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We need stronger background checks, defective product recalls, and more prosecutions for trigger-happy cops July 1, 2019

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There is “overwhelming evidence” that [deputy stationed at Stoneman Douglas] Peterson heard gunshots, but no evidence that he attempted to investigate. Peterson instead chose to hide near a stairwell as shots rang out on the campus, the report found.” (He’s getting charged — good — but way more harshly than cops who actually shoot innocent children — not good.)

Black family is held on gunpoint (and threatened with murder) by Phoenix police because a 4-year-old child took a dollar-store Barbie without paying. (Video.)

Shaquille Dukes was admitted into the hospital for double pneumonia. He received doctors orders to walk around the hospital. He was stopped by a racist security guard, who called racist cops. He was arrested and accused of trying to steal the IV machine.” (Video.)

“The authorities say they are investigating how Mr. Martin slipped through the cracks of the Illinois law, which the police might have been able to use to confiscate his handgun years ago. And the Illinois State Police said they were reviewing why an initial background check failed to turn up a criminal conviction that should have blocked him from buying the gun to begin with.”

“The Consumer Product Safety Commission can order the recall and repair of thousands of things, from toasters to teddy bears. If a defective car needs fixing, the U.S. Department of Transportation can make it happen. The Food and Drug Administration deals with food, drugs, and cosmetics. Only one product is beyond the government’s reach when it comes to defects and safety: firearms. Not even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can get defective guns off the market. If a gunmaker chooses to ignore a safety concern, there’s no one to stop it.”

“I shopped the killed piece around for a few days until it piqued the interest of a female editor at Politico, who accepted it as it was on spec. However, my piece was again passed on to a male editor to review — who asked me to change the premise of the piece to shift more of the blame for mass shootings on mental illness rather than toxic masculinity.”

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Shootings of licensed veterans, random bystanders, children, and dogs; plus, non-gun police violence May 19, 2019

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“The correction was too late for Mr. Bradford, whom the police initially identified as the culprit, only to change their story a day later. Mr. Bradford had not shot anyone, the Hoover police said, but was a licensed gun owner at a chaotic scene in the crowded mall.” Justice for Emantic Bradford.

A Navy veteran was shot and killed by Oregon cops after his pistol fell from a holster as he tried to break up a fight outside a bar, according to local reports.” Justice for Jason Washington.

“A Washington state family that survived the mass shooting last year at a Las Vegas concert says a neighbor shot and killed the dog they got to deal with stress and anxiety from the attack.

A former Texas police officer was found guilty of murder [in August 2018] for shooting into a car carrying a group of teenagers, killing a 15-year-old boy.”

“There have been 209 children killed or injured by a gun in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which compiles shooting incident data. In the past two days alone, two 4-year-old boys, one in Illinois and another in Ohio, were killed by gunfire.”

“Police sexual misconduct and cases of police sexual violence are often referred to as hidden offenses, and studies on police sexual misconduct are usually based on small samples […] While those numbers represent a fair portion of cases, arrests rely on a victim making a report and a law enforcement agency making that report public, after an arrest or otherwise. With sexual assaults by police officers, neither is guaranteed.”

[Police chief] Atesiano, along with Charlie Dayoub, Raul Fernandez and Guillermo Ravelo, conspired in various combinations to falsely pin four residential burglaries on a 16-year-old boy identified as T.D., two residential burglaries on a man later identified as Clarence Desrouleaux, and five vehicle burglaries on a man identified as Erasmus Banmah. All three are black.”

“Boone, 35, and two other officers, Randy Hays, 31, and Christopher Myers, 27, threw a man to the ground and viciously kicked him and beat him with a riot baton, even though he was complying with their instructions. But the three police officers had no idea that the man was a 22-year police veteran working undercover, whom they beat so badly that he couldn’t eat and lost 20 pounds.

It is not yet clear what threat the 11-year-old girl may have posed to the off-duty officer as she walked away from him. Or how many steps she took before he unholstered his Taser.”

Bad things. (troop positions, scared refugees, lax gun laws, and more) January 8, 2019

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“Settled in their new countries, as years and sometimes decades go by, they often find these objects precious reminders of the lives left behind. They’re cherished long after the crisis has passed. In some cases, these keepsakes remind refugees and migrants of an essential part of who they are. NPR’s story about how a toy monkey ended up becoming a connection to a previously unknown part of a German boy’s family inspired us to look for other similar stories.

The president’s video posted Wednesday did not shield the faces of special operation forces. Current and former Defense Department officials told Newsweek that information concerning what units are deployed and where is almost always classified and is a violation of operational security.”

“Attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia wrote the court in January, 2017, urging the judge not to approve the recall process. The notices weren’t descriptive or informative enough, they noted, and Remington hadn’t even tried to find its rifles’ owners. […] But in March 2017, Smith approved the settlement. By then, only 22,000 people had sent in their Model 700s. That left as many as seven million unfixed rifles in circulation — “guns,” the attorneys general noted, “that might go off accidentally at any time.”

Hate crime reports increased 17 percent last year from 2016, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday, rising for the third consecutive year as heated racial rhetoric and actions have come to dominate the news.” (Notice the use of the passive voice, here.)

“I’ve long understood that the dangers of global warming are real and rising. I’ve seen its power firsthand in the form of receding glaciers, dried lake beds, and Sierra tree stands taken down by bark beetles. This is the first time, though, that I smelled and tasted it in my home.

I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. A glimpse of the suburban grotesque, featuring Russian mobsters, Fox News rage addicts, a caged man in a sex dungeon, and Dick Cheney.” (Note: it’s got sexual harassment & homophobia in the mix.) (On the plus side, it prompted me to offer this morning’s cable guy a — much-needed, as it turned out — bathroom break.)

The latest adventures of “good guys with guns” November 23, 2018

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People killed by police in the US, 2018. Discontinued by the volunteer maintainer at the end of July, at 720.

“Roberson was wearing his uniform, including a hat emblazoned with the word “security,” and was holding a firearm he was licensed to carry. Midlothian police confirmed that two officers responded to the scene at the bar on Sunday and that one of them opened fire.” He WAS the “good guy with a gun,” and that’s what got him shot and killed by another “good guy with a gun.”

“Dallas police said Friday they are seeking a warrant for manslaughter against one of their own after an off-duty officer entered the wrong apartment in her building and killed a man who [actually lived there].” That’s right, she didn’t even pretend to be investigating a suspected crime, she just walked into a guy’s apartment and killed him. Justice for Botham Shem Jean.

They saw a car full of black people sitting in front of a Walmart, and they decided that was suspicious. They just began pouring bullets … It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It’s mind-boggling, the use of force.” Justice for Diante Yarber.

[A police spokesperson] confirmed that Washington had a valid concealed carry permit. Washington was a Navy veteran and an employee with the United States Postal Service since 1998. He worked with the collections unit as a letter carrier at the main office in downtown Portland, where he also served as the union shop steward.” Justice for Jason Erik Washington.

“Banning large magazines and bump stocks was part of PERF’s call to limit the availability of high-power firearms. The Waffle House shooting also raised the issue of “red flag” laws, under which authorities are empowered to seize weapons from those who show signs of mental illness or other crises. Police had earlier taken guns from the Waffle House shooter, but his father apparently returned them to him.”

This last one, this is the big one. The way to stop this bad guy with a gun was to stop him from having guns, and the law had him clocked before the shooting, but with NRA-tied hands they weren’t able to follow through.

Dog-walking, napping, and buying mints while black September 11, 2018

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In the surveillance video […] Arreola is seen asking for the price of the mints, then hands over cash to the attendant before pocketing the mints in his jacket. That is all it took for the officer to [draw his gun] and demand that Arreola place the mints back on the counter.” Thank goodness he made it out of that alive.

The 34-year-old grad student in African studies unlocked her dorm-room door in front of police to show that she lived there, but they still asked for her ID.” Her too.

“A police sergeant showed up, Fyffe-Marshall says in her account, and said he didn’t know what Airbnb was. The group showed the police their booking confirmations and phoned the home’s landlord to convince police they were telling the truth.” And them!

“Emory Ellis, a black homeless man in Boston, was hungry so he went to Burger King one morning in 2015. But instead of breakfast, Ellis got a ride to the police station and more than three months in jail after he was wrongfully accused of using counterfeit cash.

[My eight-year-old daughter] cried for an hour and now refuses to go outside with her dog. … I told her she did nothing wrong – but she said she must have or someone would not have called the police on her.”

The Onion: “Deciding his firstborn was old enough to learn about the cultural dangers of having things in his hands, African American dad Aaron Mitchell pulled his son aside Thursday to have “the talk” about holding literally any object.

So, hey, we officially don’t have a functioning government. Fun times. September 9, 2018

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It’s official: the West Wing is full of people who fully believe the President is a nonfunctional idiot. But instead of following the legal processes to remove him from office, they’d rather keep him around as a figurehead puppet while they actually run the country themselves.

We’re all clear that this is a coup, right? The Republican party, as a group, has no respect for either the office of the President or the rule of law. They’re happy to shred both, all while pretending like it doesn’t utterly destroy their moral credibility to do so.

Or, as McSweeneys put it:

There are those of us still wandering the labyrinthine halls of the mutated Capitol Building, looking for ways to constructively appease Nyarlathotep, despite continual smear campaigns by the elitist, now underground press. For instance, we replaced the orphans It absorbs every “morning” with migrant laborers, and It didn’t seem to notice. When Its appetite turned to Idaho, one of us directed Its soulless gaze up towards the moon. No more moon, of course, but no one can say we ever turned our back on our core constituents.”

In other news, here’s a thing that happened with the NRA:

July 16: “…federal prosecutors on Monday unsealed a criminal complaint alleging that a Russian graduate student living in the D.C. area conspired to act as an agent of Russia […] One of the contacts was with an “organization promoting gun rights,” which NPR has previously reported is the National Rifle Association.

July 17: “Under the new policy, [certain organizations, including] the NRA, Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club, will no longer be required to include donor identities with their tax filings.”

And here’s a single incident that, in a logical world, would make Brett Kavanaugh an unsupportable judicial candidate for Democrats and Republicans alike:

In 2001, three intellectually disabled D.C. residents brought suit against the city in Doe ex rel. Tarlow v. D.C, after they were subjected to at least three involuntary procedures: two abortions and one elective eye surgery. […] The District Court ruled for the plaintiffs […] On appeal, Judge Kavanaugh vacated the District Court’s injunction.”

No, you’re not reading that wrong. Kavanaugh ruled in favor of forced non-consensual abortions.

Which means the “pro-life” movement is also abandoning any pretense of moral credibility by supporting him.

Well, this sucks. (climate change, debt growth, school shootings, and more) August 7, 2018

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“This two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.” They’re…not kidding. It’s heartbreaking.

“By almost every measure, the U.S. economy is booming. But a look behind the headlines of roaring job growth and consumer spending reveals how the boom continues in large part by the poorer half of Americans fleecing their savings and piling up debt.

Twice as many students have been killed in school shootings [in 2018] as have members of the military who were on deployment.”

“Terrorist attacks committed by Muslim extremists receive 357% more US press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims, according to new research from the University of Alabama. […] The disparity in media coverage is particularly out of sync with the reality given that white and rightwing terrorists carried out nearly twice as many terrorist attacks as Muslim extremists between 2008 and 2016.

“Some of the jurors who imposed the death penalty on Charles Rhines, who was convicted of murder, have said they thought the alternative — a life sentence served in a men’s prison — was something he would enjoy as a gay man.” This one has turned up some awful comments about “well, he deserved the death penalty, regardless of how he got it.” No. Stop. You really think this problem will only affect “the bad ones” and leave “the good ones” alone? Because that’s Not How It Works. See previous link. Or, alternately, all of history.

Guns in the hands of people who should not have guns. June 15, 2018

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People killed by police in the US, 2018. Currently at 524.

“For more than a year, the state of Florida failed to conduct national background checks on tens of thousands of applications for concealed weapons permits, potentially allowing drug addicts or people with a mental illness to carry firearms in public.” The government is coming down hard on the background-checking employee who couldn’t log in. Buried in the article is the reveal that she never even asked for the job: “Wilde told the Times she had been working in the mailroom when she was given oversight of the database in 2013. ‘I didn’t understand why I was put in charge of it.’

At Gun World in Hilliard, Ohio, a dealer was found in 2016 to have repeatedly sold firearms to people who appeared to be prohibited from owning them, including a customer who self-identified as a felon. It is a federal crime for a felon to have a gun. An A.T.F. inspector recommended the store’s license be revoked. […] Gun World remains open. When reached by telephone, an employee at Gun World hung up.”

Guns will be barred during Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance at an upcoming National Rifle Association convention to protect his safety.” So even the NRA won’t stand behind the NRA’s “more guns = more safety” claim.

Citigroup won’t do business with companies that don’t background-check their gun sales. As a commenter notes: “I have worked for several banks, and they all have criteria for determining who they will do business with. Unacceptable lines of business often are those engaged in marijuana/drug sales, adult retail or film industry, gambling.”

In Indiana, after the enactment of the [“red flag”] law [in 2005], we saw a 7.5 percent decrease in firearms suicides in the 10 years that followed […] We didn’t see any notable increase or decrease in non-firearms suicide.”

“According to a 2008 RAND Corporation study evaluating the New York Police Department’s firearm training, between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate during gunfights was just 18 percent. When suspects did not return fire, police officers hit their targets 30 percent of the time.

Two Gardena police officers have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of using their position to acquire firearms and illegally selling more than 100 of the weapons to others, including a convicted felon.”

“She said no one had contacted her until news reporters began calling her Tuesday morning.” May 18, 2018

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People killed by police in the US – over 400 so far this year, and the list-compiler is asking for donations so they can keep up the work.

VICE News sought records on officer-involved shootings from the country’s 50 largest local police departments; 47 responded with data sufficient for analysis. Many fought hard to keep the information secret, and some responded to our requests only under threat of legal action. One department sent a CD-ROM containing a single spreadsheet file through the mail.”

I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High and she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs and he grabbed the gun. I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot.” This poor kid. I’m so glad he made it out of that alive.

“One of the suspects, A’Donte Washington, 16, of Montgomery, who was armed with a revolver, allegedly pointed a gun at the officer, body cam footage showed. The officer fired at the teenager, killing him. [A different, unarmed teenager] was charged with Washington’s death despite not firing the shots […] A grand jury cleared the officer who fired the shots.” What even.

“Melissa Yatsko said she was stunned on Tuesday when she learned for the first time that her 21-year-old son was shot and killed Saturday by an off-duty police officer working security at the Corner Alley bowling alley and bar in University Circle. She said no one had contacted her until news reporters began calling her Tuesday morning.” Justice for Thomas Yatsko.

“Clements’ truck was immobilized and surrounded by at least seven officers. A K-9 unit was on the scene. The officer in charge even informed the other police officers on the scene to use rubber bullets first, and then a Taser. Instead, they shot her in the head.” Justice for Decynthia Clements.

“Black Lives Matters and other various groups again protested the shooting of the 22-year-old, who was shot to death by police in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18. Clark was clutching only a cellphone when two Sacramento police officers, who were wearing body cameras, fired a fusillade of 20 shots.” Justice for Stephon Clark.

“Investigators and prosecutors in Kansas and California, and with the federal government are trying to untangle the strands of a swatting case that ended with a police officer fatally shooting a 28-year-old father of two standing in his front door.” Justice for Andrew Thomas Finch. (Who isn’t black, but you’ll notice the lack of All Lives Matter rallies on his behalf.)

The Onion: “To any law enforcement officer unsure about the object a civilian is holding, we recommend looking at the firearm in your own hand and looking back for parallels between its physical qualities and those of the object in a suspect’s hands.

Hey, did you know defective guns can’t be recalled? Not a joke. There are gun models that can go off when you drop ’em, and no product recalls. April 5, 2018

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People killed by police in the US, 2018. Currently at 333.

“Taurus sold almost a million handguns that can potentially fire without anyone pulling the trigger. The government won’t fix the problem. The NRA is silent.” Every time I think I’ve heard the most insane thing about the lack of gun regulation in this country, I get proven wrong. In the US you can freely sell defective guns and they won’t be recalled.

Beginning with Columbine in 1999, more than 187,000 students attending at least 193 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus during school hours, according to a year-long Washington Post analysis. This means that the number of children who have been shaken by gunfire in the places they go to learn exceeds the population of Eugene, Ore., or Fort Lauderdale, Fla.”

“Marco Rubio […] wrote a letter to Ms. DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions questioning whether the [Obama-era racial discipline] guidance allowed the shooting suspect, Nikolas Cruz, to evade law enforcement and carry out the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High. It was, on its face, an odd point: Mr. Cruz is white, and far from evading school disciplinary procedures, he had been expelled from Stoneman Douglas.

“These violent outbursts last year, and others like them, had key things in common. Chief among them: Long before the violence, the people identified as attackers had elicited concerns from those who had encountered them, red flags that littered their paths to wreaking havoc on unsuspecting strangers.”

“A north Georgia high school teacher was arrested on Wednesday after he barricaded himself in a classroom and fired a shot from his handgun out of a window, police said.” But sure, let’s give the teachers guns.

I have fired tens of thousands of rounds through that rifle, many in combat. We used it because it was the most lethal — the best for killing our enemies. And I know that my community, our schools and public gathering places are not made safer by any person having access to the best killing tool the Army could put in my hands.” A veteran and a Republican congressman. Will that make people more likely to listen?