Firearms, gun control and politics /2

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Bloomberg Topics: Gun Control
The Guardian: US gun control
Mother Jones: Guns
The NRA vs. America
How the country’s biggest gun-rights group thwarts regulation
and helps put military-grade weapons in the hands of killers

Firearms, gun control and politics
Guns with a History – should be shown before a sale to every gun purchaser!
How much do you know about the Second Amendment? A quiz.

John Cassidy:Why the N.R.A. Is Finally on the Defensive
(The New Yorker) In a Quinnipiac University poll that was taken in June, fifty-four per cent of respondents said that they supported stricter gun laws, while forty-four per cent said that they opposed them. Ninety-four per cent of respondents expressed support for universal background checks. Other surveys have found similar results. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, “Solid majorities of both gun owners and non-owners favor limiting access to guns for people with mental illnesses and individuals who are on federal no-fly or terrorist watch lists.”
… even among gun owners, there is a lot more support for gun control than the N.R.A. would like to admit. According to the Pew Research Center study, fifty-four per cent of gun owners support creating a federal database to track gun sales, something the N.R.A. has vigorously opposed for decades. Forty-eight per cent of gun owners support banning assault rifles, and forty-four per cent of them support banning high-capacity magazines.

2-4 October
Democrats Lament Inability to Pass Gun Restrictions: ‘We Are Stuck’
(NYT) Congressional Democrats, frustrated by years of futility on gun safety legislation, called on Republicans leaders on Tuesday to create a special committee to investigate gun violence in America — and asked them to withdraw a measure that would deregulate the sale of gun silencers.
Democrats have for years been pushing what they call ‘‘common sense’’ gun restrictions that would require background checks for all gun purchases, including those at gun shows and from online sellers. Other proposals would limit the size of magazines used in semiautomatic weapons and bolster restrictions on gun purchases for people with mental illnesses or who have been flagged by federal law enforcement as potential terrorists.
But those legislative efforts have failed time and time again — even when they have had Republican backers.
One Republican who has co-sponsored legislation to expand background checks, Representative Peter King of New York, sounded noncommittal about bringing back his bill, noting that the Las Vegas gunman had passed background checks. Mr. King said the subject of gun violence did not come up during the Republicans’ weekly closed-door caucus meeting.
Mass Shootings Don’t Lead to Inaction—They Lead to Loosening Gun Restrictions
The most probable policy response to the atrocity in Las Vegas will be new laws allowing more guns to be carried into more places
(The Atlantic) The five years since a gunman killed 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, have seen one of the most intense bursts of gun legislation in U.S. history—almost all of it intended to ensure that more guns can be carried into more places
John Cassidy: Las Vegas, Gun Violence, and the Failing American State
(The New Yorker) In the statement that Donald Trump read out on Monday morning, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, he didn’t mention guns, gun laws, or semiautomatic rifles—at least ten of which were reportedly found in the hotel room of the alleged Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock. Trump’s omissions were hardly surprising. Addressing the National Rifle Association in April, the President declared, “the eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to an end,” and added, “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.” In February, the President signed a law that made it easier for people with a history of mental illness to buy guns, including semiautomatic rifles. …
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, preparations continued for the passage of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2017, a carefully misnamed piece of legislation that would make it easier to import assault-style rifles, transport weapons across state lines, and purchase silencers—the sale of which has been strictly restricted since the nineteen-thirties, when they proved popular with gangsters.

A view from Australia
Why Americans will never give up their guns
By Joe Hildebrand
(News.com.au) AMERICA truly is the greatest nation on earth. But there is a reason why they won’t give up their guns and more people will die.
No other nation could destroy the world as many times over should it so choose, nor has any other nation so charmed and enthralled the world with all it produces. It conquers its enemies with its armies and colonises them with its culture.
And that is because the United States of America isn’t just a people or a place. It’s an idea. And it is because of that idea that the United States seems determined to literally shoot itself to death.

The Las Vegas Massacre: Shots, Chaos and a Frantic Search for a Gunman
(NYT) The events played out on two stages on Sunday: the streets and festival grounds that became a killing field, and the halls of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where the police sought the gunman.
(NYT Editorial Board) 477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress.
The Worst Mass Shooting in Modern American History
A gunman opened fire during a country-music show at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 people and injuring hundreds more.
(The Atlantic) Las Vegas: At least 58 people are dead and more than 500 are wounded after a shooter opened fire on the crowd at a country-music concert from the upper floors of a Las Vegas hotel. The motives of the suspected shooter, Stephen Paddock, are still unknown, and though the Islamic State claimed credit for the shooting, there’s no evidence he was connected with the group. He did, however, use tactics that have become familiar among perpetrators of mass violence. President Trump delivered an unusually sober speech, calling the shooting “an act of pure evil” and avoiding speculation about its motives. As Americans grieve, the tragedy is underscored by the knowledge that this will happen again, James Fallows writes.
NRA goes dark after Vegas massacre
(Politico) The gun rights group follows its familiar public relations playbook, staying quiet as Democrats blame it for another horrific mass shooting
Trump Urges Unity, but Puerto Rico and Las Vegas Visits Could Test His Words
While subdued so far about the Las Vegas massacre, he was already facing critics who said his embrace of gun rights abets the kind of violence that targeted a concert crowd outside a casino late Sunday night. … Hours later, at the White House, a somber Mr. Trump quoted Scripture and talked about the search for “some kind of meaning in the chaos.” … It was a rigorously disciplined performance from a president who, as a candidate, regularly seized on mass shootings to warn of the threat posed by what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism,”
Echoing a line typically used by gun-rights advocates, [Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary] said now was not the time to open a new debate over gun laws. But she noted that Mr. Trump campaigned as a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, and made clear the White House was not interested in restricting gun ownership.

24 June

GUNTOWN

Define "good guy" with a gun…

Posted by Rogue Kite Productions on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

14 June
No hope that this event would encourage the NRA-supported Republicans to reconsider gun control.
Capitol Hill shaken by baseball shooting
(The Hill) Rattled lawmakers recounted a harrowing scene in the moments after the shooting, which is believed to have dragged on for 10 minutes or more, according to eye-witness accounts.
The violence was even more nerve-wracking given the political implications.
It appeared the GOP lawmakers were targeted in the shooting, and it seems possible the gunman was motivated by politics.
“We have nothing but baseball bats to fight back against a rifle with,” [Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)] said on CNN.
Reporters mined the Facebook page of Hodgkinson, the alleged shooter, who appeared to gravitate to liberal politics and was a volunteer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign.
“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Sanders said in a statement. “Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”
Several Republicans tied the shooting to what they viewed as political rhetoric that has spun out of control.
At a press conference with the Alexandria police chief, Virginia Gov. Terry McAulliffe (D) called for stricter gun laws.
“There are too many guns on the streets,” McAuliffe said.
Addressing reporters in his practice gear near the crime scene, Brooks, the Alabama Republican, countered with a fierce defense of the Second Amendment.
Their Own Targeted, Republicans Want Looser Gun Laws, Not Stricter Ones

7 June
LA Times Editorial: Trump obsesses over terrorism but ignores the bigger threat: Access to firearms
It’s been a bloody 11 days. Since May 27, at least 28 people have been shot dead across the country and another 47 wounded in 13 separate mass shootings, defined as confrontations in which at least four people are shot in one incident. … Yet those U.S. killings barely caused a ripple in the public consciousness.
One reason is all the attention being paid to acts of political terrorism. And of course terrorism of the sort that occurred in London and Manchester, England, recently — and in San Bernardino, Paris, Madrid and New York and elsewhere in recent years — is a very significant concern that requires extraordinary vigilance, close scrutiny and effective, preventive countermeasures.
But the cold, hard reality is that the most pressing risk to American lives comes not from Islamic State, but lies here at home, among ourselves and our obscenely large arsenal of firearms. In fact, it is the commonness and ordinariness of gun violence that is so chilling. An analysis of statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an average of 33,880 annual deaths involving firearms from 2011-2015. Of those, 11,564 were homicides, or an average of about 32 homicides and 58 suicides a day, every day, over five years.

5 June
You Only Have to Go Back One Week to Find a U.S. Mass Shooting Deadlier Than the London Terror Attack
(Slate) … Meanwhile on Saturday—the day of the London attacks—there were three firearm homicides in Baltimore, three in St. Louis, two in South Carolina, and one each in California, Georgia, Las Vegas, Louisiana and Alabama. A toddler who’d found a gun under a bed also accidentally killed himself in Pennsylvania, making for 14 total known gun violence deaths in the country on that day. (That’s actually an unusually low daily total.) On Monday morning, meanwhile, five people working at a business near Orlando, Florida, were killed by a former co-worker. Reports say the incident was not “terror-related.”

25 May
NRA Wants to Ease Laws on Buying Gun Silencers
The gun lobby is pushing legislation that will cut the red tape for buying a gun silencer in some states to less than a day from about one year.
(WSJ) The National Rifle Association, which typically rests its case on the Second Amendment and personal security, is framing legislation that would make it easier to buy gun silencers as a public health issue. Have they no shame?
The NRA’s campaign includes rebranding silencers as “suppressors” because they don’t completely silence the sound of gunfire. Silencers reduce the average firearm noise from 165 decibels to below the potentially dangerous level of 140 decibels.
“The Hearing Protection Act” is the gun lobby’s priority in Congress, along with a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons across state lines if they have permits in their home state.

16 May
Moves to Ease Gun-Carrying Restrictions Expand
A combination of federal and state legislation could free up limits on carrying concealed firearms
(WSJ) A convergence of state and federal legislation could ease restrictions on carrying concealed firearms nationwide, a long-sought goal of gun-rights activists that their opponents say would threaten public safety.
More states are giving their residents the right to carry a concealed handgun without permission from authorities—including two this year, bringing the total to 12—while Congress is considering legislation to make that right portable across state lines.
New Hampshire, for example, eliminated the need for permits this year, allowing anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it concealed in public.

28 April
Who will be the new enemy for Trump and the NRA?
(CNN) The National Rifle Association is holding its annual meeting, including an address from President Trump on Friday afternoon.
But Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — the industry’s long-vilified boogeymen and the two best things ever to happen to gun sales — are off the scene. That leaves Trump and the NRA without the personalized perceived threats that for years have fueled their urgent call to arms.The gun industry grew from 166,000 employees in 2008, the year Obama was elected, to 301,000 last year, according to the National Sports Shooting Foundation, the gun industry lobby. Wages grew from $6.4 billion to $15.2 billion, and total tax revenue grew from $3.2 billion to $7.4 billion.
Obama’s attempt to strengthen gun restrictions after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut helped cause a run on assault rifles. FBI background checks, which loosely track gun sales, hit records after mass shootings in San Bernardino in 2015 and Orlando last year.
With the White House occupied by an NRA-endorsed Republican, pro-gun groups and lobbyists have focused on local gun control efforts in cities like Chicago and New York, and states like California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Colorado.

2 February
House votes to scrap gun regulation affecting people with mental disorders
Obama administration measure called for background checks among social security recipients who need representatives to handle financial affairs
The vote was part of an effort to repeal a handful of regulations issued in Barack Obama’s final months and represents the first steps toward strengthening gun rights under Donald Trump.
The background checks rule established the criteria the Social Security Administration will follow when forwarding names to the criminal background check system.
Those fitting the criteria have a mental disorder so severe that they cannot work and need a representative to manage their benefits. The administration projected that the regulation would affect about 75,000 beneficiaries.

18 January
Betsy DeVos suggests guns be allowed in schools threatened by grizzly bears
Trump’s education nominee cited Wyoming school that put up fence to protect children from ‘potential grizzlies’ in response to confirmation question on guns
[Senator Chris] Murphy previously represented the district where the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school sparked a nationwide debate over America’s gun laws. He has spent his first term as senator from Connecticut aggressively advocating for reforms to curb gun violence.
During the hearing, Murphy also asked DeVos if she would back a proposal upon which Trump campaigned to ban gun-free school zones.
“I will support with the president-elect does,” DeVos said.

2016

2 August
Texas professors sue over new law allowing guns on campus
(PBS Newshour) Three professors at the University of Texas sued July 6 to overturn the law, claiming it is unconstitutional and is forcing colleges to impose “dangerously-experimental gun policies.” The 50,000-student Austin campus has been a flashpoint of opposition to the law among faculty and students.
The Texas law allows schools to set some gun limits, such as banning weapons from campus hospitals or labs with dangerous chemicals. The University of Texas rules allow professors to ban weapons from their private offices and places some restrictions on dorms.
The law took effect Monday, the 50th anniversary Charles Whitman’s sniper attack from the top of University of Texas campus clock tower, a shooting spree that eventually claimed 17 lives and has come to be accepted as the nation’s first mass shooting.
1 August
As campus carry becomes Texas law, memories of UT Tower massacre linger
Monday marks 50 years since the first US mass shooting of the modern era. It also brings a controversial gun law to campuses across the Lone Star State
(The Guardian) Passed soon after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F Kennedy, the Gun Control Act of 1968 was signed into law by President Lyndon B Johnson – a Democrat who was born and raised near Austin. It was a limited compromise bill that restricted interstate weapons sales.
“We just could not get the Congress to carry out the requests we made of them,” Johnson said. “I asked for the national registration of all guns and the licensing of those who carry those guns. For the fact of life is that there are over 160 million guns in this country – more firearms than families. If guns are to be kept out of the hands of the criminal, out of the hands of the insane, and out of the hands of the irresponsible, then we just must have licensing. If the criminal with a gun is to be tracked down quickly, then we must have registration in this country.
“The voices that blocked these safeguards were not the voices of an aroused nation. They were the voices of a powerful lobby, a gun lobby, that has prevailed for the moment in an election year.”
(Quartz) Texas’ controversial new “campus carry” law goes into effect
14 July
You can’t carry a tennis ball near the GOP convention. But you can bring a gun.
(WaPost editorial board) PLANNING TO visit the 1.7-square-mile area in downtown Cleveland where many of the events and protests connected to the Republican National Convention will be held next week? Be sure not to take tennis balls, metal-tipped umbrellas or canned goods, which will be banned — but no need to leave behind your AR-15 or other guns. Those will be allowed under Ohio’s open-carry laws.
That a can of tuna fish is deemed more dangerous than military-style weaponry is indicative of the irrationality of U.S. gun policy. Don’t expect a fix anytime soon. The Republican-led House of Representatives is going on its summer vacation without making a genuine effort — let alone taking any action — to inject sense into the nation’s gun laws.
Forty states, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, allow people to openly carry shotguns and rifles (including assault rifles) in public without a permit or safety training, and 30 states allow people to openly carry handguns without a permit or safety training. The gun lobby agenda of “guns everywhere, no questions asked” is extreme and irresponsible, but it has been skillfully sold.
8 July
The Horrific, Predictable Result of a Widely Armed Citizenry
By Adam Gopnik
(The New Yorker) those who insist on the right to concealed weapons, to the open carrying of firearms, to the availability of military weapons—to the essentially unlimited dissemination of guns—guarantee that the murders will continue. They have no plan to end them, except to return fire, with results we know. The people who don’t want the regulations that we know will help curb (not end) violent acts and help make them rare (not non-existent) have reconciled themselves to the mass murder of police officers, as well as of innocent men and women during traffic stops and of long, ghostly rows of harmless civilians and helpless children. The country is now clearly divided among those who want the killings and violence to stop and those who don’t.
A Conservative Showdown Over Gun Control
Disagreement among House Republicans might be a sign of deeper division ahead.
(The Atlantic) Gun control, terrorism, and constitutional rights have coalesced to create a complicated set of concerns that have left House Republicans struggling to find common ground. The deaths of two black men at the hands of police officers, and the murder of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, have brought renewed attention to a national debate over gun policy.
22 June
Watch the video for Paul Ryan at his most sanctimonious
House Democrats’ Gun-Control Sit-In Turns Into Chaotic Showdown With Republicans
(NYT) A Democratic protest demanding votes on gun-control legislation led to pandemonium in the House chamber that did not end until early Thursday, when Speaker Paul D. Ryan and his fellow Republicans reclaimed control long enough to force through a major spending bill. They then abruptly adjourned and left the Capitol.
Furious Democrats remained on the House floor, where they huddled around their leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who praised their stand as a “discussion heard around the world.”
Ms. Pelosi expressed bewilderment at the Republican position. “What could they be thinking?” she asked. “Whatever it is, they don’t want to tell anybody about it. That’s why they left in the dead of night.”
The standoff, which began with a Democratic sit-in on the House floor just before noon on Wednesday, did not end until about 3 a.m. Thursday when Mr. Ryan — barreling over Democrats’ objections — took the rare and provocative step of calling a vote on a major appropriations bill in the wee hours and without any debate. He then adjourned the House, with no legislative votes scheduled until July 5.
21 June
49 Dead in Orlando Massacre Not Enough to Move the Senate on Guns
The number of dead may be higher, but the Senate seems just as intent at keeping everything the same.
(The Daily Beast) In the wake of the Orlando massacre that left 49 people dead at a LGBT nightclub, Congress swiftly kicked into action, getting bills to the Senate floor before some survivors were even released from the hospital.
But just as quickly as those votes on provisions to limit who can buy guns and toughen up background checks came, they failed one by one.
19 June
The rise, fall, and rise again of Hillary Clinton’s passion for gun control
(Vox) Her stated position on the issue is clear. She wants comprehensive, universal background check legislation. She wants to repeal civil immunity for gun manufacturers. She wants to ban assault weapons, ban the severely mentally ill and domestic abusers from buying guns, and use executive powers to limit the current gun show loophole to background checks.
12-13 June
1,000 mass shootings in 1,260 days: this is what America’s gun crisis looks like
(The Guardian) Sunday’s attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida was the deadliest mass shooting in American history – but there were five other mass shootings in the US during that weekend alone.
“We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” Barack Obama said after the San Bernardino attack in December 2015.
Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive via the crowd-sourced website ShootingTracker.com reveals a shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – on five out of every six days, on average. (Updated on 13 June 2016)
Australia confiscated 650,000 guns. Murders and suicides plummeted.
Updated by Zack Beauchamp on June 13, 2016
(Vox) Between October 1996 and September 1997, Australia responded to its own gun violence problem with a solution that was both straightforward and severe: It collected roughly 650,000 privately held guns. It was one of the largest mandatory gun buyback programs in recent history.
And it worked. That does not mean that something even remotely similar would work in the US — they are, needless to say, different countries — but it is worth at least looking at their experience.
Here’s what Democrats want to do on gun control after the Orlando shooting
Over the last several years, Democrats have settled on a gun-control agenda that focuses on keeping “dangerous people” from having guns, rather than banning guns entirely.
The new Democratic gun control agenda boils down to something the Center for American Progress says: “Dangerous people should not be able to easily acquire guns.” That means universal background checks. It means more robust mental health requirements for gun ownership. And it means preventing particular populations of people from buying guns legally — including suspected terrorists and domestic abusers.
15 Other Times President Obama Had to Address Mass Shootings During His Presidency
(Slate) To revisit the record of every other mass shooting President Obama has had to publicly address since taking office in 2009 is to realize how many of these horrific events most of us don’t even think about anymore. On Sunday, as the country began to process and react to the nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, the president offered the latest entry in what has become an unfathomably large canon of speeches and statements about mass murder
NY Daily News 13 JuneGunman who killed 49 in Orlando nightclub had pledged allegiance to ISIS
(WaPost) A gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State opened fire inside a crowded gay bar and dance club here early Sunday, leaving 49 people dead and 53 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, authorities said.
President Obama labeled the rampage “an act of terror and an act of hate.” The gunman fired bullets seemingly at random inside the popular Pulse nightclub, forcing panicked patrons to dive onto the dance floor, crawl across the ground and scramble out a back entrance. He then held others hostage in a three-hour siege that ended when police stormed the building and killed him.
The gunman was identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard who was born in New York to Afghan parents. After his initial assault on the dance club, Mateen called 911 and pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, according to federal law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the FBI investigation is unfolding. During the call, Mateen made reference to the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, officials said.
Omar Mateen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
10 June
Concealed carry ruling: A new normal for gun control?
The Ninth Circuit ruled that authorities in California and eight other states can control who may carry concealed guns in public. It could enshrine a country with two very different sets of gun laws.
(CSM) Here in Atlanta, a person can walk into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with a concealed gun in a case – or for that matter, a loaded assault-style rifle carried openly. As long as the person is licensed, there’s nothing the police can do.
In Los Angeles, however, walking outside your home with a concealed gun remains illegal unless authorities have decided you have “good cause” to carry.
A major Second Amendment decision on Thursday from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals intensified – and perhaps enshrined – this growing divide across the United States in how, where, and why Americans may carry weapons in public. In a 7-to-4 en banc decision, the Ninth Circuit ruled that authorities in California and eight other states under its jurisdiction can control who may carry concealed guns in public.
20 May
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Set for Clash on Gun Control
(NYT) Mr. Trump, who promises to “totally protect” the Second Amendment, is scheduled to speak on Friday at the annual convention of the National Rifle Association, on the cusp of a general election in which gun issues are expected to be more prominent than in recent presidential races. His address should signal how far he is likely to go in pressing gun rights to energize the Republican base in the fall campaign.
Whereas President Obama soft-pedaled gun control in both his national runs, Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, is signaling a greater appetite to clash with Mr. Trump on the issue. In a Twitter message last week, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, would force schools “to allow guns in classrooms on his first day in office.”
12 May
There are simply no words to express our disgust with Zimmerman’s proposed action.
Gun George Zimmerman Used to Kill Trayvon Martin Pulled from Auction Site
The auction for the 9mm pistol that Zimmerman, 32, said he used to shoot and kill Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, went live today on gunbroker.com. The gun was subsequently removed from the auction site, with an error message in its place. George Zimmerman Auctioning Off Gun He Used To Kill Trayvon Martin
2 May
In 2016, Toddlers Have Shot More People in the US Than Muslim Terrorists Have
Donald Trump has made a big deal out of barring Muslims from entering the United States on the basis that some might be terrorists sneaking in to stage attacks. But the real front line in protecting Americans’ safety may be much closer to home. — America’s own playpens.
According to the Washington Post, our nation’s nurseries are housing more than just unbearable levels of cuteness: Twenty-three people have been shot by toddlers in the U.S. since the start of 2016 — exactly 23 more than have been shot by Muslim terrorists over the same period.
27 April
Madness!
Liberty University to Allow Handguns in Dorms Next Fall
(NBC) The policy change was given the go-ahead by the university’s board of trustees last week
University President Jerry Falwell Jr. announced last year that eligible students could carry guns anywhere on campus. He urged students to arm themselves in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre that left 14 people dead in December.
14 April
(Atlantic Daily) A U.S. judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by the families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims could proceed against the manufacturer of the military-style rifle used in the 2012 rampage. The relatives of the victims, which included 20 children and six adults, say the AR-15 rifle used by the shooter should never have been sold to civilians. The decision is a potentially significant blow to the American gun industry, which has been protected by federal law from being held liable for crimes committed with its products.
30 March
Can ‘progress’ get any worse?
New smartphone-shaped handgun is the ultimate ‘concealed carry’ weapon
(CBC) A Minnesota startup is making headlines today for its novel solution to the age-old problem of “children being frightened by strangers with guns.”
Behold, the double-barrel .380-calibre handgun by Ideal Conceal: a gun designed to look exactly like a smartphone, complete with fake camera lens and headphone jack.
“In today’s day and age, carrying a concealed pistol has become a necessity,” reads the company’s website. “But what if you didn’t have to conceal?”
“Smartphones are EVERYWHERE, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today’s environment,” the site further explains. “From soccer moms to professionals of every type, this gun allows you the option of not being a victim.”
26 March
Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun): NRA family website reimagines fairy tales with widespread gun use
Imagine a world where the characters from your favourite childhood fairy tales are armed.
That world now exists on the National Rifle Association’s NRA Family website, which partnered with author Amelia Hamilton “to present her twist on those classic tales” — a series that has infuriated gun-control advocates, some of whom called it “absolutely sick.”
Gun-rights supporters say the stories — which started with Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun) and continued with Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns) — are a more peaceful alternative to the often disturbing fairy tales from childhood.
8 Jamuary
Doug Saunders: How U.S. gun ownership became a ‘right,’ and why it isn’t
(Globe & Mail) Until 2002, every U.S. president and government had declared that the Constitution’s Second Amendment did not provide any individual right for ordinary citizens to own firearms. Rather, it meant what its text clearly states: that firearms shall be held by “the People” – a collective, not individual right – insofar as they are in the service of “a well-regulated militia.” [emphasis added]
There had not, up to that point, been much ambiguity about this. “For 218 years,” legal scholar Michael Waldman writes in his book The Second Amendment: A Biography, “judges overwhelmingly concluded that the amendment authorized states to form militias, what we now call the National Guard,” and did not contain any individual right to own firearms.
The U.S. Supreme Court had never, until 2008, suggested even once that there was any such right. Warren Burger, the arch-conservative Supreme Court justice appointed by Richard Nixon, in an interview in 1991 described the then-new idea of an individual right to bear arms as “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
4 January
Obama gun controlU.S. gun control: Stiffer background checks, mental health treatment among new measures
Barack Obama wipes away tears, recalling victims of U.S. gun violence as new rules unveiled
(CBC) President Barack Obama unveiled an array of measures on Tuesday tightening control and enforcement of firearms in the U.S., using his presidential powers in the absence of legal changes he implored Congress to pass
At the centrepiece of Obama’s plan is a more sweeping definition of gun dealers that the administration hopes will expand the number of sales subject to background checks. Under current law, only federally licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks on buyers.
But at gun shows, websites and flea markets, sellers often skirt that requirement by declining to register as licensed dealers. So new federal guidance from the Obama administration clarified that it applies to anyone “in the business” of selling firearms.
The White House also put sellers on notice that the administration planned to strengthen enforcement — including deploying 230 new examiners the FBI will hire to process background checks. (BBC) Barack Obama: US gun control inaction must end ; (Business Insider) Obama tears up during emotional gun-control speech

2015

10 December
President Obama Finalizing Plan to Expand Background Checks—Without Congress
(Mother Jones) White House advisers are set to unveil a plan to expand background checks on gun sales without congressional approval, the Associated Press reported Thursday afternoon. The plan will include steps to close the “gun show loophole,” which permits the sale of guns while background checks are still pending.
President Barack Obama reportedly requested that his aides draft the plans in the wake of the shooting at a community college in Oregon back in October. Throughout his presidency, Obama has expressed frustration with Congress for its failure to enact tougher gun safety legislation—despite increasing calls from the public to do so.
6 December
Polytechnique massacre 26th anniversary ceremonies underway in Montreal
polytechique-25-anniversay-20141206City remembers 14 lives lost during Polytechnique shooting on Dec. 6, 1989
People gathered to remember the victims and highlight ongoing issues of gender inequality and violence against women.
A second gathering will take place at 5 p.m. at Montreal’s Mount Royal. Fourteen beams of light will be projected onto the night sky over the city, representing each of the victims.
26 ans après Polytechnique: un registre des armes d’épaule… un autre!
La coalition pour le contrôle des armes à feu s’est formée dans la foulée de cette tragédie, regroupant des femmes qui étudiaient dans cet établissement au moment du drame. C’est accompagné par deux représentantes de cette coalition, Nathalie Provost, une femme qui a été blessée lors de cette tragédie, et Heidi Rathjen, qui était étudiante à l’école Polytechnique lors de ces terribles événements, que le ministre intérimaire Pierre Moreau a annoncé le dépôt du projet de loi sur la création d’une «immatriculation» des armes d’épaule.
The Montreal massacre: Canada’s feminists remember
In 1989, a gunman killed 14 women students in Montreal. This week, Canadian feminists will remember an event that scarred the country – and strengthened their radicalism
5 December
Christiane Amanpour
For the first first time since 1920, The New York Times has published an editorial on its front page, urging action on gun control:
End the Gun Epidemic in America
“​It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.
… motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.”
My interview on Thursday, the day after the massacre in California, with the head of an American police association, who says, No, more guns don’t make us safer: http://cnn.it/1QWO6D6
3 December
Another dreadful shooting – this time in San Bernardino, California
Everything we know about the San Bernardino shooting
(PBS) Police said they found 12 pipe bombs, more than 3,000 rounds of ammunition and hundreds of bomb-making tools in the garage of a California home that was searched after the shooting. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said there was “some degree of planning.”
Authorities do not know the motive for the shooting, but have not ruled out terrorism or possibly a workplace dispute. …
The suspects were identified as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his partner Tashfeen Malik, 27. Authorities said they had assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, and were dressed in “assault-style clothing,” reported the Associated Press.
All four guns recovered from the scene were legally purchased, police said.
Australia confiscated 650,000 guns. Murders and suicides plummeted.
Here’s a map of all the mass shootings in 2015
(PBS) The mass shooting at a social services agency in San Bernardino left at least 14 dead and 17 others wounded. It is also the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 15, 2012, killing 26 children and adults, the Associated Press reported.
Using data from shootingtracker.com, which is maintained by a Reddit group, we’ve updated our map that documents all the U.S. mass shootings in 2015 alone. The group defines mass shootings as incidents when at least four people are killed or wounded, including the gunman.
According to the tracker’s data, the San Bernardino incident represents the 355th shooting this year, the Washington Post reported. The incident in San Bernardino also overshadowed another shooting in Savannah, Georgia that occurred the same day, claiming one life and injuring three others.
However, there’s not a standard definition of “mass shooting.” Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama previously told the NewsHour that FBI’s data included incidents where fewer than four people were shot and didn’t include shootings of multiple people that occur in a home or other uncrowded setting.
On Friday, a gunmen surrendered to police after an hours-long siege in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he killed three people and wounded nine others in a Planned Parenthood clinic. The same day, a gunfight killed two and injured two in Sacramento, California. On Nov. 23, there were mass shootings in Houston, Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio. There were five shootings on Nov. 22.
Quebec gun registry no substitute for federal plan, says Montreal police union boss
Proposed Quebec registry ‘better than nothing,’ says Yves Francoeur
12 October
Australia hasn’t seen a mass shooting since 1996
Meet A Generation That Has Grown Up Free From Mass Shootings
When a gunman went on a deadly rampage in 1996, Australia took political action. It worked.
(HuffPost) … grasping the momentum of ‘never again,’ The National Firearms Agreement banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and pump-­action shotguns, and brought in rigid licensing arrangements. An amnesty was declared and the federal government spent $AUD 500 million ­­– paid for by a special levy — ­­on buying back weapons suddenly ruled illegal for their market value.
Nearly 1 million guns were purchased by the government and destroyed.
All firearms in Australia must be registered to a licensed owner and stored under strict conditions, separate to ammunition. Obtaining a gun license is onerous, and requires background checks that can take months.
2 October
Guns and abortions
President Obama’s statement on the Roseburg shooting
“This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loves ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it safes lives. The notion that gun violence is somehow different—that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt, and protect their families, and do everything they do under such regulations—doesn’t make sense.”
Shooting at Oregon Community College Leaves 10 Dead, 7 Wounded
According to the gun safety coalition Everytown, today’s shooting marks the 45th school shooting in 2015 alone
Australia confiscated 650,000 guns. Murders and suicides plummeted.
(Vox) [Australia’s prime minister at the time, John] Howard persuaded both his coalition and Australia’s states (the country has a federal system) to agree to a sweeping, nationwide reform of gun laws. The so-called National Firearms Agreement (NFA), drafted the month after the shooting, sharply restricted legal ownership of firearms in Australia. It also established a registry of all guns owned in the country, among other measures, and required a permit for all new firearm purchases.
One of the most significant provisions of the NFA was a flat-out ban on certain kinds of guns, such as automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. But there were already a number of such guns in circulation in Australia, and the NFA required getting them off the streets.
Australia solved this problem by introducing a mandatory buyback: Australia’s states would take away all guns that had just been declared illegal. In exchange, they’d pay the guns’ owners a fair price, set by a national committee using market value as a benchmark, to compensate for the loss of their property. The NFA also offered legal amnesty for anyone who handed in illegally owned guns, though they weren’t compensated.
There were fears that the mandatory buyback would provoke resistance: During one address to a crowd of guns rights supporters, Howard wore a bulletproof vest. Thankfully, fears of violence turned out to be unfounded. About 650,000 legally owned guns were peacefully seized, then destroyed, as part of the buyback.
26 August
The NRA Pissed Off the Wrong Nerd Genius
(The Daily Beast) Billionaire Michael Bloomberg already had the gun lobby in his sights. Now Bill Gates is donating $1 million for universal background checks—and there’s more where that came from.
It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state. …
Likely the NRA will try to do to Gates what it has attempted to do to Bloomberg for a few years now, and seek to make this fight about him and not its right-wing radicalism in the service of avarice. He’s a billionaire trying to influence our political process, after all, unlike Manhattan resident David Koch, who along with his brother Charles has polluted our political process to no end, including funding the NRA.
Sure, in an ideal world big money wouldn’t play such an outsize role in our elections, such as this hugely important ballot initiative in Washington state. But that’s not what the NRA wants. It just wants its big money still to be all that decides the outcome, and it isn’t.
24 July
Open CarryObama on Gun Control: I’m Frustrated by Lack of ‘Common Sense’ Laws
(NBC) President Barack Obama highlighted that gun violence had killed far more Americans than terrorism since 9/11 on Thursday and said it was “distressing” how the country lacked “common-sense” laws to tackle the problem.
His comments came as the U.S. dealt with yet another shooting massacre — this time at a theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.
In an interview with the BBC before 11 people were randomly shot while watching “Trainwreck,” Obama spoke about the unfinished business of his terms in office, saying race relations remained “a fault line in American life” despite recent progress.
However, he signaled that he would continue to work on gun laws during his remaining time in the White House.
“That is an area where …I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied,” he said. “It is the fact that the United States of America is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense, gun-safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings.”
27 June
Gun culture runs deep in the U.S. and won’t change soon
And it is not just white males from the South who keep the gun culture alive, polls show
(CBC Analysis) Former CNN host and current gun law crusader Piers Morgan wants to remind the public that “it wasn’t a flag that killed nine black Americans in their Charleston church. It was a gun.”
While applauding the decision to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s State House, the British journalist suggests that controversy has distracted from the root cause of the deadly shooting.
25 June
Heather Digby Parton: How Republicans Hijacked the Gun-Control Conversation After the Charleston Massacre
By ranting and raving about “politicizing a tragedy,” GOP contenders served their own craven political purposes.
(Salon) In the wake of the Charleston murders last week, both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made strong statements renewing calls for gun safety legislation. Republicans candidates joked about how much they loved their guns. And the pundit response was predictably hysterical. The usual suspects made the predictable vacuous observation that other countries have mass shootings too, as if that somehow mitigates the fact that the United States is the only western nation to turn it into a national pastime. They believe there is no need to acknowledge the fact that Americans are 20 times as likely to die from gun violence as citizens of other developed countries. And we certainly needn’t worry about trifles such as this:

Rather than simply tallying the yearly number of mass shootings, Harvard researchers Amy Cohen, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller determined that their frequency is best measured by tracking the time between each incident. This method, they explain, is most effective for detecting meaningful shifts in relatively small sets of data, such as the 69 mass shootings we documented. Their analysis of the data shows that from 1982 to 2011, mass shootings occurred every 200 days on average. Since late 2011, they found, mass shootings have occurred at triple that rate—every 64 days on average.

To even mention such things in the wake of the latest round of killing is boorish and disrespectful to gun owners.
30 May
The other ugly side of the issue
Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide
(WaPost) A national debate is raging about police use of deadly force, especially against minorities. To understand why and how often these shootings occur, The Washington Post is compiling a database of every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty. The Post looked exclusively at shootings, not killings by other means, such as stun guns and deaths in police custody.
… About half the victims were white, half minority. But the demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic. Overall, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred
17 April
deaths by handgunWhat Does Gun Violence Really Cost?
It’s a question we’ve been looking into at Mother Jones ever since the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, left 58 injured and 12 dead. How much care would the survivors and the victims’ families need? What would be the effects on the broader community, and how far out would those costs ripple? As we’ve continued to investigate gun violence, one of our more startling discoveries is that nobody really knows.
Each year more than 11,000 people are murdered with a firearm, and more than 20,000 others commit suicide using one. Hundreds of children die annually in gun homicides, and each week seems to bring news of another toddler accidentally shooting himself or a sibling with an unsecured gun. And perhaps most disturbingly, even as violent crime overall has declined steadily in recent years, rates of gun injury and death are climbing (up 11 and 4 percent since 2011) and mass shootings have been on the rise.
Yet, there is no definitive assessment of the costs for victims, their families, their employers, and the rest of us—including the major sums associated with criminal justice, long-term health care, and security and prevention. Our media is saturated with gun carnage practically 24/7. So why is the question of what we all pay for it barely part of the conversation? (May/June 2015 issue)
2 April
New Harvard Research Debunks the NRA’s Favorite Talking Points
Surveys drawing on scores of experts reveal a clear consensus against the gun lobby.
[David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center,] set about surveying a wide range of experts on guns—modeling his project after a game-changing 2010 study on climate change, which found that 97 percent of researchers believe that humans are responsible for global warming. … The Harvard team has completed nine surveys so far, with about 100 researchers responding to each: They show that a clear majority of experts do not buy the NRA’s arguments.
5 March
The NRA’s New Low The gun rights group just took a personal swipe at Gabby Giffords.
(Slate) The big problem with the mocking argument put forth by Breitbart and the NRA (which did not return a call seeking comment) is that it misses the entire point of Giffords’ advocacy. She is not devoting herself to the cause of expanding background checks because that measure would have stopped Loughner, but because that measure is the one that police and criminal justice experts believe would have the biggest impact on reducing gun violence overall.
13 February
Suspect in UNC’s Muslim student shooting had more than 12 guns
(Raw Story) Days after three Muslim students in North Carolina were killed execution-style by a neighbor, the Associated Press reported on Friday that the suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks, had more than a dozen weapons and an ammunition stockpile. According to warrants, Hicks owned three handguns, as well as rifles and shotguns. Police also found loaded magazines in his condominium. He had another handgun on his body when he was arrested. The warrants did not disclose if the weapons were legally registered to Hicks or his wife.
The White House announced in a statement that the FBI would be brought in to investigate the case and “determine whether federal laws were violated.” President Barack Obama called the murders “brutal and outrageous.”
The victims were 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat; his wife, 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad; and her sister, 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. Hicks turned himself in to police and was held on three charges of first-degree murder.
The suspect’s wife, Karen Hicks, claims the incident was not racially motivated. “He just believed…everyone is equal,” she said in an interview. Hicks said she believes the murders were triggered by an ongoing dispute over a parking space.
11 February
Chapel Hill shooting and western media bigotry
(Al Jazeera Opinion)) The religious identity of violent perpetrators is only highlighted when they’re Muslim.
Three Muslim Americans were murdered on Tuesday in a University of North Carolina dorm room. The crime came on the heels of recent anti-Muslim attacks in Europe, carried out in apparent response to the January murders (committed by Muslims) of Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris.
Western media outlets will likely frame the most recent perpetrator of what some speculate is an anti-Muslim crime in the same way they frame most anti-Muslim criminals – as crazed, misguided bigots who acted alone. If past coverage is any indication, there will likely be very little suggestion that the killer acted on the basis of an ideology or as part of any larger pattern or system.
3 January
(NYT) Fight on Guns Is Being Taken to State Ballots
The gun control movement, facing mounting losses in federal elections, is tweaking its name, refining its goals and using the gay-marriage movement as a model.

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