Firearms, gun control and politics
The most dangerous WiFi device: $22,000 sniper rifle that aims itself
Developed by Tracking Point, the gun can aim up to 1,200 yards away, which is more than half a mile away. The gun comes equipped with a laser range finder, wind speed sensors, ballistics computer, unit to measure inertia, a compass, and a networked tracking engine. Similarly to a standard gun, Tracking Point’s rifle is a simple point-and-click interface, except this gun doesn’t allow you to click unless you’re pointing the right way. (20 May 2013)
There Was Another School Shooting During Obama’s State Of The Union Address
(Think Progress) This is at least the ninth school shooting so far this year. Prior to this week, the country had been averaging one school shooting every other school day. As of Tuesday night, that rate is now even higher.
President Obama has already used the power of his office to begin efforts to curb gun violence, but many of the reforms that gun reform advocates are demanding require congressional action.
Obama marks Newtown school shooting anniversary with call for gun control
Despite a concerted push by the president and Vice President Joe Biden to tighten gun laws, legislation that would have stiffened background checks for gun sales and banned rapid-firing “assault” weapons died in Congress in the face of the powerful gun lobby.
Polls showed that more than 80 percent of Americans supported expanded background checks, but opponents of the legislation argued it is essential to hold the line on protecting Americans’ right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Frustrated on the legislative front, the administration began taking executive actions aimed at preventing gun violence. Steps have included making it easier for federal agencies to share information about people with a history of mental illness who should be prevented from buying a gun.
Gun registry’s fate in limbo 24 years after massacre
Born in the wake of this country’s worst school shooting, the long-gun registry has particular significance for Quebecers.
The anniversaries of Montreal’s École Polytechnique massacre — when a lone gunman killed 14 women on Dec. 6, 1989 — have often been marked by announcements both federal and provincial to toughen gun laws. The long-gun registry was announced around the five-year anniversary of the tragedy by Allan Rock, the federal justice minister at the time.
Now, 19 years after the registry was created and 24 years after Marc Lépine opened fire on female students with a legally obtained Ruger Mini-14, the registry has been eliminated in all provinces except Quebec.
Gun Sales Exploded In The Year After Newtown Shooting
Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?
(WaPost) Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.
“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.”
Up in Arms
THE BATTLE LINES OF TODAY’S DEBATES OVER GUN CONTROL, STAND-YOUR-GROUND LAWS, AND OTHER VIOLENCE-RELATED ISSUES WERE DRAWN CENTURIES AGO BY AMERICA’S EARLY SETTLERS
(Tufts University Magazine|Fall 2013) There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way.
Post-shutdown America is on the verge of outright civil conflict
In the months since the school shootings at Newtown, Connecticut, pro gun forces having been winning the struggles against the advocates of gun control. Demand for guns and ammunition has spiked over the past year. When I visited a gun shop north of San Diego a few months after Newtown, the proprietor told me that customers now have to wait as long as ninety days to acquire high powered, semi-automatic rifles, revolvers and ammo.
All fifty U.S. states now allow the “concealed carry” of firearms and over forty states allow residents to carry weapons in the open subject to a variety of regulations. Guns can now be carried in most states to schools, colleges, churches, malls and restaurants. Spokespersons for Old America argue that the right to bear arms is an essential bulwark against tyranny. If necessary, these arms could be used against the United States government itself.
Gun Groups Sponsor ‘Guns Save Lives Day’ On One-Year Anniversary Of Newtown Shooting
Several gun groups will honor the date 20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary with “Guns Save Lives Day.” The national Second Amendment Foundation, as well as the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and DefendGunRights.com anticipate participation across 50 states to counter an “anticipated push by the gun prohibition lobby to exploit the anniversary of the Newtown tragedy to push their political agenda.”
Gun rallies have taken a variety of forms since mass shootings propelled gun violence to national attention. These include an activist’s aborted plans to storm Washington, D.C. with firearms, men with assault rifles intimidating moms, and armed customers descending on a Starbucks in Newtown.
But this is the first time gun activists have claimed December 14 for their own agenda.
The people who want most fiercely to obtain and use guns include many of the same people whose access to guns society most needs to restrict. In the mass shooting in July in Aurora, Colorado, the killer’s actions were lawful almost until the moment he began firing. If the preparations of mass murder are legal, then the law is an accomplice to madness. - The editors, Bloomberg (11 June)
Bowling for Columbine
The United States of America is notorious for its astronomical number of people killed by firearms for a developed nation without a civil war. With his signature sense of angry humor, activist filmmaker Michael Moore sets out to explore the roots of this bloodshed. In doing so, he learns that the conventional answers of easy availability of guns, violent national history, violent entertainment and even poverty are inadequate to explain this violence when other cultures share those same factors without the equivalent carnage. In order to arrive at a possible explanation, Michael Moore takes on a deeper examination of America’s culture of fear, bigotry and violence in a nation with widespread gun ownership. Furthermore, he seeks to investigate and confront the powerful elite political and corporate interests fanning this culture for their own unscrupulous gain.
Things Can Change
A century ago, there were forms of brutal violence considered so thoroughly American that they could never be banished. Today, they no longer exist.
(Slate) The parallels between past and present are not perfect, of course. Today’s violence is more random, without rational motive or political purpose. Yet these examples tell us something important about how social change happens around violence, and about what we now need to do. Ending both lynching and class violence required efforts spread over many decades. And those efforts attacked the problem at multiple levels, from the passage of new federal laws to campaigns aimed at mobilizing public opinion.
Understanding the Second Amendment
By Geoffrey R. Stone. Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago
(HuffPost) Opponents of laws regulating the sale, manufacture and use of guns fervently invoke the Second Amendment. In their view, the Second Amendment (“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”) forbids the government to regulate guns. Period. End of discussion.
But it is more complicated than that. At the outset, let’s put aside the argument that the “well-regulated militia” clause signficantly narrows the scope of the Second Amendment. Although most judges and lawyers endorse that interpretation, the Supreme Court, in its controversial five-to-four decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, rejected that understanding of the text.
NRA’s LaPierre calls for more armed personnel after Navy Yard shooting
(NBC) LaPierre said more personnel who work at military facilities, including retired military personnel, should be armed so they are able to stop attacks such as the one at the Navy Yard
There Have Been More Mass Shootings Since Newtown Than You’ve Heard About (INFOGRAPHIC)
(HuffPost) When 13 people died in a shooting rampage at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., on Monday, the story made front page news. Many of the mass shootings that have happened since the massacre of elementary school students and teachers in Newtown, Conn., last December didn’t.
Blind people now granted gun permits in Iowa because of changes to state law
(AP via National Post) Iowa law enforcement officials are debating the wisdom of granting gun permits to blind people.
The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa law doesn’t allow sheriffs to deny a permit to carry a gun in public based on physical ability.
Some sheriffs have been granting gun permits to people with visual impairments while others have been denying them.
Jane Hudson with Disability Rights Iowa said keeping legally blind people from obtaining weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Colorado Recall Results: Democratic State Senators Defeated In Major Victory For NRA
(HuffPost) What originally began as local political fallout over the Democratic-controlled legislature’s comprehensive gun control package quickly escalated into a national referendum on gun policy. Morse and Giron both voted in favor of the legislation, signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in March, which requires background checks for all firearm purchases and bans ammunition magazines over 15 rounds.
Gun rights activists initially sought to recall four Democrats they perceived as vulnerable, but only collected the required signatures to challenge Morse and Giron.
Obama Offers New Executive Actions On Gun Control
Months after gun control efforts crumbled in Congress, Vice President Joe Biden stood shoulder to shoulder Thursday with the attorney general and the top U.S. firearms official and declared the Obama administration would take two new steps to curb American gun violence.
But the narrow, modest scope of those steps served as pointed reminders that without congressional backing, President Barack Obama’s capacity to make a difference is severely inhibited.
Still, Biden renewed a pledge from him and the president to seek legislative fixes to keep guns from those who shouldn’t have them – a pledge with grim prospects for fulfillment amid the current climate on Capitol Hill.
Toddlers Killed More Americans Than Terrorists Did This Year
(Opposing views) Of course, most if not all of the above deaths and injuries can be attributed to careless adult gun owners.
While this analysis focuses on children, another equally accurate headline could read: “U.S. Gun Culture Kills More Americans Than Terrorists Worldwide.”
In 2010, 13,186 people died in terrorist attacks worldwide, while 31,672 people were killed with firearms in America alone, reports CNN’s Samuel Burke.
Danger in 3-D: The Rapid Spread of Printable Pistols
(Spiegel) A student from Texas has invented a plastic pistol that anyone can make with a 3-D printer. It is undetectable by metal detectors and capable of killing. And it is spreading unchecked across the continents.
Cody Wilson is a do-it-yourselfer from the United States. His invention, a pistol, is small, white, oddly clunky and has a ridiculously short barrel. It consists almost entirely of plastic. But what looks like a toy at first glance is actuality a new threat to security across the world.
You don’t need a license to obtain this weapon, it can’t be bought, there is no official market for it and it isn’t regulated. In fact, anyone who wants to can make this weapon without assistance. All you need is an ordinary computer, an Internet connection, a roll of plastic, a nail and a 3-D printer.
Another Day, Another “Accidental” Child Shooting Death
(Slate) Trenton Mathis didn’t have to die. His senseless death is a direct result of this country’s baffling indifference toward the basic principles of gun safety. As I’ve written before, “accidental” child shooting deaths are almost never truly accidental. They happen because parents and guardians keep their guns loaded and unattended in unsecured locations where children can easily get to them. Mathis’ great-grandmother told KLTV that her husband thought he had locked and closed the door to the room where he kept his handgun. He was wrong.
US government orders removal of Defcad 3D-gun designs
(BBC) The order to remove the blueprints for the plastic gun comes after they were downloaded more than 100,000 times. …
Although the files have been removed from the company’s Defcad site, it is not clear whether this will stop people accessing the blueprints. State Department to Cody Wilson: Take your gun blueprints off the Internet (Foreign Policy) The letter informs Wilson that he also has to explain how his company, Defense Distributed, gained jurisdiction over the technical data for the weapons designs posted to the site.
Meet the New N.R.A. President
(NYT editor’s blog) … the N.R.A. has just elected a new president, an Alabama lawyer named Jim Porter, and he’s, if not freaking crazy, certainly aggressively provocative.
Among the less inflammatory statements he’s made in the last few years is that the Obama administration “wants to take us …to a European, socialistic, bureaucratic type of government” and that the Democrats have made “a run on our rights, our individual rights.” That’s humdrum by contemporary standards.
Less humdrum, and currently making the rounds on the Internet is a speech he delivered at the New York Rifle and Pistol Association’s annual meeting in June, 2012. At that speech he called Mr. Obama a “fake president” and Attorney General Eric Holder “rabidly un-American.” He claimed that Mr. Holder and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were “trying to kill the Second Amendment at the United Nations.” (For what it’s worth, he was referring to a proposed treaty regulating global trade in conventional weapons supported by every U.N. member state except Syria, Iran and North Korea.) And he gave a short lesson in terminology to the assembled Yankees, “Now y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the ‘War of Northern Aggression’ down South.”
Senators Lose Support After Opposing Gun Background Checks, Poll Shows
Nationally, most polls taken since the shooting in Newtown, Conn., have found that upwards of 80 percent of people support gun background checks, and that there is relatively little partisan division on the issue.
Opinions were less unified on the actual legislation considered in the Senate, but most still say they wish it had gone through. A 65 percent majority of Americans said the measure should have passed, including 45 percent of Republicans and a majority of Democrats and independents, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.
Why does America lose its head over ‘terror’ but ignore its daily gun deaths?
The marathon bombs triggered a reaction that is at odds with last week’s inertia over arms control
(The Guardian) Americans who have such little experience of terrorism, relatively speaking, are more primed to overreact – and assume the absolute worst when it comes to the threat of a terror attack. …
If only Americans reacted the same way to the actual threats that exist in their country. There’s something quite fitting and ironic about the fact that the Boston freak-out happened in the same week the Senate blocked consideration of a gun control bill that would have strengthened background checks for potential buyers. Even though this reform is supported by more than 90% of Americans, and even though 56 out of 100 senators voted in favour of it, the Republican minority prevented even a vote from being held on the bill because it would have allegedly violated the second amendment rights of “law-abiding Americans”.
So for those of you keeping score at home – locking down an American city: a proper reaction to the threat from one terrorist. A background check to prevent criminals or those with mental illness from purchasing guns: a dastardly attack on civil liberties. All of this would be almost darkly comic if not for the fact that more Americans will die needlessly as a result. Already, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died last year in terrorist attacks).
The NYT headline A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip says it all.
A Shameful Day in the Senate
(The Daily Beast) The NRA got its victory, but Michael Tomasky is confident that, years from now, we’ll look back on yesterday as the moment when the gun lobby overreached—and laid the groundwork for its own undoing.
You cannot oppose the will of 90 percent of the public and expect no consequences. You can’t have people saying what Rand Paul said, that monstrous comment of his about Newtown parents being “props,” and think that you haven’t offended and infuriated millions of people. You can’t introduce amendments that encourage more interstate transfer of weapons and give it the way-beyond-Orwellian name “safe communities” act and think that karma will never come back around on you. And you can’t sneer at the parents of dead 6-year-olds and expect that God isn’t watching and taking notes.
Obama Gun Policy Agenda Comes To Maddening End
Months of work aimed at revamping the nation’s gun laws prompted by one of the worst shooting tragedies in U.S. history met an inglorious conclusion on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
Giffords Sums Up Her Disgust With Congress in a Scathing Op-Ed: “Shame on Them.” They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.
Why Newtown Wasn’t Enough
Gun control advocates won’t win until senators fear them as much as they fear the NRA.
Wayne LaPierre: More Guns Needed For ‘Hellish World’ Filled With Hurricanes, Kidnappers, Drug Gangs
(HuffPost) “Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe,” LaPierre wrote in a commentary published by The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.”
5 takeaways from the State of the Union
1. Obama goes big on guns: With a chamber sprinkled with the families of victims of gun violence in Connecticut and Illinois as well as former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the biggest question looming over President Obama’s speech was how forceful he would be on guns. It’s no secret that the proposals put forward by Vice President Joe Biden have met with an indifferent, to put it mildly, response from Congress.
Obama’s decision to save his remarks on guns until the end of the State of the Union, and to aggressively urge a vote on all of his gun proposals were, by far, the boldest portion of his speech. If you are looking for a takeaway from the speech, it is this: “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote.” Obama’s comments on guns will be the lasting legacy of this speech and a sign that his past pledges to use all of his political power to bring about measures he believes will curb gun violence was not simply rhetoric.
Gayle Trotter: The Woman Who Called Gun Control Sexist
(The Daily Beast) The D.C. lawyer and mother of six shocked many when she told a Senate hearing that guns are ‘the great equalizer’ for women—and that gun control is effectively sexist. She also opposes the Violence Against Women Act—and women in combat. She explains her views to Caitlin Dickson
Assault Weapons Ban Likely To Die So That Broader Gun Policy Legislation Can Live
(HuffPost) The likelihood that an assault weapons ban ends up in the legislative scrapheap is hardly unexpected — the Wall Street Journal also reported on the issue on Monday morning. …
The maneuvering around the assault weapons ban underscores how delicate the process of putting together a bill has become. Facing legislative hurdles, top lawmakers are gaming out procedural steps to placate both longtime gun control advocates and those more wary of an ambitious package of reforms.
The Right To Arm Buyers
(Slate) The NRA’s pathetic excuses for opposing universal background checks.
Thousands rally for gun control in Washington Newtown, Conn., residents participate
(AP via CBC) Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the crowd it’s not about taking away gun rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, but about gun safety and saving lives. He said he and President Barack Obama would do everything they could to enact gun control policies.
Rallies assail Obama’s proposed gun curbs
(Reuters) – Pro-gun activists who say the right to own firearms is under attack from President Barack Obama’s proposals to reduce gun violence held “high noon” rallies across the United States on Saturday in support of gun ownership rights. (Globe & Mail) Homemade placards read “An Armed Society is a Polite Society,” “The Second Amendment Comes from God” and “Hey King O., I’m keeping my guns and my religion.”
‘Morning Joe’ hosts eviscerate ‘sick in the head’ NRA for targeting Obama’s kids
(Raw Story) … On Tuesday, the pro-gun lobbying group sparked outrage by releasing an ad calling Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for opposing guns in schools while allowing his own daughters to be protected by armed bodyguards. The ad comes one month after 20 children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and just days after the NRA released a first-person shooting game for Apple’s iPhone and iPad targeted at children as young as four.
Read President Obama’s New, Proposed Executive Orders and Legislation on Guns
The second Joe Biden suggested that the White House might enact “executive actions, executive orders” on guns, the gun lobby smashed the glass and hit the alarm. The Drudge Report illustrated Biden’s quote with portraits of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler, who (among arguably worse things) restricted gun rights. There were surprisingly few questions from Republicans about what the executive orders might actually be.
Here’s the list, via the White House. (I did not engage in complication reporter-fu to get this. It’s the general fact sheet.)
Owners of an estimated 1 million previously legal semiautomatic rifles, such as the Bushmaster model used to kill 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., a month ago, will be allowed to keep their weapons but will have a year to register them with police. The sale of any more such weapons is prohibited.
Most Americans back gun control, poll finds
(WaPost) More than half of Americans — 52 percent in the poll — say the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has made them more supportive of gun control; just 5 percent say they are now less apt to back tighter restrictions. Most also are at least somewhat worried about a mass shooting in their own community, with concern jumping to 65 percent among those with school-age children at home.
The findings, which also show broad bipartisan support for mandatory background checks to purchase firearms at gun shows, came as President Obama said Monday that he will lay out specific White House proposals on gun-control legislation and executive actions this week.
Bill Clinton and Gun Control: Legal Sale of Assault Weapons is ‘Nuts’
Former President Bill Clinton joined the conversation on gun control yesterday, calling the legality of high-ammunition and assault weapons “nuts.”
“Why does anybody need a … 30-round clip for a gun?” said the 42nd President.
Two years into his presidency, Clinton signed the 1994 assault weapons ban that has since expired. The Arkansas Democrat, no stranger to firearm use, continued to express his confusion as to the need for such weaponry.
“I grew up in this hunting culture, but this is nuts,” he said in an Associated Press recording.
“Why does anybody need one of those things that carries 100 bullets? The guy in Colorado had one of those,” he said in reference to the Aurora movie theater massacre. “Half of all mass killings in the U.S. occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005.”
Joe Biden: Obama prepared to use executive action on gun control
Vice-president promises swift action from administration at inaugural meeting of national task force on gun control
8 January 2013
We have had very unkind things to say about Stanley McChrystal (Rolling Stone article, etc.) but he has almost totally redeemed himself with this statement.
Stanley McChrystal: Gun Control Requires ‘Serious Action’
(HuffPost) Asked what his message was to the National Rifle Association and the House Judiciary Committee, he said, “I think we have to look at the situation in America. The number of people killed by firearms is extraordinary compared to other nations. I don’t think we’re a bloodthirsty culture, and we need to look at everything we can do to safeguard our people.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a co-founder and backer of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, praised McChrystal later in the program. “Stanley McChrystal is a guy who has more credibility than I ever will have in terms of guns and the damage that guns can do,” he said. “He’s devoted his life to public service. But Stanley McChrystal can be as good a spokesman as can the five of us.”
NRA to oppose global arms treaty
The National Rifle Association says it “will be involved” in the United Nations General Assembly’s negotiations on a treaty that would regulate global trade in conventional arms. Amnesty International said the organization was “interfering in U.S. foreign policy on behalf of the arms industry.” NRA President David Keene said he was guaranteeing “the American people’s rights under the Second Amendment.” Reuters (12/28)
Despite Newtown, 54 Percent of Americans Approve of the NRA
(Slate) Even after a harshly panned press conference about the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, 54 percent of Americans still say they have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association.
The new Gallup poll shows numbers in line with the NRA’s averages, suggesting its image remains intact after the shooting. The group hit a low of 42 percent approval in mid-’90s and more recently hit a high of 60 percent in 2005.
Critics called NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre tone deaf after his press conference last week in which he blamed gun violence on the media, video games, and other culprits, but not on guns themselves. He also called for armed guards in all schools.
A recent Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans favor stronger gun laws, but the same poll showed that most people generally do not favor bans on particular weapons.
What a sad, sick society
AR-15 Rifle Used In Sandy Hook Shooting Becomes Popular Christmas Gift As Gun Sales Soar
(HuffPost) As the world takes to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on Boxing Day to show off its Christmas presents, it seems one gift in particular is standing out.
It looks like Santa was pretty generous doling out AR-15 style rifles this year, the weapon used in the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and the Aurora theatre massacre.
While Americans used social media to reveal their potentially lethal stocking fillers, it emerged the rush on guns and ammunition sales spiked to “unprecedented” levels ahead of Christmas Day.
Lawmakers Signal Willingness To Pursue Gun Law Changes
(AP) — Lawmakers from both parties voiced their willingness Sunday to pursue some changes to the nation’s gun laws, but adamant opposition from the National Rifle Association has made clear than any such effort will face significant obstacles.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dismissed efforts to revive a ban on assault weapons as a “phony piece of legislation” that’s built on lies.
NRA’s solutions show Americans the true face of gun culture
(Globe & Mail editorial) The United States reached a defining moment on Friday when Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, described his organization’s vision of the country in a news conference carried live on television.
And what was Mr. LaPierre’s answer? To post an armed police officer in every school. To organize communities into what sound like vigilante teams or militias for children’s protection. To call for an “active national database of the mentally ill.” To lament make-believe violence in video games and films, while failing to address the plague of real-life gun violence in the U.S. And to attack the media for what he described as a cover-up of the dangers of violent video games played by children.
Mr. LaPierre did Americans a service. He gave them a chance to see the face of gun culture for what it is – fear-mongering and demagogic. He railed about the injustice of leaving an unarmed principal to die at the hands of an “evil monster.” He asked why banks have armed guards but not schools. His answer to the threat posed by guns is more guns, in the hands of “good guys.”
David (Jones): Gun control redux: More gun laws won’t prevent another Newtown
The United States will not be altering its gun laws; indeed, opposition to gun control rises and gun sales jumped following the Aurora Colorado shooting and will probably rise again.
Nevertheless, again, I offer two (perhaps useful) observations:
— The incidence of “off their meds” schizophrenics is rising. A generation ago the delusional were institutionalized; today modern pharmacology permits them to function in society, but at potential cost. Schizophrenia frequently strikes brilliant young males and the Newtown shooter is widely characterized as highly intelligent; however, the medication is distinctly unpleasant physically and mentally. Their privacy rights prevent notification of family, employers, etc. But reporting suggests that the Newtown shooter, as well as the previous Aurora, Tucson, and Virginia Tech assailants, was mentally disturbed. Should “privacy” continue to protect schizophrenics?
— Renewed affirmation of constitutional protection for gun owners has also prompted “concealed carry” laws in many states. Connecticut’s laws are very restrictive, including making it illegal to have a firearm on school property. Thus the shooter knew that nobody would be shooting back. Would concealed carry weapons users have made a difference? We’ll never know — but in other instances they have.
We want both freedom and privacy; each has costs.
David (Kilgour): Gun control redux: Obama must step up and implement strong gun laws
Despite the power of the National Rifle Association and the bitter partisan divide in Congress, the time has come for a national conversation about gun control; Obama’s call for meaningful action must be addressed.
Probably no justice issue divides Canadians from Americans more than the control of handguns, assault rifles and other weapons. Our own nationals are often victims of the current toothless federal regulation of guns in the U.S. The measures at the state and municipal level differ so widely that weapons which are declared restricted in Canada and most countries often appear to flow virtually unimpeded from states with weak laws to ones with stronger regulations and across international borders.
Responsible gun regulation in America and the accompanying reduced gun violence can only be achieved nationally in Washington.
Obama ‘backs assault weapons ban’
(BBC) US President Barack Obama wants to reinstate an assault weapons ban in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut, his spokesman says. …
“He is actively supportive of, for example, Senator [Dianne] Feinstein’s stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban,” Mr Carney said on Tuesday.
The White House press secretary added that Mr Obama was also supportive of other gun legislation, including on high-capacity ammunition clips and against a loophole that allows for gun purchases at gun shows without a background check.
Newtown shootings: NRA silent on gun laws
(BBC) Prominent pro-gun political organisations and US senators have kept quiet since the mass killing in Newtown, Connecticut. Why is the National Rifle Association leaving the floor to gun control advocates as a national debate takes shape?
Gun control advocates have blanketed the media calling for measures such as a renewed assault weapons ban. President Barack Obama has indicated he will back new policies “aimed at preventing more tragedies like this”.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the most prominent gun control advocates in America, has publicly called on Mr Obama to propose specific legislation. [See Meet the Press]…
To counter him, the show’s producers invited 31 pro-gun US senators onto the show – but they all declined. By Monday morning one of the 31, Democrat Joe Manchin, publicly changed his tune on a US morning news show. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, another Democrat, then joined his colleague.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Time for President Obama to Stand up and Lead on Guns (video)
(Meet the Press) New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urges President Barack Obama to lead the national discussion on gun violence in America today on Meet the Press.
Jonathan Kay: There are other Adam Lanzas out there. Just ask “Anarchist Soccer Mom,” Liza Long
Given all the attention that will (rightly) be lavished on the parents of the dead children of Newtown, perhaps policymakers might also listen to parents such as Ms. Long, whose fear is as acute as others’ sorrow. If we treated the psychopathology of boys such as Michael as the serious and deadly problem it is, we might prevent the next Adam Lanza from striking. I am Adam Lanza’s Mother – Liza Long, a writer based in Boise, says it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
President Obama: American hearts ‘heavy with hurt’
(CSM) In his radio address Saturday, President Obama said ‘every parent in America has a heart heavy with hurt.’ Republicans canceled their radio address, House Speaker John Boehner saying ‘I join the president – and all Americans – in sending prayers and condolences to the victims’ loved ones.’
Nicholas Kristof: Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?
(NYT) Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries, according to David Hemenway, a public health specialist at Harvard who has written an excellent book on gun violence.
So let’s treat firearms rationally as the center of a public health crisis that claims one life every 20 minutes. The United States realistically isn’t going to ban guns, but we can take steps to reduce the carnage.
Guns, Parents and Sandy Hook: Time to Take The Bullet
(The Atlantic) On Saturday afternoon, a grim state official, Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Wayne Carver revealed to the world that the primary weapon used on the Sandy Hook school victims was not a handgun but rather a long gun, a Bushmaster .223 assault rifle, a formidable killing machine eschewed by most hunters, unwieldy for self-defense, similar to weapons used by our soldiers in Afghanistan and the weapon of choice of the Beltway snipers. …
It was all perfectly legal for Nancy Lanza, the first victim and the mother of the alleged shooter Adam Lanza, to have purchased and possessed the rifle, as it was legal for her to own the two handguns which also were found at the scene of the crime. Although Connecticut, like other states, has a regulatory gun scheme, and although it has a form of gun “control,” state law does not require permits or licenses to purchase or to carry rifles or shotguns. Nancy Lanza loved guns, her friends told the Times, and would talk about her collection at local bars. [If her son was as disturbed as we are led to believe from the news reports, this is the most irresponsible behavior I can think of. See I am Adam Lanza’s Mother ]
It would be foolish to contend that the massacre at Sandy Hook is a tipping point in America’s raging debate over guns. The near-murder of a congresswoman by a raving lunatic in 2011 didn’t move the needle. Neither does the fact that gun violence kills 10 times more Americans each year than died on September 11, 2001. As Elspeth Reeve wrote Friday at the Atlantic Wire, the National Rifle Association is gaining, not losing, ground even as we mark one mass shooting after another. Just ask George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin.
But it also would be foolish to dismiss the idea that the Sandy Hook shootings won’t change something. Our nation’s inability to protect our school children from gun violence is not just a basic failure of law and government. It’s a personal failure on the part of every adult — and especially every parent — in America.
High-ranking Dem Rep. Larson calls for gun-law reforms: ‘Politics be damned’
A member of the House Democratic leadership issued a forceful statement Saturday calling on Congress to vote on key gun-control laws in light of the Connecticut elementary school shooting that left 20 children dead.
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the outgoing chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said lawmakers should vote soon on banning assault weapons and high-capacity clips, closing terrorist watch list loopholes, and instituting background checks for gun sales.
Ten Arguments Gun Advocates Make, and Why They’re Wrong
(The American Prospect) There has been yet another mass shooting, something that now seems to occur on a monthly basis. Every time another tragedy like this occurs, gun advocates make the same arguments about why we can’t possibly do anything to restrict the weaponization of our culture. Here’s a guide to what they’ll be saying in the coming days:
Gun Control Debate Back In Spotlight After Shooting
(HuffPost) The question surfaces each time a mass murder unfolds: Will this one change the political calculus in Washington against tougher gun control?
The answer, after the Virginia Tech killings, the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords, the Colorado movie-theater attack, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings, and more: No.
The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the bloodiest attack against youngsters in the nation’s history, stands as a possible tipping point after Washington’s decade-long aversion even to talking about stricter gun laws.
So it seems in the stunned aftermath, judging from President Barack Obama’s body language as much as his statement. “We have been through this too many times,” said the famously composed president, this time moved to tears. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
It remains to be seen whether Sandy Hook will break the usual cycle of universal shock fading into political reality. That reality is based on a combination of powerful gun lobbying and public opinion, which has shifted against tougher gun control and stayed that way. However lawmakers react this time, it’s the president’s call whether the issue fades again or takes its place alongside the legacy-shaping initiatives of his time, with all the peril that could mean for his party.
Adam Gopnik: Newtown and the Madness of Guns
(The New Yorker) Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries, and in every other country, gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.
Mike Huckabee: Newtown Shooting No Surprise, We’ve ‘Systematically Removed God’ From Schools
Former Arkansas governor [and former Republican candidate for the presidency] Mike Huckabee (R) weighed in on the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, saying the crime was no surprise because we have “systematically removed God” from public schools.
Sandy Hook School Shooting: Adam Lanza Kills 26 And Himself At Connecticut School
I’m hoping that today’s Sikh temple shooting, on top of the Colorado cinema shooting, will elevate the issue of guns onto the national agenda. As somebody noted on my Twitter account, 1 person hid explosives in his shoe, and now we all remove shoes at the airport. But 30,000 Americans die annually from guns, and there are no efforts to reduce the toll. Time for change?
David (Jones) The gun debate: Americans simply won’t surrender their right to bear arms vs David (Kilgour) The gun debate: More regulation in the U.S. will result in less gun violence in Canada
Our witty friend and Wednesday Nighter, Alan Hustak comments:
Surely the right of the people to keep and bear arms which was established in the 18th century referred to the blunderbuss and the flintlock rifle, not an aka 47.
Guns used in Colorado theatre shooting legal in Canada
(CBC) All of those guns are available for purchase in Canada — for those who have the appropriate licences and permits. To buy and possess a gun in Canada, a licence has to be acquired no matter what kind of gun it is. But the type of firearm will dictate the type of licence, and other restrictions such as transportation and storage rules.
For all licences, the Canadian Firearms Safety Course has to be taken, a test passed and a police background check completed. There are some exceptions for the course requirement. Alternative certification, for example, can be granted at the discretion of chief firearms officers.
Will this madness never end?
(Slate) As the New York Times reports this week, speech- and protest-related regulation surrounding the GOP convention requires “a permit for groups of 50 or more to gather in parks; sets a limit of 90 minutes on parades; and bans an array of items, including glass bottles, aerosol cans and pieces of rope longer than six feet.” While water guns will not be permitted at protests, those with concealed weapons permits will be allowed to carry real guns, so as not to interfere with their constitutional rights. More
White House says Obama could address gun control issue
(Reuters) – The White House hinted on Tuesday that President Barack Obama may address the politically sensitive issue of gun control more broadly in the aftermath of the recent shootings in Colorado.
Gun control is a tricky issue in the United States, especially during presidential campaigns, and the Democratic president has been cautious in expressing any support for gun-law changes that could alienate voters in key battleground states he needs to win in the November 6 election.
Gun control losing support in U.S. despite mass shootings
More Americans want to protect their right to own guns
A 1991 Gallup poll found that 78 per cent of Americans favoured stricter laws on the sale of firearms, 17 per cent wanted the laws kept the same, and just two per cent saying they should be less strict.
By 2011 the numbers had steadily shifted. While the number saying they wanted stricter gun control had fallen to 43 per cent, 44 per cent favoured the status quo and 11 per cent wanted less strict gun control.
That Gallup poll also found that 45 per cent of Americans say they have a gun in their home.
Virginia Tech Shooting Survivor Colin Goddard: “The Time Is Now” for Action on Gun Control Laws
(Democracy Now!) Colin Goddard was shot four times during 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 people dead. He now works with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It is beyond time to talk about solutions,” Goddard says. “This conversation should have happened before this shooting in the first place. … The missing piece [is] in place in this, which is the public outrage. And it has to be focused directly to your representatives, because they are the ones, literally, with bills at their fingertips right now.”
‘Dark Knight’ movie shooting suspect stockpiled arsenal via unregulated market — the Internet
(National Post) In a world where Amazon can track your next book purchase and you must register to buy allergy medicine, Colorado theatre shooting suspect James Holmes spent months stockpiling thousands of bullets and head-to-toe ballistic gear without raising any suspicions with authorities.
Authorities say all of Holmes’ purchases were legal — and there is no official system to track whether people are stockpiling vast amounts of firepower.
This is what sane people, including legislators, have to contend with
(HuffPost) Louie Gohmert: Aurora Shootings Result Of ‘Ongoing Attacks On Judeo-Christian Beliefs’ and
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) drew a fairly strict line in the sand on Sunday with respect to the coming debate over gun control, suggesting that there is a constitutional right to buy high-capacity clips and magazines. More
Cenk Uygu: Politicizing Guns: If Not Now, When?
(HuffPost) It’s a trick. When people tell you that you shouldn’t politicize a tragedy like the shooting in Aurora, Colorado they are unwittingly helping to spread NRA propaganda. After a tragedy like that, it is the most logical thing in the world to ask what went wrong and how we can fix it. When you ask that question, the obvious answer is our gun laws. It’s awfully hard to stab 70 people and kill 12 of them in a short period of time like that. It’s very easy to murder those same people if you have an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and two glocks.
You also need to remember that this is not about gun owners versus the rest of us. Most gun owners believe in reasonable regulations on guns. Did you know that people on the terrorist watch list can still buy guns? Most NRA members are against that insane policy, as the rest of us are. So, why does it exist? Because the NRA doesn’t represent gun owners, they represent gun manufacturers! That’s who pays the bills at the NRA and their motivation is to sell as many guns as possible
Batman Shooter James Holmes: Parallels to Virginia Tech. and Gabby Giffords Shooters
(PolicyMic) Important to note is the shooter’s age: he is 24 years old. PolicyMic pundit Daniela Quintanilla pointed out that “Within the last 15 years, the United States has suffered 12 mass shootings that have claimed 262 people, including the Columbine tragedy, the Virginia Tech massacre, and the shooting in Tuscon, Arizona that wounded Congressman Gabrielle Giffords.” What Quintanilla didn’t point out was that every shooter on her list had something in common: they were all males under the age of 25.
Eric Harris was 18 and Dylan Klebold 17 when they shot up Columbine High School. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, was 23. Jared Lee Loughner, who was responsible for the shooting that targeted Gabrielle Giffords, was 22.
Toronto gun violence rages as politicians debate solutions
(CBC) There have now been six shootings in Toronto since Monday night, killing four people in all.
Ministers tout tough-on-crime agenda after Toronto shooting
Problem is that criminals ‘don’t respect gun laws,’ justice minister says Well, no, that’s why we call them criminals – they don’t ‘respect laws’.
After Monday’s shooting, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews chided Canada’s courts for striking down mandatory sentences for gun-related crime, saying they “are absolutely essential to create a strong deterrent against that kind of activity.”
Real Villains of Batman Shooting are Lax Gun Laws
What I don’t understand is how it can possibly be alright for a civilian to have access to these kinds of weapons. I don’t understand how these shootings can happen over and over again, and we have state governments who seem to have their hands tied by gun lobby groups like the NRA. It is outrageous. Innocent people are being mowed down because it is incredibly easy for anybody to acquire and carry assault rifles, handguns, and even automatic weapons. In some states, anybody can walk around with a concealed weapon. In other states, you can shoot somebody if they are on your property. I live in Canada, but even here there are clearly enough guns to go around.
Analysis: Colorado shooting unlikely to spur changes in gun laws
(Reuters) – Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is a member of a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but when he issued a statement expressing shock and horror on Friday after a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, he had nothing to say about gun control.
Neither did President Barack Obama nor his Republican rival Mitt Romney, though both canceled campaign speeches on Friday and expressed sorrow for the victims of the shooting rampage.
The killing of 12 people at a midnight screening of the new Batman movie in the Denver suburb of Aurora may spark a fresh round of soul-searching on America’s relationship with guns but few predict any real change in the law.
That’s because gun control advocates have largely lost the argument against the much more powerful gun lobby, and politicians know the issue is toxic with voters. … Democrats in conservative and rural states fear alienating gun owners and the NRA, and crucial presidential battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Iowa and North Carolina have large populations of enthusiastic gun owners.
Bill Moyers: Living Under the Gun
(HuffPost) Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence may cost our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns.
So why do we always act so surprised? Violence is alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass and the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.
Echoes of Columbine: 12 Killed, Dozens Wounded at Colorado Movie Theater
(The Atlantic) The death toll, the premeditated nature of the attack, and the fact that it happened in a Colorado suburb brings to mind the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
Twelve students and one teacher were murdered in that awful incident.
Two dead in shooting at Toronto street party, 23 injured
(Reuters) The shooting raised fears about gun violence in a city that takes pride in its relatively low crime rate compared with U.S. urban centers. Canada has very strict laws controlling the use of handguns, and violent crime is usually rare.
But barely six weeks ago, two people were killed and six wounded in a gang-related weekend shooting at the downtown Eaton Centre, one of Toronto’s top tourist destinations
Eaton Centre shooting: Alleged killer now faces two murder charges
(Toronto Star) Charges for Christopher Husbands, 23, were upgraded after Nixon Nirmalendran, 22, was taken off life support at St. Michael’s Hospital Monday evening, police said. Husbands was charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of 24-year-old Ahmed Hassan and six counts of attempted murder. Apart from the two murder charges, he now faces five counts of attempted murder and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
What to do with the man who shot Gabrielle Giffords?
(Maclean’s) The history of the insanity defence, from M’Naghten to Hinckley, is a history of hard cases. The case of Jared Lee Loughner is turning out to be the latest—yet this evolving history appears to be beneath the notice of the American press, for the time being. Loughner is the 23-year-old schizophrenic who wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people in a January 2011 shooting spree at a Tucson parking lot. He was a massive nuisance as an undiagnosed free man attending community college, and he is a major problem now. There is no doubt he committed the act with which the U.S. justice system is trying to charge him criminally. But what do you do with him? As things stand, Loughner is, or has the right to be regarded as, a sick person who has been found guilty of no crime.
Eaton Centre shooting
Virginia Tech shooting 2011
8 Dec 2011
Virginia Tech shooting brings back memories of 4/16
Police officer killed and second body discovered on campus notorious for the largest single mass shooting in recent history
8 January 2011
U.S. congresswoman in critical condition after being shot in Arizona
Giffords was shot in the head by an assailant who opened fire with a handgun on a crowd gathered at a local Safeway supermarket for the lawmaker’s “Congress on Your Corner” town hall meeting.
Eighteen people were shot in the shooting spree, according to local law-enforcement officials.
5 November 2009
Fort Hood Massacre – a very different case – see Aurora is not Fort Hood and Fort Hood report shows FBI missteps
11 June 2009
SHOOTING AT THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM
(WaPost) At a Monument of Sorrow, A Burst of Deadly Violence
11 April 2008
Guns and Va. Tech: Year later, no solutions
(MSNBC) Debate rages on, but little has changed since the nation’s worst shooting
16 April 2007
Massacre at Virginia Tech
During the early morning hours of April 16, a gunman went on a rampage on the Virginia Tech campus. By the time he was done, more than 30 students and faculty members were dead. More from CNN
On April 20, 1999, in the small, suburban town of Littleton, Colorado, two high-school seniors, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, enacted an all-out assault on Columbine High School during the middle of the school day. The boys’ plan was to kill hundreds of their peers. With guns, knives, and a multitude of bombs, the two boys walked the hallways and killed. When the day was done, twelve students, one teacher, and the two murderers were dead; plus 21 more were injured.