Sunday, November 29, 2015

rash of violence in USA


Friday’s mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health center, alongside last week’s white supremacist attack on a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, is a stark reminder that domestic terrorists continues to be one of the most real and present threats to Americans’ safety.

February 2014

Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, there have been 44 more school shootings in America.

1. "Analysis of School Shootings," Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, February 2014.
The Brady gun control law, named for the White House official who was shot during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, requires licensed gun dealers to screen all prospective gun buyers through a federal database of convicted felons, drug abusers, people with a serious mental illness and others. In addition, the law requires licensed dealers to collect information about buyers that can be used later to trace guns that were used in crimes. From 1994 to 2009, those checks have prevented nearly two million gun sales, according to the Justice Department.

But the law does not cover private sales of guns, including transactions by “occasional sellers” at gun shows and flea markets, in what has become a gaping loophole that has allowed teenagers, ordinary criminals, terrorists, Mexican drug cartels and arms traffickers to have easy access to weapons. For instance, firearms bought at gun showswere used in the Columbine school shooting; they have been found in a shipment of arms supplies to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah; and they have made their way across the border to Mexico.
But none of those examples have stopped the National Rifle Association and its supporters in Congress from blocking legislation that would require private sellers to run buyers through background checks, which take just a few minutes to process on the telephone. The N.R.A., emboldened by a Supreme Court ruling asserting an individual constitutional right to bear arms, has turned its attention to further broadening the market, lobbying state legislatures to allow concealed weapons in churches, schools and other public places and to restrict the discretion of local police in granting gun permits.
In the case of background checks on private sales, the N.R.A. has argued that checks are not needed because surveys of criminals suggest that just 2 percent of them buy their weapons from gun shows. This is a highly disingenuous argument because criminals most often purchase firearms from relatives, friends and associates. Many of those people, in turn, get their supplies from gun shows and elsewhere, including on the Internet where anybody with a credit card can order semiautomatic weapons for overnight delivery.
Requiring background checks for private sales will obviously not, on its own, keep people like Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who perpetrated the massacre in Newtown, Conn., away from deadly weapons. For starters, only buyers of guns, not members of the families who own them (as was true in his case), are screened against the database known as theNational Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Moreover, many state governments and federal agencies have provided incomplete or no records to the system for various logistical, legal and financial reasons. But those flaws and limitations should not be a reason for lawmakers to exempt sales at gun shows, flea markets and at other venues from background checks, which are a simple and effective way to prevent many violent individuals from getting access to guns.
Since the Newtown shootings, the influence and power of the N.R.A. may have diminished as some of its usual allies have distanced themselves from its hard-line position. Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm, said on Tuesday that it would sell its stake in Freedom Group, the maker of the Bushmaster rifle. And a Democratic state lawmaker in California, Kevin de León, introduced a bill that would require people buying ammunition to go through background checks. These are small but promising shoots. It is up to Congress and President Obama to nurture them.

Experts from the Harvard School of Public Health, using data from 26 developed countries, have shown that wherever there are more firearms, there are more homicides. In the case of the United States, exponentially more: the American murder rate is roughly 15 times that of other wealthy countries, which have much tougher laws controlling private ownership of guns.

There’s another important difference between this country and the rest of the world. Other nations have suffered similar rampages, but they have reacted quickly to impose new and stricter gun laws.

Australia is an excellent example. In 1996, a “pathetic social misfit,” as a judge described the lone gunman, killed 35 people with a spray of bullets from semiautomatic weapons. Within weeks, the Australian government was working on gun reform laws that banned assault weapons and shotguns, tightened licensing and financed gun amnesty and buyback programs.

At the time, the prime minister, John Howard, said, “We do not want the American disease imported into Australia.” The laws have worked. The American Journal of Law and Economics reported in 2010 that firearm homicides in Australia dropped 59 percent between 1995 and 2006. In the 18 years before the 1996 laws, there were 13 gun massacres resulting in 102 deaths, according to Harvard researchers, with none in that category since.

Similarly, after 16 children and their teacher were killed by a gunman in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, the British government banned all private ownership of automatic weapons and virtually all handguns. Those changes gave Britain some of the toughest gun control laws in the developed world on top of already strict rules. Hours of exhaustive paperwork are required if anyone wants to own even a shotgun or rifle for hunting. The result has been a decline in murders involving firearms.

In Japan, which has very strict laws, only 11 people were killed with guns in 2008, compared with 12,000 deaths by firearms that year in the United States — a huge disparity even accounting for the difference in population. As Mayor Michael Bloomberg stressed on Monday while ratcheting up his national antigun campaign, “We are the only industrialized country that has this problem. In the whole world, the only one.”

As Americans process the grief, fear, and anger stemming from last Friday's tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, many are calling for action. In response to the shooting, more than 1,000 people -- including many in and around Newtown -- started petitions on, calling for tighter gun laws, stronger mental health services, and support for the victims' families.
Here are a few petitions calling for meaningful action in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. You can click here to browse and sign other petitions started in response to the tragedy in Newtown.
Walmart: Stop selling assault rifles in stores
You can read and sign other petitions started in response to the tragedy in Newtown by clicking here.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Tim and the team

Despite a long history of pro-gun views, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin told US network MSNBC on Monday that it was time to "move beyond rhetoric" on gun control.

Mr Manchin, a gun owner and frequent hunter, said: "I don't know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle."

Bloomberg said Sandy Hook was "no aberration" and called gun violence a "national tragedy"
"It's common sense. It's time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way."

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, another Democrat who has backed gun owner's rights, told reporters outside the Virginia capitol that the "status quo isn't acceptable". He later called for "rational gun control" in an interview with a local news broadcaster.

On Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said tighter gun control laws are part of the answer to violence in the US, but stressed that the president did not have a specific policy to announce.
"It's a complex problem that will require a complex solution," Mr Carney said. "No single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem."

He added that the president supports reinstating an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein, a long-time advocate for gun regulations, said on Sunday she would introduce assault weapons ban legislation in the beginning of the next congressional session.

And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a vocal backer of stricter regulation, called on Mr Obama and Congress to pass several gun regulation proposals, including requiring a criminal background check for all gun sales, making gun trafficking a felony and a ban on assault weapons.

‎"Can say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I've been reflecting on this the last few days," Obama said, somber and steady as some in the audience wept.

"If we're honest without ourselves, the answer is no. And we will have to change."

"What choice do we have?" Obama said. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — The gunman in the Connecticut shooting rampage was carrying an arsenal of hundreds of rounds of especially deadly ammunition — enough to kill just about every student in the school if given enough time, authorities said Sunday, raising the chilling possibility that the bloodbath could have been far worse.

Adam Lanza shot himself in the head just as he heard police drawing near to the classroom where he was slaughtering helpless children, but he had more ammunition at the ready in the form of multiple, high-capacity clips each capable of holding 30 bullets.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said the shooter decided to kill himself when he heard police closing in about 10 minutes into the attack.

"We surmise that it was during the second classroom episode that he heard responders coming and apparently at that decided to take his own life," Malloy said on ABC's "This Week."

Police said they found hundreds of unused bullets at the school, which enrolled about 450 students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

"There was a lot of ammo, a lot of clips," said state police Lt. Paul Vance. "Certainly a lot of lives were potentially saved."

The chief medical examiner has said the ammunition was designed to expend its energy in the victim's tissues and stay inside the body to inflict the maximum amount of damage.

The rifle used was a Bushmaster .223-caliber, a civilian version of the military's M-16 and a model commonly seen at marksmanship competitions. It's similar to the weapon used in the 2002 sniper killings in the Washington, D.C., area and in a recent shopping mall shooting in Oregon.

Versions of the AR-15 were outlawed in the United States under the 1994 assault weapons ban. That law expired in 2004, and Congress, in a nod to the political clout of the gun-rights lobby, did not renew it.

Investigators have said they believe Adam Lanza attended Sandy Hook many years ago, but they couldn't explain why he went there Friday.

Authorities said Lanza had no criminal history, and it was not clear whether he had a job.

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the unfolding investigation, has said Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's, a mild form of autism often characterized by social awkwardness.

People with the disorder are often highly intelligent. While they can become frustrated more easily, there is no evidence of a link between Asperger's and violent behavior, experts say.


Associated Press writers John Christoffersen and Michael Melia in Newtown, David Collins in Hartford and Brian Skoloff in Phoenix contributed to this report.

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Worshippers hurriedly left a church Sunday, saying they were told there was a bomb threat not far from the elementary school where 20 kids and six adults were massacred.

At least a dozen police in camouflage SWAT gear and carrying guns arrived at the St. Rose of Lima Church. An Associated Press photographer saw police leave carrying something in a red tarp.

Guns drawn, they surrounded the rectory across the parking lot from the main church building. A large crowd of parishioners gathered outside.

There was no official report from police about the threat or evacuation.

Shooter Adam Lanza, his mother and eight of the child victims attended St. Rose of Lima. It is a Roman Catholic Church with an adjacent school, which Lanza attended briefly.

It's not clear if there actually was a threat or if, like many tragedies, whether it was a hoax or the result of a community on edge.

The church hosted overflow crowds at all three morning masses Sunday.

(Reuters) - Several Democratic lawmakers called for a new push for U.S. gun restrictions on Sunday, including a ban on military-style assault weapons, in the wake of the Connecticut massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down in a school.

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, the author of an assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she would introduce new legislation this week. Senator Dick Durbin, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, said lawmakers would hold hearings on gun control, and several others said they would devote new attention to the long-ignored issue.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am Jason Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. ( Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population. (

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail, and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011 (

 No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all. 

Hours after the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed 28 lives, including 20 children, President Obama promised the nation he would take action.

The harsh truth is that we’ve heard this promise before. After Aurora. After Tucson. After Virginia Tech. After Columbine.

Promises are not enough. We need action -- and we need your help to make sure that this time the president follows through.

Join more than 300,000 Americans and sign our petition to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.

34 Americans are murdered with guns every day in America. That means more than 48,000 Americans will be murdered with guns in the President Obama’s second term -- and he has no plan to address gun violence.

On Tuesday, another shooting took two innocent lives in Oregon. Our hearts go out to their families. We know they're hurting today.
This happens all the time. That's why more than 725 mayors decided to get involved - because 34 Americans are murdered with guns every day in ways that don't make headlines.
So while our hearts are in Oregon, I hope you'll turn your eyes to Michigan, where we beat the NRA yesterday.
The state legislature was on the brink of eliminating background checks for private handgun sales. The House had already passed a bill to eliminate a system that kept nearly 3,000 criminals, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from getting their hands on a pistol in Michigan -- in 2011 alone.
The bill was cruising to passage in the Senate until just a few weeks ago.
Then Michigan mayors, police and grassroots supporters like you noticed.  They organized, mobilized and lobbied. They stopped the bill in its tracks.
And yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that preserves background checks for all handgun sales - a total victory for Lansing against the NRA's Washington lobbyists.

Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

By Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON | Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:20pm EST

(Reuters) - A day after the Connecticut elementary school massacre, a senior congressional Democrat on Saturday called on U.S. lawmakers to pass sweeping new gun control measures including banning assault weapons and high-capacity clips, saying, "Politics be damned."

Representative John Larson, chairman of the House of Representatives Democratic Caucus, gave a list of specific policies he wanted the U.S. Congress to vote on quickly after the mass shooting in his home state of Connecticut.

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new gun law since 1994, and they let a ban on certain semiautomatic rifles known as assault weapons expire in 2004.

Hours after Friday's rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Barack Obama called for the federal government to prevent mass shootings "regardless of politics," but did not offer details on policies he would seek. He reiterated his commitment to "meaningful action" during his weekly radio address on Saturday.

Twenty-eight people died in the incident - 20 schoolchildren and six adults shot at the school, one woman at another nearby site and the gunman.

The incident put renewed pressure on Obama and other Democrats to reverse their years of caution about gun control laws and address the easy availability of firearms. However, gun control supporters face a Republican-led House that could block such measures.

"There may not be a single cure-all for the violence in our nation, however we must start the process and begin the deeper and longer conversations that need to take place. Politics be damned," Larson said in a statement.

"Of the 12 deadliest shootings in our nation's history, half of them have happened in the last five years. And there is not a single person in America who doesn't fear it will happen again."


Larson said Congress must quickly vote on measures that include requiring background checks for all gun sales, closing "loopholes" on the terrorist watch list and banning assault weapons and high-capacity clips.

Other Democrats, including Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy and California Representative George Miller, are calling for stricter gun control after the shootings.

Blumenthal and Miller said they believe the nation should have a "conversation" about gun control, but Blumenthal declined to discuss his ideas at depth so soon after the shootings, saying he wanted to show respect to the families of the victims.

McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a gunman on a commuter train in 1993, said in a statement: "I agree, now is not the time to talk about gun laws - the time for that conversation was long before all those kids in Connecticut died."

McCarthy and other Democrats, who traditionally support gun control, voiced skepticism about the call Obama made for "meaningful action," mostly because of his lack of specificity.

"I'm not sure if the president meant it or if it was just more rhetoric," a senior Democratic congressional aide said on Saturday. "But if anything is ever going to happen on gun control, now is the time. He is in a perfect position to act."

The aide said Obama should take advantage of having just won a second term, which means he can act without worrying about voter repercussions in the polls or donors withdrawing dollars.

Faced with intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association and other gun groups, and fearful of a backlash from gun-owning voters, most Democrats have stopped trying to pass new laws.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NRA did not donate money to Obama during this year's presidential election but sent funds to his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

In total, it donated $634,146 to Republicans during the 2012 election and $85,450 to Democrats.

(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro, Steve Holland and David Ingram; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Semi-Automatic firearms are Military Weapons: Lets at least Limit the Magazines

Posted on 12/15/2012 by Juan Cole

One of the two guns the Connecticut shooter used to murder 20 children and 6 adults was a Glock semi-automatic. This datum is not surprising. The Glock is among the more popular pistols sold in the United States.

The Glock semi-automatic was developed in 1982 for the Austrian army. It was not envisioned that it would be bought by millions of citizens. It is not in fact bought by millions of civilians anywhere but in the United States. The gun should not be singled out for demonization; there are lots of semi-automatic pistols, and lots of semi-automatic rifles, and all of them are widespread and legal in the United States.

But it is worth underlining that Gaston Glock probably did not envision that you and your neighbors would just go into a shop and purchase his weapon.

So here is what happened: in the first ten years, 100,000 of these guns were sold to militaries and police in Europe, and then the rest went to the civilians and police of the United States. The US took 71% of all Glocks in their first decade, even though the US army rejected them. The US is peculiar.
Can anything be done about the phenomenon of “mass shootings?”
These killings have plagued the US for decades.

Gun advocates might argue that these mass shootings are relatively rare and exact a relatively low death toll in a country of 310 million people. In 2012, there were 16 mass shootings in the US, which killed 88 persons and wounded hundreds. We polish off 14,500 Americans a year with murders (around 9000 of them via firearms), and 30,000 a year in auto accidents. There are also something like 18,000 suicides a year by firearm in the US, about half of the total; perhaps large numbers of those people would still be alive if it hadn’t been so technically easy to take their on lives. Anyway, mass shootings as a subset of lives taken by firearms are a tiny proportion.
One problem is that mass shootings produce a national trauma, and probably are designed to do so. We were all, from President Obama on down, crying for the children yesterday. Isolated murders of adults, however tragic, don’t upset us the way a madman shooting down children does. Although they are few and the number of victims only account for 1% of those murdered by firearms every year, the mass shootings deeply disturb us.
It is also the case that mass shootings are arbitrarily defined as those in which 4 or more people are killed. For those affected, three is pretty “mass.”
Public policy is often made on the grounds of what we find unpalatable. You will note that we are also upset by airplane crashes, and we insist that they are always completely unacceptable. We don’t feel the same way about whacking 30,000 people a year (and injuring like 300,000) in auto collisions.
The problem is getting worse. 10% of all mass shootings since 1982 have occurred in 2012, and 12 percent of the 543 victims since that date have been killed this year.
In addition, however, some 2,000 of the 9,000 firearms murders a year are committed by drug gangs and other criminal gangs, and these are primarily using semi-automatic weapons to commit these murders.
So there is a problem, of increased numbers of mass shootings and increased numbers of victims over time. And there is a problem with the roughly 1 million gang members having military-style weapons and committing 14% of the murders every year in the US.
Is there a solution of the problem?
Even someone who really loves semi-automatic guns– Paul Barret, author of”Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun,” admits of the 1994 ban on semi-automatic rifles:
“The one potentially sensible provision in the Assault Weapons Ban was the imposition of a ten-round magazine capacity, which affected both semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic pistols, including the Glock. You can begin to understand that at least this [limitation] might inhibit the mass shooter because, under that regime, he would at least have to think ahead enough to carry multiple ten-round magazines.”
Personally, I don’t understand why civilians need semi-automatic pistols and rifles at all. And the evidence we have from the mass shootings this year is that yes, the shooter will bring extra rounds. Lots of extra rounds.
But I’ll tell you what, some sort of limitation is better than none, and at least such legislation might establish the principle that guns can be regulated by law.
So how about we propose a law specifying that no civilian may buy a semi-automatic weapon that has greater than a ten-round magazine, and that such weapons for the civilian market be constructed so that extra magazine drums cannot be attached? And we ban semi-automatic rifles altogether.
What about all the semi-automatic weapons already in people’s possession? There are like 280 million guns in the US, nearly one per person. (Though in fact, a small minority owns most of these guns, and the proportion of gun owners in the population has been shinking; fewer and fewer people have more and more guns). Since the 1980s, sales of semi-automatic weapons have been in the tens of thousands annually.
Well, you could have a buy-back program, and could offer people trade-ins. Changing things would not have to be coercive. People would have a choice between having an illegal pistol and a legal one with a smaller magazine.
Contrary to what is often alleged, in any case, used guns are seldom the problem. Most used guns are in people’s safes. The new ones are the problem. Most people who commit mass shootings seem to go on a buying spree first, and gang members likewise most often like to purchase new weaponry.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will attend an interfaith memorial service Sunday in Newtown, Conn., the site of Friday's deadly elementary school shooting.

Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed when a man opened fire inside the school.

Hours after the shooting, a tearful Obama said he grieved first as a father. In those remarks and later in his Saturday radio address, Obama called for "meaningful action" to prevent such shootings, but did not say what it should be.

Obama's visit to Newtown for an interfaith vigil would be the fourth time he has traveled to a city after a mass shooting.

The president had planned to travel to Maine Wednesday for an event promoting his positions in "fiscal cliff" negotiations, but the White House canceled that trip because of the shooting.

My heart aches for the families of Newtown, Connecticut.

We need to reach out to the loved ones of those who were murdered and to the community that has been shattered. We need to let them know that they are in our thoughts and our prayers, and that we are ready to do what it takes to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.

Share your personal message of condolence with the families of Newtown, Connecticut.

I've heard a lot of promises from politicians since my daughter was murdered in Tucson, Arizona, including President Obama. But I am still waiting for them to act.

And I'm not alone in my frustration. As horrible as it sounds, mass shootings have become common in our country, and 34 Americans are murdered with guns every single day. That means 48,000 people will be murdered with guns in the president's next term. Yet our broken laws remain broken, and our leaders have yet to step forward with a plan to end gun violence.

We need to make sure today's terrible tragedy is the last of its kind. We need to make a promise to ourselves and demand action from our leaders.

Please join me in sharing your feelings -- and your promise -- with those who have lost so much:

Thank you for your support,

Roxanna Green

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