Tag Archives: mass shootings

New Yorkers Protest for Gun Safety Laws to End Scourge of Gun Violence Epidemic

“The NRA Has Blood on Its Hands.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

[Breaking news: Just one day after the March for Our Lives events, the bipartisan Senate committee working on some compromise gun violence prevention legislation announced they had come up with a framework. The proposal calls for making juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 available when they undergo background checks; provides money to states to implement “red flag” laws and to bolster school safety and mental health programs; require more people who sell guns obtain federal dealers’ licenses, which means they would have to conduct background checks of purchasers. President Biden immediately put out a statement that the framework “does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.” He urged rapid passage. But as you see in what the gun violence prevention activists are saying, there is much, much more to do.]

Amid the palpable outrage, frustration and fear, there is this kernel of hope that what didn’t happen after Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkville and now Uvalde, the 40,000 lives lost to gun violence last year, and the more than 200 mass shootings that have already happened this year, or the report that more children and teens are killed by guns than by disease or car accidents, may finally happen: that Congress would finally pass sensible gun safety regulations to end the public health epidemic of gun violence. And the difference is this: the election season for the midterms is already underway and Congressmen have already had their primary challenges so shouldn’t “fear” being primaried by an even more fascist candidate to appeal to the bloodlust of their base.

“I’m Scared to Be a Teacher..” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Over a thousand protesters – representing a huge array of groups including March for Our Lives, Youth Against Violence, teachers from the UFT and AFT, Moms Demand Action, Everytown, NYACLU, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and many more – who marched from Brooklyn to Manhattan to rally – screamed and cheered when urged to vote out any politician who refuses to put children’s lives over the gun industry’s profits.

“United States of School Shootings.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“End gun worship,” Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft of Middle Church, intoned. “Vote out every politician who supports the NRA, gun lobby.”

“Love Children More.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

They called for universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and other instruments and weapons of war never meant for the streets; raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21; mandate safe storage so that a two-year old who finds a gun doesn’t kill his sibling (or what just happened when a mother handed her two year old her gun, killed his father), and Red Flag laws.

“Message to Congress: None of You are Ballotproof.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And mindful that it is Republican Senators (Democrats passed gun reform in the House) who have blocked every gun safety measure for the past 30 years, they called for an end to the filibuster, since there do not seem to be 10 Republican Senators of conscience.

“End Gun Violence.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Dr. Nancy Dodson, a pediatrician and gun safety activist, said gun violence is a public health crisis and one that is propagated by the propaganda of the gun industry, no different in its campaign to deflect and distract (mental health, not guns), than the lead paint industry who blamed neglectful mothers and even put out a children’s book to say that lead paint is good for you, and the tobacco industry.

“Hey NRA, How Many Kids Did you Kill Today,” became one of the cheers during the March For Our Lives protest in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Why aren’t there cigarette ads in magazines, commercials on TVs, toy giveaways?  Because they were sued. But the gun industry, despite 40,000 killed last year including 4000 children has near-total immunity, under the Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act. This is an unjust law that must be repealed so that victims and survivors can sue,” she declared, to cheers.

“Never Again.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 “It would lead to economic justice for victims and radical changes in design, advertising and sales of guns. “What is the life of a child worth? Gun manufacturers should find out in court.”

“Laws can change social norms,” she said. Drunk driving became socially unacceptable, it became a loving gesture to take your friend’s keys away. It should be the same for guns.”

That means more use of Red Flag Laws, so that it becomes culturally acceptable to say, “You’re struggling now, so don’t do something you’ll regret.”

“We have saved lives of children before and cited examples and a public health scourge through changing  culture – drunk driving… And many examples of government taking action – after one guy got on a plane with explosives in his shoe and another with explosive underpants, everyone for the past 20 years has had to take off their shoes at the airport, been patted down and x-rayed.

March Against Gun Violence: Policy & Action Over Thoughts & Prayers, takes the protest over the Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams join organizers of the March Against Gun Violence, March for Our Lives and UFT crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to call for gun safety legislation to end the gun violence epidemic  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ali and Aj of AJ Band described the terror of being in the midst of multiple mass shootings – outside their concert venue, someone sprayed 100 rounds , leaving six dead on the pavement just outside their tour bus where they had hit the ground, then again in Portland, then again in Atlanta they heard shots. “This should not be normal.”

Aly and AJ of the AJ Band speak of their own terror surviving a mass shooting that left six dead on the street in front of their tour bus parked at a concert venue © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Instead, the Republicans are trying to deflect, putting the onus on mental health and school security, when school districts are cutting funding for actual education, for the arts, theater and music programs that might help that alienated youth to find a better outlet.

“Books Not Bullets.” March for Our Lives rally, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Young people must turn their passion and pain to purpose and vote,” said Attorney General Letitia James, who was with the protest from the beginning of the march through the end of the rally. “Congress won’t act until they feel the power of the people.  Vote in record numbers to end the violence.

“I am 21 and have lived through 369 school shootings.” Gun Violence is now the number one killer of children under 18, surpassing disease and car accidents. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Enough prayers, empty thoughts. This is a defining moment young people, for the country. Women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, trans rights, disabled rights, environmental protection did not start with politicians. It was all of you young people who lead and politicians who followed. Break the collective yoke around the neck of this country…Turn out and vote, vote, vote the reckless cowards out of office, the spineless, gutless who believe in power over people.”

Janella Hines, a high school teacher, speaks of gun violence in homes and how one of her students was murdered. “The trauma is experienced day after day. This is not what teachers went to school for, but we have to do it. It’s time for policy and change.”Gun safety activists are calling for Red Flag laws and universal background checks.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Janella Hines, representing the UFT which helped organize the march, spoke for the teachers who carried signs saying, “I’m scared.” “Books not bullets.” And how when they decided to make teaching their career, they never expected that protecting children from gunmen with military-style weapons, and comforting the traumatized children after they have lost classmates, was part of the job description.

She focused not on the mass shootings that have so terrorized – in schools, churches, grocery stores, concerts, movie theaters, malls – but violence in homes. One of her student’s, named Chloe, was murdered with her sister and mother by her step father on her sister’s birthday. “The entire school community suffered the loss. The trauma is experienced day after day. This is not what teachers went to school for, but we have to do it. It’s time for policy and change.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney declared, “If guns made us safe, we would be the safest on earth. But the only place more dangerous is Ukraine, and they are at war. We are killing people because of the easy access to guns,” and called for an end to gun manufacturers’ immunity to lawsuits © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney declared, “If guns made us safe, we would be the safest on earth. But the only place more dangerous is Ukraine, and they are at war.

“We are killing people because of the easy access to guns.” She said that gun manufacturers need to be held accountable for profiting from murdering children. and called for an end to the immunity gun manufacturers, unlike every other industry, from liability lawsuits.

Congressman Mondaire Jones, if the Senate Republicans block passing the Protecting Our Kids Act, end the filibuster, and if the Supreme Court overturns gun safety laws, expand the court to nullify Trump’s three radical rightwing ideologues © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congressman Mondaire Jones, the youngest member of the House Judiciary Committee (whose remarks inspired rebuke from Republicans and Tucker Carlson), noted that the House has passed a package of gun safety bills, but that they will likely languish, as have all gun regulations for the past 30 years, in the Senate. “Make sure the Senate hears you.”

He is a sponsor of the Protecting Our Kids Act which changes federal firearms laws, including to establish new criminal offenses and to expand the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation. The bill:

  • generally prohibits the sale or transfer of certain semiautomatic firearms to individuals who are under 21 years of age;
  • establishes new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and related conduct;
  • establishes a federal statutory framework to regulate ghost guns (i.e., guns without serial numbers);
  • establishes a framework to regulate the storage of firearms on residential premises at the federal, state, and tribal levels;
  • subjects bump stocks to regulation under federal firearms laws;
  • generally prohibits the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, and possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices; and
  • requires the Department of Justice to report on the demographic data of persons who are determined to be ineligible to purchase a firearm based on a background check performed by the national instant criminal background check system.

“If we can’t find 10 Senate Republicans of good conscience, we need to abolish the filibuster.”

He also introduced the Judiciary Act, which would expand the Supreme Court by four, to undo the damage of Trump putting three hard-right ideological partisans on the bench, orchestrated by then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to allow Obama to appoint a justice after Antonin Scalia died 10 months before the 2016 election, then rushed through Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment even though voting in the 2020 presidential election had already begun.

The young people of Youth Against Violence and March for Our Lives are propelling the movement to end the gun violence epidemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Meanwhile, the rightwing majority on the Supreme Court is poised to overturn New York’s gun permit law, taking away a vital tool to keep guns off the streets, even as New York State passed 10 more gun safety laws.

Governor Kathy Hochul vowed to bring back the Legislature for an emergency session to address whatever the Supreme Court throws. (My idea is to require all gun owners to be enlisted in a “well-regulated militia” where they would train, drill, and be available to protect the state against foreign and domestic enemies, as the Founding Fathers intended in the Second Amendment (See: Guns Again Again).

Moms Demand Action was prominent at the March for Our Lives event in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York’s was one of some 450 events throughout the United States and the world, including a re-do of the March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC that followed the 2018 massacre.

They are hoping it isn’t déjà vu all over again, with Congress doing nothing.

The message from Jessalise Rivera: “I’m 9. Please don’t shoot me while I’m learning.”

Jessalise Rivera offers this message: “I’m 9. Please don’t shoot me while I’m learning.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are more photo highlights from the march and rally:

March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
UFT was one of the organizers of the March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“We March for Those Who Can’t.” March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Am I Next”. March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“The Scar Splattered Banner: The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a vote!” March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2022 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, instagram.com/News_and_Photo_Features/, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump, NRA Have This to Say to Americans: You Must Be Soldiers and Martyrs on the Altar of Gun Rights

Mothers who lost their child to gun violence at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Jim Dean of Democracy for America says, “Congress has caved to the NRA after every mass shooting this decade, from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, from Umpqua Community College in Oregon to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and so many more. They will keep doing so until we defeat them at the ballot box.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Donald Trump loves all things “biggest”. Like the charge he gets over the United States being hit by the biggest climate catastrophes in history, Trump probably took a measure of delight at the “biggest” mass murder in US history – at this writing 59 dead and 527 injured in just a few minutes at the hands of a 64-year old white male spraying bullets with a military-grade assault rifle from 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel on an open-air folk-music concert attended by 22,000. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

In fact, there have already been 521 mass shootings in the 477 days since the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, the last record holder, drawing no remark from Trump. But this one is one for the record books.

Trump, predictably, evoked prayer and called for flying “our great flag” at half-staff. He calls for “unity” because it means mindlessly following authority. “God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.” Sure, that will salve the loss of loved ones. And to the wounded, numbering more than 500? “I pledge to you our support from this day forward.” What does that mean, exactly, when he is doing his best to take away health care from tens of millions, when any concept of health care he advocates would remove mental illness from the list of required conditions covered under Obamacare? Who pays for the multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to save and restore victims’ lives?

Imagine the tone he would have taken if the murderer was Muslim or a terrorist or a foreigner.

Trump will do his best to deflect from this tragedy, say “this is not the time” to consider sensible gun restrictions. He will call for greater security (police state), shift responsibility onto the hotel, say that 33,000 deaths a year is the “price of freedom” and move on to tax so-called “reform” aimed at furthering the redistribution of wealth to the already ridiculously wealthy and politically powerful like the NRA. Trump, the Republicans and the NRA would have us be soldiers and martyrs, terrorized and dying on the altar of gun rights. In the same way as he never criticizes Putin, Trump will never go against the NRA.

Will he be a leader and call for sensible gun violence prevention measures that are supported by 80%  of Americans including overwhelming majorities of gun-owners and NRA members, like universal background checks? Of course not. Trump has already overturned Obama orders desperate to stem gun violence, including barring people who are deemed “mentally incapacitated” from buying a gun.

Instead, the Gun Lobby – the NRA and its gun manufacturer masters – knowing they have an dufus ally in the White House and a complicit Republican majority in Congress (even after Congressman Scalise was shot and his Republican compatriots at baseball practice fired on), are pushing to ease what little gun regulations there are, for example, opening up the floodgates to the use of silencers so that innocents can be even easier prey and police would have an even harder time locating a perpetrator. In 4 minutes, 1600 rounds fired, dozens die, hundreds face lifelong injury (and how are injuries and recovery paid for with the dismantling of health care?).

The gun lobby now is enthusiastically pushing for “Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” which would overrule any state’s gun restrictions to the weakest states laws. New York State’s tough restrictions would be nullified.

There is so much that could be done and should be done if Congress really cared to stem terrorism and tragedy and promote public health and safety: universal background checks, restoring the ban on assault weapons and mega-ammo magazines; requiring gun holders to register (after all, you have to register to vote) and universal background checks; regulating online sales and ending the gun-show loophole, banning people on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, ending Stand Your Ground. And easing access to mental health care. And while you are removing the ban suppressing pediatricians Hippocratic oath and freedom of speech to counsel parents to lock away their guns; overturning the Dickey Amendment to allow research on gun safety; requiring federal dollars for military and police weaponry be “smart guns” (like smart phones) to turn the industry around.

You can never know who will become a murderer  – how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “He was such a nice man”.

But there is one common denominator for all these tragedies: the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. ISIS has already invited would-be terrorists to take advantage of lax gun laws. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons like knives and machetes and even cars, do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.

“Accessibility to weapons is the greatest national security threat in the US,” a security adviser tells NPR, and Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the US. Combine that with what we like to call a “free society.” A lone wolf is the worst nightmare of law enforcement because they are impossible to track or detect.”

The Bill of Rights does not allow for any restriction on guns? Nonsense: read the full 2nd Amendment, not just the “shall not be infringed” part and you will see that it is the ONLY amendment that has qualifications and limitations built in: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state….” If you would be an “originalist” taking the 2ndamendment literally, you would restrict gun ownership to people who are in the National Guard or military or police – those who provide for the “security of a free state” and the “common defense” – there is nothing about an individual’s unlimited right to have a gun. And if you would be a true ideological, fundamentalist “originalist” you would restrict a gun to a single-ball musket, which was the most advanced technology of the time, a time when people had to hunt their food and protect themselves from Indians and in the absence of a standing army, settlers had to defend against an invading force.

On the other hand, the Constitution provides for a government “by the people, for the people” and for voting, and the Trumpists have no problem whatsoever imposing such onerous voter registration procedures and election site restrictions that become obstacles to the right to vote. Isn’t that interesting: it’s okay to require voter registration but not gun registration. In fact, in Texas, a gun permit is acceptable ID for voting, but a college student ID is not.

You can never know who will become a murderer (how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “he was such a nice man”) – as is the case of the Las Vegas shooter, who did not seem to conform with any of the usual attributes of a mass murderer (white male, 64 years old, no political or religious agenda, well-off, in a relationship, no history of mental illness). But there is a common denominator for all these tragedies – Tucson, Orlando, San Bernardino, Columbine, Virginia Tech  – the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons – knives, machetes – do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.

Consider how much of our GDP goes to security in order to protect the “freedom” of gun owners but take away the security, freedom, and the very lives of everyone else . Just look at the money we spend to safeguard our schools that could otherwise go to actually teaching. Now hotels, amusement parks, churches, shopping malls, and concert venues will also have to allocate their operating budgets. Think of the rights we allow to be trampled in order leave unrestrained the 2nd amendment: 1st amendment rights of free speech and assembly and 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and privacy. Would that they value voting rights as highly.

But as Senator Bernie Sanders reminded us, there have been more mass shootings this year than days of the year, this is just the most sensational.

“..it should be clear to all that we have got to do everything we can to stop guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them. It is long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety to save innocent lives.”

Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, stated,  “Easy access to guns–particularly weapons designed to kill many people rapidly–repeatedly leads to tragedy and loss of life.  Rather than ‘thoughts and prayers’ from our elected officials, we need action to address this public health epidemic.”

Jim Dean, chair of Democracy For America, put it more bluntly:

“How is Congress responding to last night’s terror attack in Las Vegas? By getting ready to pass a bill to make it easier to buy silencers — a top priority for the NRA.

“Republican elected officials offer their thoughts and prayers. They lower flags to half-staff. But they will never act to stop gun violence and mass shootings, because they’re in league with the NRA.

“The NRA is unrepentant. They and their allies in Congress don’t think there’s anything wrong with what happened in Las Vegas last night. In fact, they are doubling down in support of laws that enable white men like Stephen Paddock to use guns to terrorize their families and communities.

“Congress has caved to the NRA after every mass shooting this decade, from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, from Umpqua Community College in Oregon to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and so many more. They will keep doing so until we defeat them at the ballot box.

“The NRA and their Republican allies are not just promoting gun violence — they are promoting white supremacy and toxic masculinity.

“They refuse to acknowledge that these mass shooters are terrorists, because the people doing the shooting are mostly white men. When it’s a person of color, however, they’re quick to call them terrorists.

“The NRA’s primary agenda is to promote a culture of gun ownership among white men — often by demonizing people of color as threats. The NRA vehemently defends “stand your ground” laws that were used to let the man who killed Trayvon Martin off the hook.

“The NRA also openly enables violence against women, including by their past opposition to legislation to keep guns out of the hands of men who have threatened or committed domestic violence. Many mass shooters have a history of violent threats and acts against women. It’s part of the ‘profile’ of these shooters now.”

Gabby Giffords, who was an Arizona Congresswoman until she was shot in the head by a mass murderer only stopped when one of his guns jammed, and now heads Americans for Responsible Solutions, wrote: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this shooting, their families, and their friends. But the truth is, for those who have the power to act and to save lives, thoughts and prayers are not nearly enough.

“So today, I am praying for my former colleagues as well — that they find the courage to make progress on the issue of gun violence in America…

“Some will say that now is not the time to have this conversation, but the truth is that we cannot wait. Congress cannot delay. Now is exactly the right time to take positive action that will keep our our communities safer. The nation is counting on them.

“I also know enough from my time in Congress that action is only possible if people make their voices heard. So today, especially today, I want to ask you to do just that — to demand action from our elected leaders. Action that will save lives:

““Tell Congress: ENOUGH is ENOUGH. Pass legislation to make our communities safer from gun violence. To do nothing is not acceptable. Now is the time for action.”

“We watch, time and time again, as people describe these mass shootings as unimaginable acts of evil, but the sad fact is that this is not true. There is no other advanced nation in the world where these kinds of mass shootings happen with this kind of frequency.

“The only thing that is unimaginable is the continuous legislative inaction on this issue.

“Hopefully this time will be different, but I know that’s only possible if all of us are willing to act.”

Trump, who has already proved himself incompetent as a leader and who condones police brutality and torture and tells rallies, “Your 2nd Amendment is safe with me,” will do nothing beyond tweet his prayers and attack his critics.

Yes, this is one for the history books. The question is will it be surpassed? Thanks to the utter lack of sensible gun violence prevention, it is all too easy to do so.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin