Tag Archives: firearm

2-year-olds involved in fatal shootings twice in one week

A Milwaukee mother of three was shot and killed by her 2-year-old son yesterday morning while driving on U.S. 41/Highway 175 near Miller Park.

Antonio Price said investigators told him that his sister Patrice Price was driving with her two sons, ages 1 and 2, in the backseat when she was shot. Price said investigators told him the older boy fired the gun.

According to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s office, the child shot his mother in the back with a 40-caliber firearm that slid out from under the driver’s seat.

Price said his sister was a great mother and always gave him good advice.

The woman’s father, Andre Price, said his daughter was driving her boyfriend’s car when she was shot. He said his daughter was a hardworking mother of three.

Price says he has not been allowed to see his daughter and that he wants to hold her one last time.

Twice in one week

The shooting occurred just a week after a 2-year-old Indianapolis boy took a gun from his mother’s purse on the kitchen counter when she wasn’t watching, then shot and killed himself with it.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said officers found the child with a single gunshot wound when they arrived at the home around 9 p.m. on April 21. The child died at a children’s hospital.

Police said the mother and child were the only people at home when the shooting happened.

Accidental gun deaths involving children have become a major problem in the U.S.

Last year, about 265 children under 18 shot someone by accident, and 83 of those shootings were fatal, according to research compiled by the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. Forty-one of those deaths involved the shooters themselves, and most of the shootings involved toddlers or teens playing with the weapons.

Nearly 1.7 million children live in households where guns are stored either loaded or not locked away, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The center  publishes a 0-100 score rating each state’s strictness of firearm laws, with 100 being the strictest. Wisconsin’s score is 25, compared with a score of 2 for Kansas and 93.5 for California.

Wisconsin gun safety

Wisconsin state Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, introduced four bills early this year related to firearm safety, including a bill that would have required a gun owner to store firearms in a locked container or have a locking device engaged if there is a child living in the residence or if a child is present in the home.

All four bills were sent to the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, where Republican leaders, who are heavily subsidized by the National Rifle Association, refused to allow a hearing on them.

Target asks customers to leave firearms at home

The retail giant Target on July 2 asked customers to not bring firearms to its stores.

The announcement made on a company blog was from interim CEO John Mulligan, who has been the focus of a petition drive coordinated by a grassroots group of moms opposed to people carrying guns in a store where adult shoppers often are accompanied by children.

Mulligan’s statement said:

“The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.

“As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit ‘open carry’ should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target — even in communities where it is permitted by law.

“We’ve listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.

“This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which collected nearly 400,000 signatures on a petition, applauded Target’s decision. The group said it “introduced the campaign after gun extremists carrying loaded assault rifles frequently gathered in Target stores to demonstrate in support of open carry laws.”

Editor’s note: This story is developing.

Activists howl for justice for the gray wolf

“Heh, heh, heh.” The two men on the HowToHunt video on YouTube sound like Beavis and Butthead when they come across the dead wolf hanging from a log after being caught in a snare they’d placed the day before.

“Happy days,” said one of the men as he hoisted up the animal and grinned for the camera. The wolf was bloody and stiff with rigor mortis, but the fur looked soft.

“Heh, heh, heh,” his friend chortled.

The trappers called the wolf’s death a “suicide.” They had strategically placed the snare on a log stretched over a hole so the wolf would fall after getting caught in the noose.

Death by hanging.

“Once an animal gets its head/body into the wire loop, with every movement the animal makes, the noose tightens around the animal’s neck/body,” said Elizabeth Huntley, a wolf advocate who serves as a spokeswoman for Wisconsin Wolf Front. “You can imagine where this leads to. This is a horrible and agonizing way for an animal to die, and it usually does not happen quickly.”

In Wisconsin, the state-prescribed method of killing a trapped wolf is by firearm — aimed at the head, with a bullet to the brain, or the chest, with a bullet to penetrate the heart or lungs.

Wisconsinites hunted, trapped and killed 257 wolves during the 2013 season that went from Oct. 15 to Dec. 23, and at least 117 during the 2012 season, when the state lost an additional 76 wolves in depredation control, 24 in vehicle collisions, 21 in illegal kills and five from unknown causes.

Some would say that Wisconsin in 2012 legalized the sport of hunting wolves; others say the state sanctioned slaughter.

Regardless of the terminology, after decades of working to bring the wolf population back from near extinction, advocates are facing a new situation: The clearly stated goal of the Republican-led Legislature and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, with endorsements from 18 county boards, is to dramatically reduce the wolf population — to about 350 wolves in time.

To protect or to kill

In the winter of 1979, there were just 25 wolves counted in Wisconsin. Species protection efforts increased that population at a rate of 20 percent in the 1990s and 10–12 percent in the 2000s. Then, to the surprise of many, came a federal delisting for the Great Lakes’ wolves and a rush by politicians in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan to allow hunting the animals beyond the practice of protecting livestock and private property.

“In Wisconsin, wolves were on a trajectory for recovery and protection,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “And then, the state decided to drastically reduce the population. Of the three states — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan — Wisconsin has the most regressive policies toward wolves. The management plan calls for reducing the population by more than half. It just doesn’t make sense.”

In 2013, for the fourth time since 1985, there was no increase detected in the wolf population from the previous year, according to a DNR news release.

When the 2013 hunting season began, the DNR said there were 809 to 834 wolves in the state, including 215 packs and 15 lone wolves. This was a “late-winter count,” and the DNR said the population presumably would double in the spring, after pups were born, and then decline through the year.

The quota of kills the DNR allowed this past season “could reduce the population by approximately 13 percent, taking all mortality factors into account,” stated DNR carnivore specialist Dave MacFarland, adding that the agency tries “to balance many of the social interests in wolves with the need, and the department’s responsibility, to manage the state’s wolf population.” 

But Greenwald said, “Hunting is a poor management tool for a species like the wolf,” because the species manages itself and is essential for healthy ecosystems. “The removal of top predators is a global problem and it has surprising consequences for ecosystems,” he said. “In the Midwest, for example, there have been widespread declines in ground-nesting birds of all kinds. The removal of top-level predators (such as wolves) has allowed mid-level predators to increase their numbers and their species prey on ground-nesting birds.”

In Wisconsin, a license to “remove” or “harvest” a wolf costs about $50. There’s also the cost of the blaze-orange vest, the bait, the trap, the firearm — which can be a rifle, a shotgun, a pistol or a muzzleloader — and the truck detailing after the kill.

For those new to the so-called “sport,” the DNR offers a course in best management practices for trapping, trapper ethics and responsibilities, trap-setting demonstrations, trapping rules and “respect for people and the animal.”

Yet opponents of wolf hunting ask: How one can respectfully slaughter a wild animal? Consider how a leg-hold or foot-hold trap works: The trap is placed. It catches the animal — sometimes the wild animal, sometimes the domestic stray — by snapping down hard on the bone. Wisconsin trappers are supposed to check traps every 24 hours — by then, the animal most likely has tried to struggle to get free, attempting to chew the caught limb. An animal in a trap that goes unchecked may die of dehydration, starvation or become easy prey.

“The stress a trapped animal endures is nothing short of terrifying,” said Huntley, who described the wolf advocacy movement as “a gathering storm.”

She became involved soon after the delisting of wolves in Wisconsin. “Within a week or two of wolves being delisted from the Endangered Species list in Wisconsin, Gov. Walker signed legislation mandating the hunting of wolves in the state — and part of this legislation includes the use of dogs in wolf hunts,” Huntley said.

Aggressive campaign 

Activists seeking to protect wolves and halt the hunts come from varied backgrounds and interests — animal welfare advocates, environmentalists and good government advocates. They’re conducting a broad, aggressive campaign that involves:

• Circulating petitions to build public awareness.

• Challenging policy at government hearings.

• Delving into state data and records to analyze the science and status of endangered species.

• Protesting a proposal allowing hunters to pursue prey on private property.

• Monitoring grisly Internet posts by hunters and trappers, including accounts of wolves being tortured and dogs dying in training exercises.

• Filing freedom of information requests and trying to analyze correspondence dealing with the wolf advisory.

• Following the money from outdoors groups, gun organizations and individuals to politicians.

• Mapping the ties of right-wing extremists with wolf-hunting. (Examples are on the “Wisconsin Wolf Hunters” Facebook page.)

• Organizing campaigns against anti-wolf politicians, including state Sen. Neal Kedzie, who has locked up in committee a bill to stop using dogs in wolf hunting. Wisconsin is the only state that permits the practice.

“Word is getting out about what’s happening to not only the wolves of this state, but to many other species of wildlife being trophy-hunted, trapped and penned for the purposes of hound-hunting,” Huntley said. “This state is becoming deplorable concerning the preservation of its wildlife and wild lands.”

One activist Huntley works with is Adam Kassulke, also of Wisconsin Wolf Front. As WiG went to press, Kassulke was asking the Wisconsin Conservation Congress to support a moratorium on wolf-hunting until more scientific research could be conducted on the issue.

He said this month also would bring a citizen lobbying effort in the Capitol and the announcement of a new Great Lakes Wolves Coalition, part of a push to unite the somewhat fractured wolf advocacy community.

Wisconsin Wolf Front formed last May, with a focus on political action and educating young people. About 82 percent of the members are students.

With the launch of the coalition, Kassulke wants wolf advocates to hire a lobbyist and to play a role in defeating anti-wolf legislators on Election Day.

Politics over science

In addition to the three Great Lakes states, wolf hunts have taken place in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, where the governor recently signed a bill, despite opposition from conservation groups, to create a $400,000 fund and establish a five-member board to oversee the killing of wolves.

At the same time, the Obama administration is considering “delisting” the wolf at the federal level in the lower 48 states. The Fish and Wildlife Services has proposed removing protections everywhere but Arizona and New Mexico, where just 83 Mexican wolves remain in the wild.

During the comment period that followed the proposal, a million people opposed the proposal — the highest number of submissions ever sent to FWS concerning an endangered species.

More recently, another 460,000 Americans filed comments opposing the “delisting,” and in February an independent scientific peer review unanimously concluded that a federal plan to drop protections for most gray wolves was not based on the best available science.

“Policy decisions about wolves and other wildlife should be based on the best science, not politics,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition.

She said there were once up to 2 million gray wolves in North America, but they were slaughtered to near-extinction by the early 1900s. Recovery programs helped wolf populations in some parts of the country rebound. Still, there only about 5,500 wolves in the continental United States and wolves occupy just 5 percent of their historic range in the lower 48.

If the federal delisting takes place, hunts like those taking place in the Great Lakes region and the Rocky Mountain states could take place elsewhere.

“After the federal government prematurely gave up its duty to protect wolves, the states of Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming all rushed to hold hunting and trapping seasons,” said Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife protection for the Humane Society of the United States. “Thousands of wolves have been barbarically killed over bait, with hounds and cable neck snares. The (FWS) proposal puts politics over its (conservation) obligations “

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series on wolves and the dispute over endangered species protections for the animals.

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5 accidentally shot at 3 gun shows

Accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio left five people injured on Jan. 19, the same day that thousands of gun advocates gathered at state capitals around the U.S. to rally against stricter firearm limits.

At the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, N.C., a 12-gauge shotgun discharged as its owner unzipped its case for a law enforcement officer to check at a security entrance, injuring three people, state Agriculture Department spokesman Brian Long said.

Two bystanders were hit by shotgun pellets and taken to a hospital. A retired deputy sheriff suffered a slight hand injury.

The shotgun’s owner, 36-year-old Gary Lynn Wilson, brought the weapon to the show to find a private buyer, Long said. Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that it was too early to know whether Wilson might be charged but that it appeared to be an accident.

The North Carolina show, which is held at the state fairgrounds, is a quarterly event that usually draws thousands of people.

In Indianapolis, police said a 54-year-old man was injured when he inadvertently shot himself while leaving a gun show.

Emory L. Cozee was loading his .45-caliber semi-automatic when he shot himself in the hand as he was leaving the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife show at the state fairgrounds, state police said. Loaded personal weapons aren’t allowed inside the show.

Cozee, of Indianapolis, was hospitalized for treatment. Police say the shooting was accidental and no charges will be filed.

And in Ohio, a gun dealer in Medina was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he had bought Saturday when he accidentally pulled the trigger, injuring his friend, police said. The gun’s magazine had been removed from the firearm, but one round remained in the chamber, police said.

Police Chief Pat Berarducci said it appears the bullet ricocheted off the floor and struck the friend in the arm and leg. The man was taken by helicopter to a hospital 30 miles north in Cleveland, Berarducci said. His condition wasn’t immediately known.

The gun rallies held Jan. 19 came days after President Barack Obama’s unveiling of a sweeping package of federal gun-control proposals in the wake of a Connecticut elementary school shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators last month.