Here’s how to sound wise when writing a story about mass killings and gun control. Last week saw two such massacres in Serbia (eight deaths and nine deaths respectively) and only one in the United States (eight killed in a mall in Allen, Texas).
There was another mass killing in Texas on Saturday in the border city of Brownsville, but it was by car, so it doesn’t count. Never mind. We still have enough to work with.
Start with striking quotes from the relevant authorities. “We walked around like zombies for 24 hours, not believing what has happened and looking for reasons,” said Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who began his political career as a far-right Serbian nationalist during the Yugoslav civil wars.
[NOTE: When it comes to religion, history—and in this case the now established American historical religion of guns — for my money, Garry Wills is one of the best writers of his generation . And when Wills draws a bead with a pen his aim is generally true. As it is here.]
Why do we slaughter our own children? Because the Supreme Court condones it.
We are the disgrace of nations because we can’t stop killing our children—along, of course, with their teachers, relatives, and innocent bystanders. We don’t even seem to want to stop doing it, not effectively, at any rate. We say we should, but we don’t. We just can’t. We are worse than the drunk who says he should stop drinking but doesn’t. At least drinking is (or was) pleasant in its early stages. But how can killing be pleasant at first? Continue reading Supremes & Guns & Kids: Our Unholy Trinity→
(Only NRA invited to secret ceremony. News of the signing was released to the Fox [Firearms & Shooter Protection News] Network)
(Politico) The new legislation will allow residents to carry guns without a state permit. Gun-rights supporters had sought even looser restrictions permitting open carry.
Florida becomes the 26th state to allow residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit. The new legislation gives DeSantis another victory to tout as he gears up for an expected presidential campaign.
“Here in the free state of Florida, government will not get in the way of law-abiding Americans who want to defend themselves and their families,” said state Sen. Jay Collins, a Tampa Republican and sponsor of the legislation.
While DeSantis and other Republican backers have described the legislation as “constitutional carry,” supporters of gun rights have repeatedly called on GOP legislators to go further by allowing people to carry guns openly.
DeSantis has said he supports open carry, but top Republicans in the state Senate — including Senate President Kathleen Passidomo — oppose such a policy. Passidomo has cited the opposition of many of Florida’s sheriffs as a prime reason for her stance.
“The governor is weak if he cannot even get his own super majority legislature to add part of his agenda, which is open carry, to the permitless carry bill,” said Matt Collins, a gun rights supporter and former lobbyist for gun-rights groups. “It’s embarrassing for him. It’s failed leadership and it hurts his chances in the upcoming presidential primary.”
Democrats, meanwhile, sharply criticized the approval of the gun measure.
“Hiding behind closed doors and standing shoulder to shoulder with the NRA, Ron DeSantis just signed legislation that could make it easier for criminals to carry guns,” Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison said in a statement. “DeSantis knows this legislation could be dangerous for Florida families and that’s why he signed this bill with none of his usual produced fanfare.”
The White House called the governor “shameful” for signing the bill following the Nashville school shooting.
“This is the opposite of commonsense gun safety,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “The people of Florida — who have paid a steep price for state and Congressional inaction on guns from Parkland to Pulse Nightclub to Pine Hills — deserve better.”
Florida law currently makes it a felony if someone carries a concealed weapon without a permit. There are more than 2.6 million people with concealed weapon licenses who must go through training and a background check first.
The new law, which takes effect on July 1, does not end the permitting program but instead makes it optional. Bill supporters contend many Floridians will go through the permitting process because other states recognize the licenses.
State Sen. Lauren Book, the Senate Democratic leader, also faulted Republicans for pushing ahead with what she called a “nonsensical, reckless policy” due to the “governor’s political ambition.”
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A month after losing one nearly $50 million verdict, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is set to go on trial a second time for calling the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a hoax and causing several of the victims’ families emotional and psychological harm.
A six–member jury with several alternates in Connecticut will begin hearing evidence Tuesday on how much Jones should pay the families, since he already has been found liable for damages to them. The trial is expected to last about four weeks.
Last month, a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay $49.3 million to the parents of 6–year–old Jesse Lewis, one of 26 students and teachers killed in the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones’ lawyer has said an appeal is planned.
The Connecticut case has the potential for a larger award because it involves three lawsuits — which have been consolidated — that were filed by 15 plaintiffs, including the relatives of eight of the victims and a former FBI agent who responded to the school shooting.
Jones, who runs his web show and Infowars brand in Austin, Texas, also faces a third trial over the hoax conspiracy in another pending lawsuit by Sandy Hook parents in Texas.
Here is a look at the upcoming trial in Waterbury, Connecticut, about 18 miles (29 kilometers) northeast of Newtown. Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, which has filed for bankruptcy protection, is also a defendant.
WHY ARE THE SANDY HOOK FAMILIES SUING JONES?
The families and former FBI agent William Aldenberg say they have been confronted and harassed in person by Jones’ followers because of the hoax conspiracy. They also say they have endured death threats and been subjected to abusive comments on social media.
Some of the plaintiffs say strangers have videotaped them and their surviving children. And some families have moved out of Newtown to avoid threats and harassment.
“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Neil Heslin, Jesse Lewis’ father, testified during the Texas trial.
The Connecticut lawsuit alleges defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of the state Unfair Trade Practices Act. The families claim when Jones talked about Sandy Hook, he boosted his audience and raked in more profits from selling supplements, clothing and other items.
The families have not asked for any specific amount of damages, some of which may be limited by state laws. There are no damage limits, however, under the Unfair Trade Practices Act.
In all the Connecticut and Texas cases, Jones and his lawyers repeatedly failed to turn over records as required to the families’ attorneys. In response, judges handed down one of the harshest sanctions in the civil legal world — they found Jones liable for damages by default without trials.
WHAT DOES ALEX JONES SAY?
In a reversal from what he said on his show for years following the shooting, Jones now says he believes the massacre was real. But he continues to say his comments about the shooting being a hoax involving crisis actors to encourage gun control efforts were protected by free speech rights.
During a deposition in the case in April, a defiant Jones insisted he wasn’t responsible for the suffering that Sandy Hook parents say they have endured because of his words.
He also has said the judges’ default rulings against him — finding him liable without trials — were unfair and suggested they were part of a conspiracy to put him out of business and silence him.
“If questioning public events and free speech is banned because it might hurt somebody’s feelings, we are not in America anymore,” he said at the deposition. “They can change the channel. They can come out and say I’m wrong. They have free speech.”
At the Texas trial, however, Jones testified that he now realizes what he said was irresponsible, did hurt people’s feelings and he apologized.
WHAT IS EXPECTED AT THE TRIAL?
Judge Barbara Bellis, who found Jones liable for damages, will oversee the trial. She is the same judge who oversaw Sandy Hook families’ lawsuit against gun maker Remington, which made the Bushmaster rifle used in the school shooting. In February, Remington agreed to settle the lawsuit for $73 million.
The trial is expected to be similar to the one in Texas, with victims’ relatives testifying about the pain and anguish the hoax conspiracy caused them and medical professionals answering questions about the relatives’ mental health and diagnoses.
Jones also will be testifying, said his lawyer, Norman Pattis.
“He is looking forward to putting this trial behind him; it has been a long and costly distraction,” Pattis wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
Evidence about Jones’ finances is also expected to be presented to the jury.
Jones testified at the Texas trial that any award over $2 million would “sink us,” and he urged his web show viewers to buy his merchandise to help keep him on air and fight the lawsuits.
But an economist testified that Jones and his company were worth up to $270 million. Jones faces another lawsuit in Texas over accusations that he hid millions of dollars in assets after families of Sandy Hook victims began taking him to court.
“My hope is that people remember this about the royal family: In the end, though they breathe rarefied air, they grapple as we all do with life and death, with the mystery of what it means to be human. When darkness falls, and they are alone, they sink into the same waters that everyone does when a loved one dies. And they wonder if they’ll make it to the other side..”
Jamelle Bouie quoting Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address: “‘A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people,” [Lincoln] said. “Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism.”
“You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government,” Lincoln added, “while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend it.’ ”
SERGE SCHMEMANN: Part of [the Queen’s] appeal was the extravagant — some might say excessive — pomp and ceremony that accompanied her every royal appearance. While Scandinavian countries deliberately decontented their monarchies until their kings and queens could barely be distinguished from normal citizens, Britain proudly maintained the full medieval monty: gilded carriages, bearskin helmets, liveried footmen and volumes of tradition.
It was marketing, to be sure; the royals are central to Britain’s brand and identity. But Queen Elizabeth was prepared to treat it all, from wearing a five-pound crown while reading a canned message in Parliament to feigning delight in some tropical ceremony, as the service to which she dedicated her life. . . .Though democracy left her no real governing power, she was ahead of her time in championing equality and diversity in the Commonwealth and, by most accounts, she made her views discreetly known to successive prime ministers, whom she met weekly.”
Eugene Robinson: “I once had the opportunity to attend an investiture, the palace ceremony at which the queen conferred knighthoods and other honors to the great and the good. It was the first time I had seen her in person, and what struck me was how tiny she was.
This woman who had been a larger-than-life presence on the world stage since before I was born — the first prime minister who served under her was Winston Churchill — was minute, dwarfed by her regal accoutrements and surroundings. Her voice was thin and soft, her words hard to follow.
Yet she did have a presence that dominated the vast room. On reflection, it occurred to me that this aura of authority and command was not emanating from the queen herself. It was being projected upon her by the audience.
And so it is with all the anachronistic stature and privilege the British royal family still enjoys in an egalitarian age. Elizabeth’s character, stamina and skill persuaded her subjects to suspend any possible disbelief in the divine right of a mostly German family to reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Will they have such faith in Charles? In William?
“Après moi, le déluge,” King Louis XV of France is thought to have said, decades before the French Revolution. After Elizabeth, the British monarchy will find itself in rising waters and struggle not to be swept away.”
Seattle: Later that day, the congresswoman [Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington] was driving from her house to an event in Seattle, celebrating the introduction of a trans bill of rights. [Rachel] Berkson, her district director, was behind the wheel. In the passenger seat, Jayapal pulled out her phone and played some of the voice mails she’d received.
A man’s voice filled up the car.
“ … Your f—in’ day is coming. God damn, as soon as the president’s installed, like on Nov. 4 or 5, we’re f—in’ coming after all you motherf—ers. You’re gonna be scrubbing f—in’ floors for the rest of your life, you f—in’ wh—.”
Another man, a trace of a smile in his voice. “ … Get ready for the worst year of your life. It’s gonna be turmoil every day. This is gonna be fun. This is gonna be fun. Your life is gonna be miserable. And we’re gonna get rid of that corrupt Biden, and that socialist Kamala, and the rest of the group, and you’re going right along with them.”
His voice deepened. “You stupid f—in’ b—-. Get ready for turmoil. You’re gettin’ it. You’re gonna get exactly what you deserve, b—-. Have a nice day, b—-.”
Then another man. “ … I’m gonna send you some knee pads, you f—in’ b—-. You worthless f—in’ c—.” “ … We’re coming. And we’re really pissed off.” “ … You are an evil b—- and you need to die and I hate you and I will never vote for you again.”
Jayapal stopped the recordings. Berkson, in the front seat, was one of the staffers who screened the messages. She decides what to forward to Capitol Police, and what to bring to Jayapal’s attention. As she drove, she started to cry. “Sorry,” Berkson said. “I honestly don’t think about it that much.”
At home later that night, Jayapal listened again to the threatening voice mails that [Rep. Adam] Kinzinger and [Eric] Swalwell released this summer. She thought about how violence begins with the ability to dehumanize the subject of that violence. And she spent that evening replaying the voice mails that had been left for her. There was one calling her an animal. “The unleashing of it everywhere creates this space for other people to be unleashed as well,” she said.
She thought about her decision to talk about what happened. What would she and [her husband] Williamson be saying, to themselves, to each other, to their loved ones, if they did?
“I don’t really want to admit that we’re in danger,” Williamson said, “because that’s not a place I want to occupy.”
“But at the same time,” said Jayapal, “it’s important people understand how ubiquitous this is, and how much a part of our psyche it is taking up.”
She thought about why she had never shared the voice mails before. “Why didn’t I?”
“Is it like, ‘Oh you’re supposed to take it?’”
“Or you’re not tough enough if you release it?”
These were questions the congresswoman couldn’t answer.
Instead, she asked, “Have we somehow conditioned ourselves to think this is what we should expect?”