Boy, 10 years old, fires shotgun at cops during 2-hour SWAT standoff in San Diego, CA

Awful news. A 10-year-old boy with a gun was the center of a SWAT standoff, after opening fire on police, several media outlets reported on Thursday. Read the rest

Deadly shooting in Hanau Germany leaves 8+ dead, 5+ wounded

News organizations in Germany are reporting at this hour that an estimated 8 people are dead and at least 5 more injured following a mass shooting in Hanau, Germany.

At the time of this blog post, reports indicate the gunmen are still at large.

Reports indicate that the shooting(s) took place neat at least one hookah (shisha) bar, and a second location. This is a breaking news story, and will change as more information is confirmed by authorities. Read the rest

Facebook removes Thailand mass shooter account, police say 'at least' 10 killed

A soldier in northeast Thailand has killed 'at least' 10 people in a mass shooting, Thai authorities say. Read the rest

This "bulletproof" hoodie comes with a lifetime warranty

Lest you thought the "bulletproof" backpack trend wasn't heinous and exploitative enough, Wonder Hoodie is now selling a "bulletproof" hoodie.

I use "scare-quotes" here because, like most "bulletproof" products on the market, this hoodie claims to rate a IIIA on the National Institute of Justice's Body Armor Performance Standards. This means that the padding is "Tested to stop .357 SIG and .44 Magnum ammunition fired from longer barrel handguns. No rifle ammunition protection."

So it's not really bulletproof so much as it is bullet resistant for certain handguns. Which ain't gonna help in the occasion someone shows up with an AR-15 or similar semi-automatic rifle. Also, if we're being technical, it hasn't actually been tested and certified by the NIJ, but rather by an independent lab. But I digress.

If it does make you feel comfortable about the statistically likelihood situation of a mass shooting, then by all means, spend the $800 for the adult-sized hoodie, even though you're more likely to die in a boating or a spaceship incident. (To be fair, a deliberate assault by a gun is way more likely than either of these events, though still a lower risk than death from cancer, flu, or falling.) And to make it even more worth the exploitative emotional manipulation investment, the company also offers a "Limited Lifetime Warranty." Here's what that entails:

If you get shot (God forbid) with our hoodies on, we'll send you a replacement hoodie FREE of charge. Just include the police report or news clip.

Read the rest

A Pittsburgh church held a gun buyback in honor of MLK Day and ran out of money in 40 minutes

Cities across the US have been holding gun buyback programs since at least 1974. Most of these events have been organized by local police departments, who typically offer between $50 and $250 in cash or gift cards in exchange for a turned-in firearm with no questions asked.

The Episcopal congregation at the Church of the Holy Cross in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania tried their hands at a similar program on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, largely inspired by a double homicide that occurred in front of the church in November 2019. Church leaders had planned to remain available all throughout the afternoon, offering $100 per gun.

In the first 40 minutes, more than 50 people showed up, and the church ran out of the $5,000 they had budgeted for the event.

Many gun advocate argue that events like these are nothing more than symbolic acts of virtue-signalling that ultimately make no real impact on curbing gun violence. And statistically speaking, they're probably right. But that shouldn't diminish the hope, inspiration, and community building that can be derived from such events.

That's why the Church of the Holy Cross is planning to hold another similar event soon. If you do want to donate to the cause to help buy back more guns, you can send money directly to the church at 7507 Kelly Street in Pittsburgh; unfortunately, they don't take donations online.

With so many guns turned in, Pittsburgh buyback program runs out of money in 40 minutes [WPXI]

Image via Frankie Leon/Flickr Read the rest

Gun Violence Isn't a Problem — it's actually 5 Problems, with Different Solutions

I’ve written extensively on gun violence, spoken on international TV and radio on the subject, and even pursued a gun license in the strictest city of one of the strictest states in the country. Despite my first-hand experience, the most ardent defenders of the Second Amendment — like those who marched on Richmond, Virginia this weekend to protest "Jim Crow" gun laws — will still tell me things like, “We don’t need more laws! We need to enforce the laws on the books!” or “We can’t stop every shooting because that’s just the price of freedom.” Those same #2A Avengers will of course acknowledge that yeah, okay, maybe NICS has some problems, or maybe those Parkland cops should have done something earlier, and then swiftly retreat back into the same tribalistic mindsets that always prevent human progress.

So I wrote this essay, hoping to have a rational conversation. It was originally published on Medium in 2018, but it remains frustratingly relevant, so I'm posting it here.

Naming something gives you power over it.

That’s the basic idea behind all the magic in every folktale dating back for centuries, from “Rumpelstiltskin” to the Rolling Stones’ “Hope you guessed my name.” Ancient shamans didn’t practice “magic”; they just had knowledge, and names for things like “eye of newt” that no one else could understand. To name something is to know it, and knowledge is power.Think about the relationship between “spelling” and “spells” and you won’t be so surprised that Harry Potter has been all over the gun violence conversations lately, on both the Left and the Right—which makes sense, considering that they have a word you memorize and practice reciting in order to kill people. Read the rest

Here's a 1968 episode of The Dick Cavett show discussing the assassination of Robert Kennedy

It's fascinating to see this round table discussion on The Dick Cavett Show about the assassination of Robert Kennedy. People had the same concerns about gun violence 50 years ago, but the way people talked about it on TV in 1968 is inconceivable today. The panelists were allowed to speak for more that 15 seconds without being interrupted, and the other panelist appeared to be listening to what the others were saying. The panel consisted of actor Robert "Man From U.N.C.L.E." Vaughn (a politically active friend of the Kennedys), NAACP executive director Roy Wilkins, psychiatrist David Abrahamsen (author of "A Study of Lee Harvey Oswald: Psychological Capability of Murder"), and broadcast journalist David Schoenbrun. Read the rest

Child, 3, shot dad in the butt with family gun

A 3-year-old boy shot his father in his rear end with a gun the toddler found in their Erie, Pennsylvania home, say police. The father survived. Read the rest

Most "black market" guns in America are purchased legally across state lines

States' rights are one of the greatest impediments to reducing gun violence in the United States.

This was something I noticed when I chronicled the journey of getting my gun license in Boston. It's also all-but-confirmed by the recent release of the ATF's gun tracking data. From The Trace:

According to the most recent ATF statistics, released in August, the bureau traced 332,101 guns in 2018. The average time-to-crime of those weapons was 8.8 years. That’s why a particularly short time-to-crime raises red flags for law enforcement, since it often suggests the weapon was acquired for criminal purposes.

[…]

In California, for example, 12 percent of the guns recovered in the state had a time-to-crime of less than one year. When you isolate only those guns that originated in Nevada and were recovered in California, the figure jumps to 23 percent — almost one in four. (Nationally, 10 percent of all guns had a time-to-crime of less than one year.)

For the pro-gun NRA crowd, this essentially proves that gun regulation doesn't work; that's a reason they love to talk about Chicago so much, even though most of the illegal guns there come from Indiana. But I don't actually buy that at all. The issue is and always been about ease of access. Most people aren't going to go out of their way to navigate the black market, trading Bitcoin over Silk Road just to get a gun. If you live in California, and have a cousin in Nevada (or even just know a guy who knows a guy), it becomes less of a "black market" trade, and more of a favor. Read the rest

Seattle authorities used "Red Flag" gun laws to disarm a Neo-Nazi

Kaleb J. Cole (aka "Khimaere") is the 24-year-old leader of the Washington State cell of the Atomwaffen Division, an international network of violent Neo-Nazis. Aside from generally spewing hateful rhetoric, Cole had also been seen participating in Atomwaffen's "Hate Camps," sharpening his rifle skills for more extremist violence.

Fortunately, he no longer has access to any guns. From The Daily Beast:

[Cole] had his guns seized on Oct. 1st, according to King County Court records. The move came after the Seattle Police Department filed a 62-page “Extreme Risk Protection Order” petition against Cole on Sept. 26, according to electronic court records. Among the weapons that had been in Cole's possession were a pistol and an AK-47 variant with a high-capacity drum magazine.

To be clear, Cole has not been charged on any specific crimes. As far as anyone's aware, he hasn't killed anyone—at least not yet, although there is arguably reason to believe that he plans to. In addition to the target-practice videos where he can be seen chanting "Race war now" with the rest of his buddies, Cole has openly admitted to his fascist beliefs, and support for armed insurrection.

Again: not technically crimes. But valids cause for concern. That's where the "Red Flag" or "Extreme Risk" laws come in. They're basically restraining orders, but for guns.

One of the biggest struggles with reducing gun violence in America is that a lot of the proposed legislation also infringes on civil liberties. For example: the various "No-Fly Lists" that the government maintains have no clear criteria or due process, which ends up punishing people innocent Muslims, government employees, and literal fucking babies. Read the rest

Sandy Hook dad to get $450,000 from conspiracy theorist

Retired professor James Fetzer co-authored the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook." He was found guilty in June of defaming Leonard Pozner. Now, a jury says he must pay nearly half a million dollars in damages. Read the rest

Washington is finally starting to do something about gun violence, just not about mass shootings

The House Judiciary Committee actually held a hearing about gun violence in late September. But you probably didn't hear about it—either because the rest of US politics are so overwhelmingly terrible right now, or because it lacked the dramatic oomph of mass shootings or the inevitable gun ban proposals that always seem to follow.

Mass shootings only comprise about one percent of all gun deaths; we just hear about them more, because they're so damn horrific (though whether they're more frequent now is up for debate). Far more lives lost to suicides and gang-related violence every year. Overall, firearm injuries are the second leading cause of death for people under the age of 18. In other words, gun violence isn't a problem—it's (at least) 5 different problems, with different solutions.

What makes this House Judiciary Committee hearing even more remarkable is that for once they actually spoke with people from communities that are directly affected by these problems. Community-based solutions like this have the potential to save even more lives if you include the right people in the conversations (which unfortunately doesn't happen very often). They also have greater potential to gain bipartisan support. No one's talking about taking guns away, and no one's talking about empowering a disciplinarian police state using fear to keep the local systems in line. They just need funding and support for resources like social work. And that might actually make a difference.

(Thumbnail image via Flickr) Read the rest

Arizona GOP: “We'll stop gun-grabber Mark Kelly dead in his tracks” (He's married to Gabrielle Giffords, gun massacre survivor)

The Arizona Republican Party's chairman said in a fundraising email today the GOP will stop astronaut and Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly “dead in his tracks.” Read the rest

Mississippi: White woman who pulled gun on Black couple at KOA campground fined $250

Glad no one was hurt, but seriously? $250? Read the rest

Amnesty International issues travel advisory for the United States of America

I'm pretty sure that we can all agree that shit has been well out-of-hand in the United States of America for some time now. Children are being taken from their parents and held in deplorable conditions. Folks are murdered for the color of their skin. Gun violence... yeah. It's bullshit. So, it should come as no surprise that a number of nations including New Zealand, The Bahamas, Germany and Japan have all issued travel advisories to their citizens, warning them that traveling to the U.S.A. could result in very bad things.  One could argue this away as politics. Amnesty International, however, hasn't got a nationalistic horse in this race. Today, they came out swinging with a statement as well, chatting up the fact that maybe visiting the 'States ain't such a great idea.

From Amnesty International:

 

Let's be honest: there's not a damn thing in there that isn't true.

Images via Amnesty International Read the rest

Woman at DMV started shooting because line was too slow, police say

A woman at a Kansas City, MO Department of Motor Vehicles office said “the president’s security was in danger,” and pulled out a gun and started shooting because she felt the line was moving too slowly, according to news reports citing witnesses and local police. Read the rest

Are you in a school shooting right now? There's an app for that

How messed up is America? This messed up. Schoolteachers are being encouraged to use an app to alert police and school employees about an active shooting incident in real time, as the mass shooting happens. Read the rest

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