Since a clandestinely recorded clip of then-candidate Obama emerged saying that voters in Pennsylvania “cling” to god and guns, the President has been perceived as a staunch opponent of the Second Amendment. However, in his first term the only thing the President did regarding gun rights was allow people to carry weapons in National Parks. However in light the highly-publicized spate of mass shootings, most powerfully the Newtown shooting, the President issued two executive actions focused on federal background checks.
Most responsible legal-gun owners do not object to the background check system since it was implemented in 1993. While any expansion of gun laws—such as New York’s restrictive magazine-capacity law—sends the most fervent firearm enthusiasts into a fury, these new proposals seem perfectly rational but, like all laws, have the potential for abuse.
The proposals are designed to ease the regulations that prevent states from sharing information about mental health with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, specifically by easing some of the privacy protections in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA.
As written, these proposals only affect “persons prohibited from having guns for mental health reasons,” thus does not mean that simply visiting a therapist will prevent a citizen from owning a gun. However, the vague nature of that language has those that fear the slippery slope skeptical of the reforms.
The White House is still calling on Congress to pass “common-sense gun safety legislation,” such as “expanding background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime.” However, Congress already did that in March of 2013.
The Obama administration is proposing “a new $130 million initiative to address several barriars that may prevent people—especially youth and young adults—from getting help for mental health problems.” However, Congress would still have to appropriate those funds in order to make that happen.
Proposal To Allow Law Enforcement to Search Homes To Ensure Proper Gun Storage Turned Down By Council
Recently, one lawmaker in a Massachusetts town suggested that the law should allow police to search people’s homes and see whether or not they are properly storing their guns.
Opposing Views reported last week that Swampscott Selectman Barry Greenfield made the suggestion in an effort to prevent another shooting like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last year. Now, according to new reports, a council vote has vetoed the idea.
“At the November 6th, 2013 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, it was requested by Selectman Vice-Chairman Barry Greenfield, through the Board of Selectmen, to Town Counsel that he review the enforceability of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140, Section 131L regarding the storage of firearms in homes within a locked container, by mechanical lock or safety device based on the concern of children accessing them,” said Swampscott Town Administrator Tom Younger in a statement. “Upon review by Town Counsel, the Town would need to obtain either the homeowner’s consent or have a valid search warrant based on probable cause. The Town will not take any further action regarding this law and further reconfirms their support for the laws of our Commonwealth and the rights under the United States Constitution.”
The idea from Greenfield stemmed from the fact that many school shootings have occurred because the shooter has gotten his or her hands on a parent’s gun that wasn’t stored properly, as was the case in the Sandy Hook massacre. Greenfield said that his idea would allow law enforcement to make sure that gun owners were being responsible with their weapons at home.
“I asked our board of selectmen whether we could look into potential methods of enforcement,” said Greenfield. “Can the police conduct an investigation with due notice, similar to a building permit inspection or a fire inspection when you want to sell your home?”
His idea didn’t hold up in front of the town council, though, and it has now officially being nixed.
Thomas Bean had served as a police officer in Newtown, Conn., for 12 years before the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. Devastated by the tragic event, Bean has been unable to perform his duties since then, and now faces losing his job.
Bean was not on duty when the shooting occurred, but rushed to the scene as soon as he learned what was going on. He was horrified by what he saw at the school, which was filled with bodies of dead children, and has been traumatized ever since.
Although the shooting occurred nearly a year ago, Bean is still so affected by what he saw that he has been unable to perform his duties as a police officer. If he does not recover, he could soon be fired.
“I think the town is hesitant about actually terminating him, but at the same token they’re not taking any steps to make sure that he’s financially secure,” police union attorney Brown told WCBS 880′s Fran Schneidau. “He’s legitimately worried about financial devastation.”
Bean was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and is eligible to receive disability payments for two years. After that time, it is unclear how he will support himself if the department fires him.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, when gunman Adam Lanza entered the campus and killed 20 children and six adults.
Investigations into the shooting are still underway as authorities attempt to piece together exactly what happened, and why.
The FBI is using the latest sound technology to attempt to track the events of the tragic day, according to The Courant. The paper reports that “the secretary in the main office did not hang up the phone after calling 911 and that federal authorities were trying to use the sounds recorded through that open landline to help chart Lanza's movements in hopes of better understanding his actions.”
Police Chief Steve Bracknell Agrees George Zimmerman Is Potential Mass Killer, Then Walks Back Comment
Steve Bracknell, police chief in Lake Mary, Fla., where George Zimmerman resides and where he got into a nasty domestic dispute with his estranged wife and father-in-law Monday, appears to be no fan of the acquitted Trayvon Martin killer.
Despite that, Bracknell did not charge him with anything after Zimmerman allegedly threatened his wife with a gun, smashed her iPad and punched her father in the nose.
After Zimmerman (pictured on Monday) was let go this week, an angry Lake Mary resident, Santiago Rodriguez, fired off an angry e-mail to the police chief. In the e-mail, Rodriguez accuses the police department of somehow being influenced by the Zimmerman family, saying, “Either his father is pulling strings for him, or his uncle who is also a Sheriff in Orange County.”
Rodriguez implores Bracknell to arrest Zimmerman who, the e-mail scribe says, “is a Sandy Hook, Aurora waiting to happen.”
The references, of course, are to the gun massacres that took place in a Sandy Hook, Conn., elementary school and an Aurora, Col., movie theatre in December and July of last year, respectively.
Bracknell’s reply, in e-mails obtained by the liberal web site Think Progress and reproduced online, is to stress that, “REST ASSURED, the last thing on planet earth I want is ANY relationship with the Zimmermans.” (Capitalization original.)
And in response to Rodriguez’s comments about last year’s gun massacres, Bracknell says, “Your reference to Sandy Hook.....................I agree.” (Punctuation original.)
When asked about the e-mails yesterday by Think Progress, Bracknell appeared to walk back his agreement with Rodriguez. He said he was merely “referring to the fact that [Zimmerman] seems to be involved in incidents [with guns].”
Rodriguez, clearly amazed at receiving a response from the chief, wrote back and reiterated his belief that, “sooner or later another mother and father is going to be on CNN lashing out against the system due to this man snapping.”
Again, Bracknell replies, “On a personal note.....I agree.”
SOURCES: Think Progress, WTSB, Scribd
A New Jersey fifth-grader is facing Juvenile charges after police discovered that he was plotting to use “sophisticated weapons” to carry out an elaborate attack against his classmates, according to The New York Daily News.
The fifth-grader from Wall Township reportedly created a hit list of 40 students around his age and was planning to carry out a “violent” attack at Wall Intermediate School, similar to the one at Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School. Fortunately, police say he never had access to the necessary weapons to pull off an attack of that scale.
“There was never any real threat to those students,” Wall Township Police Lt. John Brockriede told The Daily News. “He wasn’t capable of carrying out anything that he put down.”
No one in the fifth-grader’s immediate family owns firearms, Brockeriede said. A distant relative does own guns, but had no recent contact with the child.
The student, who will not be identified because of his age, did not enter Wall Intermediate School with his classmates this fall, instead being placed on an “alternate program,” Brockriede said.
The fifth-grader was suspended from his elementary school in April after school officials learned about his intentions. Wall police worked on the case throughout the summer and recently seized his computer.
That’s where they found a list of 40 students around the same age as they boy, only identified by their first names. The school has notified the parents of all of those children.
According to a press release from the school district:
The Board of Education and the Wall Township Police have already and will be continuing to take additional steps, beyond normal security measures, to ensure the safety of the students involved and every other student in the school system. At this time, the matter is firmly under control by the law enforcement officials and no present threat exists.
A small town in northwest Arkansas gave $1,100 to more than 20 teachers and other school staff in order to buy handguns and holsters.
The state of Arkansas has a law on the books that allows schools to have licensed, armed security guards on campus. The town of Clarksville, with a population of 9,200 people, decided to train its school personnel to be security guards and carry concealed weapons throughout the school day. When school starts again in August, teachers will be packing heat.
School Superintendent David Hopkins said the decision came after he received a flurry of calls from anxious parents in the wake of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
"The plan we've been given in the past is 'Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'" Hopkins said. After Sandy Hook, the district decided, “That’s not a plan."
Hopkins said the district spent about $50,000 on ammunition and training, including various role-playing scenarios involving shooters on campus -- using real students participation. The identities of the teachers, who underwent 53 hours of firearms training, are being withheld.
The Clarksville program is the kind of measure the National Rifle Association proposed after the tragedy at Sandy Hook left 20 children and 6 teachers dead in Newtown, Conn.
"We're not tying our money up in a guard 24/7 that we won't have to have unless something happens," Hopkins said. "We've got these people who are already hired and using them in other areas. Hopefully we'll never have to use them as a security guard."
At least one parent is not happy with the armed teachers program. Sherry Womack said she is pulling her eighth grade son out of Clarksville’s schools.
"I think police officers are trained to make those decisions, not teachers," Womack told the Associated Press.
The former president of the Arkansas Education Association, Donna Morey, told the Miami Herald that the idea of arming teachers is "awful." She said the measure is too much of a risk to students.
"We just think educators should be in the business of educating students, not carrying a weapon," Morey said.
A new essay entitled “The Promise: The Families of Sandy Hook and the Long Road to Gun Safety” by Matt Bennett of the Brookings Institute takes a hard look at the numbers surrounding guns in America.
One of the most interesting statistics is just how many guns there are in America.
“At the conservative estimate of 270 million guns, Americans have stockpiled almost half of the privately owned firearms in the world,” Bennett writes. That averages out to about 88 guns for every 100 American citizens. The next closest country is Yemen, which has 55 guns per 100 citizens.
Bennett goes on to write that the three of the most common ages of people who commit gun crimes are 18, 19 and 20, despite the fact that regulations prevent distributors from selling guns to people under the age of 21.
Most people can agree that America has a problem with gun violence, but not everyone can get behind the tactics of the Sandy Hook parents. The group continues its fight for stricter gun control regulations even though their flagship background check bill was defeated in Congress.
Bennett blasts gun-rights activists, writing, “though a distinct minority, [pro-gun ‘Constitutionalists’] have come to control the terms of the gun debate, exercising a power that vastly exceeds their numbers. Their principle mechanism for wielding this power is, of course, the NRA.” He adds that the group has used “political bullying” to achieve its goals.
Bennett notes that the time of the NRA controlling the gun debate may be drawing to an end. The background check bill might have failed, but “for the first time in the modern history of the debate, a gun safety vote has had a negative impact on the approval rating of Senators voting 'no' [even in red and purple states like Alaska, Arizona and New Hampshire] and a positive impact on red-state senators voting 'yes' [Louisiana and North Carolina].”
What are your thoughts on Bennett’s essay? Do you think that the Sandy Hook parents are taking a step in the right direction? Or should America strive to upgrade 88 guns for every 100 American citizens to 100 guns for every American citizen?
Justin Carter, 19, was bailed out of prison earlier today when an unidentified person paid the amount of $500,000.
Carter had been arrested for an allegedly sarcastic remark on Facebook. On February 14 of this year, Carter, an avid gamer, was insulted on Facebook by fellow League of Legends player, calling him “messed up in the head.” Carter fired back this shocking reponse: “I think Ima shoot up a kindergarten / And watch the blood of the innocent rain down/ And eat the beating heart of one of them.”
This comment came just two months following the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary. Though Carter followed the remark with the comment, “Lol” and “JK,” a woman in Canada found this comment no laughing matter. She notified the authorities, Carter’s computer was confiscated, his home was raided, and though no weapons were found, Carter spent his 19th birthday in jail.
The comment apparently qualified as a terroristic threat which, as a third-degree felony, could mean up to ten years of jail time for the teen. The teen was also given an unusually high bail of $500,000 which the family could not afford to pay.
Carter’s trial begins this month and his father reports the teen has fallen into a deep depression after nearly four months in prison. His father reports that the teen has suffered "concussions, black eyes" and "moved four times for his own protection."
Carter’s mother has created a petition on Change.org to ask for the release of her son and has already received 100,000 signatures.
Since then, things have been looking up for the Carters. They are being defended pro-bono and an anonymous donor paid Justin’s sky-high bail. Left to be determined, however, is whether Carter will be convicted and what sentence might he face. This case, one of many, will determine the ever-evolving definitional limits of free speech in social media and the modern world.
Krystopher DiBella was catapulted into the national spotlight after he sold two guns, a Bushmaster and a Sig Sauer pistol, to Nancy Lanza. These two weapons were later used during the Sandy Hook shooting spree. But it was not these two weapons that landed DiBella in hot water — it was a third weapon that DiBella sold to an undocumented immigrant without forcing the buyer to answer questions about his citizenship. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives currently requires Connecticut arms dealers to ask those questions.
This week, DiBella pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge. The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum one-year prison term, five years' probation and a fine of up to $100,000, but as part of the plea deal, the prosecutors will recommend that the judge sentence him to 16 months of probation. DiBella will also not be allowed to apply for a Federal Firearm License in the next three years.
DiBella took his employer down with him. The store’s Federal Firearm License, which allows the store to sell guns, was revoked following an investigation into the store’s records. Authorities discovered that DiBella had a history of making deals under the table, and in fact transferred guns several times to people who did not answer legally mandated questions about citizenship.
This case puts gun dealers in a sticky situation. Ultimately, every person is responsible for his own actions, so a rogue employee is the biggest culprit in an illegal gun sale. On the other hand, employers are at least partially responsible for what goes on in their establishment, especially in a place like a gun store where employees might be tempted to take bribes in order to circumvent the law.
Do you think that the government made the right move by revoking the store’s license, or do you think that they are casting blame on the wrong people?
Jim Carrey, star of Kick-Ass 2, is condemning the comic book film because of its “level of violence." Carrey, who plays vigilante Colonel Stars and Stripes, said he did Kick-Ass 2 a month before the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 children and six adults were killed. He tweeted Sunday that “now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence.”
He also tweeted: "I meant to say my apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."
Due for release Aug. 16, the movie is based on a Marvel comic book of the same name written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita Jr. The story centers on a teenager who decides he wants to become a real-life superhero and teams up with another kid-vigilante to fight crime.
Millar wrote a blog post in response to Carrey’s comments. It began with: “First off, I love Jim Carrey.”
"As you may know, Jim is a passionate advocate of gun-control and I respect both his politics and his opinion, but I'm baffled by this sudden announcement as nothing seen in this picture wasn't in the screenplay eighteen months ago. Yes, the body count is very high, but a movie called Kick-Ass 2 really has to do what it says on the tin.”
Millar said he does not buy into the notion that violence in films leads to real-life violence and asked Carrey to “reconsider” his stance.
He assured fans: “My books are very hardcore, but the movies are adapted for a more mainstream audience and if you loved the tone of the first picture you're going to eat this up with a big, giant spoon.”
Co-star Chloe Grace Moretz also stirred controversy when she appeared in the first Kick-Ass feature film — not only because of the violence depicted but also her character Hit-Girl’s potty mouth. She was just 11 years old at the time.
UsMagazine reported Carrey will team up with Jeff Daniels to reprise their roles from “Dumb and Dumber” in “Dumb and Dumber To.” Daniels confirmed the sequel is in the works to the Associated Press on Wednesday. The Farrelly brothers will write and direct.
"Jim has been against all sequels, and you know, understandably so," Daniels said. "But he turned 50 and that will mellow you out, and suddenly he's going, 'Let's have some fun ... Come on,' and we're going, 'Great,' and so the Farrellys said, 'This isn't a money grab. Let's really write a great second movie that takes the original and then blows it up even further, and so I think they did that."
Daniels called the script “painfully funny,” but there is no word on the level of violence therein.