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Christmas Comes Early for Gun Nuts

Mike Weisser   |   November 30, 2015   10:03 AM ET

Christmas is coming early this year for gun nuts, thanks to a provision of the Defense Authorization Bill that Obama just signed into law. And the NRA is cheering because this small part of the military funding bill releases a huge stash of 1911 45-caliber pistols that have been gathering rust in military arsenals since the Army switched its battle pistol to the Beretta M9, 9mm model back in 1985.

John Browning's small-arms masterpiece was actually designed and then initially manufactured in 1907. But the gun wasn't adopted by the U.S. Military until 1911, hence the nomenclature under which the pistol probably became the second most popular handgun of all time (the first being Browning's other great design, the Hi-Power, aka P-35.) In addition to the United States, the 1911 was adopted by military units in at least 28 other countries, carried by police worldwide, and copied by manufacturers in South America, Eastern Europe and the Far East. I have probably owned 20 of these pistols since I bought my first one in 1976; I have three of them currently, including an absolutely mint civilian model manufactured at the Hartford Colt factory on Huyshope Avenue in 1920.

Despite its long-standing popularity, the Colt 1911 and, for that matter the 45 caliber ammunition eventually fell into disfavor in the 1970s when European pistol makers, in particular Beretta, Glock and Sig, began manufacturing high-capacity, double-action, polymer framed pistols in 9mm caliber that were capable of holding and shooting (without reloading) 15 or 16 rounds. Since the 1911 only held 8 rounds and was a single-action gun, it was seen as too outmoded and too traditional in design for the modern day. Ironically, the first lightweight-framed, double-action 9mm pistol on the market was manufactured by Smith & Wesson, which was sold in the United States prior to the appearance of any of the off-shore guns. The only problem with this gun, known as the Model 59 (there was also a beautiful, single-stack version known as the Model 39) was that it didn't work. Well, it kind of worked, but often it didn't work, and if you took the gun apart to clean it there was a good chance it would have to be shipped back to the factory service department in order to get it reassembled again.

When the U.S. Army commenced field tests to replace the 1911, the Model 59 didn't get through the first round. Then the Army, in response to pressure from (believe it or not) Senator Ted Kennedy, conducted a second series of field tests in order to choose a new pistol, the Model 59 immediately flunked the tests again. Which meant that, sooner or later, in addition to the military, cops throughout the U.S. would be carrying European-style, hi-capacity pistols, which would then result in the same types of weapons ending up in the street.

What actually brought about the revival of interest in the 1911 pistol was another government move, namely, the Clinton assault-weapons "ban" of 1994. By placing a limit of 10 rounds on all gun magazines shipped with new guns, the superior firepower of high-capacity, double-action pistols disappeared. What was the difference between 10 rounds of 9mm ammunition versus 8 rounds of the larger, 45-caliber shell? Not very much, which explains why the venerable 1911 is still valued today. Which also explains why the NRA is making such a big deal out of releasing the 1911 service pistols to the Civilian Marksmanship Program, hence to licensed dealers, hence to gun nuts like me.

There's only one little problem. Right now if I want to sell one of my 1911 service pistols with the original markings on the slide and frame, the gun will fetch me somewhere just south of two thousand bucks. Know what's going to happen to that price when thousands of surplus army pistols hit the street? The value of my 1911 stash just disappeared. Thanks for nothing, NRA. Thanks for nothing President Obama. And Merry Christmas to both of you too.

Here's Why the Alleged Planned Parenthood Killer Isn't Called a Domestic Terrorist

Earl Ofari Hutchinson   |   November 29, 2015    9:26 PM ET

The two words that were glaringly missing in the reams of news clips, press reports and news features on alleged Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Clinic killer, Robert Lewis Dear, were "domestic" and "terrorist." His target, the clinic and his victims, were deliberately and calculatedly chosen. Attorney General Loretta Lynch promptly labeled the shooting a "crime against women receiving healthcare services at Planned Parenthood." And he allegedly made rambling utterances about "more baby parts."

The shootings came against the backdrop of a months-long vicious, vile and relentless attack campaign vilifying Planned Parenthood by Republicans in efforts to gut, or outright eliminate, all funding for Planned Parenthood programs and services. The targets and the killings were, by any definition, the lethal combination of politics and raw terrorism. In almost every case, the perpetrators of these murderous acts are non-Muslim. According to FBI reports between 2008 and 2012, about six percent of domestic terrorism suspects were Muslim, or about one in 17. Dear fit the profile, to a tee, of just who is likely to commit a domestic terror act: namely a staunch gun advocate, politically disgruntled, white male.

Yet, a University of Illinois study found that the overwhelming majority of those labeled domestic terrorists on network TV news shows were Muslim.

While President Obama, and Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, quickly blasted the Colorado Springs mayhem, not one of the GOP presidential contenders condemned the shootings. The closest any of them got included tepid statements from Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida governor Jeb Bush expressing sympathy for the victims.

The issue of who gets called a domestic terrorist following a violent outburst exploded into national debate following the massacre at the Charleston AME Church last June. Obama branded the massacre an act of terror. Yet, nearly all major media outlets, and GOP leaders that commented on it, and the FBI, absolutely refused to brand the shooter, Dylann Roof, a terrorist or call his act an act of domestic terrorism.

The refusal to call Roof, and now Dear, a "terrorist" is far from an arcane quibble over terms and definitions, or even over the race and gender of the shooters. It strikes to the heart of how many Americans have been reflexively conditioned to see thuggery and terrorism. They see it through the narrow, warped prism of who commits the acts, rather than the horrific acts and their consequences.

FBI Director James B. Comey was blunt when pressed as to why he refused to brand Roof a terrorist: "Terrorism is an act done or threatened to in order to try to influence a public body or the citizenry, so it's more of a political act and then, again, based on what I know so far, I don't see it as a political act."

But this begs the issue. In his so-called manifesto, Roof, by his own admission, made it clear that his target was blacks and that he targeted them to sow fear and terror and start a racial conflagration.

Likewise Dear's reference to "baby parts" was very deliberate and pointed at specific groups that he saw as threats to the right-wing's stock definition of the American way. When you combine a hate-filled shooter's naming of groups, the easy access to guns and whatever demons are in his head, the horrid consequence is a terror act as sure as if he had mapped out a bomb attack on local Democratic Party headquarters.

The Justice Department did hint that it is exploring a domestic terrorism case against Dear. But the huge caveat is that Dear will be prosecuted in state court. And there is absolutely no guarantee that state prosecutors will treat Dear's act as anything other than a straight murder case. His alleged crime fits every definition of what a hate crime is in law and public policy. However, there's little doubt that if he had been Muslim and had shot up a Protestant church, he would have been branded a terrorist and the Justice Department would have been under relentless national pressure to bring terrorism charges against him. The act would have been a textbook legal fit of the FBI's definition of domestic terrorism which says it must be an act "dangerous to human life," that serves to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population."

The same definition could just as easily apply to Dear's acts. The narrative in the public's mind about Dear was set long before he wreaked havoc with his deadly act. He is a deeply disturbed, mentally challenged drifter and loner, who, if anything, is in dire need of mental treatment and care, and a part of the blame for him not getting it is somehow hoisted on to society as its failing.

Government agencies, much of the media and the broad swatch of the public so far doggedly refuse to shed its ingrained mindset that terror acts can only be committed by a foreign group, almost always Muslim. This confuses, disarms and puts even more Americans in harm's way from the nation's real home-grown terrorists, who are likely to look, think and act like Dear.


Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is Trump and the GOP: Race Baiting to the White House (Amazon Kindle).

He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network

Igor Bobic   |   November 25, 2015    9:20 AM ET

Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday denied that the issue of gun control motivated him to run for the New Jersey state Senate two decades ago, despite the fact that he said so at the time.

In 1993, Christie, then 31, attempted unsuccessfully to unseat John Dorsey (R), the state Senate majority leader, after the New Jersey GOP attempted to repeal the state's semi-automatic weapons ban.

"The issue which has energized me to get into this race is the recent attempt by certain Republican legislators to repeal New Jersey's ban on assault weapons,' Christie said in an April 14, 1993, statement, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. ''In today's society, no one needs a semi-automatic assault weapon."

But when asked by Fox News' Brett Baier on Tuesday whether it was true that gun control -- something no Republican presidential hopeful wants to be associated with -- "inspired" him to enter politics, Christie said it was not.

"No, that's not true. No," the governor said.

When Baier held up the text of the 1993 Star-Ledger article that included his statement, Christie brushed it off, claiming a hazy memory.

"I don't remember saying that. So, we'll see," he said, adding, "That's ... 22 years ago? I don't remember. I could've. It doesn't sound like me."

When Baier asked whether that meant the Star-Ledger had gotten it wrong, Christie responded with some characteristic sarcasm.

"I know it's never been before," he said. "No newspaper's ever been wrong before."

After losing the Senate race, Christie made the semi-automatic weapons ban an issue when he ran for the state General Assembly against a Republican opponent.

While the governor may not remember that the ban compelled him to run for office, he does seem to remember that he once supported it. In a 2014 interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Christie defended his reversal on the issue by arguing it was human nature to have a change in opinion. 

"I think it's a lot more complicated than I thought it was at 31 years old, and I've learned a lot in the last 21 years. So yeah, a long time ago," Christie said. "By the way, I've changed a lot of my positions over time. Here's the thing, if you're a thinking, breathing human being, and life experience is something you take in, and you never change your mind? Then you're stubborn."

Adam Goldberg   |   November 24, 2015   12:51 PM ET

By failing to talk about the majority of gun murder victims — black men — politicians and advocates are missing the chance to save lives.

Parents Who Send Their Children to Play at Someone Else's Home Have a Right to Know Whether That Home Is Safe

Mike Weisser   |   November 24, 2015    8:23 AM ET

I'm very lucky. Every year when the holidays roll around I'm one of those people who will spend time with a loving, supportive family, entertain and visit friends and even attend an office party from which, if I'm careful, I can drive myself home. But the holidays also mark a time when many of us don't do so well; we are alone, or depressed, or drink too much during this and other times of the year. Some of us don't have family, don't have friends, the Thanksgiving dinner, if we're lucky, is consumed at a shelter or in the street.

I'm sure you, like me, have responded to requests for donations to this or that program which will bring some cheer into other people's lives. Americans are generous, we like to help those in need. I'll pay for some dinners to be served at a halfway house, my neighbor runs Toys for Tots at our local KofC. Which is why I was heartened to see that Everytown has just posted a Holiday Safety Message on its Be Smart campaign. Because gun accidents, more than any other kind of safety issue, are chilling and scary events. And if you don't believe me, just ask the residents of Hayden, ID, who had to find the strength to get through the Holidays last year after a young and vigorous Mom was shot dead in Walmart by her two-year old son.

The Everytown holiday safety message continues a safety campaign started last year which tries to remind parents that there are ways to deal positively and properly with the risks of guns. It's a no-brainer to lock guns up when they're not being used; ditto keep them unloaded around the home and, most important, always keep guns out of the hands of kids. Children are naturally curious, they have no sense of risk or fear, they teach themselves about the world by touching everything around them and for sure this includes guns.

The gun industry has been promoting its own brand of gun safety largely through the ChildSafe program run by the NSSF. The program distributes gun locks and safety literature and encourages parents to talk to their children about safe behavior around guns. But what this program does not do is tell parents to talk to other parents about their guns. And this is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, because parents who send their children to play at someone else's home have a right to know whether that home is safe. And like it or not, no matter what the NRA says about the benefits of gun ownership outweighing the risks, the fact is that a home with a gun inside it is a home where a gun accident could take place.

In 2013, the last year for which we have good data, 16,864 Americans were the victims of non-fatal, unintentional injuries from guns. Now listen carefully: 14,886 were males and 16,326 were over the age of 15. In other words, when it comes to accidental shootings, what we are really talking about are boys and men playing with their own guns. Now don't get me wrong; every life is precious and nobody should endure the heartache and pain of losing a life, particularly the very young. But gun safety, when all is said and done, is a function of the fact that we are humans which means we are careless and we forget. The real value of Everytown's holiday safety message is that it serves as a reminder that a memory lapse with a gun can have a terrible effect.

If there's one thing the pro-gun community has decided is that groups like Everytown are just promoting gun safety to disguise the fact that the real goal is to confiscate all guns. Let me break it to the pro-gun folks gently -- there wouldn't be any reason for Everytown to talk about gun safety if gun owners would all lock up their guns.

Willa Frej   |   November 24, 2015    7:50 AM ET

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recently praised U.S. security officials for keeping the country safe in the years since the 9/11 attacks, but also highlighted the threats posed by white men who carry out mass shootings.

The terrorist attacks that killed 130 in Paris on Nov. 13 have reignited a discussion about security within the U.S., prompting politicians to opine on foreign versus domestic threats.

“I think most of us recognize that we’re concerned but we also know that we trust the FBI and our security forces to do this right,” Brown told WAKR radio last week. “Since the beginning of the Bush administration when we were attacked, Sept. 11, we’ve not had any major terrorist attack in this country. We’ve had individual crazy people; normally, they look more like me than they look like Middle Easterners. They are generally white males, who have shot up people in movie theaters and schools. Those are terrorist attacks; they’re just different kinds of terrorists.”

Individuals shouldn't live in fear of being attacked, he added, because the federal government and local communities have "done a pretty good job keeping us safe" from "foreigners attacking this country," he added.

Yet there are still "crazy gunmen" who enter schools and movie theaters, he noted. The U.S. is home to 31 percent of the world's mass shooters, a larger share than any other country, according to a recent study by University of Alabama criminologist Adam Lankford.

Other politicians have expressed similar sentiments. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) said he's more afraid of "large gatherings of white men that come into schools, theaters and shoot people up."

Also on HuffPost:

The Lepers in America

René Zografos   |   November 23, 2015    3:08 PM ET

While many Americans have two or three jobs on a daily basis, there are at the same time many people who are left outside of the daily working and social life. If we compare Americans' labor force to countries elsewhere, we find that US workers put in more working hours than any other industrial nation in the world. Americans work more than a month more annually than the Japanese, and three months more than the Germans, three months more than Germans who are the locomotive in the European economy!

People abroad believe America must think twice about their work situation, because to work as much as Americans do may be self-destructive for individuals as well as the country itself.
First of all, an American with an average, normal salary should be able to live from that one job. It's not healthy to go from one job to another day after day while your kids are waiting for you at home. That stress can cause illness, heart attacks, depression, and problems in many relationships. At the same time, we find many people who are left outside for different reasons such as expensive education, learning problems, drugs, and many other applicants who also want jobs.

Second, we also know that many American workers don't have statutory right to paid vacations, and if we count in the days during the different Holidays seasons where many industrial countries have days and weeks off, Americans again come in last place.

Because of this, it's also very challenging to be left outside the working life in the US, in America, more than any other country in the world; to participate at school, having a job and a career is significant. Through school and job you can find mates, activities, gatherings and a social life. If you count in that America is about money and wealth, these people without jobs are becoming the lepers in America with very few to socialize with in addition to less wealth.

The result of this kind of labor policy is that America has exhausted people working with little spare time. At the same you have unemployed people with enough time that are forced outside of the daily society and are not let in.

To include everyone gives a warmer and healthier society. Photo: René Zografos

Since the prices to get a decent education have risen enormously the last decade, America automatically excludes youngsters from the daily society. For many young people, it's essential to have an education in today's competitive America.

What I also have learned from other cultures is that there must be both work and play time. That the healthiest and also the most prosperous countries can balance between work and leisure time. The best industrial countries in the world are also great at involving most of the population into working life - no matter what background they have.

America may try to learn and adopt something from these countries. Let unemployed get work; pay all workers a minimum wage they can live from, let all Americans; to start with, have two statutory weeks off. It will most likely be paid back with interest with hardworking, loyal, motivated and healthy staff. There will then be fewer poor people and less crime. The middle class will bloom and suddenly you will have a nation of well-paying customers that will bring America back to the glory days. Today's politics just does not work for the common American, and therefore, changes that involve and lead all Americans into a brighter future seems to be the right direction - for both rich or poor, because it's not necessary to have any more lepers in today's America.

New Reality TV From TLC and the NRA: Baby's Got a Gun

Joseph Huff-Hannon   |   November 23, 2015   12:38 PM ET

(I just received this press release from a PR flack at TLC. A new reality show about America's armed and dangerous toddlers? WTF?? Is this for real?!?)

WASHINGTON, DC. Nov. 23, 2015 / PRNewswire -- Discovery Communications announced today the launch of Baby's Got a Gun, a new reality television series coming to American homes this Spring, from the team at TLC who catapulted the nation's sassiest sweetheart to fame in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

The new show explores a precocious cast of all American characters passionate about the Second Amendment. The series is part of a new partnership with the National Rifle Association (NRA), America's premiere organization for sport shooting enthusiasts.

Baby's Got a Gun follows a fast-growing but deeply misunderstood American demographic; one that's received a bum rap in recent sensationalist media coverage.

But don't believe the hype! These American toddlers are standing their ground with the best of them, taking part in target practice and Open Carry demonstrations across the country, and having a blast all the way. Discovery Communications is thrilled to unveil a sneak peak of the new network trailer:

"With Toddlers in Tiaras and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, TLC pulled back the curtain on pageant culture and introduced us to a pint sized American icon," said Raquelle Simmons, Vice President for Acquisitions at Discovery Communications. "Viewers will no doubt be equally bewitched by this intimate tag-along with a group of rootin tootin shootin American youngsters."

Gun owning toddlers have received an unusual amount of attention in the American news media recently, not all of it positive. Baby's Got a Gun is a corrective to some of that biased reporting.

The program is the brainchild of the National Rifle Association's "Eddie Eagle" program, the wildly successful GunSafe® curriculum for children. The NRA is providing some of the program's more high calibre props.

"The liberal media has been having a field day with inaccurate depictions of young Americans shooting their parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and even babysitters," said Dr. Lisa Monroe, NRA spokesperson and child firearm safety expert. "We are thrilled that this show is leaving the politics behind, and letting these kids speak and shoot for themselves."

Baby's Got a Gun premieres on Thanksgiving on November 26, at 8:00 pm ET on TLC, available in most major cable markets. A pre-launch party is scheduled Wednesday November 25, 6pm ET, at Kissimmee Florida's new all ages amusement park, Machine Gun America.

To learn more about Baby's Got a Gun contact the NRA at:
1-800-231-0752 or


PS) This is a work of satire, though just barely: "Senate Democrats want to know why American toddlers keep shooting people" The Washington Post recently reported. The author is working on a new play about American gun culture, with a particular focus on America's increasingly armed tots.

Selective Good and Selective Silence -- The Politics of Corporate Social Good and Guns

Rebecca Bond   |   November 23, 2015    4:35 AM ET

Last month our gun safety organization Evolve issued a challenge to Walmart on MSNBC asking them to promote gun safety on the biggest shopping day of the year. Which also happens to be one of the biggest gun sales day of the year: Black Friday.

Imagine if America had gun safety conversations en masse at Walmart? At the time when the most guns and accessories are sold (2014 was the second largest day in gun sales history, with the FBI reporting almost three background checks every second. If we did this, there might be one less "if only" after we read about yet another avoidable shooting of a 6-year-old. If we could amplify that message through the largest community-driven retailer in the world, with 2.2 million employees and over 10,000 stores. THAT would be a bold "make a difference" move. All brought to you by socially responsible Walmart.

Walmart recently got great reviews for doing something to prevent kids dying in hot car seats. Walmart reminds us that 39 infants and toddlers die annually in hot cars, and explains that they have taken on this cause because "there are millions of cars in the parking lot." I applaud them for this proactive effort. But of course, everyone is pro safety when it comes to kids dying in hot cars. Who would argue with innovating new ways to prevent this?

In contrast, we all know the hot potato of guns and politics makes companies duck-and-cover when it comes to anything to do with gun safety. Yet, with all the guns carried out of Walmart into those same parking lots, it would be nice if some of those gun buyers were reminded of the rules of gun safety before they got home. Does it sound odd that Walmart, Starbucks or the NBA would ever promote gun safety? No more than Breast Cancer Awareness "pinkafication" and NFL players wearing pink ribbons on their jerseys and cleats.

What exactly are they afraid of? Apparently, all it takes is one extreme person to start protesting that industry-standard gun safety measures are restricting my second amendment rights. That's when behemoth brands like Walmart start to get nervous and fill up their marketing calendars with car seats and sustainability. But all it takes to fix that problem is a voice. The voice of the customer. And the voice of Walmart. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about the "silence of good people" as an obstacle to Civil Rights progress -- I would revise that statement today and say it's the silence of good companies that is holding back progress. Selective good and selective silence, rather than consistently doing the right thing for the communities that they profit from.

Doing the right thing as a socially responsible brand takes leadership, creativity and vision. With some bravery and heart too. Brands who seek this lofty status, need to take on those challenges, if they aspire to be the authentic voice of today's customers.

People who sell dangerous products have always endured a conflict. As global brands, they must weigh conscience with commerce. Efforts to keep people safe must be seriously undertaken, otherwise it is superficially selective in social good.

So with alcohol, bars check IDs, even when you look over 40. Spirits brands promote designated driver campaigns, even though it is, in effect telling people NOT to consume their product. And yet spirits sales are just fine. As far as regulation, the alcohol industry has shown that if you "self-regulate" with massive safety efforts -- making lots of great ads, partnering with brands such as Uber -- it's a halo effect of good and you get left alone by government regulators. Given all this, why aren't more of the mass retailers who sell gun products, actively partnering and supporting what could make gun safety as memorable and iconic as "Friends don't let friends drive drunk"?

Maybe we just need to tell them that someone IS looking.

Jennifer Bendery   |   November 22, 2015    6:30 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton has said that, as president, she would use her executive authority to tighten a loophole that lets people buy guns online and at gun shows without a background check.

Democrats on Capitol Hill want President Barack Obama to just do it now.

In separate letters, more than 120 House and Senate Democrats wrote to Obama on Monday urging him to take executive action to eliminate ambiguity surrounding the term "engaged in the business" as it relates to federally licensed firearms dealers.

Currently, only licensed gun dealers are required to perform background checks for all gun sales, and only those "engaged in the business" of dealing in guns are required to get a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). But because the term is vague -- is someone "in the business" if they sell eight guns? Seven guns? -- people can sell guns at a high volume online or at gun shows without performing background checks.

"Updating the definition of 'engaged in the business' to provide more explicit guidance as to which gun sellers are required to obtain a federal firearms license would not impact a father giving a gun to his son, or an individual selling his gun on the internet," reads the Senate letter. "But it will help ensure that individuals are not able to continue to ... sell guns at a high volume without any oversight by ATF and without conducting background checks."

"This type of action is not without precedent," reads the House letter, "as many states have provided this type of explicit guidance regarding which vendors engaged in retail sales in the state are required to collect states' sales tax."

The effort was led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).

Obama has previously said he's exhausted all tools available to him to strengthen gun control. He signed 23 executive actions on gun control in the weeks after the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. But in the absence of congressional action, there's only so much he can do.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Administration officials told The Washington Post's Greg Sargent in October that the idea is far more complicated than it might seem and could lead to legal challenges. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this month he's not sure if Clinton's proposal, also backed by fellow Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley, is doable.

"I'm not sure that the administration has conducted a legal analysis of their specific proposals," Earnest said at his Nov. 3 briefing. "But what the administration is doing, at the direction of the president, is actually carefully considering what authorities are available to the president and looking to see if there are some additional steps that can be taken to prevent criminals ... from getting their hands on a gun so easily."

Democrats have recently stepped up their calls on Obama to act on gun control, perhaps because his time in the White House is winding down. A few lawmakers wrote to him earlier this month urging him to use his authority to require gun manufacturers who sell guns to the government to use stricter safety measures, such as researching "smart guns" and working with law enforcement.

Also on HuffPost:

Nina Golgowski   |   November 19, 2015   11:55 AM ET

Authorities in California on Wednesday confiscated more than 500 firearms and 100,000 rounds of ammunition in the state's largest illegal weapons seizure from a single home.

The massive cache was taken from a Fresno County man who had been prohibited from possessing firearms due to a previous mental health hold, said Kamala Harris, the state's attorney general.

California Department of Justice agents arrested Albert Sheakalee, 59, for illegal firearms possession. They told local outlet ABC30 News that Sheakalee was formerly a federal arms dealer. He was released after posting $11,000 bail, prosecutors said. 

His collection included 209 handguns, 88 shotguns, 234 rifles, 181 standard-capacity magazines, 10 high-capacity magazines, 100,521 rounds of various ammunition, and 10 assault weapons, the attorney general's office said.

Sheakalee lost his license to sell firearms last year and his right to own them this year, ABC30 News reported. He was treated for mental health issues three times in June, and his name was added to state’s Armed Prohibited Persons System.


The attorney general's office describes that system as a first-of-its-kind automated database that tracks owners of handguns or assault weapons "who might fall into a prohibited status."

"Obviously when a person is admitted into a hospital for a mental health hold it's because he's believed to be a danger to himself or to the public," DOJ Special Agent-In-Charge Michael Haroldsen told ABC30.

Harris said the raid is proof of APPS's continuing success.

Since November 2013, the number of individuals in APPS has been reduced by nearly half, dropping to a historic low, her office said.

"Over the last two years, the California Department of Justice has doubled the average number of guns seized annually and increased the number of investigations per month by nearly 300%, allowing special agents to conduct 17,465 investigations as of October 30, 2015," the office said in a release.

"Removing firearms from dangerous and violent individuals who pose a threat to themselves and the public is a top priority for the California Department of Justice," Harris said in the release. "I thank our Bureau of Firearms Special Agents for their bravery in carrying out these dangerous investigations and their commitment to keeping our communities safe."

Shaklee's son told the station he and his father run a weapons dealership out of the home and that all but one of the firearms were registered to either himself or his father.

Even if the weapons were registered, Haroldsen said, it was concerning to see how they were being stored.  

"These firearms were not stored in safes or locked up, so anyone breaking into his home would have had access to any of these guns," he said.

Paris Attack Elicits More Gun-free Zone Nonsense From Trump and Company

Mike Weisser   |   November 16, 2015    3:03 PM ET

It only took The Donald a couple of hours to figure out how to use the Paris craziness to once again demonstrate that if there's something worth saying in a totally outrageous way, he'll figure it out. And while the other Republican presidential candidates initially kept to themselves about what happened in the City of Light, leave it to Trump to jump onto Twitter and let fly with what we now expect from him, namely, a comment that is obscenely stupid or totally false, or both.

In this case, along with making some statements about Syrian refugees that could have easily tumbled out of the mouth of the fascist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, we were then treated to what has become the standard Trump-ism for dealing with all the world's problems, namely, giving everyone a gun. Here's how he 'analyzed' the problem, in Paris: "If they had guns, if our people were allowed to carry, it would have been a much different situation.

And to make sure that nobody would fail to make the connection between everything that's wrong in the world and the Kenyan-born occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump went on to say, "You look at certain cities that have the highest violence with guns and shootings and killings -- Chicago is an example, toughest gun laws in the United States."

When you stop to think about it, however, why should we condemn Trump for reminding us about the dangers of gun-free zones, when the NRA has been saying the same thing for years? Isn't this what Wayne-o said one week after Sandy Hook? Isn't this what red-meat noisemakers like Breitbart say every chance they get? In fact, it appears that the tweet put out there by Trump-o was actually a replay of what he tweeted back in January after the Charlie Hebdo attack. One way or another, the phrase 'gun-free zone' has become a standard part of the American political lexicon and Trump-o can't be blamed just because he gives it yet another digital whirl.

On the other hand, if Trump is going to talk about the negative results of gun control in the city whose current residents include the president of the United States, sooner or later someone from the media might actually try to earn a day's salary by asking him about gun-control efforts in his own city, in this case not his adopted home town, but the place where he was born, which happens to be New York. Because, in fact, New York boasts the country's toughest gun-control statute known as the Sullivan Act, which went into effect before World War I. And the result of this law is that The Big Apple is, to all intents and purposes, a totally gun-free zone. If you're willing to plunk down $434.95 and wait six months, you might be allowed to keep an unloaded gun in your home, but as for concealed-carry, unless you're Donald Trump, fuggedabout it, which means, don't waste your time.

Now it just so happens that this gun-free zone containing 8 million people has a gun-homicide rate of 2.2 per 100,000 residents, which makes it far and away the safest city -- in terms of gun violence -- in the entire United States. Chicago's gun homicide rate is 4 times higher, Los Angeles comes in at 3.52. And the neighborhood where Trump-o himself lives has not seen a single gun homicide or any kind of homicide for the last several years. And don't think for one second that there aren't plenty of opportunities for the bad guys to bring guns into New York; the city of Newark right across the harbor just recorded its 44th gun homicide in 2015 which works out to an annual rate of nearly 16.

Want to understand the connection between gun-free zones and gun violence? It's about the same as the connection between the crime rate in New York City and the gun that Trump claims he maybe carries around all or maybe some of the time.

Carla Herreria   |   November 16, 2015   12:30 AM ET

HONOLULU (AP) — A United Kingdom citizen who is a legal permanent resident of the United States alleges in a lawsuit that the Honolulu Police Department discriminates against non-U.S. citizens by making it difficult for them to obtain firearm permits.

Hawaii has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. Hawaii is the only state that requires firearms to be registered at a statewide level, which is done through county police departments. Hawaii's permit allows someone to purchase a firearm, transport it to limited places such as a shooting range or gunsmith, or use it for hunting.

Hawaii only granted permits to U.S. citizens until a federal judge in Honolulu last year ruled that's unconstitutional.

The department is trying to get around that ruling by verbally requiring those with green cards to obtain additional clearance from their countries of citizenship, said the lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Honolulu.

Honolulu resident Andrew Namiki Roberts, who was born in England, was given a permit to acquire rifles and shotguns, which must first be obtained before purchasing one. He then took a firearms safety course, which is required to obtain a permit for a handgun, according to his lawsuit. But when the self-employed photographer tried to get a handgun permit, he was told his background check was deemed incomplete and that he needed a letter from the British consulate clearing his background.

His lawyer, Richard Holcomb, said the department couldn't produce written policy about requiring such documentation, but even if it could, it's an unfair requirement. "They can't discriminate against permanent resident aliens," he said.

The department won't comment on pending litigation, police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.

The lawsuit notes that Hawaii law says if the permit applicant is not a U.S. citizen and is eligible to acquire a firearm, an inquiry on the applicant will be made using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement databases.

The department also revoked his previously issued permit that allowed him to purchase a shotgun and then seized the weapon he bought from Sports Authority, the lawsuit said.

Requiring Roberts, who has been a permanent resident for about nine years, to get additional documentation from England is like requiring U.S. citizens to obtain clearances from countries they've lived in previously, Holcomb said.

"Mr. Roberts has the constitutional right to keep and possess firearms in his home for the purpose of self-defense," his lawsuit said.

Also on HuffPost:

Buckminster Fuller on the Paris Massacre, Politics, Guns & the Survival of the Human Species

L. Steven Sieden   |   November 15, 2015    2:14 PM ET

In the shadow of the Paris incidents, I again turn my attention to the wisdom and perspective of a great teacher and mentor - Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller. Although Bucky (as he preferred to be called) is no longer the household name he was a few decades ago when he was available to us in a physical body, some of us recognize that he was, in fact, one of the first truly global citizens concerned about all life on the planet he named Spaceship Earth.
He consistently a very specific mission from 1927 when he was such a "failure" that he seriously contemplated suicide, until his death in 1983. That global mission and vision is reflected in the question he often asked himself and his audiences ...

"How do we make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?"

Simplifying even more, the issue Bucky devoted his entire adult lift to is ... shifting our focus and resources from weaponry to what Bucky labeled livingry. This transformation only became a viable possibility in 1976. It was then that (as Bucky predicted in the 1930's) we reached a point on our planet where there was (and still are) enough resources to support all life. Actually, Bucky claimed that there are enough resources to support all life and all humans at a higher standard of living than anyone currently living knows.

Radical as this idea may seem, it is true, and Bucky proved it with hard data decades before such a possibility was even a science fiction dream for most people. This is a reality that few people know about, much less embrace or advocate, but it's crucial to our survival and success as a species and as individuals. As Bucky reminded his audiences time and time again over the course of many decades ...

"It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a mater of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry."

What this means is that had we shifted our focus and resources from weaponry to livingry, there would have been no Paris massacre or any other warring events perpetrated by terrorists or governments. People living a good life with all the resources they want and need including food, shelter, education, health care, etc. would not pick up a bomb or gun and kill their fellow travelers on the planet Bucky named Spaceship Earth. Perspective terrorists, patriots and soldiers could also not be convinced to take up arms by a few deranged individuals who clearly require help with their mental illness.

In addition, when we shift from weaponry to livingry, those mentally ill individuals who continue to espouse violence, killing and war will stand out from the norm so much that they'll quickly receive the mental health care they need or be confined to humane institutions where they can do no harm to themselves or others. That's how a sane, abundant society takes care of people. They don't use weaponry to hunt them down like rabid animals. We find them and help them as best we can.

Accordingly, the Paris massacre and all the other acts of violence occurring almost daily on our planet can be solved quite easily once we realize that it's not an issue of power or might defeating right but an issue of educating people. As Bucky so often reminded us ...

"There is no energy crisis, food crisis or environmental crisis. There is only a crisis of ignorance."

Once you understand and appreciate this perspective, it becomes a matter how to most effectively efficiently create a paradigm shift in which most people know and accept the reality of this truth. Again, we can turn to Bucky for the answer. After all, he was the person who in 1927 turned his entire life into an experiment to determine and document what one individual could achieve that could not be accomplished by any government, corporation, religion or other organization no matter how large or powerful. Here's what he advised on this subject ...

"Never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person."

It's now time to seriously take this sage advice. The old paradigm of competition, war and greed are no longer viable. These must be replaced by cooperation, peace and sharing the bounty that our tiny fragile planet has provided us. If not, we'll just continue on with politics (which Bucky told us is obsolete) as usual. And as Bucky reminded us over and over (and we've seen again and again including in Paris) ...

"The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun."