A crowdsourced effort to count every person killed by a gun in the United States since the Newtown tragedy is currently being hosted by Slate. As of this writing, the count is 4,099. This number also appears to be growing rapidly. Just a few hours ago, it was at 4,096.
Stories tagged with “Newtown Shooting”
In a heartbreaking essay, Jackie Barden, Nicole Hockley, Nelba Marquez-Greene and Francine Wheeler reflect upon their childrens’ lives, thank those who have stood behind them and ask others to make the Sandy Hook Promise. They write that while they’re disappointed by the Senate’s recent failure to pass additional gun regulations, they aren’t giving up on their efforts to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook from happening in the future:
There have been nearly four thousand gun related deaths since Newtown. Too many mothers are spending too much time talking to their children in heaven instead of across the kitchen table….It is time, as six-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene once said, to “let love win.” There are 150 million parents in this country and it’s our goal to unite them in a place of common ground. This is the Sandy Hook Promise.
This Mother’s Day, we encourage you to make the Sandy Hook Promise with us. Today is not about guns, laws or politics; it is about mothers and love. As “Sandy Hook Moms,” we often hear the phrase “I can’t imagine what you are going through.” Well, please imagine it. Imagine what it’s like to lose a son or daughter to gun violence and encourage your elected officials to do the same. We never thought our school, our community or these innocent children would ever face the unspeakable. The more we as parents expand the boundaries of our love beyond our family and to all children, the more likely a tragedy like the one that broke our hearts will never happen again.
The tragedy in Newtown has exposed the threats guns pose to children — not just in mass shootings but, for many children, in their everyday lives at home. In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan, according to a study by the Children’s Defense Fund. At least 71 children aged 12 and under have been killed by guns in the five months since the Newtown shooting. Several of these have been tragic accidental shootings by other children: on April 29, five-year-old Kristian Sparks shot and killed his two-year-old sister with a rifle marketed for kids. In the past two weeks alone, there have been at least eight accidents involving children shooting themselves or other children.
Proper firearm storage could prevent many of these accidental shootings: if children don’t have access to guns, they won’t be tempted to handle and shoot them. But about 29 percent of households with children under 12 don’t lock up their guns, and nearly half of U.S. states don’t have laws that punish individuals who provide children unsupervised access to firearms. And although the National Rifle Association — which fought hard against expanding background checks and other gun safety measures earlier this year — teaches a gun safety course for children, one of its convention speakers recently suggested parents store guns in a safe in their kids’ rooms.
In an email sent to supporters before Thursday night’s manhunt began in Massachusetts, the Family Research Council attempted to appropriate recent tragedies as arguments that support their social conservative positions. Referring to the Republicans’ Senate filibuster of the gun safety bill, FRC’s Tony Perkins claimed that tragedies like Newtown and Boston — as well as the shooting at its headquarters last summer — are the result of “sexual liberalism” and the lack of Christian influence on society:
In the aftermath of horrible tragedies like Newtown, the government desperately wants to do something–even if that something is the wrong thing. There seems to be this notion, at least among liberals, that more laws will protect us–but as we all witnessed in Boston, that isn’t necessarily the case. The government can’t make us safer until it recognizes that the problem isn’t the instruments of violence–but the environment of it. Stronger background checks wouldn’t have prevented the deaths of three people at the finish line on Monday, any more than it would have stopped Floyd Corkins from walking into our lobby and shooting Leo Johnson.
If Congress wants to stop these tragedies, then it has to address the government’s own hostility to the institution of the family and organizations that can address the real problem: the human heart. As I’ve said before, America doesn’t need gun control, it needs self-control. And a Congress that actively discourages it–through abortion, family breakdown, sexual liberalism, or religious hostility–is only compounding the problem.
Of course, some will say–and I agree–that transforming the culture is the church’s job. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place at the table for Christians in the gun debate. Not only did Jesus tolerate weapons, he instructed His disciples to buy them! In Luke 22:36, we read, “He said to them… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Jesus did rebuke Peter for being too quick on the draw (John 18:11), recognizing that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal-but spiritual.
Perkins’ endorsement of weapons and retaliation seems to be doing much more to contribute to an environment of violence than same-sex couples raising families or women making decisions about their own bodies.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) backed the NRA-supported “concealed carry reciprocity” Sunday morning, an initiative which would require concealed carry permits to be accepted universally across the country, forcing states with tighter permit restrictions to accept permit-holders from states with looser ones.
Rubio took the initiative one step further, saying on Fox News Sunday that if a person has undergone a background check for a concealed carry permit in one state, that person shouldn’t necessarily have to undergo another background check to buy a gun in another state.
RUBIO: If you have a concealed weapons permit, you do a background check. I have no problem with that. But are they going to honor that in all 50 states? If someone goes to another state to buy a gun do I have to undergo another background check, or will my concealed weapons permit be de facto proof that I am not a criminal? These are the sorts of things I hope we’ll talk about.
Rubio’s comments ignore that the requirements for concealed carry permits vary from state to state, and that a person can commit a criminal act after they have received a concealed carry permit. Plus, permit issuers don’t always catch criminals or the mentally unstable — a 2012 investigation that found Rubio’s home state of Florida did not check the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System when issuing concealed carry permits, overlooking the 1.6 million records of Americans with mental illnesses the database contains.
The Senator on Sunday also admitted that though he hadn’t read the Manchin-Toomey gun bill, which will expand background checks to include most gun sales, in its entirety, he was skeptical of it because it would impede on the rights of law-abiding gun owners and would “do nothing to keep criminals from buying” guns. He said focusing on gun control wasn’t the way to prevent future shootings like the one in Newtown — instead, he said the country needed to focus on addressing violence and mental health issues in general, citing the decline of the American family as a reason for increased gun violence in the country.
Rubio’s comments are in line with the NRA’s position on gun control legislation: in a letter to the Senate, NRA Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris Cox said Congress needed to “fix our broken mental health system” rather than “infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre has also made comments similar to Rubio’s, recently claiming Connecticut’s new gun laws have only made “the lawbooks bigger for the law-abiding people.” But Rubio’s statements aren’t surprising: in March, he joined a group of Republicans that threatened to block gun control legislation in the Senate.
Early Thursday morning, gun violence survivors and families of victims finally finished reading the names of all the people who have been killed by guns since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The list of over 3300 people took 12 hours to read. The Newtown Action Alliance organized a reading at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown while other groups read outside the Capitol as a “filibuster” of the filibuster by 13 pro-gun senators that was finally defeated Thursday morning. The Senate’s gun reform plan, which features expanded background checks for gun sales at gun shows and on the Internet, will now go to the floor for debate.
Christian Heyne, whose parents were shot in Thousand Oaks, California, on Memorial Day in 2005, was among the readers at the Capitol. Heyne’s mother was killed and his father survived three gunshot wounds when their friend’s neighbor went on a rampage starting at their friend’s house and ending in the gunman’s suicide at Wal-Mart 16 hours later. Four people were killed and five were injured. Heyne decided to dedicate his life to stopping gun violence, and is now a legislative assistant for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
“I’ve always been in support of gun violence prevention but I would be lying if I said I knew [before the shooting] any of the gun laws that existed,” Heyne said. “That’s why victims of gun violence do have a level of expertise on this, because they have seen firsthand. They have found out the loopholes, and then all of a sudden you realize, ‘holy crap, in 33 states in this country you can buy a gun without a background check.’ There were so many things I assumed.”
Displaying a banner proclaiming “They Deserve A Vote,” Heyne, along with victims and family members from the Newtown, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and Tucson shootings, read the names to remind lawmakers of the cost of government inaction on gun violence. Republican efforts to keep the bill from even being debated, he said, is “completely disrespectful to the lives of those we’ve lost.”
On Tuesday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), one of the Republicans who tried to block the bill, dismissed suggestions that victims have a stake in the gun debate. Inhofe asserted the gun legislation has nothing to do with victims or their families, and that they only believe it does because President Obama is manipulating them. Victims of gun violence have also endured callous claims by the gun lobby that “the Newtown effect,” or the public’s grief and outrage after each new shooting, would fade away before gun laws could be strengthened.
The gun lobby and Republican lawmakers claim that expanded background checks will lead to a national gun registry the government will use to round up law-abiding gun owners, even though the bill explicitly outlaws a national gun registry in three different places.
As the debate goes forward in the Senate, Heyne noted it was important to counter the “misinformation” pushed by the gun lobby.
To demonstrate the ease with which criminals are able to get guns through the current system, Heyne personally went to Virginia and bought a gun for $500 in cash. “He threw it in a paper, food-lined bag and I was on my way. And there was no paperwork, there was no background check, no record kept. That’s illegal in this country.”
While reading the names, Heyne was struck by the wide-reaching impact of each shooting that occurred as a result of the gun lobby’s obstructionism.
“Each one of those names is not just one person. As victims we realize that,” he said. “It took til 1 in the morning to read through those names, but each one of those people had an entire network of individuals whose lives will never be the same.”
The Washington State Republican Party will auction off an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle at its annual fundraising dinner in Bellevue on Saturday. The party’s chairman touted the weapon — the same type used in the Newtown and Aurora shootings — as one of the “great items” available.
The Seattle Times reported Thursday that Washington GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur called the auctioning of the gun “a pro-fundraising statement,” noting that “I think folks already know the state GOP is committed to gun rights.” Indeed, the state party’s platform calls the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, “the first line of defense to maintain the rule of law.”
Wilbur told the Times the AR-15 style rifle — in this raffle, a Plinker Plus Flat Top, donated by the Washington Arms Collectors — is “the best-selling weapon in America.” He noted that he owns two and “they have never killed an innocent person.” The winner will receive both the gun and a one-year membership in the Washington Arms Collectors, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association. The auction will be hosted by John Curley, a former Seattle television news magazine host.
When asked on Twitter whether the winner of the auction will need to pass a background check, Curley responded:
@steelekelly of course. We follow the law.
— Kirby Wilbur (@KirbyWilbur) April 12, 2013
The Washington Arms Collectors, the state’s largest gun show operator, require all buys to undergo background checks, despite Washington state’s gun-show loophole. Unless a vendor is federally licensed, such checks are not legally required under state or federal law.
Dwight Pelz, chair of the Washington State Democrats responded, noting that his party does not believe in assault weapons: “We think they should be banned… We would never raise money from the oil industry, or the tobacco industry, nor would we auction off an assault rifle.”
Thursday morning, local police released previously embargoed police records about the Newtown, Connecticut shooter, Adam Lanza. The records disclosed that, in five minutes, Lanza was able to fire 155 shots, partly as a consequence of the numerous 30 round high-capacity magazines he was carrying.
Most of the released documents were search warrants for Lanza’s car and home, which he shared with his gun-collecting mother (the weapons used at Newtown were taken from his mother’s stockpile). Put together, the findings in these warrants paint a disturbing picture of the arsenal available to Lanza:
– 1 NRA certificate for Adam Lanza and 1 NRA training book. Police investigators found a National Rifle Association certificate in Adam Lanza’s name, though the nature of the certificate was unspecified. Police also found a book titled “NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting,” a book that’s commonly given out as part of NRA pistol training courses. Graduates of these courses are given certificates.
– 3 new guns. In addition the newly-identified shotgun in his parked car outside (it was a Saiga 12), a search of the Lanza home found an Enfield Albian bolt action rifle and a Savage Mark II .22 rifle. The latter contained live ammunition.
– 4 high capacity magazines, 2 of which were brought loaded to the crime scene. There were two high-capacity shotgun shell magazines for his shotgun at the crime scene, containing a combined 70 extra rounds for the fortunately-unused shotgun. Police also found two 20-round magazines at the Lanza residence.
– Over 1700 rounds of ammunition. These covered a variety of different calibers and gun types, and would have stocked 170 standard 10-round magazines or 56 of the 30-round high capacity magazines Lanza used to such deadly effect in the school.
– 13 types of bladed weapons. The Lanzas didn’t just collect guns; they also had a variety of knives, samurai swords, and one “six foot ten inch wood handled two sided pole with a blade on one side and a spear on the other.”
Though public outcry after the Newtown shooting generated more political momentum for effective gun law regulations than any other time in the past decade, the political effort is in danger of stalling out in the Senate.
The NRA released a statement in response to the findings denying that either Adam Lanza or his mother Nancy were members: “There is no record of a member relationship between Newtown killer Adam Lanza, nor between Nancy Lanza, A. Lanza or N. Lanza with the National Rifle Association. Reporting to the contrary is reckless, false and defamatory.” Individuals who enroll in an NRA Basic Pistol Training are not required to be NRA members in all cases.
After axing the assault weapons ban from the Senate’s comprehensive gun violence prevention plan, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is struggling to scrape together enough votes to pass the centerpiece of the plan: universal background checks. Republicans are refusing to vote for it, and even several Democrats in red states are wavering on their support. According to Greg Sargent at the Washington Post, these key votes include Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).
Universal background checks are considered essential to the gun bill. They would close the “gun show loophole” that currently allows anyone to skip a background check if they buy a gun through a private sale. “Private” transactions between individuals or at gun shows are the origin point for 80 percent of guns used in crimes.
ThinkProgress examined data from the home states of six Democratic senators currently on the fence: Arkansas, Indiana, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska, and North Dakota. According to the most recent data available, these six states had: 1) 1,462 gun murders in 2010; 2) 351 gun deaths since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre at the end of last year; and 3) widespread support for universal background checks (following the national trend). Meanwhile, 152 gun shows are scheduled to take place in these states this year, providing criminals who can’t pass background checks in stores with ample opportunity to stock up on guns. All of the states, with the exception of North Carolina, allow individuals to buy guns at these shows without any review:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his pro-gun regulation group Mayors Against Illegal Guns recently launched an ad blitz to encourage residents in 13 key states to lobby their senators to support the proposal. Sen. Donnelly (D-IN) is reportedly considering “a bipartisan compromise on background checks.”
A 16-member Connecticut panel tasked with making recommendations for how to prevent gun violence in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting released its interim report this week, urging lawmakers to pass a ban on high-capacity magazines and limit ammunition purchases. The proposals, which came just one day before a state committee unanimously approved a bill requiring background checks for all guns sales in the state, have sent gun groups into overdrive, with some directly lobbying families in Newton to oppose the measures.
Newtown Action Alliance — a Sandy Hook-based, all-volunteer organization working to reduce gun violence and death — reported on Thursday that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is making robocalls and sending post cards to Newtown families asking them to oppose any new measures. The messages, first obtained by Christina Wilkie of the Huffington Post, warn that “Connecticut General Assembly are aggressively forging ahead with numerous proposals that are designed to disarm and punish law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen”:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation — a group which represents gun manufacturers — has also begun airing radio ads claiming that restrictions will “punish law-abiding citizens” and threatening that gun manufactures will leave the state and take away “thousands of jobs”:
Meanwhile, a recent Quinnipiac poll finds that Connecticut voters — and gun owners — overwhelmingly support universal background checks (93 percent, including 89 percent of gun owners) and stricter statewide gun safety laws. The Newtown families are also not taking kindly to the pr-gun advocacy. One resident told the Huffington Post, “The idea that this message could have been delivered to a sibling of one of the families who lost children at [Sandy Hook Elementary School] is just appalling.” “You’d think they could have scrubbed the list, just to be decent. Instead, you’re making an unsolicited call with no opt-out that my children could answer.”
Thursday night, Congress passed the first federal legislation addressing firearms since the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut. But while one might think the new laws would tighten federal restrictions aimed at preventing criminals from getting guns, the reality is the opposite: all of them are National Rifle Association (NRA) promoted laws that actually weaken federal firearm law.
Six gun provisions were passed as riders attached to the resolution funding the government through September on Thursday. While all six had been federal law since 2004, each was approved by Congress on a year-to-year basis only. Now, four of the provisions are permanent. According to National Public Radio‘s Tamara Keith, the NRA “is the driving force behind these provisions.” Here they are:
1) Limit enforcement tools against crooked dealers. One rider would prevent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agents from shutting down gun stores due to “due to a lack of business activity,” arguably a sign of criminal sales.
2) Shield gun dealers who “lose” their guns. This legislation precludes any federal law that requires gun retailers to count their guns and submit the results as a mechanism of determining whether any weapons have been lost or stolen.
3) Interfere with ATF gun trace reports. The ATF is now mandated to include, in any reports concerning its tracing of guns back to crime, that trace data “cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crime.” Academic work on guns has used trace data to firmly establish that several firearm regulations effectively prevent the spread of guns to criminal.
4) Expand the class of protected guns. According to Roll Call‘s John Gramlich, the fourth permanent law would “place a broad definition of antique guns and ammunition that may be imported into the United States.”
The comprehensive package aimed at tightening gun laws, which would impose universal background checks and harsher penalties on gun traffickers, is facing a tough floor fight in the Senate as a consequence of disagreement over how to enforce the background check provision.