Tag Archives: guns
Watch: Trump on Mentally Ill Gun Owners- “Take the Guns First, Go Through Due Process Second”
>> Go ahead, Mike.
>> You spoke about it, gun violence, restraining orders they’re called. California has a version of this. I think you— in you’re meeting with governors earlier individually and as a ground we talked about states taking a step. The focus is to give families and give local law enforcement additional tools if an individual is reported to be a potential danger to themselves or others. Allow due process. The ability to go to court, obtain an order and collect the firearms—
>> Or Mike, take the firearms first and then go to court. That’s another system. A lot of times by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court to get the due process procedures. I like taking the guns early. Like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida. He had a lot of— had everything. To go to court would have taken a long time. You can do what you’re saying but take the guns first, go through due process second.
Judge Napolitano: In Defense of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
The Ash Wednesday massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, seems to have broken more hearts than similar tragedies that preceded it. It was no more senseless than other American school shootings, but there is something about the innocence and bravery and eloquence of the youthful survivors that has touched the souls of Americans deeply.
After burying their dead, the survivors have mobilized into a mighty political force that loosely seeks more laws to regulate the right to keep and bear arms. The young people, traumatized and terrified with memories of unspeakable horror that will not fade, somehow think that a person bent on murder will obey gun laws.
Every time I watch these beautiful young people, I wince, because in their understandable sadness is the potential for madness — “madness” being defined as the passionate and stubborn refusal to accept reason. This often happens after tragedy. After watching the government railroad Abraham Lincoln’s killer’s conspirators — and even some folks who had nothing to do with the assassination — the poet Herman Melville wrote: “Beware the People weeping. When they bare the iron hand.”
It is nearly impossible to argue rationally with tears and pain, which is why we all need to take a step back from this tragedy before legally addressing its causes.
If you believe in an all-knowing, all-loving God as I do, then you accept the concept of natural rights. These are the claims and privileges that are attached to humanity as God’s gifts. If you do not accept the existence of a Supreme Being, you can still accept the concept of natural rights, as it is obvious that humans are the superior rational beings on earth. Our exercise of reason draws us all to the exercise of freedoms, and we can do this independent of the government. Stated differently, both the theist and the atheist can accept the concept of natural human rights.
Thomas Jefferson, who claimed to be neither theist nor atheist, wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Such rights cannot be separated from us, as they are integral to our humanity. Foremost among our unalienable rights is the right to life — the right to be and to remain alive.
And that right implies the right to defend life — the right to self-defense. If I am about to assault you in the nose, you can duck, run away or punch me first. If I am about to strike your children, you can strike me first. If I am about to do either of those things with a gun, you can shoot me first, and no reasonable jury will convict you. In fact, no reasonable prosecutor will charge you.
The reason for all this is natural. It is natural to defend yourself — your life — and your children. The Framers recognized this right when they ratified the Second Amendment. They wrote it to ensure that all governments would respect the right to keep and bear arms as a natural extension of the right to self-defense.
In its two most recent interpretations of the right to self-defense, the Supreme Court characterized that right as “pre-political.” That means the right pre-existed the government. If it pre-existed the government, it must come from our human nature. I once asked Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the majority’s opinion in the first of those cases, called the District of Columbia v. Heller, why he used the term “pre-political” instead of “natural.” He replied, “You and I know they mean the same thing, but ‘natural’ sounds too Catholic, and I am interpreting the Constitution, not Aquinas.”
With the Heller case, the court went on to characterize this pre-political right as an individual and personal one. It also recognized that the people who wrote the Second Amendment had just fought a war against a king and his army — a war that they surely would have lost had they not kept and carried arms that were equal to or better than what the British army had.
They didn’t write the Second Amendment to protect the right to shoot deer; they wrote it to protect the right to self-defense — whether against bad guys, crazy people or a tyrannical government bent on destroying personal liberty.
In Heller, the court also articulated that the right to use guns means the right to use guns that are at the same level of sophistication as the guns your potential adversary might have, whether that adversary be a bad guy, a crazy person or a soldier of a tyrannical government.
But even after Heller, governments have found ways to infringe on the right to self-defense. Government does not like competition. Essentially, government is the entity among us that monopolizes force. The more force it monopolizes the more power it has. So it has enacted, in the name of safety, the least safe places on earth — gun-free zones. The nightclub in Orlando, the government offices in San Bernardino, the schools in Columbine, Newtown and Parkland were all killing zones because the government prohibited guns there and the killers knew this.
We all need to face a painful fact of life: The police make mistakes like the rest of us and simply cannot be everywhere when we need them. When government fails to recognize this and it disarms us in selected zones, we become helpless before our enemies.
But it could be worse. One of my Fox News colleagues asked me on-air the other day: Suppose we confiscated all guns; wouldn’t that keep us safe? I replied that we’d need to start with the government’s guns. Oh, no, he said. He just meant confiscation among the civilian population. I replied that then we wouldn’t be a civilian population any longer. We’d be a nation of sheep.
Reality Check: Trump Did Not Make It Easier for Severely Mentally Ill People To Buy Guns
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The latest mass shooting at a school in Florida is once again reigniting the debate over gun control and mental health.
But now the media headlines are blaming President Trump because, they say, he signed a bill that actually made it easier for people with severe mental health problems to get guns.
Is that true?
Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.
19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, police say, is the man responsible for gunning down at least 17 teenagers at a Florida high school.
We now know much more about Cruz’s background, which include a number of very disturbing reports of police calls to his home.
According to police records obtained first by CNN, police responded to Cruz’s home 39 times over a seven-year period.
Details about the calls to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office have not yet shown if all involved Cruz.
What do we know about the calls police were responding too? According to KTLA, those included calls of a “mentally ill person,” “child/elderly abuse,” “domestic disturbance” and “missing person.”
We also know that, according to the New York Times, “Last fall, a bail bondsman in Mississippi spotted a disturbing comment on his YouTube channel.”
‘Im going to be a professional school shooter.’
“The bondsman, Ben Bennight, took a screenshot and flagged the comment to YouTube.” And he even “left a voicemail message at his local F.B.I. field office alerting it to the comment.”
The name of the person who wrote that comment? Nikolas Cruz.
And there is more. ABC News reports that law enforcement sources say Cruz claimed “he heard voices in his head, giving him instructions” for the attack. And those “voices were described as ‘demons’.”
So to summarize, at this point it appears that Cruz very likely suffered from extreme mental health issues.
And yet, he was able to legally buy a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 .223, according to Peter Forcelli, special agent in charge of the Miami office of the ATF.
According to USA Today, “Federal law allows people age 18 and older to legally purchase long guns, including this kind of weapon. With no criminal record, Cruz cleared an instant background check via the FBI criminal database.”
According to the Gun Control Act of 1968, if somebody is “‘adjudicated mentally defective’ or has been ‘committed to a mental institution’,” he is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law.
Cruz had not been flagged by the proper authorities. So what was the response from the media?
That it is President Trump’s fault because, they say, he and the Republican Party have actually made it easier for people with mental health problems to buy assault weapons.
So is that true? Did the GOP pass, and then President Trump sign, a repeal of an Obama-era directive to keep guns out the hands of people with severe mental illness?
No, that’s not actually what happened.
What did happen?
HJ Resolution 40 was signed by President Trump on February 28, 2017, days after his inauguration.
According to the BBC, “It repealed an Obama-era rule that would have affected about 75,000 US citizens who are too mentally ill to handle their own disability benefits.”
The Obama measure covered those of “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.”
“It also ordered the US Social Security Administration, which administers benefits, to add these names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”
And this is what media is jumping all over.
But what they are not telling you is the incredible groundswell of opposition to the this rule from at least 15 mental health organizations, including American Association of People with Disabilities. And even the ACLU led the charge against this measure, saying it was unconstitutional and wrong.
Wrong, because, according to the Seattle Times, about 2.7 million people currently receive disability payments from Social Security for mental health problems. Another 1.5 million have their finances handled by others for a variety of reasons, according to the LA Times.
Those reasons may have nothing to do with mental illness. And they, those 1.5 million people, are who would not be allowed to purchase a gun.
Dr. Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who studied how veterans with mental health problems managed there money, points out, “Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe.”
And the ACLU’s opposition letter rule states:
“We oppose this rule because it advances and reinforces the harmful stereotype that people with mental disabilities, a vast and diverse group of citizens, are violent. There is no data to support a connection between the need for a representative payee to manage one’s Social Security disability benefits and a propensity toward gun violence.”
So what you need to know is that the Obama-era rule allowed one federal agency, the Social Security Administration, to be judge, jury and executioner of whether millions of Americans can purchase guns, based upon whether some else handles their finances.
Meanwhile, a 19-year-old who has the police come to his home 39 times in seven years somehow goes unflagged.
At the 11th hour, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of the FBI and DOJ for mishandling tips about Cruz, stating “It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the FBI were missed. We see the tragic consequences of those failures.”
What will result from this investigation remains to be seen. But if legislation is created to protect against people with violent and dangerous mental health conditions buying guns, then it needs to be crafted in a way that actually works.
That’s Reality Check, let’s talk about it right now on Twitter and Facebook.
VOTE: If Legislation is Going to be Created to Stop Mass Shootings, Should it Focus On?
Univ Warns Profs To Avoid Sensitive Topics Since Armed Students May Snap And Kill Them
By Blake Neff – The University of Houston’s (UH) faculty senate has issued a strong set of warnings to professors suggesting they avoid controversial topics in order to avoid provoking armed students.
Last year, Texas’s legislature passed S.B. 11, which requires public colleges to allow the concealed carry of handguns on campus by those who have permits to do so. Faculty at many schools have responded with outrage, claiming the law, which takes effect next August, exposes them to undue danger.
The PowerPoint slide created by UH’s faculty senate to advise faculty about the new law represents one of the most hyperbolic reactions by academia yet, suggesting they all substantially alter their behavior to avoid the risk of an armed student flying off the handle and gruesomely gunning them down.
“Drop certain topics from your curriculum,” it warns. “[Do] not ‘go there’ if you sense anger. Limit student access off hours … only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.”
A photo of the slide was posted online by a UH doctoral student, with a full copy later appearing at Inside Higher Ed:
The slide was written by Jonathan Snow, an earth science professor and the president of the faculty senate. Snow told Inside Higher Ed the slide was intended to encapsulate the danger to academic freedom posed by the new law.
“The intrusion of gun culture onto campus inevitably harms the academic enterprise in a myriad of ways,” he said. Maria Gonzalez, an English professor, expressed a similar fear that a “volatile” student in her class could snap and resort to violence during a lecture on Marxist or queer theory.
While the recommendations were created by the faculty senate, UH administrators were quick to point out the guidelines were not endorsed by the university itself.
Despite the faculty senate’s fears, it’s not clear legalizing campus carry will drastically increase the danger posed to professors. Campus carry is already legal in several states, including Colorado and Utah, but there has been no spate of faculty assassinations attributable to them.
The slideshow is just the latest example of faculty expressing their widespread opposition to the new law. Hundreds of faculty at the University of Texas have signed a petition against the new law, and one of them has even blamed the law for his decision to accept a new academic position with the University of Sydney.
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Two Dozen Guns Somehow Walked Out Of A DC Police Evidence Locker, Half To Be Used In Other Crimes
By Steve Birr and Josh Fatzick – More than two dozen firearms that were supposed to be in the custody of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) somehow made their way back to the streets and were used in other crimes, documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation appear to show.
An internal memo from the D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) reveals 24 guns police confiscated between 2005 and 2012 vanished from the MPD evidence locker and were later confiscated yet again in other crimes. One of the weapons reappeared in a murder, while several others were used to commit violent crimes
The issue with missing guns rose to the surface after a reporter requested information regarding the firearms recovered during homicides that occurred in 2014.
The information request from Amelia Rufer, a reporter with the website Homicide Watch, was limited to cases from 2014, but an employee at DFS conducted a more thorough review of guns that came through the crime lab and found the discrepancies. The subsequent DFS memo documenting the investigation was provided to TheDCNF by an employee of the department.
The documents, dated Jan. 9, 2015, show D.C. police logged 24 guns into their evidence database between 2005 and 2012. Those guns somehow left police possession, were used in crimes and then returned to police possession, where they were re-logged into the police database.
The forensics agency keeps track of the serial number of each gun that comes into its possession and determined something was wrong when the serial numbers came back attached to two separate cases.
DFS reviewed the 24 matches and found half of them may have been the result of duplicated registrations. The MPD requires personal firearms be registered with the city. If the gun is later recovered during an investigation, the serial number will be re-registered in their systems, potentially creating a duplicate.
These cases are designated as “yellow flags” in the memo, because while there is evidence the firearm entries may be the result of previous registration, confirmation requires further investigation.
The other 12 matches, which contained no significant connections with investigations or possible duplicated entries, were deemed “red flags.”
In one of the cases, from 2008, U.S. Parks Police confiscated a gun and sent it to the MPD Firearms and Toolmark Examination Unit (FEU) to be test-fired. Police have no record indicating the final destination of the .357 revolver, but the same gun was later recovered as evidence at the scene of a homicide in 2009.
The “red flag” cases included one instance, in 2011, where a Taurus .38 Special revolver was submitted to the MPD FEU for test firing after police recovered it from its owner. Police evidence records indicated the gun was located at the MPD First District headquarters as of Dec. 30, 2011.
Fast forward to 2014, the same gun came back into the possession of police, and was described as a “Police officer’s firearm, ”after it was submitted as evidence in an assault on a police officer. As of Jan. 9, 2015, the gunwas being held for “safekeeping” by the DFS.
Delonte Yate, the victim in the assault, is described as a special police officer. In Washington, D.C., special police officers are basically security guards who carry guns and are eligible to make arrests. They are licensed by the MPD. It is unknown whether the .38 Special labeled a “Police officer’s firearm” in the memo was in the possession of Yate or belonged to another party involved.
“Without any additional records from 2011, it is unclear how the Taurus .38 Special left MPD custody at the 1st District Property to become a ‘Police officer’s firearm’ in the 2014 [assault on a police officer]. This requires further investigation,” the DFS memo reads.
Another case, from 2009, also involved a special police officer in possession of a gun supposed to be in a police evidence locker.
In 2009, police took possession of another .38 special from Duane Young, a defendant charged with carrying a pistol without a license. The evidence log for the firearm was left blank, but a second entry accompanying thegun showed six .38 caliber bullets in police possession.
Later, in 2012, a police investigation involving the same weapon found it in the possession of Teron Bridgett, a special police officer with Tri-Sec Investigative Service. Notes accompanying the investigation list the actual owner of the gun, and Tri-Sec Investigative Service, as a man named Maurice Lynch. Further, the notes indicate the gun was kept in police custody to be returned to Lynch once he could pass a “Fitness for Duty” test.
“Due to the lack of records from the 2009 [carrying a pistol without a license] case, it is unclear how the Taurus .38 Special left MPD custody to end up in the possession of Maurice Lynch in 2012. This requires further investigation,” according to the DFS memo.
TheDCNF contacted DFS Director of Communications LaShon Beamon for additional information regarding the internal memo. Beamon explained that since the events took place while the forensics lab was still under the control of MPD, she could not provide any additional information.
The District took control of the MPD forensics lab in 2012, combining it with the D.C. Public Health Laboratory and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Consolidated Forensic Laboratory (CFL) has since operated under the DFS.
Beamon directed TheDCNF to contact Lt. Sean Conboy, spokesperson for the MPD. Conboy failed to respond to repeated requests for comment from TheDCNF.
Read the entire memo here:
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New California Law Allows Seizure of Legal Guns Without Notice in 2016
A new gun law taking effect on Jan. 1, 2016 in California will allow for the seizure of an individual’s guns for a 21-day “holding period” if a complaint is submitted, and if a judge determines that the individual is in need of a mental health evaluation.
Assembly Bill No. 1014 authorizes “gun violence restraining orders” which lets law enforcement seize the firearms of an individual if a judge “finds that there is reasonable cause to believe that the subject of the petition poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.”
The law states that the petition to have an individual’s guns seized can be filed by “an immediate family member of a person or a law enforcement officer,” and that once granted by a judge, the petition can restrict an individual from “having in his or her custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or ammunition.”
As previously reported, the bill was originally introduced in 2013 and it gained favor in May 2014 when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger went on a shooting rampage, killing six people and injuring 14 others in Isla Vista, California. Rodger’s mother claimed she had raised concerns about her son’s mental state, but no action had been taken by law enforcement.
While California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country and it already lets licensed therapists recommend seizing a patient’s guns if they believe that patient is dangerous, it is now the first state to allow family members to petition for a seizure of firearms.
Other gun laws going into effect in California in 2016 will make it illegal for an individual with a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed weapon on the campus of a K-12 school or a college, and will require that all pellet, BB and airsoft guns can only be displayed in public if they contain special bright colored markers to differentiate them from real guns.
Rand Paul Introduces Bill to Block Obama from Executive Action on Gun Control
GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul re-introduced a bill on Monday that would prevent funding for any executive order from President Obama that would enact gun control measures.
The Separation of Powers Restoration and Second Amendment Protection Act, which is currently being fast-tracked through the Senate, and could see a vote as early as next month, is an updated version of a bill that was introduced in the 2013-14 session.
The bill states that any “existing or proposed executive action that infringes on the powers and duties of Congress under section 8 of article I of the Constitution of the United States of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States shall have no force or effect.
[pull_quote_center]It is the sense of Congress that any executive action issued by the President before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act that infringes on the powers and duties of Congress under section 8 of article I of the Constitution of the United States or the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, or that would require the expenditure of Federal funds not specifically appropriated for the purpose of the executive action, is advisory only and has no force or effect unless enacted as law.[/pull_quote_center]
The bill would also give Americans the right to launch a civil lawsuit, if they were affected by an executive action on gun control.
“In the United States, we do not have a king, but we do have a Constitution,” Paul said in a statement. “We also have the Second Amendment, and I will fight tooth and nail to protect it.”
In October, reports claimed that Obama was considering using an executive order to circumvent Congress, in order to mandate that anyone who sells more than 50 guns a year has to have a federal license, and any potential customers must have federal background checks.
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Americans Agree Mental Health Issues Cause Mass Shootings, Not Loose Gun Laws
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows most Americans think mass shootings are a result of lapses in mental health therapy, not gun control laws.
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Washington Gun Show Defies State Law, Will Not Require Background Checks
Yakima, Wash. – Despite a new state law that expands background checks beyond federal requirements, the patriot group Liberty For All is hosting a gun show that will allow gun sales without background checks.
The Arms Expo 2015 will be held June 20-21 in Yakima and its organizers have presented it as a “liberty market and gun show” and a “patriot campout for the whole family” that will not comply with Initiative 594, a controversial new law expanding background checks in the state of Washington.
Guns.com reported that Initiative 594 was “backed extensively by a core group of billionaires and national gun control groups,” and after it was passed in November 2014, it resulted in “protests that have drawn thousands.”
Shayne Downing, the owner of Tactical Supply and a sponsor of the Arms Expo told NBC Right Now that he expects a large turnout at the event, because when Initiative 594 passed, many individuals were upset.
“The no background checks has been occurring for as long as this country has been around, so it’s nothing new,” Downing said. “Gun shows have been operating this way for quite some time now until recently, unfortunately that changed.”
Kit Lange, one of the organizers of the event, told Ammoland.com, “the point of Arms Expo is liberty.”
“We have the right to self-defense and the duty to resist unconstitutional law,” Lange said. “The expo will allow people to come and not only experience true liberty, but will also learn how to apply that liberty in their everyday lives, network with other like-minded people, and learn some new skills.”
According to the event’s website, while private sales of guns will be welcome, organizers also “encourage commercial vendors to refuse unconstitutional laws and background checks, and encourage patriots to support those bold vendors as well as buy from each other in defiance of lawless legislation.”
Mike Vanderboegh, the operator of the blog Sipsey Street Irregulars and one of the speakers at the event, told Guns.com that he thinks non-compliance is a “logical step to help defeat draconian gun laws.”
“The Arms Expo in Yakima is just the latest example of the nationwide campaign of armed civil disobedience in the wake of the unconstitutional state laws passed in the anti-firearm hysteria after Sandy Hook,” Vanderboegh said.
While there is speculation as to how law enforcement will respond to the Arms Expo’s non-compliance with the law on background checks, Mike Bastinelli, a spokesperson for the Yakima Police Department told NBC Right Now that they do not plan on patrolling the event.
“The Yakima Police Department has never policed gun shows and we have no intention to start doing that despite this new law that we believe is going to be challenged in courts,” Bastinelli said. “It’s really the responsibility of the people putting on the gun shows to police themselves.”
Texas Governor To Lift 140-Year-Old Open Carry Gun Ban
By Matthew Sullivan
Despite opposition from liberal gun control advocates, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign a bill that will reverse a nearly 140-year-old ban on open carry gun laws in the state.
Rep. Debbie Riddle, co-sponsor of the bill, states that the change in Texas gun policy will have a substantial effect on Second Amendment rights, according to Fox News.
“Everywhere there is a denial of Second Amendment rights, crime is through the roof,” Riddle said. “It’s a deterrent. If someone is going to rob a convenience store and there are other people inside with guns on their hips, they might think twice.”
Supporters of the bill emphasize that the new reforms will effectively discourage crime in the state, giving the everyday citizen the right to openly defend themselves. The bill passed through the Texas state legislature last Friday across party lines.
The bill comes just days after another Texas legislation passed a proposal that could allow students at Texas universities to carry concealed weapons on campus. Abbott stated that he will almost certainly sign both bills into law,according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
“Concealed handgun license holders are the safest, most responsible gun owners in Texas,” Texas state Sen. Donna Campbell said in a statement. “It is irresponsible on our part to disarm the good guys where violent offenders disregard the law.”
Texas is one of only five states in the country that have an unmitigated ban on the right to openly carry guns. Citizens hoping to participate in these new reforms must apply for a gun carrying license, attain firearms training and undergo a thorough background check.
Abbott, an outspoken supporter of the Second Amendment, tweeted his support for the bill on Wednesday evening.
From @FoxNews: Texas Governor poised to roll back 140-year-old open carry gun ban. Change is coming. #tcot @NRA http://t.co/L9xPbQi0xP
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 4, 2015
The bill would become law on Jan. 1, 2016.
Vince Vaughn: ‘I Support People Having A Gun’
In an upcoming British GQ interview, actor Vince Vaughn opened up about his support for gun rights and opposition to gun control.
“I support people having a gun in public, full stop, not just in your home,” Vaughn said. “We don’t have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government.”
“All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones,” he continued. “Take mass shootings. They’ve only happened in places that don’t allow guns.”(RELATED: Matthew McConaughey Is A Big Fan Of The Redskins Name)
When pressed on whether guns should be allowed in schools, Vaughn said they should. “You think the politicians that run my country and your country don’t have guns in the schools their kids go to? They do. And we should be allowed the same rights.”
“Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat. Taking away guns, taking away drugs, the booze, it won’t rid the world of criminality,” he concluded.
Texas House Passes Amended Campus Carry Bill
On Tuesday, the Texas State House approved a bill that would require public universities to allow concealed handguns on campus. The bill, which originated in the Senate, was passed minutes before its midnight deadline. A final vote in the House, and further negotiations with the Senate will determine whether it is sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law by June 1.
Senate Bill 11 was passed after House Republicans added language that exempted health facilities, let universities create “gun-free zones,” and made private colleges follow the lead of the public universities, according to the Texas Tribune.
CBS News noted that although the legislation looked like it was destined to fail, “with more than 100 amendments lined up in a Democratic effort to kill it,” Democrats removed the amendments about 25 minutes before the midnight deadline, and the measure was approved, 101-47.
The Texas Tribune noted that the House’s version of the bill is a “significant departure from the legislation that passed the Senate.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, the bill must be approved by a majority of House members one more time before it goes back to the Senate, where “differences would be ironed out in a conference committee,” and where “opponents of the legislation expect there could be deadlock.”
The Texas Tribune reported that Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Houston) introduced the legislation on the House floor on Tuesday night, leaving lawmakers two and a half hours to debate more than 100 amendments that had been added by Democrats.
Although Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio), an opponent of the measure, brought a point of order against the bill, he withdrew his challenge after 30 minutes of discussion. Martinez Fischer said that he thought one of the two amendments added – requiring private universities to follow the lead of public universities – might be enough to kill the legislation before the final vote.
“Tomorrow morning there are going to be a number of powerful people — maybe alumni, donors, board members — who are going to say we better get sensible, practical and realistic about our gun policies in the state of Texas,” Martinez said.
Fletcher said he felt the legislation is necessary to ensure college students’ right to defend themselves. “The idea that this bill will increase any increase in violence is unfounded,” Fletcher said. “We should not unarm them or disarm them.”
Concealed Carrying Chicago Uber Driver Defends Group Of Pedestrians Against Wild Gunman
By Chuck Ross
An Uber driver in Chicago with a concealed carry license defended himself and a group of pedestrians against a man who opened fire on a crowded street Friday night, a state attorney said in court on Sunday.
Assistant State Attorney Barry Quinn said that 22-year-old Everardo Custodio began shooting at a group of pedestrians shortly before midnight Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The group was passing in front of a vehicle occupied by an unnamed 47-year-old Uber driver.
The driver, who has a state-issued firearm owner’s identification card, pulled out a shotgun and fired six times, hitting Custodio in the shin, knee and lower back, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Police responded quickly and found Custodio lying in the middle of the street. The Uber driver stayed on the scene and provided a statement to police.
The driver does not face charges as, according to Quinn, he “was acting in self-defense and in the defense of others.”
Custodio’s gun was recovered at the scene. He is still in the hospital and faces charges of aggravated assault and unlawful weapons charges.
A spokeswoman for Uber told the Sun-Times that the driver had just dropped off a passenger when Custodio began shooting. The company plans to interview the driver and his passenger. His Uber profile is still active.
Had Friday’s incident occurred just a little more than a year ago, the Uber driver would likely face weapons charges of his own. Illinois was the last state in the U.S. to legalize the concealed carry of firearms. A law allowing concealed carry was passed in July 2013, but the state did not begin issuing licenses until February 2014.
Many gun control activists feared that legalizing the concealed carry of guns would lead to increased crime. Those fears have failed to come to fruition, both across the U.S. and Illinois. Gun rights advocates argue that expanded concealed carry is associated with lower crime rates and that very few crimes are committed by concealed carriers.
Threat of Surveillance Grows as New York City Installs “Gun Shot Detector” Listening Devices
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced an expansion to a pilot program that uses “gun shot detector” microphones as part of an ongoing effort to more efficiently respond to crime.
Mayor De Blasio announced the expansion at a press conference at New York Police Department headquarters. The program will cost $1.5 million to install 300 listening devices around the precincts with the highest rates of gun violence. The devices are already live in the Bronx and should be operational in Brooklyn soon. The microphones are attached to lamp posts and utility poles and connected through a wireless network called ShotSpotter. New York City is the latest to join more than sixty cities with the technology, including Oakland; San Francisco; Washington, DC; and Milwaukee police.
The ShotSpotter program records noises believed to be gun shots and then relays the date, time, location, and a recording to police officers. ShotSpotter sensors are connected to thousands of cameras as part of New York City’s Domain Awareness System.
Critics believe the devices will surreptitiously record innocent individuals conversations. It has already been shown that the devices can record conversations of those walking in range of the microphones. In 2014 CBS San Francisco reported that the Oakland Police Department was able to record a dying man’s last words using the ShotSpotter system. Oakland Privacy Working Group lawyer Brian Hofer told CBS that the OPD originally denied the ShotSpotter’s ability to record voices. A similar situation took place in New Bedford, Mass., and proved that the devices do invade privacy.
As cash-strapped police departments are fighting for basic necessities like salaries for more officers, critics wonder if the system is cost efficient. As recently as 2012, police departments could purchase the SpotShotter system for a yearly subscription costing around $40,000 to $60,000 per square mile. In Oakland the system costs the police department $264,000 a year. This has lead to Oakland police discussing putting an end to the program because officers believe it to be redundant since citizens often call the police when a shooting happens. In San Francisco the program was recently expanded as recorders were added to more telephone and light poles.
ShotSpotter conducted its own study which claims that its microphones recorded 8,769 gun shot incidents in Oakland during 2012 and 2013. According to the company’s numbers, residents only reported 1,136 incidents. These statistics are part of the reason law enforcement want to continue funding these projects.
For most Americans the ShotSpotter will be another unknown, small price to pay for living in a world of relative security and contentment. For those who are witnessing the growing Surveillance State this represents another tool for the increasingly voyeuristic governments of the world. These listening devices will work great with StingRay Cellphone surveillance, drone aircraft, Automatic License Plate Readers, and a number of other tools being used by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Only an informed and educated populace can resist the death march of privacy.
West Virginia Legislature Overwhelmingly Approves Constitutional Carry
Last week, two gun rights bills prevailed in the West Virginia Legislature and are now on their way to Governor Tomlin’s desk. SB 347, a constitutional carry bill that would legalize the concealed carry of a handgun without a permit for all individuals in the state age 21 and up who are legally allowed to own firearms, passed the WV House by a margin of 79-21 and was supported by the Senate with 32 for and 2 against. The West Virginia Legislature also voted nearly unanimously in favor of another bill, SB 284, which would require the local chief law enforcement officer to sign off on purchases of Title II items such as fully-automatic weapons and noise suppressors, restricted under the National Firearms Act, for those who have passed background checks.
According to Guns.com, the dispute over Title II items stems from the fact that the law currently allows local chief law enforcement officers to deny transfers of ownership of Title II weapons and accessories between individuals who have passed a background check for arbitrary or personal political reasons. SB 284 would require CLEOs to approve the transfers. American Suppressor Association president Knox Williams pointed out, “When the National Firearms Act of 1934 was signed into law, computerized background checks did not exist. At that time, the CLEO signoff was the only means by which individuals applying for a transfer of an NFA item could be vetted. Since 1934, technology has come full circle, but the now antiquated CLEO signoff requirement has remained.” SB 284 would allow the background check to work as intended.
SB 347, on the other hand, simply allows law-abiding gun owners to carry a pistol or revolver in a concealed fashion for self-defense without obtaining a permit. Individuals would be permitted to carry in such a fashion in public and while traveling in automobiles. However, the bill prohibits gun owners from carrying at public schools, the WV Capitol, and courthouses within the state. The State Journal notes that the bill originally extended constitutional carry to any lawful gun owner over 18, but an amendment tweaked the minimum age to 21 with an exception for individuals between 18 to 21 who serve in the military.
US Senator Joe Manchin (D) opposes SB 347, as does the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association. Another opponent of the bill, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, made news when he was caught mocking supporters of the legislation with a sexually-provocative dance that offended a parent of a child who witnessed the gaffe.
WA Gun Rights Group Planning Armed Protest in Response to Open Carry Activist’s Arrest
According to a press release by the Washington-based gun rights organization Liberty for All, the group is planning an open carry protest on March 6 outside of Spokane, Washington’s Tom Foley federal courthouse in response to what the group calls the “illegal arrest and detention of a prominent liberty activist” named Anthony Bosworth, who mounted a campaign for Yakima County sheriff in 2014. According to WWLP, Bosworth was arrested and detained by federal police in February as he conducted an open carry demonstration outside of the courthouse. The arrest was caught on video, seen above.
The open carry of firearms is legal in Washington. However, federal police claim that Bosworth was carrying on federal property, which Bosworth denies. The gun rights activist said that he had been standing outside the courthouse and was asking federal officers to clarify the border between state and federal property at the time that he was arrested. According to Yakima Herald, Bosworth was cited for failing to disperse, but was not charged in connection with carrying a firearm on federal property.
Liberty for All’s Sam Wilson wrote in a statement, “Anthony Bosworth, part of the Liberty for All leadership, was arrested and detained in a steel cage for five hours by federal agents while attending a 10th Amendment rally in the public courtyard outside the federal courthouse on February 25. The agents, representing Department of Homeland Security and the US Marshal Service, claimed that Bosworth was violating federal law by being openly armed.” Wilson said that police asked Bosworth politically-motivated questions after they placed him in detention, “During the detention, the FBI subjected Bosworth to a three-hour interrogation regarding his liberty activism and demanding information about ‘the movement’s intentions.'”
“Our State, Our Rights: The Patriots Answer rally is slated for 11:00 AM, and the armed patriots are expecting a large turnout to protest the overreach of federal authorities, who used the Patriot Act to deny the activist his Miranda rights, access to an attorney, and even access to toilet paper while detained,” said Wilson, noting the motivation behind and details of the March 6 open carry rally in defense of Bosworth. He said that, despite the fact that Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich intervened and did not allow federal police to bring trespassing or gun charges, police have yet to return Bosworth’s firearms, which were taken during the incident.
Said Bosworth of the controversy in comments to KXLY, “I was arrested for practicing my second amendment right 10 feet away from a plaque that enshrines our Bill of Rights. They’ve got it posted right there, but yet they will illegally arrest an American citizen with it sitting right there.”