Those Damn Guns Again


International Member
Mass Shootings, Dinner, and the Cognitive Dissonance of Just Living in America

A police officer walks near the scene where at least twelve people were killed during a mass shooting at the Virginia Beach city public works building on May 31, 2019.

On Friday evening my wife and I were on our way to dinner with our three youngest kids when I happened to learn from Twitter that a man in Virginia Beach had just shot and killed 12 people. And so my struggle, which I am sure is also regularly your struggle, began. In almost every developed nation in the world, 12 people being killed in a mass shooting would make that incident the deadliest in years. In some nations it would be the deadliest ever. But in the United States, they happen so often, with such ferocity and carnage, that when we learn about the next one, we hardly skip a beat. Indeed, 2018 was by far the most violent year ever measured for school shootings in the United States and 2017 was the deadliest year in at least a half-century for gun deaths altogether in this country – with an astounding 40,000 people killed by guns. That’s 110 people per day. We couldn’t keep up if we tried.

After seeing the news of his latest mass shooting, I wanted to somehow relay the fact that 12 people were just murdered to my wife without actually saying the specific words in front of our kids. “Oh no. 12 people,” I said to her – not speaking in a complete sentence. “Virginia Beach,” I continued. I know my kids are aware of gun violence and mass shootings, but it just seemed like too much in that moment to say in front of them something like, “12 people were just shot to death.” Between the seriousness of my tone and the six words that I assembled for her about the shooting, she knew exactly what I was trying to relay to her without the kids quite catching on.

They were happy. And we were pulling up to a fun restaurant in Brooklyn. And so I used the strange skill that none of us should have, but all of us use almost every day. Somewhere deep in my mind I tucked the thought of that horrific shooting in Virginia Beach away. I compartmentalized it — boxed it up and closed the door to the memory so that I could be emotionally present during dinner, so that I could listen to the kid’s stories about their day at school, and excitedly order from the menu with the family. And I did it. I moved on in that moment so that I could enjoy the taste of Vietnamese food. And while I ate dinner, as I reflect back on it, I don’t think I once thought again of the victims in Virginia Beach.
That’s the game we play. To get through dinner, to get through a movie or a game, to get through quality time with our loved ones, we must temporarily suspend our knowledge that people are being slaughtered all around us. We speak of the Wild Wild West as some nostalgic era of the past, but we’re living it. The United States is the only nation in the world that has more guns than people. And it shows. Americans are shooting and killing themselves and killing others with guns at a pace that should be treated as a dire National Emergency. If we just enacted a fraction of the basic standards and norms held by the rest of the world, our nation would be so much safer.

In New Zealand, after 51 men, women, and children were shot to death earlier this year while gathered for prayers in their local mosques, the nation, in a matter of just a few days, made radical shifts in their gun laws – banning assault rifles and so much more. And that urgency is just what the United States needs, but I am afraid we’ve crossed some invisible threshold, given up after burying so many thoughts of so many shootings and so much violence — so that we can just have dinner in peace.


Rising Star
Super Moderator
At least 3 dead, 12 wounded in shooting at
Gilroy Garlic Festival in San Francisco Bay area

July 29, 2019 / 12:33 AM / CBS News

A report of a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival caused mass chaos among festival attendees Sunday evening, according to CBS San Francisco. The station reported that at least 3 people are dead and 12 others were wounded.

The Gilroy Police Department acknowledged the "victims of today's shooting" in a tweet, but didn't provide any further details. Police said "the scene is still active."

CBS News Investigative Unit Senior Producer Pat Milton cites two law enforcement sources as saying the shooter or shooters were believed to still be at large. It was unclear if there was one shooter or more.

According to CBS San Francisco, multiple emergency crews and ambulances have responded at the scene tending to injuries. People have been evacuated to a nearby amphitheater as a safe point.

Witnesses describe shooting unfolding
A witness described hearing what sounded like "a semi-automatic going off really close" when the Sunday shooting unfolded. "As soon as the gunfire started, everybody scattered and people were yelling for their kids," the witness told CBS San Francisco.

A witness at Christmas Hill Park, where the festival is held annually, recorded video of people scrambling to escape and posted it on social media. Gilroy is located approximately 33 miles south of San Jose.

Another witness mistook the gunfire for a music act. "I thought it was, like, an opening act for the concert," he said.

Trump and lawmakers respond to shooting
President Trump has been briefed on the shooting in Gilroy and claims that the shooter has yet to be apprehended. "Be careful and safe!" Mr. Trump wrote.

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who grew up in the East Bay and previously served as San Francisco District Attorney, also tweeted about the shooting, calling it "simply horrific."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom echoed Harris' statement and said that the state "stands with the Gilroy community."

ATF and FBI responds to Gilroy shooting
The ATF office in San Francisco is responding to the reported shooting, according to a tweet Sunday night. The FBI is also assisting.

Gilroy police set up reunification services
The Gilroy Police Department have set up services meant to help reunite those who were at the Garlic Festival with their loved ones, including a phone number and reunification center at Gavilan College in parking lot B.



International Member
At some point, someone is going to get fed-up!
I'm not sure anything will change in the US in regards to gun laws. Senators, Presidents, countless members of the public has been killed indiscriminately by guns. Will that change anything? I somehow don't think so.


Rising Star
Super Moderator
Another weekend, two more mass shootings in America

August 4, 2019

A beloved Northern California festival;

A neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi;

Another Walmart near the US-Mexico border; and

A popular entertainment district.

All four were the scenes of shootings in the last week — events that together left at least
34 people dead and more than 50 wounded.

A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving.

One of the nation's safest large cities is mourning

El Paso sits at the border of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico.

The town, which prides itself on being one of the nation's safest cities, became paralyzed Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire in the heart of its popular shopping area.

Families were buying school supplies ahead of the first day of classes next week, were buying groceries or had traveled from across the border in Mexico to shop at the Walmart.

At least three of the dead were Mexican nationals, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tweeted, and six Mexicans were among the injured.

Police arrested the suspected gunman, a 21-year-old white man from a suburb of Dallas, more than 650 miles away, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said.

Gov. Greg Abbott said the case will be prosecuted "as both a capital murder but also as a hate crime." Police said they believe the gunman wrote a four-page document posted online that espouses white nationalist and racist views.

The FBI opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the shooting, according to a source familiar with the investigative process.

The chaos extended far from the store. Dozens of businesses and homes as far as three miles away -- and the largest mall in the city, just next door to the Walmart -- were in lockdown for hours and closed early.

As the sun began to set Saturday, there were still tears and worries among people in El Paso. Some recounted the horror of what they saw -- victims being shot, or children carried to an ambulance -- and others pleaded for information.

"I just want to find my mom," a tearful Edie Hallberg cried outside the Walmart hours later, seeking any information on her 86-year-old mother, Angie Englisbee, who had been shopping inside the store. "I want to know if she's dead or alive, or is she still in Walmart. I need to find her."

A night out turns to chaos in Ohio

Within 13 hours of the El Paso shooting, another nine people were killed in Ohio. Police in Dayton said 16 people were injured in the incident and the suspect is dead.

The shooting took place around 1 a.m. outside on East 5th Street in the city's Oregon district, a popular downtown area, Dayton Deputy Director and Assistant Chief of the Police Lt. Col. Matt Carper told reporters early Sunday.

The suspect, who was shot and killed by responding officers, has not yet been identified, but Carper said the subject fired a "long gun" with multiple rounds. The shooting happened as the suspect was making his way toward a bar called Ned Peppers, Montgomery County Emergency Services spokeswoman Deb Decker said.

The shooter wore body armor, Decker said.

A disgruntled employee shot colleagues at another Walmart

In the wake of Saturday's attack, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon tweeted a message of sympathy for El Paso and said, "I can't believe I'm sending a note like this twice in one week."

Four days earlier, more than 1,000 miles northeast of El Paso, a disgruntled employee at a Walmart in Mississippi killed two co-workers and wounded an officer.

The gunfire broke out on the morning of July 30 when about 60 employees were inside the store in Southaven, the third-largest city in Mississippi.

The gunman fatally shot one employee inside the store and then killed another outside, authorities said. The suspect has been charged with two counts of murder.

The employees were identified as Anthony Brown, 40, and Brandon Gales, 38, the DeSoto County Coroner's Office told CNN affiliate WMC.

The suspect had been suspended a few days before the shooting after he showed a knife to another employee, Randy Hargrove, a company spokesman, said in an interview. The company was investigating that incident and had not made a final determination of his employment status.

Southaven, a city of 49,000, is a Memphis suburb near the Mississippi-Tennessee border.

A Northern California festival turned deadly

The week began with the final day of the renowned Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, with families spending the day listening to music and celebrating the town's world-famous crop.

But crowds scrambled to escape on July 29 when a 19-year-old wearing tactical gear and carrying an assault-style rifle started firing. Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said the gunman had sneaked in by cutting a hole in the fence.

"He was dressed for what he was there to do," said witness Julissa Contreras.

Three people -- 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar and 25-year-old Trevor Irby -- were killed. Sixteen people were wounded.

The gunman exchanged fire with three Gilroy police officers but died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Smithee said. He used a rifle he bought weeks earlier in neighboring Nevada.

Police later found extremist material while searching a Walker Lake, Nevada, home that police believe the shooter once rented. The home is about 100 miles southeast of Reno.

Because the material seized pertained to different -- and at times, competing -- political ideologies, authorities have had a hard time nailing down the gunman's clear ideology.

Police officers were on horses and motorcycles and had a compound on the festival grounds -- but law enforcement experts have said there's little that can be done to prevent such attacks from happening.

A day after the shooting, some businesses didn't open in the small Northern California city and several employees called in sick. But many others opened their shops and interacted with customers in a defiant attempt to rebound as a community.

Mayor Roland Velasco told residents at a vigil for the victims that they could come together as a community and process their feelings.

"Maybe not today, but there will be a day when we start to heal, and the reason for that is we cannot let the bastard who did this to us tear us down," he said.

© 2019 Cable News Network, Inc. A WarnerMedia Company. All Rights Reserved.



Rising Star
Super Moderator
At least 9 killed in mass shooting in Dayton

At least nine people were killed and 26 others were injured after a shooting in Dayton early on Sunday morning.

The suspect, who was wearing body armor and has yet to be identified, was reportedly shot and killed by police. Police believe the suspect acted alone, but the investigation is ongoing with help from the FBI. The shooting took place around 1 a.m. in Dayton's Oregon District, a popular downtown area. The incident was reportedly over quickly, despite the high number of casualties, because officers were already patrolling the area when the gunshots began. The shooting occurred just 13 hours after another mass shooting in El Paso which resulted in at least 20 deaths.

The shootings were reportedly the 21st and 22nd mass killings in the U.S. in 2019.

Source: The Associated Press, CNN


Rising Star
Super Moderator
The Second Amendment has failed America

AP Photo/Christian Chavez

Joel Mathis
August 4, 2019

Enough. No more. Stop.

The gun massacres in America are now coming so quickly, one after another, that it's impossible to process our grief and anger before the next one occurs. There is a sickness in our land, and it cries out for an immediate, righteous, and even radical response.

It's possible you went to bed Saturday night, like I did, upset and angry about the news that a 21-year-old man besotted with white supremacy and armed with an assault rifle opened fire in El Paso, Texas, killing at least 20 people and injuring dozens more. How could you know that, by the time you awoke, another mass shooting — this one in Dayton, Ohio — would be making headlines?

Early reports suggested there were multiple casualties in Ohio, and video from the scene showed a massive response by local police and medics. And all of this happened just days after another young man, a 19-year-old who was also obsessed with white supremacyand armed with an assault rifle, opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, killing three people.

God help us.

Scratch that. It's time that we help ourselves. And we can start by understanding and declaring that the Second Amendment is a failure.

It's not just a failure because guns are used so widely, and to such ill effect. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is a failure because the right to bear arms — the right it so famously defends — is supposed to protect Americans from violence. Instead, it endangers them.

As the conservative National Reviewnoted last year, "supporters of a right to bear arms have rooted their arguments in a murky pre-constitutional right to self-defense." The right to bear arms is based on an old understanding in English common law: If somebody attacks you, you have the right to protect yourself. There's nothing controversial about that, is there?

The language of self-defense was made explicit in D.C. vs Heller, the 2008 Supreme Court ruling cementing individual gun rights. "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."

But in reality, guns are used far more often on offense, by bad guys who have easy access to deadly firepower in unthinkable quantities.

Data shows that people who own guns legally are more likely to kill themselvesthan they are to kill an intruder. People who own guns legally are more likely to kill a family member — on purpose or accidentally — than they are to kill an assailant. And people who own guns legally don't actually use those weaponsin self-defense all that often. "The average person [...] has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense," a Harvard University researcher told NPR last year.

There are exceptions, of course. On Saturday in El Paso, a soldier armed with legally concealed handgun helped shepherd mall customers to safety. Good for him. But that's not enough.

On balance, guns do more harm in America than good. The damages are easily measured, while the benefits are mostly theoretical and rare. This means the Second Amendment, as currently observed, doesn't actually work under the terms of its own logic.

In recognizing this, America doesn't have to throw away a formal right to self-defense, or eliminate guns entirely. But it's time to reexamine Second Amendment rights with a bigger emphasis on the amendment's underlying justification, which is to help Americans be and feel safe, and less emphasis on the right to carry a deadly weapon.

A healthy understanding of the right to self-defense should include the reasonable expectation of safety in both private and public places. That in turn means Americans should be able to gather at places like churches, schools, shopping malls, and concerts without fear that they've made themselves easy targets for the latest angry man possessing the tools to kill dozens of people within a few fatal minutes.

Until that moment arrives, the Second Amendment is failing all of us. Just like it failed the people of El Paso. Just like it failed the people of Dayton. And just like it will fail the victims of the next gun massacre, the one we all know is coming.


International Member
The United States really do need to take a long hard look inwards at what is happening to itself in relation to guns.

What would it take before those in power sit down and discuss about looking at ways to reduce firearms given to those with mental health instabilities? A US senator or a President getting shot?

Other countries around the world has implemented strict gun laws after only ONE massacre, e.g. New Zealand and the UK comes to mind.



International Member
After El Paso, We Can No Longer Ignore Trump’s Role in Inspiring Mass Shootings
Mehdi Hasan
August 4 2019, 3:10 p.m.

From left, Melody Stout, Hannah Payan, Aaliyah Alba, Sherie Gramlich and Laura Barrios comfort each other during a vigil on Aug. 3, 2019, for victims of the shooting in El Paso, Texas.

Photo: John Locher/AP

On Saturday morning, a gunman at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, shot and killed at least 20 people before surrendering to the police. By all accounts, Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old alleged shooter, is a fan of President Donald Trump and his policies. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “a Twitter account bearing the suspect’s name contains liked tweets that include a ‘BuildTheWall’ hashtag” and “a photo using guns to spell out ‘Trump.’”

Incredibly, the nation woke up to more grim news on Sunday, with reports that a man suited up in body armor and bearing a rifle with high-capacity magazines had carried out a rampage in Dayton, Ohio, killing at least nine people and injuring 26.

Little is known yet about the Dayton shooter, but a four-page manifesto authorities believe was written by Crusius and posted shortly before the El Paso attack is full of the kind of hateful rhetoric and ideas that have flourished under Trump.

The manifesto declares the imminent attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion,” accuses Democrats of “pandering to the Hispanic voting bloc,” rails against “traitors,” and condemns “race mixing” and “interracial unions.” “Yet another reason to send them back,” it says.

Sound familiar? The president of the United States — who condemned the El Paso attack on Twitter — has repeatedly referred to an “invasion” at the southern border; condemned Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and Syrian refugees as “snakes;” accused his critics of treason on at least two dozen occasions; and told four elected women of color to “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came.” (It is worth noting that Crusius, in his alleged manifesto, claims his views “predate” and are unrelated to Trump, but then goes on to attack “fake news.”)

That there could be a link between the attacker and the president should come as no surprise. But it might. Over the past four years, both mainstream media organizations and leading Democrats have failed to draw a clear line between Trump’s racist rhetoric and the steadily multiplying acts of domestic terror across the United States. Some of us tried to sound the alarm — but to no avail.

“Cesar Sayoc was not the first Trump supporter who allegedly tried to kill and maim those on the receiving end of Trump’s demonizing rhetoric,” I wrote last October, in the concluding lines of my column on the arrest of the so-called #MAGAbomber. “And, sadly, he won’t be the last.”

How I wish I could have been proven wrong. Yet since the publication of that piece almost a year ago, which listed the names of more than a dozen Trump supporters accused of horrific violence, from the neo-Nazi murderer of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville to the Quebec City mosque shooter, there have been more and more MAGA-inspired attacks. In January, four men were arrested for a plot to attack a small Muslim community in upstate New York — one of them, according to the Daily Beast, “was an avid Trump supporter online, frequently calling for ‘Crooked Hillary’ Clinton to be arrested and urging his followers to watch out for Democratic voter fraud schemes when they cast their ballots for Trump in 2016.”

In March, a far right gunman murdered 51 Muslims in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand — and left behind a document describing Muslim immigrants as “invaders” and Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

Police keep watch outside Walmart near the scene of a mass shooting on Aug. 3, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

And now, this latest massacre in El Paso. Let’s be clear: in an age of rising domestic terrorism cases — the majority of which are motivated by “white supremacist violence,” according to FBI Director Christopher Wray — Trump is nothing less than a threat to our collective security. More and more commentators now refer, for example, to the phenomenon of “stochastic terrorism” — originally defined by an anonymous blogger back in 2011 as “the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.”

Sounds pretty Trumpian, right? As I wrote in October: “The president may not be pulling the trigger or planting the bomb, but he is enabling much of the hatred behind those acts. He is giving aid and comfort to angry white men by offering them clear targets — and then failing to fully denounce their violence.”

And as I pointed out on CNN earlier this year, there is a simple way for Trump to distance himself from all this. Give a speech denouncing white nationalism and the violence it has produced. Declare it a threat to national security. Loudly disown those who act in his name. Tone down the incendiary rhetoric on race, immigration, and Islam.

Trump, however, has done the exact opposite. In March, in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, the president said he did not consider white nationalism to be a rising threat, dismissing it as a “small group of people.” A month earlier, in February, Trump was asked whether he would moderate his language after a white nationalist Coast Guard officer was arrested over a plot to assassinate leading journalists and Democrats. “I think my language is very nice,” he replied.

In recent weeks, the president has again launched nakedly racist and demagogic attacks on a number of black and brown members of Congress, not to mention the black-majority city of Baltimore. When his cultish supporters responded to his attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., with chants of “send her back,” Trump stood and watched and later referred to them as “patriots.”

So we’re supposed to be surprised or shocked that white nationalist violence is rising on his watch? That hate crimes against almost every minority group have increased since his election to the White House in 2016?

On Tuesday, just days before this latest act of terror in El Paso, the leaders of the Washington National Cathedral issued a scathing, and startlingly prescient, rebuke of Trump:

Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.

These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.

Thanks to his hate-filled rhetoric, his relentless incitement of violence, and his refusal to acknowledge the surge in white nationalist terrorism, the president poses a clear and present danger to the people, and especially the minorities, of the United States.


Potential Star
I'm not sure anything will change in the US in regards to gun laws. Senators, Presidents, countless members of the public has been killed indiscriminately by guns. Will that change anything? I somehow don't think so.
Children, now mind you white children, have been shot up and crickets... if that won't do it...


International Member
Trump gets it wrong on mass shootings, but Republicans deserve the blame
Recent tragic events have, critics say, displayed once again the moral collapse of one of America’s two great parties

Presidential addresses in the wake of national tragedies are typically attempts to heal and unite. For critics of Donald Trump, it was more a case of wondering how much more damage he might do.

Standing in the diplomatic reception room at the White House after a weekend of bloodshed in America, the US president declared: “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy.”

But he also went on to rail against “gruesome and grisly video games”, warn of “the perils of the internet and social media” and demand reform of mental health laws. He also veered off teleprompter and named Toledo instead of Dayton as the scene of one of the mass shootings. And missing from the speech was any mention of background checks on gun buyers or any hint of inward reflection or acceptance of responsibility that his own racist rhetoric might be a contributory factor.

Lily Adams, the communications director for the Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, tweeted: “He got the city wrong. He got the causes wrong. He got the fixes wrong. He’s completely incapable of rising to the moment.”

But just as the notion of a lone wolf with a gun is inadequate to explain the attack in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead, so is the notion of a lone wolf in the White House. None of this would be possible without the compliance of Republicans. The tragic events of the past weekend have, critics say, displayed once again the moral collapse of one of America’s two great parties. It is Trump’s all the way, its rebels silenced, retired or dead.

Cowed by his fervent base, a handful of Republicans offered criticism last month when Trump tweeted that four congresswomen of colour should “go back” to their countries. Senator Mitt Romney used Twitter to call the remark “destructive, demeaning, and disunifying” but, when a reporter asked him in person if the comments were racist, he turned on his heels. Others, such as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, amplified the crude message.

The voices of dissent were raised just a little more when, at a campaign rally, Trump supporters chanted “Send her back!” about the Somali-born congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. The president himself condemned the chant, which echoes the anti-immigrant tea party insurgency from the Barack Obama era, only to almost instantly praise his fans as “incredible patriots”.

Then came more Fox News-inspired tweets attacking Elijah Cummings, an African American congressman, and his district, which contains Baltimore, as “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess”. Last week, when it was revealed that Cummings’ home had been burgled, Trump responded: “Too bad!”

Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the UN, responded on Twitter: “This is so unnecessary.” Her post was accompanied by an emoji of a small yellow face with eyes cast heavenward and mouth scowling. And that, in a nutshell, seems to be the state of the anti-Trump resistance in the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, recently described himself as “the grim reaper” when it comes to Democratic-driven legislation from the House of Representatives. That metaphor now seems particularly unfortunate. Hours after the shooting in El Paso, “Team Mitch” tweeted a photo of a mocked up cemetery with headstones that said “RIP” with names including “Socialism”, “Green New Deal”, the former supreme court justice “Merrick Garland” and McConnell’s Kentucky political rival “Amy McGrath”.

On Monday, the Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumerurged McConnell to bring the Senate back from its August recess for a special session to take up a gun background checks bill passed by the House earlier this year. Congressman Tim Ryan, a candidate for president, put it bluntly in an MSNBC interview: “Republicans need to, quite frankly, get their shit together and stop pandering to the NRA [National Rifle Association] because people are getting killed.”

A Pew Research poll last year found that 92% of Americans support background checks for all guns sales. But Republicans, who for years have offered only “thoughts and prayers” instead of tightening gun control laws, seem as unlikely to budge as ever. Political maps show that gun ownership is arguably the best predictor of voting patterns in America: people with guns overwhelmingly support Republicans, while people without back the Democrats.

There is little reason to believe that Republicans will shift their position on either gun safety or capitulation to the Trump personality cult. Among the pleas that fall on deaf ears was this from the Democratic candidate presidential Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at last week’s primary debates.

Speaking directly to the camera, he said: “If you are watching at home, and you are a Republican member of Congress, consider the fact that, when the sun sets on your career, and they are writing your story, of all the good and bad things you did in your life, the thing you will be remembered for is whether, in this moment, with this president, you found the courage to stand up to him or continued to put party over country.”


Super Moderator
“Send Him Back!”: El Paso Gives Trump Some of His Own Medicine

"Send Him Back!": El Paso Gives Trump Some of His Own Medicine

By Trone Dowd Aug 7, 2019

As President Trump headed to El Paso for a “healing” visit to console the border city after Saturday’s mass shooting, residents in a local park were ready for him, calling out a familiar chant.

“Send him back!” dozens gathered at Washington Park chanted Wednesday afternoon, riffing off the chant at Trump's recent campaign rally in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar. The protesters assembled at the park around noon armed with signs and decked in anti-Trump accessories to speak out against the president's racist rhetoric and his refusal to admit any part in enabling the growth of white supremacy in the U.S.

Trump's facing widespread criticism for his racist rhetoric, after the man who killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart Saturday morning posted a hate-filled screed minutes before the massacre, echoing the president's repeated references to immigrants as an "invasion."

But in the majority-Hispanic border city of El Paso, his comments are taken very personally. His history of bad-mouthing Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants has never been received well there. In 2016, Trump lost El Paso in the general election nearly two to one, according to the Washington Post. It was the lowest performance of any major presidential candidate in recent history. Trump once again inflamed locals back in February when he held a campaign rally in El Paso and falsely claimed crime there was on the rise — plus, he failed to reimburse the city the rally’s $470,000 price tag.

Even as word of Trump’s visit made the rounds in El Paso, elected officials and activists in the city were resistant. Women’s March organizer Lyda Ness-Garcia told the Daily Beast that Trump was “not welcome in our community.” Two different petitions on have asked that local hospitals treating victims of Sunday’s shooting turn the president away during his visit. They both had over 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier this week, El Paso elected officials asked Trump to denounce the kind of bigotry that he’s enabled since the inception of his presidential campaign in 2015.

“If the President fails to strongly condemn this racially-motivated terrorist attack and fails to call for an end to the use of violence against minority groups by radicalized white nationalist terrorists during his visit, his continued depiction of immigrants and migrants as a threat to our nation will only place our community at greater risk for racially-motivated attacks," El Paso city councilwoman Claudia Ordaz Perez and County Commissioner Vincent Perez said in a joint statement.

Trump clearly doesn't feel the same. Earlier Wednesday, when asked what part his anti-immigration comments might have played in the shootings, he downplayed his role altogether.

“No, I don’t think my rhetoric has at all,” the president told reporters outside the White House Wednesday morning. “I think my rhetoric brings people together. Our country is doing incredibly well.”

The president’s visit to El Paso was one of two stops he made Wednesday. Before landing in El Paso, Trump paid a visit to Dayton, Ohio, where a gunman killed nine people on Sunday.

Cover: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at El Paso International Airport to meet with people affected by the El Paso mass shooting, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Super Moderator
It is all about him , the hell with every body else



Super Moderator
Trump gives UNREAL message to scared kids amid shootings



Rising Star
Super Moderator
Why do evangelicals oppose gun control?

Illustrated | undefined undefined/iStock, greyj/iStock, DickDuerrstein/iStock

August 11, 2019

For those who profess to follow the Prince of Peace, the support for sensible gun control regulations might seem like a proper Christian response to the ongoing slaughter of innocent Americans. There certainly isn't anything in the Bible that says solutions to mass violence must be limited to "thoughts and prayers."

Yet, in the wake of the deadly attacks in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton that left more than 30 dead, conservative religious leaders instead are doubling down on what they argue is their "God-given right" to bear arms, a message the NRA has been all-too-happy to promote. And there's no sign that the Republican Party's evangelical base is wavering on the matter. In fact, in their steady opposition to gun control, we see the same fears and fantasies that have long motivated the politics of the religious right.

That fantasy begins with the belief that guns aren't the problem. Instead, the nation's gun violence epidemic is a matter of the sinful human heart and the problem of evil, something that stricter gun laws can never solve. "The tragic shootings we've seen in El Paso and Dayton prove the reality of evil," Robert Jeffress, the Dallas megachurch pastor and friend of Donald Trump, tweetedthe morning after the attacks. "Laws are important to help regulate evil but they can never eliminate evil — only Christ can transform a person's heart."

Of course, this laissez-faire ethos has never guided how the religious right chooses to handle other issues like, say, pornography. But by invoking the evilness of humanity, such leaders provide a theological gloss to the "guns don't kill people; people kill people" argument that has long overshadowed our national conversations about gun violence.

If anything, gun violence has provided a useful opportunity to inveigh against the issues the religious right does want to regulate. That tendency has been on full display this past week. On Fox News the day after the El Paso and Dayton attacks, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick argued that video games and social media, not guns, were to blame for mass shootings before he concluded that it was all a natural result of the nation's secularization. "As long as we continue to only ... look at God on a Sunday morning, and kick him out of the town squares and our schools the other six days of the week, what do we expect? What do we expect," Patrick grumbled, repeating the long-held view among many religious conservatives that the Supreme Court's outlawing of school prayer in the 1960s, rather than the weakening of gun laws and the proliferation of firearms in more recent decades, is the root cause of this rampant violence.

Making an even darker — but no less rare — argument, Ohio State Representative Candice Keller pointed to, in a now-deleted Facebook post, "transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates" for causing mass shootings, the violent result, she argued, of "the breakdown of the American family."

It's outlandish, but Keller's comments show how white evangelicals' fears about liberal society's threat to the traditional heterosexual family, aided by a federal government that has legalized abortion rights and marriage equality, have shaped their positions on gun rights. From the religious right's emergence in national politics in the late 1970s, the movement has warned that an overbearing state would take conservative Christians' rights away and permanently alter their families.

This same paranoid fantasy undergirds much of religious conservatives' opposition to gun control. While no personal arsenal is likely to turn back the federal government's forces, many religious conservatives, especially white evangelical men, worry that any limitation on gun rights will infringe on their ability to protect their loved ones. If defending the traditional family has been a largely metaphorical concern for the religious right when it comes to abortion and gay rights, it's very much literal when it comes to guns.

That belief has tangible results and political consequences. As Christianity Today reported in 2017, 41 percent of white evangelicals own a gun — a number far higher than the average American and one that has likely grown since then. Influential evangelical leaders have supported gun ownership and advocated for its growth among fellow believers. After a gunman murdered 26 worshippers at a rural Southern Baptist church in Texas in 2017, Jeffress told Fox News he felt particularly safe preaching at First Baptist Dallas knowing that so many of his congregants brought guns with them to church. In 2015, following the massacre in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people, Jerry Falwell, Jr., exhorted students during a convocation at Liberty University to get concealed weapons permits and carry guns on campus. "I've always thought if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in," Falwell exclaimed to riotous applause.

As far too many mass shootings have made clear, however, armed citizens can do little to stop the slaughter brought about by weapons of war. The gunman in Dayton, for example, was able to fire 41 shots in half a minute, killing nine and hitting 14 more in that short time before police shot him dead.

No doubt, there are heroes in these awful moments, especially law enforcement. But the imagination that "good guys" can prevent such massacres is a delusion with deadly ramifications. Around the world, various countries have shown that tough gun laws can diminish and even prevent gun violence. God help the nation that won't take similar steps for its own citizens.



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Protesters gather outside the NRA headquarters in Virginia. | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo


‘I’m worried’: Allies fear NRA has lost its power in Washington

The NRA might not be able to fight the momentum for change after a pair of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.


The National Rifle Association’s internal turmoil is preventing the once-mighty organization from crafting a plan to blunt the latest gun control push, highlighting the group’s weakness at a crucial political moment.

The disarray at the NRA is alarming allies who say President Donald Trump and Congress appear to have a brief opening to pass legislation while the group is so politically feeble it isn’t able to aggressively lobby lawmakers against proposals or hold them accountable for their votes, according to a half-dozen Republicans familiar with the situation.

“There’s no coordinated effort,” according to a person familiar with the NRA’s outreach on the current gun debate. “The staff feels like there is no plan. There’s not a lot of direction or a plan for how to proceed.”

In recent months, the NRA has battled numerous scandals — from lavish spending by top executives and a broader financial management crisis to a spate of board member resignations and an attempted coup at the group’s annual conference. It lost President Oliver North and top lobbyist Chris Cox, who is close to Trump. And Ackerman McQueen, its ad agency for nearly four decades, quit.

“There are some very significant problems with the NRA right now, financially, structurally, strategically, that need to be addressed,” said Rob Pincus, a lifetime NRA member who’s involved in Save the Second, whose membership includes other NRA members, prospective members and former members. The group is focused on rebuilding the NRA by promoting institutional change at the organization.

As the NRA remains distracted by its internal woes, Trump and Congress are seriously considering changes— including strengthened background checks during gun sales and red flag laws — after a pair of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 people dead, including the perpetrator in Ohio.

Multiple Republican Senate offices said they haven’t heard from the NRA, which touts 5 million members. The NRA has been slow to respond to the litany of scandals. And Trump has told aides the NRA is vulnerable and on the verge of being “bankrupt,” according to a Republican close to the White House.

The NRA has a net negative rating for the first time, according to a FOX News poll released this week. Only 42 percent of voters view the NRA favorably, compared with 49 percent in 2018; 47 percent viewed the group unfavorably.

Even those who support the NRA said they are concerned. Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, which opposes new gun restrictions, said his group contacted the NRA asking about its plan of attack on possible legislation. “What we got back was gobbledygook,” he said. “I’m worried.”

Hammond said his group will likely ask its 2 million members not to contact lawmakers to oppose legislation but to contact the NRA to make sure it acts. “I think the first thing we have to do is to make sure the entire movement on guns is on the same page,” he said.

In a statement to POLITICO, the NRA pointed to a string of recent victories, including preventing any gun control proposals from passing during a special legislative session in Virginia this summer after the NRA’s new political team was in place.

“This is the desperate narrative of the NRA’s political enemies and the wishful thinking of the community of those opposed to gun rights,” said Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's managing director of public affairs. “The truth is, the NRA’s financial condition is strong and the organization enjoys unprecedented grassroots support. That’s why our adversaries are spending so much time and energy talking about the NRA — we’re the immovable object in their path.”

White House officials have been meeting with congressional aides and expect to present some proposals — both legislative and executive — to Trump next week after he returns from his extended vacation at his resort in New Jersey.

Trump has expressed interest in legislation to expand background checks for commercial gun sales, introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and to allow authorities to seize arms from people deemed an imminent threat to themselves or others, proposed by his ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Before he ran for president, Trump supported several Democratic-backed gun proposals, including a ban on assault weapons and a waiting period for firearm purchases. But Trump vowed to pay back gun owners for their support after he received an endorsement from the NRA, which spent $30 million to help his 2016 campaign and to blast his Democratic opponent in TV ads.




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Politico post: 20259014 said:
Allies fear NRA has lost its power in Washington

Several gun advocate groups are vying to unseat the National Rifle Association. | Michael Conroy/AP Photo


Rival gun groups look to fill the NRA's void
The organizations hope to overtake the NRA by capitalizing on its troubles.


08/18/2019 08:13 AM EDT

As the National Rifle Association flounders, some upstart pro-gun groups see an opportunity to become the nation’s most influential gun rights organization.

The groups say they’re attracting new members and raking in donations. They’re hiring additional staff to work on grassroots advocacy and lobbying. One is going so far as to discuss at a conference in September how to fill the void left by the NRA, which has struggled to address internal squabbles and accusations of financial mismanagement.

"We don’t use Gucci loafered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. in $200,000 wardrobes to grease the palms of weak kneed politicians to vote right,” said Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights. | David Zalubowski/AP Photo

The decline “all began when the NRA came in with a weak response to Parkland,” said Michael Hammond, legislative counsel of Gun Owners of America, referencing the mass shooting at a Florida high school last year that left 17 people dead. “I think that the recent financial troubles people would forgive. But I don’t think they forgive what they view as a weakness on Second Amendment issues.”




International Member

A woman leans over to write a message on a cross at a memorial on Aug. 6, 2019, at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas. Photo: John Locher/AP

From El Paso to the War on Terror, the Dangers of Historical Amnesia

When Monica Muñoz Martínez thinks about El Paso, Texas, she also thinks about Ciudad Juárez. It’s the same process that happens when she thinks about Brownsville and Matamoros, or Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras. They are clusters of human civilization that spill into one another, sharing space across a border drawn not that long ago, which has come to mean a lot in recent years. A historian, professor, and a native Texan, Muñoz Martínez knows the story well. She is the co-founder of Refusing to Forget, a collective project aimed at educating the public on a largely lost but critically important facet of U.S. history: the systematic lynching and murder of Mexicans by white border vigilantes and law enforcement a century ago.

The pretexts for the atrocities varied, Muñoz Martínez explained in an interview this week, but the underlying motives for the Texas terror campaign were bound up in white settlers’ longing for power and control over a population they deemed inferior. The killers sought to break apart and divide communities like El Paso through violence, to disenfranchise Mexican American voters, and to relegate them to manual labor. “These communities were intertwined,” Muñoz Martínez said. “But the kind of anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican rhetoric that was circulating a hundred years ago did a lot of work to displace that kind of life, to create a division between these kinds of communities.”

A century later, the forces of violent displacement and division are again at work in the borderlands. On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man named Patrick Crusius drove hundreds of miles across Texas to a Walmart in El Paso, just five miles from the border. Crusius staked out the store, law enforcement officials said, before launching his attack. Inside, the aisles were filled with families doing back-to-school shopping. At 10:39 a.m., Crusius returned with an AK-47 and began gunning them down.

Dr. Stephen Flaherty, director of trauma at Del Sol Medical Center, would later liken the injuries he saw last weekend to wounds he treated as a medical surgeon in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. Details about the 22 people who died in the attack, and the lives they lived, continue to emerge. So far, the youngest reported victim was 15-year-old Javier Amir Rodriguez. The oldest was 90-year-old Luis Juarez. Two dozen others were wounded, including two-month-old Paul Gilbert Anchondo, whose parents, Andre and Jordan, were killed shielding their baby boy from the gunfire. At least eight Mexican nationals lost their lives. “We consider this an act of terrorism against the Mexican-American community and the Mexicans living in the United States,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign secretary, said in a statement.
When historians look back on the Trump years, El Paso will stand out. It was the place where the government first tested its family separation policy and, more recently, it’s been the focus of outrage and horror directed at ghastly conditions experienced by immigrants, including children, held in federal detention facilities. But El Paso is more than that. In the face of the Trump administration’s border crackdown, the city has provided a model of compassion and empathy toward migrants. That those features made it a target for a white supremacist attack, one of the deadliest massacres of Mexicans the state has ever seen, is particularly devastating, Muñoz Martínez said.

“People in El Paso have had to do the work of trying to pick up the pieces of the violence of these policies,” she said. “When hundreds of people are released overnight at bus stations in places like El Paso and places like McAllen, it’s the local residents that mobilize to provide support for recent arrivals, and for refugees, and for children.”

“They not only have carried the burden of trying to provide humanitarian aid,” she said. “But now they’re also being targeted with violence.”

Vehicles are seen in an intake area under the Metropolitan Detention Center prison in Los Angeles as mass arrests by federal immigration authorities were slated to begin across the nation on July 14, 2019.
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

In the wake of Saturday’s attack, there were calls to reorder and expand the government’s long-running war on terrorism. Six former National Security Council counterterrorism directors added their names to a statement calling on the Trump administration to approach domestic terrorism with the same urgency, resources, and strategic vision as the post-9/11 effort to combat international terrorism. Others were more direct in their demands, such as the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who wrote in a now-deleted tweet, “So can we please start a war on terrorism at home now?”

Well-intentioned though they might be, a dangerous bit of historical amnesia undermines demands to replicate the war on terror on U.S. soil. For one, there’s been a war on terror at home for nearly two decades. It’s been felt in Muslim communities infiltrated by undercover informants, and it’s been expressed in the militarization of police departments across the country. Second, the existing war on terror shattered entire regions of the world, fueled the growth of the very groups it sought to eliminate, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, created black sites where Americans engaged in torture, resulted in the creation of a perpetually troubled constellation of agencies known as the Department of Homeland Security, spawned secret watchlists used overwhelmingly against Muslims, and paved the way for the president of the United States to execute an American citizen without trial.

“The last 18 years have shown us that existing terrorism authorities have been and are used to target communities of color and other marginalized communities,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in an interview. “They’ve resulted in bias-based, over-broad suspicion that infringes on the fundamental rights of minority communities, who have asked for safeguards and reform without getting them. Policymakers must learn the right lessons from ongoing abuses and not entrench or enhance authorities that have resulted in the violation of First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights of communities they want to protect.”

The impulse to call for an expanded war on terror in response to mass killings is an extension of the country’s entrenched relationship to guns, says Patrick Blanchfield, an associate faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and author of the forthcoming book “Gunpower: The System of American Violence.” “People really like to think that there will always be a good person with a gun,” Blanchfield explained. “That, in essence, is the national security framework.” It’s a process of self-soothing, he said, as expressed by a population that feels, on an individual level, helpless in the face of ongoing gun violence: “Because no one individually feels that they can do something, then it must be the authorities who have to do everything.”

“There’s something so profoundly bleak,” he added, “about the idea of using the terror frame and the war on terror, as that is still going on and is clearly a failure and disaster, as a positive template for dealing with this shit. It’s madness.”
The problem is not just rhetorical. When current and former federal law enforcement officials are asked about their approach to policing the kind of violence seen in El Paso, they sometimes suggest that they lack the authorities to address the problem, often pointing to the absence of a federal law against domestic terrorism. On Tuesday, the FBI Agents Association called on Congress to change that, saying that doing so, “would ensure that FBI Agents and prosecutors have the best tools to fight domestic terrorism.”

As The Intercept reported in an investigative series published earlier this year, the issue, historically, has not been a problem of the FBI lacking in tools but instead declining to use the tools they already have in cases of far-right violence.
“It’s this sort of semantic game that they’re playing that we don’t have a domestic terrorism law,” said Michael German, a former FBI agent who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Yes, we do. We have 52 of them.” The author of a forthcoming book, “Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide

How the New FBI Damages Democracy,” German infiltrated white power groups during his days in the bureau. “When I was undercover in the 1990s, working these cases, nobody suggested we didn’t have laws,” he said. Since September 11, German explained, counterterrorism has been the FBI’s top priority, and yet “they don’t know how many people are killed by white supremacists each year. They don’t even bother to count them, much less how many violent white supremacist organizations are active in the United States.”
What the FBI lacks, German maintains, is the will to target and investigate the far-right with anywhere near the zeal it has historically reserved for Muslims, leftist dissidents, and environmental activists. If the FBI made a genuine effort to apply the ample authorities it already has to investigate and prosecute domestic terrorism crimes (rather than attempt to predict them), they could confront a truly violent and dangerous movement, German said.

“Unfortunately, I think the war on terror itself was a failed methodology that has driven a lot of the fear and anger and xenophobia that is crystalized in white nationalism,” he reflected. “What you saw was the growth of this anti-Muslim lobby that eventually merged with the white supremacist movement, which was focused on the border already. … It’s not surprising that when a right-wing populist comes along that he can stoke them up in way that is quite dangerous.”
What the former FBI agent today finds “far more scary” is seeing the white power movement’s goals and ideology reflected in government policies.
“All you have to do is look down on the southern border now to see it,” German said, explaining that a government built around an ideology of racist power, one seeking to change the country’s demographics by force, can do more harm to more people than the white power movement could ever dream to. “It’s a very different kind of a problem.”

The Loyal White Knights, a KKK group from North Carolina, protests the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va., on July 8, 2017.
Photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” reads a four-page manifesto Crusius is believed to have posted online shortly before his attack in El Paso.

The idea is not new. The president himself has repeatedly used the word “invasion” to rally his base around policies aimed at curtailing nonwhite immigration, both legal and illegal. Fox News has done the same.
In her 2018 book, “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” historian Kathleen Belew links the rise in white power paramilitary violence in the decades preceding the Oklahoma City bombing to the Vietnam War, arguing that foreign militarism played a more significant role in driving domestic terror campaigns than any other factor. In tracing this history, Belew returns to the border repeatedly, telling the story of groups like the Klan Border Watch and the CIA-linked Civilian Materiel Assistance, or CMA, who saw themselves as a bulwark against immigrants and communists making their way north.

While Belew’s period of study ended before the September 11 attacks, the white power movement’s relationship to the border did not. In the mid-2000s, with the Iraq War spinning wildly out of control and the economy collapsing, vigilante groups began cropping up along the U.S.-Mexico divide. They were driven by the emerging, post-9/11 Islamophobia lobby German referred to, as well as conspiracy theories claiming that terrorists were sneaking across the border and Mexicans were plotting to regain control of the southwest through a mass migration campaign known as “reconquista.”

Daniel Denvir, a fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute and author of the forthcoming book “All-American Nativism: How the Bipartisan War on Immigrants Explains Politics as We Know It,” argues that reconquista fearmongering was the notion at the core of Trump’s announcement that he was running for president — claiming that the people Mexico was “sending” were dangerous criminals — and has undergirded his approach to immigration ever since.
In building his administration, Trump surrounded himself with the most hard-right figures in American politics. Steve Bannon, the Breitbart executive who sources his views on migration to a racist novel beloved by white nationalists, became a senior White House adviser. Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama senator devoted to returning American law and immigration enforcement to a pre-civil rights era, was made attorney general. Sessions’ former aide, Stephen Miller, a college associate of the ethnonationalist Richard Spencer, became the powerful architect of the White House’s most aggressive immigration policies — where he remains to this day. Throughout the government, former employees of a handful of think tanks that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as Washington’s “nativist lobby” took up key immigration posts.

This collective has worked for more than two years to combat the “invasion” on the southern border, pushing forward the most aggressive anti-immigration agenda in recent history. But it’s not just the far-right talking in terms of migrant invasions and immigrant criminals. While national attention has rightfully focused on the link between Trump’s words and the tragedy in El Paso, Denvir said, “what’s also very important and seldom mentioned is how mainstream, bipartisan politicians have for decades normalized this rhetoric.”
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, German worries about the possibility of dark days ahead. “If you look through history, levels of political violence tend to rise around election time,” he said.
Muñoz Martínez is similarly concerned.

A handful of whistleblowers, a congressional investigation, and efforts to pass anti-lynching legislation helped to stem the bloodshed on the border a century ago, but the fix was incomplete. “People weren’t prosecuted,” Muñoz Martínez said. The lack of accountability and closure, she argued, “shaped how people think about Mexicans as being perpetually foreign, as being undeserving of rights.” These ideas were regurgitated by lawmakers, historians, and members of the press in the decades that followed, she went on to say, laying the foundation for the “draconian policies” and “horrific forms of violence” the nation is now witnessing.
“I am deeply troubled that this won’t be curbed soon,” she said.


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Power Up: Most Americans support background checks on guns. Will Trump act?

Washington Post
By Jacqueline Alemany
September 9 at 6:04 AM

A 'Ban Assault Weapons Now' sign is displayed near a voter registration table at a protest against President Trump's visit following a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead in El Paso, Texas. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Policies
Americans across party lines overwhelmingly support expanded background checks for gun buyers and allowing law enforcement to temporarily seize weapons from troubled individuals, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll out this morning. See the full results here.

  • Background checks: Eight-nine percent of Americans support expanding federal background checks to cover private sales and gun-show transactions.
  • Red flag laws: Eight-six percent support implementing “red-flag” laws to deny guns to those deemed a hazard to themselves or others.
  • Key: “Both measures are supported by at least 8 in 10 Republicans, white evangelical Christians, members of gun-owning households and other traditionally conservative groups,” our colleagues Mike DeBonis and Emily Guskin report.
  • There's less support for a ban on sales of military-style assault weapons but a majority nevertheless: 56 percent of respondents support a federal ban on assault weapons, along with a mandatory federal buyback program.
As Congress comes back to Washington under renewed pressure to act after 53 people were killed in mass shootings in August alone, more Americans say they trust congressional Democrats over Trump to handle the nation’s gun laws:

  • By a 51 to 36 percent margin, respondents trust congressional Democrats over Trump on the issue — with independents siding with Democrats by a 17-point margin.
  • It's “a divide that could have political ramifications for the 2020 presidential and congressional elections,” per Mike and Emily.
The overwhelming public support for gun control belies Trump's inconsistency and Congress's inaction on the issue:

• On the Hill: Congress is sitting on two bills the House passed this past February to expand background checks that Trump previously vowed to veto.​
  • Trump himself has wavered on tougher gun laws: He previously capitulated to NRA pressure after the Parkland, Fla., shooting and many remain pessimistic that he'll follow through on endorsing extensive background checks, despite some public support for them.
  • It's in Trump's court: “If the president is in favor … and I know that if we pass it’ll become law … I’ll put it on the floor.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Sept. 3.
  • More: "The president needs to step up here and set some guidelines for what he would do," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said yesterday on "Meet the Press. "I'm afraid what's going happen here is what always happens is we take this silly "if we don't get everything, we won't do anything" and fail to do the things we could do with more early mental health help ... "
THE GENDER DIVIDE: There's another political pitfall Trump risks in the face of inaction on the gun issue going into 2020. The Post-ABC poll finds a stark gender divide on support for tougher gun laws.

  • “More than two-thirds of women say they are worried about a mass shooting in their community, compared to just over half of men. And women are 20 points more likely to be confident than men that passing stricter gun control laws would reduce mass shootings,” per Mike and Emily.
  • Distrust for Trump: By a margin of 59 to 28 percent, women are more likely to trust Democrats in Congress over Trump to handle the issue.
  • “Democrats understand that gun safety is America’s new kitchen-table political issue, and this is something that you would not have seen just a few years ago,” Peter Ambler, executive director of the gun-safety advocacy group Giffords told Mike and Emily.
  • Even some moderate Democrats who flipped Republican districts have joined calls for tighter laws: “I don’t really see any reason for ordinary citizens to own weapons of war,” Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) said of her support for reimposing an assault weapons ban.
LOOKING AHEAD: “The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Sept. 25 on [a version of the assault weapons ban] — a significant step for Democratic leaders who have long treated an assault weapons ban as too politically risky,” per Mike and Emily.

  • Judiciary is also expected “to advance a proposed federal ban on high-capacity magazines and a third bill that would bar people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from being eligible to purchase firearms — measures that go beyond the party’s previous comfort zone.”

The House and Senate return to the Capitol on Sept. 9. The Post's Mike DeBonis breaks down some of the issues on Congress's plate this fall. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

On The Hill
What can Congress actually get done before the year ends?
No, seriously. To find out, we asked our colleague Mike DeBonis.

In the order of likelihood of passage, here's what Mike think will happen. You should also check out Mike and Rachael Bade's preview.

  • “Anti-robocall legislation: The House and Senate have passed separate bills this year aimed at tackling the robocall epidemic, and the key players in both parties have said they want to move quickly this fall to reconcile differences and pass something into law. Virtually every member of Congress would love to do something to end this constituent-irritating scourge.
  • “Budget deals: The big budget deal that got done in July was a big deal mainly because it smoothed the path for passing actual spending bills — thus avoiding the prospect of a long 'continuing resolution' that would keep this year's spending levels in place for 2020. Now Congress (mainly the Senate, which hasn't yet put a single 2020 appropriations bill on the floor) has to get off their duffs and actually write the bills. Expect a short-term CR ahead of the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, setting up passage of bills in the weeks before Christmas.
  • New NAFTA “It's looking like a long shot at this point given the lack of visible progress from the Trump administration in meeting House Democratic demands, but there is definitely a constituency in both parties to get this done before we enter the election year.”



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Super Moderator
Colt suspends production of AR-15 for civilians

Colt announced Thursday that it is suspending production of its popular AR-15 rifle for its civilian market. The gunmaker will continue to produce the weapons for its military and law enforcement markets. Company CEO Dennis Veilleux in a statement sought to reassure customers that Colt is still "committed to the consumer market" and the Second Amendment, explaining that demand for Colt rifles had dwindled; American Military News writes that could be due to Colt's relatively high prices for popular rifle models. The suspension could be temporary, as Veilleux said Colt will "adjust as market dynamics change" and Colt executive Paul Spitale said"it's not forever." The Associated Press writes AR-15s have been at the center of a national gun control debate because of their use in mass shootings.

Source: The Associated Press, Colt
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International Member

NRA Ramped Up Facebook Advertising Immediately After Mass Shootings in El Paso and Dayton

The National Rifle Association nearly doubled its spending on pro-gun Facebook propaganda for three weeks after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, according to analytics provided to The Intercept.

The social advertising surge began just one day after the El Paso massacre, which left 22 people dead, and on the same day as the Dayton killings, which took 10 lives. At one point in this period, the NRA was spending $29,000 on a day’s worth of Facebook ads, nearly four times as much as before the shootings, according to Pathmatics, a company that monitors online advertising spending.

The ad spending was conducted through the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, which, in the four weeks before the shootings, spent on average just over $9,400 a day on Facebook ads. Then came the El Paso shooting on August 3 and Dayton on August 4. Between August 4 and August 25, the institute spent around $360,000 on Facebook — roughly $16,500 per day — reaching a peak of over $29,000 on August 18, according to Pathmatics, which said that it gathered this data from a panel of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who opt in to automatically share information about the ads they’re shown.

Altogether, the ads bought in this period were viewed tens of millions of times, the analytics firm estimated.

Those figures don’t even include ads originating from the main NRA Facebook page, which, according to Facebook’s ad transparency portal, typically run around a few thousand dollars per day.

“The NRA’s ad spend has spiked significantly, which isn’t surprising for an organization in the midst of a reputation battle and crisis,” Pathmatics CEO Gabe Gottlieb told The Intercept.

The NRA did not respond to a request for comment.

At a time when the role of guns in society was at a national nadir, the NRA’s ads were run-of-the-mill pro-gun messaging, including the perennial characterization of American gun ownership as something under attack and threatened, according to images and videos of the material provided by Pathmatics. “Show that you won’t be intimidated by the toxic anti-gun hatred and threats,” reads one ad, which began running just three days after El Paso. “Punishing law-abiding gun owners is NOT the answer!” read another frequently used ad image.

The ad surge after El Paso and Dayton came more quickly than a similar uptick after last year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which was followed by a brief NRA advertising hiatus. But then, as now, the NRA eventually ramped up its Facebook spending. According to a 2018 Chicago Tribune report, also based on Pathmatics data, the NRA’s average daily spending on Facebook ads quadrupled for 24 days after Parkland, to $47,300.


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Super Moderator
Here’s a List of School Shootings in 2019

The attack at Saugus High School in California on Thursday
is at least the 11th this year on a high school or college campus, which have resulted in at least six deaths.

Law enforcement and emergency personnel responded to a shooting on Thursday at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif.

David Walter Banks for
The New York Times
Julie Bosman
By Julie Bosman
Nov. 14, 2019

Across the country this year, according to media reports, at least 11 shootings have taken place on American high school or college campuses, including the attack in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Thursday. And school officials and law enforcement agencies have responded to dozens more credible threats of attacks.

The shootings have occurred inside gyms and classrooms, in parking lots and hallways, and in the crowd at a high school football game.

The New York Times defined a school shooting as one that occurred on campus, in which students were shot, or the suspected perpetrator was a student, or both.

November 14, 2019
Student Kills 2 at California High School

A suspect was in custody after a shooting at a high school north of Los Angeles, the police said. They said the suspect was a student and he carried out the attack on his birthday.

Jan. 31: Memphis
A 14-year-old at Manassas High School was shot with a pellet gun at school, according to news reports. The student’s injury was not life-threatening.

Feb. 8: Baltimore
A man entered Frederick Douglass High School and shot and injured a staff member, prompting students to hide in their classrooms at the sound of gunfire. The police said they believed that the gunman had targeted the victim, a 56-year-old special education assistant.

Feb. 12: Kansas City, Mo.
A teenage girl was shot and killed outside a high school after an argument at an evening basketball game. The police said that the assailant and girl knew each other, and that it appeared the suspect had waited in the parking lot for her.

Feb. 26: Montgomery, Ala.
A 17-year-old student at Robert E. Lee High School was shot and wounded in an arm by another student, the police said. The school was placed on lockdown and the assailant was arrested.

According to news media reports, it was the second time in two years that a student had taken a gun to that school and shot another student.

Apr. 1: Prescott, Ark.
A 14-year-old eighth grader at Prescott High School was shot and injured by a classmate, who the authorities said took a concealed handgun to school.

Apr. 30: Charlotte, N.C.
SCHOOL SAFETY Some students have learned to fight back in school shootings.
Two students were killed and four others were wounded after a gunman opened fire in an anthropology class at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. One of the students who was killed, Riley Howell, was credited with charging and body-slamming the gunman, stopping the massacre.

May 7: Highlands Ranch, Colo.
One student was killed and eight others were injured in an attack on an English class at STEM School Highlands Ranch. Two students were apprehended and charged with the shooting, which took place near Columbine High School, the site of a massacre 20 years ago.

May 7: Savannah, Ga.
A Savannah State University student was shot and wounded in a residential hall on campus. The authorities said a man who was not a student was arrested in the shooting.

Aug. 30: Mobile, Ala.
Nine people between the ages of 15 and 18 were wounded when gunfire broke out at a high school football game. The police arrested and charged a 17-year-old student in the shooting, and later sought a second assailant when they found evidence of shots fired by a different gun.

Oct. 24: Santa Rosa, Calif.
A 17-year-old gunman shot a schoolmate twice just outside Ridgway High School and then walked calmly in to class, where his teacher did not realize anything was amiss, the police said. The victim survived.

Julie Bosman is a national correspondent who covers the Midwest.


Rising Star
Super Moderator
The Facts on Mental Illness and Mass Shootings

By Jessica McDonald
Posted on October 18, 2019

Q: Do people with serious mental health disorders pose a greater risk of becoming mass shooters?
A: People with mental illnesses are somewhat more likely to be violent than those without a diagnosis. But a majority are never violent, and very little is known specifically about mass murder.

Subject: Mental illness and mass shootings​
Is Trump correct that people with mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar [disorder], [are] a greater threat to society?


Following two mass shootings over a single weekend in August, President Donald Trump simplified a complex phenomenon when he deflected calls for increased gun control by laying the blame on mental health. In a televised address the following Monday, he stated, “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

The two deadly attacks that precipitated the president’s comments included the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people, and the Aug. 4 shooting outside a bar in downtown Dayton, Ohio, that killed nine.

Later, the president pointed to mental illness when discussing guns, saying on Aug. 9 that “it’s a big mental illness problem” and “a sick mind pulls a trigger.” On Aug. 15, before leaving for a rally in New Hampshire, Trump said, “These people are mentally ill and nobody talks about that,” suggesting that one solution might be to bring back broad institutionalization of those with mental health disorders. “I think we have to start building institutions again,” he said. And on Aug. 18, when asked about gun control, he said, “I don’t want people to forget that this is a mental health problem.”

Trump returned to the subject on Sept. 1 following yet another mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, that claimed seven lives and injured 22. “It’s a mental problem,” he said.

Available evidence suggests that people with mental health disorders are more likely than those without such conditions to commit acts of mass violence. But many mass shooters do not have mental illnesses, and having a mental illness isn’t predictive of who will perpetrate a mass shooting. The factors that drive someone to commit an act of mass violence are complex, and while they sometimes may include mental illness, it has not been shown that mental illness is the primary cause of mass murder.

Furthermore, while serious mental illness is associated with a somewhat higher risk of being violent, most people with those illnesses are not violent, and most violence is committed by people who do not have psychiatric conditions.

Mental Illness and Violence
Relatively little is known about mental illness and mass shootings or other acts of mass violence because their infrequency makes them hard to study in a rigorous way.

“While they happen far too often, mass shootings are statistically rare events,” said Beth McGinty, a mental health and substance abuse policy researcher at Johns Hopkins University, in a phone interview. “When you don’t have many shootings, it’s very difficult to disentangle patterns in what the individual cause of those shootings are.”

This has meant that most of the research on the relationship between mental illness and violence against others, or what’s called interpersonal violence, is for violence in general.

One of the first — and still most prominent — studies to investigate the link used responses from people in three American cities in the early 1980s to the National Institute of Mental Health’s Epidemiological Catchment Area survey. The ECA survey asked about violent behavior and also included information on whether a person met the criteria for one or more diagnosable mental illnesses, as defined by the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Violent behavior included things such as hitting a spouse, spanking a child hard enough to leave a bruise or starting a fight.

The initial study, which was published in 1990, followed by second analysis in 1994, revealed that most people with mental illnesses are not violent, but those with psychiatric disorders are more likely to be violent than those without them. Over a year, about 12% of all people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression were violent, compared with 2% of people without a mental disorder or a substance abuse problem. The rate of violence fell to 7% when only considering people with those mental illnesses who did not have a substance abuse problem. Notably, risk factors for violence included young age, male sex, low socioeconomic status, and drug or alcohol abuse — factors that were predictive regardless of whether someone had a mental illness. The results suggest that mental illness alone approximately triples the risk of some form of violence, although the absolute risk remains low.

The study also calculated the attributable risk, or how much of all violence was due to having a mental condition, and found that just 3% to 5% of all violence was due to mental illness alone. Or, as the National Council For Behavioral Health explained in its August 2019 report, “This means that if we could eliminate the elevated risk of violence that is attributable directly to having schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression, the overall rate of violence in society would go down by only 4 percent; 96 percent of violent events would still occur, because they are caused by factors other than mental illness.”

A 2015 review article co-authored by Jeffrey Swanson, the lead researcher of the ECA study, along with McGinty and others explained that the study “debunked claims on both extremes of the debate about violence and mental illness — from the stigma-busting advocates on the one side who insisted that mental illness had no intrinsic significant connection to violence at all, and from the fearmongers on the other side who asserted that the mentally ill are a dangerous menace and should be locked up; both views were wrong.”

Subsequent research has more or less confirmed the results of the ECA survey, with multiple studies finding that while mental illness does raise the risk of violence, only a small subset of people who are mentally ill are violent and most violence is committed by people who do not have psychiatric conditions.

Mental Illness and Mass Murder
Unfortunately, the type of detailed epidemiological information that the ECA study and others provide about mental health disorders and general violence isn’t available in cases of mass murder. “[G]iven how infrequent an occurrence it is,” said Columbia University forensic psychiatrist Paul Appelbaum in an email, “I am not aware of any serious studies looking at the contribution of mental illness.”

Instead, most of the data about mental illness and mass shootings remain anecdotal or based on statistics assembled from various reports, some of which rely on secondhand information.

For instance, two Secret Service reports for 2017 and 2018 found that around two-thirds of the suspects in public mass attacks — events in which three or more people were harmed in a public space — experienced mental health symptoms prior to those events. An FBI survey of 63 active shooter events in the U.S. between 2000-2013 found 25% of suspects had been diagnosed with a mental illness, and 62% had a mental health “stressor,” or what the agency identified as a sign that the shooter “appeared to be struggling with (most commonly) depression, anxiety, paranoia, etc. in their daily life in the year before the attack.”

Other researchers have attempted to document how frequently people with mental health disorders have been involved in attacks over a longer history.

Grant Duwe, a criminologist at Baylor University, calculated that of 185 public mass shootings in America between 1900 and 2017, at least 59% were carried out by people with symptoms of a serious mental illness or by those who had been previously diagnosed with a mental disorder. In contrast, using a stricter standard of psychosis, a database of U.S. mass murder events between 1913 and 2015 put together by Columbia University clinical psychiatrist Michael Stone revealed that only about 20% of perpetrators had a mental illness.

Researchers say these types of studies, which are suggestive but also at times contradictory, should be treated with caution.

“These reports tell us less than they appear to tell us, although they are consistent with the possibility that perpetrators with mental illness may be overrepresented,” said Appelbaum. He said that in many cases, the mental illness classification was based on media reports or police records, making it hard to know if those determinations were accurate.

“Deducing the presence of paranoia or other delusional thinking from a newspaper report, particularly in a situation where there’s a presumption that ‘he must be crazy,’ seems pretty dicey to me,” he said.

McGinty, too, is skeptical. “I view them as invalid and very problematic in terms of the message they send,” she said of the descriptive studies. She also pointed out that accurate data on mental health symptoms in many cases is impossible to obtain because many perpetrators kill themselves. That means many of the assessments rely on talking to family members or coworkers after the fact, and there can be “huge amounts of measurement error,” she said. There can be after-the-fact rationalization at play as well.

Secondly, she explained that the studies can confuse correlation with causation. In other words, if someone is found to have had symptoms of mental illness, it’s often assumed that mental illness caused the mass shooting. Mental illness might have contributed, or it might not have had anything to do with it — in many cases, McGinty said, people with mental illnesses also have other factors that are more strongly associated with violence, such as anger issues, substance abuse or a history of traumatic events. It’s a “complicated epidemiological relationship,” McGinty said.

Some of these caveats are noted by the reports themselves. The FBI report, for example, is careful to explain that a mental health “stressor” is not the same as having a diagnosis of a mental illness. The report notes that many Americans struggle with mental illness at some point in their lifetimes — 46% according to one study — and cautions against coming to the simplistic conclusion that mental illness was the motivating cause of a shooting. “[A]bsent specific evidence, careful consideration should be given to social and contextual factors that might interact with any mental health issue before concluding that an active shooting was ‘caused’ by mental illness,” the report says, before adding, “declarations that all active shooters must simply be mentally ill are misleading and unhelpful.”

It’s clear from the governmental reports, too, that even taking the data about mental health at face value still leaves many aspects of the mass attacks unexplained. The Secret Service reported that around half of mass attacks in 2017 and 2018 appeared to be motivated by grievances, or perceived wrongs, related to home, work or another personal sphere. Grievances were more commonly cited than any other motive, including mental illness — which the agency said was a motivating factor in 14% of incidents in 2017 and 19% in 2018. Other motivating factors included ideology, such as white supremacy and anti-Semitism, and an attempt to achieve fame.

“There are countless factors that pull the trigger,” said Vanderbilt psychiatrist and gun violence researcher Jonathan Metzl. Even if mental illness is involved, so too may be past history, racism and misogyny, among others. “To isolate it to just one thing is factually incorrect,” he said.

“Mass murders occur for many reasons and often multiple reasons: jealousy, extreme anger, political beliefs, revenge, and others, mediated by the effects of alcohol and drugs, poor impulse inhibition, social messaging, and other factors,” added Appelbaum. “Mental illness will sometimes be in that mix, but even when it is, experts will have difficulty assessing the role that it played.”

Mental Illness vs. Mental Wellness
Despite the evidence that indicates mental illness is not the primary driver of mass shootings, the notion that mental illness must have been at play in these types of events remains common. After all, how could someone who is mentally healthy have perpetrated such a horrific crime?

But experts say that kind of logic is flawed. “No one who commits a violent act is mentally well,” said McGinty. But that doesn’t mean that the person meets the criteria for a mental illness or that treatment would have eliminated that person’s violent act. “We have to draw a distinction between mental illness — diagnosable and treatable mental illness — and mental wellness,” she said.

In McGinty’s view, this doesn’t rule out the need for potential interventions such as anger management classes for disturbed individuals without mental illnesses, but she considers that outside the purview of the medical mental health system. “Improving the mental health system is a really important goal,” she said, but “it’s not going to make a significant dent in mass shootings or interpersonal violence writ large.”

When it comes to policies to prevent gun violence, many experts recommend focusing on concerning behavior rather than a diagnosis per se. Such strategies are likely to be more effective than those that exclusively target people with mental illnesses, and they also avoid stigmatizing large numbers of people. By itself, having a mental health disorder is a poor predictor of violence, and even trained psychiatrists barely do better than a coin toss at predicting who among those with such illnesses will become violent.

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2018, 47.6 million, or 19.1%, of U.S. adults had some kind of mental illness over the past year. Even the smaller portion of those who qualify as having a serious mental illness — often schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder — is still large, applying to 11.4 million people, or 4.6% of the population.

“The very strongest research evidence shows the best predictor of a person being violent in the future is prior violent behavior,” McGinty said. One evidence-based policy, she says, is an extreme risk protection order, or a so-called “red flag” law, which allows a judge to temporarily remove a person’s firearms if he or she exhibits dangerous behavior.

Appelbaum also backed policies that limit access to guns. “People ultimately pull the trigger, and people are complicated composites of a large number of cognitions, emotions, and motivations,” he said. “But it’s important to remember that if there’s no trigger to pull, it’s much less likely that large numbers of people will die.”

Remarks by President Trump on the Mass Shootings in Texas and Ohio.” White House. 5 Aug 2019.
Gaytan, Samuel, et. al. “El Paso shooting updates: 22 killed in El Paso Walmart shooting near Cielo Vista Mall.” El Paso Times. 3 Aug 2019, updated 5 Aug 2019.
De La Garza, Alejandro and Michael Zennie. “Dayton Shooting Lasted Just 32 Seconds and Left 9 Dead. Here’s the Latest on the Tragedy.” Time. 4 Aug 2019, updated 9 Aug 2019.
Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure.” White House. 9 Aug 2019.
Remarks by President Trump Before Air Force Once Departure, Morristown, NJ.” White House. 15 Aug 2019.
Remarks by President Trump Before Air Force One Departure.” White House. 18 Aug 2019.
Remarks by President Trump After Marine One Arrival.” White House. 1 Sep 2019.
Aubrey, Allison. “Texas Gunman Who Killed 7 Had Been Fired Just Hours Before Shootings.” NPR. 2 Sep 2019.
McGinty, Emma Beth. Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Interview with 9 Aug 2019.
Swanson, Jeffrey W. et. al. “Violence and psychiatric disorder in the community: Evidence from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area surveys.” Hospital & Community Psychiatry, 41(7), 761-770, 1990.
Swanson, Jeffrey W. “Mental Disorder, Substance Abuse, and Community Violence: An Epidemiological Approach.” Book chapter in Violence and Mental Disorder: Developments in Risk Assessment, John Monahan and Henry J. Steadman, eds. University of Chicago Press, 1994.
Swanson, Jeffrey W. et. al. “Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: bringing epidemiologic research to policy.” Annals of Epidemiology. 25(5): 366–376, 2015.
National Council for Behavioral Health. “Mass Violence in America.” Aug 2019.
Van Dorn, Richard et. al. “Mental disorder and violence: is there a relationship beyond substance use?” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 47(3):487-503, 2012.
Arseneault, Louise et. al. “Mental disorders and violence in a total birth cohort: results from the Dunedin Study.” Archives of General Psychiatry. 57(10):979-86, 2000.
Appelbaum, Paul S. Psychiatrist, Columbia University. Email sent to 12 Aug 2019.
United States Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center. “Mass Attacks in Public Spaces – 2017.” U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Mar 2018.
United States Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center. “Mass Attacks in Public Spaces – 2018.” U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Jul 2019.
Silver, James et. al. “A Study of the Pre-Attack Behaviors of Active Shooters in the United States Between 2000 – 2013.” Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice. Jun 2018.
Duwe, Grant and Michael Rocque. “Op-Ed: Actually, there is a clear link between mass shootings and mental illness.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Feb 2018.
Stone, Michael. “Mass Murder, Mental Illness, and Men.” Violence and Gender. 2(1), 2015.
Metzl, Jonathan. Professor of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University. Interview with 12 Aug 2019.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” Aug 2019.
American Psychiatric Association. “What is Mental Illness?” Reviewed Aug 2018. Accessed 14 Oct 2019.



International Member

US saw highest number of mass killings on record in 2019, database reveals

People attend a candlelight vigil at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead, on August 7, 2019 in El Paso, Texas

Mass killings are often followed by public outpourings of grief, such as in El Paso in August

The US suffered more mass killings in 2019 than any year on record, according to researchers.
A database compiled by the Associated Press (AP), USA Today and Northeastern University recorded 41 incidents and a total of 211 deaths.
Mass killings are defined as four or more people being killed in the same incident, excluding the perpetrator.

Among the deadliest in 2019 were the killings of 12 people in Virginia Beach in May and 22 in El Paso in August.
Of the 41 cases in 2019, 33 involved firearms, researchers said. California had the highest number of mass killings per state, with eight.

The database has been tracking mass killings in the US since 2006, but research going back to the 1970s did not not reveal a year with more mass killings, AP reported. The year with the second-highest number of mass killings was 2006, with 38.

Though 2019 had the highest number of incidents, the death toll of 211 was eclipsed by the 224 people who died in mass killings 2017. That year saw the deadliest mass shooting in US history, when 59 people were gunned down at a festival in Las Vegas.
Many mass killings in the US fail to make headlines because they involve family disputes, drug deals or gang violence, and don't spill into public places, the researchers said.

The number of mass killings in the US had risen despite the overall number of homicides going down, said James Densley, a criminologist and professor at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota.

"As a percentage of homicides, these mass killings are also accounting for more deaths," he told AP.

Prof Densley said he believed the spike was partly a consequence of an "angry and frustrated time" in US society, but he added that crimes tended to occur in waves.

"This seems to be the age of mass shootings," he said.

Gun ownership rights are enshrined in the second amendment of the US constitution, and the spike in mass shootings has done little to push US lawmakers towards gun control reforms.

In August, following deadly attacks in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, President Donald Trump said "serious discussions" would take place between congressional leaders on "meaningful" background checks for gun owners.

But Mr Trump quietly rowed back on that pledge, reportedly after a long phonecall with Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association - a powerful lobby group which opposes gun control measures.

Speaking to reporters after the call, the president said the US had "very strong background checks right now", adding that mass shootings were a "mental problem".

Mourners hold signs during a solidarity vigil in memory of victims of Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest music festival mass killing, in Newtown, Connecticut

Leading Democrats have called publicly for stricter gun control measures.

Earlier this month, presidential candidate and former US Vice-President Joe Biden used the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting to renew a call for tighter regulations. Mr Biden's plans include a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and mandatory background checks for all gun sales.

Another Democratic presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren, outlined plans earlier this year to reduce gun deaths by 80% with a mixture of legislation and executive action. Ms Warren has also called for stronger background checks, as well as the ability to revoke licences for gun dealers who break the law.
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Rising Star
Super Moderator
Former ATF agent at center of legal dispute over AR-15

By Scott Glover
Video by Collette
and Scott Glover
February 7, 2020

(CNN)In his 23 years with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Dan O'Kelly was one of the agency's top gun experts.
He served for five years as the lead firearms technology instructor at the ATF National Academy, where he co-wrote the curriculum for incoming agents.

These days, however, O'Kelly is using his formidable firearms expertise and institutional knowledge of the ATF to take aim at his former employer.
He's at the center of a brewing legal dispute that federal prosecutors say has the potential to upend the 1968 Gun Control Act and "seriously undermine the ATF's ability to trace and regulate firearms nationwide."

As O'Kelly sees it, the ATF has been deliberately misinterpreting a key gun control regulation for decades because officials fear that following the letter of the law would allow criminals to build AR-15s and other firearms piece by piece with unregulated parts.

He said he voiced his concerns to an ATF official two decades ago, but was rebuffed.

Now, however, his view is gaining traction in courtrooms around the country.

In December, a federal judge in Ohio dismissed weapons-related charges against two men after O'Kelly testified that the AR-15 part at issue in their case was not subject to federal law or regulation.

US District Court Judge James G. Carr for the Northern District of Ohio called the ATF's long-standing interpretation of the regulation "unreasonable and legally unacceptable."

ATF said in a statement to CNN that it was reviewing that case and others involving the issue and would have no further comment until that review is complete. The agency declined to discuss O'Kelly's testimony as an expert witness.

A brief history lesson in gun control legislation is required to understand the unfolding controversy and O'Kelly's role in it.

In the early days of gun control, every single part of a gun was subject to regulation under the Federal Firearms Act of 1938.

Three decades later, with the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act, Congress sought to streamline what was considered an overly burdensome regulation by choosing a single part of a weapon as its key component for regulatory purposes.
Under the new law, manufacturers were required to stamp that part with a serial number for tracing purposes, and it would be subject to all the same laws as a completed firearm itself. Since 1993, that includes a provision that licensed dealers conduct criminal background checks on would-be buyers of the part, just as they would prospective purchasers of a fully intact firearm.
This key part, according to the Gun Control Act, was referred to as "the frame or receiver," which is, generally speaking, the body of a firearm in the area surrounding the trigger.

An accompanying federal regulation provided a precise, highly technical definition:
"That part of a firearm which provides housing for the hammer, bolt or breechblock, and firing mechanism, and which is usually threaded at its forward portion to receive the barrel."​

The problem -- and this is where O'Kelly comes in -- is that he says roughly 60% of the guns in America do not have a single part that falls under that definition. The AR-15, for example, has a split receiver -- one upper and one lower. Neither meets the requirement on its own.

"For 50 years, ATF has been making this square peg fit in the round hole," O'Kelly told CNN, "when, in fact, it doesn't."

At 64, with more than half his life devoted to law enforcement, first as a cop in Indiana, then as a federal agent, the last thing O'Kelly wants, he said, is to be seen as at odds with the ATF's mission of keeping guns from criminals.

He's not on a crusade, he insisted. He isn't seeking the spotlight.

Put simply, he said, "when I'm asked to testify in court, I take an oath to tell the truth, and I have."

Since leaving the ATF in 2011, and forming his own firearms training and consulting firm, O'Kelly has been a paid expert witness in at least four cases in which he has detailed his view that the AR-15 and many other guns don't have a single part that is subject to federal law and regulation.

The first time was in 2014 after he got a call from a San Diego area lawyer asking his opinion about a case involving the seizure of approximately 6,000 polymer gun parts the ATF had determined were "receivers" under the law. The devices were taken as part of a criminal investigation into a Southern California-based company Ares Armor, which was suspected of dealing firearms without a license.

The company's owner at the time, Dimitri Karras, was never charged with a crime. His company later filed a civil lawsuit against the ATF seeking the return of his property. O'Kelly submitted a declaration in support of Karras' lawsuit, stating that the lower receivers "had only two of the four features listed by the ATF in their own definition of a 'receiver.'"

He also noted that the definition failed to cover a long list of semi-automatic rifles and handguns, including the very popular Ruger .22 caliber pistol and Uzi-style rifles. The regulation, O'Kelly wrote, pertained mainly to a part found in manually operated weapons such as revolvers and pump action shotguns.

He said the ATF's attempt to classify the items seized from Ares Armor as receivers, as well as similar rulings in other cases, displayed "a lack of logic and consistency, which has created a climate in the firearm industry wherein it is nearly impossible for the reasonable man to be able to operate in good faith within the law."

The ATF returned 5,786 lower receivers to Karras two months after O'Kelly's declaration was filed. The civil case was later dismissed.

A year later, O'Kelly was called upon again -- this time by lawyers in Oakland, California on behalf of a man who had purchased a lower receiver for an AR-15 style machine gun from an undercover ATF agent in the parking garage of a shopping mall.

Prosecutors charged Alejandro Jimenez, a convicted felon, with illegally possessing and failing to register a machine gun based on the notion that the lower receiver he bought was a machine gun all by itself under the law.

But O'Kelly said prosecutors were wrong to designate the item Jimenez purchased as a receiver.

"It is simply a piece of cast metal that must be equipped with numerous parts in order to become a weapon," he wrote.

The judge, citing the disconnect between the regulation and the item Jimenez possessed, subsequently dismissed the indictment, and prosecutors abandoned the case.

In wake of the dismissal, then-US Attorney General Loretta Lynch wrote a letter to Congress outlining the issues. She advised lawmakers that the judge's order was not suitable for appeal and that if ATF officials believed the definition of a receiver should be changed, they should pursue regulatory or administrative action.

The ATF did neither. And it would not be long before the dispute over what constitutes a receiver would arise again.

This time the stakes were much higher. The case involved a man accused of running an AR-15 style factory South of Los Angeles. Prosecutors alleged that Joseph Roh was illegally manufacturing the weapons for $1,000 a piece and had at least 19 convicted felons among his clients.

Roh opted for a bench trial, placing his fate in the hands of a judge alone. A central issue of the case was whether the lower receivers he stocked in his factory could fairly be considered firearms under the federal law.

Roh's lawyer, Gregory Nicolaysen, said O'Kelly came across as a "very neutral, very technical" witness in stating that they could not.
But he said there was also a "certain vehemence" in his testimony that stemmed from his view that his former agency had been ignoring the problem for decades.

"O'Kelly brings an intrinsic understanding of the agency, the agency's arrogance, and its willingness to be deceptive," Nicolaysen said. "He was a turning point in the litigation."

Though prosecutors had argued that adopting O'Kelly's view, "would sweep aside more than 50 years of the ATF's regulation of AR-15s and other semi-automatic firearms," the judge issued a tentative order doing just that.

Faced with the order, prosecutors cut a no-prison-time deal with Roh in order to prevent the tentative order from becoming final, drawing publicity and creating case law that could hamper ATF enforcement efforts.

A CNN story on the case ricocheted around the gun world and in federal courthouses. A week after it was published, Carr, the judge in Ohio, directed both the prosecution and defense in the case he was overseeing to address the tentative order in the Roh case and Lynch's letter.

Federal prosecutors in Ohio had charged two men, Richard Rowold and Steven Robison, with conspiring to illegally purchase more than four dozen AR-15 lower receivers. Rowold, a convicted felon, was charged with illegally possessing the devices. Robison was accused of illegally purchasing them on Rowold's behalf, though authorities belatedly discovered that Robison, too, had a criminal record that should have prohibited him from buying them as well.

When agents searched Rowold's apartment in March of 2018 they found a box with an attached receipt showing he had purchased the lower receivers for $1,700 and that they were to be delivered to Robison, according to a search warrant affidavit. Only 15 of the 50 that were shipped remained in the box.

Defense attorneys for both men argued that their cases should be thrown out because the lower receivers are not firearms, as the ATF contends, and are therefore not subject to any regulation or laws.

Following dueling motions on the issue, Carr called for an evidentiary hearing in September, 2019. It was focused on an increasingly familiar question: Whether lower receivers qualified as a firearm under the 1968 Gun Control Act and the related federal regulation.

Prosecutors, as they had in earlier cases, acknowledged that AR-15 lower receivers did not perfectly fit the definition in the relevant federal code.
But they argued that the ATF's interpretation that they were covered nonetheless was reasonable and consistent with the intent of the act.

They noted that there was a preamble to the "definitions" section of the code that provided the caveat "unless manifestly incompatible with the act."

To rule that an AR-15 lower receiver was not a receiver would be "manifestly incompatible" with Congress' intent, they argued.

O'Kelly once again took the stand as an expert witness for the defense.

He told the judge that, legally, lower receivers were no more subject to ATF regulation than "a lamp shade, for example," but that the agency had insisted otherwise for decades.

He was cross-examined by James Vann, assistant chief counsel for the ATF. Vann, assigned to ATF headquarters in Washington, DC, had traveled to Ohio to represent the government in the case.

Vann asked O'Kelly about his tenure at the ATF National Academy and whether he taught new agents that the AR-15 did not have a receiver.
"No, I did not," O'Kelly responded. "That would have been seriously frowned upon by the agency."

When Vann pressed him on why he didn't include that information in his curriculum, O'Kelly replied, "It wasn't allowed."

At that point the judge intervened, asking the same question.

O'Kelly told Carr he voiced his concerns to an official named Richard Turner at ATF headquarters, but was told "we're not going to teach that."

O'Kelly added, "I could only teach what was approved by headquarters."

Turner declined comment through an ATF spokeswoman.

Following his testimony, O'Kelly submitted a declaration in the case saying it was his professional opinion that roughly 60 percent of the firearms in America do not have a single part that qualifies as a receiver under the current regulation.

In siding with the defense, Carr wrote that the ATF's long-standing interpretation was "plainly erroneous and inconsistent with the regulation."

He added, "misapplying the law for a long time provides no immunity from scrutiny."

The Associated Press was first to report the outcome of the case and Carr's comments.

Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA and an expert on the second amendment, said the ruling exposed "another major loophole in federal gun laws" and predicted it would lead to a surge in so-called "ghost guns," homemade weapons assembled from individual parts, none of which bear serial numbers, if the problem wasn't fixed.

"This ruling will speed the way toward more and more unregulated firearms," Winkler told CNN.

Jay Jacobson, a California-based gunmaker who has hired O'Kelly as a consultant and considers him a friend, said the former agent would take no joy in seeing his testimony benefit bad guys.

"Dan doesn't want to see criminals getting loose," Jacobson said. "But if there is not a crime, he's going to testify in your defense. If you don't like that, change the law."

The morning after Carr's ruling was made public, O'Kelly met with a CNN reporter at a gun shop a short drive from his seasonal home in central Florida.

He did some show and tell with an AR-15, talked about his years as an ATF agent, and shot the breeze with Carey Baker, the shop owner, who also happens to be a former Florida state representative and senator.

Baker, whose shop was established in 1886, said he did not want any ambiguity in gun laws and regulations.

"As a dealer, with everything I own at risk, I need clear language," Baker said. "I want to comply. I don't want to jeopardize 130 years' worth of business."
He said he knew an AR-15 lower receiver didn't meet the definition in the regulation, but that he treated it as a firearm anyway.

"It shouldn't be that way, but that's how it is," Baker said. "They need to better define what they're attempting to regulate."

O'Kelly, now eight years removed from the ATF, said he believes it is "mere arrogance" that's behind the problematic language lasting for as long as it has.

"We're just going to say it applies -- so tough," is how he characterized the institutional mindset.

He said he has deep respect for, and remains friendly with, many of his former colleagues.

He's heard from some of them that his opinions -- or his willingness to express them -- have not gone over well within the agency. One former co-worker has stopped returning his calls, he said.

"Every time this comes up, it's like 'kill the messenger'," O'Kelly said. "I'm the bad guy."

"It stings," he acknowledged.

But he said he was not responsible for writing the law or regulation; He has merely testified truthfully when asked about them in court.
"If you have a problem with the truth," O'Kelly said, "who's the bad guy?"



Rising Star
Super Moderator

State Firearm Death Rates, Ranked by Rate, 2018

New Mexico
West Virginia
South Carolina
North Carolina
South Dakota
North Dakota
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
National Firearm Death Rate
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Press Release, “States with Weak Gun Laws and Higher Gun Ownership Lead Nation in Gun Deaths”



Rising Star
Super Moderator
States with Weak Gun Laws and Higher Gun Ownership Lead Nation in Gun Deaths, New Data for 2018 Confirms

For Release: Monday, February 24, 2020

Highest Gun Death Rates in the Nation: Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming, Missouri, and Louisiana

Lowest Gun Death Rates in the Nation:
Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, and New Jersey Have

Washington, DC — Just-released WISQARS data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control show that states with the highest rates of overall gun death in the nation are those with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership according to a new Violence Policy Center (VPC) analysis.

In addition, states with the lowest overall gun death rates have some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation and lower rates of gun ownership.

The VPC analysis refers to overall gun death rates in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available. The deaths include gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. A table of the states with the five highest gun death rates and the five lowest gun death rates is below. For a list of gun death rates in all 50 states, see

The state with the highest per capita gun death rate in 2018 was Mississippi, followed by Alabama, Wyoming, Missouri, and Louisiana. Each of these states has extremely lax gun violence prevention laws as well as a higher rate of gun ownership. The state with the lowest gun death rate in the nation was Rhode Island, followed by Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, and New Jersey. Each of these states has strong gun violence prevention laws and a lower rate of gun ownership.

The total number of Americans killed by gunfire in 2018 was 39,740, a slight drop from 39,773 in 2017. The nationwide gun death rate in 2018 also decreased slightly to 12.15 per 100,000 from 2017’s gun death rate of 12.23 per 100,000.

“Reduced exposure to guns, coupled with strong gun laws, saves lives,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Each year, the data consistently show that the states with the lowest rates of gun death have effective gun violence prevention laws and low rates of gun ownership. Conversely, those states with the highest gun death rates have weak gun violence prevention laws combined with higher rates of gun ownership.”

State gun death rates are calculated by dividing the number of gun deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000 to obtain the rate per 100,000, which is the standard and accepted method for comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

The VPC defined states with “weak” gun violence prevention laws as those that add little or nothing to federal law and have permissive laws governing the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public. States with “strong” gun violence prevention laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation that is absent from federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous and deadly types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restrictions on the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.

State gun ownership rates were obtained from the July 2019 American Journal of Preventative Medicine article by Aaron J. Kivisto, et al., “Firearm Ownership and Domestic Versus Nondomestic Homicide in the U.S.,” which is the most recent comprehensive published data available on state gun ownership.

The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter and Facebook.