All Articles Tagged "gun control"
Another American cop has was caught on video murdering an unarmed Black man, and the only surprise here is that he was officially charged for it.
This piece was going to be about how Black people should start carrying guns to protect themselves from the police. However, after thinking about it for a short time, I realize now that such an idea will not work.
The laws will not allow it (because the state would just ignore it). The judges will not allow it. Morev, many in our community would not allow it. The likely outcome in such a scenario is that more Black people would be killed unjustifiably, but with the excuse that they died because they had a gun.
So I have another idea: Let’s disarm the police. No seriously, think about it…
Last August, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Mike Brown. His alleged crime was shoplifting a box of blunts from a local grocery store and then proceeding to walk in the middle of the road. He was unarmed, and witnesses present at the time of his death claimed that he was running away from Wilson when he was first shot. However, the unjust yet legally justified killing of Brown is only half of the story here:
As local citizens of the small Missouri town, with a population of 21,000, made their way out into the streets to protest the suspicious shooting and demand answers, we watched as the local police department deployed armed military style tactics on unarmed citizens. As Glenn Greenwald noted in his piece for The Intercept:
Their uniform would be mistaken for a soldier’s if it were not for their “Police” patches. They wear green tops, and pants fashioned after the U.S. Marine Corps MARPAT camouflage pattern. And they stand in front of a massive uparmored truck called a Bearcat, similar in look to a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or as the troops who rode in them call it, the MRAP. They have short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles based on the military M4 carbine, with scopes that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters. On their side they carry pistols. On their front, over their body armor, they carry at least four to six extra magazines, loaded with 30 rounds each.
While there was looting and rioting sparked by the killing, the looting and rioting was no worse than what happens after a college football team wins–or loses–a championship. And yet these military-grade local police rolled their tanks into a town and threw tear gas and smoke bombs at protesters. They also shot rubber bullets and deployed LRAD sonic cannons. They beat and roughed up not only average citizens, but the journalists covering the protests as well. For the next several months, Ferguson, which, again has a population of only 21,000, became an occupied small country.
In spite of the unbelievable nature of what happened there, Ferguson is pretty much reflective of the kind of militarization that has been happening to our local police departments across the country for years. It is only getting worse. According to the New York Times, over the last eight years, local law enforcement agencies have added “tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft” to their arsenal.
And according to a report released last year by the ACLU titled War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, this militarization of local law enforcement has been paid for mostly through grants given by the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program, the Department of Homeland Security’s grants to local law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. The 1033 program has made it possible for an estimated 500 local law enforcement agencies across the country to receive Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. These vehicles were built to withstand armor-piercing bombs found on the road.
The report also finds that more times than not, these paramilitary weapons, as well as tactics, are deployed mostly in communities of color. They are used to do everything from drug raids to executing a search warrant. Only a small handful of deployments (seven percent) were for hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios, and in the majority of those cases, the targets were white people.
And if you think these well-armed departments are to ensure the safety of these brave officers who put themselves on the frontlines in the war against crime, the report also notes the following:
SWAT deployments often and unnecessarily entailed the use of violent tactics and equipment, including armored personnel carriers; use of violent tactics and equipment was shown to increase the risk of bodily harm and property damage. Of the incidents studied in which SWAT was deployed to search for drugs in a person’s home, the SWAT teams either forced or probably forced entry into a person’s home using a battering ram or other breaching device 65 percent of the time. For drug investigations, the SWAT teams studied were almost twice as likely to force entry into a person’s home than not, and they were more than twice as likely to use forced entry in drug investigations than in other cases. In some instances, the use of violent tactics and equipment caused property damage, injury, and/or death.
That’s right: Instead of maintaining public safety, these well-armed departments often make matters worse.
But an unarmed police officer is less of a threat to the public than an armed officer because it forces officers to use better discretion when entering potentially dangerous situations. Imagine that…
And for those wondering how an unarmed police officer would protect his or her self, as pointed out by the website Disarm The Police, FBI data has shown that in 50 percent of the murders of American cops, suspects attacked the officers before the officers had the opportunity to remove their weapons from their holsters. In other words, an armed cop isn’t guaranteed to be safe.
Last year, a D.C. councilman became a national laughing stock for suggesting that a disarmed police force was the best way to encourage better relations between police and the community.
According to the Washington Times:
“My staff won’t let me tell you that I think we ought to get rid of guns in this city, and that police shouldn’t have guns, so I’m not going to tell you that,” said council member David Grosso, at-large independent, at a Wednesday night council committee hearing. “But I think we have to re-imagine the way that we relate to one another across the board and then change MPD.”
As naïve as it sounds, I honestly feel like Grosso had a valid point. Deadly force should only be used as the last resort when all other peaceful means have been exhausted. But more and more, these well-armed cops reach for their guns first and think about peace later. Point blank, if they have guns, and the support of the state, they will use them. This is no way for a civilized country to behave.
Kroger allows customers to carry firearms in its stores, and the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun control group supported by mega wealthy New York City former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, wants them to stop.
The organization is taking out half a dozen newspapers with ads meant to get the grocery giant to stop permitting customers to openly carry firearms in its stores. The ads will be featured on the websites of USA Today, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Columbus Dispatch, the Houston Chronicle, The Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press, and on a billboard in Cincinnati, where Kroger’s corporate headquarters is located. The ads will appear in some of the print editions as well. Ads will also be taken out in the print edition of The Tennessean.
In the ads there will be images of shoppers doing seemingly harmless things that are currently banned in the nation’s largest grocery chain — such as eating ice cream or shopping without a shirt on — beside images of people carrying rifles. Unbelievably, it’s not the person with the gun that Kroger has a problem with.
According to a spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety, the umbrella group that includes Moms Demand Action, the ad costs ran in the “six figures.”
Moms Demand Action decided to take this approach after several shootings happened in or near Kroger stores. Kroger, which has about 2,500 locations in the U.S., said that it would continue to follow local gun laws.
Moms Demand Action has gotten Chipotle, Sonic, Target and Starbucks to all change their gun policies.
“Moms Demand Action’s most effective technique has been to circulate photos taken by people who support the right to openly carry weapons in public. Some of the photos depict people holding large rifles as they wait in line to buy a burrito or order a hamburger,” reports The Huffington Post
The earlier campaigns by Moms Demand Action were mainly played out on Twitter and Facebook.
“These images bring into stark contrast Kroger policies that prohibit skateboards, food and a lack of appropriate attire in stores, but allow the open carry of loaded guns,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, in a statement. “Businesses have an obligation to protect their employees and patrons.”
The nation has endured tragedy after tragedy due to gun violence. But the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Today, more than half of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws. Still, it’s difficult to get a gun control discussion going in this country.
Hearing the cries of their constituents loud and clear, black female politicians near and far are lobbying to strengthen lax gun laws, advocating for policies that support background checks, the ban of assault weapons, the requirement of child-safety locks on guns and more. Let’s take a look at our African-American female lawmakers who are working for change in firearm regulations.
The latest documentary from Moguldom Studios, Gunland, about the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago, is available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play and VHX now! Learn more here and purchase here. Buy it now!
In the face of persistent gun violence and continued lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun groups, new anti-gun violence campaigns have sprung up that seek to tackle the issue from new angles.
The Campaign to Unload has gathered those affected by gun violence as well as more than 30 organizations to defund the gun companies that receive investment from 401K plans.
“A vast majority of Americans support common-sense changes in public policy while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners, but a small number of well-financed extremists have blocked the political process,” the campaign writes on its website. “Since funding is now driving the process, de-funding the industry has become an appropriate and important priority for those committed to sensible reform.”
Video from the campaign is available below.
A new group, composed of Moms Demand Action, Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and, once again, those who have been impacted by gun violence have also created a group called Everytown for Gun Safety, which is fighting for gun law reform. They’ve created a 21-page report about the NRA and how it has shifted focus over the past decades and released a PSA in time for the NRA annual convention, which took place over the weekend. Former mayor Bloomberg has pledged to back the effort with $50 million.
We’ve got their first PSA after the jump.
When was the exact moment that the nation came to grips with the fact that gun violence is an indisputable erosion corroding our daily lives?
For some it was the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin and the reactors surrounding the verdict this past summer. Or perhaps the Sandy Hook massacre touched a nerve and woke up your slumbering consciousness.
Now we have a more recent revival in the form of the Navy Yard shooting in DC which again gripped the airwaves and our interests, leaving us wondering – Why?
There are so many questions that leave us desperate for answers but unfortunately there is no easy way out of this particular dilemma.
The right for all Americans to possess firearms has consistently given uncompromising power to citizens of all walks of life and helped detonate emotional bombs that have left thousands of scarred victims branded for a lifetime.
When and how do we fire back in retaliation with words and sensitive pleas to the organizations responsible for feeding the now global monstrosity?
The truth is that Americans have been paying the ultimate price for decades, but because those tragedies were regulated to a particular populace, we became desensitized and unyielding to the waging war happening so close but yet so conveniently far.
Now, we are confronted with the indelible truth that the roster of catastrophes plaguing mankind both at home and beyond is an issue we can no longer avoid or hide from because this time it’s personal. The bullets are now being deposited without any restraint or regard for each of our individual racial, geographical or economic stations. The fight has become bloated with vague references, that despite the best of intentions, seem to deviate from the forces that threaten to handicap our immaculately arranged disposition.
There is no easy way to steady the waves that bang against our erected existence but we’ve got to try to find a way to understand the champions of meditated tragedies and get the powers that be to slip out of their mental coma and revive their sense of duty and justice for all.
We have to come together and remove ourselves from the media onslaught and the press conferences that aim to give us a temporary reprieve but still leave us with gaping wounds and restless spirits.
We have to use the sophisticated tools at our disposal to enforce our stipulations when it comes to the fragility of human life and how we can’t allow regulated carelessness to predict the growing casualties that are symbolically littering our sidewalks every other day.
The United States of America has provided an opaque platform that a lot of countries marvel and envy but we are still unable to tackle the most formidable equation that could literally make the difference between life and death.
Inner city kids have adjusted to their familiar turmoil and their privileged counterparts are being forced to accommodate their new reality.
The unrelenting nightmare is seeping through like the plague and now that all bets are off, lets utilize the bullet points that come with our citizenship and stand up for justice, freedom, and the American way.
We have already established that we need to say no to drugs. So let’s say no to guns, or at least say yes, to finding a way to deactivate the formula presently initiated that is making it so tragically easy for the destruction of innocent lives.
It’s time for a change…and it’s going to ordinary folks like us to initiate it.
Are you ready?
For more information on gun violence, check out the new Moguldom Films documentary, Gunland. You can watch the trailer for the upcoming film below.
If you’d like to see this film, you can donate to the Kickstarter campaign here.
Watching the news nowadays can be so depressing that I might as well pick up a copy of the obituaries. No matter where we turn, there always seems to be death around us – particularly incidents that involve gun violence. According to statistics, homicide rates by firearm in the United States are 19.5 times higher than rates in other high-income countries around the world. That, my friends, is a pretty scary thought.
It’s quite sad and very disturbing to hear news of senseless crimes that claim the lives of innocent people. How many mass shootings can you remember occurring over the past decades, or years for that matter? Just in the last three years alone, there have been a reported 12 that include the December 2012 incident at Sandy Hook Elementary that claimed the lives of 28 people – 20 of which were children. Such craziness has had the public in an uproar calling for stronger restrictions on guns and while I am apart of this number, I can’t help but think about the thousands of other stories happening across the country that make up part of the statistic, but are not getting the same type of attention.
Obviously when an occurrence like Sandy Hook or the Aurora movie theater shootings occurs, they catch us off guard. Your heart weeps for the parents who lost their children and others who won’t get the chance to say goodbye to loved ones. In times of tragedy, I can recall how quickly social media feeds like Facebook and Twitter filled with images of prayers and virtual ribbons to honor the deceased. Simple things like this can give us hope in a time when there is so much uncertainty and anger regarding the situation. But what about a word of encouragement for Shyla Rivera?
Four-year old Shyla was just one of four victims who lost their lives two weeks ago in Chicago due to senseless violence – and those were only random events that occurred within 24 hours. An astounding 33 more people ended up being shot that weekend bringing the total to 37 persons affected by gun violence. Does anyone else think this is crazy? And Chicago is not even considered the most dangerous city in America.
While I believe the discussion for gun control is much needed (especially in today’s society), I get so frustrated when its focus becomes solely centered around victims of mass shootings. Please don’t get me wrong, I have a heart and it aches thinking about the loss of life. But I also think about areas like Detroit, Chicago, Camden and my hometown of Baltimore, to name a few, that deal with the reality of gun violence on a daily basis. Each year, our communities lose thousands upon thousands of lives – with many victims literally caught in the crossfire. Do our innocent not count as well?
“Well it’s different” is what I tend to hear from some people when this topic comes up. Does society really overlook our death count to gun violence if it occurs in an area where it’s “expected?” Does that make it justified to skip over?
I honestly don’t expect for every incident of gun violence to get reported on mainstream news because it, unfortunately, happens way too often. And let’s face it, minorities being gunned down doesn’t sound like an eye-catching news hook compared to the random incidents of these mass shootings, as it would appear a good portion of society almost expects us to kill each other. But the harsh reality is this: the frequent incidents of gun violence in minority communities add up – whether reported or unknown. Even if victims don’t get the same attention as others, they still should be remembered or at least considered when the topic of gun control comes up.Even if our victims are not as news worthy or shocking to the system as others, they definitely still count in stats – and the numbers don’t lie.
It was just this past January that 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a high school sophomore who performed at President Obama’s inaugural parade this year as part of her school’s drill team, was gunned down at a park. After school was let out early at King College Prep for finals, Pendleton and a few of her friends went to a nearby park to hang out, and since it was raining, they all sought shelter under a canopy/gazebo. Soon after, a young man ran toward the group and fired a gun at them (a few of the young men at the park were gang members), accidentally shooting Pendleton and injuring a few other students in the process. Since such a tragedy, Pendleton’s story made national news, with Michelle Obama attending her funeral in Chicago, and her story being used in the fight to have stricter gun legislation. On top of that, Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton has fought tirelessly to see gun laws changed so that other families won’t have to go through what she has had to. She spoke recently to MSNBC during an anti-gun violence summit in Chicago last Friday about another family who has dealt with a major tragedy due to gun violence, Trayvon Martin’s family, and why their loss (and the lack of justice from it) has made her worry about her own son, her last remaining child, especially in Chicago:
“I have a son that I am raising in this environment, under these circumstances. So now I have a youth that is not at risk because I’m raising him with certain value systems, but he is at risk of being viewed a certain kind of way.
I have to do things and be boisterous to protect him before he gets to where he’s going to go independently, walking down a street on his own with certain privileges and being misidentified as someone else. Right now he’s 11. The Martins have already suffered and that’s an awareness for the rest of us.”
She also talked about all the work she’s doing to stop illegal guns from hitting the streets and to reduce gun violence, saying “This is my life right now. I’m tired. But I’m stepping up to the cause and I won’t stop until these gun laws are changed.”
Check out her interview where she talks about her worries below:
A new poll shows that Americans have grown sick and tired of Congress’ antics. As MN reported on Monday, student loan interest rates have nearly doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent after Congress failed to reach a decision to keep the current rates. In pulling such an irresponsible move, it’s no wonder that Congress’ popularity as reached a historic low of 10 percent, reports MSNBC.
A recent poll was conducted by Gallup to discover, out of 16 institutions, which one Americans approved the most. Congress fell flat with only a 10 percent approval rating; this is down three percentage points from last year. The military, small businesses and the police garnered the highest ratings of confidence from the public.
With unpopular decisions on gun control, background checks, and raising the minimum wage, Congress is completely out of sync with American opinion. Fifty-seven percent of Americans want a ban on assault weapons, but Congress is not on the same page. A whopping 91 percent of Americans favored a universal background check, but the House and Senate could not come to an agreement. About 71 percent of the public wants the minimum wage raised to $9 an hour, but Congress and the American public could not see eye-to-eye.
Previously, when either Republicans or Democrats had a greater grip in the legislative branch, members of that party would “express greater confidence” in Congress, says US News. For instance, in the early 2000s, Republicans controlled the House and the Senate, so, of course, Republican voters approved of Congress more than Democrats In 2007, Democrats favored Congress when they regained control. Now, the survey shows a rare time in which all parties, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, are united in their disapproval in Congress’ performance this year.
The Washington Post adds that “just 12 percent of Democrats, 11 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of political independents hold confidence in Congress—a near tie.”
Since 1973, Gallup has been recording Congressional approval ratings. It was only in 1986 that Congress reached its highest approval rating at 41 percent when Ronald Reagan was president, the Post adds.
In a comical national poll released earlier this year, Americans preferred lice (67 percent) over Congress (19 percent) and root canals (56 percent) over than Washington (32 percent).
The big political news today is President Obama’s latest budget proposal, a $3.77 billion plan that would be put into effect for fiscal year 2014, which starts October 1. Given the continuous battle back and forth between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, The Wall Street Journal sums up the goal of the proposal as such: “Obama Reaches For Middle Ground With New Budget Plan.”
“The White House will seek to persuade Republicans to warm to its proposal to embrace more short-term spending, which administration officials say will boost jobs, while also locking in medium-term tax and spending changes to reduce the deficit,” the article says. “So far, the White House has found such an approach a tough sell, with Republicans opposing tax increases and saying much of the spending is wasteful.” Overall, the article says, the spending budget is up six percent to counteract the sequestration spending cuts (remember those?) that went into effect March 1.
At the start of the fiscal year, The New York Times explains, “the federal deficit would be $744 billion, according to administration officials. That would be equal to about 4.4 percent of the gross domestic product, down from a high of about 10 percent at the height of the recession. By decade’s end, the annual deficit would be 1.7 percent, officials said, though deficits would increase thereafter as aging baby boomers drive up costs for federal benefit programs.” The 10-year plan would cut spending by $1.2 billion and would raise $580 million by pulling more taxes from the wealthy, including the imposition of the Buffet Rule, which would take 30 percent from anyone making a taxable income over $1 million.
The spending and taxes included in the proposal aren’t to the Republicans’ liking, who still want to see the federal budget decrease. What has riled Democrats are the proposed cuts to future Social Security benefits.
But there will be additional spending. Infrastructure is a priority in the budget, as is expanding prekindergarten education. And in response to calls from people across the political spectrum following the massacre in Newtown, CT, $235 million has been allotted for mental health programs. The money would pay to train teachers and other professionals to better detect the warning signs of mental illness in students, to provide in-school professional mental health services, and to help schools that have a high level of violence, according to The Washington Post. The paper says that mental health advocates are pleased with the attention, but note the billions of dollars in cuts that have been made across states over the past few years.
President Obama will be having dinner with prominent Congressional Republicans this evening in the hopes of talking through a compromise. Meanwhile, Congress could vote this week on gun control measures. The two sides seem to be ready to compromise on issues like universal background checks, says CNN.
“Whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, and African Americans are far more likely to be shot by someone else” says The Washington Post, reporting on new data that shows gun deaths are often shaped by race. The Washington Post analyzed data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and found that a white person is five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun as to be shot with a gun. And for each African American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns.
Race is not the only factor in gun deaths. Location also plays into the results. According to the study, gun deaths in urban areas are much more likely to be homicides. Suicide occurs more often in rural areas. And here is another twist; the states with the most guns per capita, such as Montana and Wyoming, have the highest suicide rates. However, the states with low gun ownership rates, such as Massachusetts and New York, have fewer suicides per capita.
When it comes to gun control, the races also differ on the issue. African Americans are more likely to be backers of tough gun controls, as opposed to whites. About three-quarters of blacks support stronger controls, compared with about half of whites, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Two-thirds of city dwellers support stronger gun controls; only about a third of rural residents back them.
The gun control debate is heating up. New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns are spending $12 million to place ads across 13 states, pushing for stiffer gun control laws. Organizing for Action, a nonprofit that supports President Obama’s issues of interest, is also looking for names on a petition pushing for greater gun control. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a meeting recently to review four firearm-related bills, bringing debate on Second Amendment rights and public safety to the forefront, according to a press release. These bills include: The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013; Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013; Protecting Responsible Gun Sellers Act of 2013; and School Safety Enhancements Act of 2013.
With the debate has come money to promote each side. Maplight, a nonprofit that tracks money and politics, finds that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has contributed $5,868 to members of the 113th Congress since January 1, 2009. The NRA, meanwhile, has contributed $1,453,637 to members of the 113th Congress since that date. Texas is the top contributing state to the NRA.
Oddly, hardcore gun rights advocacy group the National Rifle Association suggests that they link between guns and suicide could be considered a virtue. “Gun owners are notably self-reliant and exhibit a willingness to take definitive action when they believe it to be in their own self-interest,” the NRA wrote in a fact sheet, called “Suicide and Firearms,” on the Website for the group’s lobbying arm. “Such action may include ending their own life when the time is deemed appropriate.”
According to WashPo, “Some experts say mass shootings such as the one in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December can often be seen as extravagant suicides rather than homicidal rampages.” Experts indicate that preventing these killings requires better treatment of mental health problems and limiting access to weapons.