to promote its Kim Kardashian-inspired dress


Violence like the massacre that happened in Aurora, Colo., today is a staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in “The Dark Knight Rises” when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.

While there has been no indication as to the motives of James Holmes, the suspected 24-year-old shooter who is now in custody, new evidence suggests that he was inspired by the Batman series of comic books and/or movies.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said “I am the Joker” when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger’s Joker at one point in 2008’s “The Dark Knight.”

There are more parallels. In Frank Miller’s iconic 1986 comic book series, “The Dark Knight Returns,” the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying “smile gas.” Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.

In the same book, Arnold Crimp, a disturbed man who just lost his job, pulls out a handgun in an adult film theater and kills three people. A scene from the strip shows a news anchor saying, “Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out.”

Seventy-one people were shot during today’s early morning massacre; 12 have died.

Christopher Irving, author of “Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics,” cautioned against blaming an iconic, fictional character for today’s tragedy.

“There have been thousands of Batman stories published, and I don’t think pinning a specific comic book story to the tragic happenings as an inspiration is fair, or likely anything beyond a sad coincidence,” he said.


Texas ‘stand your ground’ shooter headed to prison

A Texas man convicted of shooting and killing his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over loud music received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday.
Raul Rodriguez, 47, faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.  He claimed he shot schoolteacher Kelly Danaher in self-defense under Texas’ version of the “stand your ground” law.
But prosecutors argued Rodriguez provoked the incident by confronting Danaher, 36, and his friends with a handgun and demanding they quiet down at a late-night birthday party in May 2010.
The Houston case captured more attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida. There, George Zimmerman says he was being attacked and cited the state’s “stand your ground” law after shooting the unarmed teen. But prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder.
Two dozen states reportedly now allow citizens to stand their ground even outside their home. The specifics vary by state, but generally justify a person not retreating and using deadly force when a threat is perceived.
As in Florida, Texas law includes public areas, “if a person has a right to be present at a location where force is used.”
But veteran attorney Andy Drumheller told Yahoo News that the Houston jury appeared to draw a line with Rodriguez leaving his home and going down the street.
“The law is not designed to create this bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go,” said Drumheller, a former prosecutor now practicing criminal defense in Houston. “The jury’s verdict is a cautionary statement on the limits of this defense.”
The Rodriguez case is also unique because the former firefighter was recording video during much of the ordeal.
Rodriguez, who had been calling police about the loud party, dialed 911 again as both sides shouted at each other near Danaher’s dark driveway.
“Tell you what, pal, you just pulled a gun on the wrong [expletive], OK?” one of the partygoers is heard telling Rodriguez on the home video.
Seconds later the partygoer warns, “When I go in that house and I come back, don’t think I won’t be equal to you, baby.”
Rodriguez, who told police he suspected the men were drunk, tells the 911 operator that he’s scared and will defend himself, if needed.
“I don’t want to do this, and it all started over them playing their music real loud … it’s about to get out of hand, Sir. Please help me. “
Seconds later, he says, “I’m standing my ground here, now these people are going to try and kill me.”
The video is dark when Danaher and two other men apparently lunged toward him, laughing loudly. Rodriguez fired his gun, killing Danaher and injuring two others.
In lobbying jurors for a lenient sentence, defense attorney Bill Stradley blamed the tragedy on his client’s misunderstanding of the state’s “stand your ground” law. Something he predicts will happen with other Texas gun owners in the future.
“And they will find themselves, like Raul Rodriguez, charged with murder,” said Stradley, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“Raul believed he had a right to be where he was. But he had two seconds to make that call, to pull that trigger.”

Death sentence handed down in Tucson against Shawna Forde, a resident of Washington State who headed the Minutemen American Defense group. She was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder for orchestrating the killings of Brisenia and Raul Junior Flores of Arivaca, Ariz., a small community just north of the Mexican border.

“I think that the nation as a whole sees us as the wild, wild West, that things like that are going to be OK with us,” says Angie Thomas, who sat on the jury. “And they’re not.”

The case has drawn back the curtain to reveal the dark side of the debate raging in Arizona over illegal immigration.

Ms. Thomas and fellow jurors were told during the trial that Ms. Forde and accomplices gained entry to the Flores home with the expectation of finding drugs there, which could be sold to finance Minutemen American Defense’s border-control operations. Finding no drugs, the intruders made away with inexpensive jewelry but, prosecutors said, not before fatally shooting young Brisenia and Mr. Flores. Both victims were American citizens born in the US.

“I see Shawna Forde as someone who would have liked to have been the face of a movement,” Thomas says.

Arriving at the death sentence was difficult, Thomas says, but it was aided by a picture of Brisenia presented during trial that was etched in her mind: “A little girl, with bright red fingernails; she’s wearing a white T-shirt and turquoise-colored pajama bottoms. She’s on a love seat. It’s a perfect, innocent picture until you realize that half of her face has been blown off.”

Brisenia’s mother and Mr. Flores’s wife, Gina Gonzalez, was wounded during the shooting but survived. She testified that her daughter was shot point-blank as the girl pleaded for her life.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the lawlessness that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan left people feeling unsafe. Prodded by the National Rifle Association, under its first female president Marion Hammer, Florida launched the “stand your ground” movement in 2005.

The fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over “stand your ground” laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others. That Florida, the epicenter of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, was the first to pass the law in 2005 adds to the debate. But for George Zimmerman, this defense might not even apply, according to some legal experts.

Regardless, the case has led to legislators second-guessing the law—including the men who sponsored and signed the Florida bill, and major businesses are backpedaling from a lobby group that has helped promote the defense.

Is “stand your ground” actually relevant to George Zimmerman? In terms of legal defense, maybe not. “Stand your ground” is an expansion on the so-called Castle Doctrine, the right to defend one’s homestead. Instead of defending yourself on your own personal property, though, “stand your ground” lets you carry that immunity into public property, which can include places of business, like a bar.

I don’t think based upon Zimmerman’s explanation to the police that he has a valid Stand Your Ground claim. He’s not saying that he was assaulted frontally and then made a decision not to retreat because he thought he had to use deadly force.

He’s basically saying old-fashioned self-defense: I was struck, I was knocked down, I was on the ground, and I had to physically defend myself. There’s nothing added to his claim by the Stand Your Ground law, and I would love to have legislatures around the country look at it and say, you know, this worked for 220 years and we don’t need to add anything to it. If you’ve got a right of self-defense, great. And if you don’t have a right to defend yourself, if you think it’s OK to shoot somebody because their dog pooped on your lawn, then we don’t agree with that, and it’s a crime. (Former assistant state attorney (Florida) Abe Laser, April 12, “Talk of the Nation,” NPR)

Supporters such as former Republican senator Durell Peaden and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who co-sponsored the bill, or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, have said Zimmerman lost his right to this defense when he sought out Martin. Bush stated that “Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.”

But since the law may be confusing to enforcement—the controversy blew up when Sanford police declined to make an arrest—it has bolstered critics ranging from State Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call for widespread reform.

Who makes the decision? Rather than ask how relevant “stand your ground” is in the Martin-Zimmerman case, the real question may be who makes the decisions in the first place. The Sanford city manager claimed that the law “prohibited” police from making an arrest. Should police make the arrest and leave it to the district attorney to bring charges, as would happen in self-defense cases? Should such cases appear before a judge? Does a jury make the call?


The mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism who was fatally shot by police in his home Wednesday is facing off with suburban Chicago police officers who say the officer acted appropriately.

Stephon Watts, 15, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 9, had had 10 previous interactions with Calumet City, Ill. police in the last two years, including at least one where police discharged Tasers to subdue him, the Chicago Tribune reports. Watts’ father called the police Wednesday after arguing with his son, who didn’t want to go to school, having been instructed by social workers that Watts should be handled by authorities when agitated.

Asperger’s syndrome interferes with social skills, but sufferers often have normal to high intelligence. Police say they found Watts armed with a knife in the basement of his parents’ home, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. When one officer sustained a defensive wound to his left forearm, two other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Steven Watts, Stephon’s father, says his son was shot once in the leg, and then again in the head.

(Reuters) – Two men suspected of killing three people and wounding two others in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the weekend were ordered held on bail of more than $9 million each in their first court appearance Monday morning, according to local media.

Roommates Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested early Sunday.

Authorities are charging both men with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and a single complaint of possession of a firearm while committing a felony, the Tulsa World reported on its website.

Shortly before the killings, which took place on Friday, England had lamented on his Facebook page that two years had passed since his father was killed by a black man, who he referred to with a racial slur.

The victims of the killings were black while England and Watts are white. Harris said hate crime charges would be considered if the evidence supported it.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Pillay said she was shocked the gunman, George Zimmerman, was not arrested. She also expressed concern about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows the use of deadly force in situations where there is a belief of a threat.


Trayvon Martin’s family wants federal scrutiny of the case to extend to the actions of a state prosecutor who declined to press charges

By Michael Vasquez
mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com

The former prosecutor assigned to the Trayvon Martin case participated in a “suspicious” meeting with police on the night of the disputed shooting, Martin’s family alleged on Monday.

In a letter sent to sent to the U.S. Department of Justice — which is already reviewing Trayvon’s Feb. 26 death — Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump accused State Attorney Norm Wolfinger of holding a meeting with Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee just hours after Martin had been killed. It was in that meeting, Crump wrote, that the two men “disregarded the lead homicide investigator’s recommendation to arrest George Zimmerman for manslaughter.”

Wolfinger’s response to this new allegation was fast and forceful: the prosecutor insisted that “no such meeting or communication occurred,” and he blasted the Martin family’s letter as “outright lies.”

“I have been encouraging those spreading the irresponsible rhetoric to stop,” Wolfinger said in a written statement.

Crump also addressed an police surveillance videotape of Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police station – a video that ABC News said it enhanced for improved quality. The enhanced video shows what appear to be injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head.

Even if Zimmerman was injured in a scuffle with Trayvon, “is that enough to justify killing an unarmed teen?” Crump said.

Prior to Monday’s letter by the Martin family, the Department of Justice had already started an investigation into Trayvon’s death. But this new letter revealed the family wants federal scrutiny to extend beyond the circumstances of the teen’s death, and into the actions of Wolfinger, who two weeks ago recused himself from the case.

In the early aftermath of the shooting, Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee defended Zimmerman’s actions, but it has become clear in recent days that Sanford investigators closer to the ground wanted to press charges.

Crump, the Martin family attorney, wrote in Monday’s letter that the lead homicide investigator in the case, Chris Serino, has in fact signed an affidavit documenting his opinion that Zimmerman should be arrested on manslaughter charges.


Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, was visiting his father’s girlfriend, who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, a newer, multi-ethnic development about five miles away from the old historic part of town.
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A man alleged to have lured two US volunteer firefighters to their deaths in Webster, New York left a long note outlining his plans, police say.

No motive was given but the note left by William Spengler, identified as the gunman said he was planning to “do what I like doing best – killing people.”

Police searching Spengler’s burnt-out house say they have found human remains – believed to be those of his sister.

The firefighters were shot dead as they arrived to tackle a fire on Monday.

At a news conference on Tuesday, police said Spengler, 62, had three guns and aimed to burn down his neighborhood.

William Spengler spent 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother
Seven homes on a narrow stretch of land beside Lake Ontario were destroyed by the fire. Another two firemen and an off-duty police officer were wounded in the attack.

Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters that Spengler, who apparently shot himself in the head, had used a .38 calibre revolver, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Bushmaster .223 calibre rifle with flash suppression.

The same make and calibre rifle had been used in the murder of 26 teachers and children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on 14 December, he said.

The police chief told reporters in Webster that a two- to three-page note from the gunman had been found in which he said: “I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best – killing people.”

At a later briefing, Mr Pickering said human remains were found in the house Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl.

Police believe the remains are hers.

Spengler and his sister lived with their mother until her death in October.

‘Clear ambush’
Spengler had served 17 years in jail for killing his grandmother with a hammer but had done nothing to attract the authorities’ attention since being granted parole in 1998.

As a convicted criminal, he was not allowed to own weapons.

Police said he appeared to have set “a trap” by setting fire to his home. His older sister, Cheryl, whom he reportedly hated, is missing.

Two of the firefighters who responded to the call, Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, and Mike Chiapperini, aged 43, were shot dead in what was described as a “clear ambush” on emergency services.

Their two wounded colleagues are said to be in a stable condition with gunshot wounds.

The off-duty police officer, who was also shot and wounded as he came to their aid, was praised by the police chief for saving people’s lives.

Gerald Pickering cited “mental health issues” as a possible factor for the attack, which came months after the death of Spengler’s mother.

The Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, killed his mother with her own guns before launching his attack on Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.

His murders of 20 children aged six and seven have prompted a national debate on gun ownership and mental health.

“It’s sad to see that that this is becoming more commonplace in communities across the nation,” Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn told AP news agency after the attack in New York state


Two volunteer firefighters have been shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state.

It appears the four were fired upon as they arrived at the scene of a fire early on Monday morning.

The blaze broke out just before 06:00 local time (11:00 GMT) and the shooting reportedly prevented firefighters putting it out for several hours.

A gunman has been found dead at the scene, local police say.

“Upon arrival of the first… engine company and some firefighters in their personal vehicles, they underwent gunfire from a location unknown,” Webster’s Fire Marshal Rob Boutillier told reporters.

The two dead firefighters were named by police as Tomasz Kaczowka and Mike Chiapperini.

An off-duty policeman who was driving by the scene at the time received shrapnel wounds and was also being treated, Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering told reporters.

Police spokesmen said the area was “an active crime scene” but that no more shooters were believed to be present.

‘Senseless act’
Police teams moved in to evacuate residents after the shooting.

Firefighters were then able to return to the scene and are now tackling the blaze.

“All of our thoughts and prayers go to the families and friends of those who were killed in this senseless act of violence,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“The contributions made by the fallen and injured officers in Webster will never be forgotten,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

“As this investigation unfolds, we stand with our partners in law enforcement to ensure that lethal weapons are out of the hands of dangerous people, so that the brave New Yorkers who risk their lives every day to protect us are not exposed to additional danger,” he added.

Also on Monday, a policeman was shot dead in the city of Houston, Texas after the driver of a car he pulled over opened fire on him.

The debate on gun violence in the US was rekindled earlier this month by the shootings at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It was one of the worst mass shootings in American history.

“There’s a heightened awareness to this kind of violence in light of what happened in Connecticut,” said Maggie Brooks, leader of the local administration in Monroe County, the area which includes Webster.

“We have first responders and we have families who are in pain and crisis today and we need to, as a community, keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” Mrs Brooks said, adding that it was a “very, very difficult day”.

President Obama has promised to push for action on gun control while the National Rifle Association (NRA) has called for armed security in all American schools.


source: ThinkProgress

Immediately after the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police say murdered his girlfriend at their home before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shooting himself in front of the team’s coach and general manager, thoughts turned to the role concussions and brain injuries may have played in the tragedy.

But during halftime of last night’s Sunday Night Football broadcast, NBC’s Bob Costas brought up another angle: the role guns, and our nation’s lax gun laws, played in the tragedy. After a brief introduction, Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun


Thomas “Tres” Caffall, the man who police say killed two people–including a Texas constable–in a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus on Monday was a “ticking time bomb,” his stepfather says.

“He was crazy as hell,” Richard Weaver, Caffall’s stepfather, told KPRC-TV. “At one point, we were afraid that he was going to come up here and do something to his mother and me.”

Caffall, 35, opened fire as the Brazos County constable, Brian Bachmann, was attempting to serve him an eviction notice, College Station police said. Officers responded to the off-campus house shortly after noon following reports of shots fired, and found the 41-year-old Bachmann on the ground.
Caffall was shot during what police described as a 30-minute “gun battle.” Bachmann and Caffall were taken to College Station Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.


Wed Aug 8, 2012 12:22am EDT

Scott Smith was likely trying to emulate the horrific Colorado shootings when he brought a gun, extra ammo, and several knives to a late night showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Luckily his performance was cut short when an observant manager and a security guard noticed him.

Off-duty Officer Jeremiah Bullins, that night’s security guard, approached Smith in the Crocker Park, Ohio theater where he was sitting and asked to check his bag. Smith complied which is when Bullins saw the weaponry.

Smith was charged with crimes related to carrying the weapons, especially given his personal status.

Prosecutors are charging Smith with carrying a weapon under disability, reports WKYC. The claim is that his prescription medications prevent him from owning firearms under any circumstances.

If proven, Smith will be in trouble for owning the weapons, never mind carrying them into a theater.

But that’s not the only charge against him. Smith is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Ohio, like many states, has laws requiring gun owners to get a special permit to carry a concealed weapon. Even if Smith turns out to be a lawful gun owner, it does not appear that he has a permit to carry concealed weapons.

For states that require a permit for concealed weapons, any gun owner who does not have a permit must keep their guns in view at all times while carrying them in public. Several states ban concealed weapons entirely.

Theater personnel have been on high alert since James Holmes gunned-down movie goers last month. Scott Smith’s foiled attempt is evidence that their efforts are not in vain.


(Reuters) – The white supremacist gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, the FBI said on Wednesday.

A police officer shot and wounded the gunman, Wade Page, 40, in the stomach outside the temple in Oak Creek on Sunday, said Teresa Carlson, an FBI special agent in charge.

“Subsequent to that wound, it appears that Page died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” she told a news conference.

Police had said Page had been shot to death by an officer responding to the attack at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee.

Carlson said she had seen a video of the police officer wounding Page with a squad rifle. “It’s an amazing shot, and thank goodness,” she said.

Federal authorities have said they are treating the attack as a possible act of domestic terrorism. Page, an Army veteran, was a musician who played in white power punk-metal bands. He was armed with a 9mm handgun during the attack.

Turban-wearing Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims in the United States. The Sikh faith was founded in the Punjab area of India and Pakistan and has an estimated 500,000 or more adherents in the United States.

President Barack Obama called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express his condolences over the temple shooting.

Carlson said investigators had not found any motive for the attack, which also wounded four people, including a police officer shot eight or nine times after responding to a 911 call.

The wounded officer, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, is up and walking, Carlson said.

Investigators have conducted more than 100 interviews with Page’s relatives, employers and associates, Carlson said. They are also following 101 leads worldwide and have issued 180 federal grand jury subpoenas.

Police have arrested Page’s former girlfriend, Misty Cook, on a weapons charge. Carlson said the arrest took place at Cook’s Milwaukee home late on Sunday and was unrelated to the shooting investigation.

Police said on Tuesday that a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm would be sought against Cook, 31. [ID:nL2E8J80OC] (Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch; writing by Ian Simpson; editing by Vicki Allen and Mohammad Zargham)


The White House gave a cool welcome on Monday to Democratic legislation that wouldeffectively ban online or mail-order purchases of ammunition in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater.
“I haven’t seen the specific piece of legislation that has been offered up today,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily press briefing. “But as that and other pieces of legislation make their way through the legislative process, we’ll evaluate them.”
The proposal, crafted by Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and Democratic Representative Carolyn McCarthy, aims to restrict the ability of Americans to buy unlimited quantities of ammunition over the Internet, or by mail order, anonymously.
President Barack Obama has called for a common sense response to the slaughter in Aurora. But the White House has played down his appetite for new legislation as opposed to tightening or toughening existing measures—such as background checks—to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. And the president has underlined his support for the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
“He believes in the second amendment of the constitution, in the right to bear arms,” Earnest said again Monday.  “But he also believes that we should take robust steps, within existing law, to ensure that guns don’t fall in the hands of criminals or others who shouldn’t have them.
The new legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,  rests on four pillars, according to Lautenberg’s office:
It requires anyone selling ammunition to be a licensed dealer.
It requires ammunition buyers who are not licensed dealers to present photo identification at the time of purchase, effectively banning the online or mail order purchase of ammo by regular civilians.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to maintain records of the sale of ammunition.
It requires licensed ammunition dealers to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within any five consecutive business days.


Violent crime dropped in 2011, preliminary figures released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday show.
According to the FBI’s “Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report,” violent crimes fell 4 percent nationwide, part of a decade-plus decline in that category.
Murder was down about 2 percent, according to the FBI, while forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault all fell 4.0 percent when compared to 2010. But in towns with populations of less than 10,000, there was an 18.3 percent increase in murder in 2011. There was also a 0.6 percent increase in murder in the Midwest.
The FBI did not give reasons for the trends.
Property crimes declined about 1 percent. Arsonwhich is considered a property crime though counted separatelyfell 5 percent, the FBI said. The only overall rise in property crimes was burglary, which was up marginally.
Data for the report is collected by the bureau from participating state and federal law enforcement agencies. Final figures will be published this fall.


Gun sales in Colorado have spiked since last week’s massacre, The Denver Post reports.
Background checks jumped more than 41 percent since Friday’s shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” at an Aurora movie theater. Over the weekend, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm, the Post said, an increase of 43 percent over the previous weekend.
“It’s been insane,” Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told the paper.
Spikes in gun sales are not uncommon in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one in Colorado. Following the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded more than a dozen others—including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—in Tucson, sales of handguns soared more than 60 percent in the state, according to FBI data. Similar spikes were seen after the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.
Some of those seeking to buy guns in Colorado over the weekend said they were seeking to arm themselves for protection in the wake of the shooting, according to the report. But many were likely fearful of a change in gun laws. Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora told the paper she wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.
“When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff,” Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Bloomberg.com after the rampage in Tucson.
They also get worried when a Democrat is about to take office. Before President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, there was a spike in gun sales, and gun shop owners and manufacturers have reported similarly brisk buying in 2012.
“It’s definitely the election year,” Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer, told Fox News in March. “People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights with taken away, so they are stocking up.”
In December, the FBI reported a record number of background checks—1,534,414—sent by gun dealers. “Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas,” according to CNN. In 2010, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System received more than 14 million requests, more than in any other year.
James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Friday’s massacre, was found with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock .40-caliber pistols and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun when he was arrested outside the theater in Aurora. And like Jared Loughner, the accused killer in the Tucson massacre, Holmes purchased the guns legally.

CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.

Dear Friend,
The shock and trauma from the images and stories from Aurora are still very much with us, and it is impossible to put into words the pain being felt by families and friends of the victims.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out. In the wake of this massacre, it’s time to put aside politics and reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons.
After the news broke last Friday, President Barack Obama said that “there are going to be other days for politics, this I think is a day for prayer and reflection.” Governor Mitt Romney said, “I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and grandfather, a husband, and American.”1 Both of their campaigns asked networks to pull their negative advertisements.
The gestures from the two men who are running for President were welcome steps. But, we need more than sympathetic words. We need real leadership to start to address the senseless gun violence that holds our communities hostage.
One of the principal weapons used by the shooter in the horrific Aurora massacre was an AR-15 assault rifle.2 This weapon features a magazine that holds 100 rounds of bullets, and its trigger is capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute.3
The federal assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, banned the sale of guns like the AR-15.4 Unfortunately, that ban expired in 2004 as a result of fierce lobbying by the NRA. It’s long past time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15.

CREDO members worked to pass the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. And we fought to stop its expiration in 2004. And we continue to advocate for a federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Aurora massacre.

Massacres on the scale of the tragedy in Aurora happen in part because our federal gun laws make it easy for civilians to obtain military-level firepower. We need to pass and enforce sensible federal gun laws restricting ready access for civilians to assault weapons. Reinstating a strong version of the federal ban on assault weapons known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act is where we should start.
We’re not so naïve as to think that sensible gun laws are all that’s needed to stop the killings. There are many things that need to change in American culture to stop the next Aurora-like massacre. But we do know one thing we should put at the top of the list — keeping military-level assault weapons like the AR-15 with a high capacity clip out of the hands of civilians. Click below to automatically sign the petition.

r=6916339&p=obama_romney_guns&

id=43839-5154581-hC2Ah5x&t=10

Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Adam Serwer, “Politicizing Tragedy and the Aurora Theater Shooting,’ MotherJones.com, July 20, 2012.
2. Zack Beauchamp, “Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting,” ThinkProgress.org, July 20, 2012.
3. Caroline Hedley, “It Was Shockingly Easy For The Batman Shooter To Buy A Massive Arsenal,” BusinessInsider.com, July 21, 2012.
4. Beauchamp, “Expired Assault Weapons Ban Would Have Covered Rifle Used In Colorado Shooting.”

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AURORA, Colo. (AP) — The University of Colorado said Sunday it was investigating whether shooting suspect James Holmes used his position as a graduate student to order materials in the potentially deadly booby traps that police said they found in his apartment.

Holmes, 24, got deliveries over four months to his home and school, authorities have said. The university is looking into what was received at the school to assist police with their investigation, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery.

The suspect was described as a budding scientist, brimming with potential, who pursued a graduate program even as he planned the attack with “calculation and deliberation,” police said.

Investigators spent hours Saturday removing explosive materials from inside Holmes’ apartment a day after police said he opened fire and set off gas canisters in a movie theater minutes into a premiere of the “The Dark Knight Rises.” The massacre left 12 people dead and 58 injured.

His apartment was booby trapped with jars of liquids, explosives and chemicals that could have killed “whoever entered it,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said, noting it would have likely been one of his officers.

Inside the apartment, bomb technicians neutralized a “hypergolic mixture” and an improvised explosive device containing an unknown substance, said James Yacone, an FBI special agent. There also were containers of accelerants, creating “an extremely dangerous environment,” he said.

Oates said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he had never seen a booby trap as elaborate as what was found in the apartment.

By late Saturday afternoon, all hazards had been removed from the apartment and residents in surrounding buildings were allowed to return home, police said.

The exception was Holmes’ apartment building, where authorities were still collecting evidence. Authorities covered the windows of Holmes’ apartment with black plastic to prevent anyone from seeing in. Before they did, a man in an ATF T-shirt could be seen measuring a poster on a closet that advertised a DVD called “Soldiers of Misfortune.” The poster showed several figures in various positions playing paintball, some wearing masks.

Police left the apartment building carrying a laptop computer and a hard drive about 8 p.m. Saturday.
Holmes was in solitary confinement for his protection at a Denver-area county detention facility, held without bond on suspicion of multiple counts of first-degree murder. He was set for an initial hearing on Monday and has been appointed a public defender.

President Barack Obama was scheduled to travel to Colorado on Sunday to visit with the families of victims. The city of Aurora planned a vigil to remember the dead and wounded in the shooting later in the evening.
Among the dead was a 6-year-old girl and a man who died on his 27th birthday and a day before his wedding anniversary. Families grieved and waited at hospitals, with police reporting 11 people still in critical condition as of Saturday.

While authorities continued to refuse to discuss a possible motive for one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, details about Holmes’ background as a student and would-be scientist trickled out.
Holmes had recently withdrawn from the competitive graduate program in neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver, where he was one of six pre-thesis Ph.D. students at its Neuroscience Program to be funded by a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program of 35 students is dedicated to training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology, the university said in a statement.

In the first year of the five- to seven-year program, students take classes and complete three, three-month research rotations in the labs of different professors.

Professors who worked with him either did not return calls or declined to comment, saying police and university officials had told them not to speak to the media.

At one point in the year, Holmes was engaged in research about RNA and was to present a paper May 8 about RNA Biomarkers, according to a class schedule. It was unclear if he presented the paper.
Holmes recently took an intense, three-part oral exam that marks the end of the first year. Those who do well continue with their studies and shift to full-time research, while those who don’t do well meet with advisers and discuss their options, including retaking the exam.

University officials would not say if he passed, citing privacy concerns.
The university said Holmes gave no reason for his withdrawal, a decision he made in June.
“The focus of the program is on training outstanding neuroscientists and academicians who will make significant contributions to neurobiology,” the university said. The doctoral program usually takes five to seven years to complete, it said.

Holmes was not allowed access from the institution after his withdrawal, which was “standard operating procedure” because he was no longer affiliated with the school, Montgomery said. Holmes had no contact with university police, she said.

In a resume posted on Monster.com, Holmes listed himself as an “aspiring scientist” and said he was looking for a job as a laboratory technician.

The resume, first obtained in Holmes’ home state of California by The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, paints a picture of a brilliant young man brimming with potential: He worked as a summer intern at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla in 2006 and mapped the neurons of Zebra finches and studied the flight muscles of hummingbirds while an undergraduate at the University of California, Riverside.

He also worked as a cabin counselor to underprivileged children at a summer camp in Los Angeles in 2008. In a statement, Camp Max Straus confirmed Holmes had worked there for eight weeks. The camp provided no other details about Holmes but said such counselors are generally responsible for the care and guidance of roughly 10 children.

Ritchie Duong, a friend who has known Holmes for more than a decade, told the Los Angeles Times that in high school he liked to play cards and video games. They both attended undergraduate school at the University of California, Riverside, where they saw each other once a week to watch the TV show “Lost.”
Duong last saw Holmes in December when they met for dinner in Los Angeles and saw a movie together. His friend seemed fine, he told the newspaper.
Academics came easily to Holmes both at high school and at the UC Riverside, Duong said.
“I had one college class with him, and he didn’t even have to take notes or anything. He would just show up to class, sit there, and around test time he would always get an ‘A,'” said Duong, 24.
During the attack early Friday, Holmes used the military-style semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and a pistol to open fire on the unsuspecting theater-goers, Oates said. Holmes had bought the weapons at local gun stores within the past two months. He recently purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet, the chief said.

The semiautomatic assault rifle used by the gunman jammed during the attack, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press, which forced the shooter to switch to another gun with less fire power.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to in order to discuss the investigation, said the disabled weapon had a high-capacity ammunition magazine. Police have said that a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene and that such a device would be able to fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

Holmes also bought an urban assault vest, two magazine holders and a knife for just over $300 on July 2 from an online supplier of tactical gear for police and military personnel, according to the company.
Chad Weinman, CEO of TacticalGear.com, said his company processes thousands of orders each day, and there was nothing unusual in the one that Holmes placed.

The Batman movie, the last in the trilogy starring Christian Bale, opened worldwide Friday with midnight showings in the U.S. “The Dark Knight Rises” earned $30.6 million in the midnight screenings, and, according to industry estimates, roughly $75 million on that day as a whole. That put it on track for a weekend total of around $165 million, which would be the second-highest opening weekend ever, following “The Avengers.”

The shooting was the worst in the U.S. since the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood, Texas. An Army psychiatrist was charged with killing 13 soldiers and civilians and wounding more than two dozen others.
Across the street from the movie theater, a man who placed 15 crosses near Columbine High School after a 1999 massacre there has returned to Colorado with 12 crosses for the victims of Friday’s shooting.
Greg Zanis, of Aurora, Ill., began putting up the 3 1/2-foot-tall crosses Sunday on a hill across the street from the Century 16 theater.
___

Associated Press contributors to this report include Mead Gruver, Thomas Piepert, Kristen Wyatt, Steven K. Paulson, Ivan Moreno, P. Solomon Banda and Gillian Flaccus in Aurora; Dan Elliott, Colleen Slevin in Denver; AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle in New York; M.L. Johnson in Chicago; Brian Skoloff in Salt Lake City; Monika Mathur and Jennifer Farrar at News Research Center in New York; and Eileen Sullivan in Washington.


Twelve people were killed and 59 were injured in Aurora, Colo., during a sold-out midnight premier of the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” when 24-year-old James Holmes unloaded four weapons’ full of ammunition into the unsuspecting crowd.
The number of casualties makes the incident the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Holmes, a graduate student at a nearby college with a clean arrest record, entered the movie auditorium wearing a ballistics helmet, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof leggings, gas mask and gloves. He detonated multiple smoke bombs, and then began firing at viewers in the sold-out auditorium, police said today.

Bullets from the spree tore through the theater and into adjoining theaters, where at least one other person was struck and injured. Ten members of “The Dark Knight Rises” audience were killed in theater, while two others died later at area hospitals. Numerous patrons were in critical condition at six local hospitals, the Aurora police said this afternoon.

Holmes was apprehended within minutes of the 12:39 a.m. shooting at his car behind the theater, where police found him in full riot gear and carrying three weapons, including a AR-15 assault rifle, which can hold upwards of 100 rounds, a Remington 12 gauge shot gun, and a .40 Glock handgun. A fourth handgun was found in the vehicle. Agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are tracing the weapons.

According to police sources, Holmes told the officers arresting him that he was “The Joker,” referring to the villain in the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy, “The Dark Knight.” He also warned police that he had booby-trapped his apartment, leading officers to evacuate the Aurora apartment building.

Police Chief Dan Oates said today that police and bomb squads have found a large number of explosive devices and trip wires at Holmes’ apartment and have not yet decided how to proceed without setting off explosions.

“The pictures we have from inside the apartment are pretty disturbing considering how elaborate the apartment is booby trapped,” police said outside of the apartment complex today. The “flammable and explosive” materials could have blown up Holmes’ apartment building and the ones near it, police said.

The apartment complex is home exclusively to University of Colorado Medical Center students, patients, and staff members, residents tell ABC News.
Moviegoer Christopher Ramos today recalled the real-life horror of the midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” in Aurora, Colo., as a gunman decked in riot gear set off smoke bombs and opened fire on the unsuspecting audience.

“People were running everywhere, running on top of me, like kicking me, jumping over me. And there were bodies on the ground,” Ramos said. “I froze up. I was scared. I honestly thought I was going to die.”

“The image in our heads is stuck in there. I still have the ticket right here and honestly, I’m never going to forget this night at all. Because it was the first time I saw something that was real. Like a real-life nightmare that was there, not dreaming of,” Ramos told ABC News today.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes saw smoke and heard gunshots that they thought were part of the movie until they saw Holmes standing in front of the screen, after entering from an emergency exit. Holmes methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

At one point the shooter exited the theater only to wait outside the doors and pick off patrons as they tried to exit, witness Jennifer Seeger told “Good Afternoon America.”

“You just smelled smoke and you just kept hearing it, you just heard bam bam bam, non-stop. The gunman never had to reload. Shots just kept going, kept going, kept going,” one witness told ABC News.

“I’m with coworkers and we’re on the floor praying to God we don’t get shot, and the gunshots continue on and on, and when the sound finally stopped, we started to get up and people were just bleeding,” another theatergoer said.

The suspected shooter will face his first court appearance next week, according to district attorney Carol Chambers.

Holmes, originally of San Diego, moved to Aurora to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado medical center, living just blocks from the hospital in an apartment that police say is now laced with explosives and being searched by HazMat teams.

Federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News that Holmes bought a ticket to the movie, slipped out of the theater once it began and propped open the emergency exit before gathering his weapons and gear and coming back into the theater. Once inside, he opened fire.

A San Diego woman identifying herself as James Holmes’s mother spoke briefly with ABC News this morning.

She had awoken unaware of the news of the shooting and had not been contacted by authorities. She immediately expressed concern that her son may have been involved.
“You have the right person,” she said.

“I need to call the police,” she added. “I need to fly out to Colorado.”
The woman and her husband later released a statement saying their “hearts go out to those who involved in this tragedy and to the families and friends of those involved. We are still trying to process this information and we appreciate that people will respect our privacy.”

The highly-anticipated third installment of the Batman trilogy opened to packed auditoriums around the country at midnight showings on Friday morning, and features a villain named Bane who wears a bulletproof vest and gas mask. Trailers for the movie show explosions at public events including a football game. Though many moviegoers dressed in costume to attend the opening night screening, police have made no statements about any connection between the gunman’s motives and the movie.
Read More: NRA Deletes Tweet After Shooting

Police in New York have intensified security around showings of the film throughout the five boroughs today, with Police Commissioner Ray Kelley saying that “as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons in the wake of the horrendous shooting in Colorado, the New York City Police Department is providing coverage at theaters where the ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is playing.”

The Paris premiere of the movie has been cancelled in the wake of the shootings. “Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time,” the movie’s producers said in a statement.

Witnesses watching movies in theaters next to the one where the shooting took place said bullets tore through the theater walls and they heard screaming.
Read More: Obama and Romney Respond to Shooting

“The suspect throws tear gas in the air, and as the tear gas appears he started shooting,” said Lamar Lane, who was watching the midnight showing of the movie with his brother. “It was very hard to breathe. I told my brother to take cover. It took awhile. I started seeing flashes and screaming, I just saw blood and people yelling and a quick glimpse of the guy who had a gas mask on. I was pushed out. There was chaos, we started running.”

One witness said she saw people dropping to the ground after the gunshots began.
“We were maybe 20 or 30 minutes into the movie and all you hear, first you smell smoke, everybody thought it was fireworks or something like that, and then you just see people dropping and the gunshots are constant,” witness Christ Jones told ABC’s Denver affiliate KMGH. “I heard at least 20 to 30 rounds within that minute or two.”
A man who talked to a couple who was inside the theater told ABC News, “They got up and they started to run through the emergency exit, and that when she turned around, she said all she saw was the guy slowly making his way up the stairs and just firing at people, just picking random people,” he said. “The gunshots continued to go on and on and then after we didn’t hear anything…we finally got up and there was people bleeding, there was people obviously may have been actually dead or anything, and we just ran up out of there, there was chaos everywhere.”

Witnesses and victims were taken to Gateway High School for questioning.
Hundreds of police and FBI agents are involved in the investigation. A senior official who is monitoring the situation in Washington said that early guidance based on the early snapshot of this man’s background indicated that this act does not appear to be linked to radical terrorism or anything related to Islamic terrorism.

Dr. Comilla Sasson, at the University of Colorado Hospital where many of the victims were taken, said they are currently operating on nine critical patients and have treated 22 in all. She called the hospital “an absolutely terrifying scene all night.”

“The good news is that the 3-month-old has actually been discharged home and is in the care of their parents

In a statement, President Obama said, “Michelle and I are shocked and saddened by the horrific and tragic shooting in Colorado. Federal and local law enforcement are still responding, and my administration will do everything that we can to support the people of Aurora in this extraordinarily difficult time. We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded.”


The American Rifleman, the official journal of the National Rifle Association, has deleted a tweet that appeared to make light of Friday’s shootings in Aurora, Colo., during a midnight screening of “Dark Knight Rises.”

“Good morning, shooters,” the message, published at 9:20 a.m. ET on the American Rifleman’s Twitter feed, read. “Happy Friday! Weekend plans?”

Not surprisingly, the tweet sparked considerable outrage, with hundreds of users–including Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann–pointing their followers to it.
The American Rifleman deleted the tweet several hours later but has yet to issue a formal apology.

It’s unclear whether the tweet was intentionally insensitive, or if the magazine’s tweeter was unaware of the shootings that left 12 dead and 50 wounded.
“Is there a way they wrote this without seeing the news?” Audrey Wauchope asked on Twitter.

“This is what happens when you don’t read the news,” the Columbia Journalism Review said.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesman for the NRA said that “a single individual, unaware of events in Colorado, tweeted a comment that is being completely taken out of context.”

The NRA wasn’t alone in appearing insensitive to the tragedy.

CelebBoutique.com–“the online boutique loved by your fave celebs”–took the “Aurora” trending topic as an opportunity to promote its Kim Kardashian-inspired dress


Violence like the massacre that happened in Aurora, Colo., today is a staple of action films, including Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. A similar, now haunting, scene unfurls in “The Dark Knight Rises” when a masked villain leads a violent gang into a packed football stadium and deploys guns and explosives on the unsuspecting crowd.

While there has been no indication as to the motives of James Holmes, the suspected 24-year-old shooter who is now in custody, new evidence suggests that he was inspired by the Batman series of comic books and/or movies.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC News that Holmes said “I am the Joker” when apprehended by authorities. His hair was painted red, the same hair color of Heath Ledger’s Joker at one point in 2008’s “The Dark Knight.”

There are more parallels. In Frank Miller’s iconic 1986 comic book series, “The Dark Knight Returns,” the Joker murders a television studio audience by deploying “smile gas.” Holmes began his massacre by setting off smoke bombs throughout the theater.

In the same book, Arnold Crimp, a disturbed man who just lost his job, pulls out a handgun in an adult film theater and kills three people. A scene from the strip shows a news anchor saying, “Three slain in Batman-inspired porn theater shoot-out.”

Seventy-one people were shot during today’s early morning massacre; 12 have died.

Christopher Irving, author of “Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics,” cautioned against blaming an iconic, fictional character for today’s tragedy.

“There have been thousands of Batman stories published, and I don’t think pinning a specific comic book story to the tragic happenings as an inspiration is fair, or likely anything beyond a sad coincidence,” he said.


Texas ‘stand your ground’ shooter headed to prison

A Texas man convicted of shooting and killing his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over loud music received a 40-year prison sentence on Wednesday.
Raul Rodriguez, 47, faced a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison.  He claimed he shot schoolteacher Kelly Danaher in self-defense under Texas’ version of the “stand your ground” law.
But prosecutors argued Rodriguez provoked the incident by confronting Danaher, 36, and his friends with a handgun and demanding they quiet down at a late-night birthday party in May 2010.
The Houston case captured more attention in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida. There, George Zimmerman says he was being attacked and cited the state’s “stand your ground” law after shooting the unarmed teen. But prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder.
Two dozen states reportedly now allow citizens to stand their ground even outside their home. The specifics vary by state, but generally justify a person not retreating and using deadly force when a threat is perceived.
As in Florida, Texas law includes public areas, “if a person has a right to be present at a location where force is used.”
But veteran attorney Andy Drumheller told Yahoo News that the Houston jury appeared to draw a line with Rodriguez leaving his home and going down the street.
“The law is not designed to create this bubble that you can carry with you everywhere you go,” said Drumheller, a former prosecutor now practicing criminal defense in Houston. “The jury’s verdict is a cautionary statement on the limits of this defense.”
The Rodriguez case is also unique because the former firefighter was recording video during much of the ordeal.
Rodriguez, who had been calling police about the loud party, dialed 911 again as both sides shouted at each other near Danaher’s dark driveway.
“Tell you what, pal, you just pulled a gun on the wrong [expletive], OK?” one of the partygoers is heard telling Rodriguez on the home video.
Seconds later the partygoer warns, “When I go in that house and I come back, don’t think I won’t be equal to you, baby.”
Rodriguez, who told police he suspected the men were drunk, tells the 911 operator that he’s scared and will defend himself, if needed.
“I don’t want to do this, and it all started over them playing their music real loud … it’s about to get out of hand, Sir. Please help me. “
Seconds later, he says, “I’m standing my ground here, now these people are going to try and kill me.”
The video is dark when Danaher and two other men apparently lunged toward him, laughing loudly. Rodriguez fired his gun, killing Danaher and injuring two others.
In lobbying jurors for a lenient sentence, defense attorney Bill Stradley blamed the tragedy on his client’s misunderstanding of the state’s “stand your ground” law. Something he predicts will happen with other Texas gun owners in the future.
“And they will find themselves, like Raul Rodriguez, charged with murder,” said Stradley, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“Raul believed he had a right to be where he was. But he had two seconds to make that call, to pull that trigger.”

Death sentence handed down in Tucson against Shawna Forde, a resident of Washington State who headed the Minutemen American Defense group. She was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder for orchestrating the killings of Brisenia and Raul Junior Flores of Arivaca, Ariz., a small community just north of the Mexican border.

“I think that the nation as a whole sees us as the wild, wild West, that things like that are going to be OK with us,” says Angie Thomas, who sat on the jury. “And they’re not.”

The case has drawn back the curtain to reveal the dark side of the debate raging in Arizona over illegal immigration.

Ms. Thomas and fellow jurors were told during the trial that Ms. Forde and accomplices gained entry to the Flores home with the expectation of finding drugs there, which could be sold to finance Minutemen American Defense’s border-control operations. Finding no drugs, the intruders made away with inexpensive jewelry but, prosecutors said, not before fatally shooting young Brisenia and Mr. Flores. Both victims were American citizens born in the US.

“I see Shawna Forde as someone who would have liked to have been the face of a movement,” Thomas says.

Arriving at the death sentence was difficult, Thomas says, but it was aided by a picture of Brisenia presented during trial that was etched in her mind: “A little girl, with bright red fingernails; she’s wearing a white T-shirt and turquoise-colored pajama bottoms. She’s on a love seat. It’s a perfect, innocent picture until you realize that half of her face has been blown off.”

Brisenia’s mother and Mr. Flores’s wife, Gina Gonzalez, was wounded during the shooting but survived. She testified that her daughter was shot point-blank as the girl pleaded for her life.


The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the lawlessness that followed Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan left people feeling unsafe. Prodded by the National Rifle Association, under its first female president Marion Hammer, Florida launched the “stand your ground” movement in 2005.

The fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over “stand your ground” laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others. That Florida, the epicenter of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, was the first to pass the law in 2005 adds to the debate. But for George Zimmerman, this defense might not even apply, according to some legal experts.

Regardless, the case has led to legislators second-guessing the law—including the men who sponsored and signed the Florida bill, and major businesses are backpedaling from a lobby group that has helped promote the defense.

Is “stand your ground” actually relevant to George Zimmerman? In terms of legal defense, maybe not. “Stand your ground” is an expansion on the so-called Castle Doctrine, the right to defend one’s homestead. Instead of defending yourself on your own personal property, though, “stand your ground” lets you carry that immunity into public property, which can include places of business, like a bar.

I don’t think based upon Zimmerman’s explanation to the police that he has a valid Stand Your Ground claim. He’s not saying that he was assaulted frontally and then made a decision not to retreat because he thought he had to use deadly force.

He’s basically saying old-fashioned self-defense: I was struck, I was knocked down, I was on the ground, and I had to physically defend myself. There’s nothing added to his claim by the Stand Your Ground law, and I would love to have legislatures around the country look at it and say, you know, this worked for 220 years and we don’t need to add anything to it. If you’ve got a right of self-defense, great. And if you don’t have a right to defend yourself, if you think it’s OK to shoot somebody because their dog pooped on your lawn, then we don’t agree with that, and it’s a crime. (Former assistant state attorney (Florida) Abe Laser, April 12, “Talk of the Nation,” NPR)

Supporters such as former Republican senator Durell Peaden and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who co-sponsored the bill, or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, have said Zimmerman lost his right to this defense when he sought out Martin. Bush stated that “Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.”

But since the law may be confusing to enforcement—the controversy blew up when Sanford police declined to make an arrest—it has bolstered critics ranging from State Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call for widespread reform.

Who makes the decision? Rather than ask how relevant “stand your ground” is in the Martin-Zimmerman case, the real question may be who makes the decisions in the first place. The Sanford city manager claimed that the law “prohibited” police from making an arrest. Should police make the arrest and leave it to the district attorney to bring charges, as would happen in self-defense cases? Should such cases appear before a judge? Does a jury make the call?


The mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism who was fatally shot by police in his home Wednesday is facing off with suburban Chicago police officers who say the officer acted appropriately.

Stephon Watts, 15, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 9, had had 10 previous interactions with Calumet City, Ill. police in the last two years, including at least one where police discharged Tasers to subdue him, the Chicago Tribune reports. Watts’ father called the police Wednesday after arguing with his son, who didn’t want to go to school, having been instructed by social workers that Watts should be handled by authorities when agitated.

Asperger’s syndrome interferes with social skills, but sufferers often have normal to high intelligence. Police say they found Watts armed with a knife in the basement of his parents’ home, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. When one officer sustained a defensive wound to his left forearm, two other officers on the scene fired their weapons. Steven Watts, Stephon’s father, says his son was shot once in the leg, and then again in the head.

(Reuters) – Two men suspected of killing three people and wounding two others in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the weekend were ordered held on bail of more than $9 million each in their first court appearance Monday morning, according to local media.

Roommates Jake England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32, were arrested early Sunday.

Authorities are charging both men with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill and a single complaint of possession of a firearm while committing a felony, the Tulsa World reported on its website.

Shortly before the killings, which took place on Friday, England had lamented on his Facebook page that two years had passed since his father was killed by a black man, who he referred to with a racial slur.

The victims of the killings were black while England and Watts are white. Harris said hate crime charges would be considered if the evidence supported it.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Pillay said she was shocked the gunman, George Zimmerman, was not arrested. She also expressed concern about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows the use of deadly force in situations where there is a belief of a threat.


Trayvon Martin’s family wants federal scrutiny of the case to extend to the actions of a state prosecutor who declined to press charges

By Michael Vasquez
mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com

The former prosecutor assigned to the Trayvon Martin case participated in a “suspicious” meeting with police on the night of the disputed shooting, Martin’s family alleged on Monday.

In a letter sent to sent to the U.S. Department of Justice — which is already reviewing Trayvon’s Feb. 26 death — Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump accused State Attorney Norm Wolfinger of holding a meeting with Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee just hours after Martin had been killed. It was in that meeting, Crump wrote, that the two men “disregarded the lead homicide investigator’s recommendation to arrest George Zimmerman for manslaughter.”

Wolfinger’s response to this new allegation was fast and forceful: the prosecutor insisted that “no such meeting or communication occurred,” and he blasted the Martin family’s letter as “outright lies.”

“I have been encouraging those spreading the irresponsible rhetoric to stop,” Wolfinger said in a written statement.

Crump also addressed an police surveillance videotape of Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police station – a video that ABC News said it enhanced for improved quality. The enhanced video shows what appear to be injuries to the back of Zimmerman’s head.

Even if Zimmerman was injured in a scuffle with Trayvon, “is that enough to justify killing an unarmed teen?” Crump said.

Prior to Monday’s letter by the Martin family, the Department of Justice had already started an investigation into Trayvon’s death. But this new letter revealed the family wants federal scrutiny to extend beyond the circumstances of the teen’s death, and into the actions of Wolfinger, who two weeks ago recused himself from the case.

In the early aftermath of the shooting, Sanford’s Police Chief Bill Lee defended Zimmerman’s actions, but it has become clear in recent days that Sanford investigators closer to the ground wanted to press charges.

Crump, the Martin family attorney, wrote in Monday’s letter that the lead homicide investigator in the case, Chris Serino, has in fact signed an affidavit documenting his opinion that Zimmerman should be arrested on manslaughter charges.


Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, was visiting his father’s girlfriend, who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, a newer, multi-ethnic development about five miles away from the old historic part of town.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/26/2730089/sanfords-image-take-a-blow-against.html#moreb#storylink=cpy

YouTube comments:

  • They already said he DID NOT live there. He had jumped the fence. Call me what you will but what I say is right. If a race war breaks out you will be hiding just as cowards do. Sit around on a computer talking shit and then it happens. People killing people all around you, where would you go and what would you do? I found a woman that 2 black guys stabbed, beat and set on fire. That didn’t make national headlines because she was? WHITE. MENTAL MIDGET would better describe you. Uninformed as well
  • If you attack someone chances are you? will be shot. SHUT UP and stop trying to cause more shit by calling out the white race. Where will you be if they start a race war? hiding somewhere blaming the white race begging someone to protect you. News flash smartass. If you are white the blacks will be trying to kill you as well. GOOD GOD get a brain
  • If they are suspected of breaking the law by trespassing it is not called stalking you idiot. You do realized that? treyvon stood 6′ 3″? That is not a little guy. At least know something of what you are talking about BEFORE attacking people on here. Don’t make yourself look any dumber than you are on certain subjects. Defending someone that was breaking the law and attacking a person watching over other peoples property means you get shot. THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE

Even if Treyvon fought to defend himself he? is still on the right.

Tensions between police in Sanford, Fla., and the black community were already strained before the shooting of Trayvon Martin.


Calls to 911

“It’s easy to label this as an act of white racism, but it’s really an act of stereotyping, which many groups are capable of and it is occurring in the context of extraordinarily permissive laws,” said Manuel Pastor, a professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

On Twitter, there was genuine confusion about Zimmerman’s race. Is he Latino or white? Is Hispanic a race, or not? Shouldn’t he, a Latino, have known better than to engage in racial profiling? Might he be Jewish, based on his last name? Many said his Hispanic lineage had nothing to do with the fact that the justice system had failed Martin, while some said Zimmerman’s identity was very important.

“I’m actually happy that George Zimmerman is Hispanic so the usual white people are all guilty by virtue of their skin color stuff won’t work,” said a March 22 tweet by John Hawkins, who described himself as a professional blogger at Right Wing News.

Hispanic people can be black, white, Asian or mixed. Some 18 million Latinos checked the “some other race” category on their 2010 Census forms – which admonished in bold letters that Hispanic is not a race. So many Hispanics identified themselves as white, the overall number of white people in the United States increased.

“We sit in this in between place in the United States. In the U.S., when we think about race, it’s usually black and white. … Latinos complicate that dichotomy,” said Cynthia Duarte, associate director of research for the Institute of Latino Studies at Notre Dame.

On voter registration forms, George Zimmerman identified himself as Hispanic, as did his mother. His father, Robert, listed himself as white on voter registration forms. Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys, is originally from Peru.

Ethnicities in Peru run the gamut. Descendants of the original people or Amerindians of Peru, those who were under rule of the Inca empire, are the largest ethnic group, followed by those who are a mix of Spanish and Amerindian ancestry, also known as mestizos. Whites are about 15 percent of the population, followed by blacks, Asians and other groups. Class distinctions based on race and language persist in Peru, with whites at the top of the societal hierarchy and indigenous people often at the bottom, a vestige of Spanish colonialism.

Neither Zimmerman nor his family members were available to comment about their family history. Beyond what’s in the police report, Zimmerman has yet to give his side of what happened the night of Feb. 26, when he called police to say he was following a “suspicious” person he believed was on drugs, while Martin, wearing a hooded sweat shirt, walked through the gated Sanford, Fla., townhome community where Zimmerman lives. Police have not charged Zimmerman, who told them he shot Martin in self-defense, something considered justified homicide under Florida’s “stand your ground law.”

George Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, appeared on an Orlando-area news broadcast to defend his son, and told a reporter that Trayvon Martin said to his son: “you’re going to die tonight.”

Zimmerman’s father outlined the scuffle that was part of Zimmerman’s report to the police, which was made public yesterday. The threat the elder Zimmerman attributes to Martin did not appear in that report.

Zimmerman told police that on the night of the shooting that a fight began after Martin sucker-punched him, climbed on top of him, and repeatedly banged his head into the ground.

“After nearly a minute of being beaten, George was trying to get his head off the concrete, trying to move with Trayvon on him into the grass. In doing so, his firearm was shown. Trayvon Martin said something to the effect of ‘you’re going to die now or you’re going to die tonight,’ something to that effect. He continued to beat George and at some point, George pulled his pistol and did what he did.”

According to Tampa Bay Fox affiliate WTVT-TV, what the witness says he saw could bolster Zimmerman’s claim that he shot Martin in self-defense:

“The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: ‘help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,” he said.

Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.

The witness only wanted to be identified as “John,” and didn’t not want to be shown on camera.

His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman’s claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman.

“When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point,” John said.

On Friday night, Zimmerman attorney Craig Sonner appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and said he client sustained a broken nose and a head laceration on the night of the incident.

“His nose was broken, he sustained injury to his nose and on the back of his head he sustained a cut that was serious enough that probably should have had stitches…it was an injury that was done by Trayvon Martin,” Sonner said.

When police approached Trayvon’s body on the grassy path between the townhouse back porches, they found no I.D. on him. Police ran his fingerprints, but found no record that would help identify him.

When he didn’t return back to the townhouse, there would be another 12 hours before Tracy Martin found out his son was dead.

“I started making calls to see if he was arrested,” he said.

Calls to 911 led him to missing persons, where he left a description of his son. Soon a marked patrol car followed by detectives arrived at Green’s rented townhouse.

“It was drizzling a bit, I said, ‘lets go in the house.’ He [the detective] pulled out a card and said he was from major crimes. Then he said he wasn’t sure, he had sketchy details, but there was an altercation, and Trayvon was shot once in the chest.”

The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case said that the Sanford Police Department asked the state attorney’s office for an arrest warrant to charge George Zimmerman early in the investigation, but the state’s attorney’s office decided to wait.

The Miami Herald reported that the local police initially went to the Seminole State Attorney with a request to file charges and the police report labeled the case as “homicide/negligent manslaughter.”

“The state attorney impaneled a grand jury, but before anything else could be done, the governor stepped in and asked us to pick it up in mid-stream,” Angela Corey, the special prosecutor on the case said.

Chris Serino, the lead detective on the case, expressed doubts around Zimmerman’s account of the shooting, according to ABC News. Serino filed an affidavit on the night of the shooting in which he said that he was unconvinced of Zimmerman’s version of events.

“I never foresaw so much hate coming from the president, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP,” he said. “Every organization imaginable is trying to get some notoriety or profit from this some way. But there’s so much hate. I’ve never been involved in hate and George hasn’t. It’s really unbelievable.”

“I just hope at one point, they’re willing to go beyond the hate that they have.”

But Robert Zimmerman’s detailing of the altercation between his son and Martin aired the same night that ABC News broadcast police surveillance video showing Zimmerman the night of the shooting which seems to contradict his son’s story. A handcuffed Zimmerman is shown being led by police into the station, and he has no visible injuries or blood stains on his body.

Before George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on February 26, a 911 call recorded the voice of someone screaming. Whether that person was Martin or Zimmerman — who police say claimed he was attacked by Martin before the fatal incident — has been an open question since the calls were released by the Sanford, Florida police department.

Also, it’s important keep in mind that all of this footage was taken after Zimmerman received treatment from an EMS team at the scene.

I would presume that in a fight as severe as the one described by Zimmerman, the injuries would have to be substantial. One would expect to see Zimmerman with an obviously broken nose, facial abrasions and head bandages, but we aren’t seeing any of that yet.

Much of what I’ve written has centered around the narrative that Zimmerman was in a situation where he was being pinned down and severely beaten by Trayvon Martin. Those were his statements, they have been supported by at least one witness, and especially by his voice screaming for help on 911 recordings.

If Zimmerman was not injured badly enough for it to be obvious on police station tapes, why was he screaming bloody murder on the 911 calls?

Reports from the EMS team who treated him at the crime scene and other medical personnel will be critical in deciding how injurious this attack really was, and whether Zimmerman’s reaction can be considered appropriate.

Let’s hope someone in Sanford was competent enough to have documented Zimmerman’s injuries properly.


The Orlando Sentinel consulted two voice experts to try to settle the debate
, and both came to the same conclusion: The cries could not have come from George Zimmerman.

Yesterday, the special prosecutor in the case said that police at the scene requested a warrant for Zimmerman’s arrest, but were rebuffed and told to wait.

In the video, apparently taken by surveillance cameras outside and inside the police station, Zimmerman’s face and head are clearly visible and show no injuries consistent with the kind of fight Zimmerman’s statement described.

Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, is seen arriving in a police cruiser. He gets out of the car with his hands cuffed behind his back. Zimmerman is clean-shaven and appears several pounds lighter than in ubiquitous mug shot of him taken in 2005 when he was arrested on a charge of assaulting a police officer.

The video’s release comes amid shifting public perception of Martin, whose baby-faced image has become the face of the so-called “Trayvon Martin movement for Justice” that has captivated much of the U.S. Earlier this week, school officials in Miami released Martin’s disciplinary record, showing that he had been on a 10-day suspension when he was killed. According to reports, school officials found an empty baggy that contained marijuana residue. Meanwhile, some websites have replaced widely circulated family photos of Martin with pictures of him sporting removable gold tooth caps. Other websites have picked seemingly random photos of other youth in questionable or offensive poses and claimed that they are of Martin.

Martin’s family has called the counter-offensive an assault on Martin’s character and a “smear campaign.” Tracy Martin, the teen’s father, told HuffPost earlier this week, “I refuse to let them assassinate my son’s character.” He added: “The question should not be why was he suspended from school, it should be why did this man kill him in cold blood.”

Zimmerman shot Martin to death the night of Feb. 26. Martin had been walking toward his father’s girlfriend’s house shortly after 7 p.m. and Zimmerman spotted him and called 911 to report a “suspicious” person. Zimmerman followed Martin, disregarding a police dispatcher who told him “we don’t need you to do that.” Police said early in the investigation that Martin noticed he was being followed, asked Zimmerman what he wanted, and a physical encounter ensued.

In the recently released police reports, Zimmerman told police he got out of his vehicle to follow Martin, but lost sight of him. As he walked back to his vehicle, Martin attacked him from behind, punched him in the nose, knocked him down and began smashing the back of his head into the sidewalk, police reports say Zimmerman told officers. During the tussle, Zimmerman pulled the 9 mm handgun he carried and shot Martin in the chest, he told police.

Lawyers for the Martin family said Zimmerman was the aggressor. The lawyers said Martin’s girlfriend in Miami was on the phone with him just moments before he was killed. The girlfriend has told ABC News and family lawyers that Martin told her someone was following him. She said she heard someone ask Martin something, then what sounded like someone pushing him. The phone sounded like it was then knocked to the ground and went dead, the girl said.

The funeral director who handled Martin’s funeral said there were no cuts or bruises on the teen’s hands that would suggest a violent struggle or fight.

“I didn’t see any evidence he had been fighting anybody,” Richard Kurtz of Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home in Fort Lauderdale, told television talk show host Nancy Grace.

Police took Zimmerman into custody after they arrived. He was questioned and released later that night. He remains free as the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office reviews the police investigation and decides whether to file charges. The U.S. Justice Department also is investigating.

Zimmerman, the 28-year-old Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed 17-year-old Martin to death last month, was fired from a job securing illegal house parties for “being too aggressive,” according to the New York Daily News, which quoted a former colleague of Zimmerman’s. According to the co-worker, Zimmerman worked for two agencies that provided security for house parties from 2001 to 2005.

“Usually he was just a cool guy,” said the former co-worker, who the newspaper didn’t name. “But it was like Jekyll and Hyde. When dude snapped, he snapped.” The Daily News said Zimmerman earned $50 to $100 a night for the parties. He was fired for being too aggressive with patrons.

“He had a temper and he became a liability,” the newspaper quoted the former co-worker as saying. “One time this woman was acting a little out of control. She was drunk. George lost his cool and totally overreacted,” he said. “It was weird, because he was such a cool guy, but he got all nuts. He picked her up and threw her. It was pure rage. She twisted her ankle. Everyone was flipping out.”

Where Zimmerman may fit within the range of Hispanic identity is another matter. Although Robert Zimmerman described his son as “Spanish speaking,” it’s clear from the 911 call made that night that George Zimmerman is comfortable speaking English. Some Latinos may not consider Zimmerman to be truly Latino, since only one of his parents is Hispanic.

Some Hispanics, mostly in the Southwest, will say they are Spanish to make clear they identify with Spanish explorers who came to the Americas in the 1500s. In Texas, Latino has only recently become an identifying term; Tejano, Chicano or Mexican American have been more common. Cubans, who make up a large share of Hispanics in Florida, are more likely to identify as white than Puerto Ricans, whose presence is growing in Florida.


Why didn’t the Sanford, Fla., police arrest George Zimmerman after he shot Trayvon Martin Feb. 26? That’s a question that today is more relevant than ever amid reports the lead investigator in the case thought Mr. Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter for his actions. The investigator, Chris Serino, was unconvinced by Zimmerman’s assertion that he resorted to deadly force in self-defense, according to ABC News. Mr. Serino filed an affidavit to that effect on the night of the killing. But Serino’s superiors, in turn, were apparently unconvinced by Serino’s reasoning. They did not take Zimmerman into custody because of two words: “probable cause.” “The Sanford police said this is why they did not arrest Zimmerman: they did not have probable cause to believe that he had broken the law,” writes legal analyst Dave Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, on the widely read legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy. Florida’ Stand Your Ground law would have been legally irrelevant to this determination, according to Mr. Kopel. Florida has other statutes that allow the use of force against a criminal attack, as do virtually all states. Zimmerman’s story has been that he was doing exactly that: defending against an assault by Martin. In his version of events, Martin knocked him down, then straddled him and pounded his head on the ground. He did not have an opportunity to retreat, he told police.


The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Friday that Martin’s killing reflects “the classic struggle of our time” and said it echoes the slaying of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who was murdered in 1955 while visiting Mississippi by a group of white men. No one was ever convicted, but Till’s killing galvanized the civil rights movement. An Orlando criminal defense attorney who says he represents Zimmerson told CNN on Friday that his client isn’t racist and the facts will show he acted in self-defense after a fight with the teen. “I don’t believe that George Zimmerman’s a racist or that this was motivated by a dislike for African-Americans,” said Craig Sonner. Tracy Martin often recounted how his son saved his life. The elder Martin had begun heating up some oil to fry fish and fell asleep. The grease caught fire, and when Tracy Martin awoke and tried to put out the flames, he spilled the oil on his legs, severely burning himself. Trayvon Martin pulled his father out of the home and called 911. Martin’s parents kept a close eye on him, but they didn’t have to be too strict, since he stayed out of trouble, Collins said. However, he had recently been suspended from school for five days for tardiness, his English teacher, Michelle Kypriss, told the Orlando Sentinel. School officials did not respond to a request for comment. Martin’s father was not happy and grounded the teen for the duration of the suspension. Trayvon “knew he was wrong,” Horton said. Under state privacy law, only serious felonies appear on juveniles’ public criminal records, and Martin did not have one. Citing the same law, Sanford police Sgt. David Morgenstern said he could neither confirm nor deny the family’s statement that Martin had never gotten in legal trouble. Martin dreamed of becoming a pilot. He had flown on school vacations to various places around the country with his mother, skiing in Colorado one year, going off to Texas another. “There’s no little black kids that want to be pilots,” Horton joked with him when he was about 13. “Well, I’ll be the first one,” the teen replied.


Our son didn’t deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn’t doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands. What makes Trayvon’s death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing Trayvon, George Zimmerman, still hasn’t been charged for Trayvon’s killing. Despite all this, we have hope. Since we started to lead a campaign on Change.org, more than 1,400,000 people — including you — have signed our petition calling for Florida authorities to prosecute our son’s killer. Our campaign is already starting to work. The FBI and Department of Justice announced they were investigating our son’s killing. Newspapers around the globe are reporting that it’s because of our petition. And the Sanford Police Chief even stepped aside temporarily because of pressure around his handling of the case. But our son’s killer is still free, and we need more people to speak out if we want justice for Trayvon. Can you please share our petition on Facebook and ask your friends and family to sign? Click here to share. You can also click here to email your friends and ask them to sign that way. We aren’t looking for revenge, we’re looking for justice — the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to support our family. – Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton


George Zimmerman was kicked out of Seminole State College today, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. “Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment,” according to a statement from the college. “This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman.” Zimmerman, 28, first enrolled at the college in 2003 and was working toward a vocational certificate to become an insurance agent. He re-enrolled in 2009 and was working toward an Associate in Arts degree in a general studies program, according to the college.


A Florida police chief criticised over the investigation into the shooting of an unarmed black teenager has announced he will temporarily step down. Bill Lee has been censured by officials in Sanford, an Orlando suburb, over the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Florida Governor Rick Scott, meanwhile, announced he had appointed a new prosecutor to lead the investigation. Mr Lee explained his decision at a news conference on Thursday afternoon. “It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process,” he said. “Therefore I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself.” He added: “I do this in the hope of restoring some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks.” Later on Thursday, Governor Scott announced that state attorney Norman Wolfinger would stand aside from the case. In a letter to the governor, Mr Wolfinger said his move was aimed at “toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of the investigation“. The governor also appointed a task force led by Lt Gov Jennifer Carroll, an African-American, to conduct hearings on the case and to make recommendations for any changes to state law. Police chief Lee’s decision to stand aside comes a day after city commissioners in Sanford issued a vote of no-confidence in him. They voted 3-2 to censure the police chief, who has held his position for just 10 months. Hundreds of people attended a mass rally led by civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton on Thursday evening in Sanford to demand justice for the 17-year-old. Tracy Martin, the victim’s father, was cheered as he told demonstrators: “The temporary step down of Bill Lee is nothing. We want an arrest, we want a conviction.” Mr Martin’s parents have met officials from the Department of Justice, who have launched a civil rights investigation into police conduct of the case. Nearly one million people have signed online petitions calling for justice.


When a rash of burglaries and other crimes broke out in and around a gated community in Sanford, Fla., residents wanted some form of protection. Someone raised the possibility of a neighborhood watch group. But only one resident seems to have come forward for the duties: George Zimmerman. Zimmerman, 28, is the focal point for national outrage over the fatal Feb. 26 shooting of an unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin. The 17-year-old was returning from a sugar run — he’d bought a bag of Skittles and an iced tea at a local convenience store — and was reportedly talking on a cellphone to his girlfriend when he crossed paths with Zimmerman. Zimmerman, meanwhile, had spotted the teen and called police to report a young black male acting suspiciously, according to phone logs. What happened next is a matter of debate, and will ultimately be up to a Seminole County grand jury to decide when it convenes next month. The teen’s girlfriend said she could hear someone confronting Martin. But Zimmerman said that Martin was the aggressor — and that he opened fire in self-defense. He was not arrested. The case has taken on racial overtones as it has captured public attention. A Florida grand jury is considering whether there is enough evidence to file charges, and the US justice department has launched a probe into the conduct of the local police investigation. However, further action could be complicated by a Florida self-defence law that allows the use of deadly force if a person “reasonably” believes they or another person are threatened with death or serious harm. A statement from Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte calls the death of Trayvon Martin a “tragic situation”. But he emphasised that officers of the Sanford police department were “prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time”. ‘Crazy to wait’ Speaking to NBC’s Today programme, Tracy Martin, the victim’s father, said the shooter was suspicious of his son “because he was young, black and with a hoodie”.

If it was the other way around they would have arrested their son on the spot  Benjamin Crump Martin family lawyer

Appealing for Mr Zimmerman to be prosecuted, he added: “Let the courts decide, but I strongly feel that he needs to be arrested.”

The statement from Trayvon Martin’s parents comes amid continuing public outcry against police handling of the case. Appearing alongside Martin’s parents, their lawyer Benjamin Crump said the shooter “needs to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted”. “Now, the state needs to do it. It’s crazy that this family has to wait for grand juries and stuff when, if it was the other way around they would have arrested their son on the spot.”


By Rene Lynch March 20, 2012, 4:41 p.m. Police identified Zimmerman as white, but his family says he’s Hispanic. Critics of how authorities have dealt with the case have launched marches, petitions and demonstrations, and civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton was expected in the area Tuesday night. Earlier in the day Tuesday, black leaders hand-delivered a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott expressing their concerns and displeasure with how the case has been handled so far. According to local media reports, Zimmerman took seriously his volunteer role as captain of the neighborhood watch group in the diverse community. He had aspirations of being a police officer at one point in his life, and had called 911 to report suspicious activity in the neighborhood nearly 50 times in the last year, according to the Miami Herald. “He once caught a thief and an arrest was made,” Cynthia Wibker, secretary of the homeowners association, told the Herald. “He helped solve a lot of crimes.” But others apparently felt uneasy with Zimmerman’s zealousness. One African American resident, Ibrahim Rashada, told the Herald that Zimmerman seemed friendly and helpful, but Zimmerman also circulated a description of a suspect that pulled Rashada up short. “I fit the stereotype he emailed around,” Rashada said. That realization led Rashada to drive downtown whenever he wants to take a walk and stretch his legs. “I don’t want anyone chasing me,” he said. Zimmerman’s father wrote a letter to the Sun Sentinel that insists that his son is neither a racist nor guilty of being the aggressor in the deadly encounter. The statement was published in full on the newspaper’s website. It reads in part: “George is a Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends. He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever…. The media portrayal of George as a racist could not be further from the truth.” The statement goes on to suggest that the public should be outraged over the “extremely misleading” portrayal of Zimmerman, and hinted that there are key facts that have yet to be made public. “The events of February 26 reported in the media are also totally inaccurate. Out of respect for the on-going investigation, I will not discuss specifics. However, the media reports of the events are imaginary at best. At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. When the true details of the event become public, and I hope that will be soon, everyone should be outraged by the treatment of George Zimmerman in the media.” ABC News has also been delving into what it suggested were irregularities with the investigation to date. For one, ABC reported, Zimmerman was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, something that the news organization says is routine in many homicide cases. Moreover, a narcotics detective — and not a trained homicide detective — took Zimmerman’s statement in the wake of the shooting, ABC said. Tracy Martin, the father of the slain teen, said police told him that Zimmerman’s background was “squeaky clean.” However, ABC News reported, public records show that Zimmerman was charged with battery against on officer and resisting arrest in 2005, a charge that was later “expunged” from his record. That allowed him to legally obtain the weapon he was carrying the night of the shooting. Zimmerman and his father have temporarily left their home, after they were the subject of death threats, according to media reports. Most of the attention that tape has garnered has been over the portion where the officer specifically tells Zimmerman he’s not to follow Martin. Had Zimmerman followed these instructions (which are also part of the national guidelines for any Neighborhood Watch, which Zimmerman was a part of), Martin would still be alive. However, now the attention has moved to the seconds before that back and forth. In those moments, Zimmerman can be heard moving after Martin (the sounds of his movements are what caused the officer to ask if he was pursuing Martin). In the midst of these sounds, there seems to be a quick comment made under Zimmerman’s breath and some now say is “fucking coons,” coon obviously being a racial slur against blacks.


Our son didn’t deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn’t doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands. What makes Trayvon’s death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing Trayvon, George Zimmerman, still hasn’t been charged for Trayvon’s killing. Despite all this, we have hope. Since we started to lead a campaign on Change.org, more than 500,000 people — including you — have signed our petition calling for Florida authorities to prosecute our son’s killer. Our campaign is already starting to work. Just last night, the FBI and Department of Justice announced they were investigating our son’s killing. Newspapers around the globe are reporting that it’s because of our petition. But our son’s killer is still free, and we need more people to speak out if we want justice for Trayvon. Can you please share our petition on Facebook and ask your friends and family to sign? Click here to share. You can also click here to email your friends and ask them to sign that way. We aren’t looking for revenge, we’re looking for justice — the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason. Thank you so much for all you’ve done to support our family. – Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton Police arrived minutes later. After the shooting, Trayvon’s body was bagged and taken to the morgue, where he was tagged as a John Doe. Critics have noted that no one contacted Trayvon’s family even though police had his cell phone in their possession. The Miami Herald reports Zimmerman had taken it upon himself to patrol the neighborhood and had called police 46 times since January 2011 to report suspicious activity or other incidents. Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26th, but it’s only weeks later that his story is gaining national attention after a campaign led by family members and the release of the 911 tapes last week. JASMINE RAND: I mean, I think it just—it shows that the Sanford Police Department—I mean, there was either corruption or just woeful ignorance on their behalf. They were calling the family, after losing their child, harassing the parents over his phone, wanting to get—you know, get to his phone, get in his phone. And they had the phone in their possession the entire time. So, you know, there are a lot of questions that I can’t answer, because they don’t make sense.


In September 2010, Trevor Dooley stormed into a park near his home outside Tampa, angry because a teenager was skateboarding on the basketball court. Dooley was carrying a .32-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his pants, and it was visible to David James, 41, who was in the park with his 8-year-old daughter. James tried to disarm Dooley, who is now 71, and as the two men tussled on the ground, Dooley shot James in the chest, killing him. Prosecutors, not surprisingly, charged Dooley with manslaughter. But if Dooley’s lawyers can convince a judge by next week that he fired the gun because his life was being threatened — that he is therefore protected under Florida’s “stand your ground” law — Dooley may well walk away a free man. A growing number of people hope the judge will make Dooley stand trial on the manslaughter charge. But that sentiment has as much to do with another tragedy that occurred last month, 60 miles (100 km) to the northeast, in Sanford, Fla. That’s the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed the night of Feb. 26 while walking back to the house where he was staying in a gated community. The shooter, George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain, was following Martin because he thought the 17-year-old, dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious. When the two got into an altercation, Zimmerman fired the gun he was carrying. As astonishing as it sounds, Sanford police have refused to charge Zimmerman — although the state attorney’s office now says it will convene a grand jury next month to investigate the case. The cops have been balking in large part because, under the stand-your-ground statute, they’re virtually obligated to accept his argument that he was acting in self-defense — even if it was Martin who may have felt more threatened, according to recordings of 911 calls by neighbors that were released over the weekend. The 2005 Florida law permits anyone, anywhere to use deadly force against another person if they believe their safety or life is in danger, and it’s the state’s usually futile task to prove that the act wasn’t justified. Little wonder the St. Petersburg Times found that five years after the law was signed by then Governor Jeb Bush — who called it a “good, commonsense anti-crime” bill — claims of justifiable homicides in Florida more than tripled, from just over 30 to more than 100 in 2010. In that time, the stand-your-ground defense was used in 93 cases involving 65 deaths — and in the majority of those cases, it worked. Pro-gun advocates like the National Rifle Association, which pushed hard for stand your ground, say it simply broadens citizens’ capacity for self-defense. But if Dooley and now Zimmerman do walk, there may be an understandable public backlash against a statute that in reality has made the streets, bars and parks of Florida — and of the at least 16 other states that have enacted similar laws since 2005 — more dangerous spaces. Stand your ground, which many Floridians sardonically call “shoot first,” didn’t broaden self-defense as much as it broke with centuries of British and American common (and commonsense) law that absolved such deadly force only in cases involving the “castle doctrine,” that is, defending one’s home against a violent intruder. (MORE: Trayvon Martin’s Murder: Was the Motive Self-Defense or Racism?)


In the final moments of his life, Trayvon Martin was being hounded by a strange man on a cellphone who ran after him, cornered him and confronted him, according to the teenage girl whose call logs show she was on the phone with the 17-year-old boy in the moments before neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot him dead. Martin’s death Feb. 26 has stirred national outrage and protests, partly prompting the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI to open an investigation into the case. ABC News was there exclusively as the 16-year-old girl told Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump about the last moments of the teenager’s life. “He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run.” Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he’d managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin. “Trayvon said, ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.” The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said. Trayvon’s phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on scene. The young woman’s parents asked that her name not be used, and that only an attorney could ask her questions. Martin’s father, Tracey Martin, and mother, Sybrina Fulton, listened to the call along with ABC News, ashen-faced. “He knew he was being followed and tried to get away from the guy, and the guy still caught up with him,” Tracey Martin said. “And that’s the most disturbing part. He thought he had got away from the guy and the guy back-tracked for him.” The teen was killed by Zimmerman while walking back to his father’s fiancés home after stepping out to buy Skittles and some iced tea during the NBA All-Star Game. After weeks of relentless pressure, the Sanford Police have decided to release emergency and non-emergency calls placed during the incident. “These a**holes always get away,” Zimmerman says in a call to a non-emergency number. Dispatcher: “Are you following him?” Zimmerman: “Yeah.” Dispatcher: “We don’t need you to do that.” An altercation soon ensued. A few moments later a torrent of 911 calls flooded in and Martin was killed by a single bullet. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and has yet to be arrested, stoking outrage and claims of prejudice against the police department. “When George Zimmerman is arrested, tried and convicted I will get a little rest,” Tracey Martin said. According to a statement by the Justice Department, “The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action and the conclusion of the investigation. … The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids. Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws.” Nearly half a million people have signed an online petition on change.org urging law enforcement officials to step in and arrest Zimmerman. Protests have played out in the Florida town all week with a large gathering expected Thursday. Zimmerman violated major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual, ABC News has learned. The manual from the Neighborhood Watch program states: “It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers. And they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles.” According to Chris Tutko, the director of the National Neighborhood Watch program, there are about 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide, and Zimmerman was not part of a registered group, which police were not aware of at the time of the incident.


The family of Trayvon Martin is asking the FBI to get involved in the investigation of the killing of the unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student, who was shot last month by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman outside his stepmother’s home. Martin, a black high-school junior, was making his way home with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea on Feb. 26 when George Zimmerman spotted him, called a non-emergency dispatch number to report Martin looked intoxicated, followed him, and then minutes later after an altercation, shot him. Zimmerman, 28, who is white, claimed self defense. He was never arrested and has been charged with no crime, sparking national outrage. ABC News has learned police seemed to accept Zimmerman’s account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations. Now Martin family attorney Ben Crump has written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, and it’s being circulated by several members of congress who are putting pressure on him to get the FBI involved. An FBI spokesman told ABC News: “We are aware of the incident, we have been in contact with local authorities and are monitoring the matter.” The night of Feb. 26, Zimmerman made a non-emergency call to police before fatally shooting Martin, in which he told a dispatcher, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something.” But law enforcement expert Rod Wheeler who listened to the tapes tells ABC News that Zimmerman, not Martin, sounded intoxicated in the police recordings of the 911 calls. “When I listened to the 911 tape the first thing that came to my mind is this guy sounds intoxicated. Notice how he’s slurring his words. We as trained law enforcement officers, we know how to listen for that right away and I think that’s going to be an important element of this entire investigation,” Wheeler said. But Zimmerman was not tested. Martin’s family is now calling on the FBI to take over what they say is a botched investigation. “We’ve got a fair investigation, it was the best we can do, it’s in states attorney hands now,” Sanford Police Department spokesman Dave Morgenstern said.


Heartbreaking tragedy: 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was visiting a relative’s house in a Florida gated community when he walked to the store to get Skittles and iced tea for his little brother. He never made it home. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a self-styled neighborhood watch leader, who told police he thought Trayvon was “suspicious” in the mostly-white community.
Unbelievable twist: A man named George Zimmerman allegedly admitted to police that he shot Trayvon Martin in the chest. Zimmerman claims he acted in self defense, even though police allegedly told him not to do anything until they arrived — and despite the fact that Trayvon was unarmed, carrying only a bag of Skittles when he died. In the two weeks since Zimmerman allegedly killed Trayvon, police have refused to arrest the confessed killer.
Hope for justice: Sybrina Fulton is Trayvon’s mother, and she’s leading a campaign on Change.org to get justice for her son. Tracy knows that if enough people raise an outcry, Sanford, Florida authorities will be forced to investigate Zimmerman the same way they would investigate any confessed killer. 
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Here’s a lot more info about Sybrina’s campaign, in her own words:
On February 26, my son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed as he walked back from a convenience store where he had just bought some candy. He was only 17 years old. 
Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman, admitted to police that he shot Trayvon in the chest. Zimmerman, the community’s self appointed “neighborhood watch leader,” called the police to report a suspicious person when he saw Trayvon, a young black man, walking from the store. But Zimmerman, who is white, still hasn’t been charged for killing my son. 
Trayvon was my hero. At the age of 9, Trayvon pulled his father from a burning kitchen, saving his life. He loved sports and horseback riding. At only 17 he had a bright future ahead of him with dreams of attending college and becoming an aviation mechanic. Now that’s all gone.
When Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the police, they told him not to confront him. But he did anyway. All I know about what happened next is that my 17 year-old son, who was completely unarmed, was shot and killed.
I don’t know if my family will ever receive justice for this terrible tragedy. It’s been nearly two weeks and the Sanford Police have refused to arrest George Zimmerman. In their public statements, they even go so far as to stand up for the killer – saying he’s “a college grad” who took a class in criminal justice.
Please join me in calling on the the Sanford Police Department and Florida State’s Attorney Norman Wolfinger to investigate my son’s death and prosecute George Zimmerman for the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin. 
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