Category Archives: Gun violence

Making a Killing: The business and politics of selling guns

by Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 6/27/16

Bars in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia let out at 2 A.M. On the morning of January 17, 2010, two groups emerged, looking for taxis. At the corner of Market and Third Street, they started yelling at each other. On one side was Edward DiDonato, who had recently begun work at an insurance company, having graduated from Villanova University, where he was a captain of the lacrosse team. On the other was Gerald Ung, a third-year law student at Temple, who wrote poetry in his spare time and had worked as a technology consultant for Freddie Mac. Both men had grown up in prosperous suburbs: DiDonato in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia; Ung in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Everyone had been drinking, and neither side could subsequently remember how the disagreement started; one of DiDonato’s friends may have kicked in the direction of one of Ung’s friends, and Ung may have mocked someone’s hair. “To this day, I have no idea why this happened,” Joy Keh, a photographer who was one of Ung’s friends at the scene, said later.

The argument moved down the block, and one of DiDonato’s friends, a bartender named Thomas V. Kelly IV, lunged at the other group. He was pushed away before he could throw a punch. He rushed at the group again; this time, Ung pulled from his pocket a .380-calibre semiautomatic pistol, the Kel-Tec P-3AT. Only five inches long and weighing barely half a pound, it was a “carry gun,” a small, lethal pistol designed for “concealed carry,” the growing practice of toting a hidden gun in daily life. Two decades ago, leaving the house with a concealed weapon was strictly controlled or illegal in twenty-two states, and fewer than five million Americans had a permit to do so. Since then, it has become legal in every state, and the number of concealed-carry permit holders has climbed to an estimated 12.8 million….

read more at The New Yorker

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

Gabby Giffords, N.J. native Mark Kelly decry gun violence at DNC 2016

By Matt Arco, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, July 27, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — An adoring crowd of thousands erupted in cheers Wednesday night when Gabby Giffords declared at the Democratic National Convention that “speaking is difficult,” but “come January, I want to say these two words: ‘Madam president!'”

The former congresswoman who has advocated gun reform since her near fatal shooting five years ago appeared on stage in Philadelphia alongside her husband, New Jersey-native Mark Kelly, to support Hillary Clinton and fight for gun reform in the United States.

“I learned a powerful lesson,” Giffords said. “A strong woman gets things done.”

Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly stumped for Hillary Clinton in New Jersey on Wednesday.

Kelly argued voters “need to make sure that Hillary Clinton is our next president” to fight against the “shameful status quo” in the country regarding gun violence and the lack of reform….

read more at NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Making a Killing: The business and politics of selling guns.

By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 6/27/16

Bars in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia let out at 2 A.M. On the morning of January 17, 2010, two groups emerged, looking for taxis. At the corner of Market and Third Street, they started yelling at each other. On one side was Edward DiDonato, who had recently begun work at an insurance company, having graduated from Villanova University, where he was a captain of the lacrosse team. On the other was Gerald Ung, a third-year law student at Temple, who wrote poetry in his spare time and had worked as a technology consultant for Freddie Mac. Both men had grown up in prosperous suburbs: DiDonato in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia; Ung in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Everyone had been drinking, and neither side could subsequently remember how the disagreement started; one of DiDonato’s friends may have kicked in the direction of one of Ung’s friends, and Ung may have mocked someone’s hair. “To this day, I have no idea why this happened,” Joy Keh, a photographer who was one of Ung’s friends at the scene, said later.

The argument moved down the block, and one of DiDonato’s friends, a bartender named Thomas V. Kelly IV, lunged at the other group. He was pushed away before he could throw a punch. He rushed at the group again; this time, Ung pulled from his pocket a .380-calibre semiautomatic pistol, the Kel-Tec P-3AT. Only five inches long and weighing barely half a pound, it was a “carry gun,” a small, lethal pistol designed for “concealed carry,” the growing practice of toting a hidden gun in daily life. Two decades ago, leaving the house with a concealed weapon was strictly controlled or illegal in twenty-two states, and fewer than five million Americans had a permit to do so. …

read more at The New Yorker. The photo caption sums it up: “Last year, mass shootings accounted for just two per cent of American gun deaths. Most gun violence is impulsive and up close.”

Congress vs. the States on Guns

editorial, New York Times, 6/21/16

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided to not take up Second Amendment challenges to laws in Connecticut and New York that ban the sale or possession of many semiautomatic assault rifles and large-capacity magazines in those states.

With those denials, the latest of more than 70 rejections of challenges to gun regulations, the justices have made it clear that reasonable gun-control laws are fully consistent with Second Amendment rights.

Yet Congress has refused time and again to help protect Americans from rampant gun violence, and so it has fallen on state lawmakers to address this national crisis. Some state and local governments have banned or restricted certain types of ammunition, or prohibited classes of people, like those convicted of multiple instances of drunken driving, from possessing guns. Others have imposed universal background checks and safe-storage requirements on gun owners.

read more at New York Times

Hate, Terror, and Guns in Orlando

By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 6/12/16, 08:47 P.M.

In the hours after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, which killed fifty people and wounded fifty-three others at a gay night club in Orlando, Americans began the ritual of separating our strands of shame after a mass killing. In this case, we are apportioning an armed man’s actions to the influence of ISIS, homophobia, mental instability, and the availability of high-powered weapons.

It is our ugly accounting—and it is absolutely necessary. Better that than pretending, as we did just a few years ago, that a mass killing was not “the time” for politics, that our horror should impose a holiday on analysis, that we must, in a perversion of civility, pretend that nothing in our laws or culture might have saved those lives. Politics, even when they are flawed and toxic, show us to ourselves—rarely more so than on Sunday, when the presumptive Republican nominee for President, Donald Trump, paused for a moment of self-celebration: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” he tweeted. “I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

By that hour, anybody watching television knew that Trump was wrong; the Orlando massacre could not simply be ascribed to the influence of radical jihadists, even if the shooter did, as reported, place a 911 call just before the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS. On the contrary, as President Obama said that afternoon, “We know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate.” It was the fifteenth time that Obama has spoken after a mass shooting….

Read more at The New Yorker