Guns

11 Children Shot Dead in Milwaukee, One in Her Grandpa’s Lap

AP Photo/Milwaukee Police Department

Daily Beast

Months after a grieving mother had pleaded with violent thugs to stop shooting, 5-year-old Laylah Peterson was killed by a random bullet. How a city’s kids are caught in the crossfire.

The smaller the coffin, the more monstrous [than] the murder.

And along with the kid-sized casket at the funeral on Wednesday for 5-year-old Laylah Petersen, there will be a harrowing statistic:

Eleven children under the age of 13 have been shot in the city of Milwaukee so far this year.

And little Laylah had not even been out in the street.

She had been in the presumed safety of her home, sitting on her grandfather’s lap and watching television on Thursday evening, when a dozen shots were fired at the house. A random slug that seems to have been intended for nobody in particular tore through a wall and struck the child in the head.

“We believe that this bullet read ‘to whom it may concern,’” Capt. Aaron Raap, head of the investigations division of the Milwaukee Police, later said. “And that concerns all of us.”

The same day as that shooting, Raap had sent out a memo praising his cops for their role in the successful prosecution of a young man for the killing of 10-year-old Sierra Guyton, who had been struck in the head by a stray round in a school playground in May.

Sierra had clung to life for seven weeks before finally succumbing to her wound. The child’s mother, LaTayna Anderson, offered a prayer for other parents.

“I just pray that everyone just keep their children safe,” Anderson said. “I would not bear this on no one.”

The mother also made a plea to the violent ones who wreak such havoc.

“I just ask, can you all please put down the guns? Just put the guns down.”

A week after Sierra’s funeral, a man who had just completed a prison sentence for attempting to shoot a cop got into a gunfight with somebody while driving a van occupied by seven children. A 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl were wounded.

“We have remorseless, reckless criminals in possession of high-quality firearms shooting at each other, and they don’t care who they hit,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said.

The police noted that they had recovered in excess of 1,000 firearms so far this year, nearly as many as New York, which has more than 12 times the population. Milwaukee’s murder rate is four times that of New York.

But that was still one-fourth the murder rate of the country’s most dangerous city, New Orleans. And Laylah’s family never imagined that she was in the slightest danger as she sat happily on her grandfather’s lap at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

In the stunned aftermath, her grieving relatives spoke of her as “our wild child,” incandescently alive, irrepressibly cheerful and delightfully quirky. One aunt said Laylah loved “sparkles, glitter, anything girly,” adding, “Any time you watch the movie Frozen, her favorite song was ‘Let it Go’ and she would sing it all the time.” Another aunt recalled something Laylah had said to her when they went trick-or-treating on Halloween just a few days before.

“I love you more than science!”

And thanks to science, the family found some consolation in donating Laylah’s heart to give another child a chance at life. The police chief, Flynn, announced that he was going to keep Laylah’s picture in his uniform shirt pocket next to his own heart.

“She’s going to be in our hearts, like her little baby heart is going to be in somebody else’s,” Flynn told reporters on Saturday. “She will always be remembered, not just by her family, but by that family that she has given her little heart to.”

Laylah and her older sister, Destiny, attended the school affiliated with Our Lady of Good Hope Roman Catholic Church. A teacher there put a teddy bear on Destiny’s empty desk, and those who so desired left notes of condolence.

The pastor, Father Mike Barrett, recalled seeing Laylah at the weekly Wednesday morning service, where the children are given a chance to offer a prayer of their own composing. Barrett had chanced to place a paternal hand on her head as he passed the microphone to the student next to her.

“Excited, willing, open to learning,” Barrett later said of Laylah. “She always had a smile on her face. She was a joy to be around.”

The very next day, Laylah’s head was pierced by that “to whom it may concern” bullet. This week’s prayer service was on Tuesday, with a picture of Laylah set up at the front. Barrett arrived wondering what he could possibly say.

The children then proceeded to say it all for him, taking turns with the microphone as they would at the regular weekly prayer service, but now speaking of their grief over the loss of their friend. They eulogized Laylah as only children could.

“Sand castle builder…tag player,” Barrett recalled.

The funeral was set for Wednesday, exactly a week after that moment when Barrett last saw her. He figured on letting the gospel, specifically Matthew 1:28, guide his homily.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

At the conclusion of the funeral Mass, the kid-sized coffin from the monstrous murder was then to be taken from the church to Holy Cross Cemetery. And there, the sand castle builder and tag player who loved her aunt more than science would be buried.

Guns.

9 signs America’s gun obsession is getting worse

9 signs America's gun obsession is getting worse

(Credit: chinahbzyg via Shutterstock)

Salon

The recent news has been filled with anything but acceptable behavior by gun nuts. A Montana man sets a trap for burglars and  executes a teenage intruder. A Virginia man strapping on a holster shoots himself in the penis. So-called open-carry  activists keep walking into Texas malls and restaurant  chains with assault rifles. And federal airport screeners say 2014 will set a record for travelers  forgetting they are carrying guns.

In response, millions of women  protested the misogynist rampage near Santa Barbara that killed six, placing violence against women in the national spotlight. In 2014, five states  passed laws limiting domestic abusers’ access to guns, and several bills allowing guns on school grounds were blocked. Longtime gun defenders know that the ghastly  statistics on gun violence against women is a powerful avenue for control advocates, yet they can’t stop their side’s fanatics from taunting the public with assault rifles.

These are some of the dots to be connected in the national landscape over gun violence, gun control efforts and pro-gun extremism. In some respects, gun nuts are losing ground in the battle for public opinion because of their provocations—such as carrying assault rifles into the  baby section of Target stores. But even as new groups like Moms Demand Action are helping to pass new controls and blocking pro-gun laws, decades of NRA electioneering has made the states, not Congress, the frontline for real reform.

What follows are nine points showing the craziness and changing factors over guns.

1. Women, Not Students, Are The Target Of Most Mass Gun Murder. There have been 74 shootings at schools across the U.S. since the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, according to  Everytown For Gun Safety—which, astoundingly, the pro-gun side claims is an inflated figure. As headline-grabbing as school shootings are, the under-reported daily target and toll from gun violence involves women. More American women have been  murdered by their intimate partners using guns since 2001 (6,410) than U.S. troops have been killed in combat (5,315) in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Center for American Progress  reports. Guns are involved in at least 34 percent of all murders of women commited by their partners, an average of five a day, CAP found from crime statistics.

2. States With The Laxest Gun Laws Have The Most Violence. America has so many guns that not a week goes by without something stupid or deadly occurring. It’s easy to smirk at the Virginia man who  shot his penis while strapping on a holster. It’s more serious as federal airport screeners  report that states with the fewest gun controls see the most people “forgetting” they’re carrying a gun as try to board planes. It gets deadly when a gun owner takes the law into his own hands and sets up an ambush in his home  killing the young intruder—as happened in Montana. Study after study  finds that states with the laxest gun laws have the most gun-related violence—including murder.

3. Absurdly, Gun Nuts Say They Are Threatened. There is no better illustration of the selfish, irresponsible and anti-democratic nature of the pro-gun side than to look at what their extremists are doing as most people are repulsed by the rash of school shootings. In Texas, the open-carry movement has seen dozens of young men and a few women march into restaurants and chain stores catering to women—like  Target—toting military-style rifles. These jerks claim they are asserting their Second Amendment rights and freedoms. Their antics have prompted people to panic, leave and call in the police. These incidents have disgusted longtime NRA defenders, such as  BearingArms.com editor Bob Owens, who  wrote, “If someone has an idea of how to break through to them that they are not only hurting their alleged cause but gun owners as well, I’d love to hear your advice.”

4. Gun Nuts Admit They Cannot Control Gun Nuts. To be fair, many readers commenting on Owens’ latest open-carry column  agree that these fanatics have crossed a line. But some of them are so out-of-touch with their sides’ extremists that they think they are secretly being paid by gun control groups to act. “They are probably being paid by [ex-New York mayor Michael] Bloomberg,”  wrote one pro-gun commenter. But it would be a mistake to think that these homegrown terrorists—as Hillary Clinton just  called them in a speech—are outliers on the pro-gun side. When a low-level NRA staffer recently wrote a memo criticizing them, top NRA brass quickly  apologized to the Texas activists. What the NRA considers acceptable is anything but.

5. Americans Aren’t Standing For This—Starting With Big Business. Chains such as Starbucks, Chipotle, Chili’s, Sonic and Jack in the Box have all drawn a line against the open carry activists, saying gun-toting customers aren’t welcome. So have Costco, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Food Lion, Whole Foods and IKEA, according to the relatively new gun-control group,  MomsDemandAction.org. It has launched a campaign, #OffTarget, to push the retailer to do likewise. “Semi-automatic assault rifles don’t belong in the baby aisle—or anywhere else in Target,” its website says. “Nearly 90 percent of Target customers are women; they need to know we expect them to get gun sense.”

6. The NRA Is Facing Opposition and Losing. After the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012, both gun-control and gun rights groups mobilized. More than 1,500 bills on both sides were  introduced in legislatures in 2013. While most went nowhere, a handful of red states, like Georgia, bought the NRA line that the answer to gun violence was more guns and looser gun laws. On the other hand, the gun control side saw some big victories, said Laura Cutilletto, senior staff attorney at the  Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence. “Several states last year closed the private sale loophole. That is the biggest priority of our movement,” she said, noting that New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado now join California and Rhode Island in requiring a background check for all gun sales. Three of those states and Illinois also beat the NRA and now require gun owners to report lost and stolen weapons. And four states that previously banned military assault-style weapons have tightened those laws.

7. Women-Centered Gun Control Groups Getting Results. The post-Sandy Hook landscape has seen new groups emerge, such as  Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. With Congress deadlocked on gun controls, they have been very active in state legislatures. They could not  stop Indiana’s bill allowing people to keep guns in their cars on school grounds, but they helped  block a similar bill in Rhode Island. They  stopped an Oklahoma bill that would have lowered the criminal penalty from carrying a hidden and loaded gun into a school. They also were part of a bipartisan coalition in Wisconsin that  helped to pass a bill barring domestic abusers from owning or possessing guns—one of five states to do that in 2014. And, along with  Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-founded by New York City’s Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s Tom Menino, they are tracking and speaking out on what’s happening in city halls, legislatures and courts nationwide.

8. Gun Nuts React With New Big Lie And CNN Buys It. According to Everytown, which grew out of the Mayors’ group, there have been  74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. That tally threatens the NRA, as does the number of women killed by guns during domestic violence. There’s nothing new about gun nuts feeling aggrieved and fighting back. But, as the Daily Beast’sBrandy Zadrozny writes, one pro-gun writer has been waging a Twitter campaign to debunk the Everytown count. As she noted, “In what may be the most tortuous sentence ever constructed, he wrote, ‘It’s not a school shooting when someone goes and shoots a specific person on campus. It’s a shooting that happens to take place at school.” Believe it or not, CNN has followed this illogic and reported that only 15 of these rampages should be called school shootings. Not included are guns accidentally firing in school hallways, suicides by students after threats to other students, and other deeply traumatizing incidents.

9. Gun Control Groups Are Making Progress, But The Road Is Long. Before Sandy Hook, no one would have predicted that a handful of even blue states would pass laws closing the gun sale loophole, requiring lost and stolen guns be reported, and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Moreover, few would have predicted that women-centered gun control groups would emerge and forcefully challenge and in some instances break the NRA’s spell over state legislators. Nor would many people have predicted that millions of women would join an online campaign against misogyny and gun-related domestic violence.

But despite all that progress, the biggest hurdle is one that’s been out front all along—breaking the congressional deadlock on gun control. According to Larry Sabato’s  Crystal Ball, there are nine U.S. House races in 2014 that are “toss-ups,” or too close to call. Six of those are in states with C or worse  ratings by the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. And most are not in states with recent school shootings. That suggests guns aren’t going to be a top issue in those 2014 campaigns, underscoring how hard it is to convince Congress to get real about the epidemic of gun violence in America.

Gun nuts are terrorizing America: The watershed moment everyone missed

Gun nuts are terrorizing America: The watershed moment everyone missed

Wayne LaPierre, Jerad Miller, Cliven Bundy (Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane/AP/Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Salon

From Cliven Bundy defeating the cops to “open carry” movement’s menace, the left’s timidity has spawned a nightmare

Here is a truth so fundamental that it should be self-evident: When legitimately constituted state authority stands down in the face of armed threats, the very foundation of the republic is in danger. And yet that is exactly what happened at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch this spring: An alleged criminal defeated the cops, because the forces of lawlessness came at them with guns — then Bureau of Land Management officials further surrendered by removing the government markings from their vehicles to prevent violence against them.

What should be judged a watershed in American history instead became a story about one man’s racist rants. Even as two more Nevada lunatics, inspired by their stint at Cliven Bundy’s ranch, allegedly ambushed and mowed down two police officers and killed a bystander after crying, “This is the start of a revolution.” And now, an antigovernment conspiracy theorist named Douglas Cole recently shot at two police officers in Nevada County, California (though you may not have heard about that, because the New York Times hasn’t found the news yet fit to print).

Such actions are the logical conclusion of a movement that has been veritably sweeping the nation for years now. Early Tea Partiers began attending rallies with guns on their hips. “Open carry” advocates make a fetish of just this sort of brandishing of guns in public places, especially where they are most unwanted. The slogan “molon labe” — “come and take them,” the defiant cry allegedly uttered by King Leonidas I when the Persian army ordered the Greeks to surrender their weapons at Thermopylae — is everywhere on the right: molon labe T-shirts, molon labe cloth napkins for your next dinner party, sexy molon labe thongsmolon labe release-catches for your AR-15, available on Etsy.com from “MolonLabeLLC.”

The message implicit in such products was but rendered explicit by the “patriots” Jerad and Amanda Miller, speaking to reporters from Bundy’s spread back in April: “I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and push us around or something like that. I really don’t want violence toward them, but if they’re going to come bring violence to us, well if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.”

It was the logic of some ultra-leftists from the 1960s: the intentional forcing of violent “contradictions” between citizens and the state, the better to spur revolution. It is, at the very least, a handy negotiating position: In Cliven Bundy’s case, it saved him about a million bucks in grazing fees he owes on land owned by taxpayers like you and me. Armed force trumped law. Armed force trumped politics. Which is, of course, for a citizen of a republic, the opposite of patriotism: The more people who believe that — and more and more are believing it every day — the more irrelevant the Constitution these people claim to revere becomes.

Now, as a historian, it has been my project to demonstrate that there is nothing particularly new about the fetishization of anti-constitutional insurgency as Constitution-worship on the right. I’ve written about the Minutemen, the early-’60s crowd of gun nuts who stockpiled weapons for the final showdown against the state they were sure was imminent once the Communists finally took it over, and slapped stickers on the mailboxes of perceived enemies reading, “Traitors, beware! Even now the crosshairs are on the back of your necks.” In 1966 authorities arrested their leaders and confiscated their stockpiles of tons of ammunition, bombs and even rockets. The right’s vision of sidearms as any patriot’s must-have accessory got a boost from the riots and increasing crime rates of the late 1960s. Inside the National Rifle Association, once mostly an anodyne gun-safety organization aimed at sportsmen, a faction emerged to take aim at any and all attempts at gun regulation, many of which they once supported. Laws, for example, aimed at banning the sale of guns by mail — the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine said that followed the “Communist line.” From there it was but a short distance to the conviction that gun-toting was a patriotic imperative — the better to beat back “those,” as Ronald Reagan wrote in Guns & Ammo magazine in 1975, “who see confiscation of weapons as one way of keeping the people under control.”

So what’s different now? Why is this language so prevalent, and why do so many on the far right seem so eager to act upon it? They haven’t changed. We have.

By “us,” I mean Democrats — though the kind of Democrats, to be fair, who decide party policy from Washington. Once upon a time, Democratic presidential candidates robustly argued for gun control — that, as the party platform put it in 1980 (the year the NRA made its first ever presidential endorsement, of Ronald Reagan), “handguns simplify and intensify violent crime”; Democrats support “enactment of federal legislation to strengthen the presently inadequate regulations over the manufacture, assembly, distribution, and possession of handguns.” Note no mention of machine guns, because back then the notion that there should be no barrier to their ownership would have seemed self-evidently ridiculous to most reasonable observers. It’s fascinating to read the series of “Doonesbury” strips from 1979 in which Garry Trudeau’s resident madman Uncle Duke, who covered his living room couch in land mines and owned a Soviet-made Makarov mortar for deer-hunting purposes, goes to work lobbying for the NRA. In response to Duke’s clichéd claim that “once you have gun control, the only people left with guns are criminals,” a congressman points out that even that would reduce the carnage, because “as you well know, almost 70% of all murders are committed among family members and over half of them involve handguns!”

Responds Duke: “Exactly! So look at it from the point of view of the victim! What if your wife were attacking you with a handgun?”

“I don’t follow, Mr. Duke.”

Duke’s answer reduces his interlocutor to confused splutters: “Well, wouldn’t you want to be in a position to return the fire?”

In 1979, this sounded so absurd as to be self-evidently satirical. Now, it just sounds like an ordinary day on C-SPAN — with congressmen, not NRA lobbyists, being the ones making the once-absurd “argument.”

In the interim, the mainstream of the Democratic Party simply gave most of the gun control argument away. Al Gore ran on a platform in 2000 that devoted about 250 words to gun control, including a pledge to push for mandatory child safety locks and a full background check and gun safety test before anyone could buy a handgun in America. Then, after Gore lost his home state, Tennessee, and other “border” Southern states, the geniuses running the Democratic Party decided to abandon gun control as an issue in order to court Southern white men (how’s that working out?). The gun-control portion of the platform in 2004 was slimmed down to 46 words. 2012’s version gave away the store: It affirmed, “We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms,” and asked only for “an honest, open national conversation about firearms” (yeah, the NRA is really interested in that), “effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system,” and reinstating the assault weapon ban and closing the gun show loophole.

In other words, there is virtually no countervailing power to the now-hegemonic acceptance that there’s nothing much to do about the proliferation of guns in America. Democrats, as usual, gave an inch. The right, as usual, took a mile. And now we face the consequences.

Shooter Injures Six In Georgia Town Where Everyone Is Required To Own A Gun

Gun

CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Think Progress

A gunman opened fire Tuesday morning at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw, Georgia. Six were shot, with their injuries ranging from minor to one in critical condition. Authorities report that the gunman is dead.

The Georgia facility is located in Kennesaw, near Atlanta, a quiet suburb unique in the U.S. for mandating every household own at least one gun. The law is not enforced, so the Kennesaw gun ownership rate hovers around 50 percent, according to its police chief. That’s still higher than the average rate of gun ownership in the U.S., estimated to be about 34 percent. When the law was enacted in 1982, Kennesaw had only 5,000 residents. Today, it has a population of 30,000.

The incident comes just one week after Georgia enacted what may be the nation’s most expansive concealed carry law. The National Rifle Association-sponsored “Safe Protection Act” allows gun owners to bring firearms into most public spaces, including schools, bars, churches, airports, and government buildings, even though researchers have generally foundthat more people die from gun homicides in areas with higher rates of gun ownership.

“FedEx is aware of the situation,” the company told WSBTV. “Our primary concern is the safety and well being of our team members, first responders and others affected. FedEx is cooperating with authorities.” It isn’t the first time a facility has been the scene of a shooting; in 2011, a gunman shot himself in a FedEx warehouse in Illinois. The company is also one of at least 34 corporations that boost the NRA, offering discounted shipping to NRA members.

WTH is on their mind?

Man Legally Stalks Children’s Baseball Game: ‘I’ve Got A Gun & There’s Nothing You Can Do About It’

I heard about this on the local news here.  The new gun laws don’t even go into effect for a few months but this guy is getting an early start on the madness that will ensue from that law…

Daily Kos

Another American WTF.

A man carrying a gun began stalking a children’s baseball game in Forsyth County, Ga, this past Tuesday night. It’s reported that at least twenty-two 911 calls were made mostly by parents fearing for the safety of their children. The game was halted, but the sheriff said they could do nothing – the man was within his legal limits.

WSBTV.com reports:

“He’s just walking around [saying] ‘See my gun? Look, I got a gun and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ He knew he was frightening people. He knew exactly what he was doing,” said parent Karen Rabb.

The Forsyth County sheriff, Duane Piper said:

See video here…

 

“We support the constitutional right to bear arms. We will not tolerate bad behavior,” said Forsyth Sheriff Duane Piper.

You just did, Sheriff Piper, you ‘tolerated’ this man’s bad behavior by not taking any action. Is this country so fearful of the NRA, that they do not dare arrest, detain, or at minimum question this man for disturbing the peace, stalking children, and/or intentionally putting the public in fear for their lives? I’m not an attorney. It seems there would be some law out there that would at least give cause to question this man.

The aforementioned parent, Karen Rabb, says she is a gun rights advocate:

“I own a gun. I have no problems with the Second Amendment. But they do not belong in a parking lot where we have children everywhere. If you want to make a statement, go to the Capitol.”

Oh really? Go to the Capitol and do what? Sorry, not a solution. This will continue, and more people will die. This will continue, until laws are changed. This will continue, until both gun rights advocates and gun safety advocates get together and find a compromise.

There is one organization that offers solutions: Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America is a very successful non-partisan organization that, for years, has persistently been fighting for gun safety.

There Has Been An Average Of One School Shooting Every Other School Day So Far This Year

Purdue Shooting | CREDIT: AP

When will the gun lobby understand that this is not about taking their guns away, it’s about lives being taken…

Think Progress

Last year was supposed to be a year of action to curb gun violence in our schools. But three weeks into the new year, statistics suggest that the problem could actually be worsening.

Though the sample size is far too small to draw any definitive conclusions, 2014 is off to a deadly start: in the first 14 school days of the year, there have been at least 7 school shootings. For sake of comparison, there were 28 school shootings in all of 2013, according to gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action.

Purdue University is the most recent, when a 23 year old teaching assistant fired four shots inside a campus building on Tuesday, killing a 21 year old senior. One day earlier, a student was hospitalized after being shot near the athletic center on the campus of Widener University in Pennsylvania. And last week, there were at least three other school shootings, resulting in the hospitalization of five students between the ages of 12 and 18.

2014_School_Shootings-01

That number could have been even higher were it not for several near-misses. An eighth grader was arrested in Georgia last week after he brought a gun to school on consecutive days and robbed a classmate. On Tuesday, Portland police rushed to an area high school after a student was reportedly showing off his gun to a fellow classmate during lunch. And early on Wednesday four teenagers were arrested after they were seen pointing a gun at a school bus in Norfolk, Virginia.

Gun advocates at the National Rifle Association and elsewhere spent months after the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT calling for even more guns to be placed inside of schools in the form of armed security officials. And while many schools have indeed introduced so-called “school resource officers” in the last year, there is little evidence they are doing any good at all. Just about the only discernible impact of adding security officials into schools is adramatic increase in the number of students arrested, sometimes for transgressions such asforgetting to wear a belt. More alarmingly, there have been instances of officers forgetting their guns inside bathrooms used by students or accidentally firing their guns inside of crowded high schools.

UPDATE 

Two more school days have passed since this post was first published, and the deadly trend has continued: on Friday, one student was shot on the campus of South Carolina State University. The university confirmed the shooting shortly after 3:00pm, and say that they have identified the suspect, though police have yet to apprehend him or her. The lone victim was transported to an area hospital, but the individual’s condition is unknown.

Gun rights advocates freak out over ‘No Guns’ sign at singer Toby Keith’s restaurant

Toby Keith via Shutterstock

Wait til they find out he voted for Obama…

The Raw Story

Conservatives and gun activists are in high dudgeon over a sign outside country singer Toby Keith’s new Virginia bar and grill that says “No Guns Permitted.”

According to Washington, DC’s WTOP, the sign has provoked an explosion of outrage online. Many gun rights advocates took to Twitter and other social media to denounce Keith as a “gun hating liberal,” a “fake,” and a “Republican In Name Only” or “RINO.”

“So if ‘no guns are allowed’ I guess that means that police officers that are ‘on duty’ aren’t allowed in for lunch or dinner??” asked Facebook user Connie Hollar Wright on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “Who are you guys callin [sic] when you need help???? Good luck with that!”

“Toby is a gun hating liberal. What a fake,” wrote another.

“Won’t go into a Killing zone,” said another commenter with a “Duck Dynasty” avatar, “which is what gun free zones are.”

The restaurant — called I Love This Bar and Grill — opened in Woodbridge, Virginia this week. The state has an open carry law, which allows citizens to openly carry firearms without a license. Businesses, however, reserve the right to ask patrons not to bring their guns inside.

Not everyone disagrees with the rule.

“I think it’s a good thing no guns are permitted in a restaurant,” said Jean Sutts of Woodbridge to WTOP.

Mike Miskin of Suffolk agreed that “alcohol and guns do not mix. I believe that you should be allowed to carry your gun with you but not into a bar.”

A post at right-wing website Breitbart.com protested that, “(o)ne of Toby Keith’s biggest country video hits is ‘Bullets in the Gun.’ It romanticizes carrying a gun.”

Keith has been politically outspoken on a number of topics, but in fact bills himself as a conservative Democrat. He supported President George W. Bush when rival act the Dixie Chicks criticized Bush at the outset of the War in Iraq.

However, in 2008, Keith donated to then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign for president and spoke out in favor of Obama’s policies in the Middle East.

Watch video about this story, embedded here

Homeowner Who Shot Girl Seeking Help At His Door Charged With Murder

man gun

Think Progress

A Detroit-area homeowner who shot in the face a 19-year-old girl at his door will be charged with murder, Wayne County prosecutors announced Thursday. The charges include murder in the second degree, which carries a term of up to life in prison; a manslaughter charge with a maximum term of 15 years in prison; and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony or attempted commission, which carries a term of two years in prison.

In the two weeks since Renisha McBride was shot dead outside the Dearborn Heights home, protests have escalated around the country to charge the homeowner, suggesting comparisons to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The shooter was white and McBride is African American. While the homeowner, now identified as Theodore P. Wafer, age 54, initially told police he discharged the gun by accident, his lawyer since told the press the shooting was “justified”and “reasonable,” invoking language from Michigan’s “Shoot First” laws that allow immunity for some self-defense shootings. At a press conference Friday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said her office determined that Wafer “did not act in lawful self-defense.”

It is now clear that Michigan’s Stand Your Ground-like laws did not stop prosecutors from charging Wafer. Wafer may, however, still seek immunity from charges at trial.

Here’s what we know:

  • Police believe McBride was in a car accident and knocked on the door of the home for help. Worthy reported Friday that McBride, was bloodied, confused, and disoriented. Toxicology reports also show that her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit.
  • The shooter didn’t know McBride. In audio released by the police, the homeowner told the dispatcher he shot someone he didn’t know.
  • The homeowner’s lawyer is calling the shooting “justified.” The homeowner initially said he accidentally discharged the gun, but when his lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, spoke to the press, she said the shooting was “justified” and invoked the language of Michigan’s “Shoot First” laws that could immunize the homeowner from prosecution if he was acting in self-defense. Carpenter also told NPR that the knocking sounded like a lot of banging, rather than a knock.
  • There were no signs forced entry into the home. Prosecutor Worthy said during the press conference Friday that McBride had not attempted to forcibly enter the home. For Wafer to successfully invoke immunity under what is known as the “Castle Doctrine,” which authorizes deadly force without a duty to retreat in one’s home, he would have to show that McBride was “in the process of breaking and entering a dwelling.” He could also use the state’s Stand Your Ground law to show that he reasonably believed force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

 

NEWS THAT’S TRENDING TODAY

Posts by gun sellers and buyers (below) on Instagram show that the photo-sharing website has become a hot market for weapons — often without background checks, which feds don’t require for private gun sales.

Posts by gun sellers and buyers (below) on Instagram show that the photo-sharing website has become a hot market for weapons —often without background checks, which feds don’t require for private gun sales.

From my Google-Plus email this morning:

PolicyMic

Instagram? More like Insta-guns. Gun buyers and sellers across the country are now using the popular photo-sharing site to bypass state and federal laws and purchase weapons freely. Thousands of firearms, including assault rifles, are up for grabs on the site.

Pope Francis suspends German “luxury bishop.” Pope Francis suspended German bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst on Wednesday for spending $43m on lavish renovations to his residence (including $20,000 for his bathtub alone). The move is a signal of the Pope’s commitment to a more austere Church that sides with the poor.

NSA monitoring Germany’s leader? President Obama is in hot water with Angela Merkel after new reports that the NSA spied on her mobile phone. The German Chancellor called Obama on Wednesday to demand an explanation, and President Obama flatly denied the rumors. But the incident comes just days after French President François Hollande also called Obama after reports the NSA targeted the phone calls of millions of French people.

73 will be the retirement norm for millennials. A new study shows most of today’s college grads won’t be able to retire until age 73 due to high student debt – 12 years later than the current retirement age. To put it in perspective, here are the numbers:

+ Median debt for a student upon graduation: $23,300
+ Percentage of students who are unemployed at graduation: 18%
+ The median starting salary for those who do have jobs: $45,327
+ Standard loan repayment plan: 10 years
+ Average yearly loan repayment: $2,858
+ Number of college graduates currently estimated to be in default: Over 7 million

FROM THE CULTURE DESK

If you thought Banksy was cool, check out Natalia Rak, a millennial street artist bringing life-sized murals to the buildings of Poland (Instagram).

Arcade Fire has a new song “Afterlife” that will take every indie kid back to high school (PolicyMic).

A 20-year-old photographer’s Instagram account got revoked for posting a picture of her lower half in a bikini bottom that revealed some pubic hair (PolicyMic).

Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake is the most compelling rap rivalry since 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. (PolicyMic).

CHARTS AND MAPS

HealthCare.gov’s lines of code, compared to other popular websites and operating systems (Alex Merchant).

America’s mood map: An interactive guide to the United States of attitude (TIME).

A breakdown of the valuations of every Major League Baseball franchise (Bloomberg).

DESSERT

Powerful life lessons from a six-time Jeopardy champion who lost it all (PolicyMic).

24 inspirational quotes from Gordon Ramsay to get you through the day (BuzzFeed).

An Uber for your teeth, with a dentist’s office on wheels that comes to you (Fast Company).

Gun-[Advocate] Threatens Author Tom Diaz; Here’s His ‘Response To A Coward’s Threat’ (VIDEO)

The anonymous G. Wright did not just threaten Tom Diaz. He threatened 'every face of every person' who wants to make the world safer by ending gun violence. Image @ Vimeo

Addicting Info

Author Tom Diaz doesn’t take threats from right-wing gun nuts lightly, but he certainly doesn’t back down from them either. After appearing on a CNBC documentary titled America’s Gun, The Rise of the AR 15, Diaz received a threatening comment from a viewer calling himself G. Wright on his blog “Fairly Civil.” The comment, submitted July 18, reads in part (all grammar and punctuation as-is):

 Mr. Diaz,

On CNBC’s program “American Gun, Rise of AR-15” you posed a chest thumping, angry question to those who view our government as tyrannical. You asked ”Who’s face is it we would shoot?” It is your face Mr. Diaz. It is every face of every person that seeks to deny us our rights under the constitution. It is the face of politicians that moved to chisel our rights to the point where we can be provoked no more.”

This is just a segment of the quote, which goes on to talk about God, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the tyrannical government and then winds down, to end with the words:

Look around Mr. Diaz. The people grow angry at un-American liberals. They will come for you someday, and you will not escape their justice.

Tom Diaz served two terms in two different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. He worked as a reporter for the Washington Post, where he saw first-hand the reality of gun violence, as it was enacted on battlefields and in war zones around the world. He’s authored two books about America’s gun problem, including his most recent, titled The Last Gun; How Changes In The Gun Industry Are Killing Americans And What It Will Take To Stop It. He also wrote Lightening Out of Lebanon; Hezbollah Terrorists On American Soil.

Given his history and personal experience, it’s really no surprise he doesn’t back down from bullies like the anonymous G. Wright:

“You don’t frighten me,” he says in the video “Of course you can kill me, but you can’t kill the voice I represent. You can’t kill the voice of reason. Now crawl back in your hole, G. Wright, whoever you are.”

I had the chance to speak with Diaz briefly, just before writing this piece. As one can imagine, his blog posts attracts comments from right-wing fanatics on a regular basis. I asked, what was it about this particular comment that compelled you to respond?

“This is not really about me. I think it’s really about the thousands of people–mothers, college kids, local politicians–who were so repelled by Sandy Hook that they decided to become active in their communities and online. I know that many of them have been threatened, some directly and some implicitly. Not to mention the threats that the President and other politicians get over this issue. I think it is crucial, not just on this issue, that we stand up to this kind of terrorism, which is what it really is.”

Reading the threat, it’s clear the anonymous G. Wright did not just threaten Tom Diaz. Instead he threatened “every face of every person” who wants to make the world safer by ending gun violence. Tom Diaz published this video, his very straightforward “Response To A Coward’s Threat” on July 24th. Watch the video to see what happens when you threaten someone who just won’t be intimidated by these kinds of right-wing terrorists.

Here’s the video: