Tag Archives: assault rifles

Armed man on way to gay Pride event was under gun ban

Indiana “blew it” by not enforcing a gun ban against a man who was armed when he was arrested in California while traveling to a gay Pride event, a state Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday while advocating for stricter gun controls.

James Wesley Howell, 20, was ordered in April to forfeit all firearms under the terms of his probation on a misdemeanor intimidation conviction, for allegedly pulling a gun and making threats against a neighbor in southern Indiana.

But it’s unclear whether Howell obtained the three assault rifles found on him in Los Angeles on June 12 after the judge’s order or whether he had them before it was issued, state Rep. Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis said during a news conference outside of the Statehouse.

“Every step of the way we blew it,” said DeLaney, who is up for re-election in November and said he’ll propose legislation for the GOP-dominated General Assembly to consider next session.

Howell, who is from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and faces weapons and ammunition charges, was arrested in Santa Monica, California, hours after the deadly attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He also faces a child molestation charge in Indiana — allegations a local prosecutor said apparently spurred his cross-country journey to Los Angeles.

Clark County chief probation officer James Hayden has told The Associated Press that probation officials had rated Howell a low-level offender in the misdemeanor intimidation charge, and that a probation officer met with him in May, but had yet to schedule an in-home visit by the time Howell made it to California.

Police found in Howell’s car a loaded assault rifle with magazines rigged to allow 60 shots to be fired in quick succession and 15 pounds of chemicals mixed and ready to explode. He also had two other loaded rifles, ammunition, a stun gun, a buck knife and a security badge.

DeLaney said he wants to introduce bills that would ban large ammunition clips and “automatic military-type” weapons, as well as increase funding for county probation departments in light of recent changes in state sentencing laws that are directing more people to probation and community corrections programs rather than jail or prison.


Murphy ends filibuster, Senate Republicans agree to votes on gun measures

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy ended a blockade of the Senate after nearly 15 hours, saying Republicans agreed to hold votes on measures to expand background checks and prevent people on U.S. terrorism watch lists from buying guns.

Democrats stalled Senate proceedings on June 15 and into June 16 in a bid to push for tougher gun control legislation following the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and spoke on the Senate floor through out the night.

Republicans, who currently have a 54-person majority in the Senate, have over the years blocked gun control measures, saying they step on Americans’ right to bear arms as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

“When we began there was no commitment, no plan to debate these measures,” Murphy, of Connecticut, said during the 15th hour of the filibuster early on Thursday.

He said Democrats were given a commitment by the Senate’s Republican leadership that votes would be allowed on two measures on preventing gun sales to people on terrorism watch lists and expanding background checks.

“No guarantee that those amendments pass but we’ll have some time to … prevail upon members to take these measures and turn them into law,” Murphy said.

With Republicans and the National Rifle Association gun lobby under pressure to respond to the massacre, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would meet with the NRA to discuss ways to block people on terrorism watch or no-fly lists from buying guns.

The Senate had began discussions on legislation to ban firearm sales to the hundreds of thousands of people on U.S. terrorism watch lists. The Orlando gunman, who carried out the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, had been on such a list.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged senators on June 15 to offer ideas on how to prevent another attack like the one in Orlando.

Late on June 15, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said negotiations “were little more than a smokescreen by Republicans trying to give themselves political cover while they continue to march in lock-step with the NRA’s extreme positions.”

If Congress was to pass a gun control measure, it would mark the first time in more than 20 years that lawmakers agreed on how to address the hot-button issue. A ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, such as the one used in Orlando, had gone into effect in 1994 and expired 10 years later.

NRA-backed Republicans fight Dem bill to stop terrorists from buying assault weapons

People on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list often can’t board commercial airliners, but they can walk into a gun store and legally buy pistols and powerful military-style rifles.

Following the Paris attacks, Democrats renewed calls for Congress to pass legislation aimed at preventing terrorists from buying guns. Similar bills — including a post-Sept. 11 measure backed by the Justice Department under President George W. Bush — have been stymied for years by the National Rifle Association and its representatives in Congress.

According to a March analysis by the Government Accountability Office, people on the FBI’s consolidated terrorist watchlist successfully passed the background check required to purchase firearms more than 90 percent of the time, with more than 2,043 approvals between 2004 and 2014. The office is an investigative branch of Congress.

The FBI is notified when a background check for the purchase of firearms or explosives generates a match with the watchlist and agents often use that information to step up surveillance on terror suspects. Under current federal law, however, association with a terrorist organization doesn’t prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives.

About 420,000 people are on the list administered by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, though only about 2 percent of those are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents legally able to buy guns.

The new Democratic push, which is considered unlikely to succeed in the GOP-controlled Congress, is focused on legislation by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would let the attorney general compile a list of known and suspected terrorists.

Federally licensed gun dealers would be barred from selling firearms to them, just as they are already prohibited from sales to people with felony convictions or serious mental illnesses. The proposed legislation would not prevent transactions that don’t involve licensed dealers, such as those between private individuals at gun shows or many sales online, which don’t currently involve background checks.

Feinstein introduced her bill in February, well before the mass killings in Paris injected new life into terrorism and public safety as top-tier political issues. 

Feinstein’s bill echoes legislation the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., proposed repeatedly over the past decade. U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., also has long pushed the same legislation.

Meanwhile, Republicans took advantage of voters’ newly aroused security concerns in late November, when they easily pushed legislation through the House preventing Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States until the administration tightens restrictions on their entry.

That issue put Democrats on the defensive. Forty-seven of them voted for the bill, ignoring a veto threat by President Barack Obama, who said the current screening system is strong and accused Republicans of fanning fear among worried voters.

Democrats are hoping to turn the political tables on Republicans by focusing the debate instead on terrorists’ access to guns.

“I think this is a no-brainer,” said Feinstein, a longtime gun control supporter. “If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun.”

Congress has yet to vote on Feinstein’s proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not said whether he would be open to allowing a vote.

The GOP-run House has not held any votes on major gun control measures since the killings of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., did not respond directly when asked if he favored barring people on the watch list from buying guns. He said, “We are just beginning this process of reassessing all of our security stances.”

The NRA opposes Feinstein’s bill.

NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker pointed to past instances where innocent people were added to the watchlist either in error or as the result of tenuous ties to others involved in suspicious activities. She said her group wants to ensure Americans wrongly on the list are afforded their constitutional right.

Under current law, people can try persuading the Justice Department to remove their names from a terror watch list or can file lawsuits challenging their inclusion.

Moms staging Stroller Jam at Target shareholders’ meeting to protest gun policy

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today is staging a “Stroller Jam” of mothers and children and stollers outside Target Corps’ annual shareholder meeting. The protest is to call attention to the fact that Target allows the open carry of guns in its stores.

In less than a week’s time, more than 160,000 people have signed petitions asking Target Corp CEO John Mulligan to prohibit the open carry of guns and Moms chapters in a number of states will also begin delivering petitions to Target stores this week.

The petitions are in response to demonstrations by a gun extremist group that brought loaded semi-automatic weapons into the aisles of Target stores in a number of states and after a gun was found in the toy aisle of a Target store in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In another incident, a Target employee accidentally shot himself with a gun dropped by a customer.

In a news release announcing the Stroller Jam, Shannon Watts of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said, “Assault rifles and guns don’t belong in the baby aisle, they don’t belong in the toy aisle — and they don’t belong in any aisle of the stores that American moms frequent like Target.

“We will continue our call on Target to stand with moms and support the safety and security of our children when we shop in their stores.  We support the Second Amendment but people walking through the aisles flaunting their loaded weapons is unacceptable and it’s time for Target, a store that American moms flock to, to follow the lead of Chipotle and Starbucks and prohibit the open carry of firearms.”

The protest was to take place at Union Station in Dallas at about 1:30 p.m. CST.

Also, moms  also planned to deliver petition to stores in Virginia, California, North Carolina and Minnesota.

According to Target, about 80-90 percent of its customers are women and 38 percent of the retailer’s adult customers are accompanied in the store by children.