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Bruh! Let's Talk About Chicago!

  |   February 3, 2017    7:59 PM ET

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Jason Cherkis   |   February 3, 2017    2:09 PM ET

WASHINGTON ― During the Obama presidency, conservative politicians came up with a standard response to any mass shooting. Within hours of a tragedy, whether in a school at Newtown or a church in South Carolina, Republicans would issue statements saying they were praying for victims. It became so commonplace that last year, Slate published “Thoughts & Prayers: The Game that allowed readers to offer up thoughts and prayers ― and fake empathy ― after a mass shooting.

To talk about gun-control measures that may prevent mass shootings is to risk angering the National Rifle Association. To address the complex role that a mental health crisis plays in many mass shootings would require a meaningful examination of our underfunded and poorly resourced mental health system. To send thoughts and prayers is an easy way to express sympathy for victims and their families without actually having to do anything. By the end of President Barack Obama’s term, thoughts and prayers felt like a cop-out that fooled no one.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), soon to be confirmed as President Donald Trump’s attorney general, may have helped invent this grief response to mass shootings. Eight days after 12 students and one teacher were killed at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, Sessions joined a chorus of conservative cultural warriors who argued that the horrifying shooting didn’t require new gun laws, but a deeper examination of Hollywood. The senator didn’t stop there.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sessions suggested that the real cause of the massacre was the faith ― or lack of faith ― of the teenage perpetrators. In a remarkable turn, he suggested maybe it was their parents’ fault, too:

“As chairman the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Youth Violence, I have given an awful lot of thought to it. But I am perplexed. A few things occur to me. There is what appears to me a pattern here that would suggest how we have gotten to this point. It strikes me that an extremely small number of young people today have gotten on a very destructive path. They have headed down the road of anger and violence. They have not been acculturated with the kind of gentlemanliness and gentlewomanliness, not inculcated with religious faith and discipline, maybe a lack of values or whatever ― somehow it did not take. Maybe their parents tried. Maybe they did not.” 

Maybe. Maybe not. What drove Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to commit such violence would consume law enforcement and mental health experts for years. Both Harris and Klebold were deeply troubled, and the setting of their high school for the shooting was most likely incidental. Harris was the mastermind, and was no “wayward boy who could have been rescued,” experts came to believe. 

Last year, Sue Klebold published a much-admired memoir about her son. She recalled that Dylan was outgoing and smart. He’d attended prom with his fellow students three days before massacring them. It was only after the shooting that Sue Klebold began to realize that her son had been severely depressed and expert in concealing it.

“This wasn’t a kid we worried and prayed over, hoping he would eventually find his way and lead a productive life,” Klebold wrote. “We called him ‘The Sunshine Boy’—not just because of his halo of blond hair, but because everything seemed to come easily to him.”

Klebold has become a suicide-prevention advocate. Sessions is about to become the nation’s top lawman. Most likely, he will face a mass shooting early in his tenure. If his response to Columbine is any indication, he will offer a pious remedy and launch a salvo from his side of the never-ending culture war.

Sessions, unable to wait until law enforcement authorities had completed their investigation into Columbine, found his culprits: the Internet, violent video games and movies, an androgynous singer. That day on the Senate floor, he offered that the two teen killers “are alienated and angry,” then turned to his bigger, easier targets:

“They are able to hook into the Internet and play video games that are extraordinarily violent, that cause the blood pressure to rise and the adrenaline level to go up, games that cause people to be killed and the players to die themselves. It is a very intense experience. They are able to get into Internet chat rooms and, if there are no nuts or people of the same mentality in their hometown, hook up with people around the country. They are able to rent from the video store ― not just go down and see “Natural Born Killers” or “The Basketball Diaries” ― but they are able to bring it home and watch it repeatedly. In this case, even maybe make their own violent film. Many have said this murder was very much akin to “The Basketball Diaries,” in which a student goes in and shoots others in the classroom. I have seen a video of that, and many others may have.

In music, there is Marilyn Manson, an individual who chooses the name of a mass murderer as part of his name. The lyrics of his music are consistent with his choice of name. They are violent and nihilistic, and there are groups all over the world who do this, some German groups and others. I guess what I am saying is, a person already troubled in this modern high-tech world can be in their car and hear the music, they can be in their room and see the video, they can go into the chat rooms and act out these video games and even take it to real life. Something there is very much of a problem.”

You can read Sessions’ full floor speech here.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics Gun Safety Recommendation

Quora   |   February 1, 2017    1:38 PM ET

How should parents address issues like gun violence and safety with young children? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Michelle Sandberg, Pediatrician, on Quora:

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that the safest home for children and teens is one without guns. A gun in the home increases the risk of homicide, suicide, and accidental death. Evidence shows that a gun in the home is twenty-two times more likely to be used in domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense [1]. A gun in the home is far more likely to kill a family member or someone known to the family than to be used successfully against an intruder [2]. For young children, the risk of unintentional injury or death is significantly higher with a gun in the home. Children are naturally curious about guns, and telling them to stay away and not touch the gun does not always work. For teenagers there is a three to five times higher risk of suicide with a gun in the home.

If there are guns in the home, scientific evidence shows the risk of injury or death is greatly decreased with safe storage. Guns should be stored unloaded and locked, and the ammunition should be locked in a separate place. Hiding a gun is not sufficient-- guns must be unloaded and locked safely.

Pediatricians are advised to discuss injury-prevention counseling with families as part of their well child care visits. Parents are also encouraged to ask other parents if there is a gun in the home where their child is going to play. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence partnered to make June 21st National ASK Day (Asking Saves Kids): "Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?"

The ASK campaign is part of a larger effort to educate parents and children about guns and gun safety. The first step is counseling parents to remove guns from the home given the high risk associated with gun ownership. If parents do not want to remove guns from their home, safe storage is essential to keeping kids safe. Parents are also encouraged to ask other parents if there is a gun in the home where their child is going to play.

Guns are estimated to be in about one third of all U.S. households, so children should be educated about gun safety whether they live in a household with a gun or not. Just as parents teach their children to not get in a car or go off with a stranger, they should also teach their children to walk away if they come across a gun. This means explaining to children that:

  • Real guns (unlike guns in movies, TV and video games) can injure or kill.
  • If they come across a gun, they should take the following steps (outlined in the Web's most visited site about children's health):
    • stop what they're doing
    • do not touch the gun
    • leave the area where the gun is
    • tell an adult right away
  • If they are in an area that includes a gun, they should leave to avoid being harmed by someone who doesn't know how to operate a gun (including toddlers and young children).
    • Unfortunately injuries and deaths occur around the U.S. from children as young as three years old pulling a trigger of a gun that wasn't safely stored. More preschoolers are killed with guns each year than officers in the line of duty. [3]

With gun deaths the second leading cause of death in Americans ages one to forty-five, educating children about guns is critically important for public health and safety.


[1] Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home -- NEJM

[2] Gun Safety: Keeping Children Safe


This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Mike Weisser   |   January 31, 2017   12:34 PM ET

In a surprising event, the NRA actually lost a major legal argument in a federal court, and America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ predictably responded by calling the decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (U.S. v. Robinson) “the most anti-gun ruling from any court of the modern era.” Which only goes to show how rarely the NRA loses a big one in court. But forgetting for a moment the NRA’s attempt to engage in a bit of Trump-like hyperbole about this new threat to all law-abiding gun owners, the decision does put something of a crimp in gun-nut nation’s plan to realize their most cherished ambition, namely, the extension of unquestioned concealed-carry to all 50 states.

The NRA has been pushing the idea of letting everyone wander around the entire country with a gun in their pockets ever since then-Senator Larry Craig took some time away from his public toilet stall and sponsored a national, reciprocal concealed-carry law back in the Clinton years. Since then, gun-nut nation has built up a small but solid phalanx of academics and commercial hucksters who will tell you that walking around with a gun in your pocket is a good thing.

Here’s how it works today and here’s how gun-nut nation wants it to work. Licensing for gun ownership is and has always been a state-by-state affair. Ditto carrying a gun. Some states make it easier, some make it a little more difficult, but the bottom line is that a gun license isn’t like a driver’s license because no matter where you drive, basically the rules of the road are the same.  In the case of guns, however, the rules covering concealed-carry (CCW) are different in every state. Which means that if you want to cross a state line with a concealed weapon, you have to make sure that you are meeting the different CCW laws for each state through which you travel, which means you might as well leave the gun home.

Every time a new Congress gets to work, one of the Congressional toadies for gun-nut nation introduces a bill to establish national CCW, and every time such a bill is introduced it gets ignored. But this time may be different because now we have a champion of CCW in the White House and he owes the NRA big-time. So gun-nut nation thought that maybe this time their ship was finally coming home.

The case began when a resident of West Virginia was frisked and an illegal gun was discovered on his person after the cops got a tip that the individual in question (Robinson) was armed.  In this instance the cops were operating under long-established rules which allow for a limited search if the officers believe that the suspect might be ‘armed and dangerous’ even if an arrest has not yet occurred. Robinson challenged the search, claiming that West Virginia law allowed him to carry a gun. Possessing a gun may have made him ‘armed,’ but it didn’t necessarily make him ‘dangerous.’ A local judge agreed, but the 4th Circuit tossed Robinson’s argument out.

What the 4th Circuit basically said was that it was reasonable for the cops to assume that someone walking around with a gun, even someone walking around with a legal gun on his person should not only be considered armed, but might be dangerous as well. And he would be dangerous, as far as the cops would be concerned, simply because he was carrying a gun.

Do you realize what this argument does to gun-nut nation’s most cherished dream? It stands that dream on its head. Because what the NRA and all their sycophantic CCW-advocates have been saying is that walking around with a gun makes everyone safe and constitutes no threat or danger to law-abiding citizens at all. But the 4th Circuit came down on the side of cops who need to be protected against ‘unnecessary risk.’  And believe it or not, walking around with a gun increases risk.

Mike Weisser   |   January 19, 2017    8:51 PM ET

You knew it was going to happen. Sooner or later one of Trump’s cabinet nominees was going to say something so crazy and stupid during a confirmation hearing that the comment would end up becoming the most-used line by every comic and satire show on TV.  And right now that honor belongs to Betsy DeVos, whose loony, right-wing views on just about everything no doubt qualify her to advise the 45th president on the educational needs of America’s 50 million school-age kids.

But what I didn’t know about Betsy is that her expertise also evidently extends to wildlife and guns. Because at some point during her confirmation hearing, she told the Senate committee that using guns to protect teachers and kids in schools should be a local decision, and to prove why this was necessary she mentioned a Wyoming elementary school that had been menaced by a grizzly bear so they probably had a gun. In fact, there is no gun in that school, nor are guns allowed in any Wyoming public schools.

Turns out that the particular grammar school in question is circled with a big fence because it happens to be located on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, home to more than 700 brown bears. So I’ll give Betsy the benefit of the doubt and simply put her answer down to the possibility that, like the guy who nominated her for a cabinet position, she probably doesn’t know the difference between what’s true and what’s false.  

But as soon as she shot her mouth off, the liberal watchdogs in the media took issue with the idea that an effective response to a threatened grizzly attack would be to use a gun. The Washington Post trotted out a wildlife expert, Tom Smith, who said using a bear spray was preferable to using a gun; he told PolitiFact that good bear sprays were available on Amazon for $40 or less.

Since I’m a gun guy, I always find it interesting when someone says there’s a better way to protect yourself against anything and everything than using a gun. So I went to Amazon and checked out one of their bear sprays called Counter Assault, which claims on its website that its products have been tested by an outfit called the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) at its Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center located right outside Yellowstone National Park.

There’s only one little problem. The test involves seeing if a real bear can get into a storage barrel or other device used to protect out-of-door food, garbage or some other item that might attract bears. They aren’t testing sprays. And if you have to figure out what would happen if you test-sprayed a bear and the test failed, that’s all the proof you need to be considered dumb enough to serve in the Cabinet of the President-elect.

Couple of years ago a guy came into my gun shop, told me he was going to hike in the Rockies, and wanted to buy a small, high-powered handgun to carry in case he was attacked by a bear. Just at that moment a car drove past the shop, I pointed at it and asked the guy if he could hit that car with a gun.  

“Are you crazy?” he said, “I wouldn’t even come close.”

“The speed limit in town is 35 mph,” I answered, “which is about a grizzly’s top speed.”

He didn’t buy the gun and neither should any school system that thinks the kids need to be protected against animal or human threats. I don’t have any grizzlies where I live but we do have some pretty big black bears. And the last time one of them came on my property he had a good time gobbling up the half pizza that we had dumped in the trash. Then Smokey went across the road and had another good time eating the bird seed that my neighbor had set out in his yard.  We had a much better time watching that bear than we will have watching Trump take the oath.

A New NRA Program

Ted McCagg   |   January 18, 2017   12:00 AM ET


Dave Jamieson   |   January 17, 2017    8:09 PM ET

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Education Department refused to say during her confirmation hearing Tuesday that guns don’t belong in schools.

The question came from Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut. Murphy’s state was home to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where a gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown in 2012. Murphy asked Trump’s nominee, Betsy DeVos, if guns “have any place in or around schools.”

DeVos said such questions should be left to states and localities.

“You can’t say definitively today that guns shouldn’t be in schools?” Murphy pressed.

DeVos, referring to earlier comments from Sen. Mike Enzi (R) of Wyoming, said that some schools out West might need protection from bears. “I would imagine there is probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” she said.

Murphy also asked DeVos if she would support Trump if he moved to eliminate gun-free school zones.

“I will support what the president-elect does,” she responded.

“If the question is around gun violence,” she went on, “please know that my heart bleeds and is broken for those families that have lost any individual due to gun violence.”

Murphy appeared upset by the responses, saying he looked forward to working with DeVos, and to her “coming to Connecticut to talk about the role of guns in schools,” an obvious allusion to Sandy Hook. Murphy gave up his microphone.

Democrats immediately pointed to the exchange to argue that DeVos should not be confirmed.

DeVos is a controversial pick for education secretary. A billionaire from one of Michigan’s most powerful Republican families, she has spent years funding “school choice” efforts that steer public money toward charter schools and private schools. Public education advocates and teacher unions have described her as a radical choice to be the face of federal education policy.

Mary S Papenfuss   |   January 14, 2017    1:00 AM ET

A year-old boy was accidentally killed by his young sister, who found his mother’s loaded gun in their northern California home, officials say.

Paramedics responding to a frantic call for help on Wednesday found the baby on the floor of a bedroom in his Chowchilla home with a bullet wound to the head. He didn’t survive the ambulance trip to the hospital, police said in a statement. Police did not provide the names of the children. Local media said the girl was under the age of 6.

The mother, Erica Bautista, a corrections officer, was home at the time of the accident, according to officials. The gun was registered to her but was not a duty weapon, reported ABC30-TV. Authorities were investigating whether the gun was stored improperly. If that is the case, they may file criminal charges against the mother, who has worked as a corrections officer for 16 years.

Investigators said they couldn’t remember another similar case in at least 20 years in the town of 20,000, which is home to two state prisons.

“Anytime a child gets hold of firearm, and there’s some sort of a negligent discharge it’s a criminal matter,” said Lt. Jeff Palmer of the Chowchilla Police Department. Firearms are not something to be taken for granted, he warned. “Don’t leave them loaded, and absolutely don’t leave them in an area where a child can get its hands on it,” Palmer added.

Town police provide free gun locks.

Officials still are investigating the tragedy. Results of the probe will be turned over to the Madera County District Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether or not to file charges, according to the Merced Sun-Star.

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Mike Weisser   |   January 10, 2017    9:05 AM ET

Read More: gun violence, guns, chicago

It’s a little too early for final figures to be published, but when it comes to how many Americans are killed or injured by other Americans using guns, 2016 will have been a banner year.  Mid-year gun violence reports from Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia and San Antonio show sharp increases there and elsewhere, experts predict that these trends may continue going up over the next couple of years.

Most of the research on the how and why of gun violence is based on identifying the demographic and geographic characteristics of the victim populations: age, race, location and so forth, which produces a basic profile about intentional gun injury as being overwhelmingly associated with young Black men who live in disadvantaged, inner-city neighborhoods where all sorts of social dislocation occurs. But, as Andrew Papachristos and his research associates point out in new research, the demographic-spatial method for understanding gun violence paints with such a broad brush that it offers little guidance for predicting exactly who might become subjects of gun violence, particularly since most individuals living in such neighborhoods do not engage in this type of violent behavior.

The predictive model created by Papachristos combines demographic data with what is called a ‘social contagion’ model in which it is assumed that individuals who are socially connected a victim of gun violence will themselves run a higher risk of becoming victims of gun violence. Identifying these social connections or networks was done by looking at all 16,399 gunshot injuries in Chicago from 2006 to 2014 within the 1,189,225 arrests made during the same period, then looking at the identity of individuals who were arrested at the same time for the same offense and then connecting this data to everyone who was shot.

Incidentally, for all the hullabaloo about the lack of government funding for gun research, I note that part of the funding for this substantial project came from the National Science Foundation, which also happens to be a government agency.  Obviously, the lack of CDC support for gun research has created real gaps in the evidence about gun violence; perhaps there are other ways to skin the proverbial research cat.

When Papachristos combines this social contagion model with the traditional demographic approach, the predictive strength of this method rises above 70 percent; in other words, seven out of ten of the individuals who were later subjects of gun violence could be identified before the actual gun violence event took place.  If this model can be replicated in other locations, what we might have here is the emergence of a new way to target gun violence interventions at a more specified population than just young, minority men in a particular location – a profile that fits many more individuals than the ones who are at highest risk for getting shot.

Which brings us to the unanswered problem which the authors of this important study admit, namely, that they were unable ”to assess why some individuals in the social network (indeed, the vast majority) never became gunshot subjects.”  In fact, we could widen this lack of understanding to the whole question of violence itself.  Because while intentional gun injuries, according to the CDC, annually amount to somewhere around 75,000, the number of intentional assaults that require medical attention each year is twenty times that number, while aggravated assault arrests run 750,000 each year.  

The authors of this study choose to use a medical analogy – epidemic – to frame their approach to understanding gun violence.  But the networks they have uncovered that spread gun violence are linked to an initial shooting, which means that someone is already dead or injured before any ‘social contagion’ connections can be made.  To quote the brilliant Lester Adelson, “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.” How do we identify the individual who, unlike most of us, can’t engage in a disagreement or dispute without pulling out a gun?  The question remains unanswered.

Melissa Jeltsen   |   January 4, 2017    1:06 PM ET

During the last week of her life, Cynthia Villegas spoke up.

She told a relative that she was afraid of her husband, and that if anything ever happened to her, he would be to blame. She told her brother that she had recently asked for a divorce “because of the abuse” (a conversation her brother later recalled to police).

That was Thursday, June 9, 2016. By Saturday, she was dead, another victim of a mass shooting in America. According to police, her husband Juan Villegas-Hernandez shot and killed her inside their home in Roswell, New Mexico, along with their four young daughters ― Yamilen, 14; Cynthia Janeth, 11; Abby, 7; and Ida, 3.

Mere hours later, their tragic story would be eclipsed by an even more extreme outburst of violence, when Omar Mateen opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, inconceivable in its scope. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the public struck up heated conversations about homophobia, Islamist terrorism and gun control, scrambling to answer the most baffling question of all: Why?

Yet, most of the mass shootings of 2016 ― defined as shootings in which at least four people were fatally shot, not including the perpetrator ― did not resemble the Pulse massacre. Instead, many of them shared striking similarities to the events that unfolded inside that New Mexico home, an angry man picking off his family members one by one.

According to data collected by Everytown for Gun Safety, of the 16 mass shooting incidents last year, seven ― 43 percent ― involved a male shooter targeting a family member or intimate partner. In those shootings, women and children made up 81 percent of the victims.

Sarah Tofte, research director for Everytown for Gun Safety, said those findings align with previous research on the connection between mass shootings and domestic violence.

“When people think about mass shootings, they typically think about a shooting that takes place in public, a stranger shooting at innocent bystanders,” Tofte said. “But we know that in the majority of these cases, they occur within the context of a relationship or family dynamic plagued by domestic violence.”

An earlier Everytown report examining five years of mass shooting data found an even higher percentage of incidents ― 57 percent ― in which the shooter targeted either a family member or an intimate partner. 

“The number is relatively small year to year, and that’s why we need to look at at least a 5-year period to get an average,” Tofte said. “It’s clear that domestic violence continues to be a driver when it comes to mass shootings.” 

In four of the seven cases in 2016 in which shooters targeted family members or intimate partners, a woman was attempting to leave the relationship at the time of the massacre.

While the public may wonder why women don’t simply leave their abusers, Ruth Glenn, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, cautioned that victims are at the highest risk of danger when exiting a violent relationship, and should seek assistance from a local domestic violence organization before attempting to do so. 

“It may take days, weeks, or months of planning, so that when you do go, you are as safe as possible,” she said, noting that the situation is especially dangerous if the abuser has access to a gun. 

“If someone uses a gun to kill their partner, they have used that gun before to control their partner,” she said. 

Phoukeo Dej-Oudom, 35, knew her husband had a gun. 

A licensed cosmetologist living in Las Vegas, she filed for divorce last spring from her husband Jason Dej-Oudom, and for full custody of their children. 

In an application for a temporary protection order, which was denied because it did not meet statutory requirements, she detailed the alleged abuse that she and her children were experiencing.

“Throughout the marriage, the children’s lives as well as mine have been threatened,” she wrote. “Guns have been pulled out and pointed to our heads multiple times.”

She quit her job at a hair salon in June, fearing that her husband would stalk her there.

“I cannot work,” she texted her manager. “He’ll know I am where I am.”

A few weeks later, police say, her husband chased and gunned her down outside a Walgreens, then fatally shot their three children ― Anhurak Jason, 9; Xonajuk J.J., 14; and Dalavanh Ariel, 15 ― inside their apartment. He killed himself afterward, authorities said.

In a quarter of last year’s mass shootings, a male perpetrator killed his children along with his estranged wife. 

That was true in the case of Megan Short.

Aug. 6, 2016, was supposed to be the beginning of her new life. It was the day she planned to move out of the house she shared with her husband in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania.

Her husband, she told her Facebook friends a few weeks before her death, was emotionally abusive. 

“It really does a number on your mental health for sure,” she wrote in a comment on an article on emotional abuse, posted on her friend’s Facebook wall. Later, she added: “This is why I am leaving my marriage ... 16 years.” 

But on the day she was due to move out, police say, her husband fatally shot her and her three young children ― Liana, 8; Mark Jr., 5; and Willow, 2. The kids were in their pajamas. 

Killing family members, especially children, is the ultimate form of power and control exerted by abusers, explained Maureen Curtis, vice president for Safe Horizon’s criminal justice and court programs.  

“Domestic violence is about coercive control ... controlling that person in every way,” she said. “What could be more controlling than killing the people they love as well as them.”

She noted that other people in the community also become victims of domestic violence mass shootings, simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Neighbors, family friends and grandparents numbered among the dead in 2016. 

In Appling, Georgia, officials said Wayne Hawes went on a shooting spree after his wife left him. He killed her 85-year-old mother, her 75-year-old uncle, her 31-year-old niece, Kelia Clark, and two family friends. 

In Shelton, Washington, authorities said David Campbell murdered his wife, two children and a neighbor before turning the gun on himself.

The best way to prevent mass shootings by abusers is to hold them accountable for their actions long before they strike out with fatal violence, Curtis said. That accountability can come through the criminal justice system, or by other family members and friends communicating to the abuser that what he is doing is not OK.

“If that’s not happening and this person is let off the hook ― sometimes a lot and sometimes a little ― it can escalate to violence that in some cases can become lethal,” she said. “People aren’t invested in intimate partner violence or family violence but if they see the connections to how it affects the community, maybe we will have more people paying attention to it.”


Melissa Jeltsen covers domestic violence and other issues related to women’s health, safety and security. Tips? Feedback? Send an email or follow her on Twitter.


Related stories:

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline .

SAM and BOZZY | Australian Gangster Movie | New Action Film 2017

Vincenzo Prosperi   |   December 28, 2016    8:29 PM ET


On the run after a failed mob hit, a grizzled hitman and an incompetent rookie must work together to escape the the clutches of their ruthless former employer.

In this short film, Bozzy (played by Corey Neville) has been captured by mob boss Saretti (Vincenzo Prosperi) and Sam (Ernie Crowther) raids the mansion to save his friend.

Director: Nathan Bender from 6 Brothers Pictures
Bozzy (Corey Neville )
Sam (Ernie Crowther)
and Mob Boss Saretti (Vincenzo Prosperi)

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Mary S Papenfuss   |   December 12, 2016   12:26 AM ET

Read More: guns, washington

Republican legislators in Washington state have introduced a bill that would allow licensed firearms inside sports stadiums. 

Known for its generally progressive politics, the Washington State Legislature is unlikely to pass the bill ― but it could give ideas to other states, especially red ones that might have a greater chance of passing something similar.

If it does become law, the measure would have a major effect on Seattle’s Safeco Field for the Mariners baseball team and the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field, notes Sports Illustrated. Both facilities are on public land but are privately operated. Major League Baseball and the National Football League have strict bans on guns in stadiums.

“We haven’t seen the proposed legislation but we have a policy forbidding carrying a weapon into NFL stadiums,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Washington Post. The Seahawks stadium has an extensive list of prohibited items, including air horns, laptop computers and even specialty coffees

As for firearms, House Bill 1015 would eliminate the stadiums’ ability to “prohibit persons with a valid concealed pistol license from carrying a concealed pistol in any facility or on any grounds of a facility.”

Current stadium restrictions on weapons are intended in part to eliminate an arsenal for heated fans to use, and in part to guard against possible terror attacks.

The biggest threat could come from drunken, rowdy fans as stadium security grapples with a recent increase in violence. Sports executives are already worried that unruly fans are keeping other people away — and guns won’t help that mix.

“If you are concerned about bringing your family to a game, then that [fan danger] is an issue,” Amy Trask, a former Raiders executive who has served on the NFL’s security committee, told the Post. “It’s not just an issue for one team; it’s an issue for all 32 teams. The teams know this. The league knows this.”

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Mike Weisser   |   December 11, 2016   10:48 PM ET

Read More: guns, nra

When all is really said and done, there’s one basic point of disagreement between Gun-sense Nation on the one hand, and Gun-nut Nation on the other. And the difference goes like this: Gun-sense Nation believes that 120,000+ or more gun deaths and gun injuries each year is a public health crisis which needs to be addressed the way we deal with all threats to public health, namely, through a combination of research, education, and enforced legislation. Gun-nut Nation, on the other hand, does not believe that guns cause any kind of threat to public health; to the contrary, legal gun ownership protects the public from threats to its welfare both from within the country and without.

I think that the gun violence prevention (GVP) community needs to stop worrying about what the other side says or what the other side thinks. To be honest, I’m not sure that anyone who truly believes that the 2nd Amendment keeps us ‘free’ or protects us from an invasion by ISIS has actually thought about the issue at all. And let’s not forget that we now have a real bully in the bully pulpit who appears to share Gun-nut Nation’s point of view. Nevertheless, the folks who want to do something about gun violence still need to figure out what to do.

I’m not sure that anyone who truly believes that the 2nd Amendment keeps us ‘free’ or protects us from an invasion by ISIS has actually thought about the issue at all.

Or more specifically, what to say.  Because the argument between the two sides resembles a similar argument that made a brief appearance during the 2016 Republican primary campaign, when Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon, made a remarkable statement during the 2nd debate when he said there were many vaccines that aren’t really necessary, a claim that medical science has long ago decided is simply not true.

Carson was responding to a slimy attempt by Trump-o to thrill his supporters with yet another conspiracy theory, in this case the idea that childhood vaccines lead to autism, a loony and completely disproven idea that’s been floating around on the fringes of the mentally-challenged population for years. Unfortunately, what’s scientific fact to one person may be fiction to someone else, and if you don’t believe me, just spend some time perusing websites which claim that global warming is a complete and total hoax.

In essence, the GVP community faces the same issue every time they talk about gun violence as a public health problem, because they run smack up against a response from Gun-nut Nation which has nothing to do with science, or research, or facts at all. How many peer-reviewed articles have appeared in scientific/medical journals over the last 50 years which provide substantive data showing that access to guns increases the risk of getting shot or shooting yourself with a gun? Probably somewhere around 1,000 articles, give or take a few. How many articles have appeared in scientific/medical journals over the same time period which provide data supporting the idea that access to guns protects us from harm? None. That’s another way of saying ‘zero,’ in case you didn’t know.

So when it comes to figuring out whether guns are a good thing or a bad thing, or what I call the ‘social utility’ of guns, the scientific evidence goes in only one direction, the research uniformly says one thing: i.e., the social costs of free access to firearms outweighs the social benefits – period, done.

There’s only one little problem. The people who promote free access to guns, who want everyone to walk around with a gun couldn’t care less about what the scientific evidence shows. And didn’t they just help elect a president who could also care less about the difference between fiction and fact? So Gun-sense Nation better figure out some messaging which can respond to how Gun-nut Nation feels about their guns. Because talking about gun violence by citing this or that scientific study works fine when you’re talking to someone who believes in science and facts. But what happens when you find yourself in a discussion about gun violence with someone who believes that Martins really did land in Area 51?

Travis Waldron   |   December 2, 2016   12:26 PM ET

When the NFL told players this season that they could dedicate a piece of their uniforms to a cause or charity they wanted to highlight, Bilal Powell knew right away what he wanted to do.

So on Monday night, the soft-spoken New York Jets running back plans to use his cleats to send a loud message to the world: It’s time to put an end to the gun violence plaguing American communities. 

Gun violence is an issue that hits close to home for Powell, whether that’s in his native Lakeland, Florida; in Louisville, Kentucky, where he went to college and still has a home; or in New Jersey, where he lives during the NFL season. 

“I lost a lot of friends and a family member to gun violence,” Powell told The Huffington Post by phone Saturday. “My best friend lost a bunch of family members to gun violence in the city of Louisville, and it’s pretty bad up here in New Jersey too. ... You just want to do something about it.”

The NFL has long fined players, like Powell’s teammate Brandon Marshall, for using their cleats as a billboard for issues that aren’t league-sanctioned. But after years of criticism, it announced earlier this year that it would relax the policy for Week 13 of the 2016 season. As it happens, the Jets will play the Indianapolis Colts during Monday Night Football, giving Powell’s message against gun violence a national audience. 

“It being a Monday night game, it was a chance to bring awareness,” he said. “We have to see what we can do to, one day, get everybody at peace and live together.”

Once he landed on gun violence prevention as the issue he wanted to highlight, Powell still had to figure out the best way to do it. For that, he turned to Scedric Moss, his former University of Louisville teammate who is now an artist based in the city. Moss was busy with his own projects. But he had also lost friends to gun violence, and he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to design Powell’s cleats.

Moss went to work, fast. The result was a pair of tricolor cleats that will be impossible to miss under the stadium’s bright lights. Each of the three colors Moss selected ― green, neon yellow and red ― symbolizes gun violence. The green, Powell said, stands for money, often a source of conflict that leads to fatal gun disputes. The yellow is for police caution tape. And the red speckles represent the blood shed in each of America’s thousands of annual gun deaths.

“He lost friends and family to the same thing, so it meant that much more to him to be a part of this,” Powell said of choosing Moss to design the shoes. “It was good timing and the right thing to do.”

On the side of each shoe, Moss also painted the outlines of two raised hands. They represent the charity Hands Across Louisville, an anti-gun violence organization in Powell’s adopted hometown. The shoes will go to auction after the game, and the proceeds will be put toward the group’s work to address the root causes of gun violence. Among other priorities, the organization wants to train local citizens in anger management and social interaction, and bolster job creation and career-training efforts, 

Powell chose the Louisville charity because of the time he spent there in college. He was a standout running back for the Cardinals, amassing more than 2,600 total yards and 22 touchdowns during his four years at the university. To get there, he’d left behind a past that included, he said, a stint in a gang in Florida.

But even in in Kentucky, gun violence remained close to his life. During Powell’s sophomore year in 2008, Louisville wide receiver Trent Guy was injured in a shooting in the city. Two years later, another one of Powell’s teammates ― former Cardinals linebacker Daniel Covington ― was shot and killed in a dispute downtown.

The city where Powell now lives in the offseason and plans to retire once his career is over is still struggling with gun violence: a double homicide shooting in Louisville’s Shawnee Park on Thanksgiving Day made national news ― and pushed the city’s total number of homicides for the year to a five-decade high.

Hopefully this is something that will wake a lot of people up. What I’m trying to do Monday night is get people to open their eyes, man, and try to bring peace. Bilal Powell

“The city of Louisville will always be in my heart,” Powell said. “You have people losing innocent lives in this. This hit home for me. I wanted to choose something that I had a connection to.”

And although he already had the cleats in the works, the issue of gun violence touched Powell’s life again this week. Former Jets running back Joe McKnight was shot and killed during an apparent traffic altercation outside of New Orleans on Thursday afternoon. Powell and McKnight were teammates for two years in New York, and the two had kept in touch, even though McKnight left the NFL and spent this past season in the Canadian Football League.

Powell’s call for an end to gun violence, then, will carry a particularly poignant and timely message Monday night. 

“Joe was an amazing person. A great teammate, and an even better person,” Powell said. “That right there, it’s sad to say, that another person’s life is gone over something that probably could have been prevented. ... It puts a lot of things in perspective.”

The cleats aren’t Powell’s only form of action on gun violence. After he made it to the NFL, he started The Bilal Powell Foundation to help keep children out of trouble and away from the type of violence has has experienced up close too often. It’s geared toward expanding community and education opportunities for at-risk children in the cities he’s called home.

But for a running back who usually prefers to let his performance on the field speak for him, this week, and this pair of cleats, offers a chance to broadcast his message publicly in a way he hasn’t necessarily before. Powell is excited about that opportunity, so much so that he’s even planning to make his teammates wait to see the final product in person.

“Hopefully this is something that will wake a lot of people up,” Powell said. “What I’m trying to do Monday night is get people to open their eyes, man, and try to bring peace.”