Surge in gun sales led to surge in accidental gun deaths

The Washington Post reports: In the days after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, gun enthusiasts rushed to buy millions of firearms, driven by fears that the massacre would spark new gun legislation. Those restrictions never became a reality, but a new study concludes that all the additional guns caused a significant jump in accidental firearm deaths.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, estimates that the 3 million guns sold in the several months after Sandy Hook caused about 60 more accidental gun deaths than would have occurred otherwise. Children were killed in a third of them — some 20 youngsters, the same number as died at Sandy Hook.

The work by two Wellesley College economists tackles one of the biggest questions in gun research: how to measure the relationship between gun prevalence and gun deaths. For decades, hamstrung by lack of funding and the politically charged landscape surrounding gun control, researchers have lacked data to try to answer that question. [Continue reading…]

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The Texas shooting victims should sue the U.S. government. They’d win

John Culhane writes: The devastation wrought by all-too-regular mass shootings leads to immediate and predictable calls for “thoughts and prayers” for the victims. But what about compensation for the harm suffered? Unfortunately, that is one area in which U.S. law is inadequate, often preventing any kind of redress for the victims.

But that’s not so in the recent case out of Texas. The federal government could be—and should be—on the hook for personal injury and wrongful death damages. The Air Force’s unexplained and appalling failure to enter the shooter’s domestic-violence conviction into a national database that would have prevented him from obtaining a firearm is actionable.

In most cases of death-by-firearms, victims have no practical redress. The shooter, who’s the most obviously culpable actor, is usually either dead or broke. Depending on the facts of a given case, there might be a claim against those who manufactured or sold the weapon used in the killing, but victims would have a better chance against the seller of an ax than against a gun seller. That’s because of the Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act, a federal law that, with a few exceptions, rules out claims against those who sell guns and ammunition. So, there’s virtually no accountability anywhere in the system, and victims are left to whatever insurance they might have and to local crime compensation funds, which are typically limited in the amount of money recoverable. Sometimes, there’s also a private, charitable fund for victims of high-profile shootings, most recently including the Las Vegas massacre.

This case, however, is different. Victims—the injured survivors and the family members of those killed—may have a claim against the U.S. government for what seems like the plain negligence, or worse, of whoever failed to enter Texas shooter Devin Patrick Kelley’s name into the federal crime database—a listing that would have made him ineligible to buy a gun. The PLCAA doesn’t protect the government, since it applies to only gun and ammo sellers. So we’re left with the Air Force’s carelessness, which led to the murderer’s ability to purchase and use a weapon he had no right to possess. [Continue reading…]

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Many mass shooters have a history of domestic violence

BuzzFeed reports: Devin P. Kelley, the perpetrator of the worst mass shooting in Texas in modern history, served a year in a military prison for assaulting his wife and child in 2012. His rampage on November 5 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, authorities have said, was linked to a “domestic situation” with his mother-in-law. She regularly attended the church, but wasn’t there when Kelley opened fire, killing 26 people.

A history of domestic violence is a common thread in many American mass shootings, and often spouses and other family members are the victims.

“Mass shootings are domestic violence events much more commonly than the public believes,” Garen Wintemute, who heads the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, told BuzzFeed News by email.

What’s more, women who’ve previously been assaulted by their partners are at high risk of being murdered if there are firearms in the house. Yet states differ on restrictions on gun ownership for domestic abusers, and researchers still don’t know whether the perpetrators of domestic violence present a high risk for gun homicide more generally. [Continue reading…]

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The military is reporting almost no domestic abusers to the main gun background check database

The Trace reports: A year before committing Sunday’s mass shooting at a tight-knit church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Devin Kelley walked into a sporting goods store and bought a Ruger assault-style rifle that he should have been banned from owning because of his history of domestic violence. An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Kelley had lawfully bought two more guns that were found in his car after the massacre.

The question that reporters and investigators are now digging into is why he was able to make those purchases.

The answer may lie in differences between how civilian courts and the U.S. military, in which Kelley had previously served, treat domestic violence, and how each submits abusers’ records for gun background checks.

While enlisted in the Air Force, Kelley was convicted by a court martial of charges stemming from an assault on his then-wife and young child in 2012 and sentenced to a year in confinement. The offense was the equivalent of the civilian crime of misdemeanor domestic assault — one of the 12 categories of records that automatically bar someone from legal gun possession.

But the military has no distinct charge for domestic violence, notes Grover Baxley, a former judge advocate general who now practices military law as a civilian. “We see this all the time,” Baxley said. “There is no specific domestic violence article.” Instead, military prosecutors charge abusers with other offenses, like assault. [Continue reading…]

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Globally, the prevalence of mass shootings corresponds with the level of gun ownership

Max Fisher and Josh Keller write: Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Adjusted for population, only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people — a distinction Mr. Lankford urged to avoid outliers. Yemen has the world’s second-highest rate of gun ownership after the United States.

Worldwide, Mr. Lankford found, a country’s rate of gun ownership correlated with the odds it would experience a mass shooting. This relationship held even when he excluded the United States, indicating that it could not be explained by some other factor particular to his home country. And it held when he controlled for homicide rates, suggesting that mass shootings were better explained by a society’s access to guns than by its baseline level of violence.

If mental health made the difference, then data would show that Americans have more mental health problems than do people in other countries with fewer mass shootings. But the mental health care spending rate in the United States, the number of mental health professionals per capita and the rate of severe mental disorders are all in line with those of other wealthy countries.

A 2015 study estimated that only 4 percent of American gun deaths could be attributed to mental health issues. And Mr. Lankford, in an email, said countries with high suicide rates tended to have low rates of mass shootings — the opposite of what you would expect if mental health problems correlated with mass shootings. [Continue reading…]

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Air Force says it failed to follow procedures, allowing Texas church shooter to obtain firearms

The Washington Post reports: The Air Force says it failed to follow policies for alerting federal law enforcement about Devin P. Kelley’s violent past, enabling the former service member, who killed at least 26 churchgoers Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Tex., to obtain firearms before the shooting rampage.

Kelley should have been barred from purchasing firearms and body armor because of his domestic violence conviction in 2014 while serving at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Kelley was sentenced to a year in prison and kicked out of the military with a bad conduct discharge following two counts of domestic abuse against his wife and a child, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

“Initial information indicates that Kelley’s domestic violence offense was not entered into the National Criminal Information Center database,” Stefanek said in a statement released Monday. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein have directed an investigation of Kelley’s case and “relevant policies and procedures,” she said. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports: Law enforcement officers investigating the mass shooting at a church that killed 26 people here said on Monday that “a domestic situation” within the gunman’s family may have motivated the killing.

“The suspect’s mother-in-law attended this church,” Freeman Martin, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said during a news conference Monday morning. “We know that he had made threatening texts and we can’t go into detail into that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and thoroughly investigated.”

“This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs, it was a domestic situation going on,” Mr. Martin added. [Continue reading…]

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After terrorist attack on church in Texas, will Trump press for extreme vetting of U.S. military recruits?

Needless to say, that’s a rhetorical question.

The Pentagon (and Trump) will no doubt be satisfied that a malcontent like Devin Patrick Kelley was kicked out of the Air Force, rather than questioning how he joined.

Trump has already indicated that he views the Texas shooting as not even related to guns — let alone terrorism:

Donald Trump has blamed Sunday’s deadly mass shooting at a Baptist church in Texas on the mental health of the perpetrator and claimed that gun ownership was not a factor.

Asked during a press conference in Tokyo what policies he would support to tackle mass shootings in the US, the president said: “I think that mental health is a problem here. Based on preliminary reports, this was a very deranged individual with a lot of problems over a very long period of time.

“We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn’t a guns situation … we could go into it but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse.

“This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very sad event … these are great people at a very, very sad event, but that’s the way I view it.”

Is it a mental health problem, a gun problem, or a terrorism problem?

Unlike many observers, I hesitate to slap the label “terrorism” on every mass shooting in America. Why? Because terrorism, for as long as it remains a meaningful term (and that itself is a debatable issue), needs an ideological component. For the perpetrator to appropriately be called a terrorist, he (and it’s invariably he, rather than she) must be driven by some kind of belief system.

Since Devin Patrick Kelley is already dead, we may never be certain of his motives for murdering 26 churchgoers, but the testimony of former classmates strongly suggests he was a militant atheist and thus his hostility to religion may have been the determining factor in how he selected his target. So, at face value this shooting has a more obvious ideological component than does, for instance, the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas.

A terrorism problem? Yes.

A gun issue? “Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse.”

Indeed. Likewise, if no one had a gun — if Kelley and all the churchgoers had been armed with knives — there would have been no shooting, and probably no deaths.

The argument in favor of self-defense cannot be separated from the issue of the availability of deadly weapons.

So let’s get real: of course this is a gun issue.

A mental health problem?

Nowadays a lot of people balk at this explanation because it seems like a double standard is at play when Muslims get collectively blamed for terrorism carried out in the name of Islam, and yet the violence of white men is invariably viewed as something that has no connection with any wider trends in a white-dominated society.

Social trends, however, can hardly be discounted as irrelevant. While gun violence is a major problem in black America, the perpetrators of mass shootings are rarely black. The typical shooter is usually a white guy whose misanthropic rage swelled in isolation.

The obvious is worth stating: however Kelley might have described his own motives, we can be certain he was unhappy.

Unhappiness can metastasize and in the extreme turn into murderous violence and yet we vastly underestimate the problem of unhappiness itself if we reduce our concerns about mental health to the problem of mass shootings.

The sorry state of America’s collective mental health, is not just implicated in an epidemic of mass shootings; it has also resulted in the choice of a president who so often seethes with rage and foments hostility at home and abroad.

Trump’s anger is his own mental health problem, but given his unique position he has an unparalleled capacity to foster a contagion of discontent across this nation, manifesting in meanness, bigotry, xenophobia, racism, and potentially acts of mass violence.

While Trump should not be viewed as the root of all America’s problems, the harm he has already done, renders him incapable of healing national divisions he so persistently strives to widen.

Fear can bring people together, but this isn’t the foundation of real unity. What unifies us is the recognition that our common interests matter more than the things that make us stand apart.

Predictably, Trump is using the Texas tragedy to rally American national pride, yet what America dearly needs has far less to do with its national virtues than with a basic sense of humanity.

Love and kindness are resources on which every society depends, while fear and hatred shatter our human bonds.

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Las Vegas police could have known exact location of gunman before he opened fire on crowd

ABC News reports: On Monday, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo announced a change to the sequence of events that occurred on Oct. 1, saying a security guard who encountered Paddock was actually shot at 9:59 p.m. local time, minutes before the 64-year-old unleashed a hail of gunfire on unsuspecting concertgoers.

Previously, authorities had said that the security guard, Jesus Campos, was shot after Paddock had opened fire on the crowd below.

Lombardo said Campos immediately reported to hotel security that he had been shot. However, responding officers did not know Campos had been shot until they arrived on the 32nd floor and encountered him, Lombardo said.

It’s unclear what ultimately led Paddock to stop shooting at the people below. Officials had originally thought that Campos distracted him. [Continue reading…]

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How the U.S. government created and coddled the gun industry

File 20171009 25649 1ts0kj5.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A U.S. soldier fires a Colt M16 in Vietnam in 1967.
U.S. Army

By Brian DeLay, University of California, Berkeley

After Stephen Paddock opened fire on Las Vegas concertgoers on Oct. 1, many people responded with calls for more gun control to help prevent mass shootings and the routine violence ravaging U.S. neighborhoods.

But besides a rare consensus on restricting the availability of so-called bump stocks, which Paddock used to enable his dozen semi-automatic rifles to fire like machine guns, it’s unclear if anything meaningful will come of it.

If advocates for reform despair after such a tragedy, I can understand. The politics seem intractable right now. It’s easy to feel powerless.

But what I’ve learned from a decade of studying the history of the arms trade has convinced me that the American public has more power over the gun business than most people realize.

[Read more…]

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The cancer in the Constitution

Timothy Egan writes: One of the great disconnects of our history is how a nation birthed on the premise that all men are created equal could enshrine an entire race of people as three-fifths of a human being. We tried to fix that, through our bloodiest war and a series of amendments that followed.

Not so with guns. The Second Amendment, as applied in the last 30 years or so, has become so perverted, twisted and misused that you have to see it now as the second original sin in the founding of this country, after slavery.

It wasn’t meant to be the instrument for the worst kind of American exceptionalism — setting up the United States as the most violent of developed nations. But it is now. The more we stand out for random mass killings daily, the more the leading cause becomes clear: the warped interpretation of the freedom to own lethal weaponry.

The amendment itself is not the problem. Yes, it’s vague, poorly worded, lacking nuance. But the intent is clear with the opening clause: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.”

The purpose is security — against foreign invaders and domestic insurrectionists. President George Washington relied on a well-regulated militia from three states to put down the Tea Partyers of his day, the tax-evading lawbreakers in the Whiskey Rebellion.

At the time, the typical firearms were single-loading muskets and flintlock pistols. At most, a shooter could fire off three rounds per minute, at a maximum accuracy range of about 50 yards.

Compare that with the carnage unleashed by the gunman in Las Vegas, Stephen Paddock. Among the 23 guns he hauled into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino were at least a dozen that he had apparently modified into rapid-fire weapons of mass murder. [Continue reading…]

I would argue that the cancer is more extensive than the Second Amendment and is rooted in the deification of America which seeks to anoint this nation with a pristine purity that belies its human frailty.

Neither the Constitution nor its creators embodied a prophetic genius that could gave them unquestionable authority.

America is nothing more than a work in progress.

A capacity to adapt matters vastly more than any of its self-declared exceptional virtues.

Whether in the life of the individual or society or the state, adaptation is the name of the game.

Failures in adaptation result in extinction.

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As Republicans consider banning ‘bump stocks’ used in massacre, sales of the devices boom

The New York Times reports: Top congressional Republicans, who have for decades resisted any legislative limits on guns, signaled on Wednesday that they would be open to banning the firearm accessory that the Las Vegas gunman used to transform his rifles to mimic automatic weapon fire.

For a generation, Republicans in Congress — often joined by conservative Democrats — have bottled up gun legislation, even as the carnage of mass shootings grew ever more gruesome and the weaponry ever more deadly. A decade ago, they blocked efforts to limit the size of magazines after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Five years later, Republican leaders thwarted bipartisan legislation to expand background checks of gun purchasers after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Last year, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, they blocked legislation to stop gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists.

But in this week’s massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found the part of the weapons trade that few could countenance: previously obscure gun conversion kits, called “bump stocks,” that turn semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing in long, deadly bursts. [Continue reading…]

The Trace reports: Bump-fire stocks remain legal, but it is getting increasingly harder to find one to buy. Scores of online retailers have sold out of the devices, which enable a semiautomatic weapon to mimic the functionality of a machine gun.

Police found at least a dozen rifles equipped with bump-fire stocks in the hotel room from which a gunman killed 59 people in Las Vegas on Sunday night. In the wake of the shooting, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California introduced a bill that would ban the devices.

Bump-fire stocks are typically widely available for purchase on the Internet. WalMart and Cabela’s, two of the nation’s largest gun sellers, appear to have halted online sales of the devices early Wednesday. For retailers that have continued to sell them, business is booming. The webpages of several online retailers state that the devices are sold out.

“Due to extreme high demands, we are currently out of stock. Please check back with us shortly,” reads a notice on the website of Slide Fire Solutions, the manufacturer of a popular bump-fire device. [Continue reading…]

If it doesn’t exist already on the Dark Web, “Buy it before it gets banned,” would be a lucrative business geared towards the large market of buyers in America whose drive to acquire products seems driven by a fear of lost opportunities.

What exactly is running through the mind of the typical bump-stock buyer right now? Securing the opportunity for carrying out mass murder might not be on their agenda, but perhaps it’s a question of “just in case…”

Just in case what?

Since, as far as I’m aware, bump stocks have not been used in any of the recent mass shootings prior to Las Vegas, for Congress to now ban them would certainly be a purely symbolic form of gun control of no more significance than their obligatory rituals of solemn silence that signify nothing.

As much as the following proposition will cut against the American libertarian grain, there is another way of addressing gun violence that would involve banning nothing and yet impose massive and useful regulation.

If the ability to legally drive a car requires that I have a driver licence, insurance, and the car has registration and receives annual inspection, why shouldn’t the same level of regulation apply to gun ownership?

And if that was the case, why couldn’t the accumulation of stockpiles of weaponry and ammunition automatically trigger legal scrutiny?

Cars aren’t designed for killing people but their use poses risks to life and property such that the state recognizes the freedom to drive needs to be constrained by enforced forms of personal responsibility.

Guns are designed for killing people and that’s probably why the phrase “well regulated” was included in the Second Amendment.

The fact that a minority of people break the rules by being unlicensed, uninsured, or driving stolen vehicles, doesn’t make the regulatory system collapse. It merely requires that there is also a system of law enforcement.

Overall, yet imperfectly, the system works.

From what is already known about Stephen Paddock, he appears to have been law-abiding — until just recently.

Perhaps his response to being the son of a bank robber was to be better than his father in this respect: that instead of finding a dumb and illegal way to take other people’s money he would refine his skill in legally accumulating money that other people were dumb enough to throw away.

Had Paddock not been provided with the means to legally stockpile weapons and ammunition, there’s no reason to assume that he would have sought an illegal pathway to the same end.

He would have remained a miserable gambler who never made news.

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The gun lobby owns the GOP

Politico reports: Attention is being thrust back on the gun lobby as lawmakers give gun control measures a fresh look in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting – the deadliest in modern U.S. history. Gun rights groups overwhelmingly support GOP candidates, contributing $5.9 million into Republican campaigns in the 2016 election cycle, compared with $106,000 to those of Democrats. It’s also the most money gun lobbyists have given in a campaign year since at least 1990.

$5,900,000 given to Republicans in 2016 election cycle; $106,000 given to Democrats in 2016 election cycle

The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan think tank that tracks money in politics, found that in 2016 more than half of the members of the House of Representatives — or 232 of the 435 — received money from gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. That money went disproportionately to Republicans. Only nine Democrats received campaign contributions from these groups.

POLITICO tallied contributions to representatives in the 2016 election cycle. Some, like Ryan Zinke, no longer serve in Congress. Zinke now heads the Department of the Interior, but he received $74,000 in 2016, making him the recipient of the second-highest contributions, after Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. [Continue reading…]

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What a macho, gun-packing Instagram star did when he was caught in the Las Vegas shooting

The Washington Post reports: Guns and women got Dan Bilzerian where he is today — the “King of Instagram,” with nearly 23 million followers, a mansion full of guns and a hot tub full of women.

He lines his feed with photos of himself and women in the wilderness, playing with his arsenal of rifles, his biceps the size of their thighs.

Bilzerian once trained to be a Navy SEAL, and while he never became one, he often brags of his apparently deadly prowess.

“My greatest fear is that someone will break in & I won’t be able to decide what #gun to shoot them with,” he once wrote as a caption for a photo of his table of guns. There’s even an official Dan Bilzerian video game about shooting zombie women in the Nevada desert, and then in a city, with scoped headshots and bodies in the streets.

But on Sunday night, in the real Las Vegas, the Instagram star found himself caught in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He saw a woman lying dead, he said.

He turned a camera on himself as he walked, short of breath, from the killing grounds, and at first resolved to live up to years of online bravado.

“Trying to go grab a gun,” he says in the clip. “I’m f—— headed back. … Saw a girl get shot in the face right next to me, her f—— brains hanging out.”

But in the next clip, which briefly appeared on Bilzerian’s Instagram account and has since been plastered over the Internet, he stands in front of police lights, looking slightly dazed.

“Um, they got one of the guys,” he says, no gun in sight, all fury gone from his voice. “I’m headed back. I don’t think there’s much I can do.”

So he went home, leaving fans to wonder whether one of Instagram’s most formidable stars was something different in real life. [Continue reading…]

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Rosanne Cash: Country musicians, stand up to the NRA

Rosanne Cash writes: I’ve been a gun-control activist for 20 years. Every time I speak out on the need for stricter gun laws, I get a new profusion of threats. There’s always plenty of the garden-variety “your dad would be ashamed of you” sexist nonsense, along with the much more menacing threats to my family and personal safety.

Last year, I performed at the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence with Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, Marc Cohn and the Harlem Gospel Choir, and we got death threats. People wanted to kill us because we wanted to end gun violence. That’s where we are: America, 2017.

For the past few decades, the National Rifle Association has increasingly nurtured an alliance with country music artists and their fans. You can see it in “N.R.A. Country,” which promotes the artists who support the philosophical, if not economic, thrall of the N.R.A., with the pernicious tag line “Celebrate the Lifestyle.”

That wholesome public relations veneer masks something deeply sinister and profoundly destructive. There is no other way to say this: The N.R.A. funds domestic terrorism.

A shadow government exists in the world of gun sales, and the people who write gun regulations are the very people who profit from gun sales. The N.R.A. would like to keep it that way.

The laws we have in place to prevent the procurement of military-style weapons by mentally ill citizens are laughable by the standards of any civilized society. But even those pathetic restrictions would be eased if the N.R.A. had its way. Just this week, the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on a measure that would loosen restrictions on gun silencers and armor-piercing bullets (the vote was indefinitely postponed after the Las Vegas massacre). It’s not hard to learn about how millions of N.R.A. dollars have spread throughout Congress to influence that vote.

If the proposed law had passed before the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday, and the rifles in the assailant’s hotel room had been fitted with silencers, one could safely assume that the death toll would be much, much higher. Those who ran from the concert and survived did so because they heard the gunfire. None of that matters to the N.R.A.

I encourage more artists in country and American roots music to end your silence. It is no longer enough to separate yourself quietly. The laws the N.R.A. would pass are a threat to you, your fans, and to the concerts and festivals we enjoy. [Continue reading…]

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Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock wired $100,000 to Philippines last week

NBC News reports: Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock wired $100,000 to an account in his live-in girlfriend’s home country of the Philippines in the week before he unleashed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, according to multiple senior law enforcement officials.

But while officials have confirmed that Marilou Danley was in the Philippines on Sunday when Paddock opened fire on a crowd attending a country music festival on the Vegas Strip, it was not known whether the money was for her, her family, or another purpose.

Danley, 62, who had traveled to Hong Kong on Sept. 25, could fill in some of the blanks when she returns to the U.S. on Wednesday, the officials said. Her arrival airport was not known.

“We anticipate some information from her shortly,” said Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. “She is currently a person of interest.”

Paddock’s still-stunned brother, Eric Paddock, said he suspects the money was to take care of Danley.

“One hundred thousand dollars isn’t that huge amount of money,” he said. “Condemn Steve for gambling. Steve took care of the people he loved. He made me and my family wealthy.”

Paddock may have “manipulated her so that she was far away from this and had money,” Eric Paddock added. “As he was descending into hell…he wanted to take care of her.”

Meanwhile, senior law enforcement officials told NBC News that Paddock gambled with at least $160,000 in the past several weeks at Las Vegas casinos. [Continue reading…]

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McConnell swats away talk of gun control

Politico reports: Mitch McConnell did not want to discuss gun control on Tuesday.

The Senate majority leader shut down all talk of legislative remedies to gun violence after a man killed 59 people in Las Vegas on Sunday night and injured hundreds more, mirroring the Tuesday morning remarks by his GOP counterpart in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan.

McConnell declared this is simply not the time to be talking about legislation targeting firearms.

Asked if he could support a bill banning the conversion of semi-automatic guns to automatic guns being written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), McConnell responded: “The investigation has not even been completed. I think it’s premature to be discussing legislative solutions, if there are any.”

The GOP leader similarly parried when pressed on why Democratic efforts have failed to resonate with voters. Senate Democrats put forward a universal background checks bill in 2013 that won the support of four GOP senators but was filibustered by most other Republicans. They lost the Senate in 2014 and the effort has never regained steam. [Continue reading…]

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How Trump turned the Las Vegas massacre into an America First moment — updated

Even though Stephen Miller looks like a ventriloquist’s dummy, it’s often clear that it’s Trump who is the dummy whose lips are getting animated by Miller — no more so than when the president robotically read from his script in an unlikely performance yesterday as America’s impromptu prayer leader:

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.

Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack.

We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished, and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear.

For some cable news anchors this might have sounded “pitch perfect” and yet that perception required overlooking not only the glaringly obvious fact that none of these were Trump’s own words, but most importantly that his speechwriter should choose to single out the American victims of Sunday’s violence.

Even though country music is a quintessentially white American cultural phenomenon, Las Vegas is an international tourist destination and believe it or not there are actually millions of non-American lovers of this musical genre.

It might turn out that every single one among the hundreds of victims and their thousands of relatives and friends are or were indeed all Americans, but that’s actually very unlikely.

So, at a moment that calls out for human sympathy, why declare we are “praying for every American”? The lives of the non-American victims are surely just as precious and just as deserving of prayer.

And yet, at a time when America could engage in some kind of moral reckoning through facing the culpability that extends through gun dealers, gun manufacturers, the NRA, the GOP, Congress, the president, and all those who value the Second Amendment more than the lives of those around them, what better way of ducking the issue than turning this into a nationalistic America First moment.

Update — CBC News reports: Four Canadians are among the 59 dead in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday it was confirmed that Calla Medig and Tara Roe Smith, 34, both from Alberta, died in the attack.

Medig, who was in her 20s, was from Jasper, Alta. Roe, 34, was from Okotoks, just south of Calgary. She had been reported missing since Sunday.

Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, B.C., and Jessica Klymchuk, 34, of Valleyview, Alta., were also killed when a gunman opened fire on a large crowd near the end of the outdoor festival on the Vegas Strip. Their deaths were confirmed by their families on Monday. [Continue reading…]

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1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days: America’s gun crisis – in one chart

The Guardian reports: The attack at a country music festival in Las Vegas that left at least 58 people dead is the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history – but there were six other mass shootings in America this past week alone.

No other developed nation comes close to the rate of gun violence in America. Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult.

Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive reveals a shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average. [See the chart…]

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