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Supreme Court Turns Down Case on Carrying Guns in Public

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a California law that places strict limits on carrying guns in public.

As is their custom, the justices gave no reasons for deciding not to hear the case. The court has turned away numerous Second Amendment cases in recent years, to the frustration of gun-rights groups and some conservative justices.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, dissented. The court’s refusal to hear the case, Justice Thomas wrote, “reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force,” Justice Thomas wrote, “the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a state denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.”

The court has seldom addressed the scope of Second Amendment rights. In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep guns at home for self-defense.

Since then, the court has said little about what other laws may violate the Second Amendment. In the lower courts, few challenges to gun control laws since the Heller decision have succeeded.

But legal experts say it is only a matter of time before the court confronts the question of whether and how the Second Amendment applies outside the home.

The case, Peruta v. California, No. 16-894, concerned a state law that essentially bans carrying guns openly in public and allows carrying concealed weapons only if applicants can demonstrate good cause. The challengers, several individuals and gun-rights groups, sued San Diego and Yolo Counties, saying that officials there interpreted good cause so narrowly as to make it impossible to carry guns in public for self-defense.

 San Diego, for instance, defined good cause to require proof that the applicant was “in harm’s way,” adding that “simply fearing for one’s personal safety alone is not considered good cause.”

In a 7-to-4 ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, said there was no Second Amendment right to carry a concealed weapon.

“Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protection of the Second Amendment — whatever the scope of that protection may be — simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public,” Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the majority.

The court did not decide whether the Second Amendment allows leeway for states to ban carrying guns in public.

“There may or may not be a Second Amendment right for a member of the general public to carry a firearm openly in public,” Judge Fletcher wrote. “The Supreme Court has not answered that question, and we do not answer it here.”

The Supreme Court also turned down a second case on gun rights, this one about the constitutionality of a law prohibiting people convicted of serious crimes from owning guns. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted that they would have granted review, but they gave no reasons.

The case concerned a federal law that prohibits possessing a gun after a conviction of “a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” The law has an exception for “any state offense classified by the laws of the state as a misdemeanor and punishable by a term of imprisonment of two years or less.”

In separate cases, two Pennsylvania men said the law was unconstitutional as applied to them.

They were convicted of minor and nonviolent crimes decades ago, they said, and received no jail time. Though the laws under which they were convicted allowed for the theoretical possibility of sentences longer than two years, they argued, they should not have been stripped of a constitutional right for that reason.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, ruled in their favor.

In urging the Supreme Court to hear the case, Sessions v. Binderup, No. 16-847, the Justice Department said the appeals court had “opened the courthouse doors to an untold number of future challenges by other individuals based on their own particular offenses, histories and personal circumstances.”

“The decision below,” the government’s brief said, “threatens public safety and poses serious problems of judicial administration because it requires judges to make ad hoc assessments of the risks of allowing convicted felons to possess firearms — a high-stakes task that Congress has already determined cannot be performed with sufficient reliability, and one for which the judiciary is particularly ill suited.”

Strict California Gun Control Impotent as UPS Gunman Uses Stolen Firearms

Strict California Gun Control Impotent as UPS Gunman Uses Stolen Firearms

California has universal background checks, gun registration requirements, gun confiscation laws, a ten-day waiting period on gun purchases, an “assault weapons” ban, a “good cause” requirement for concealed carry, and a high-profile shooting that garners national attention two or three times a year.

The latest occurred on June 14 in San Francisco, where a UPS employee pulled out a gun during “a company meeting” and opened fire, killing three innocents.

Moms Demand Action was quick to post news of the incident on its Facebook page–another high-profile shooting it can use to push for more gun control. However, to be honest, the only gun controls California has yet to pass are a ban on semi-automatic guns and/or an outright ban on gun ownership.

A ban on semi-automatic handguns would do nothing to slow crime, as it would only mean that criminals would have semi-automatic guns, and law-abiding citizens would not. Moreover, the Fresno gunman, who attacked in April, killed his victims with a revolver, which is more than sufficient as a murder weapon when one lives in a Democrat-run state that goes out of its way to prevent law-abiding citizens from being armed for self-defense.

We realize from the Chicago example that an all-out ban on the possession of handguns of any kind correlates with even higher murders than we see in that city now. In short, bans empower criminals and terrorists while making the vulnerable more vulnerable.

So despite almost every gun control imaginable, a UPS employee opened fired on colleagues during a meeting, and we now know the guns he used were stolen.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the attacker had two guns on his person, one of which had been stolen in Utah and one in Napa, California.

The Chronicle reported that although “California outlaws an array of assault weapons as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines, the weaponry frequently travels across the border.” In reporting this, the outlet overlooked that they had already announced one of the stolen guns was from Napa, and a gun stolen in Napa does not have to cross state borders before being used in a crime in San Francisco.

Clearly, the UPS attack is just another shooting that shows strict gun control is not an effective means of stopping determined attackers from attacking. But it certainly guarantees their victims will not be able to shoot back.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

Pew U.S. survey finds agreement on some gun-control proposals

Pew U.S. survey finds agreement on some gun-control proposals

By Chris Kenning

More than 80 percent of Americans want to limit firearms access for people with mental illness and require background checks at gun shows and in private sales, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on Thursday.

Eighty-three percent also favor barring gun purchases by those on federal no-fly or watch lists, the survey found.

But gun owners were far less supportive than non-owners of creating a federal database to track gun sales or to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The survey of 3,930 U.S. adults, including 1,269 gun owners, in March and April, provided a snapshot of American views on guns and gun policies as the nation grapples with gun violence.

On June 14, an Illinois man opened fire on Republican members of Congress with legally purchased guns during a baseball practice near Washington, wounding Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise.

A few hours later, a UPS driver opened fire with a handgun inside a United Parcel Service Inc delivery center in San Francisco, killing three co-workers before fatally shooting himself.

Some advocates called for a renewed push for gun control measures, as the Republican-controlled Congress has sought to relax existing gun laws.

The National Rifle Association has opposed expanded background checks and argued the government was already being notified when someone on a no-fly list attempts to buy a gun.

Pew’s survey respondents often diverged based on whether they were gun owners or non-owners, Republicans or Democrats and urban or rural residents.

“Overall, 52 percent of Americans say gun laws should be stricter than they are today,” according to Washington-based Pew.

Forty-four 44 percent of adults surveyed said they personally knew someone who was shot, accidentally or on purpose, and 83 percent believed gun violence was a very big or moderately big U.S. problem.

As for violence in their local communities, 49 percent of black respondents said it was a very big problem, compared with 11 percent of whites.

A large majority said easy access to illegal guns contributed to gun violence, but just as many thought expanding gun ownership would boost crime as reduce it.

Among all adults, 89 percent favored policies preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns, and 84 percent favored background checks in private sales and at gun shows.

Tracking gun sales was favored by 71 percent overall, banning assault weapons by 68 percent, and banning high-capacity magazines by 65 percent, with gun-owners showing less approval than non-owners.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Richard Chang)

How U.S. gun control compares to the rest of the world

How U.S. gun control compares to the rest of the world

The U.S.’s lax gun control laws may negatively affect other countries

 

TOPICS: GUN VIOLENCE, MASS SHOOTINGS, THE CONVERSATION, THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, US GUN CONTROL, ,

How U.S. gun control compares to the rest of the world

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article first published on June 24, 2015.

The shooting in Virginia that wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, as well as the shooting in a San Francisco UPS facility that left four dead on the very same day, have generated — yet again — the standard set of responses in the wake of a mass shooting in the United States.

The details of any such tragedy often emerge slowly, but a few points can be made. While deaths from mass shootings are a relatively small part of the overall homicidal violence in America, they are particularly wrenching. The problem is worse in the U.S. than in most other industrialized nations. And it is getting worse.

The political overlay of the Virginia shooting also carries a particular social harm. Any thought that guns can play a helpful role in reducing tyranny in a democratic country like the United States should quickly be dispelled. Hopefully, that message will penetrate everyone from the NRA leadership and Sen. Rand Paul to anyone on the opposite end of the political spectrum who doesn’t like the current developments of Republican rule.

I’ve been researching gun violence — and what can be done to prevent it — in the U.S. for 25 years. The fact is that if the NRA claim that guns helped reduce crime were true, the U.S. would have the lowest homicide rate among industrialized nations instead of the highest one — and by a wide margin.

The U.S. is by far the world leader in the number of guns in civilian hands. The stricter gun laws of other “advanced countries” have restrained homicidal violence, suicides and gun accidents — even when, in some cases, laws were introduced over massive protests from their armed citizens.

The state of gun control in the US

Eighteen states in the U.S. and a number of cities including Chicago, New York and San Francisco have tried to reduce the unlawful use of guns as well as gun accidents by adopting laws to keep guns safely stored when they are not in use. Safe storage is a common form of gun regulation in nations with stricter gun regulations.

The NRA has been battling such laws for years. But that effort was dealt a blow in June 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court – over a strident dissent by Justices Thomas and Scalia — refused to consider the San Francisco law that required guns not in use be stored safely. This was a positive step because hundreds of thousands of guns are stolen every year, and good public policy must try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children.

The dissenters were alarmed by the thought that a gun stored in a safe would not be immediately available for use, but they seemed unaware of how unusual it is that a gun is helpful when someone is under attack.

Statistics show only the tiniest fraction of victims of violent crime are able to use a gun in their defense. Over the period from 2007 to 2011, roughly six million nonfatal violent crimes occurred each year. Yet data from the National Crime Victimization Survey show that 99.2 percent of victims in these incidents did not protect themselves with a gun — this in a country with roughly 300 million guns in civilian hands.

Breaking News: VEPR Banned in The U.S. Due To New Russian Sanctions

If you’re a gun enthusiast and have been eyeing a VEPR rifle to add to your collection, your time may be severely limited to grab one before they fade away.

It appears the U.S. Department Of Treasury has updated the sanction list in connection to the Russian – Ukranian conflict, and as a result, VEPR rifles and shotguns have been added to the “banned” list.

The text from the US Department of Treasury can be read below:

MOLOT-ORUZHIE, OOO (a.k.a. OBSHCHESTVO S OGRANICHENNOI OTVETSTVENNOSTYU ‘MOLOT-ORUZHIE’; f.k.a. OBSHCHESTVO S OGRANICHENNOI OTVETSTVENNOSTYU PROIZVODSTVENNO INSTRUMENT KACHESTVO), 135 ul. Lenina, Vyatskie Polyany, Kirov Obl. 612960, Russia; Registration ID 1094307000633 (Russia); Tax ID No. 4307012765 (Russia); Government Gazette Number 60615883 (Russia) [UKRAINE-EO13661] (Linked To: KALASHNIKOV CONCERN).

Image courtesy wikimedia

Hot Take: Salon Says GOP Won’t Budge On Gun Control Because Of ‘Right-Wing Male Power Fantasies’

Hot Take: Salon Says GOP Won’t Budge On Gun Control Because Of ‘Right-Wing Male Power Fantasies’

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jun 19, 2017
Hot Take: Salon Says GOP Won’t Budge On Gun Control Because Of 'Right-Wing Male Power Fantasies’

After the horrific shooting in Alexandria, VA this week, which left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) in critical condition—there will be a discussion about guns in America again. James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter with a history of anti-GOP sentiments, opened fire on the Republican baseball team that was practicing a day before their annual charity game against the Democrats. Congressional staffers and members of the Capitol Police, whose engagement with Hodgkinson saved lives, were also wounded. Blessedly, Rep. Scalise is doing much better.

On the gun control debate, I’ll extend an olive branch. There are times when the left sort of makes sense about guns. For example, I think we can agree that terrorists should not get their hands on firearms, or at least make it hard for them to do so. Where they go off the hinges is when they try to use that argument to expand the grossly unconstitutional no-fly list program and bar Americans, who haven’t been convicted of any crimes, from being able to exercise their Second Amendment rights. How do you get on the list? How can you get your name removed from it? We don’t know. There’s really no due process. And then, there’s Salon’s analysis of the shooting, which gets into this analysis of how gun marketing is linked to “right-wing male power fantasies,” and how Republicans won’t change their minds about gun control. I know, spoiler alert, right? [Emphasis mine]:

The gun industry and the National Rifle Association market guns with promises that owning guns will make a customer feel manly and powerful, and that fantasy has a power that can transcend political boundaries. And no one knows better than gun industry leaders how feelings of political frustration caused by seeing your preferred candidate lose an election can be channeled into a pitch to buy more guns.

[…]

Gun marketing, helped along by the political messaging of the NRA, , is targeted largely at conservatives. That said, the emotional buttons being pushed — the wish to feel powerful, the desire to prove one’s masculinity, the appeal of violence as a political shortcut — cannot be contained by something as pedestrian as political partisanship. Through years of marketing and cultural messaging, the appeal of guns has been crafted into something totemic, even primal — desired by all manner of people who yearn for some kind of cleansing violence to solve their problems.

Around the time of Trump’s inauguration, a debate emerged in leftist circles about the value of political violence, particularly after an anonymous person punched white supremacist Richard Spencer in the face on camera on Inauguration Day. While I strongly relate to the desire to lash out at people who would dismantle our democracy in the name of white nationalism, I’ve been persuaded by friends and allies, especially journalist Dave Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center, that political violence is always a bad idea. Not only is it wrong but it tends to backfire, creating the pretext for the violent suppression of liberal or leftist ideas.

Already there are right-wing street gangs forming, eagerly looking for an excuse to lash out against anyone they perceive as being on the left. Already there’s been a shooting of a left-leaning protester — who by all accounts was trying to restore peace — by right-wingers who seemed to be out for blood. Already two men have been killed, and a third was badly injured by an unhinged reactionary and white supremacist who claims he was acting in self-defense because the three men tried to interfere with his verbal assault on two women of color. There is every reason to believe that the baying alt-right wolves cannot wait to use this shooting as an excuse to escalate their efforts at using violence to quell liberal dissent.

And when it comes to the Republicans, sadly there is no reason to believe they will react to this dreadful crime by rethinking their resistance to saner gun control laws that could go a long way toward minimizing the amount of damage that people disposed to carrying out violence can do. Despite watching their friends and colleagues running away from a hail of gunfire, Republican politicians and pundits are sticking with the thoughts-and-prayers narrative and not even discussing taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

The socialist writer Upton Sinclair had a saying he liked to trot out at public events: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Yeah, if you’re going to make at least a half-assed attempt to convince the right about something, don’t quote socialists. Second, the white supremacist that killed two men in Portland during his berating of two Muslim women on a train was, like Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter. Also, I’ve never really seen the NRA market firearm ownership as one that will make you powerful and manly, only that it’s your right enshrined in the Constitution, that it’s a great equalizer for women when facing a potential life-threatening situation, and they’re to be used safely and responsibly. They tell kids what to do if they see an unattended firearm. How to handle them properly when shooting them at the range, and they offer concealed carry courses for law-abiding Americans who wish to carry firearms for their own protection. Liberals always cite statistics about how firearms increase the likelihood of fatal accidents. That’s false. Between 1991-2011, unintentional firearm fatalities dropped 58 percent, according to the National Safety Council. Only 1.5 percent of unintentional deaths of children 14 years of age or younger is attributed to a firearm. In 2017, unintentional firearms fatalities dropped 17 percent between2015-2016. Also, was that the insinuation that political violence is wrong, but especially bad because…leftist ideas could be squashed?

The piece added, “The NRA’s stories about how scary black and brown men are about to bust down your door and kill your family are good for selling guns, but they were the also same narratives that helped propel Trump to the White House.” Oh, and again with the psychoanalysis stuff, “Fears of emasculation, racist anxieties about crime, power fantasies about silencing dissent through threats of violence, and a widespread loathing for liberals and their insistence on rational evidence — all these things sell guns.”

What stories are these? I’ve rarely seen Dana Loesch or Colion Noir discuss how people of color are going to kill us all in their media spots for the NRA? As a proud member of the NRA, I have yet to get a piece of literature, mailer, door hanger, or email where the oldest civil rights organization in the country said I need to be fearful of brown people, so buy guns. It’s mostly been about how Democrats’ anti-gun policies hurt innocent people (i.e. Chicago), how the no-fly list is being used as an unconstitutional backdoor to curb gun rights, how the Second Amendment is fundamental to preserving our freedoms as Americans, how the liberal media distorts and at times-outright lies about shootings to further an anti-gun agenda. I think Salon has the NRA mixed up with the American Nazi Party, which had posted horrific and racist stories on their website about black people killing whites. It frankly was not the most enjoyable part of my junior year seminar in high school.

I may not have supported President Trump in the primaries, but he touted fairer trade deals, job creation, being a warrior of the working class, and positioned himself to be a cheerleader for the country. On the latter, Obama failed spectacularly. He had a message, he was an outsider, he was fresh, and we elected him. Not a day goes by where I don’t regret my vote for him; Hillary Clinton is not, and never will be, president. Sorry Never Trumpers, that’s what was key to me. Stopping Clinton.

I’ve shot with and spoken to scores of gun owners and they don’t fear emasculation, they don’t have power fantasies, and they’re not racist. This is pure unadulterated crap and when liberal media personalities think that Trump has a dark vision of America, please direct them to Salon. You’d think we’ve entered some post-apocalyptic era akin to The Postman. Gun owners, who number in the tens of millions, are law-abiding, patriotic Americans who proudly exercise their right to bear arms. They’re good guys with guns. Period. There’s nothing to be afraid. Also, the police officers who stopped Hodgkinson are good guys with guns. The people who stopped the two escaped Georgia inmates who murdered two correctional officers are good guys with guns. In Vermont, at least 70 percent of residents own a firearm. Are they all part of a right-wing male power fantasy orgy? Are they racist? Do they fear black men breaking into their homes? Are they really loathing of liberalism having elected a self-described democratic socialist to represent them in the U.S. Senate? Yeah, no—it’s none of the above. Anti-gun analysis like this is nothing more than dispatches from the progressive cesspool of urban America.

Australia announces national gun amnesty

Australia announces national gun amnesty

Illegal firearms sized by Australian police
Image captionIt is estimated that there are as many as 260,000 illicit guns in Australia

Australia is bringing in its first national gun amnesty since 1996 because of the growing terrorism threat and an influx of illegal arms in the country.

During the three-month amnesty running from 1 July, people can hand in unregistered weapons without the fear of prosecution, the government says.

Those caught outside that period face fines of up to A$280,000 ($212,730; £166,480) or up to 14 years in prison.

It is estimated that there are as many as 260,000 illicit guns in Australia.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said illegal guns were used in recent terror attacks in Australia as well as for organised crime.

“This is an opportunity for people to present the guns to authorities, no questions asked and with no penalty,” he said.

“If people don’t take that opportunity, the penalties for owning an unregistered or illegal gun in Australia are very severe.”

Australia brought in a similar amnesty deal after the 1996 shootings in Port Arthur.

Attacker Martin Bryant killed 35 people in the historic tourist town in Tasmania – the worst mass shooting in Australia’s history.

In recent years the authorities have been expressing growing concern over the threat of possible terrorist attacks in the country.

Last month, they said they were treating as a “terrorist incident” a siege in Melbourne in which a gunman was killed.

In 2014, a 16-hour hostage situation in a Sydney cafe ended with three people dead, including the armed hostage-taker.

Chelsea Handler: U.S. ‘way behind the times’ on gun control

Chelsea Handler: U.S. ‘way behind the times’ on gun control

Chelsea Handler. (Photo: Parade)

Chelsea Handler (Photo: Parade)

Actress Chelsea Handler was honored by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Wednesday night and has used the spotlight to call for more gun control in America.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the host of Netflix’s “Chelsea” talked about her support for the Brady Campaign and slammed the country’s gun regulations she sees as far too loose.

“We’re way behind the times in terms of gun control in this country, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon,” Handler said.

“We should’ve heightened all of the restrictions on buying guns, and we just loosened restrictions on buying guns, which made it easier for mentally unstable people to purchase firearms. It’s disgusting.”

Handler also spoke on the series of mass shootings the U.S. has seen over the years and seems to tie them to the “gun lobbies” and their fight against further gun restrictions.

“Nobody is trying to take away your guns,” she said. “If you want to go shoot, you know, whatever, in the woods, that’s fine, but it’s a hobby. If your hobby is [affecting] innocent people being killed all the time, children included, don’t you think you should reconsider the lack of restrictions placed on your hobby?”

Handler received the Brady Center Bear Award Wednesday night at a gala intended to raise funds for preventing gun violence.

Katie Couric Beats Defamation Lawsuit over ‘Edited’ Gun Control Documentary

Katie Couric Beats Defamation Lawsuit over ‘Edited’ Gun Control Documentary

A district judge has dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought against Katie Couric over what the Yahoo News anchor herself described as “misleading” edits in her 2016 gun control documentary, Under the Gun.

The $12 million defamation suit was filed the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) in September 2016, as they claimed that responses from their members were edited in a way that made them appear stumped by Couric’s questions on gun laws and regulations. The suit was dismissed by District Judge John Gibney Jr. Wednesday.

On May 25, 2016, Breibart News reported that Couric was busted for manipulating the responses of pro-gun advocates in Under the Gun through selective editing. Footage from the documentary appears to show an eight-second pause between the time Couric asked a question concerning gun control and the time in which VCDL members answered:

But the Washington Free Beacon obtained the actual audio of the VCDL members interacting with Couric, and that audio makes clear they responded to Couric’s question immediately. The pause had apparently been inserted to make it appear as if the pro-gun advocates featured in the film were stumped by Couric’s question.

Couric released an statement of apology in light of the compelling evidence that a pause had been inserted between her question and the VCDL members’ responses. She wrote:

As executive producer of Under the Gun, a documentary film that explores the epidemic of gun violence, I take responsibility for a decision that misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL). My question to the VCDL regarding the ability of convicted felons and those on the terror watch list to legally obtain a gun, was followed by an extended pause, making the participants appear to be speechless.

She went on to admit that the eight-second pause was a “misleading” edit that “[did] not accurately represent” the response of VCDL members.

Despite Couric’s admission, Judge Gibney dismissed the defamation suit against her last week. He ruled that the depiction of VCDL members did not meet the threshold of making them appear “unfit as a gun rights advocacy organization.”

On June 6, the VCDL announced that it would appeal Gibney’s decision. VCDL president Philip Van Cleave posted a statement to Facebook:

The VCDL Board of Directors, after careful consideration, has decided that the recent ruling dismissing the VCDL case against Katie Couric, et al, CANNOT STAND! The lawsuit has far reaching implications for all Americans. If the media can be allowed to change a person’s words to suit the media’s own needs or beliefs, then a grievous blow will have been struck against the very core of the freedom that the United States stands for!

NO! We are going to fight this because too much is at stake.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

Voters Strengthen Gun Control Measures in 3 States

Voters Strengthen Gun Control Measures in 3 States

Nevada, California and Washington all voted in favor of enhanced gun control on Tuesday, while Maine narrowly rejected universal background checks for private gun sales despite millions of dollars spent there by national gun control advocates.

Maine’s rejection of the gun control ballot measure, and the narrow support for a similar measure in Nevada, showed the limits of well-funded national organizations pushing for expanded background checks around the country. Voters in Maine defeated a measure that would’ve expanded background checks to private gun sales and transfers or loans to friends. Polls showed support for the referendum before the vote; the measure had strong backing from Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that spent more than $5 million in the state.

David Trahan, director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, which opposed the measure, told Maine Public Radio that he believed many voters took issue with federal background checks on gun transfers, saying: “I think that had this been drafted differently you wouldn’t have seen that much opposition.”

Read more: A Criminologist’s Case Against Gun Control

In Nevada, voters barely approved a similar measure to expand background checks to private gun sales and transfers, with just 50.45% voting in favor. That state also saw heavy spending from Everytown for Gun Safety, which spent $11 million in support of the referendum, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

California approved a measure that outlaws possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, requires background checks for ammunition sales and allows the state to immediately remove firearms from people who have been convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor. Washington state also approved a measure that allows judges to issue orders enabling authorities to temporarily seize guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Loesch: Women Leading the Charge in Concealed Carry Increase

Loesch: Women Leading the Charge in Concealed Carry Increase

On “Varney & Co.” today, Dana Loesch said the number of concealed carry permits has risen dramatically in the past year, and women have been leading the charge.

Women like having that equalizer, she said, and to be able to feel like they can go where they want when they want.

The trend has been growing for quite some time, Loesch told Stuart Varney.

The number of women holding concealed carry permits has increased twice as fast as the number of men with permits, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center’s 2016 report.

Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People With Mental Illnesses

Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People With Mental Illnesses

The rule, which was finalized in December, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database.

Had the rule fully taken effect, the Obama administration predicted it would have added about 75,000 names to that database.

President Barack Obama recommended the now-nullified regulation in a 2013 memo following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six others dead. The measure sought to block some people with severe mental health problems from buying guns.

Related: Assault Weapons Not Protected by Second Amendment, Federal Appeals Court Rules

The original rule was hotly contested by gun rights advocates who said it infringed on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Gun control advocates, however, praised the rule for curbing the availability of firearms to those who may not use them with the right intentions.

Feb. 12: Gun Sales Booming Across California as State Expands Gun Control Laws 1:59

Both the House and Senate last week passed the new bill, H.J. Res 40, revoking the Obama-era regulation.

Trump signed the bill into law without a photo op or fanfare. The president welcomed cameras into the oval office Tuesday for the signing of other executive orders and bills. News that the president signed the bill was tucked at the bottom of a White House email alerting press to other legislation signed by the president.

The National Rifle Association “applauded” Trump’s action. Chris Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, said the move “marks a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our arms.”

Everytown For Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said he expected more gun control rollbacks from the Trump administration. In a statement to NBC News, he called the action “just the first item on the gun lobby’s wish list” and accused the National Rifle Association of “pushing more guns, for more people, in more places.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a leading gun control advocate in Congress, called out Republicans over the move.

“Republicans always say we don’t need new gun laws, we just need to enforce the laws already on the books. But the bill signed into law today undermines enforcement of existing laws that Congress passed to make sure the background check system had complete information,” he said in an emailed statement.

Louisville Church Urges Participation in Bloomberg Gun Control Rally

Louisville Church Urges Participation in Bloomberg Gun Control Rally

Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, is urging members and Facebook fans to attend the June 2 gun control rally sponsored by Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety.

The rally is designed to pressure Congress to pass more gun control, and especially to expand background checks so that private gun sales are treated like retail gun sales. Everytown has pushed for this expansion for years and has been joined by Gabby Giffords, who was shot and wounded by an attacker who passed a background check to acquire his gun.

June 2 is gun controllers’ “Wear Orange” day, and Sojourn Community Church posted an Everytown video to its Facebook page with a script urging attendance.

Friday, June 2nd, wear orange to stand in solidarity with over 250 cities speaking out against gun violence. There will be an event the following day hosted by Moms Demand Action – KY and the Louisville Urban League, Inc., which you can find in a previous post. Will you join us?

The Everytown video makes the same, false claim that leftists like Hillary Clinton and groups like Moms Demand Action have been making for years; namely, that “more than 90 people are killed” by “gun violence” in America every day. In reality, the number of people killed annually by homicidal firearm use is about a third of that figure.

In other words, Everytown swells the number of deaths via “gun violence” by roughly 66 percent. They do this by adding firearm-related suicides to homicides, more than doubling the number of people who are actually murdered with a firearm. Breitbart News reported that Hillary Clinton used this same tactic during her failed 2016 gun control campaign.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report in 2012 that looked at actual data and found that murder plummeted in America between 1994 and 2009 as private gun ownership increased. In other words, more guns correlated with less murder. In 1994, 192 million firearms were in America, and that figure grew to 310 million firearms by 2009. According to the report, the “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” rate was 6.6 per 100,000 Americans in 1993. But after the exponential growth in the number of guns, the “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” rate fell to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000. It continued falling, landing at 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.

Moreover, Crime Prevention Research Center figures show that in the time between 2007 and 2015, concealed carry rose 215 percent, and the murder rate fell 14 percent.

As private gun ownership rose between 1994 and 2009, the “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” rate fell, and as concealed carry surged between 2007 and 2015, the murder rate fell.

As Chicago illustrates, the answer for isolated examples of rising crime around the country is not more gun control, but more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the church, Sojourn Community Church.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.

Why I give 10% of my income to the NRA

Why I give 10% of my income to the NRA

nra dot top

Much of the National Rifle Association’s political power comes from everyday Americans, who have contributed nearly $85 million to the organization’s political action committee in the last decade.

CNNMoney spoke with the largest individual donor to its PAC, the NRA Political Victory Fund, and asked him why he gave so much of his earnings to the organization.

A computer programmer from Texas, he asked to remain anonymous in order to protect his privacy.

Here’s what he had to say:

My annual donations have been approximately 5% to 10% of my income.

It is a good percentage of my income, but I want to do everything I can easily do to preserve my freedoms.

In the Clinton presidency I became alarmed with the steady attack on gun rights and more so when Al Gore campaigned on gun licensing. I believe the eventual goal is to prevent the average private citizen from owning guns.

It is much easier to fight these bans now with money than to fight laws later with lawyers or evasion.

I think having the average citizen armed is a powerful deterrent to would be abusers (criminals, police, politicians, maybe even foreign troops in some distant future).

I hope the money [I donate] will be used to help conservative or libertarian minded candidates win elections. I donated to the Bush presidential campaign and to the RNC for ’00 and ’04.

But I want to support the pro-gun Democrats also, so I switched my support almost exclusively to the PAC and trust them to aid the right people. I also think the PAC is large enough for politicians to notice what issue is driving the contributions.

Gun lobby seeks to calm fears about silencers

Gun lobby seeks to calm fears about silencers

Gun lobby seeks to calm fears about silencers
© Getty Images
The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun rights groups are fighting to change the public perception of “silencers” — or “sound suppressors” — that reduce the noise of gunfire.
Although the gun industry originally popularized the word “silencer” a century ago, now lobbyists are hoping to gain some distance from the term in large part because of fears that Hollywood has distorted the name. Their concern is that the popular concept of the device prompts fear about their use, which could in turn influence policy.
Unlike their portrayal in Hollywood films, pro-gun groups have noted that silencers are not completely silent and claim it would be more accurate to refer to these devices as sound suppressors.
They reduce the noise of gunfire enough to protect ears, but not so much that mass shooters could go undetected, the NRA says.
“The [sound suppressors] were a victim of the success of his marketing,” said Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, which is working with the NRA on this issue. Williams referenced Hiram Percy Maxim, who first used the term in the early 1900s when he invented what he referred to as the Maxim Silencer. The term later caught on with legislators and regulators.
“He labeled it as a silent firearm, and people took it for gospel,” Williams said of Maxim.
The NRA, American Suppressor Association (ASA), and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) all invited the media to gun ranges this week to demonstrate that sound suppressors are far from silent.
But gun control groups fear using the term “sound suppressor” risks watering down the danger such devices, according to them, represent.
“It’s all semantics,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“Focusing on the name distracts people from the real conversation,” Watts said. “They did the same thing with the debate over whether to use the term ‘assault rifles’ or ‘semiautomatic rifles,’ and then the whole conversation shifted to ‘What are we going to call these things?’”
“They want to get into semantics about the language, so we don’t talk about how dangerous they are.”
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reported last August there are more than 900,000 privately-owned silencers in the U.S. More recent reports indicate that number is growing.
The expanding focus on silencers has intensified the debate over terminology.
Sound suppressors are “less loud, not quiet,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president of government affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
“We prefer to refer to them as ‘suppressors,’ because that more accurately describes what they do,” he explained. “They reduce the noise of gunfire, but they don’t block it.”
“They are simply a muffler for your gun,” Keane said. “You hear a car go by without a muffler and it’s loud, but you can still hear it with a muffler.”
Former ATF agent David Chipman agreed, in part, with this argument — even though he now works for a gun control group.
“If it was up to me, I would feel much more comfortable with the word ‘suppressor,’ because that term is a more accurate description,” said Chipman, who now serves as senior policy advisor at Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun control group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived a 2011 mass shooting.
“That phrase — ‘suppressed gunfire’ — just rolls off your lips,” he said. “Unfortunately, that word is not found in the law that regulates silencers, which I enforced for 25 years.”
Both the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act exclusively use the term “silencer.” The term was first used by Hiram Percy Maxim in the early 1900s, when he invented what he referred to as the Maxim Silencer. The term later caught on with legislators and regulators.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, people who are exposed to noises louder than 140 decibels may face permanent damage to their ears.
On one side of the spectrum, whispering is about 30 decibels, while a normal conversation is 60 decibels. The ring of a telephone comes in around 80 decibels, and a lawn mower can be as loud as 90 decibels.
But a typical gun shot can be louder than 160 decibels.
The NRA claims suppressors can reduce the sound by more than 30 decibels. That brings it just below the hearing danger level.
But gunfire masked by silencers is far from silent, the NRA argues. They point out it is still louder than jackhammers (130 decibels) and ambulance sirens (120 decibels).
Gun control groups, in turn, raise concerns about humanizing silencers by comparing them to regular sounds.
“I don’t think it matters, because lawn mowers aren’t responsible for the deaths of about 90 Americans each day,” said Erika Soto Lamb, spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety, the group run by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Silencers not only distort the sound of a gun shot, but they also mask the muzzle flash, making it difficult to spot a shooter, said Chipman.
“It could confuse you long enough for a shooter to hit you with a second round of gunfire,” he said.
Gun manufacturers enjoyed huge profits during President Obama’s time in office, as gun owners rushed to purchase firearms before the government crackdown that some feared would hit firearm sales.
With a gun-friendly President Trump now in office, this frenzy has declined and critics say the NRA is looking for other avenues to make money.
“The silencers are an accessory to make up for the loss of guns sales since President Obama left office,” Watts said.
“They’ve sold the Barbies, and now they need to sell the Barbie Dreamhouse, and the Barbie shoes, and the Barbie car,” she added. “That is essentially what suppressors are.”

Texas Legislators Tackling a Slew of Gun Bills This Legislative Session

Texas Legislators Tackling a Slew of Gun Bills This Legislative Session

Texas Legislators Tackling a Slew of Gun Bills This Legislative Session

In Austin, a season of gun bills has begun in the 2017 legislative session. There are 28 gun bills introduced in the House and the 12 gun bills introduced in the Senate.

They appear on the heels of 2015 victories for gun rights activists, with the passage both of open carry and campus carry in the 2015 legislative session. They also have a supporter in the president of the Texas Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who told reporters in November: “No Texan should be deprived of their right to self-protection because of onerous licensing fees imposed by the state.”

Here are a few of the 40 bills that warrant special attention.

Constitutional Carry

Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Fort Worth area Republican who champions gun rights in Texas, introduced House Bill 375, otherwise known as “constitutional carry” to supporters and “guns everywhere” to opponents.

 It’s similar to legislation that Stickland filed in 2015 and seeks to allow Texans the freedom to carry a handgun without a permit, similar to the way they’re allowed to carry most long rifles. The bill would also make concealed-carry handgun-license classes optional instead of required.

“We don’t think people should be charged to invoke their constitutional rights and be required to take a class,” Stickland told the Houston Press in early January. “If we tried to do that with the First Amendment, people would be going insane over it. And I think there are a lot of folks that are in regards to this. Any time you put rules and regulations on anyone, it’s the good guys you’re hurting. Because criminals, they don’t obey the laws anyway.”

CJ Grisham and other Open Carry Texas members point out that the 11 other states with constitutional carry have seen no problems. Grisham, who serves as president of Open Carry Texas, told Guns.com, “As predicted, both open and campus carry have been non-issues. There is no reason why law abiding Texans can’t enjoy the same free access to exercise their rights.”

Stickland’s bill, of course, doesn’t ease federal gun law regulations. Texans seeking a gun from a licensed firearm dealer would still need to submit to a background check at their local gun dealers and possibly face denial if they’re a felon, mentally ill or under a certain age.

Gun control advocates argue allowing constitutional carry would be disastrous for Texas and make law enforcement even harder. Some point to the July mass shooting of police officers when Dallas police struggled to identify the shooter because some of the protesters were openly carrying AR15s.

Gun Show Loophole

In Texas, private sellers are not required to conduct federal background checks when they sell a gun in a parking lot or at a gun show. Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, hopes to change it with House Bill 3143, otherwise known as the “gun show loophole” law. The bill seeks to require private sellers at gun shows to conduct federal background checks and keep records of the sale.

Opponents of the bill point out that the state already makes it illegal for people to sell a gun to someone whom they know will use the gun unlawfully or know is a convicted felon. But many private sellers never ask what a person plans to do with a gun. They often ask for a Texas ID, though they’re not even required to ask for identification when they sell a used gun to a private individual.

Opponents of the bill point out that the bill’s definition of gun show isn’t as well defined as they hoped. According to the bill, “‘Gun show’ means a place other than a permanent retail store, including a driveway, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, or other parking area or an event at which: three or more individuals assemble to display firearms or firearm components to the public; and a fee is charged for the privilege of displaying the firearms or firearm components or a fee is charged for admission to the area where the firearms or components are displayed.”

Anchia points out that curbing the gun show loophole could also curb some of the 13,600 guns found in Mexico that the ATF claim originated from Texas. It would also keep private sellers from selling firearms in Target parking lots. “It’s a vicious cycle,” Anchia told local news outlets. “We send our guns down south, and they send their drugs up north.”

Eliminating Gun Licensing Fees

Gun owners have to pay $140 for a Texas handgun license and $70 to renew it every few years. (Discounts are available for judges, senior citizens, a police officers or veterans.) This revenue adds up, considering that more than a million Texans currently have permits to carry handguns, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, seeks to eliminate the fees to obtain a license to carry a handgun. Senate Bill 16 is similar to legislation filed by Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock. It also has the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick who told reporters, “Texas currently has one of the highest license to carry fees in the country, and we will fix that.”

Improving Gun Safety

Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, introduced a bill to curb some of the license fees if gun owners can prove that they own a locked safe, cabinet or case for gun storage. It doesn’t completely remove the fees like Nichols’ and Burrows’ bills, but does offer an incentive to receive a discount.

The bill would also require the Texas Department of Public Safety to create educational programs teaching people how to secure their guns and safely handle them as if they’re obtaining a license to drive a vehicle. Moody says he’s simply trying to improve gun safety.

Texas Gun Sense, an advocacy group seeking to reduce gun violence with policy, is a big supporter of Moody’s bill. Andrea Brauer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, said at an early December news conference at the Capitol, “We want to address the issue of 3,500 people who are killed or injured by gun violence every year in Texas. It does not have to be a Republican or Democrat issue. We shouldn’t have to choose sides.”

Limiting Open Carry and Campus Carry

Democrats are still seeking a way to curb the open carry law.

In House Bill 466, Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, seeks to give cities with populations of 750,000 and above the ability to vote to end open carry. The bill would also allow businesses to ban firearms simply by displaying a sign with a logo similar to the no smoking logo instead of a wordy sign as the law currently requires.

Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, filed House Bill 391 to allow public universities the option to opt out of the campus carry law. The current campus carry law, which went into effect in August, only allows private universities the option of disarming their students. A similar bill was defeated by a majority of Republicans in both chambers during the last legislative session.

Howard also seeks to ban guns from state mental health hospitals. Currently, licensed handgun owners in Texas are allowed to carry openly at one of Texas’ 10 state mental health hospitals. This is a part of the   open carry laws passed during the 2015 legislative session.

Supporters claim open carry of firearms deters crime and mass shooters. Opponents claim openly carrying firearms disturbs the peace at restaurants and college campuses.

“I think if we just used some common sense, we’d recognize that’s not exactly a place where we should be having weaponry,” Howard said in early December press conference at the Capitol.

He’s a good guy with a gun who saved a cop’s life ​​​​​​​— and he’s for gun control

He’s a good guy with a gun who saved a cop’s life — and he’s for gun control

Time seemed to slow for Thomas Yoxall.

He soaked in the details: the four flares set up roadside, the patrol car’s lights in the pre-dawn darkness. The trooper on the ground that a man was pummeling.

Yoxall pulled his car over and exited. He held his handgun in a three-quarter draw, ready to fire.

He walked step over step, trying to keep himself as narrow a potential target as possible.

Yoxall yelled at the man to back away from the trooper; the man did not. Instead, he raised his fists high in the air.

Yoxall saw his opportunity.

He fired three times. He watched through the gun sights as the second and third shots hit their mark and said he had no doubt about his accuracy.

Yoxall, 44, of El Mirage, Ariz., saved the patrolman’s life that January morning on Interstate 10 between Tonopah and Quartzite, Ariz., about 40 miles west of Phoenix. He also lived out an argument-ending episode on why upstanding individuals should be armed.

Yoxall believes that. He also believes ownership should be restricted.

Part of that comes from his own knowledge that guns are not always used for good.

He has been on the wrong end of a gun at least four times during confrontations in his youthful hellion days. Those were four times when he also could have fired at a person and had that homicide potentially ruled a justified use of force.

When the story of what he had done was initially reported, no one knew anything about Yoxall: Not his name. Not that he was heavily tattooed, that he was a journeyman plumber who dabbled in portrait photography. Not that he was a former felon.

The public knew only what he did on the side of the freeway.

And for that, Yoxall was given a title: Good Samaritan.

In the biblical story, a man is beaten and left lying on the side of the road. Two people pass by the man.

But a man from Samaria, a region that feuded with the Jewish people to whom Jesus told the parable, stopped to help. The Samaritan tended to the man’s wounds and took him to a nearby inn.

No one died in that tale.

What is similar in the stories is that people who could have stopped to help kept moving.

“I loathe society,” Yoxall said. He figured dozens of cars must have driven by the scene. He said he later was told no one called 911.

“I can’t fathom that,” he said.

Yoxall said he had no choice but to stop. Throughout his life, he had always seen himself in the role of a protector.

This incident validated that notion.

“You always hope that at that moment, that critical moment, you can be able to perform based on what your convictions are,” he said. “You never know until that moment of truth.”

A rocky start

In 1999, Yoxall was not a Good Samaritan. He was a youth counselor working at a group home in Glendale, Ariz., called Pathways.

He didn’t get along with many of the kids and thought they were stealing from him, according to court records. He devised a plan to even the score.

One evening, he drove the group of residents to a movie. He returned to the home and, with an accomplice, stole stuff: a Playstation gaming console, a CD player, a camera and other items easily fenced, which is what Yoxall did.

When the juveniles came back and saw their belongings gone, Yoxall called police to report the theft. Months later, someone implicated him in the crime, telling police they were afraid Yoxall would shoot the tipster if he found out.

When questioned, Yoxall confessed.

He said he did it for the money, court papers show. He also said he was sorry.

Before he was sentenced, he told his life story to an officer charged with determining what his punishment should be.

Yoxall told the officer that he had a childhood marked with physical and verbal abuse, records show. He has a knot on his forehead, the result of being thrown against a piece of furniture, he said.

He started drinking at 12, according to court records. He started smoking marijuana at 11. He added LSD and mushrooms by 14.

He was diagnosed as bipolar and spent time in a mental facility in his junior year of high school while battling depression. Part of his tailspin was the loss of three close friends that year, two to accidents and one to suicide.

For Yoxall, his three months in the “loony bin,” as he described it, marked the first time he felt calm. He was free from what he considered the chaos at home.

Yoxall moved out of his house at 17, lying on a lease application to get his own apartment.

He told the details of his childhood to the probation officer who filled it out in the requisite forms. The officer wrote that Yoxall felt “ashamed and humiliated” and that the thought of the crime made Yoxall feel “sick all the way down to the pit of his stomach.”

The report recommended probation. The judge granted it in January 2001.

As a condition, Yoxall was not allowed to own a firearm.

The images of a life

Yoxall got his first tattoo at age 17 — something small, stupid and easily hidden under clothes, he said. As the years passed, the ink creations became larger, more elaborate and more meaningful.

At 24, Yoxall had etched into his right arm the character Winnie the Pooh as depicted in the Disney cartoons, but wearing a blindfold, cigarette in his mouth, and crucified. Blood from the nail hole in his paw was dripping into a jar marked “Hunny.”

To Yoxall, it was a memorial to the loss of innocence. He had just lost a friend to a car wreck. And he thought about friends he lost as a teenager to suicide and other car wrecks.

It is a tattoo that might startle people, but on Yoxall’s arm it blends in with so many others.

Yoxall’s collection of tattoos are along his arms, chest and back. He had letters tattooed on the knuckles of his hands that read “Forsaken.”

He had smaller letters placed vertically on the middle sections of his fingers. When interlaced, the letters spelled “Assassin.”

Yoxall also stretched holes in his ear lobes with gauges. He started with a tunnel three-eighths of an inch in diameter, among the largest available at the time, he said.

He also had small barbells placed through the skin in his back, near the nape of his neck. He said he was among the first in the city to get the body modification jewelry.

Yoxall took the gauges out of his ears three years ago. But the holes were so wide, his ear lobe will never grow back together.

He always will have a slit in each ear.

Yoxall doesn’t mind. Even though he is not that person anymore, he can’t deny he was at one time. And he is all right showing it.

He feels the same about his tattoos. He touches up old ones and adds new ones to some of the remaining bare skin on his body.

Most recently, he had one added to the top of his foot.

For Yoxall, his tattoos reveal his level of commitment and conviction. He took one step of commitment when he extended his tattoos below his sleeve. Then, he added the one on his neck.

“When I got my throat tattooed, everybody looked at me differently,” he said.

It is an illustration of an open straight razor, making a V-shape across his throat. There are small blood drops by the blade.

It called attention to himself. It invited derision.

It also brought Yoxall into a community of like-minded individuals who enjoyed decorating their bodies. At 19, Yoxall had stopped drinking, for the most part, and had stopped doing drugs.

He had done so much of each that the appeal of each was gone. Among his friends, he was often the designated driver.

‘You know if they mean business’

He also was the designated enforcer.

“I had the reputation for taking care of people’s dirty laundry for them,” Yoxall said. “That’s a reason why people associated with me.”

Yoxall had been a brawler since high school. Typically, he was part of a fight at the beginning of the year.

After time passed, and Yoxall surmised that people forgot about the brutality of the first beating, someone would challenge him at the end of the year.

Those fights continued into adulthood. Yoxall was often challenged and was not one to back down.

At times, the confrontations escalated.

Four times, someone at a party pulled a gun on him, Yoxall said. Each time, he could tell by looking at the man’s eyes that he was using the gun as a tool to threaten and that the man didn’t actually to pull the trigger.

“You know if they mean business or not,” he said.

Yoxall was able to talk his way out of each situation. He recalled one time vividly where he calmly explained the consequences of the action and told the person he didn’t want that outcome.

Yoxall said being in those rough situations helped him remain calm when faced with the situation on the freeway. Those scared, irresponsible gun owners would help steel him for the time when he would save a trooper’s life.

Finding a community

When he turned 30 in February 2003, Yoxall took stock of himself. He was a journeyman plumber, a college dropout, a convicted felon and a tough guy whom friends liked because he was an intimidating enforcer.

He was also a married father of two children who were becoming old enough to be aware of the man he was.

Yoxall decided to make some changes.

“It’s not the legacy I wanted to leave for my kids,” he said. Yoxall stopped hanging out with those old friends and worked on adopting new habits.

He volunteered at his kids’ school. He started working with developmentally disabled children.

Mostly, he decided to stop carrying around the anger over his childhood.

“At some point, you wake up and decide (that) this isn’t going to control my life anymore,” he said. “I need to leave those stones at the door. This is not who I wanted to be.”

Yoxall had been released from probation the previous month, one year earlier than his sentence, on his probation officer’s recommendation.

In August 2003, Yoxall asked that his felony conviction be erased and turned into a misdemeanor. He also asked for his gun back.

The judge granted both requests.

That same year, at a shooting range, a man came up to him and started talking tattoos. The two hit it off.

The man was ex-military and owned a shooting range. Soon, Yoxall was out shooting with the man and his friends, a mix of law enforcement and current or former military personnel.

“We were enjoying ourselves, but we were also there to hone our skills and to learn from one another,” he said.

They ran barricade drills, trying to hit targets while ducking behind an object. They practiced the one-hole drill, trying to group shots on a target as closely as possible so they made one large hole. They practiced while wearing “plate carriers,” a body armor vest.

They practiced in some hills near Lake Pleasant in Peoria, Ariz.

For Yoxall, it was a professional spin on the shooting he did on his own starting in the late 1990s. He was not content to set up bottles and cans in the desert and fire away.

He tried to do tactical training on his own.

One of the spots where he practiced his shooting was on a patch of desert just off Interstate 10, west of Phoenix.

On the side of the road

On Jan. 12, Yoxall and his girlfriend, Heidi Jones, were driving to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., where she was going to run a 10K race. As they left Phoenix, they saw the Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper enter westbound I-10 from the on-ramp at Arizona 85.

Yoxall was doing 82 mph and said something along the lines of what an awful start to the day it would be to get a speeding ticket.

But the trooper kept going, distancing himself from their silver Toyota Tacoma truck, Yoxall said.

They caught up with him a few miles ahead and saw that the trooper had pulled to the side of the freeway. Yoxall slowed as he saw the flares on the road.

It was dark and Yoxall said he didn’t want to run over a flare or whatever other debris might be on the road.

Then he looked over and saw what was happening.

“Call 911,” he said to his girlfriend.

After he passed the scene, he sped up, then parked on the shoulder. “I wanted distance between the situation and me,” he said.

What happened next occurred within 10 seconds, Yoxall estimated. But to him, it played out much more slowly.

He saw a woman’s body on the side of the freeway. Not a threat, he remembered thinking.

The lights from the cruiser were blinding him, so he adjusted his approach slightly. He saw the trooper had his gun holstered.

He saw another gun in the road. The slide was locked back.

Yoxall surmised it was out of bullets. Also, not a threat.

The trooper was on the ground, bloodied. His attacker was straddling him and raining punches.

Yoxall said it looked like a mixed martial-arts brawl.

“The guy’s on top of him in full mount, like a UFC fighter,” Yoxall said.

Yoxall yelled a question: “Do you need assistance?”

The answer seemed obvious. But Yoxall said it was a “trained response to a situation.”

The trooper, identified later as Ed Andersson, replied, “Help me.” The attacker yelled at Andersson to shut up.

Yoxall approached, his Springfield XD9 9 mm in his hand, and moved his position, giving himself a clear line of fire. He saw the attacker look at him.

Yoxall said the attacker’s face showed pure evil.

“He raises his arms up again to pummel him,” Yoxall said.

That’s when Yoxall squeezed the trigger. “Pop, pop, pop.”

His third shot hit the man’s head, killing him.

Yoxall knelt over the injured trooper.

“My name is Thomas,” he told him. “I’m here to help.”

Another motorist stopped and used the radio to call in the incident. Within minutes, Department of Public Safety cars swarmed the area.

To Yoxall, the wait seemed longer.

As troopers approached, Yoxall placed his handgun on the ground.

Yoxall told troopers he was the shooter. He directed them to the gun he used.

He wore a hoodie and shorts and felt cold in the January air. Troopers separated him and his girlfriend.

His immediate thought was of her: Was she OK? The thought would continue haunting him in the coming days, his only regret about the incident.

“I didn’t give her a choice to participate in that,” Yoxall said, tearing up at the thought.

The trooper was taken to a hospital. He would survive his injuries, which included a gunshot to the shoulder.

A trooper who knew Andersson came up to Yoxall, called him a hero and thanked him. Yoxall demurred.

He said he just wanted to give his statement and be on his way.

This happened

Yoxall was driven to a substation about 25 miles away in Buckeye, Ariz., and interviewed. He wished he had brought along the coffee he left in his truck.

He also left behind his chewing tobacco, but fished through his cargo shorts and found another tin tucked away.

As the public-safety detective asked him about the incident, Yoxall said he became emotional about it for the first time.

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He shed tears as he described Andersson being beaten on the side of the road, he said.

“What had to be going through his mind, along on the highway?” he said. “ ‘Nobody’s coming for me. I’m dead.’ ”

Afterward, the man who interviewed him told Yoxall, in so many words, that he wouldn’t face charges, Yoxall said. He bought lunch and was driven back to the scene.

By the time he got back there, word had spread among the troopers about what happened.

“Once that genie was out of the bottle, everyone else was coming up and thanking me,” Yoxall said. “It was awkward.”

Yoxall was allowed to drive away. The couple resumed their drive to California. No radio; little talking.

Somewhere down the road, Yoxall realized what happened.

You ended somebody’s life today,” he remembered thinking. His mind also kept replaying the incident — not everything, just the final moment, just the sight of the man’s head being torn apart.

“Jesus, that image from that last shot,” Yoxall said.

Yoxall wouldn’t recall the whole incident until weeks later. His brain would replay the scene bit by bit, each time backing it up by a few seconds.

“It’s not like you’re filling in the blanks; there’s no blanks,” he said. “But your mind lets you see more of the picture until you see the whole darn thing.”

► December 2014: Anonymous layaway ‘angel’ pays $50,000 for Walmart gifts
► September 2014: Woman smashes car window to rescue baby

The two checked into a hotel. Yoxall took a shower. His girlfriend turned on the news.

The scene they had left behind in Arizona hours earlier was now the subject of nationwide news coverage.

When Yoxall emerged, she called him to the TV.

“Coast to coast,” Yoxall thought.

It started sinking in. This happened. That quick decision while driving down a freeway between Tonopah and Quartzsite would change Yoxall’s life forever.

Suddenly, in the spotlight’s glare

Yoxall would have preferred not to hold the news conference, would have preferred to remain anonymous and not stand in front of a bank of television cameras and face questions from reporters.

The Arizona Department of Public Service had arranged for Yoxall to speak with the psychologist who deals with troopers and other law-enforcement officers who have gone through traumatic situations. Yoxall said that help made it easier for him to digest the situation.

Yoxall also had nearly daily calls from the agency director. He received invitations for private meetings with units from other police departments.

He was taken quietly to the state Capitol building where he met the governor and legislative leaders. Most important, he had also met the trooper whose life he saved.

But he had mostly retained his anonymity.

That wouldn’t last, the state officials told him. His name was part of a public document and would be released at some point.

Best to get in front of it rather than have every media outlet in the city, state and country chasing him down, the staff advised him.

Yoxall agreed. He met the media in a conference room near the Department of Public Safety headquarters. Yoxall stood at the podium, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt with the logo of his favorite camera brand, Leica.

He was visibly shaking. He sounded nervous.

He read from a statement. He talked about how awful it was to take a life, how glad he was to know the trooper was alive and that his family would get to enjoy the days and years ahead.

Someone asked him about the “hero” tag.

“I’m an ordinary person,” he said. “I was put in extraordinary circumstances. I may have acted heroically. I don’t consider myself a hero.”

Yoxall told reporters he felt that carrying his firearm was a right and he also felt he had a responsibility to train with it.

“I have taken the time to make sure, several times a year, to go out and practice those safety techniques to make sure I’m always responsible.”

Yoxall knows his has become a singular story that illustrates the “good guy with a gun” scenario. His story shows the notion of an armed citizen preventing a tragedy is not the stuff of fantasy.

A few times a year, a citizen will kill a stranger in a homicide that police rule is justified. It has happened 8.5 times a year in Arizona during the decade from 2004 to 2014, according to statistics reported to the FBI.

A sampling of those shooting reports show they involve people protecting themselves or their property. People saving someone else is rare, saving an officer almost unheard of.

Yoxall hinted, without getting specific, that political operatives who wish to use his story to advance a gun-rights agenda have approached him.

“I could have totally milked it if I wanted,” he said. “Get yourself on the cover of the (National Rifle Association’s) quarterly magazine.”

But there was one hitch: Yoxall believes gun ownership should have restrictions.

He believes potential gun owners should be subject to background checks. He also thinks the government should mandate training for anyone who wishes to carry any type of weapon, handgun or long gun.

“You have to hold yourself to a higher standard, to be a responsible citizen,” he said.

Firearms are tools and Yoxall said people need to be well versed in how they operate before they attempt to use them in a dangerous and stressful situation. Untrained people run the risk of shooting an innocent person or being frozen with fear and having their gun taken away from them.

“You have to show me you’re proficient if I’m going to let you carry those weapons,” Yoxall said.

Yoxall said he doesn’t think his thoughts are unique.

“I believe most educated common-sense gun owners feel the same way, too,” he said. “There’s a lot of us out there. But they don’t have that voice.”

What if he’d strayed?

Through the months, Yoxall has found peace with the incident.

He asked his pastor if it was wrong not to feel guilty for shooting a man dead.

“I can’t get over the fact I have no remorse for taking that person’s life,” Yoxall said. “For some reason, I thought I was going to get a demerit from Jesus.”

He said his pastor told him remorse came from questioning our actions. The pastor told him that his action was justified, that he was stopping evil.

Yoxall said his psychiatrist has told him much the same.

Yoxall also met Andersson, the trooper whose life he saved.

“That’s when the healing really started to move forward exponentially,” Yoxall said. “There was that validation that what I did was just and true.”

They first met at a Peoria substation. Since then, they have had occasional Sunday lunches after church services.

Andersson said the two have become “real close friends.”

Andersson, who had become a grandfather for the second time two weeks before the shooting, said he had been in perilous, isolated situations before while patrolling freeways for more than two decades.

He was grateful Yoxall drove by when he did during this one. Andersson said he had a surgery last week and his face still showed signs of the January trauma.

While Yoxall can wax philosophically about the shooting, Andersson took a pragmatic approach.

“For me, he was there that one day, those few seconds, those few minutes,” he said. “And that’s good.”

As Yoxall has digested the events, he has come to believe everything that happened in his past — the abuse, the fights, the arrest — played a part in getting him to that exact spot of Interstate 10 on that January morning.

He also knows he had several opportunities to stray from that path.

• What if he fought the theft charge and ended up in jail?
• Or if he had engaged in a gun battle with any of the four people who had threatened him at parties?
• Or if he had fouled up on probation and couldn’t get his gun back?

He also had altered the path ahead for Andersson, who now had his timeline extended, and for himself.

“Even though mine wasn’t going to end, was mine still destined to go this way?” he said. “Mine’s taken a different course than what was initially there.”

Part of that was of Yoxall’s own doing.

The week after his news conference, he quit his job as a plumber. He decided to turn his photography hobby into a business.

He’s calling his company, cheekily, Sure Shot Photography.

It was a byproduct of the empowerment Yoxall felt after the incident.

“It was vindicating,” he said. “Not only did I stand upon my convictions that morning, I was able to act on them. That says something to me. I have that heart, that determination, that grit.”

The past few months have put Yoxall in settings he otherwise wouldn’t be. This past Saturday, he was in Prescott, Ariz., speaking to a group of law-enforcement retirees. Two Saturdays before that, he was at a Scottsdale, Ariz., golf course for a Department of Public Safety tournament.

The week before that, he was in New York where a national police group was honoring him. Afterward, officers circled him and got him to down a shot of Jameson whiskey with them.

Finally moving on

On Monday, Yoxall and Andersson received medals of valor from Director Frank Milstead at the annual Arizona Department of Public Safety awards ceremony. Afterward, Yoxall was going to a substation where he was going to take his first in a series of ride-alongs with troopers.

Yoxall planned to make a photo project out of it.

Milstead, speaking before the ceremony, said he was glad to see Yoxall embracing the law-enforcement community, just as it has embraced him.

“I just hope, somewhere down the road, outside of these mementos we’ve given to him these past few months, we can do more for him and his family,” Milstead said. “He’s just a solid community member and a great supporter of law enforcement.”

The department did help arrange for Yoxall to get two gifts.

One was a license plate frame that reads “KOA.” It refers to the historic radio frequency that Phoenix police used and only law-enforcement officers can purchase them.

Yoxall said the police union representative who gave it to him joked it might get him out of a traffic ticket or two.

The other was a handgun. His was taken away because it had become evidence in a homicide investigation.

Milstead made a call and another union representative presented Yoxall with a Glock.

On Saturday, Yoxall received a letter from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office officially informing him he would not face charges in the shooting. It was ruled justified.

A detective called him Tuesday and said they would set up a time to get his weapon back.

Yoxall does not plan to keep it. Part of the reason is that he has become a Glock aficionado, preferring it to the Springfield he used in the shooting. But he also carries no sentimentality for the object.

“That’s not a memento I care to have,” he said.

When he gets it, Yoxall plans to take the weapon to his gun store and sell it for store credit.

 

Ralph Northam Holds Press Conference with LGBT, Gun Control PAC

Ralph Northam Holds Press Conference with LGBT, Gun Control PAC

Ralph Northam Holds Press Conference with LGBT, Gun Control PAC
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) –Guns continue to be a hot button issue in this year’s elections in Virginia.

Monday, Democratic candidate for governor Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam held a press call with the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC. It’s a political group inspired by the mass shooting in Orlando that backs candidates in state and federal elections based on their support for gun control and LGBT rights.

Northam has been picking up backing from groups that favor more limits on firearms access.

“We have a problem with people buying numerous guns in Virginia and not only dispersing them throughout Virginia but also to other states, and we have a pipeline now from Virginia to New York of weapons, and that needs to stop,” Northam said.

Northam is in a close race with former congressman Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination for governor.

The primaries are taking place June 13..

Sen. Warner to oppose concealed carry push

170503_mark_warner_AP_1160.jpg
“With the tragic rate of gun violence today, I simply cannot support efforts to further weaken our nation’s gun laws,” Sen. Mark Warner said. | AP Photo

Sen. Warner to oppose concealed carry push

Sen. Mark Warner announced Wednesday he intends to oppose a congressional effort to expand gun owner rights through what’s known as “concealed carry reciprocity.”

The bill, introduced to the House of Representatives in January by GOP Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, would allow individuals to be held under the existing concealed carry measures of their home states, even when traveling beyond their borders, effectively loosening laws for out-of-state gun owners nationwide.

Warner (D-Va.), who supported a similar measure in 2013 and whose support for gun control initiatives has fluctuated over the past several years, said in a statement Wednesday he’d been moved to oppose the bill in light of the numerous mass shootings occurring in recent years in the U.S.

“With the tragic rate of gun violence today, I simply cannot support efforts to further weaken our nation’s gun laws,” Warner said. “That includes renewed efforts this Congress to relax the standards for issuing concealed carry permits or to establish a national system that would further erode state-level concealed carry standards.”

The Virginia Democrat, who maintained that he was “a proud supporter of Second Amendment rights,” called for action further action to prevent gun violence in a series of tweets Wednesday.

“I’ve listened to Virginians whose families have been torn apart by gun violence. Enough is enough,” he said. “This tragic violence has to end.”

The bill, strongly supported by the National Rifle Association, has faced heavy opposition from gun control advocacy groups including Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, which has threatened to pour $25 million into the 2018 elections to oppose the measure.

In NRA Speech, Trump Floats 2020 Challenge From Elizabeth Warren

In NRA Speech, Trump Floats 2020 Challenge From Elizabeth Warren

The president on Friday resurfaced his ‘Pocahontas’ nickname for the Massachusetts senator while taking a victory lap ahead of his 100th day in office.

In NRA Speech, Trump Floats 2020 Challenge From Elizabeth Warren
President Donald Trump speaks at the NRA-ILA's Leadership Forum at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 28, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

President Donald Trump floated the prospect of a potential 2020 challenge from Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Friday.

 President Donald Trump on Friday floated the prospect of a potential 2020 challenge from Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, resurrecting his “Pocahontas” nickname for one of his staunchest critics during a speech to a National Rifle Association convention.

“It may be Pocahontas, remember that. And she’s not big for the NRA, that I can tell you,” the president said of the progressive Democrat to thousands of NRA members gathered in Atlanta.

Trump’s speech before the NRA – in which he became the first sitting president to make such an address since Ronald Reagan – amounted to a bid of thanks for its efforts to help elect him in November, combined with a victory lap as a self-proclaimed “true friend and champion” of gun rights.

 “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” he said, referring to gun-restricting efforts by former President Barack Obama.

Trump has waffled in the past on gun restrictions, but fashioned himself as a fierce advocate of gun rights during the 2016 campaign. On Friday, he cited his key accomplishments as including the rollback of a ban on lead ammunition used in wildlife refuges. The Obama administration said the order was intended to protect birds from lead poisoning.