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Tag: mass shootings

Boebert Blames Boulder Supermarket For Massacre

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) said on Tuesday that a supermarket's ban on the open carry of guns contributed to the number of casualties in the mass shooting that occurred there on Monday in Boulder, Colorado, and complained that the supermarket was a "soft target."

A gunman killed 10 people at the King Soopers grocery store.

Appearing on Newsmax TV's Greg Kelly Reports, Boebert said of calls by Democratic lawmakers for more gun safety legislation in the aftermath of the shooting, "It's very unfortunate that their first, knee-jerk reaction is to limit our ability to defend ourself."

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence,

"Open carry" refers to the practice of carrying openly visible firearms in public. Though most states continue to require a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon, many states now place few or no restrictions on open carry. In fact, some states have imposed draconian requirements on private businesses that wish to keep deadly weapons off their property.

Boebert said she openly carries a gun with her when shopping because "unfortunately you don't know if there's going to be something like this that happens in a grocery store."

The congresswoman claimed that the supermarket in question was "very much a soft target where open carry was banned."

"It's very — looked down upon, so a lot of law-abiding gun owners don't want to patronize businesses like that. And they'll go on down the road and shop elsewhere," she added.

Boebert lashed out at gun safety groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, which have pushed for restrictions on firearms after frequent mass shootings.

"What they don't want, really, is to empower people to stop things like this. To give us the tools to stop things like this, and that's guns," Boebert said. "That would absolutely neutralize a threat like this, and we would have seen less casualties."

The Giffords Law Center says that open carry of firearms can escalate tense situations, adding an element of greater danger to already volatile situations. It also notes, "White Supremacists have long used firearms—and permissive open carry laws—to threaten and intimidate others, with examples of such violence going back to the Reconstruction era."

Open carry also contributes to confusion on the part of law enforcement when officers are responding to deadly situations, making it more difficult for them to determine the source of the threat.

From the March 23 edition of Newsmax TV's "Greg Kelly Reports":

GREG KELLY, host: It seems like we've seen this movie before, Congresswoman?
LAUREN BOEBERT: Yes, and it's very unfortunate that their first, knee-jerk reaction is to limit our ability to defend ourself. There are bad people who do bad things, and we need a way to protect ourselves because we don't know when they're going to act on the things that are rolling through their minds and consuming their thoughts.
And so we need a way to protect ourself [sic]. That's why I carry. You know, I've been asked many times, "Why do you carry in a grocery store?" Well, unfortunately, you don't know if there's going to be something like this that happens in a grocery store. But at the end of the day, when violence occurs, my first reaction will never be to try to disarm and restrict the American people.
Ninety-six percent of mass public shootings occur in gun-free zones, and this King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado, was very much a soft target where open carry was banned, and it's very discouraged in Boulder, of all places, in Colorado, to carry a firearm.
And it's very – looked down upon, so a lot of law-abiding gun owners don't want to patronize businesses like that. And they'll go on down the road and shop elsewhere.
You know, we hear from groups like Everytown and Moms Demand Action, who don't want our thoughts and prayers, which is really unfortunate, because first of all, prayer works, and I believe in a God that hears us and a God who cares for us. But what they don't want, really, is to empower people to stop things like this, to give us the tools to stop things like this, and that's guns. That would absolutely neutralize a threat like this, and we would have seen less casualties.
But we need to stop creating target-rich environments for evil people to attack.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Ted Cruz Defends ’Thoughts And Prayers’ Response To Massacre

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Following a second mass shooting in less than a week, the time in Boulder, Colorado, Sen. Ted Cruz pushed back against Democratic lawmakers with contradictory remarks during a Tuesday Senate hearing on gun violence.

According to the Texas senator, Democratic lawmakers are only focused on sociological "theater."

"All of us lift up in prayer the families in Boulder, Colorado, the families in Atlanta that lost their lives, including the police officer in Boulder, Colorado," Cruz said. "I can tell you in Texas we've seen far too many of these."

Cruz also recalled a number of other similar shootings that have taken place in Texas. "Every time there's a shooting we play this ridiculous theatre where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders!" Cruz exclaimed.

"We will learn in the coming days and weeks the exact motivation of the murderers in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado," Cruz said. "But we already know this pattern is predictable, over and over and over again, there are steps we can take to stop these crimes. And you know what the steps aren't? The steps aren't disarming law-abiding citizens. Every year firearms are used in the defensive capacity to defend women, children, families roughly a million times a year in the United States."

But despite admitting that gun violence is a serious issue in the United States, Cruz railed against the Democratic lawmakers advocating for firearm regulations. He also claimed Democrats have a "contempt" for prayer.

"The Democrats who want to take away the guns from those victims would create more victims of crimes not less. I agree it's a time for action, and by the way, I don't apologize for thoughts or prayers. I will lift up in prayer people who are hurting and I believe in the power of prayer, and the contempt of Democrats for prayers is an odd sociological thing. But I also agree thoughts and prayers are not enough — we need action."

According to The New York Times, the Violence Project, a database of armed attacks, has unearthed statistics about mass shootings over the last five years. During that time span, a total of 29 mass shootings have taken place in which four or more victims were killed.

Despite Mass Shootings, Rep. Boebert Keeps Raising Funds Off Guns

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) on Monday began running ads on Facebook accusing "extreme woke liberals" of wanting to "take our guns." The ads continue to run even as police investigate two mass shootings.

Boebert's ad claims that she has "the radical left on the run" and solicits donations to her reelection campaign.

"The extreme woke liberals want to take our guns, cancel free speech, and end fair elections. And even end girls sports in America," Boebert falsely alleges in the accompanying video. "Please, donate what you can right now."

The ads began to run on March 22, six days after a shooter killed eight people at three different spas in Atlanta. The ads were still running as of the morning of March 23, hours after 10 people were killed by a shooter at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

In contrast to the defiant tone of her Facebook ads, Boebert tweeted on Monday night, "My prayers are with the shoppers, employees, first responders & others affected by the shooting in Boulder." She also tweeted condolences to police officer Eric Talley, one of the victims of the Boulder shooting, on Tuesday morning.

Boebert has a long history of promoting firearms.

She owns a bar in Colorado called "Shooters Grill" that touts the fact that its wait staff carries firearms.

After being elected, she produced an online ad proclaiming her right to carry a handgun on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and on the streets of Washington, D.C.

In Congress, she has repeatedly falsely accused Democrats of wanting to take guns away because the party supports gun safety legislation.

In a recent congressional hearing, Boebert posed with guns on a bookshelf behind her, lashing out at restrictions on taking firearms into hearings put in place after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Supermarket Massacre Occurs Two Weeks After NRA Killed Boulder’s Assault Rifle Ban

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Ten people were shot and killed in the parking lot and aisles of a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket on Monday afternoon. Among those killed was a police officer who entered the store in response to reports of shots fired. Witnesses reported hearing up to thirty shots. Police report that a "person of interest" is in custody, suspected to be a shirtless man seen being led from the store in handcuffs. While police have not yet identified the suspect or detailed the weapon involved, the number of rapid fire shots suggests a semiautomatic weapon, and CNN cites a law-enforcement official as saying that the weapon was an AR-15 style rifle.

[UPDATE: The suspect has been identified as Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of Arvada, Colorado and charged with ten counts of first-degree murder.]

The shooting comes less than two weeks after Colorado blocked the city of Boulder from enforcing a local ordinance banning AR-15 style weapons and magazines with a greater than 10 shot capacity, as reported by the Denver Post. Just six days before the shooting, the NRA celebrated the ruling in a tweet calling it "an NRA victory in Colorado."

On Monday afternoon, the as-yet unnamed suspect used an AR-15 rifle for exactly the purpose for which these guns are designed: killing a large number of humans in a short period of time.

Tuesday, Mar 23, 2021 · 11:43:00 AM EDT · Mark Sumner

VICTIM NAMES:
Denny Strong, 20
Nevin Stanisic, 23
Rikki Olds 25,
Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
Suzanne Fountain, 59
Teri Leiker, 51
Officer Eric Talley, 51
Kevin Mahoney, 61
Lynn Murray, 62
Jody Waters, 65
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) March 23, 2021

Though 2020 brought a pandemic and economic disaster, the isolation carried with it a decline in mass shootings. Six mass shootings were reported for the year, with two of those occurring before the pandemic began. This followed 18 such shootings in 2019, and 19 mass shootings in 2018. But the new year has already brought seven mass shootings, with events in Boulder coming just a week after a series of shootings in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, including six Asian American women.

The officer killed in the Boulder shooting was identified as Eric Talley, aged 51. Talley was the father of seven children. The other murder victims have not yet been named.

Some of those who escaped the shooting in Boulder by running out the back of the store and exiting through loading ramps report that the shooter didn't say anything. He began shooting people in the parking lot outside, entered the store, and kept on shooting. Reuters has drone footage showing a bearded white man—apparently both shirtless and shoeless—being led away by police. Blood can be seen on his leg, and it is assumed that he is the suspect in the shooting.

The NRA posts reporting the overturn of Boulder's ban on such assault weapons last week was particularly festive, trumpeting their support of the effort to block the ordinance and warning other cities that they would be back to fight any localities "who are considering passing any similar counterproductive ordinances." Counterproductive, in NRA terms, meant that it was an impediment to obtaining a machine whose singular purpose is killing people in quantity.

The ruling was based on a provision of Colorado law passed in 2003—a year in which Republicans controlled the Colorado house, senate, and governorship. Regulation states that a local government can't enact a ban on any type of weapon that can be purchased under federal law. The law remains in place, even though Democrats have controlled all three parts of the Colorado government since 2019.

In 2000, around 85,000 AR-15 style rifles were sold. In 2005, after the assault weapons ban ended, the number jumped to 125,000. By 2008, sales exceeded 300,000. In 2012, sales exceeded 1 million for the first time. They've never fallen below that line since. The AR-15 now accounts for about a third of all rifles sold. And while 2020 may have dented most items in the economy, it was a record year for firearms sales.

When news sources or right-wing politicians call the AR-15 "America's most popular rifle," it's worth remembering that this is a very recent phenomenon. Two decades ago, these were rare rifles owned by a small percentage of Americans who owned guns. A short time ago, the majority of rifles fell into two categories—.22 rimfire rifles used primarily for target shooting and small game; larger caliber centerfire rifles, many of them bolt or lever action, used in hunting deer and large game. Something like the AR-15 was an exotic item, even for people who owned guns.

In those two decades, deer did not become enormously smarter. Rabbits did not become bulletproof. Groundhogs did not learn to dodge. People did not buy these rifles to hunt any of the above.

The truth is that the most popular rifle sold in America today is not designed for hunting or for pecking at paper targets. It is designed for exactly what it did in Boulder on Monday afternoon—leaving bodies strewn in its wake. There is no defense against such a weapon. Not only was one of those who died a police officer who entered the store knowing that a shooting was in progress, it's a fair bet that others in the store were armed. Concealed carry is legal everywhere in Colorado. None of that would matter, because this type of rifle is designed to allow the murder of multiple people before there can be any possible response. Millions of Americans have purchased rifles that are only really good at killing millions of other Americans.

Police Officer Among Ten Killed In Shooting At Colorado Supermarket

A police officer was among ten people killed during a mass shooting at a grocery store Monday in Boulder, Colorado, according to reports. Two other officers were injured, although there was no word on the extent of their injuries. Boulder Police Chief Maris Herald confirmed the death toll had risen by four after 8 p.m. local time Monday, saying there were “ten fatalities at the scene," reports said. The Boulder police officer killed was named Eric Talley, who was the first to respond to the scene, according to authorities. A suspect has been arrested, although his identity has not yet been revea...

For The Survivors, We Remember

In two weeks’ time, three mass shootings killed 34 people and left dozens more injured. We were outraged and in shock, and for a few days we managed to sustain a collective call for new laws that would make our country safer.

Now, we are moving on.

This is our human nature, to search for signs that we’re going to be OK.

Right now, rituals around a beginning school year can be a welcome distraction. Back-to-school deals are everywhere, sparking memories of our younger days, as students or young parents, especially if we can ignore the reported uptick in sales of bulletproof backpacks.

Yellow school buses are back, slowing down morning commutes with their sputtering and wheezing as they stop and go, stop and go. Carpool lines are full of little ones fastened tight in rocket-sized car seats, and traffic slows to a crawl in school zones because we want to keep America’s children safe.

Hold my hand in the street.

Hold my hand in the parking lot.

Hold my hand, hold my hand, hold my hand.

Perhaps you heard about this. On Tuesday, Perches Funeral Home in El Paso, Texas, posted this on its Facebook page:

“Mr. Antonio Basco was Married for 22yrs to his wife Margie Reckard, He had no other family. He welcomes anyone to attend his Wife’s services. On Friday August 16th, Perches Funeral Home Northeast on 4946 Hondo Pass from 5-9pm.

“Let’s show him & his Wife some El Paso Love.”

Antonio’s wife, Margie Reckard, was one of the people killed in the El Paso shooting. She was 63 years old. Her husband told KFOX-TV that he and Margie were together for 22 years.

“When I met her, she was an angel, and she still is,” he said. “I was supposed to be the strong one, but I found out I’m the weak one, and she’s going to be missed a lot.”

Newspaper style would have me refer to them as Basco and Reckard on subsequent reference, but that feels harsh. It’s not how we talk about people we know who are grieving, and now we all know that Antonio loved Margie, and he doesn’t want to be alone when he has to say goodbye.

In two weeks’ time, a total of 34 innocent people were gunned down in three American cities: Gilroy, California, El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. Dozens more were injured. We can pretend that life has moved on, but the survivors of these tragedies know differently. So do we.

Most of us have endured the loss of someone we love. We know how grief is prolonged and compounded by the evidence of a loved one’s interrupted life. A head’s imprint on a pillow. Reading glasses resting upside down on the unfinished page. The swipe of fingertips preserved in a favorite jar of hand cream. These everyday things take on the power of spooks and spirits in the aftermath of even the most expected endings. They linger, and sometimes they never leave.

In the hour after my mother’s death 20 years ago, I gathered up her clothes in the hospital room and noticed the tip of one of her hankies poking out from the pocket of her jacket. My mother always had tissues in her purse for “messy noses,” as she put it, but she also carried cloth hankies, for herself and to hand to others. “For the tears,” she said.

I tugged on the tip of the wadded up hankie in her pocket and pulled it out. It was stiff with dried tears she hadn’t wanted any of us to see. Twenty years later, I think of how, in her last days, my mother was still trying to protect us.

If you’ve ever grieved, you, too, have your stories.

In our country, a growing number of people are grieving the loss of loved ones who have died because of guns. We must continue the fight for gun reform, but we can do more. We do not have to know these survivors to bear witness to their pain. We do not have to know their names to acknowledge that their lives will never be the same. For them, we can remember.

Will this hurt our hearts? Likely yes, but we’ll be OK. Hearts break wide open, and in that space something new can be born.

Obama: Reject Language And Leaders That ’Normalize Racist Sentiments’

Even out of office, President Obama continues to play the role of comforter in chief to a nation grieving after multiple mass shootings.

While Trump insisted Monday that video games and mental illness, but “not the gun,” are to blame for the two shootings that have claimed the lives of 31 people and counting, the former president condemned the refusal of those in power to do anything at all to restrict access to guns in this country.

“Every time this happens,” Obama wrote in a statement posted to Facebook, “we’re told that tougher gun laws won’t stop all murders; that they won’t stop every deranged individual from getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places. But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings. They can save some families from heartbreak. We are not helpless here. And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.”

While in office, Obama repeatedly called on the GOP-controlled Congress to take action to prevent further mass shootings. But even bills supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans — including Republican voters and even gun owners — were blocked by Republicans in Congress.

The former president also condemned the racist rhetoric and ideology that appears to have fueled the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday.

“Second, while the motivations behind these shootings may not yet be fully known, there are indications that the El Paso shooting follows a dangerous trend: troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy,” Obama said. “Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they’ve been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet. That means that both law enforcement agencies and internet platforms need to come up with better strategies to reduce the influence of these hate groups.”

While the former president did not call out Trump by name, he called on Americans to reject the kind of hateful language and ideas that Trump regularly spouts on social media and at his MAGA rallies.

“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people,” Obama said.

“Such language isn’t new — it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans,” Obama continued. “It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.”

Published with permission of The American Independent.

A Glimmer Of Hope In the Struggle For Gun Safety

Late last month, the United States recorded yet another mass shooting. This one took place on a Friday afternoon in Virginia Beach, when a not-so-civil servant mowed down several of his co-workers at a municipal building. The shooter killed 12 people before he was shot dead in a gun battle with police.

That sort of atrocity is now commonplace in this country, too frequent an occurrence to command more than a few days’ attention outside the community in which it occurs. The U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, but we account for nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings. Another month, another attack by a deranged gunman in the land of the free and the home of the armed.

But this shooting was followed by something not yet commonplace but becoming more frequent: A few days later, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, called a special session of the legislature to take up gun control measures. That action not only gave urgency to his proposals but also put Northam under the white-hot scrutiny of a disapproving gun lobby — a place that most politicians, especially in purple states such as Virginia, had spent decades avoiding.

Ever so slowly, in fits and starts, the political landscape around the push for sensible gun laws is changing. Finally. The National Rifle Association and its allies are losing their iron grip on Congress and state legislatures around the country. Fewer politicians fear the wrath of the gun lobby.

Credit goes largely to the young activists who took the stage after the February 2018 massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and staff dead. Student leaders refused to settle for the “thoughts and prayers” that had become the familiar refuge of elected “leaders” too timid to push for serious gun control measures. The students marched on Washington, staged demonstrations around the country, took to television commentary shows and endured the mockery of right-wing talking heads.

Their efforts — aided by gun control groups such as the Giffords Law Center, named for former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a mass shooting survivor and gun control activist — have changed the legislative climate. Last year, for the first time in several years, state legislatures around the country passed more gun control measures than pro-firearms proposals pushed by the gun lobby, according to The New York Times.

The students’ activism was also assisted by the NRA’s own self-inflicted meltdown, the result of years of grift and self-enrichment by its leaders. Continually peddling dire warnings of a pending confiscation of firearms by an autocratic government, the NRA has raised hundreds of millions from frightened gun owners persuaded that “jack-booted” government thugs were waiting to seize their weapons. But its principals used much of that money to support lavish lifestyles, and the organization is now struggling financially, according to published reports.

That changed climate has given Northam some room in which to maneuver. As recently as 2007, the Virginia Legislature refused to pass a relatively toothless gun control measure in the wake of a mass shooting that took the lives of 32 people at Virginia Tech. Republicans, assisted by a couple of Democrats, bottled up a bill that would have required mandatory background checks for firearms sales at gun shows. This time, however, Northam may be able to get a bill passed. Noting the shifting landscape, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who was the state’s governor back then, said Democrats now “run using gun safety as an offensive issue,” rather than trying to hide from it or deflect, as they once did.

That doesn’t mean that we will relinquish our leadership in mass shootings anytime soon. There are more civilian-owned guns than people in the U.S., according to the Small Arms Survey — about 327 million people, about 393 million firearms. We own 42 percent of the world’s guns, enough to guarantee that the havoc will continue for some time.

But thanks to some courageous young Americans, we may have found our way back toward sanity. Their future may be a safer place.

IMAGE: Emma Gonzalez, a student and survivor of the Parkland speaks at the first-ever March for Our Lives to demand stricter gun control laws on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo by Olivier Douliery/ Abaca(Sipa via AP Images)