Firearms, gun control and politics 2018 – 2021

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Gun Violence Archive

Texans Can Sue Abortion Providers? Californians Will Sue Gun Makers, Governor Says.
Newsom says he’ll copy Texas’ tactic to go after weapons.
(Mother Jones) Texas lawmakers used an audacious strategy to get their controversial abortion law past the Supreme Court: empowering private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids and abets” patients trying to obtain the procedure in the state after six weeks. But the lawmakers may not have anticipated what their law could inspire. Now, California Governor Gavin Newsom says that he plans to borrow the tactic to advance his own measure that would allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers or people who sell assault weapons or so-called ghost guns.
In a statement on Saturday, Newsom’s office said his staff would work with the state’s attorney general and Democrats who control the state legislature to write a bill that allows state citizens to sue anyone who “manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” in California. Newsom suggested damages of at least $10,000 per violation.

25 November
How a Prosecutor Addressed a Mostly White Jury and Won a Conviction in the Arbery Case
Linda Dunikoski, a prosecutor brought in from the Atlanta area, struck a careful tone in a case that many saw as an obvious act of racial violence.
(NYT) The case, from the beginning, echoed painful themes in the Deep South. The murder of a Black man by white men carrying guns, presented to a jury that included just one Black person. The rest were white. The jury had been put in place over the protests of Ms. Dunikoski, who had tried unsuccessfully to prevent potential Black jurors from being removed during the selection process by the defense lawyers. It was also a painful moment for Glynn County, a majority-white county that remains marked by the legacy of segregation.

23 November
Vigilante justice and the end of America
By Kathleen Parker
(WaPo) Two recent vigilante killing trials, one in Georgia, the other in Wisconsin, have exposed a terrifying trend of armed citizens who, in the name of justice, only make America less safe and portend a future of fear, intimidation and increasing violence.
They also raise a question that haunts me: How the hell did we get here? When did we start permitting Americans to take the law into their own hands?
In the first trial, teen shooter Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murdering two men he shot to death during a racial-justice protest in Kenosha, Wis. in August 2020. Rittenhouse shot a third man as well, but he survived. Now 18, Rittenhouse had left his home in Illinois and gone to the protest with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and a medical kit — allegedly to help keep the peace.
In Georgia, jury deliberations began Tuesday in the trial of three men accused of murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, for basically Jogging While Black. Somewhat like Rittenhouse, the three men were armed, they said, because of recent burglaries in their community and they thought Arbery looked like he could be the culprit. In a word, they hunted Arbery — and they killed him.
More trials for similar behavior are, unfortunately, inevitable in our hyped-up, trigger-happy, madder-than-hell country. It’s getting harder to pinpoint what everyone is so angry about — an extended pandemic, inflation, supply-chain problems, our politics — but a certain percentage of disgruntled people seem ready to go to war.
Between June 2020 and May 2021, an average of 42 people per month were killed or wounded in road-rage shootings, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization. Other local officials report that disagreements that were once routinely settled with words or at worst police intervention, now often end in violence.

12 June
Violence in Texas, Georgia and Illinois brings number of US mass shootings to 267 so far this year
(CNN) As the nation marks the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, it has a staggering and grim new statistic to contend with for 2021.
267 mass shootings. That’s the new tally after four incidents occurred across the country between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

5 June
Federal judge overturns California’s ban on assault weapons and likens AR-15 to Swiss Army knife
(CNN) Judge Benitez has previously ruled against other state firearm restrictions. Last year, he ruled California’s ban on high-capacity magazines was unconstitutional. He also struck down the state’s restriction on remote purchases of gun ammunition.
The ruling and injunction are stayed for 30 days, during which time the attorney general may appeal and seek a stay from the Court of Appeals. California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he will be appealing the ruling.

Police are still killing people at the same rate as before
(Politico) Through the first four months of 2021, there are less than a week’s worth of days in which police did not kill anyone, data shows.
George Floyd’s murder, the ensuing mass protests, the renewed calls for police reform and the trial of the former police officer convicted of his murder overshadow a staggering reality: The pace of fatal encounters with police, who have killed about three people per day this year, is on par with last year’s daily average.

Heather Cox Richardson May 25 2021
President Joe Biden promised Floyd’s family that he would deliver a police reform bill. …but the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has not become law. The act bars the use of chokeholds and makes it easier to prosecute police officers, but lawmakers have been unable to compromise over so-called “qualified immunity,” a federal doctrine established in 1967 by the Supreme Court that protects officials—including law enforcement officers—from personal liability for much of their behavior while they execute their professional duties. Members of both parties, though, say a deal on the measure is in sight. Negotiators optimistic for policing overhaul on eve of George Floyd anniversary
Biden’s ATF nominee to face grilling over lobbying for gun controls
Gun control advocate and federal law enforcement veteran David Chipman is no stranger on Capitol Hill, where he has previously urged the U.S. Congress to ban assault rifles and fought against efforts to deregulate firearm silencers.
On Wednesday, he will seek its support for his nomination by President Joe Biden to serve as director of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a job that is so politically fraught that the Senate has confirmed just one nominee in the last 15 years.

11 May
NRA suffers a big defeat as judge denies bankruptcy claim
A federal judge today told the National Rifle Association what it didn’t want to hear: the group’s effort to file for bankruptcy protection has been denied

10 May
There were at least 11 mass shootings across the US this weekend
(CNN) This weekend’s shootings provide a glimpse into the rise in violence that began last year and that has continued ever since. Criminology experts have pointed to a perfect storm of factors, including economic collapse, Covid’s severing of social connections and mistrust in police.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, at least 117 people were killed and 303 wounded in shootings across the country over 72 hours. Gun violence is up. It’s been up for more than a year.
America is in the midst of a spike in gun violence without recent precedent. (NBC 5 May)

7 May
Adam Gopnik: The New, Conservative Supreme Court Is Returning to the Second Amendment
The decision in an upcoming case could gut state laws, at a time when more and more Americans favor stricter gun regulation.

26 April
Supreme Court to hear major new gun-control case next term on carrying weapons outside the home
(WaPo)…the court’s new conservative majority has signaled it is more receptive to Second Amendment challenges. Several justices have said they are anxious to explore gun rights first acknowledged by the court in 2008, when it ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that individuals have the right to gun ownership for self-defense in their homes.

19 April
America’s violent weekend: US rocked by back-to-back shootings across the country
(CNN) Americans awoke Friday to news of yet another mass shooting, this time at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, where eight people were killed late Thursday.
By the end of the weekend, at least nine more people had died from gun violence in back-to-back shootings across the country — in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, Nebraska and Louisiana. At least 10 more were wounded.
Since March 16, when eight people were killed and one wounded in shootings at three Atlanta-area spas, at least 50 mass shootings have been reported in the United States. CNN defines a mass shooting as a shooting with four or more casualties — dead or wounded — excluding the shooter.
Throughout Trial Over George Floyd’s Death, Killings by Police Mount
Since testimony in Derek Chauvin’s trial began on March 29, more than three people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement. (NYT 17 April)

8 April
‘It Has To Stop’: Biden Takes Initial Action On Guns, Calls On Congress To Do More
(NPR) …now that there is finally a Democratic president with majorities in Congress, an NRA that’s in bankruptcy proceedings and gun-control groups gaining strength and membership. This week, Biden took some steps with executive actions

  • Seeking new regulations: 1. an attempt to crack down on “ghost guns,” weapons assembled at home that have no serial numbers and have been increasingly identified in crimes in some states; and 2. limit stabilizing braces, which can be used to make AR-15 pistols function more like rifles.
  • Directing the Justice Department to draft template “red flag” laws for states. Several states have them on the books already. They allow law enforcement and family members to seek court orders to remove firearms from people determined to be a threat to themselves or others.
  • Asking for an annual report on firearms trafficking from the Justice Department. The last one was completed 21 years ago.
  • Nominating to head the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms a gun-control advocate, David Chipman, who served for 25 years in the ATF. There hasn’t been a Senate-confirmed ATF chief since 2015.

23 March
Six Leading Rationalizations for Doing Nothing About Gun Violence
By Ed Kilgore
The reason nothing ever happens on gun violence ultimately boils down to two interrelated things: The Republican Party has become wedded to Second Amendment absolutism, and that produces a veto of any federal gun-safety measures thanks to the Senate filibuster and the de facto 60-vote supermajority required to pass any and all legislation.
But aside from the mechanics of raw power that doom the reactions to gun massacres to tears of impotent sorrow and rage, some well-rehearsed rationalizations for doing nothing are reflexively, continually trotted out to defuse the spontaneous public impulse to just stop the madness. Their narcotic effect on debate is a testament to their real, if wafer-thin, plausibility.

Shootings never stopped during the pandemic: 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades
Until two lethal rampages this month, mass shootings had largely been absent from headlines during the coronavirus pandemic. But people were still dying — at a record rate.
In 2020, gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, more than any other year in at least two decades. An additional 24,000 people died by suicide with a gun.
The vast majority of these tragedies happen far from the glare of the national spotlight, unfolding instead in homes or on city streets and — like the covid-19 crisis — disproportionately affecting communities of color.

Biden urges Congress to pass assault weapon ban
“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following Monday’s shooting. … Biden called on the Senate to “immediately pass” two House-passed bills that would expand background checks for firearm sales, noting that both passed the Democratic-controlled lower chamber with some Republican support.

Boulder’s Assault Weapons Ban Was Blocked Days Before Shooting
The city of Boulder, Colorado, was barred in court from enforcing its ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, just days before Monday’s deadly shooting in a local supermarket.
Boulder County District Court Judge Andrew Hartman ruled on March 12 that only state or federal law could mandate bans on magazines and assault rifles, according to a report from the Denver Post.
The shooting in Boulder comes just one week after a series of shootings at spas in the Atlanta metropolitan area left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women.
With a Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress and Joe Biden in the White House, gun control advocates believe now is the time to act.

12 March
U.S. House passes two Democratic-backed gun control bills
(Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a pair of gun control bills as Democrats seized upon a shifting political landscape that they said improved chances for enacting new laws after years of failed attempts.
The first measure, which passed the Democratic-led House 227-203, would close a long-standing loophole in gun laws by expanding background checks to those purchasing weapons over the internet, at gun shows and through certain private transactions. … The second bill…would give authorities 10 business days for federal background checks to be completed before a gun sale can be licensed. Currently, such sales can proceed if the government cannot complete complicated background checks of prospective buyers within three days.


6 August
New York Attorney General Moves To Dissolve The NRA After Fraud Investigation
(NPR) The attorney general of New York took action Thursday to dissolve the National Rifle Association following an 18-month investigation that found evidence the powerful gun rights group is “fraught with fraud and abuse.”
Attorney General Letitia James claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that she found financial misconduct in the millions of dollars and that it contributed to a loss of more than $64 million over a three-year period.
The suit alleges that top NRA executives misused charitable funds for personal gain, awarded contracts to friends and family members, and provided contracts to former employees to ensure loyalty.
Seeking to dissolve the NRA is the most aggressive sanction James could have sought against the not-for-profit organization, which James has jurisdiction over because it is registered in New York.
James’ complaint names the National Rifle Association as a whole but also names four current and former NRA executives: Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former Chief Financial Officer Woody Phillips and former chief of staff Joshua Powell.

17 June
How COVID-19 is changing the gun debate
Rashawn Ray and Rebecca Shankman
(Brookings) Protestors appear to perceive that quarantine measures to keep them safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19 are violations of their civil liberties. In turn, they act out their frustrations through expressions of their 1st and 2nd Amendment rights. Anti-lockdown
protests have now occurred in 31 states across the country and
gun sales surged to nearly 2 million in March.
While gun ownership is frequently mentioned as one of the hot-button issues that divides America, COVID-19 seems to be changing the tenor of the discussion. Though states with populations that predominately identify as conservative are more likely to own guns, this does not mean gun purchases have increased the most in these states during the COVID-19 pandemic. …gun permits have increased the most during the COVID-19 pandemic in states that tend to be more liberal, both in terms of citizen ideology and political party of state governor. Four of the top 10 states with the largest gun permit increases are in the New England area including Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

31 March
LA county gun shops to reopen as ‘essential’ business
(BBC) Sheriff Alex Villanueva closed shops last week, but reversed course on Monday, following the guidance.
The LA county closures had prompted a lawsuit from gun rights groups.
The change comes amid a national dispute over whether gun access is critical amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The federal guidance issued on 28 March classified munitions makers and sellers as “essential critical infrastructure workers”.
Mr Villanueva said that though the memo was non-binding, it has national scope and he would therefore open shops closed last week.


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

How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment
The Founders never intended to create an unregulated individual right to a gun.
Today, millions believe they did. Here’s how it happened.

Firearms, gun control and politics
Firearms, gun control and politics – 2018 student movement
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.
Firearms, gun control and politics /2015-2017
The Parody Project: Hallelujah Parody
Letter to the NRA | Don Caron

More US school-age children die from guns than on-duty US police or global military fatalities, study finds
(CNN) Gun deaths of school-age children in the United States have increased at an alarming rate, with 38,942 fatalities among 5- to 18-year-olds from 1999 to 2017, according to a new study by Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine.
Indeed, spikes in gun deaths over the past decade amount to epidemics, researchers said.
“It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms,” said Dr. Charles Hennekens, the study’s senior author and an academic adviser at the medical college.
The study, to be published in the American Journal of Medicine, found that children are being gunned down in staggering numbers, with the death rate six to nine times higher than other developed nations.
The gun deaths included 6,464 children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old (an average of 340 deaths per year), and 32,478 deaths in children between 15 and 18 years old (an average of 2,050 deaths per year), according to the study (22 March 2019)
Too often, preventing gun violence has forced people to pick a side — right or left; gun safety or gun lobby. Retired 4-star General and former CIA Director General Michael Hayden is here to say: in the fight to prevent gun violence, there is no other side

17 December
Congress to Fund Gun-Violence Research for First Time in Decades
(New York) Though Republican lawmakers have been able to stymie serious gun-reform legislation following tragic and preventable mass shootings for over two decades, a step toward future progress took place on Monday when House Democratic aides said Congress would allocate $25 million to federal agencies to study gun violence as a fraction of the year-end spending bill. The package will be split evenly between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to study how to prevent gun violence in the United States, which has a higher rate of violent gun deaths per capita than Iraq and Afghanistan.

14 December
7 years after Sandy Hook, the victims’ memories still endure
(CNN) Seven years later, even those who have never set foot near Newtown, Connecticut, can conjure the scene painted by police of a first-grade classroom turned into a killing field. Can see the faces of anguished parents desperate for proof of life, then later, tiny caskets overloaded with stuffed animals never to be named.

12 November
Supreme Court Won’t Intervene to Protect Gun Manufacturer From Sandy Hook Suit
(New York) By the simple expedient of denying (without comment) the Remington Arms Company a hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed a state-court lawsuit in Connecticut to move forward holding the gun manufacturer liable for damages associated with the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Remington and its gun-lobby allies had argued that the company was shielded from liability by a 2005 federal law aimed at precisely that purpose. But attorneys representing families of Sandy Hook victims argued that the federal law included an exemption for actions that violated separate state laws, and sought an opportunity in a trial to make the case that Remington’s marketing of its weapons ran afoul of Connecticut laws prohibiting unfair trade practices.

31 October
Trump abandons proposing ideas to curb gun violence after saying he would following mass shooting
(WaPo) Trump has been counseled by political advisers, including campaign manager Brad Parscale and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, that gun legislation could splinter his political coalition, which he needs to stick together for his reelection bid, particularly amid an impeachment battle.
The president no longer asks about the issue, and aides from the Domestic Policy Council, once working on a plan with eight to 12 tenets, have moved on to other topics, according to aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private deliberations.

6 September
CVS joins other companies asking customers not to carry guns
(The Hill) “We join a growing chorus of business in requesting that our customers, other than authorized law enforcement personnel, do not bring firearms into our stores,” the company continued.
The company’s announcement arrives on the heels of several similar announcements made by other major retailers like Walgreens, Walmart and Kroger this week.

1 September
Texas’s second mass shooting in August kills at least 7
Residents of Odessa and Midland, Tex., grieved and searched for answers a day after a man fled a traffic stop, hijacked a mail van and went on a rampage on west Texas highways. The shooter, described as a white man in his 30s, was killed by police at a cinema in Odessa.
MEANWHILE … “Texas gun law changes take effect one day after deadly shooting near Odessa and Midland,” by Deanna Watson in USA Today: “A bulk of gun law changes took effect in Texas on Sunday, loosening restrictions just one day after a mass shooting near Odessa and Midland left at least 5 people dead. The laws open more opportunities for Texans to have firearms and store ammunition in public places.
“From churches to public schools to foster homes, the laws also loosen restrictions on where a firearm is permitted. The laws were already set to take effect Sept. 1 but come just one day after a routine traffic stop on Interstate 20 triggered a deadly shooting rampage.”

20 August
A Call With the President Gets the N.R.A. Results
For Mr. Trump, his dealings with Mr. LaPierre and other gun rights advocates in the weeks since the mass shootings have been a reminder that even if his initial instinct after the deaths of 31 people in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, earlier this month was to say he would be an advocate for aggressive gun legislation, any such push would be seen as a betrayal of the N.R.A. members who helped elect him.
(NYT) President Trump spent at least 30 minutes on the phone Tuesday with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, the latest conversation in an aggressive campaign by gun rights advocates to influence the White House in the weeks since the back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
The call ended the way that Mr. LaPierre had hoped it would: with Mr. Trump espousing N.R.A. talking points in the Oval Office and warning of the radical steps he said Democrats wanted to take in violation of the Second Amendment.
“We have very, very strong background checks right now, but we have sort of missing areas and areas that don’t complete the whole circle,” the president said, adding, “I have to tell you, it’s a mental problem.” After Lobbying by Gun Rights Advocates, Trump Sounds a Familiar Retreat
Meanwhile, NRA turmoil: More board members resign
(Axios) Per WashPost, the latest resignations take the number of directors to have stepped down since May from the NRA board to 7. It’s another blow for the NRA in a year that’s been marked by very public in-fighting, with former president Oliver North stepping down and the gun rights group’s top lobbyist Chris Cox resigning after being accused of complicity in a failed coup against CEO Wayne LaPierre — who’s had his handling of NRA finances brought into question.

15 August
A stunning number lands in the middle of the gun debate
(CNN) Yes, there is something of a partisan divide on the question — with 86% of Democrats favoring a ban on automatic and semiautomatic weapons, while 46% of Republicans feel the same. But look at it another way: On a proposal that is widely regarded in GOP congressional circles as a non-starter because it is going too far in limiting guns, self-identified Republicans are split right down the middle — 46% support, 46% oppose.
…there seems little chance that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) will allow anything so sweeping as an assault weapons ban to get a vote when Congress returns after Labor Day. Even expanded background checks, which 90% of the public (including 89% of self-identified Republicans) support in the new Fox poll, seems like a stretch.
All of that is to say this: The public is in a very different — and more pro-gun control — place than congressional Republicans. Will it matter? And if not, why not?

13 August
Ivanka Trump is quietly calling lawmakers about the gun debate
(Axios) Following the mass shootings, Ivanka Trump posted a note on her Instagram story calling on Congress to “enact Red Flag laws/Extreme Risk Protection Orders in every state, increase resources dedicated to mental health support nationwide and close background check loopholes.”
“You can strongly support and defend the 2nd Amendment while calling for these common sense, and long-overdue reforms,” she concluded.
She later reiterated that call to action on Twitter.
A White House official said Ivanka “has trusted relationships on both sides of the aisle and she is working in concert with the White House policy and legislative teams.”
Trump told reporters last week that there was “great appetite for background checks,” adding that he thinks the NRA — which has already voiced its blanket opposition to the policy — is “gonna get there also … or maybe will be a little bit more neutral, and that would be ok too.”

7 August
The more gun ownership, the more mass shootings. ‘That isn’t rocket science,’ study says
That finding has been replicated across at least two academic studies. Yet prominent voices continue to point to other causes of mass shootings, like the two that killed over 30 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio last weekend.
U.S. President Donald Trump blamed video games — but experts say that claim isn’t backed by research.
Trump also blamed mental health — but the FBI only found mental illness diagnosed in a quarter of active shooters over 13 years.
Academic research, however, is clear — high gun ownership has a close relationship to public mass shootings, far stronger than a country’s homicide or suicide rates.

After Sandy Hook, we said never again. And then we let 2,179 mass shootings happen.

3-5  August

Trump blames ‘mental illness’ for shootings, but rolled back Obama regulation on gun sales
(Yahoo) “Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” said Trump in a speech Monday morning from the White House. He said the country “must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that, if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process.”
But in his first full month in office, Trump signed a bill rolling back an Obama-era regulation that would have made it more difficult for people with mental illnesses to purchase firearms. The rule would have used Social Security records to add about 75,000 names to the database used in background checks of gun buyers (from licensed firearms dealers).

To get sensible gun control, Democrats must take the Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and the Republican Party might not have pulled the triggers, but they still bear some responsibility for the weekend’s atrocities. The only way to keep military-style weapons of war out of the clutches of would-be mass killers is to take away McConnell’s power — which means electing a Democratic majority in the Senate next year.
It is also necessary, of course, for a Democrat to defeat President Trump, whose racist rhetoric gives aid and comfort to white supremacists such as the gunman who allegedly killed 22 innocent people at a Walmart and shopping center in El Paso. But even with Trump gone, McConnell will continue using his power over the Senate’s agenda to keep sensible gun-control measures from even being considered.

GOP senator calls for background check legislation after shootings
(The Hill) The House passed a universal background check bill earlier this year which would prohibit most person-to-person firearm transfers without a check, aiming to close potential loopholes.
Eight Republicans joined the overwhelming majority of Democrats to pass the bill, but it remains stalled in the Senate.
Toomey and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.V.) first introduced their background check bill, which would expand background checks to include unlicensed gun-show dealers and online sales, in 2013.
David Frum: The United States is not the only nation to suffer from white supremacism, but in America, it has proved uniquely deadly.
Despite their diversity, all these killers had one thing in common: their uniquely American access to firearms. In turn, these killers unite the country in a uniquely American determination to ignore the obvious.
There is one developed country—and only one—in which it is not only legal, but easy and convenient, to amass a private arsenal of mass slaughter. That country also happens to be the one—and the only one—regularly afflicted by mass slaughters perpetrated by aggrieved individuals.
You would not think that this is a complicated problem to puzzle out. Yet even as the casualties from gunfire mount, Americans express befuddlement, and compete to devise ever more far-fetched answers.
As far as anybody can ascertain, the deadliest mass shooter in American history had no specific political motive. Stephen Paddock apparently opened fire from a Las Vegas hotel room in October 2017, murdering 58 and wounding hundreds more, out of purely personal rage at the world.
The second-deadliest mass shooter, Omar Mateen, espoused Islamist loyalties in his final messages before he attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando in June 2016, killing 49 and wounding 53.
The third- and fourth-deadliest—the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho and the Sandy Hook school shooter Adam Lanza—were both antisocial, and battled different mental-health issues. The fifth-deadliest—the Sutherland Springs church shooter—was a loudmouthed atheist. The El Paso, Texas, gunman ranks eighth; authorities are investigating whether he wrote a white-supremacist manifesto. The Islamic fanatics who killed at Fort Hood, also in Texas, in 2011 and San Bernardino, California, in 2015 are tied for 14th place.
… This menu of atrocities offers a wide range of political points to score, if that is your wish. You will find here immigrants and natives; whites and nonwhites; Muslims and Christians; right-wingers, left-wingers, and the nonpolitical. There is even a woman, Tashfeen Malik, who with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, targeted a Christmas party sponsored by the local Department of Public Health, where the husband worked.
Dayton Shooting: Gunman Kills 9 in Entertainment District
Nine people were killed and 27 others were wounded, the police said. It was the second American mass shooting in 24 hours, and the third in a week.
The police said the gunman’s motive was not known yet.
The gunman … used what the police described as an “assault-style rifle” when he opened fire in a busy entertainment district in Dayton. A shotgun was also found in [his] car. Both guns were purchased legally, the police said.
When Hate Came to El Paso
By author of “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America.”
The worst massacre aimed at Latinos in American history happened in my hometown, to my people.
Text alerts on your phone. A frantic woman on television begging people to bring water to waiting families. 200 people lining up to give blood in the blistering heat, helicopters thundering overhead, the dead left lying inside the crime scene called “horrific” by the police chief. Those waiting on word of dead and lost stand calm and dignified as strangers pull up with truckloads of that bottled water. That is what a mass shooting is like. It’s also like this: a stab in the heart not to your hometown, but to your people, in my case Latinos. Mr. Crusius specifically came here to my town, to kill my people..
El Paso Shooting: Massacre at a Crowded Walmart in Texas Leaves 20 Dead
The massacre in El Paso was the deadliest American mass shooting since November 2017, when 26 people were killed in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Tex.
Walmart, site of recent shootings, has a complicated history with guns
(WaPo) The recent gun violence in or near Walmart stores, in El Paso on Saturday and in Mississippi days before, has drawn attention to the company’s complicated history with gun sales.
Firearms have long made up a key part of Walmart’s business. In addition to being the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is often referred to as the world’s largest gun retailer.
Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was big on guns. An avid hunter, he opened his flagship store in Bentonville, Ark., specifically so he could be close to his in-laws’ quail-hunting ranch. Remington shotguns were his favorite, as Field & Stream once noted. He was such a devout fan that the gunmaker issued a commemorative model in his name after he died.
Minutes Before El Paso Killing, Hate-Filled Manifesto Appears Online

30 June
Embattled NRA Loses Its Political Power Broker on Eve of 2020
(Bloomberg) As the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox pumped more money into Trump’s unlikely election than anyone.

6 June
More Americans were shot to death by March 6 this year than died on D-Day
On Thursday, Americans remembered those killed on D-Day, 75 years back. …
Some 2,501 Americans gave their lives that day, according to historic estimates. Another 1,913 soldiers from other Allied countries also died, bringing the total death toll from the immediate invasion to 4,414.
It took until late April before the number of people killed by guns in the United States in 2019 topped that number, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive.

6 May
New NRA president says Georgia congresswoman was elected because she’s ‘a minority female’
(CNN) New National Rifle Association President Carolyn Meadows said Rep. Lucy McBath was elected not because of her support of stricter gun laws, but because she is “a minority female,” according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
Meadows, who was recently elected NRA president after Oliver North was pushed out, told the Marietta Daily Journal, “We’ll get that seat back,” speaking of the congressional seat that McBath — a Georgia Democrat and a freshman lawmaker whose 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012 — won last year.

27 April
The N.R.A. Ousts Oliver North and Stifles Debate on Financial Wrongdoing
(The New Yorker) The National Rifle Association’s annual convention was consumed by infighting on Saturday, after its president, Oliver North, was ousted by its board and its longtime chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, a week after a joint investigation by The New Yorker and The Trace [see below 17 April]  exposed hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable payments to N.R.A. executives, contractors, and venders.  Politico: NRA announces North’s resignation on-stage as ‘crisis’ hits gun lobby

26 April
In N.R.A. Power Struggle, Insurgents Seek to Oust Wayne LaPierre
(NYT) Even as the leadership tussled behind the scenes, President Trump addressed the N.R.A. faithful at the convention on Friday and proclaimed himself a champion of gun rights. In a speech that was part political rally and part pep talk, he said his administration would not ratify an arms treaty designed to regulate the international sale of conventional weapons.

17 April
A long, detailed, read
Secrecy, Self-Dealing, and Greed at the NRA
The organization’s leadership is focused on external threats, but the real crisis is of its own making.

21 March
New Zealand just banned military-style firearms. Here’s why the U.S. can’t.
(WaPo) When New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last Saturday that the country’s gun laws would change, less than 24 hours had passed since a right-wing terrorist attack killed at least 50 in Christchurch. On Thursday, she confirmed that her government had banned military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles and a buyback program was being set up. The changes were supported both by the coalition government and the center-right main opposition party.
On the surface, New Zealand and the United States appeared to have a relatively similar approach to guns until Friday morning. Both are among the only nations without universal gun registration rules, and both have strong gun lobbies that have stalled previous attempts to rein in gun owners’ liberties.
“In New Zealand, the gun lobby dictates policy to the government,” Philip Alpers, founding director of gun legislation research tool, told Australia’s ABC last week.
… The country’s lobby mainly represents a core of rural supporters, whereas more than 86 percent of New Zealanders now live in urban areas and form a largely liberal majority. In the United States, the ratio of citizens living in urban areas is slightly lower. More important, however, the U.S. system of representation and the way congressional districts are drawn increase the significance of rural Republican voters disproportionately.

7 February
Four years in a row, police nationwide fatally shoot nearly 1,000 people
In almost every case, a police shooting is an individual, unrelated event that can’t be predicted, says a statistician who studies risk and uncertainty
(WaPo) Fatal shootings by police are the rare outcomes of the millions of encounters between police officers and the public. Despite the unpredictable events that lead to the shootings, in each of the past four years police nationwide have shot and killed almost the same number of people — nearly 1,000.

10 January
Get Ready for a Financial Assault on the Second Amendment
(National Review) California Democrat Maxine Waters is the new chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. To judge from the party’s past behavior and the various proposals emanating from the left, Waters’s Democrats are going to pressure banks, credit unions, and payment companies to severely curtail and even terminate their relationships with firearm manufacturers, licensed gun retailers, and law-abiding citizens exercising their right to purchase and own firearms. In other words, they will use political pressure to force private institutions into creating social policy that threatens constitutional rights.
In 2013, senior banking officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, with support from the Department of Justice, forced banks to dissolve their relationship with “high-risk” businesses the Obama administration found objectionable or face federal investigations, despite the legality of the businesses. Known as Operation Choke Point, the effort targeted industries including “firearms and ammunition sales, adult entertainment, check cashing, and short-term lending,” according to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.


1 December
Robert Landori: Guns
(Blog post) … the Second Amendment to the US Constitution which reads as follows: “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.” To stop gun-killings in the US requires draconian measures but, and this is the rub, they must be such that that they do not run afoul of the principles outlined in the Constitution.
Here is one way how:
Define “Arms” as any semi-automatic handgun with the characteristics equal to or less powerful than the Colt Junior 25 acp (short barrel, small bore, magazine limited to seven rounds or less.) Note that such a weapon’s fire-power is superior to the front-loading muskets’ with which the Founding Father’s militiamen were equipped.
Establish a Central Weapons Licensing Bureau (CWLB) in Washington serving the entire country and run by the Federal Government. (No more licensing by States).
Revoke existing gun licenses for all handguns and assault rifles.
Authorize the CWLB to issue, but only on request, one lifetime license to “bear Arms” (to wit: one only handgun with characteristics as described above) to each legal resident of the US twenty-one years of age or over, but only after such a person has passed a compulsory background check. This should satisfy those enamoured with the Second Amendment.
Authorize the CWLB to issue licenses, on request, for recreational and hunting weapons, to those who have passed a compulsory background check and have completed a compulsory eight-hour firearms course.
Prohibit the licensing and/or sale of any and all types of assault rifles. (Zero tolerance).
Legislate that any person found in possession of an unlicensed firearm is automatically imprisoned for five years with no right to bail, or time off for good behaviour while in custody.

10 November
After Thousand Oaks Shooting, International Readers Question America’s Gun Laws and Culture
Our international readers ask Americans to explain gun violence and share their own theories on why it is so common in the United States.
(NYT) The gunman whose rampage killed 12 people Wednesday at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., brought the United States again to a period of mourning, hand-wringing and resignation over gun violence.
It also made headlines around the world, coming less than two weeks after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 were killed. In our comments section this week, dozens of readers outside the United States said they were struggling to understand why Americans let gun violence persist.
Here is a selection of their comments. They have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

9 November
Remembering the 12 lives cut short in the Thousand Oaks shooting
(PBS Newshour) A sheriff’s deputy about to retire, an aspiring soldier, a Marine Corps veteran, a survivor of the Las Vegas massacre and a Pepperdine University freshman were among the dead in Wednesday night’s mass shooting at a bar in Thousands Oaks, California. In all, 12 people were killed, and communities in California and across the country mourned the dead today.

27 October
David Frum: America’s Fatal Shame
There’s no politician to blame for the ideas in the synagogue murderer’s head. There are plenty to blame for the weapons in his hands.
At least 10 people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting Saturday morning. Must this nation worship only behind bars and guards?
Whereas Sayoc is a recognizable member of the pro-Trump internet subculture, the Tree of Life murderer will likely prove someone too extreme even for that underworld. But if no important voice in any way encouraged this shooter, there are a great many important voices who ensured that he had easy access to the guns with which he committed the shooting.
Post-Newtown, post–Las Vegas, it remains a supreme priority of American politics to protect access to instruments of death by the potentially violent. The gunman who killed two at a Kentucky supermarket on October 25 reportedly had a long history of mental illness. Orders had been entered against him to prevent him from obtaining firearms. He carried one with him at all times anyway—because in a country where guns are ubiquitous, guns will be everywhere.
And where guns are everywhere, death by guns can strike anywhere.  Synagogues, churches—we have not yet even reached the first anniversary of the mass slaughter in the Sutherlands Spring church in Texas—and of course schools. Everywhere.

1 August
A Push for 3-D Weapons by One of the World’s ‘Most Dangerous People’
(NYT) For Cody Wilson, this week had long been in the making. For more than five years, the professed gun-rights and free-speech advocate had sought to publish online his blueprints for a downloadable gun, but had repeatedly been blocked by the federal government.
Until Tuesday evening, it looked like he finally would get his way. But hours before the schematics for a 3-D gun called the Liberator were expected to be posted — so-called for the single-shot handguns that the Allies designed as an insurgency weapon in World War II — a federal judge granted a temporary nationwide injunction blocking Mr. Wilson and his company, Defense Distributed.
No stranger to controversy, Mr. Wilson was listed by Wired magazine as one of the 15 Most Dangerous People in the World in 2012, the year he began Defense Distributed.
(Wired) A Landmark Legal Shift Opens Pandora’s Box for DIY Guns
Cody Wilson makes digital files that let anyone 3-D print untraceable guns. The government tried to stop him. He sued—and won.

24-26 July
Federal government taking serious look at handgun ban in wake of Toronto shooting
(Globe & Mail) A proposal to ban handguns is under serious consideration, according to a senior official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and senior civil servants have been tasked with examining the idea of a ban, which Toronto City Council endorsed after a mass shooting this week that killed two and injured 13.
Opinion: Would a ban on guns save lives? Look at places where it did
Explainer: A primer on this summer’s shootings in Toronto and how politicians are responding
Toronto Votes For A Total Ban On Handgun Sales After Mass Shooting
“Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?” Mayor John Tory asked at a city council meeting on Monday (HuffPost)
Globe editorial: Rethinking Canada’s outdated gun-control laws
Danforth shootings leave some Torontonians wondering whether city is ‘unravelling’

Bullets and bills: The cost of getting shot in America (video)
(BBC) Megan Hobson still cannot walk properly since being caught in a crossfire of bullets in Florida six years ago. But for her and many other shooting victims, the price of survival is not just months of rehabilitation and operations. It is tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills with no end in sight.

27 May
Mexico’s only gun store sells 38 firearms a day. Hundreds more are smuggled from United States
Each day the army gun store sells on average just 38 firearms to civilians, while an estimated 580 weapons are smuggled into Mexico from the United States
Last year was Mexico’s deadliest since the government began releasing homicide statistics in 1997. This year, it is on track to surpass that record.
American firearms are directly driving the violence, although US appetites for drugs and rampant corruption among Mexican officials also play a role
Most trafficked guns are bought in the US from one of the country’s more than 67,000 licensed gun dealers or at gun shows, which unlike stores often do not require buyers to present identification or submit to background checks.
By contrast, would-be gun owners in Mexico must offer a birth certificate and proof that they are employed, and have no criminal record.

7 May
Oliver North Is Named N.R.A. President
Oliver L. North, who became a household name in the 1980s for his role in the Iran-contra scandal, will become the next president of the National Rifle Association, the gun rights organization said Monday.
“Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader,” Wayne LaPierre, the organization’s chief executive, said in a statement. “In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President.”

More than 40 “active shooter” episodes in schools have been recorded in the United States since 2000, according to F.B.I. and news reports. Two 15-year-old students were killed and 18 more people were injured last month in a school in rural Benton, Ky. The shootings have become common enough that many schools, including Stoneman Douglas High, run annual drills in which students practice huddling in classrooms behind locked (NYT 14 Feb 2018)

We keep seeing this In 1996, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn’t Had a Mass Shooting Since and similar stories from other countries, why can’t the U.S. follow suit? Oh, those other countries did not have to cope with the NRA and/or 2nd Amendment.

A must read: Five types of gun laws the Founding Fathers loved
By Professor Saul Cornell
(The Conversation) I have been researching and writing about the history of gun regulation and the Second Amendment for the past two decades. When I began this research, most people assumed that regulation was a relatively recent phenomenon, something associated with the rise of big government in the modern era. Actually, while the founding generation certainly esteemed the idea of an armed population, they were also ardent supporters of gun regulations. (Updated 20 February 2018)

28 February
Trump rejects years of GOP dogma on guns as he scolds Republicans for being ‘petrified’ of NRA
(Globe & Mail) In a little over an hour on Wednesday, Donald Trump threw years of Republican dogma on guns out the window.
He pushed for comprehensive background checks for gun purchasers and supported instituting a minimum age to buy a rifle. He torpedoed a measure under consideration to make concealed weapons easier to carry nationwide. And he castigated his fellow Republicans for being “petrified” of the National Rifle Association.
To be sure, Mr. Trump does seem to want Congress to take action in response to the Florida shooting. However, it is not clear what steps he truly supports – and whether he is willing to do the heavy lifting that will be required to enact them.
Meanwhile, public pressure on elected officials and companies remains high: On Wednesday, both Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart said they would stop selling guns and ammunition to anyone under 21

22 February
Assault Weapons Not Protected by Second Amendment, Federal Appeals Court Rules
Dear America, here’s how other countries stop mass shootings
(Quartz) … as 18-year-old Parkland survivor Sam Zeif pointed out, one well-known idea has already been consistently proven to stop mass shootings: Stricter gun laws.
Research shows that countries with fewer guns have lower homicide rates. Even US states with fewer guns have fewer homicides; in a landmark 2002 study, analysis of data from 1988 to 1997 showed that states with “high” gun ownership had three times the rate of homicide than states with few guns. A decade later, a 2013 study found that every percentage point increase in gun ownership corresponded to a 0.9% higher risk of gun homicide. Countries and states that legally limit overall gun ownership simply have fewer gun deaths.

21 February
(LATimes) Tuesday’s announcement on the proposed bump stock ban came on the heels of a new poll showing more than 6 in 10 Americans fault Congress and Trump for not doing enough to prevent mass shootings. But there’s less consensus on which path forward lawmakers should take.

20 February
Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks
(The Hill) It does not appear that a bump stock device was used in the Florida shooting, nor does it appear a prohibition on the devices would have stopped that shooter.
Still, Trump’s remarks illustrate a desire on the part of the White House to show action on the issue of guns as students from the school and around the country demand change.

17 February
Prominent Republican Donor Issues Ultimatum on Assault Weapons
(NYT) A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians.
In Florida, Extraordinary Obstacles for Changes to Gun Laws

16 February
This pretty much says it all.
(Daily Beast) “Several senior Trump aides expressed concern to The Daily Beast that Trump could potentially find himself in a situation in Parkland where he is trapped with grieving parents or students who harangue him about his administration’s position on guns, creating horrible optics and more negative press for the president.

15 February
A well argued piece against public ownership of AR-15
I understand that people want to be able to own guns. That’s ok. We just need to really think about how we’re managing this. Yes, we have to manage it, just as we manage car ownership. People have to get a license to operate a car, and if you operate a car without a license, you’re going to get in trouble for that. We manage all things in society that can pose a danger to other people by their misuse. In addition to cars, we manage drugs, alcohol, exotic animals (there are certain zip codes where you can’t own Serval cats, for example), and fireworks, among other things. We restrict what types of businesses can operate in which zones of the city or county. We have a whole system of permitting for just about any activity a person wants to conduct since those activities could affect others, and we realize, as a society, that we need to try to minimize the risk to other people that comes from the chosen activities of those around them in which they have no say. Gun ownership is the one thing our country collectively refuses to manage, and the result is a lot of dead people.
Voters, pay attention: On guns and ‘dreamers,’ Republicans reveal who they are
By Jennifer Rubin
The last 24 hours demonstrate, unless anyone had any doubt, that Republicans are unwilling to consider any reasonable gun measures, even reconsidering the bill they passed last year making it easier for mentally ill Social Security disability-benefits recipients to get guns. Nothing to be done. Now is not the time, House Speaker Paul Ryan intoned, sounding like a parody that frustrated critics of the National Rifle Association would use to mock him.

14 February
Death Toll Is at 17 and Could Rise in Shooting
(NYT) More than 40 “active shooter” episodes in schools have been recorded in the United States since 2000, according to F.B.I. and news reports. Two 15-year-old students were killed and 18 more people were injured last month in a school in rural Benton, Ky. The shootings have become common enough that many schools, including Stoneman Douglas High, run annual drills in which students practice huddling in classrooms behind locked

13 February
‘The Trump slump’: Remington files for bankruptcy as gun sales tumble
With Trump in the White House, America’s gun manufacturers are in trouble after a golden era under Barack Obama
(The Guardian) “They call it the Trump slump,” said Robert Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York at Cortland and the author of five books on guns.
“Gun sales have become politicized to a great degree,” he said. “Gun purchases recently have been made not just because someone wants a new product but to make a statement; not just because of fears that there might be tighter regulation but also to make a statement against Obama.”
With Trump in the White House, said Spitzer, gun sales had sharply defaulted to their long-term trend of declining ownership rates.
“Gun ownership has been declining since the 1970s and there are now fewer gun owners than ever,” said Spitzer. Fewer people are hunting, younger people are less interested in gun ownership and the gun industry has had little success in its attempts to appeal to women and minorities.
The US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world with 88 guns for every 100 people. But just 3% of the population owns an average of 17 guns each, with an estimated 7.7 million super-owners in possession of between eight and 140 guns apiece.

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