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How Reliant is Illinois on the Firearms Industry?

  |   February 4, 2016    2:40 PM ET

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Adam Goldberg   |   February 3, 2016    1:54 PM ET

Read More: guns, gun control

A review of statewide licensing requirements shows that in half the country, applicants are not required to demonstrate their shooting ability.

GOP Senate Candidate Fears U.S. Government Could Quickly Turn on Us

Jason Salzman   |   February 2, 2016   11:13 PM ET

Charles Ehler, an who's one of the dozen or so Republicans vying for Democrat Michael Bennet's U.S. Senate seat, shared an image of people standing by a box car on his Facebook page, with the text, "Why does the government want to ban assualt weapons? Because you won't get in the box car willingly."

Ehler,  who is an Air Force veteran, didn't explain his post. So I called him to find out how close he thinks our government is to rounding us up in boxcars--or if this was a joke. I mean, banning assault rifles leads to this?

Ehler: "It's funny, and it's not funny," he told me, "because we could appear to be a beneveolent society, and as soon as the guns are gone, overnight, we could have a society like that. The force of government can turn on citizens almost at the blink of an eye. It's called human nature. I have the force and you don't. Are we there? I don't know that we're there, but boy it could turn quickly. I really don't think Americans need to find that out. We don't need to create the conditions for it."

"I'm collecting a pay check, and the person ordered me to shoot," he said, pointing to government massacres at Wounded Knee, Ludlow, and Sand Creek.

"I'm also concerned about people getting trigger happy with the guns," said Ehler, who's retired from General Dynamics and has run motorcycle-restoration and bicycle-repair businesses. "And we see that happening with the police.

"We saw it with the fellow killed in Oregon the other day. They never saw a gun, but they shot him anyway. The excuse was, he was reaching for a gun."

Ehler's comments are in line with his website, which states, "A man with a gun needs little help from government to secure his freedom."

Police Chief Implements Common-Sense Gun Training Requirement, Backlash Predictably Ensues

Mike Weisser   |   February 2, 2016    4:52 PM ET

The city if Lowell, MA, is known as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, although its red-brick factories stopped turning out textiles eons ago. The city is also where Mickey Ward lives, the boxer whose improbable career was captured in a great movie made by another Massachusetts native, Mark Wahlberg. But what Lowell is now making headlines for is an effort by the town's police chief, Bill Taylor, to inject some sanity into the national debate over gun safety by requiring CCW applicants to state in writing why they want to own and carry a gun, and then to take extensive, live-fire training to prove that they know how to use a gun.

Currently the Massachusetts law grants both gun ownership and concealed-carry privileges to any state resident who passes the standard background check and sits through a course on gun safety which does not require any live-fire training at all. Massachusetts still allows the police to restrict CCW even if an individual's background check comes back clean, but the restriction is rarely invoked, if invoked at all. The bottom line in the Bay State is that most gun owners can walk into a gun shop, purchase a handgun, load it up and stick it in their pocket without ever having shot a gun prior to becoming an armed citizen, or what the NRA calls America's first line of defense.

The moment that this story broke, the far-right noise machine swung in to full gear. There were the usual rants from Breitbart and Fox, but the looniest of all was posted on The Blaze (where else?), the gist of which was that since all 'rights' come from God, and since this new regulation interferes with the right to self-defense, it's obviously unconstitutional and therefore won't pass muster in any court. The fact that the new licensing procedure was a response to a lawsuit challenging the ability of Massachusetts police to restrict CCW evidently escaped notice when the writer for The Blaze, Cheryl Chumley, sat down to have her conversation about gun laws with God.

Massachusetts is not the only state that gives police discretion regarding who can, and cannot walk around with a gun. But the idea of an unfettered right to play 'armed citizen' has been a central strategy of the NRA since the SCOTUS decided DC vs. Heller in 2008. And even though Scalia specifically stated that keeping a gun for self-defense was limited to inside the home, Gun Nation has been trying to legalize armed, self-defense outside the home as well. Thanks to a well-orchestrated and organized campaign, a majority of states now grant CCW without discretionary review by the police, and six states allow residents to carry a handgun in public without any licensing requirement at all.

The reason I believe the new Lowell licensing policy is rational and correct has nothing to do with whether someone has to write a sentence or two explaining why they want to walk around with a gun. Rather, it is the other, new requirement (which received much less attention) that stipulates a five-day, live-fire training course which needs to be completed before the licensing procedure is done.

As far as I know, Chief Taylor appears to be the only lawman in the entire United States who really believes that guns in the hands of untrained individuals are a risk, not a benefit for public safety. And to show you how dumb it can get, a pro-gun legislator in MA has just introduced a bill that would ban municipalities from passing gun ordnances at variance with any state gun laws. Which means that Chief Taylor's new training requirement for CCW-holders in Lowell would be disallowed because under current state law, you can buy a gun, load it up and carry it around having never shot it even once. And if that's what pro-gun folks believe will make us all more safe, then we've reached a point in the gun debate where a rational exchange of ideas simply can't take place.

If the Snack Industry Was Like the Gun Industry We Would Be Even Fatter

Robert Greenwald   |   February 1, 2016   12:35 PM ET

Making A Killing: Guns, Greed And The NRA - Trailer

Brave New Films new feature length documentary, Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, & the NRA exposes how the National Rifle Association and gun lobby profiteers from the current gun violence epidemic -and how they do everything they can to stop common sense reforms.Join us to demand -- and achieve -- common sense gun laws now! SHARE and host a free screening in your community! www.MakingAKilling.com

Posted by Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, & the NRA on Friday, January 29, 2016

Imagine what our lives would look like if for the last several decades, the snack food industry had put a portion of every bag of chips ever purchased into a fund set aside strictly to promote and preserve your personal right to crunch. Over the years, they spent that money advertising, lobbying and funding political candidates, all the time warning the public that the government was trying to take away your right to enjoy pretzels with your football and beer. They stoked fear, claiming that militant health foodies were taking over and that the government was coming to confiscate your Pringles. They appealed to your core values. This isn’t just about the right to Cheez Doodles, but about your God-given right as Americans to put Doritos in your kids’ lunch bags.

Far fetched as this sounds, it’s a pretty much a textbook version of the strategy gun manufacturers’ and sellers’ have been using for decades. In turn, that strategy is why 88 Americans are killed every day with guns. It is the story we tell in Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA, the latest feature from Brave New Films, which will be released in March.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. donates $2 to the National Rifle Association for every gun sold. Taurus offers a year’s free NRA membership to anyone who buys a gun. Crimson Trace, which makes laser sites, donates 10 percent of its sales to the NRA.

All that money and millions more from similar sources is spent scaring Americans into believing their neighbors are dangerous, their government is out to get them and their values are being threatened. 

If, back to our analogy, this had been the snack food industry at work, you wouldn’t see calorie counts or nutritional information on your groceries. Well-paid constitutional scholars would claim that the right to remain ignorant about what you are eating is fundamental to the First Amendment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be barred from studying the health effects of sodium and food additives. 

School lunches would be not just allowed but required to serve chips. Frito lovers would buy and hoard cartons of the stuff, just in case. The people who make and sell snacks would make millions.  

Instead, it is the gun industry’s cynical marketing machine at work. The result is a set of laws on the books that most Americans oppose, which make it not only possible but easy for anyone, anywhere, anytime, to get their hands on a deadly weapon. Children can shoot other children, unintentionally, because most states have no laws about safely storing guns. Domestic abusers whose guns have been confiscated because they are proven dangerous can easily replace them and return to shoot their families. Young people with a history of mental illness can turn a moving theater into a killing field. The 2nd Amendment is bizarrely interpreted to mean that the right to bear arms cannot be balanced against the rest of our rights and freedoms including the right to live safely in our communities.

Marketing is powerful. Marketing, backed by millions of dollars, has been unstoppable. It’s time to connect the dots, untangle the web, recognize the mass manipulation that has been going on for far too long. And it is time to stop it.

Stop Talking So Much About Guns, Colorado GOP Leader Advises Fellow Republicans

Jason Salzman   |   February 1, 2016   10:33 AM ET

In a wide-ranging radio interview last week, Colorado GOP Chair Steve House had some newsworthy (and praiseworthy) advice for Colorado Republicans who seek to actually win elections:

  • Don't just hate Obamacare but focus on solutions.

  • Don't talk so much about gun rights and the 2nd Amendment.

  • Talk about education more--but no so much about charder schools.


House's advice came during a discussion with KFKA 1310 AM's Stacy Petty show about how Colorado Republicans have "got to start thinking a little bit differently on how we talk to people, especially the 490,000 or so unaffiliated or 'leans right' voters that we have got to make sure vote Republican, on top of our base in this coming election."

First, "stop talking at every one of our discussions about the 2nd Amendment," said House, adding that "we own that issue" and Democrats want Republicans fixating on it.

"You know, no matter what happens in the world, we're not going to give up on our 2nd Amendment," said House on air. " We have defenders in RMGO and NRA and our sheriffs and other people."

"So, what should we be talking about?" asked House, before answering his own question.  "And I suggested we should be talking about education, because I think it's the number one issue for us as a state, for us as a Party."

To do this, House suggests that Republican discussions go "beyond charter schools" in addressing education issues and put more emphasis on graduation rates and third-grade reading levels, which he cites as a reliable predictor of future individual success, a bedrock GOP value.

Similarly, House told Petty he'd like to see Republicans explain how to have the "right processes, regulatory structure, and incentives in place to see us solve some [health] problems."

House says, for Republicans, "it's not about hating Obamacare."

This actually leaves the door open to improving it! How great would that be.

So at a time when the trending news analysis is obsessed with the "outsiders," you can make a case that the real "outsider" thinking, at least among the die-hard Republican base voters, is reflected in a guy like House.

Or his predecessor Ryan Call, who calls out the "arrogance" of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and argues that Republicans need "to grow the coalition, even if people don't agree with us 100 percent of the time."

Those are the kinds of Republican messages that need to be elevated by reporters, in this dark moment of extremism and carpet-bombing outsiderism, to give Republicans themselves a window illuminating the possibilities for escape and redemption.

Listen to Steve House on KFKA's Stacy Petty Show 1.28.16

What If the Second Amendment Were Repealed?

Paul Heroux   |   January 30, 2016    7:01 PM ET

The Second Amendment to the Constitution states: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Debate about the Constitutionality of the individual right to bear arms was settled when the US Supreme Court in District of Columbia et al. v Heller stated that:

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

The Second Amendment is more than the right to bear arms. It represents a way of life and a culture in America. People who take advantage of their Second Amendment right are generally very responsible gun owners. In my experience, they take gun safety very seriously for two main reasons: 1) they are law abiding citizens and 2) they recognize the consequences both individually and collectively when guns are abused.

What if the Constitution Changed?

There are two avenues for the "right to bear arms" to be eviscerated, and to be clear I am not advocating for that in this article. The first is by changing the Constitution, specifically repealing the Second Amendment. While changing the Constitution and repealing an Amendment has happened in the past with the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) in the Twenty-first Amendment, I don't think this is going to happen. To amend the Constitution we need to satisfy all of the requirements of Article V in the Constitution, which states:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Gun rights advocates rightly state that their only needed defense of the Second Amendment is that said civil right is enshrined and guaranteed in the Constitution. The Second Amendment is just as much a protected right as the right to free speech, the right to a speedy trial, and all of the other rights protected in the Amendments to the Constitution. Numerous US Supreme Court cases have ruled in this. Defenders of the Second Amendment point to these Court rulings.

I am a Democrat State Representative who has been endorsed by the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) of Massachusetts because my position on guns rights doesn't interfere with law abiding citizens. In my opinion, the Second Amendment is here to stay. But as constant a student of human behavior and government, I also have an inquisitive mind.

What Would You Do?

As a legislator and I am always interested in people's opinions. This is a thought experiment; a hypothetical. There are no right or wrong answers.

  • What would you do if all of the requirements of Article V of the Constitution were met and the Second Amendment was repealed?
  • What would you do if the Second Amendment was effectively repealed by a US Supreme Court ruling that the right to bear arms does apply to an individual, but only individuals in a militia?
  • If the defense of the Second Amendment rests in reference to the Constitution as it stands now, what argument would you use if the Constitution was changed to no longer protect the individual right to bear arms?
  • As a law abiding gun owner, would you give up your guns?
  • What do you think would happen to violent crime rates, accidental shootings and suicides?
  • Would you follow the new law of the land that was legitimately established, just as laws allowing the possession of a firearm have been legitimately established?

I care about the opinions of citizens of America; I would like thoughtful comments in the comment section about what law abiding gun owners would do if the Second Amendment were repealed or if the SCOTUS issued a new ruling reversing the Constitutionality of the individual right to bear arms.

These are very tough questions, but these are not a stupid questions. Some of my colleagues in elected office would repeal the Second Amendment if they could, or curtail gun ownership and reduce the number of guns in circulation in the US. Also, a President could appoint Supreme Court judges who interpreted the Constitution differently than did the Nine did who ruled in Heller. I think it is important to know what the consequences of repealing the Second Amendment would be.

Paul Heroux is a State Representative from Massachusetts on the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Paul was endorsed by GOAL in his last election over his Republican opponent.

I Am Doing Something About It... Meet Byron Bigelow

Jessica Mindich   |   January 29, 2016   12:54 AM ET

Someone dies from gun violence every 16 minutes in America.

YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT is a series of frank interviews with passionate men and women who are leaders, activists, experts and mentors on the subject of illegal gun violence in America. All of them are warriors on this very complicated and emotional mission.

Some are friends and some I have admired from afar for their bravery, audacity and indomitable commitment to the cause. Although our backgrounds are vastly different, and the experiences and challenges we face in our work and lives are as complex as the causes and the solutions to this insidious problem, each has shown through their actions that there is more that can be done to end this senseless loss of human life.

I am proud to introduce you to them and share their insights into how you can help Raise The Caliber of your community and help our efforts to end illegal gun violence in America.

Interview No 1. I AM DOING SOMETHING

Name:
Byron Bigelow

Occupation/Title:
Warehouse worker

Age:
25

Race/Nationality:
African American

Where do you live?
Bridgeport CT

What quote do you live by?

"In life you'll meet two types of people. Ones who build you up and ones who'll shit on you. But in the end. You'll thank both of them."

What are you most proud of about your work/life?
I am a living testimony of one of the few programs that successfully help active gang members rebuild their lives and re enter society. It is called Project Longevity. I currently stand behind them and will always do whatever is needed including many speeches at Sacred Heart University's Building Bridges. The most important connection I have made is with the violent juveniles.

But, what I am most proud of being is the best father to my kids.


What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Managing my time.

Why do you think we have such a problem with gun violence in America?
Honestly, It's fear and reputation. Kids now a days are scared to lose a fight and worried about what others will say if they do. They want to portray the gangsters they see in movies and still not realize it always ends in one of two ways...dead or in jail.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about why we have such a problem with gun violence in America?
I would say gun laws themselves. The new gun laws the government are trying to put together only hinder people who go about carrying the right way.

Do you think there is a law that the government could enact that would really make a difference in reducing gun violence and building safe communities?
No. There is no law that can control human emotions.

What are three things the average American citizen can do to "Raise The Caliber" of their community?
Gun awareness
Violent teen management
Community bonding

Is there a must read book or article on this topic that has educated and inspired you?
No. Just life experience.


To learn how you can do something about it, visit www.calibercollection.com "about us"

ABOUT PROJECT LONGEVITY:
Project Longevity is a Community and Law Enforcement initiative to reduce serious violence in three of Connecticut's major cities: New Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford. Project Longevity is modeled after successful efforts implemented in communities across the country. To learn more visit http://bit.ly/1VuaToD

About the author: Jessica Mindich began the Caliber Collection in January 2012 as a collaboration with the Mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, as a way to turn illegal and unwanted guns from our cities' streets into jewelry. Their vision was to create a virtuous cycle by funding gun buyback and amnesty programs from the proceeds of the sales from the Caliber Collection. The jewelry is made with the serial numbers from illegal guns and the metal from shell casings. The Caliber Collection donates 20% of the net proceeds to fund voluntary gun buyback and amnesty programs in some of the toughest cities in America. To date, they have taken over 1,000 illegal guns off the streets and have raised approximately $100,000 for police departments in Newark, Hartford, the San Francisco Bay Area and Detroit from the sale of Caliber products to customers in over 85 countries.

From the success of the Caliber Collection, Jessica created The Caliber Foundation, which offers support to victims, families and communities who have been affected by illegal gun violence. The Caliber Foundation is the proud recipient of grants from MTV, Shepard Fairey/Obey Giant and The Serena Williams Foundation. Jessica is also the founder of the Raise The Caliber initiative, a National advocacy campaign to end illegal gun violence. Proceeds from partnerships under Raise The Caliber are donated to the Caliber Foundation.

www.calibercollection.com

In Most Gun Shootings, Mental Illness Does Not Play a Role

Pavita Singh, MPH   |   January 28, 2016    6:22 PM ET

In the wake of the hundreds of mass shootings over the past couple of decades, the media has been teeming with conversations about mental illness. Newspaper headlines have propagated the notion that gun crime is strongly associated with mental illness, and that people who commit gun crimes suffer from mental illness.

As it turns out, only about 2 to 4 percent of gun crimes are attributable to mental illness (Fazel & Grann, 2006). In making this claim, however, it is important to first distinguish between mass shootings and "everyday" shootings.

Mass shootings are relatively rare events. A mass shooting involves a perpetrator indiscriminately killing four or more people (not including him- or herself) in a single incident, usually in a single location (Follman, 2012). In mass shootings, mental illness can and often does play a role in the perpetration of violence, but does not explain the full story behind them (e.g. Langman, 2009).

"Everyday" shootings are different from mass shootings. As the name suggests, this type of shooting occurs every day. "Everyday" shootings often involve gang violence, robbery or theft, domestic disputes, other violent crime, or substance abuse. Mental illness plays almost no role in the perpetration of "everyday" gun crime (e.g. Monahan & Arnold, 1996). The conflation of mass shootings and "everyday" shootings is problematic because it masks the differences in underlying causes and factors between the two types of gun crime. Mass shootings and "everyday" shootings are committed by different types of people for different reasons. When discussing the role of mental illness in gun crime, therefore, it is crucial to specify which type of crime is at play.

In his seminal work, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters, psychologist Peter Langman discusses the psychological factors involved in school shootings. He offers evidence that individuals who commit mass shootings tend to suffer from mental health issues. First, he notes that depression is highly prevalent among school shooters. Of the ten school shooters he analyzes in the book, nine suffered from depression. These shooters felt like failures in their lives and envied their peers who were happier and more successful than they were.

This envy gradually become anger and rage, which gradually turned to homicidal ideation. Furthermore, many of the shooters Langman analyzes experienced suicidal ideation in addition to homicidal ideation, and some of those who experienced suicidal ideation did in fact kill themselves after the mass shooting. In most of these cases, the suicidal ideation preceded the homicidal ideation. Much scholarly research supports the findings presented in Langman's book.

However, mental illness does not explain the whole story behind mass shootings. About 1 in 4 people in the United States have a diagnosable mental illness and most of them do not commit mass shootings. One of the principles of modern epidemiology is that one risk factor alone does not lead to a particular outcome, but rather a combination of risk factors together can result in an outcome.

In the case of mass shootings, we must consider mental illness not in isolation but as part of a larger picture. So, what sets those mentally ill individuals who commit mass shootings apart from those mentally ill individuals who do not commit any acts of violence? According to the research, risk factors for gun crime perpetration include the availability of and access to guns; lack of family and community support and validation; substance use and abuse; noncompliance with psychiatric medications; and a preoccupation with violence, weapons, war, and violent video games (Langman, 2009; Meloy et al., 2001; Meloy et al., 2004).

Far more common than mass shootings are "everyday" shootings, in which mental illness plays almost no role. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, of the nearly 120,000 gun homicides that took place between 2001 and 2010, very few were committed by people with mental illness. In fact, research has found that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of gun crime than perpetrators. Perhaps the best-known researchers who have explored this topic are John Monahan and Jean Arnold. In their review of epidemiological studies examining the relationship between gun crime and mental illness, they found that no such relationship exists. Instead, situational factors, such as substance use, interpersonal conflict, and access to guns, are largely responsible for the perpetration of gun crime.

Holding onto the false belief that mental illness drives gun crime has several adverse effects. This belief continues to stigmatize people with mental illness. It has also led to problematic laws and policies, such as the creation of special statuses for the extended detention of prisoners with mental illness, the imposition of a tort liability on psychologists and psychiatrists who do not foresee the violence of their patients, and the creation of a "direct threat" exception to employment protections guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

To turn conversations about gun crime into conversations about mental health and mental illness is to avoid the true issues underlying gun crime. Gun crime should be thought of not as a problem of a select group of individuals, but rather as a problem driven by a combination of situational, social, and cultural factors along with individual factors in rare cases. Programs targeting the situational, social, and cultural factors leading to gun crime rather than the individual factors that contribute to only a small fraction of gun crimes would play a much greater role in ending the gun violence epidemic.

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013. Leading causes of death reports.
Fazel, S. & Grann, M. (2006). The population impact of severe mental illness on violent crime. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(8): 1397-1403.
Follman, M. (2012). What exactly is a mass shooting? Mother Jones. Retrieved December 1, 2013 from http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/08/what-is-a-mass-shooting
Langman, P. (2009). Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Meloy, J.R., Hempel, E.G., Mohandie, K., Shiva, A.A., & Gray, B.T. (2001). Offender and offence characteristics in a nonrandom sample of adolescent mass murderers. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(6): 719-728.
Meloy, J.R., Hempel, E.G., Gray, B.T., Mohandie, K., Shiva, A.A., & Richards, T.C. (2004). A comparative analysis of North American adolescent and adult mass murderers. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 22(3): 291-309.
Monahan, J. & Arnold, J. (1996). Violence by people with mental illness: A consensus statement by advocates and researchers. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 19(4): 67-71.

Nick Wing   |   January 28, 2016    1:53 PM ET


Police in Virginia found six members of a Virginia family dead in an apparent murder-suicide after officers tried for hours to negotiate with an armed, barricaded person, authorities said Thursday.


The drama began when officers were sent to a home Wednesday afternoon to check on a person and found a dead body, Chesapeake police said in a news release. They said their investigation led them to another home about a block away, where they found an armed person barricaded inside.


After officers negotiated for several hours, police said they entered the home and found five people dead, including the armed person they had been negotiating with. Police said they believe that person killed the others. Police did not immediately release their names.


The bodies were taken to the medical examiner's office for autopsies, police said. A spokesman for the medical examiner's office did not immediately return a telephone message.


Cheryl Harris, who lives near the house where the first body was found, told the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk ( http://bit.ly/1P07TfK ) that she was sitting in her living room about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday when she saw police and ambulance lights.


"I knew it was a bad situation because they all came in without sirens," said Harris, a retired Portsmouth dispatcher.


Harris said she later went to a restaurant parking lot where she watched officers try to negotiate with a gunman inside a home across the street. A negotiator kept telling the person to come out.


"Let's talk," Harris said she heard the negotiator saying. "We can work this out."


Harris said she heard no gunshots, only a concussion grenade police threw into the house late Wednesday. She estimated negotiations went on until about 3:30 a.m., when she said police went into the house.


Desiree Darst, who lives in the neighborhood, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that she has known the occupants of the two homes for years. She described them as "just really good Christian people."


"It's just a shock," she said of the deaths. "This is a close-knit neighborhood."


HuffPost's Melissa Jeltsen reported last year on domestic violence as the often untold story of mass shootings in the U.S.



The Huffington Post analyzed five years of mass shooting data compiled by Everytown For Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization backed by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. We looked at shootings in which at least four people were killed with a gun (the common definition of mass shootings, though there is debate over the best way to define them).


We found that in 57 percent of mass shootings, the shooter targeted either a family member or an intimate partner. According to HuffPost's analysis, 64 percent of mass shooting victims were women and children. That's startling, since women typically make up only 15 percent of total gun violence homicide victims, and children only 7 percent. 



By some counts, there were hundreds of mass shootings in 2015 alone, though independent trackers continue to debate the best way to classify these outbursts of violence.


Sebastian Murdock   |   January 27, 2016   12:52 PM ET

Here's the shocking claim: Since President John F. Kennedy was shot down in late 1963, more Americans have been killed by gunfire in this country than died in all U.S. wars.

The Virginia Center for Public Safety, a gun control advocacy group, repeated that assertion, which has been made before, in fliers handed out at a Jan. 18 rally in Richmond. And PolitiFact decided to run the numbers with the latest data.

Short version: It's true.

Here's what PolitiFact discovered:

  • From the Revolutionary War through December 2014, 1.2 million Americans have died in military conflicts, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • A 2012 report by a Binghamton University historian estimated a 20 percent higher death toll from the Civil War, which would push total deaths in military conflicts to 1.4 million.
  • By contrast, domestic gun deaths from 1968 to 2014 add up to nearly 1.5 million. 
  • Some 63 percent of those gun deaths were suicides, and 33 percent were homicides. 
  • PolitiFact could not find data for gun deaths before 1968. Add in the missing years, and the total number of firearm fatalities since JFK's death would surely be higher than 1.5 million.

So yes, more Americans have died from gunfire within their own country in the last half-century or so than died in all the wars the U.S. has ever fought.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced new anti-violence actions that would, among other things, close the gun show loophole that allows certain purchasers to bypass background checks. His announcement sent gun manufacturers' stocks soaring.

Adam Goldberg   |   January 24, 2016    5:10 PM ET

PICAYUNE, Miss. (AP) — A gun shop owner and his 17-year-old son died in a shootout over a $25 service charge, and another man and his 29-year-old son are hospitalized, Mississippi authorities said.

Investigators don't know whether the customers or the owners started the shooting Saturday afternoon at McLemore Gun Shop near Picayune, and want to figure out just what happened before filing any charges, Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison told the Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1OFTOGr ).

He identified the owner and his son as Jason McLemore, 44, and Jacob McLemore, 17, WLOX-TV (http://bit.ly/1Jvbi9I ) reported Sunday.

Michael McCool, 29, allegedly shot both with a 40-caliber pistol, he told the station.

He said McCool was in intensive care at University Hospital in New Orleans, and his father, Andy McCool, 52, was at Forrest General Hospital in Mississippi.

Andy McCool apparently was hit in the back, but investigators don't know how he was injured, WLOX reported.

Neither Allison nor Chief Deputy Shane Tucker was available for comment when The Associated Press called for an update Sunday.

The McCools came to pick up a gun and got angry because there was a $25 service charge even though the gun had not been fixed, Allison told WJTV (http://bit.ly/23lXWTH ).

He said Jason McLemore's wife was at the shop, and called her husband in to clear up the dispute.

"We believe there might have been some pushing and shoving," Tucker told the Sun Herald.

McLemore's wife was not injured.

 

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You Can Do Something About It

Jessica Mindich   |   January 22, 2016   12:49 AM ET

Why are we fighting about guns, gun ownership and how to fix the problem?  As gun violence is a uniquely American problem, we are dealing with it in our uniquely American way... as a competition.  Shouldn't "winning" be defined by an end to the senseless loss of human life that occurs in this country every 16 minutes every day?  Instead, we are taking sides and taunting the other team like it is a football game.

In the days after 14 people were killed and 21 people wounded in San Bernardino we were back to pointing fingers of blame instead of taking a long hard look in the mirror and asking what we can do as individuals and as a society to make it stop.

As parents, we ask our children to resolve their conflicts with respect and to work together to find solutions. Our children should demand the same of us. However, as yet another mass homicide captures our collective horror and outrage, we refuse to come together.

Politicians aren't the only people that have a responsibility to address the issue of gun violence. Americans have to check their egos at the door and ask themselves "how can I help?" In each community, the answers to this question will be as different as this country is diverse.

What will not end the carnage is another hashtag, tweet, vilifying facebook post and certainly not replacing pictures of guns in politicians hands with sex toys.

I am not suggesting that your contributions have to take the place of your current roles and responsibilities or that you have to suddenly become an expert on gun violence. Start by thinking about what is within your wheelhouse that you can do or offer. First and foremost, if you have a gun in your home make sure it is secured! Give your children a plan as to how to handle things if they find themselves in a home with an unsecured weapon. Don't scare them, empower them with information.

Reconnect with your family and your community. Is there anything happening on social media that is upsetting your kids? Ask your children about their friends. If you learn that a child of a family in your school is going through a tough time see if you can offer some kind of support. If you hear that a classmate of your child's is suddenly acting out inappropriately or has had a series of unexplained absences, then talk to the administration and make sure that they are aware of it. This is not being nosy. This is being a concerned parent.

If you work out at a gym, talk to the management about offering passes to the local Boys and Girls clubs and organizing special classes that will appeal to their age group and interests. Not only will this keep kids off the streets, but, it will also help with their self-esteem. If you have time to be a big brother or big sister...DO IT. A positive role model is missing from the lives of so many at-risk youth. If you work at a company that has the ability to give internship programs, ask that an effort is made to recruit from inner city schools. It is a fact that gun violence rises dramatically during the summer months. If you have any creative talents such as music, art, dance, look into volunteering at an after school or weekend program. And, if you have money not time, give. Look into scholarship programs, see if you can contribute to a food bank, help repair community athletic facilities.

The majority of the lives we lose to gun violence in this country are due to suicide and inner city violence. There are a myriad of reasons for this and not one solution. However, it is impossible to refute that if we spend more time and effort thinking about the needs of others it will lead to a stronger support system for those who are tempted to pick up a gun no matter what their motivation.

This is not a game. This is real life.

What We Learned From The NRA's Tax Documents

Robert Greenwald   |   January 21, 2016    1:24 AM ET

Over the past two years  I’ve collected the stories of families affected by gun violence. Traveling from city to city in the U.S. and having the gut wrenching task of asking people to relive their most heartbreaking moments,  I began to see through the smoke and mirrors the NRA has so masterfully created. They had sold an idea to the American people that you need a gun; laws can’t protect you but guns can.  However, the same "failed laws" the NRA claimed couldn't protect human life, were worth spending millions to protect guns. It made no sense until we discovered who pays the NRA. That’s when I began to connect the dots.

In 2014, 13-year-old Eddie Holmes was shot in the chest, unintentionally, by another child playing with a shotgun that the boys found loaded and stashed haphazardly behind a parent’s bed.

That same year, the National Rifle Association, the lobbying front-group for the major gun companies, spent $345 million and change (more than the entire annual budget of several island nations). Some of that money went to ensuring that no one got prosecuted, or even fined, as a result of Eddie’s death. Some of it went to marketing fear, selling the idea that having a loaded shotgun at the ready – and in reach of a child – will keep your family safe. Eddie’s is one of the five  stories Brave New Films will tell in Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA (trailer above) which comes out in March. We’d like you to be a part of it.

Given that the group took in less than it did the year before -- a mere $310.5 million in revenues -- this was what passes as a bad year for the National Rifle Association.

Still, it was enough to stifle common-sense gun violence prevention and the will of the vast majority of Americans. In Wisconsin, they battled for, and in 2015, won, a repeal of the state’s 48-hour waiting period for purchase of a handgun. Had such a law been in place in Oregon, law student Kerry Lewiecki’s family believes he might have been alive today.  Nationally, despite bipartisan consensus and a nation mourning the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, the NRA had the year before shut down efforts in Congress to require background checks for all gun sales. Without universal background checks, any law with the goal of protecting victims of domestic violence, like Kate Ranta, would be useless. 

Some of the millions that made it possible for the NRA to create the facade that they are for the very Americans they were aiding in killing were spent on things like publications, such as NRA Family, which this month features a cartoon entitled “Little Red Riding Hood Has a Gun.” This promises to be the first in a series of classic fairy tales retold to “comfort” children with the concept of armed and dangerous Hansels, Gretels and the like riding off into the sunset.  The price tag for these publications, in truth propaganda, was more than $26 million.

Also included in the gun lobby’s massive expenditures in 2014 is $56.6 million dumped into advertising and promotion to scare politicians into believing that votes for common-sense laws that would, for example, require firearms be locked away, or even just out of reach of children, are career killers.  

In case those politicians didn’t get the message clearly enough, that same year the NRA spent (or at least admitted to spending) approximately $1.1 million on lobbying, $5.7 million on political expenditure and another $23 million on unspecified “legislative programs.” The actual amount the NRA spends to influence legislation is almost impossible to pin down. Between 2008-2014, the NRA failed to disclose over $58 million in political spending to the IRS.

All this was managed by staff who raked in a total of $43 million in salaries in 2014. Nearly a million of that went to Wayne LaPierre, the notorious executive director who will go down in history for his callous and ridiculous call to arm school personnel in the wake of Sandy Hook. Perhaps he was worth the money. Or maybe, if he just made a little less, and the gun companies were a little less greedy, Eddie Holmes would be alive today.