Monthly Archives: August 2016

Our gun problem IS a terrorism problem

by Doug Muder, The Weekly Sift, 6/20/15

When Democrats in Congress responded to the Pulse nightclub shooting by renewing calls for gun control, Ted Cruz made a sharp distinction:

This is not a gun control issue; it’s a terrorism issue.

In other words, if it’s one it can’t be the other. Gallup implicitly endorsed that framing by making its respondents choose. The result was the usual partisan polarization: 79% of Republicans described the Pulse attack as “Islamic terrorism”, while 60% of Democrats called it “domestic gun violence”. [1]

But following just half a year after the San Bernardino shooting, the Orlando shooting makes the guns-or-terrorism argument obsolete. It’s all one issue now. ISIS is actively encouraging lone-wolf attacks, and the easy availability of AR-15s and other military-style weapons makes the United States uniquely vulnerable to lone-wolf terrorism. Our political inability to control or track even the most destructive guns keeps that hole in our defenses open.

I’m amazed it took Islamic State strategists so long to figure that out. About a year after 9-11, the Washington metro area was terrorized by someone the press called “the D.C. sniper“. Over a three-week period he shot 13 people apparently at random, ten of whom died. Rather than a mass killing, these were individual attacks that seemed completely unpatterned and unpredictable: one victim was sitting at a bus stop reading a book, another was pumping gas at a self-service station, and a third was walking down a street.

That’s what made the attacks so terrifying: Wherever you were in the D.C. area and whatever you happened to be doing, if you were out in public you had to consider the possibility that you might suddenly be killed.

The press speculated about Al Qaeda, but the killers turned out to have no connection to international terrorism. They were just two guys with a rifle who had drilled a barrel-hole into the trunk of a rusty old car….

read more and see links at The Weekly Sift

Texas College Campuses now concealed carry gun zones

By Jon Herskovitz | AUSTIN, Texas

A U.S. district judge on Monday denied a motion from three University of Texas professors who wanted to ban guns in their classroom after the state gave some students that right under a law then went into effect this month.

The professors had argued academic freedom could be chilled under the so-called “campus carry” law backed by the state’s Republican political leaders. The law allows concealed handgun license holders aged 21 and older to bring handguns into classrooms and other university facilities.

But U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said the professors “have failed to establish a substantial likelihood of ultimate

success on the merits of their asserted claims,” and denied a motion for an injunction to ban guns.

“It appears to the court that neither the Texas Legislature nor the (university’s) Board of Regents has overstepped its legitimate power to determine where a licensed individual may carry a concealed handgun in an academic setting,” Yeakel said.

Republican lawmakers said campus carry could help prevent a mass shooting.

“There is simply no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas,” Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement.

University of Texas professors had lobbied unsuccessfully to prevent campus carry, arguing the combination of youth, firearms and college life could make for a deadly situation.

“Sometimes a public policy is so extreme that it can catch the courts by surprise and take them some time to catch up,” said Renea Hicks, a lawyer for the professors.

The lawyers are considering what their next move will be.

The university has threatened to punish professors who try to ban guns in classrooms.
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The professors had argued that they discuss emotionally laden subjects such as reproductive rights in class, and they would be forced to alter their classroom presentations because of potential gun violence.

The Texas campus carry law took effect on Aug. 1 as the University of Texas held a memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest U.S. gun incidents on a college campus.

On Aug. 1 1966, student Charles Whitman killed 16 people in a rampage, firing from a perch atop the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s flagship public university.

Eight states have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state laws.

Donald Trump Courts the Gun Zealots

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times, AUG. 13, 2016

The mutual embrace of Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association grew tighter last week with Mr. Trump’s incendiary suggestion that Second Amendment advocates could “maybe” find a way to deal with Hillary Clinton and her gun safety agenda if she reached the White House.

Whether calculated or clumsy, Mr. Trump’s ugly pronouncement left a whiff of lethal intimidation in the air. It marked a singular moment of desperation in his presidential campaign — but also created grounds for the nation to demand a rational, substantive campaign debate on gun safety that gets beyond Mr. Trump’s inflammatory sound bites.

The N.R.A. stands almost alone now with Mr. Trump, as one of his few remaining stalwarts in the Republican coalition. Mr. Trump cynically cast aside his earlier pro-gun-control position and successfully pandered this year for the group’s endorsement during the primaries. And while Mr. Trump denies any intent to cue up gun-packing psychopaths, his new best friends in the N.R.A. have begun a $3 million TV attack campaign against Mrs. Clinton….

read more and follow links at New York Times

Mass Killings May Have Created Contagion, Feeding on Itself

By BENEDICT CAREY, New York Times, JULY 26, 2016

The horrifying rash of massacres during this violent summer suggests that public, widely covered rampage killings have led to a kind of contagion, prompting a small number of people with strong personal grievances and scant political ideology to mine previous attacks for both methods and potential targets to express their lethal anger and despair.

The Iranian-German who killed nine people at a Munich mall was reportedly obsessed with mass killings, particularly the attack by a Norwegian that killed 77 people in 2011. The Tunisian who killed 84 people at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France, also researched previous attacks, including the mass killing in Orlando, Fla. The Orlando gunman had reportedly researched the San Bernardino, Calif., attack.

read more and see links at New York Times

6-Year-Old Girl Remains in Hospital After Stray-Bullet Shooting, Search Continues for Gunmen

By Morgan Zalot, NBC,

A 6-year-old girl remained in a Philadelphia hospital Wednesday morning, recovering from serious injuries caused by a stray bullet that tore through her torso in a hail of gunfire outside her home Tuesday night.

Authorities said the girl remained in critical condition Wednesday at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, but was stabilized overnight. As she continued to recover, police hunted for the shooter — or shooters — they say are responsible for unleashing nearly two dozen gunshots on a residential block of Woodstock Street near Medary Avenue in East Germantown.

Read more at NBC

Pa. Sen. Bob Casey, officials seek answers to gun violence

By Rick Kauffman, Times Herald, 8/10/16

CHESTER >> A visit from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey to Chester City Hall on Tuesday was focused on the trend of gun violence in urban areas.

Joined by Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, Chester police Commissioner Darren Alston, Norristown police Chief Mark Talbot and members of local youth and study groups, the small summit discussed methods that politicians, police officers and residents must make to address public safety.

“Certainly part of the discussion is about the need for a comprehensive approach to this challenge of gun violence,” said Casey, D-Pa. “I think there are a series of common-sense measures that Congress should pass — background check legislation, limiting the clips of the magazines, banning the military-style weapons.”

On the state level, two measures on implementing stricter background checks — House Bill 1010 and Senate Bill 1049 — have failed to gain traction in Harrisburg this year after a push from supporters and a demonstration at the Capitol Building.

More recently, HB 1496, which increases the maximum available penalties for felons who illegally possess firearms, HB 1497, which bars a juvenile adjudicated for selling drugs from possessing a firearm until age 30, and HB 1498, which requires the state police to send all existing Pennsylvania mental health data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System within 90 days, all passed by large margins.

Casey, however, said more needs to be done on the federal level to keep guns out of the wrong hands. …

read more at Times Herald