Tag Archives: gun violence

DANGER! U.S. Supreme Court rules that your neighbor can own and operate a machine gun

Court holds technical issue more important than saving lives

In her scathing dissent, liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor accused her conservative colleagues of ignoring bump stocks’ ability to transform semiautomatic firearms into much more powerful and deadly weapons….A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires ‘automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger’.… Because I, like Congress, call that a machine gun, I respectfully dissent…..The majority’s artificially narrow definition hamstrings the government’s efforts to keep machine guns from gunmen like the Las Vegas shooter.”

>> Back in 2019, the BenIndy covered news of the passage of the bump stock ban following the Las Vegas massacre. At that time, the welcome headline was Bump Stock Ban Now Official Nationwide – Supreme Court. A few days later, a follow-up story headline was Supreme Court Refuses to Block ‘Bump Stock’ Ban Over Thomas and Gorsuch’s Dissent.

Public reaction was so strong after the Las Vegas disaster that even the National Rifle Association joined the call for the add-ons to be taken out of circulation.

Oh how times have changed – on the Supreme Court, that is. Today, the 6 rightwing justices took issue with the technical definition of a machine gun and ignored the fundamental intent of the 1930’s machine gun ban AND the 2019 bump stock ban – to eliminate the massive threat of high volume military style weaponry on our streets. Reporting by the New York Times and others follow here.


NYT Editorial: The Supreme Court’s Bump Stock Decision Will Prove Fatal

New York Times, by David Firestone, Deputy Editor, the Editorial Board

There was nothing abstract about the 6-to-3 decision issued Friday morning by the Supreme Court to permit bump stocks to be used on semiautomatic rifles. It is one of the most astonishingly dangerous decisions ever issued by the court, and it will almost surely result in a loss of American lives in another mass shooting.

Bump stocks attach to the back of a rifle and use the gun’s recoil to enable shooting hundreds of bullets at a very rapid pace, far faster than anyone could shoot by pressing the trigger multiple times. The device is the reason the Las Vegas shooter in 2017 was able to kill 60 people and wound more than 400 others so quickly in the nation’s worst mass shooting in modern history.

Bump stock devices were banned the next year, just as all fully automatic machine guns are banned for public use, but the six conservative members of the court seemed entirely unbothered by their deadly potential. The opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, parses in a ridiculous level of detail whether bump stocks truly fit the precise mechanical definition of a machine gun. Because the court feels the need to give the greatest possible deference to the ownership of guns, however they might be used, the court concluded that they are not really machine guns, as they do not allow firing multiple rounds “by a single function of the trigger.”

The opinion, full of lovingly detailed close-up drawings of a gun’s innards (provided by the Firearms Policy Foundation, a pro-gun nonprofit group), says nothing about the purpose of a bump stock. Why would someone buy the device and use it? Only to fire a lightning burst of rounds. In the hands of an angry shooter — and there are so many of them — it would produce far more carnage, which is why even the Trump administration banned it.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a dissent laced with astonishment at what her colleagues had done, didn’t hesitate to explain what was really happening. “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck,” she wrote, and in this case, the duck is an illegal machine gun. (Which, by the way, is not typically used for killing ducks.) Skilled shooters using an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle can fire 180 rounds per minute, she wrote, but a bump stock allows them to fire 400 to 800 rounds per minute, which is the ordinary understanding of a fully automatic machine gun.

“Today’s decision to reject that ordinary understanding will have deadly consequences,” Sotomayor wrote. “The majority’s artificially narrow definition hamstrings the government’s efforts to keep machine guns from gunmen like the Las Vegas shooter.” And when the next Las Vegas happens, it will not be enough to blame it on the madness of a single deranged individual. There are so many others.

David Firestone, a former reporter and editor for the Washington bureau and the Metropolitan and National desks of The Times, is a member of the editorial board.


Breaking coverage:

Get InvolvedEverytown For Gun Safety

Previously on the BenIndy:

19 mass shootings injure more than 100, kill 12 over holiday weekend

More than 825 children and teens have been killed by guns in 2023

Signs from a gun reform protest.
In 2020 and 2021, gun violence was the leading cause of death for kids aged 2 to 17. Data from 2022 and 2023 are unavailable. | Photo by Natalie Chaney on Unsplash

CBS/AP, with Elise Preston contributing, June 19, 2023

Mass shootings in communities across the U.S. have killed at least 12 people since Friday and injured more than 100, CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar reported.

The shootings follow a rise in homicides and other violence over the past several years that experts say accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic. Shootings with multiple people killed or wounded happened in suburban Chicago, Washington state, central Pennsylvania, St. Louis, Idaho, Southern California and Baltimore, among other places.

“There’s no question there’s been a spike in violence,” said Daniel Nagin, a professor of public policy and statistics at Carnegie Mellon University. “Some of these cases seem to be just disputes, often among adolescents, and those disputes are played out with firearms, not with fists.”

So far this year, more than 800 children and teenagers have been killed by guns, which includes homicides and suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Looking at CDC data, a report this month by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions found 2021 set a record for the most deaths ever: 48,830 gun-related deaths. Of those, 20,958 were homicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: The number of fatalities was updated to 825 after the publication of this article.]

Josh Horwitz, the center’s co-director, said states and the federal government need to redouble their efforts to stop gun violence.

“We also think limiting access to firearms in public is important,” he said. “And of course, investing in community violence intervention programs will pay dividends and save lives.”

“We know that there’s a correlation between amounts and levels of guns in the community and gun death,” Horwitz told CBS News.
But researchers disagree over the cause of the increase. Theories include the possibility that violence is driven by the prevalence of guns in America, or by less aggressive police tactics or a decline in prosecutions for misdemeanor weapon offenses, Nagin said.

One of the weekend’s shootings took place in Willowbrook, Illinois, where at least 23 people were shot, one fatally, early Sunday in a suburban Chicago parking lot where hundreds of people had gathered to celebrate Juneteenth, authorities said. The DuPage County sheriff’s office described a “peaceful gathering” that suddenly turned violent as a number of people fired multiple shots into the crowd.

Mariah Dixon, 23, was shot in the knee and hid under a car. She told CBS News that her life has been changed forever.

“I don’t know if I will ever be able to attend parties again,” she said.

A motive for the attack wasn’t immediately known. Sheriff’s spokesman Robert Carroll said authorities were interviewing “persons of interest” in the shooting, the Daily Herald reported. Governor JB Pritzker said investigators were also reviewing camera footage from the area, including cellphone video from attendees, CBS Chicago reported.

In Washington state, two people were killed and two others were injured when a shooter began firing “randomly” into a crowd at a campground where many people were staying to attend a nearby music festival on Saturday night, police said.

The suspect was shot in a confrontation with law enforcement officers and taken into custody, several hundred yards from the Beyond Wonderland electronic dance music festival.

In central Pennsylvania, a state trooper was killed and a second critically wounded just hours apart on Saturday after a gunman attacked a state police barracks. The suspect drove his truck into the parking lot of the Lewistown barracks and opened fire with a large-caliber rifle on marked patrol cars before fleeing, authorities said Sunday.

Lt. James Wagner, 45, was critically wounded when he was shot after encountering the suspect several miles away in Mifflintown. Later, Trooper Jacques Rougeau Jr., 29, was ambushed and killed by a gunshot through the windshield of his patrol car as he drove down a road in nearby Walker Township, authorities said.

The suspect was shot and killed after a fierce gunbattle, said Lt. Col. George Bivens, who went up in a helicopter to coordinate the search for the 38-year-old suspect.

Another shooting unfolded in a downtown St. Louis office building where a social gathering was being held early Sunday, killing a 17-year-old and wounding 11 other teenagers, the city’s police commissioner said. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Commissioner Robert Tracy identified the victim who was killed as Makao Moore. A spokesman said a minor who had a handgun was in police custody as a person of interest.

Teenagers were having a party in an office space when the shooting broke out around 1 a.m. Sunday.

The victims ranged from 15 to 19 years old and had injuries including multiple gunshot wounds. A 17-year-old girl was trampled as she fled, seriously injuring her spine, Tracy said. Shell casings from AR-style rifles and other firearms were scattered on the ground.

In all, 19 mass shootings were reported in the U.S. between Friday and Monday evening, according to the Gun Violence Archive.


RELATED: Fact Check: Gun violence surpasses car accidents as the leading cause of death for children

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RELATEDGavin Newsom is mostly right, the US gun homicide rate is 26 times higher than ‘peers’

RELATEDAll of our fact-checks about guns

June 2 is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and start of ‘Wear Orange Weekend’

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: You can follow the links or scroll to the bottom to see a list of nearby ‘Wear Orange’ events occurring the weekend of June 2-4, including one in Vallejo. If you’re of the opinion that wearing orange won’t solve anything soon, I would respond that any light we can shine on this horrific topic is good light, and worth shining.]

Wear orange this Friday and through the weekend to honor victims of gun violence

Wear orange June 2-4 and plan to attend events to honor victims of gun violence and bring more visibility to the epidemic of mass shootings in this country. | Photo by James Cullum/Gazette Packet.

From the Wear Orange and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund

Every year on the first Friday in June, members of our movement come together to honor survivors of gun violence and demand a future free from this crisis. We wear orange throughout the weekend to show our support—in every state and every community across the country.

Make sure you’re ready to join us on June 2–4 for this year’s National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend. Find an event near you and share it with your friends!

Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya Pendleton’s 18th birthday. Just one week after performing at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade in 2013, she was shot and killed at the age of 15. In the aftermath, teenagers in Chicago who wanted to honor their friend wore orange to raise awareness around gun violence.

Today, Wear Orange honors Hadiya and the more than 120 people shot and killed every day in the United States, as well as the hundreds more who are wounded . Together, we’ll use this moment to help build a future free from gun violence. Find a Wear Orange event near you and be a part of National Gun Violence Awareness Day!

Thank you for being a part of this movement. We can’t wait to see you wearing orange in just a few weeks.

– Wear Orange and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund

Local events:

Saturday, June 3, 11 am
CA-Oakland-Wear Orange
Oakland Moms Demand Action Table at Futures Fest
Deep East Oakland – Along the Scraper Bikeway
90th Avenue (Holly-Birch St.)

Saturday, June 3, 12 pm
CA-Vallejo-Wear Orange
Community event at Richardson Park (RSVP for details)
325 Richardson Drive
Vallejo, CA 94590

Sunday, June 4, 11 am
CA-SF-Wear Orange
Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
Rally starts at Marin Vista Point

Wednesday, June 7, 7 pm
CA-Martinez-Wear Orange
‘Wear Orange’ Proclamation at Martinez City Hall
525 Henrietta St
Martinez, CA 94553


RELATED: Fact Check: Gun violence surpasses car accidents as the leading cause of death for children

RELATEDClaim suggests billions should go to SWAT in schools. But there’s more to consider

RELATEDGavin Newsom is mostly right, the US gun homicide rate is 26 times higher than ‘peers’

RELATEDAll of our fact-checks about guns

Outbreak of Mass Shootings in the last 3 weeks

Benicia Independent, by Roger Straw, May 2, 2023

Daily Mail: Louisville bank shooting is America’s 146th mass shooting in 2023 – more than the number of days so far this year – as nation braces to hit record

The U.S. is suffering a horrific and increasing level of gun violence over the last three weeks. The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) has  become the nation’s best source of information on mass shootings. These numbers came from the GVA on April 30 listing mass shootings over the previous 20 days.

    • 39 mass shootings in 20 days, just under 2 a day
    • 43 dead in 20 days, just over 2 a day
    • 191 injured in 20 days, just under 10 a day
    • Countless families, friends, communities wounded forever…

The numbers can’t begin to tell the stories of heartache and loss among families and friends and whole communities. But the numbers do tell the story of a nation in crisis. I put the details into a spreadsheet format:

Click on image above to enlarge. Or click here to download in spreadsheet format. Click here to go to GVA for detailed links to each incident.)

Previously on the BenIndy: