Category: Gun violence

Recipe for Disaster: Colorado Riverfront Trail Users Unprotected from Gunfire

The morning sun glistens on the Colorado River on the Monument View section, where hunters are allowed to shoot at birds in the very same vicinity where paths beckon people to run, walk and bike by to the river.

The morning sun glistens on the Colorado River on the Monument View section, where hunters are allowed to shoot in the same vicinity where people run, walk and bike by the river.

The Colorado Riverfront Trail is a huge asset to Mesa County citizens’ quality of life. It beckons residents and tourist to run, walk and bike amid the beautiful scenery alongside the river.

But frequently gunfire occurs around parts of the paths located outside City limits. Many times the sound of loud gunfire next to the path has reduced my dog to a quivering, drooling mass of fear. He digs in his toenails, shakes uncontrollably, refuses to walk any more and has to be lifted or dragged away from the area. The gunfire turns an otherwise pleasant, enjoyable time on the path into a nightmare for us and our dog, and cuts short the time we usually reserve for our morning walk. We have to drag the dog back to the car, leave the area and find somewhere else to walk where he — and we — don’t feel threatened.

So many of our riverfront walks have been ruined this way, I start to wonder why we ever go back. I have quietly wondered, too, if my dog is justified in being so frightened, and whether I should be a bit more concerned for my own safety.

Based on what I found out, I absolutely should.

On the Monument View section of trail, about 1/2 mile east of the Walker Wildlife parking area, there are two small, ominous signs — one facing in either direction — that say “Active Hunting Area. Please stay on trail and respect hunter’s rights.” But what, exactly, does this mean to people using the trail? The signs don’t say what to do if gunfire comes your way. They give no assurance you will not be hit by errant gunfire while on the trail. It doesn’t say where the hunters are or in what direction they shoot. It doesn’t give the dates of hunting seasons or point to protective barriers or cover.

CO Rep. Ray Scott Throws Women and Kids Under the Bus

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott poses with a fancy car while Mesa County's poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado Rep. Ray Scott proudly poses with a hot sports car while Mesa County’s poorest women and children go without health insurance

Colorado House Rep. Ray Scott may love fetuses, but he doesn’t care much about women and apparently doesn’t think much of kids, either.

Besides being a chronic no-show at election-time debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters, in January of 2012 Ray Scott co-sponsored HB1130, a bill titled “Penalties for Violent Offenses Against Fetuses.” The bill’s very title ignores the fact that typically the woman surrounding the fetus would be the primary recipient of any violent acts perpetrated against the fetus. But in Ray Scott’s mind, women matter less than their fetuses.

Ray Scott even supported a fetal personhood amendment in the past. Such proposals are among the ultimate affronts to women, since they are religiously-based efforts that would make it a crime for women to use some forms of contraception, in accordance with Mr. Scott’s own personal religious beliefs.

Sheriff Candidate Mike Harlow: The Ugliest Face of Mesa County

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

Mesa County Sheriff write-in candidate Mike Harlow

It’s no surprise that Mesa County’s tea party faction endorsed custom holster-maker and write-in candidate Mike Harlow for sheriff.

What is a surprise, though, and a huge embarrassment for Mesa County citizens, is that Harlow got the endorsement of anyone at all.

Harlow’s smugness and extreme hate-filled views reveal one thing: he is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

If his writings are any indication, contempt and hostility ooze from Harlow’s every pore.

Grand Junction Gun Club Urges Action End to Mass Shootings

A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club on Friday, July 11.

A portion of the postcards delivered to Congressman Scott Tipton on Friday, July 11, by members of the Grand Junction Gun Club .

A new citizens’ group in Grand Junction is saying “no more” to gun violence. The group came together to advocate action be taken to reduce the growing number of mass gun slaughters occurring in the U.S.

On Friday, July 11, 2014 the Grand Junction Gun Club presented Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) with 1,500 postcards from constituents in his district saying “Not One More” person should be killed by gun violence. 150 of the postcards were from residents of Grand Junction. The postcards were collected by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety, two national groups working to overcome the inaction by Congress on the issue of  growing gun violence.

The words were inspired by Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Martinez, was one of the six people killed in the May 23 gun massacre in Santa Barbara, California. In a statement to the media after his son’s death, Mr. Martinez said,

“When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say ‘Stop this madness!’ Too many people have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘NOT ONE MORE!'”

His words inspired a national movement to urge legislators to enact measures to reduce the number of guns getting into the hands of unstable and violent people. The Grand Junction Gun Club is standing in support of the survivors, families and communities throughout the U.S. that have been affected by mass shootings.

The perpetrator of the Santa Barbara shootings, Elliot Rodger, sought retribution against women for rejecting him and to punish young men whom he believed lived a better life than he did. Rodger visited a shooting range to train himself in shooting handguns and owned a Glock 34 pistol. When he finished his gun rampage, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Thousands Protest at ALEC’s 40th Annual Meeting in Chicago

Police tangle with protesters at ALEC's 40th Annual Meeting at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in August.

Police tangle with protesters at ALEC’s 40th Annual Meeting at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in August.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held its 40th annual meeting earlier this month at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, drawing a crowd of about 3,000 protesters.  ALEC is a conservative bill mill that masquerades as an educational nonprofit. ALEC holds meetings in tony resorts and at fancy hotels, where it provides corporate lobbyists with face time with thousands of state legislators over dinners, happy hours, tennis, golf and other activities. Corporate representatives draft the “model bills’ they prefer, and at ALEC meetings, hand them off to legislators, who then take them home and introduce the bills in their own state legislatures as if they were their own ideas.  The public is not allowed to weigh in during any phase of the drafting of any of ALEC’s so-called “model bills.” The prime sponsor of ALEC’s 40th annual meeting was tobacco giant Reynolds American, who ponied up $100,000 for the honor. $50,000-level sponsors include ExxonMobil, the Cigar Association of America, Inc., Peabody Energy, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a front group for coal companies. Other sponsors include CenturyLink, UPS, Pharma, Cloud Peak Energy, TransCanada and BNSF Railways. ALEC is responsible for the proliferation of “Stand Your Ground” laws, the type of law that permitted George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American Florida teen, and get away without any punishment. About two dozen states how have such “shoot first” laws. Many  protesters at ALEC’s Chicago meeting wore hoodies and with targets on their chests and backs that said “Stand Your Ground.” Activists unfurled huge banners inside the Palmer hotel that said “ALEC makes For-Profit Prisons,” “Moral Monday – NO to ALEC” and “ALEC Attacks All Workers.” The peaceful protest turned violent after Chicago police rushed into the crowd and started arresting people and beating them to the ground.  Photos of the protests can be seen here.

To the GOP: If Gun Control Doesn’t Work, Try This Instead

Op-Ed

Camden County, New Jersey gun buyback program brought in 1,137 firearms. Photo credit Tim Hawk, South Jersey Times

Camden County, New Jersey gun buyback program brought in 1,137 firearms. Photo credit Tim Hawk, South Jersey Times

Laws to regulate guns just don’t work. At least that’s what many prominent Republicans say.  In the mean time, the U.S. is awash in guns, judging from the piles of them turned in at buyback programs across the country. While it is unclear whether these programs actually reduce gun deaths, they do prove one thing: Americans have more guns than they know what to do with. Add to this emerging technology that, when gun nuts perfect it, will allow people to manufacture guns using 3-D printers, and we may be so deep in trouble we’ll never dig out. This distribution method will make it completely impossible for government to regulate who gets a gun and who doesn’t. Gun owners and pro-gun legislators repeatedly tout the portion of the Second Amendment that talks about their right to bear arms, but universally ignore the part indicating gun owners are expected to be part of a “well-regulated militia.” All these factors point to one conclusion: the time may  have already passed when we could realistically regulate guns to any desired effect.

So now what?

America’s Biggest Terrorist Threat? “Patriotic” Americans

Chart showing the growth of militant "patriot," anti-government groups in the U.S.

Chart showing the growth of militant “patriot” anti-government groups in the U.S.

Forget Muslims. In 2013, America’s biggest terrorist threat is from “Patriot” groups, those radical militias and anti-government groups whose members think the federal government is conspiring to take away their guns, destroy their liberties and pave the way for a global “one-world government.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the only group that tracks the growth and activities of American domestic hate groups and extremists, the re-election of President Obama coupled with the president’s pursuit of gun control legislation has led to explosive growth in the number of anti-government conspiracy groups, which in turn has dramatically increased threat of domestic terrorism. The number of right wing anti-government groups in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 2012, the fourth year of explosive growth in this increasingly militant sector of the U.S population. In 2012, the SPLC counted 1,360 so-called “Patriot” groups — an increase of 813 percent since just 2008. On March 5, 2013 the SPLC sent a letter to Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano warning of the threat. The SPLC wrote a similar letter in 1994 to then-Attorney General Janet Reno warning of a growing threat of domestic extremism.  Just six months later, Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City federal building in the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the nation’s history at that time. SPLC reports that over the last few years, law enforcement officials have discovered and thwarted numerous terrorist plots being formed within the militia subculture, including plans to spread poisonous ricin powder, attack federal installations and murder federal judges and other government officials. The same day it sent its letter to the DOJ and Department of Homeland Security, the SPLC issued its 2012 report on the anti-government movement. The SPLC’s website also has an interactive, state-by-state map of hate groups currently existing throughout the U.S., with their names, locations and the objects of their hatred.

Main Source: Southern Poverty Law Center, Letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, March 5, 2013

Gun Maker Freaks Out, Retaliates Against Colorado Gun Safety Bill

Magpul's Internet Ad

Magpul’s Internet Ad

Magpul Industries of Erie, Colorado, which makes and sells  high-capacity ammunition magazines, has declared war on Colorado over a gun safety bill currently moving through the state’s legislature. HB 1224, currently in Colorado’s House of Representatives, would limit high-capacity magazines to 15 rounds, and add a more restrictive 8-round limit for shotguns. Magpul makes 30-round magazines. Magpul threatened to move its business out of state if the bill passes. The House then voted to amend HB 1224 to allow Magpul to keep making its high-capacity magazines and selling them in other states, but that wasn’t enough for the company.  Magpul launched an Internet-based campaign to flood the state with high-capacity, military-grade magazines and weaponry in advance of a vote on the bill. Magpul posted a cold-war style ad on its Facebook page announcing that the company will sell up to ten 30-round AR or M4 ammunition magazines per customer directly to Colorado residents, and will expedite shipping for a discounted price of just $5.00. The ad shows a little girl with pigtails, smiling and reaching up to catch 30-round gun magazines as they are dropped, airlift-style, from an airplane. The copy reads, “In the battle for Colorado Freedoms, support for second amendment rights is being delivered by Magpul Industries Corporation. Fielded in the millions by US and its allies since 2007, the PMAG is the magazine of choice for those defending freedom and democracy around the world…Now, with the ability of Coloradans to purchase new standard capacity magazines in jeopardy, Magpul Industries is working to supply as many as possible to the good people of Colorado. Similar to the Berlin Airlift, the Boulder Airlift will bring much-needed gun supplies to freedom-loving residents trapped inside occupied territory.” In addition to high-capacity magazines, Magpul also makes rifle grips, buttstocks, rifle sights, gun mounts and other gun-related parts and accessories. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. Colorado has a history of gun massacres, including the Aurora Theater massacre in 2012, the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, and the Chuck E. Cheese massacre in 1993, also in Aurora, Colorado, in which a gunman killed four restaurant employees.

They Said It Couldn’t Be Done: NY State Passes Comprehensive Gun Safety Bill

Sandy Hook victims

Sandy Hook victims

With lightening speed for a state legislature, New York became the first state to pass a comprehensive gun safety bill since the massacre December 14, 2012 at Newtown, Connecticut. New York’s gun control bill, passed and signed today, is the toughest in the nation. It expands the definition of “assault weapon” to include semiautomatic weapons to include those with just one feature commonly associated with military weapons, like a bayonet mount, flash suppressor or pistol grip. Previously the definition required two features. New York’s bill also revokes or suspends gun licenses held by people whom mental health experts determine to be a danger to society. The new law limits magazines to just seven rounds of ammunition instead of ten, and provides for enhanced monitoring of ammunition purchases to flag high-volume buyers. Gun licenses must be re-certified every five years. (They used to never expire.)  The law increases penalties for illegal gun possession and for using a gun against emergency responders. “Common sense can win,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he signed the bill, less than an hour the New York State Assembly passed it by a vote of 104 to 43 . “You can overpower extremists with intelligence and with reason and common sense,” Cuomo said. The National Rifle Association called the law “draconian,” and said it was passed “under a veil of secrecy in the dark of night.” The bill passed on the second day of New York state’s 2013 legislative session.

Main source: Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2012

NRA Puts President Obama’s Kids in the Political Crosshairs

The National Rifle Association (NRA) posted a 35 second Internet ad called “Stand and Fight” that takes aim at President Obama’s children over the issue of gun safety regulations. The ad accuses President Obama of being an “elitist hypocrite” for accepting armed secret service protection for his children, Sasha, age 11, and Malia, age 14, while other children attend school without armed guards. The voiceover in the ad asks “Are the president’s kids more important that yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when HIS kids are protected by armed guards at THEIR school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours.” There were reports on MSNBC that the NRA pulled the ad almost as quickly as they posted it, but as of this evening the ad was still visible at the NRA’s new website, NRAStandandFight.com.