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  |   February 27, 2014   10:06 PM ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California's attorney general on Thursday appealed a federal court decision that overturned San Diego County's concealed weapons restrictions.

Kamala D. Harris asked the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a decision made by a three-judge panel of the court on Feb. 13.

A Dozen Things South of Normal in America

Lori Day   |   February 25, 2014    2:20 PM ET

Once in a while, when I least expect it, a window cracks open in my mind and I suddenly see that some news story, some political event, or some aspect of our culture I stopped noticing is absolutely bizarre. And I feel like I'm dreaming, because this thing--whatever it is--just can't be happening. But it is. The Rolling Stones sang, "Truth is stranger than fiction. We drive through there every day." You could drive a truck through the amount of truly nutty behavior going on that is due south of normal, but is suddenly normative, and therefore somehow no longer eyebrow-raising. We live in an era of mass psychosis. Help.

These twelve symbols of how our society is collapsing are piling up in my brain and I need to spread the pain around. You'll thank me for naming some of these things, trust me.

1. Republicans are politically aligning themselves with circus sideshow freaks that they would not want in the same room with their wives or daughters. They are parading them before their "base" to get equally despicable people stoked up. Take for example the Greg Abbott/Ted Nugent situation. Abbott is running against Wendy Davis for governor of Texas and is inexplicably campaigning with a racist washed-up rocker who sleeps with underage girls, defecated in his pants for a week to avoid the Vietnam War, and called the POTUS a "subhuman mongrel". I won't even get into the whole GOP/Duck Dynasty lovefest.

2. Conspiracy theories are spreading like kudzu. Alex Jones and Phyllis Schlafly are worried that white people (you know, real Americans) are going to be enslaved by immigrants. 99 percent of the world's climate scientists are having secret meetings to coordinate a massive global warming hoax. And, you know...Benghazi. I could probably name a hundred more ludicrous conspiracy theories, but I might have to go live in a cave in Outer Mongolia to escape the agony of hearing about them.

3. Millionaires and billionaires are proving Godwin's Law every day. Their persecution is so ruthless and unfair! People, listen up. The War on the Rich is like the War on Christmas--completely imagined by the stupid, and brilliantly propagandized by their overlords. You'd have to be living in a van down by the river not to hear the petulant yapping of the .01 percent, who haven't the slightest inkling of their own shame.

4. The willingness of the oppressed to defend their oppressors--and vote against their own best interests--is Monty Pythonesque. Here, enjoy this clip from Life of Brian. It explains everything.

5. Unchristian Christians. They pick and choose bible quotes they want to believe, and then after selecting people to hate--I mean, archaic parables to worship--they search for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, to claim that those beliefs are consistent with Christianity. Fundamentalist religion has become "politics in the sky." Moment of silence, please, for the misguided fools who walk among us, and for the holy-roller carnival barkers who are goading them.

6. Old, white, Christian, straight men still maintain a death grip on corporate and political power in this country. There are now more minority babies being born than white babies, and this does not come as welcome news to the establishment elite, who will do anything to stay in power. Lyndon B. Johnson's war on poverty has become today's republican war on the poor, yet there have been no major riots. The absence of riots is baffling. In fact, I am rooting for riots, because they would bring some much-needed instability to this totally preposterous feudal system we live under.

7. Young women on college campuses are as likely to be raped at some point in their four years as they are to come down with the flu in any given year. Let that sink in for a moment. This is so far out the negative asymptote of human decency, it makes my soul bleed.

8. People can now be legally killed for wearing hoodies, playing loud music or throwing popcorn. Gaze upon reality, folks. We're a nation full of gunslinging psychos and the whole world is scornfully laughing at us. If climate change doesn't kill us first, we'll extinguish the population of America bit by bit in schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and parking lots. (I didn't put any links in for #8 because my computer almost caught fire when I googled mass shootings and stand your ground killings.)

9. Fame can now occur for no reason whatsoever. Check out this kid. Why is he famous? Seriously, what is going on?

10. There is a disturbing cultural fixation on women's bodies and faces. Venturing further into the fever-swamp, there is also a ridiculous amount of painful, expensive plastic surgery that women are seeking for their breasts and genitals while they say "I do it for ME." How are so many women such heartbreaking orphans of reality? And you know, it's hard to place all of the blame on them, because it is truly sick that everywhere women turn, they see relentless objectification of female bodies. The new normal is not normal.

11. "Evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are lies straight from the pit of hell." We've got all these people in charge of other people who don't believe in basic science. Ignorance is actually hip for a scary-huge segment of society. Is it such a monumental overask to expect people who are on, say, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to actually understand and respect science?

12. The nexus of anti-abortion legislation, condemnation of birth control, vitriol spewed at single mothers, and cuts to the social safety net affecting predominantly women and children in 2014 is heinous. This just in from the department of the absurd: misogyny has become political ideology. Must! Stay! Optimistic!

Phew, that took a lot out of me. I cannot describe to you the self-control it took to cut it off at twelve. What would you add?

(P.S. I do have my coping mechanisms. I look at baby animal pics on the Internet.)

Lori Day is an educational consultant and author. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest .

We Found The One-Stop Shop For All Your Shotgun Wedding Needs

Taryn Hillin   |   February 24, 2014    7:21 PM ET

Are you getting married? Do you still need to buy your wedding dress? Do you also need to purchase beer and possibly a firearm too? Have we got the store for you!

A Redditor posted this photo Sunday of a sign outside Hussey's General Store in Maine advertising everything you'd need for an old-fashioned shotgun wedding.

Every. Bride's. Dream.

Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Have Guns Made It Harder for Americans to Walk Away From a Fight?

Mike Weisser   |   February 19, 2014    3:02 PM ET

Last week Michael Dunn, a dapper, 47-year-old software engineer, was hoping that his trial would end up the same way as George Zimmerman's trial ended up, but no such luck. Even if he's never convicted of killing Jordan Davis, he could end up being sentenced to 60 years in jail because the jury decided that the fact that he kept shooting at the truck as it pulled away from him meant that he was trying to kill the other passengers who, it turned out, were armed with nothing more than big mouths.

What probably cooked Dunn's goose, in addition to the forensic evidence which indicated that Davis was shot while sitting in his vehicle, not, as Dunn claimed, after he got out of the truck and came towards him in a menacing way, was the fact that he drove away from the scene, spent the night in a motel and then drove back home before contacting anyone to talk about the incident. Not much different, when you stop and think about it, from the way that Curtis Reeves, the 71-year-old ex-cop from Tampa, pulled out a gun, shot and killed Chad Oulson in a movie theater last month and then calmly sat back down and waited for the cops to walk in, surround him and take away his gun.

Even the National Rifle Association, which champions the "Stand Your Ground" law that has been cited by lawyers both for Dunn and Reeves, draws the line when it comes to how someone should behave if they defend themselves with a gun. Their course books on self-defense both in and outside the home specifically advise that anyone who is involved in a shooting incident should remain on the scene, contact law enforcement, separate themselves from any weapon, and make sure that they clearly state their name and their reasons for calling 911.

In both the Florida shootings, neither Dunn nor Reeves followed any one of those rules. Neither contacted law enforcement directly after the incident, neither separated themselves from their guns, neither did anything that would have indicted even an awareness that an emergency existed based on what they had done. Dunn not only waited more than 24 hours to contact anyone, but that gave him enough time to concoct a phony story that even his fiancee, who was on the scene, couldn't support when she took the stand.

I'm beginning to wonder whether we have any idea about what's at stake when we give civilians the right to walk around with a gun. Just this week the 9th Circuit in California ruled that the state's concealed carry law violated the 2nd Amendment because it denied residents the ability to carry a gun outside the home. And while it will ultimately be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the 2nd Amendment really does apply beyond the limits of one's residence (in fact the Heller decision speaks only to possession of firearms within the home) the bigger issue is how we behave once the constitutional right to self-protection is actually invoked.

Because we can talk and argue all we want about whether Americans are safer if everyone walks around with a gun. But somehow, don't ask me how, too many of us just can't seem to walk away from a fight. The movie theater where Chad Oulson was killed had less than 30 patrons in it but neither he nor the guy who shot him to death would change to a different seat. Michael Dunn could have walked back into the convenience store or the kids could have driven off without the requisite middle finger being pointed in the air. This has nothing to do with the Founding Fathers, or the 2nd Amendment or anything else. It's all about something called common sense -- and nobody should be protected by the Constitution if they can't figure that one out.


Norma Cook Everist   |   February 19, 2014    1:42 PM ET

As the world watched, T.J. Oshie from small town Warroad, Minnesota, in a "sudden death" shootout led the U.S. ice hockey team to a victory over the Russian team Saturday in a preliminary round at the Olympics. The shootout was necessary to break the 2-2 tie. The verdict was finally in after an amazing game. The cheering was loud all over the United States.

Also on Saturday, the verdict came in on another shootout, the case of Michael Dunn, shooting at a carful of African American teenagers playing loud music in a gas station lot in Jacksonville, Florida. Because the verdict was announced during Saturday night prime-time coverage of the Olympics, I, like many people, almost missed it. The judge thanked the jury for their hard work. They had tried, but even after hours of overtime could not reach a verdict on whether or not Dunn was guilty of first-degree murder of 17-year-old African American Jordan Davis. Sudden death. Justice delayed.

The jury, however, did convict Dunn on four charges, three of attempted second-degree murder of the three other teens in the car. One could cheer, or at least be relieved. Or be simply saddened.

A different kind of shootout: one a game, with a puck, and referees. A shootout on the ice, both sides having their turn to win. In the cases of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, they had no guns. They were attacked by another who carried a gun because . . . well, why? In case he would need it if he was grieved, annoyed, thought he was afraid? In case someone was making too much noise? In case he thought someone was in the wrong neighborhood, should not be there, should not be?

We understand the motives for competitive sports. Are we beginning to take for granted the motives for murder? Fear begets fear and guns beget guns. We want to cheer for the United State of America. We cheer more loudly when we win games. We will cheer more clearly when we no longer fear African American males, particularly young ones, believing that fear and anger gives license to take a gun and shoot, and then to continue to shoot.

Obviously, although the words are similar, there is no direct comparison between these two stories. So we compartmentalize.

Ron Davis, Jordan's father, said he had waited 450 days for this moment. "The whole world is looking at all of us here in Jacksonville." I hope so.

NORA CAPLAN-BRICKER   |   February 19, 2014   12:30 AM ET

During last year’s battle over gun control, the pro-gun side did more than passionately invoke the Second Amendment: They claimed that gun control doesn’t work. Sometimes even the reformers, surveying the limited impact of legislation from the 1990s, feared the same. But a new study on universal background checks makes the strongest case yet that the policy saves lives. “This is probably the strongest evidence we have that background checks really matter,” said Philip Cook, a gun expert at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

  |   February 18, 2014   10:40 PM ET

By David Beasley

ATLANTA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Georgia lawmakers on Tuesday voted to allow bars and churches to decide for themselves whether to let gun owners carry weapons into their buildings.

The measure heads for the state Senate after the members of Georgia's House of Representatives approved the legislation with a 119-56 vote, according to the chamber's Twitter account.

The rights of gun owners became a major political issue in 2012, when the United States experienced a rash of mass shootings, including a massacre that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut.

Gun-control and gun-rights advocates have turned their respective efforts to statehouses after gun control legislation stalled in the U.S. Congress.

Under the Georgia bill, churches and bars would be allowed to decide whether to allow weapons inside their buildings, according to the legislation's sponsor, Rep. Rick Jasperse, a Republican.

"We don't need to be penalizing law-abiding citizens and taking away their Second Amendment rights," Jasperse said, referring to the U.S. Constitution's right to bear arms.

The legislation would also allow secondary schools to decide whether to allow teachers and administrators to carry weapons.

"The legislation does not represent the majority of people of Georgia, but only a small number of gun advocates," said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, a Democrat who voted against the bill.

If the bill passes, gun owners will also be able to take their weapons into governmental buildings if security screenings are not in place, but guns would remain prohibited in courthouses and prisons. (Editing by Brendan O'Brien)

Do Expanding Numbers of Guns and Permits Mean We Need Expanded Liability Laws?

Tom Harvey   |   February 18, 2014    4:00 PM ET

We have now had two massively publicized cases where Florida's Stand Your Ground law has worked to prevent an effective deterrent for the outright killing of unarmed young persons. The planting and suggestion of the idea that now is the time for vigilantes does more damage to a civil society than even the loss of justice for the grieving families of the victims.  Because the facts of incidents must be investigated, discovered and proven to a high standard of proof for criminal prosecution to succeed, that prosecution is most effective as a backup to an effective program of prevention. 

The major tool that is used to prevent gun injuries is keeping guns out of the hands of inappropriate persons.  The implementation of policies to that end is very incomplete because of the loopholes, such as allowing sales that are not background checked, that have been placed by gun proponents.  If these loopholes were fixed and the conduits that allow the flow of guns from legal to illegal hands were stopped then we would eliminate the larger part of our gun violence problem.  But even then a substantial number of injuries and killings would continue to plague our society.  These incidents involving legal gun owners can be seen at any gun violence tracking website such as Joe Nocera's The Gun Report.

It's not possible to accurately predict the persons who will eventually use a gun to create harm whether through accident or malice.  It is especially difficult if the prediction has to be made by  identifying explicit factors and then using them to deny rights and privileges. We're seeing more and more cases in the national news where people are being shot by gun owners who are apparently responsible people prior to the incident making national news.  These include more than the so-called self-defense cases above but  also a growing number of domestic violence incidents and, on an almost daily basis, murder-suicides.

We have the threat of sanctions as the way to reduce the damage that is done by the ever growing pool of guns.  Criminal sanctions are not working for this purpose because most legal gun owners simply don't consider that they might turn out to be criminals after a tragic incident.  They do seem to have a concern, perhaps an irrational concern but a real one, about being sued for the damage they are involved in.  Effective civil and financial responsibility can go a long way to help with our gun violence problem, but our laws need to be adjusted to fit the realities of the problem.

Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law has a civil as well as a criminal component to it.  It states "A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force . . . ."  The full extent of this immunity has not been tested in the courts but it likely includes cases where the shooter was negligent and may even include cases where bystanders are shot.  Removing this civil immunity and allowing negligent shooters to be held responsible would be a great help. 

Another useful step is to have laws that create a duty of care establishing a presumption of negligence in certain situations that lead to unnecessary shootings, accidental and otherwise. There are provisions in the laws of almost every state that make clear that certain kinds of incidents with motor vehicles establish a presumption of fault.  For cars, these include striking a vehicle from the rear and hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk.  For guns, the situations might be:

  • Letting a gun be taken, used or handled by an underage or prohibited person.
  • Allowing an unintended discharge.
  • Firing a gun and hitting a person not intended as a target.

The provisions in the motor vehicle codes of various states are straightforward and simple and provisions for guns could be easily added to criminal codes.

The majority of states have established strict liability for dogs that bite.  For example, the law in Florida provides:

767.04 Dog owner's liability for damages to persons bitten.--The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners' knowledge of such viciousness.

There are many similarities between dogs and guns that make the adoption of such a rule for guns seem appropriate.  Both have potentials for creating injury that is sudden and unpredictable from the viewpoint of potential victims.  Both have enhanced dangers when mishandled or allowed to escape the control of their owners.  The reasons for having a different law in the two cases is primarily political.  Both dog and gun owners are passionate about their possessions, but only gun owners have an organized resistance to responsibility.  We need responsibility in both cases. The responsibility of gun owners should continue after guns are taken by others whether family members or thieves at least until they are reported as stolen to authorities and probably thereafter. 

Real responsibility for guns would include a requirement for insurance to compensate victims. If that insurance is based on gun owner liability and fault then proper laws to establish liability are necessary.  These need to be designed in a way to promote safe practices and so that innocent victims can be compensated.  If insurers pay for accidents, they would demand safety and if they pay for the damage done by stolen guns they would demand safe storage.

It gets down to gun control--not gun control as not allowing people to have guns and not gun control as being able to hit the target--but gun control by gun owners in not allowing their guns to injure or kill or get into the hands of those who would do so.  The only thing politically more difficult that taking guns away is demanding responsibility for guns, but that is the task at hand.

  |   February 14, 2014    1:23 PM ET

Nothing says "I LOVE YOU NEVER LEAVE ME I MEAN IT SERIOUSLY" quite like bringing home a firearm on Valentine's Day.

Impact Guns, an online gun retailer based out of Utah, is hosting a truly bizarre Valentine's Day giveaway, offering the winner a free Smith & Wesson Shield 9 along with two dozen roses. We're not quite sure what to make of it, except think that the rock band Guns N' Roses should be peeved.

gun and roses

According to Craig Ball, director of operations for Impact Guns, 5,000 entries have been submitted since the sweepstakes launched this morning.

"Showing your love for a loved one and being able to defend them all in one is as good as it gets," Ball told The Huffington Post in a phone call on Friday.

Impact Guns isn't alone in promoting firearms on Valentine's Day. A local Texas police department encouraged giving a gun for Valentine's Day. According to Al Jazeera America, a Facebook message posted by the Rosenberg Police Department included a photo of a gun and read, "Men... Valentines Day is about one week away... why not the gift of safety?" It looks like the posting has since been deleted.

In America, 64 percent of women who are murdered are killed by a family member or intimate partner, HuffPost previously reported. According to one study, in domestic violence situations, having a gun in house means a woman is eight times more likely to be killed.

Chris Gentilviso   |   February 12, 2014    9:58 AM ET

Shortly after signing a bill that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons into restaurants and bars under certain circumstances, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) revealed her support for another change in policy.

The State reported Tuesday that Haley is backing the Constitutional Carry Act -- a bill currently in South Carolina's state Senate -- which would cut current rules on permits and training for those wishing to carry a gun.

“Criminals are dangerous, and I think that every resident should be allowed to protect themselves from criminals,” Haley told the State.

The restaurants and bars bill Haley signed Tuesday for allows gun owners to carry a weapon, as long as they refrain from drinking inside the establishment. Individual businesses also have the right to establish their own policies against weapons, as long as there is a visible warning to customers before entering.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an advocacy group formed in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has been active in trying to counter changes of this nature. South Carolina chapter leader Erin Dando told HuffPost that her group has kept its focus on educating people about what the new legislation means for their safety.

"Most business and bar owners don't even know that there has been a drastic change in state policy," Dando said. "We are telling them that they still have the right to ban concealed firearms."

Alternative Black History: Negroes With Guns

Erikka Yancy   |   February 12, 2014    9:41 AM ET


Anyone who has ever seen a film or documentary depicting the violent atrocities that routinely occurred during the Civil Rights movement in America knows the scene well: a young black boy looks at a white woman in a way that makes her uncomfortable. A black woman walks home alone past a group of white boys. A civil rights leader angers the wrong group of businessmen in town, and violence erupts in the form of lynchings, rapes, burning crosses, murder...

Inspired by Gandhi's success with non-violence and passive resistance in India's struggles, we know that Martin Luther King Jr. became the leader of the Civil Rights Movement by encouraging passive resistance. But these were violent times, the type of violence that is hard to imagine in 2014. Perhaps the closest we can come to understanding it is to imagine a different Oscar Grant being killed by police every night, or a new George Zimmerman being acquitted after killing an innocent boy every week. People in the south, especially, were violence-weary, constantly on guard. Something had to be done.

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama... I remember my father having to have guns at his disposal at all times, because of the fact that, at any moment, we might expect to be attacked. The man who was, at that time, in complete control of the city government, his name was Bull Connor, would often get on the radio and make statements like, "niggers have moved into a white neighborhood. We better expect some bloodshed tonight." And sure enough, there would be bloodshed... in my neighborhood, all the men organized themselves into an armed patrol. They had to take their guns and patrol our community every night.
-- Angela Davis, Black Power Mixtape

Robert F. Williams was a civil rights leader and author of whom you have probably heard very little if anything. Before the days of "by any means necessary," Williams taught black Americans self-defense and how to fight back against those that would attack them. He started as the President of a local NAACP chapter in Monroe, North Carolina. Monroe was a hotbed of activity during the Civil Rights Movement because it was deeply segregated. Through Williams' leadership, the local NAACP chapter managed to grow from six members to more than 200. Yet with a population of 12,000, Monroe, NC boasted at least 7,500 Ku Klux Klan supporters.

After their rallies they would drive through our community in motorcades and they would honk their horns and fire pistols from the car windows. On one occasion, they caught a colored woman on an isolated street corner and they made her dance at pistol point.
-- Robert F. Williams, "The Swimming Pool Showdown"

The Monroe chapter had the reputation of being the most militant NAACP chapter, and for good reason. They started a campaign of self-defense when they began arming themselves to combat against the onslaught of violence. Williams wrote the National Rifle Association and asked for a charter, which he received. Within a year they had 60 members. Eventually the violence came to a head and a shoot-out ensued. The Klan lost. Roberts' self-defense campaign successfully pushed them out of the county. It was 1957. Williams was eventually suspended from his role in the NAACP for promoting violence, which was directly at odds with the mainstream Civil Rights Movement. He also found himself at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. when King declined to join the Freedom Rides, an important campaign in the fight to desegregate the south.

No sincere leader asks his followers to make sacrifices that he himself will not endure. You are a phony.... If you lack the courage, remove yourself from the vanguard.... Now is the time for true leaders to take to the field of battle.
-- Robert F. Williams via telegram to Martin Luther King Jr.

During the first Freedom Summer, as the violence from the Klan increased against the Freedom Riders, Williams and his wife came to the rescue of two of the activists. They were later framed for the kidnapping of the activists. As a result, he and his wife fled to Cuba where they remained for several years in exile.

From Cuba, Williams sent a weekly newspaper, The Crusader, back to the States. The Crusader denounced capitalism, imperialism, racism and eventually Vietnam. It was also during this time that Williams penned the book that would become an enormous influence on Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther Party: Negroes With Guns. Negroes With Guns tells the story of Williams' struggle in Monroe to his exile in Cuba. It teaches about fighting back against an oppressor and encourages Black Power.

There is a sad irony in what became of Williams' legacy. He is either forgotten because we choose not to remember militancy -- we are taught that turning the other cheek is the only way to change things -- or his legacy has been twisted and bastardized to suit a different agenda. While researching for this piece, I saw gun enthusiasts quoting his book and spouting off about their Second Amendment rights. I wondered if these are the same type of people that support ridiculous laws such as Florida, Texas and Indiana's Stand Your Ground laws. The type of laws that allow you to shoot first if you feel threatened and ask questions later. I wonder if the same people that point to Williams and say, "See, here's a black guy that said guns are ok!" are the same type of people that thought shooting Renisha McBride in the head was justified when she knocked on a door in a predominately white neighborhood to ask for help.

You may ask, isn't violence violence? Whether in self-defense or not? My response?

When someone asks me about violence, I just find it incredible, because what it means is that the person who's asking that question has absolutely no idea what black people have gone through, what black people have experienced in this country, since the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.
-- Angela Davis, Black Power Mixtape

You can find a copy of Negroes With Guns at You can find the documentary about Robert F. Williams' life at California Newsreel. You can stream Black Power Mixtape at Netflix. Happy Black History Month!

This blog was originally posted on Dog Park Media Magazine.

Shooting Reported Near USC

Jade Walker   |   February 8, 2014    3:14 AM ET

A shooting was reported late Friday night near the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

According to the USC Emergency Information blog, the incident occurred in the area of the Lorenzo Apartments, a student housing community just north of the University Park campus. Students were urged to shelter in place and not open their doors to strangers.

The Daily Trojan, USC's student newspaper, is reporting that one victim was transported to an area hospital.

USC’s Dept. of Public Safety Deputy Chief David Carlisle told the Daily Trojan that the victim was not a student at the school.

The suspected gunman is still at large. He is described by police as a black male in his 20s, approximately 6 feet tall and 160 to 180 lbs. The suspect was last seen wearing camouflage pants and hat, ATVN reported.

UPDATE: At 1:46 a.m., USC issued another alert noting it was "safe to resume normal activities."

Asking Saves Kids

Daniel Gross   |   February 7, 2014   10:40 AM ET


A big part of the solution to gun violence lies outside Washington, D.C.

ABC's 20/20 special on Friday once again demonstrated the most important thing we should know about kids and guns in the home: children know where guns are, when they find those guns they are very likely to handle them, and when they do the consequences are often tragic.

• We saw a young child show the camera where his mom's gun is "hidden."
• Another boy, minutes after being instructed never to touch a gun picks it up and looks down the barrel to see if it's loaded.
• A father who had been teaching his son to shoot responsibly, wept as he recalled how the boy accidentally shot and killed himself with an unsecure gun.

Unsafe access to guns in the home is a big part of the problem of gun violence in our nation. In fact it may be the biggest. Every day in our nation eight children and teens are shot unintentionally. Another six teens and young adults take their own lives, many using a parent's gun.

The problem may not seem as intense as urban violence, because the deaths are spread out in less densely populated areas where gun ownership rates are highest. But when you look at it on a per capita basis, the statistics become startling. Young people in the most rural counties of the U.S. are as likely to die of a gunshot wound as those living in the most urban.

Most of the guns behind these tragedies are not purchased or owned with the idea they are going to harm someone. They are a part of the 300 million guns already in homes across the country, mostly in the hands of decent, law abiding people who own guns to hunt, target shoot, collect or protect their homes -- and who certainly do not bring a gun into their home with the idea that it will take the life of a child.

Most simply, too many tragedies occur because guns are purchased or owned without giving proper weight to the risks of bringing guns into the home and unsafe access to those guns.

This isn't a gun issue. It's a responsibility issue. Thousands of tragedies, in homes across our country could be prevented every year if parents and others had more responsible attitudes and behaviors, based on the real risks around guns in the home.

And to address this responsibility issue, we need major public awareness and education campaigns. We need to start a new national conversation that makes responsible choices about guns part of what it means to be a responsible parent, spouse or friend.

We need to change social norms just like we've seen on those other issues like drunk driving and tobacco where campaigns like, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk," and "Second Hand Smoke," have changed dangerous and irresponsible behavior that was considered not only acceptable, but glamorous a generation ago. Just watch one episode of Mad Men and think about how far we've come on those issues. We believe we have the exciting potential to create the same kind of sea change around guns through the same kind of public health and safety campaigns.

In 2000, we started the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) campaign with the American Academy of Pediatrics to encourage parents to start this conversation. It has proven extremely successful, with over 20 million parents asking about guns in homes, beginning to impact attitudes, behaviors and social norms in communities across the country. In fact, Friday night's 20/20 broadcast culminated with Diane Sawyer going door to door with residents of a suburban community showing the power and impact of asking if there are guns in the home.

Ultimately gun violence is a public health issue, just like tobacco and drunk driving and to solve it we need to take a public health approach. As a key part of that, we need to expand campaigns like the ASK Campaign to achieve the same scale and impact of successful public health and safety campaigns on those other issues -- and we need to do it immediately. Every day we wait more children are dying.

As our successful work in this area has already shown, if we can ground our efforts in the universally common goal of child safety, through public health and safety campaigns like the ASK Campaign, we truly can work together across the country and across the political spectrum to address a very big part of the gun violence problem in America.

NRA Quiet on Disarming Legal Medical Marijuana Patients

Russ Belville   |   February 7, 2014   10:06 AM ET

Officials writing the regulations for Illinois' nascent medical marijuana program have decided that medical marijuana cancels out the Second Amendment. According to the proposal, a registered medical marijuana patient would have to give up ownership of any firearms, even if the patient has a state firearm owner's ID card or even a concealed carry permit.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has long been a defender of Second Amendment rights. In the past, it has fought for the right of blind people to own handguns and even the right to hunt wild game. The NRA has proposed arming schoolteachers in response to the school shootings that happen with alarming regularity. The NRA has fought to keep open the so-called "gun show loophole" where people can buy firearms in private purchases not subject to the background checks that supposedly keep criminals and the mentally ill from owning a gun.

But when it comes to disarming a pot smoker, the NRA is curiously quiet. NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde told the Chicago Tribune the NRA "takes no position on the issue". Really? The NRA freaks out at the prospect of universal background checks supported by over 90 percent of the public, for fear of gun owners being on a government list that leads to gun confiscation, but they have no position on medical marijuana patients being on a government list that leads to gun confiscation?

In my home state of Oregon, we had to fight this same battle, not with the regulators writing rules for medical marijuana, but with the county sheriffs who hate marijuana smokers. A few sheriffs here decided that since federal law prohibits the possession of guns by "habitual drug users", medical marijuana patients couldn't get a concealed carry permit. Our lawyers fought that interpretation all the way to the Supreme Court, which decided that county sheriffs are in the business of enforcing state laws, not federal laws, and must issue the permits.

During the fight, I reached out to representatives from the NRA and I got the same "no position" response. Apparently if you're a blind hunter, a convicted felon, or an aspiring school shooter, the NRA will support your Second Amendment rights, but not if you're some disabled pot smoker using medicine legally in your home state. Oh well, it's not as if you have some sort of valuable black market commodity that criminals would invade your home over...

The NRA's not the only issue organization that freezes up as soon as pot is involved in their issue. You've probably read story after story about cops shooting family dogs during marijuana investigations. Rarely is the shot fired in self-defense from a pit bull lunging to attack; I've covered cops who've shot corgis, terriers, dachshunds, and just last week I covered a cop who shot a puppy that was sniffing at his ankle. But try and get a statement from PETA, ASPCA, or the Humane Society on these needless canicides and you'll get the same "we take no position" response. I even contacted Bill Maher - probably the most famous PETA board member who's also a famous stoner - and got nothing in return.

There is still time to comment on the Illinois medical marijuana rules by emailing

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