Category Archives: Guns & Long Guns

Alex Jones To Face Another Jury, In Connecticut

AP News: Trial set to begin for Alex Jones in Sandy Hook hoax case

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 sixmember 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.

Alex Jones

Last month, a Texas jury ordered Jones to pay $49.3 million to the parents of 6yearold 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 wasnt 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 peoples 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.

 

Quotes of the Day

Patti Davis, recalling the passing of her father, Ronald Reagan:

“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.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington)

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?”

California Billboards Stoke CA-Texas Rivalry

SFGATE: California billboards seen in LA and SF warn against moving to Texas by invoking mass shooting

Andrew Chamings — Aug. 24, 2022
A billboard located at the intersection of Folsom and 7th St. in San Francisco appears to warn Bay Area residents from moving to Texas, in light of the Uvalde shooting.

A mysterious and controversial billboard warning people against moving from California to Texas looms over passersby in LA and San Francisco this week.

“The Texas miracle died in Uvalde. Don’t move to Texas,” the billboard reads, alongside the sinister image of a hooded figure and a crossed-out “Don’t mess with Texas” slogan. The San Francisco billboard, leased to advertisers by FoxPoint Media, is currently up near the corner of Folsom and 7th Street.

“The Texas miracle” references a term championed by then-Governor Rick Perry in 2011 to highlight the Lone Star State’s resilient economy that managed to escape the Great Recession relatively unscathed. “Don’t mess with Texas” has long become the definitive call of swagger and pride from the state, though it started as an anti-littering campaign in the 1980s.

Images of the billboards have been posted across LA, San Francisco and Texas subreddits over the last week, causing some anger and debate.

The biggest question? Who is behind the ad, and what is their intent. The billboards show no party affiliation or sponsor. One theory states that the ad may have come from right-leaning Texans eager to keep liberal Californians away from their voting booths. Others thought that the message may have come from Californians in an attempt to slow an “exodus” to Texas.

Census data shows that over recent years there has indeed been an increase in residents leaving California for Texas. In 2018 and 2019, the net migration was between 45,000 and 50,000 people per year, roughly double that of previous years. Several large tech companies also relocated their headquarters to Texas in recent years, including Tesla, Oracle and HP Enterprise.

Others redditors were angered by the tastelessness of using a tragedy which took 22 lives, including 19 children, to message an interstate rivalry. One user described it as “the most disgusting use of political propaganda” on the Los Angeles subreddit. Another called it “pretty f—king evil.”

The rivalry and culture wars between the two states has rarely been so fierce, with California Governor Gavin Newsom and Texas Governor Greg Abbott battling in the media over guns and abortion, among other issues.

SFGATE reached out to FoxPoint Media to gain information on who bought the ad, and what content restrictions they may have, but did not hear back at time of publication.

Quote of The Day: A teacher Who Dreads Carrying A Gun to Class

By 

Ms. Fennelly, the former poet laureate of Mississippi, teaches at the University of Mississippi:

Last year, one of my students turned 21, and her friends tied two giant Mylar balloons, a “2” and a “1,” to her chair to celebrate. Later, deep in our discussion of John Donne, we heard what sounded like a gun shot. Everyone jumped. A few screamed. One student — I can see him still — hit the floor.

When we realized, all of us, that our active shooter was none other than an exploding Mylar “2,” there was a painful pause. Then we laughed a shaky laugh, and I slowly resumed the discussion.

I wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d given them the rest of class to share how difficult it is to learn when one is always listening for a bullet.

From “I Love My Students, but I Won’t Use a Gun to Protect Them,” New York Times

YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

Raleigh NC News & Observer
BY ILANA AROUGHETI UPDATED AUGUST 07, 2022

DURHAM The line of cars stretched three blocks as Durham County’s second gun buyback in four months began Saturday morning. The event’s purpose was to encourage responsible gun ownership and get guns off the street, said Durham County Sheriff Clarence F. Birkhead.

Durham’s first buyback event was held in April. Then, the department netted just over 100 firearms before running out of money, The N&O has reported.

After the first event, community interest increased, Birkhead told The N&O. “People, even after the first buyback, continued to call us and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got guns that belonged to my grandfather, he’s now passed away,’” Birkhead said. “Or, ‘We don’t want guns in the house. We have small kids now. When are you going to do another one?’”

Like the first time, the event was held at two locations — Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and Durham Memorial Stadium. Between the two locations, 295 guns were turned in before the department ran out of money, communications manager David L. Bowser told The N&O. Continue reading YES — Swords (or rather, Guns) Into Plowshares. (Only a few million more to go!)

AR-15s In All Schools? A Carolina County Says Yes

AR-15s put in all Madison County NC  schools to enhance security in case of active shooter
Johnny Casey — Asheville Citizen Times — August 5, 2022

MARSHALL, North Carolina – In response to the Texas school shooting that left 19 children dead May 24, the (Madison County] school system and Sheriff’s Office are rolling out some beefed up security measures in 2022-23, including putting AR-15 rifles in every school.

Madison County Schools and Madison County Sheriff’s Office are collaborating to enhance security in the schools for the upcoming school year after the Uvalde, Texas, tragedy revealed systemic failures and poor decision-making, with responding police disregarding active-shooter trainings, according to a report from the Texas state house.

“Those officers were in that building for so long, and that suspect was able to infiltrate that building and injure and kill so many kids,” Madison County] Sheriff Buddy Harwood said. “I just want to make sure my deputies are prepared in the event that happens.”
[Wikipedia: “Madison County is located deep in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, and much of the county’s terrain is rugged, heavily forested, and sparsely populated. The county’s northern border is with the State of Tennessee.” The county’s 2021 estimated population was 21000+, 90% white, less than 1% Black, 3-5% Hispanic.]

Continue reading AR-15s In All Schools? A Carolina County Says Yes

Liz Cheney: Running for Her Life

A Life & Death Race. Not Exaggerating.

AP News: Liz Cheney braces for primary loss as focus shifts to 2024

BY STEVE PEOPLES AND MEAD GRUVER —  July 24, 2022

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Three weeks before the most significant election of her political career, Liz Cheney was nowhere to be seen as thousands of voters gathered for a massive midsummer rodeo and cowboy festival in Wyoming’s largest city. Continue reading Liz Cheney: Running for Her Life

Quotes for Tuesday: supreme hypocrisy, hanging on too long, Gas & (as usual) Guns . . .

New York Times: In its joint dissent [from the supreme court decision to overthrow Roe] in Dobbs, the court’s three-member liberal wing wrote, “Either the mass of the majority’s opinion is hypocrisy, or additional constitutional rights are under threat. It is one or the other.”
Actually, it’s worse than that. It’s both.

— Harry Litman, Harry Litman, UCLA law professor, former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general

Michelle Goldberg: As a recent New York Times/Siena College poll found, 64 percent of Democrats want a different presidential nominee in 2024. Those Democrats cite Biden’s age more than any other factor, though job performance is close behind. Their concern isn’t surprising. . . .
There’s a problem here that goes beyond a shortage of presidential speeches and media appearances, or even Biden himself. We are ruled by a gerontocracy. Biden is 79. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is 82. The House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, is 83. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, is 71. Often, it’s not clear if they grasp how broken this country is.

They built their careers in institutions that worked, more or less, and they seem to expect them to start working again. They give every impression of seeing this moment, when the gears of government have seized and one party openly schemes against democracy, as an interregnum rather than a tipping point. . . .

If there’s one consolation in Biden’s age, it’s that he can step aside without conceding failure. There’s no shame in not running for president in your 80s. He emerged from semiretirement to save the country from a second Trump term, and for that we all owe him a great debt. But now we need someone who can stand up to the still-roiling forces of Trumpism.

There are plenty of possibilities: . . . Biden said, during the 2020 campaign, that he wanted to be a “bridge” to a new generation of Democrats. Soon it will be time to cross it.
—- Michelle Goldberg, New York Times

Bloomberg: A year into Russia manipulating European gas supplies, the market is finally convinced that Moscow will continue to do so, and perhaps with greater intensity.

The first test comes in the next two weeks. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the most important gas link between Russia and the European Union, undergoes annual maintenance from July 11 to July 21. Berlin fears that Moscow will find an excuse to keep it closed for good, cutting gas supplies to Germany completely. After all that Moscow has done, the German government is right to be concerned.

Yet, Russia may want to keep some gas flowing to preserve its long-term leverage. From a game-theory point of view, that makes sense. Once Russia stops shipments completely, it can no longer apply pressure. Tactically, Moscow is likely to keep some gas moving, retaining the option of cutting or slowing flows whenever it chooses.

The Guardian: The US president was delivering a speech on the South Lawn on Monday when he was interrupted by Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was among 14 students and three staff members killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

“We have to do more than that!” Oliver shouted, among other remarks, while standing up and wearing dark sunglasses, grey beard and purple jacket.

At first Biden told him, “Sit down, you’ll hear what I have to say,” but then the president relented and said, “Let him talk, let him talk, OK?”

By then, however, security had already stepped in to take Oliver away.

Earlier on Monday, Oliver had made clear that he objected to the event being billed as a celebration in the aftermath of a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on 24 May.

He wrote on Twitter: “The word CELEBRATION has no space in a society that saw 19 kids massacred just a month ago.”

The confrontation underlined simmering frustration with Biden, accused of failing to meet the moment not only on guns but abortion, climate and other issues. . . .

The White House gave Biden an opportunity to respond to the critics by showcasing the first major federal gun safety bill in three decades, which he signed into law last month. He was joined in bright summer sunshine by survivors and family members of those slain during mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Santa Fe, Uvalde, Buffalo, Highland Park and others. . . .

man in sunglasses points finger
Manuel Oliver interrupts Biden on the White House’s South Lawn. Photograph: Shawn Thew/UPI/Rex/Shutterstock

But the scale of the challenge was laid bare when, just 16 days after the law took effect, a gunman in Highland Park, Illinois, killed seven people and wounded more than 30 others at an Independence Day parade, fueling the discontent of Oliver and other activists who want to see Biden move faster and further.

Biden hailed the law as “real progress” and said “lives will be saved today and tomorrow because of this” but acknowledged that “more has to be done”. He said: “It matters, it matters, but it’s not enough and we all know that.”. . . .

“We are living in a country awash in weapons of war,” Biden said with palpable anger. “Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States, more than car accidents, more than cancer.”

He earned applause as he insisted that the second amendment to the federal constitution, which protects the right to bear arms, should not supersede others.

Among the hundreds of guests on the south lawn were a bipartisan group of senators who crafted and supported the legislation, as well as local-level officials including the Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, and Highland Park mayor, Nancy Rotering.

But the director of the campaign group Guns Down America, Igor Volsky, wasn’t wholly impressed by the White House’s framing of the gathering.

Volsky told the Associated Press news agency: “There’s simply not much to celebrate here. It’s historic, but it’s also the very bare minimum of what Congress should do.

“And as we were reminded by the shooting on July fourth, and there’s so many other gun deaths that have occurred since then. The crisis of gun violence is just far more urgent.”

“Christian” Nationalists Planning Next Anti-Abortion Moves

NYTimes: Christian Nationalists Are Excited About What Comes Next

By Katherine Stewart — July 5, 2022

Ms. Stewart has reported on the religious right for more than a decade. She is the author of “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.”

The shape of the Christian nationalist movement in the post-Roe future is coming into view, and it should terrify anyone concerned for the future of constitutional democracy.

The Supreme Court’s decision to rescind the reproductive rights that American women have enjoyed over the past half-century will not lead America’s homegrown religious authoritarians to retire from the culture wars and enjoy a sweet moment of triumph.

On the contrary, movement leaders are already preparing for a new and more brutal phase of their assault on individual rights and democratic self-governance. Breaking American democracy isn’t an unintended side effect of Christian nationalism. It is the point of the project.

A good place to gauge the spirit and intentions of the movement that brought us the radical majority on the Supreme Court is the annual Road to Majority Policy Conference. At this year’s event, which took place last month in Nashville, three clear trends were in evidence. First, the rhetoric of violence among movement leaders appeared to have increased significantly from the already alarming levels I had observed in previous years.

Second, the theology of dominionism — that is, the belief that “right-thinking” Christians have a biblically derived mandate to take control of all aspects of government and society — is now explicitly embraced. And third, the movement’s key strategists were giddy about the legal arsenal that the Supreme Court had laid at their feet as they anticipated the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Continue reading “Christian” Nationalists Planning Next Anti-Abortion Moves

They Proved Me Wrong

The one newspaper headline I wrote that I don’t have a copy of (but wish I did) hit the streets of Boston in midsummer of 1972, just after the Democratic National Convention. It read:

“Why McGovern Can’t Lose.”

[For those not of a certain age, Senator George McGovern had just been nominated for president. He would go on to lose 49 states in the 1972 election, winning only Massachusetts (and the District of Columbia).]

If I still had it, that headline would be in a frame, placed in a spot where I would see it often. But just the memory is still a useful reminder, of something I repeated here on June 12:

I don’t know the future.

Specifically, I didn‘t know if Congress would pass the proposed gun reform package.

But I was doubtful; very doubtful. To quote:

I’m also a Quaker, and we aren’t supposed to gamble. But if I was going to break that rule, I wouldn’t bet the ranch on any of that “outline/framework/unbaked loaf.”

For that matter, I wouldn’t even bet the ranch dressing.
Go ahead, Congress, prove me wrong.
“I’m keeping it.”

Today, June 24, Congress passed it. They proved me wrong.

It feels good to be wrong about that.

I still don’t think the package amounts to much. But luckily I didn’t bet, so I’m keeping the ranch dressing.

And I still wish I had a copy of that 1972 headline.