Sunday, July 22, 2012

Voting should be mandatory

July 17, 2012
By Jan C. Ting

Republicans are attempting to limit voter turnout in various states, including Pennsylvania, by requiring citizens to produce particular forms of photographic identification on election day in order to exercise their right to vote. We should be doing just the opposite, doing whatever we can to increase voter turnout on election day. The easiest way to do that would be to require all citizens to vote under penalty of paying a small, perhaps $3, fine for failing to vote, as is done in Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Uruguay, and several other democracies.

Mandatory voting would insure that elected officials are truly representative of their electorates, and not just those most interested in and most able to vote on election day. In the U.S. we are experiencing political gridlock because both major political parties are dominated by their most extreme wings which are most likely to vote and be politically active. Mandatory voting would force both political parties and all candidates to pitch their campaigns towards the political center where the less politically attentive have been prone to not voting.
Mandatory voting will insure that even the least privileged segments of the electorate will have a say in the outcome of elections, and may to some extent mitigate the impact of money on elections since "get out the vote" efforts will no longer be required. Citizens may be more attentive to political developments and issues knowing that they are required to vote on election day. Mandatory voting would prevent efforts at voter suppression by employers or special interests or anyone else.
U.S. citizens have many obligations under our Constitution and laws. Citizens are required to pay taxes and to attend school up to a certain age. Citizens are required to show up for jury duty when summoned, and are subject to military conscription whenever Congress requires. Citizens who are financially able, we recently learned, can be compelled to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. In comparison, requiring citizens to vote would be a minor imposition, but with big, positive consequences for democracy.
Mandatory voting will not insure a 100% voter turnout. Exceptions will have to be made for those physically unable or who otherwise have a good excuse. There will always be some who neglect or who deliberately choose not to vote. The fine for not voting may be difficult to collect.
But jurisdictions which have imposed the legal requirement of a small payment for every disposable grocery or merchandise bag, have seen a dramatic increase in customers bringing their own re-usable bags or alternatively juggling their purchases without a bag to avoid paying an extra nickel or dime. Most voters can be expected to make considerable effort to vote if it means avoiding a fine of even just a few dollars.
Functioning democracies require citizen participation. Higher participation by citizens gives legitimacy and respect to elected leaders and the electoral process. We should stop trying to restrict voting for citizens, and instead should do what is necessary to insure that every citizen votes.

If you’ve decided to carry concealed for personal protection (or even if you’re just thinking about it), I applaud your decision. Most people are not willing to do what is necessary to protect themselves, their family members, and even complete strangers from the ruthless attack or a violent felon…
It is critical that you realize that the MOMENT you’re forced to draw your gun in self-defense there will be 100+ decisions that you’ll need to make in a split second. The MOMENT you decide to draw your gun, YOUR LIFE WILL CHANGE.
If you need to take the time to THINK about these decisions, there’s a good chance you’ll make a choice that will put you in jail…or worse.
You need to have these decisions programmed into your brain BEFORE you leave your house with your gun!
Reading the Concealed Carry Report and being in the USCCA is all about helping people make informed decisions. We empower our members so they know EXACTLY what to do in a life or death situation.
The Concealed Carry Report is a free, weekly newsletter. Inside, you’re going to uncover the answers to the toughest questions a citizen can (and MUST) face before being able to responsibly carry a concealed handgun and defend himself.
Just enter your name and email below to start your free subscription. I urge you to get your copy today, before it’s too late…
Take care and stay safe,
Scott says bring your gun to the GOP convention
How in the world does a Governor of any state say "BRING YOUR GUNS" especially to a GOP Convention.  Does he want to start a war on Democrats, Immigration, Voting Rights, illegal people, women. I know second amendment rights, but not to a convention.
Gov. Rick Scott has stuck to his guns on, well, guns as he declined a request from Tampa’s mayor to ban firearms from the city’s downtown for the Republican National Convention in August.
Responding to a May 1 request by Mayor Bob Buckhorn to temporarily suspend Florida statutes prohibiting local gun laws stricter than the state’s, Scott said conventions and firearms go way back and he found no reason to change that now.
“You note that the city’s temporary (security) ordinance regulates ‘sticks, poles, and water guns,’ but that firearms are a ‘noticeable item missing from the city’s temporary, ordinance,” Scott said in a letter. “Firearms are noticeably included, however, in the Second Amendment.”
The Tampa convention is a national security event. Guns are prohibited within the convention center itself and in a safe zone immediately surrounding the facility. Security for that venue is the responsibility of the U.S. Secret Service.
No local restrictions
In 2011, Florida lawmakers approved a measure prohibiting local governments from enacting and enforcing gun ordinances that were stricter than state law. Scott signed the measure, which sent local governments scurrying to remove local restrictions that ran afoul of the new law.
Tampa city officials have been urging the governor to temporarily suspend the state law so that a wider no-gun perimeter could be established in downtown Tampa, including areas that will be used by protestors during the four-day event that begins Aug. 27.
The request comes as Florida finds itself in the spotlight following the death in February of Trayvon Martin. The shooting has sparked a national debate of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, but the debate has spilled over into other issues regarding gun ownership. More than 800,000 Floridians have permits to carry concealed weapons.
Buckhorn, a gun owner who has a concealed weapons permit, said he’s not worried about law-abiding citizens with concealed weapons permits but those who may choose to bring guns into the venue who have not been vetted, or may be carrying their weapons illegally.
Buckhorn said the governor would be within his rights to temporarily rescind the state law, adding that the safety of citizens and visitors during the four-day event would be enhanced.
Scott, however, said political conventions through the ages have been opportunities for citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights. He saw no reason to curtail the protections offered by the Second Amendment to ensure the rights bestowed under the First.
“Our fundamental right to keep and bear arms has coexisted with those freedoms for as long, and I see no reason to depart from that tradition this year,” Scott concluded.
Bulgarian press names bomber: Mehdi Ghezali

Terrorist said to have been a Swedish citizen with a history of Muslim extremist activities

July 19, 2012, 6:11 pm 45

Mehdi Ghezali (screen capture, Channel 10)
Mehdi Ghezali (screen capture, Channel 10)

Bulgarian media on Thursday named the suicide bomber who blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists, killing five Israelis and a local bus driver, in the Black Sea resort of Burgas on Wednesday as 36-year-old Mehdi Ghezali. The reports were later denied by several sources.
Ghezali reportedly arrived in Bulgaria five weeks before the bombing and arrived at the airport via taxi, Channel 2 reported. He was also reportedly given the bomb by someone else, but no further details were provided.
There was no independent confirmation of the veracity of the information. The reports surfaced soon after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly accused Hezbollah, directed by Iran, of responsibility for the bombing. The Prime Minister’s Office made no comment on the reports.
The Bulgarian reports, rapidly picked up by Hebrew media, posited various versions of how the bomber had detonated the bomb, including the suggestion that the bomber had not intended to die in the blast, but may have wanted to place the bomb on the bus and flee.
Ghezali has a Wikipedia page, which describes him as a Swedish citizen, with Algerian and Finnish origins. He had been held at the US’s Guantanamo Bay detainment camp on Cuba from 2002 to 2004, having previously studied at a Muslim religious school and mosque in Britain, and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, it says. He was taken into custody on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda agent, having been arrested along with a number of other al-Qaeda operatives.
Following a lobbying effort by Swedish prime minister Göran Persson, Guantanamo authorities recommended Ghezali be transferred to another country for continued detainment, and he was handed over to Swedish authorities in 2004. The Swedish government did not press charges.
A 2005 Swedish documentary about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp starred Ghezali, who detailed his experience in American custody.
He was also reportedly among 12 foreigners captured trying to cross into Afghanistan in 2009.
Earlier on Thursday the Bulgarian police released a brief video clip that claimed to show the suicide bomber, responsible for Wednesday’s terror attack on a tour bus full of Israeli citizens, walking around shortly before the blast at Burgas International Airport.

The Bulgarian news agency Sofia reported that the bomber was carrying an American passport and Michigan driver’s license, both believed to be forgeries.
Sofia also reported that the Bulgarian Interior Ministry managed to recover the fingerprints of the bomber, which they submitted to the FBI in the United States and the international police organization Interpol. The FBI and CIA joined Israeli and Bulgarian officials in investigating the attack.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told Sofia that DNA tests were being run to determine the identity of the Caucasian man, who the minister described as casually dressed with nothing suspicious about his appearance to set him apart from the crowd of people at the airport.
The ministry did not indicate how the police came to the conclusion that the man was the suicide bomber.

As of today 54,976 people shot in America - shot so far today 166


Taking Action: In Wake of Aurora Shooting, Americans Signing Petition for Change

It's time Congress listened to the American people and not the narrow and dangerous interests of the gun lobby. Too many politicians are doing the bidding of NRA and subscribing to their dark and paranoid vision of America where people are armed to the teeth anywhere they go.
We want a different vision of America where a kid like Trayvon Martin can go to the store and buy a pack a Skittles and an iced tea without getting shot.
It's time we made our voices heard! Sign the petition to let our elected officials know they will not get your vote in November unless they make a commitment to keep dangerous guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
If they don't, they won't get your vote!
» Sign the Petition
» Click here for a History of Mass Shootings in the U.S. since 2005
» Click here to learn more about the history of the Brady Campaign and the gun control movement
» Join the Discussion

After Aurora: "We Don't Want Sympathy; We Want Accountability"

Brady President Dan Gross:

“On behalf of the Brady Campaign, I send our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and survivors of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

This tragedy is another grim reminder that guns are the enablers of mass killers and that our nation pays an unacceptable price for our failure to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people."

60 Mass Shootings Since Tucson

There have been 60 mass shootings in the United States since the January 8, 2011 massacre in Tucson, Arizona. Below are three from recent weeks. Click here for the entire list since 2005.
- Chicago, IL: Four youngsters were among the latest victims caught in Chicago’s gun violence epidemic, including two middle school-aged girls who were wounded in a neighborhood park on the Far South Side.
- Dover, DE: At a weekend soccer tournament in Delaware, three people died and two were wounded. The dead included the tournament organizer, a 16-year-old boy participating in the tournament and one of three suspects alleged to have initiated the deadly violence Sunday afternoon at a park near downtown Wilmington.
- Seattle, WA: 40-year-old Ian Stawicki entered a Seattle cafe on Wednesday and opened fire, killing four people. He then left Cafe Racer, killing another person during a carjacking before taking his own life.

Colorado Gun Laws

Colorado residents voted overwhelmingly to close the gun show loophole in November of 2000, but Colorado elected officials have done nothing more to protect its residents from gun violence. Amendment 22, to close the gun show loophole by requiring Brady background checks on all gun show sales, passed by a margin of 70%-30%.
Colorado scores only 15 points out of 100 for strong gun laws on the 2011 Brady State Scorecard published annually.
The following is the sad state of gun laws in Colorado:

  • No ban on assault weapons
  • No ban on high capacity ammunition clips
  • No registration
  • No gun owner licensing
  • No background checks for on line gun sales and other person to person gun transactions
  • No police discretion to determine who carries concealed handguns in public
  • No 'good cause' required for concealed carry permit applicants
  • No limit on the amount of handguns you can buy in one purchase 
NOTE: Really take a look at the statistics below.  It should open, your eyes to gun violence.
    Major Shootings

      Updated Jul 20, 2012 @ 03:28 PM
      By Halen Allison
      One hundred nine days.  That’s how much longer we must suffer through the constant and chronically painful deluge that is the presidential campaigns season, the total length of which seems to grow with each passing cycle.  I don’t know about you, but I grew weary of this campaign six months ago.  It’s only going to get worse the closer we get to D(ecision)-Day.  The escalation of rhetoric will see a commensurate rise in utter illogical nonsense and the intelligence of average Americans, those being the ones who do not belong to the professional political class, routinely insulted.  After all, how much contradictory information can one be presented with before they simply tune out?
      Therein lies the problem with protracted campaigns which, in my opinion, wholly invalidate their utility.  They are so overwhelming to the senses of sight and hearing, not to mention offensive to one’s sense of taste, that the majority of the public becomes numbed to the entire affair.  This of course ignores the fact that the majority of Americans have already had their minds made up for them by delegates at the party conventions.  Republicans will largely vote for Mitt Romney, and Democrats will largely vote for Barack Obama.  So what’s the point?
      Perhaps it’s safe to say that the true targets of these campaigns are the undecided voters (the independents) and those whose political ideologies are not represented by a viable party (the libertarians).  A recent Rasmussen report on partisan trends suggests that America is broken into approximate thirds: one-third Republican, one-third Democrat, and one-third unaffiliated.  So in one sense, the nearly incomprehensibly massive amount of money being spent on these elections is primarily meant to sway 30% of the voting population.  We can knock that number down even further.  Of the total voting-eligible population, less than half even bother to vote regularly, 2008 being an anomaly that saw 61% of eligible voters get off the couch.
      In 2008, almost $1.5 billion was spent by the candidates.  That amount makes the 2008 presidential campaign worth more than the entire economic output of such countries as Djibouti, Grenada, and Guinea-Bissau.  The Campaign for President 2008 Edition would, were it a country, rank 168th on the worldwide GDP list.  And the cost of attaining the ultimate narcissist’s goal has been rising.
      We must remember that the stakes are high in these elections, and those stakes justify the “noble and worthy” investment by candidates of hundreds of millions of dollars in order to sway a small portion of the population.  It also justifies what is tantamount to glorified panhandling, as each candidate assures you that if you do not donate now, his opponent (your enemy who must be defeated) will be able to outspend him and thus win the election.
      Do you feel like you’re not doing enough to get your man elected, and your opponent defeated?  You can always ask those expected to give wedding or birthday gifts to instead donate cash to a campaign.  Such a donation goes a lot further than a gravy bowl, I’ve heard.
      Personally, I'd like to see all campaigning stop during the last three months of an election cycle.  This would give us voters a chance to clear our heads and, maybe, make us feel like actually wanting to participate in our political process.
      Word of the Day: Stentorian (Adjective): Extremely loud.
      On This Day in History: The first car made by the Ford Motor Company is shipped (1903).  World War I veterans attempting to march on the White House to get their promised bonuses are met with police and tear gas (1932).  The plot to assassinate Hitler fails (1944).  The USS Constitution sails for the first time in 116 years as she celebrates her 200th birthday.
      “There can be only one.” – Tagline to the movie Highlander, and equally appropriate for presidential candidates who aim to symbolically decapitate their opponents so they can live on.
      Bringing a Gun to a Knife Fight - A Discussion on Gun Violence, Homicide, and Statistics

      Posted Jul 21, 2012 @ 11:12 AM
      By Halen Allison
      In response to yesterday’s tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed his desire that both President Obama and candidate Mitt Romney “stand up and tell us what they’re going to do” about guns and gun violence in America.  He went on to say:
      I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have. There’s no other place that allows — we have more guns than people in this country. Every place else, if there are murders, they’re generally not done with guns.
      Bloomberg’s perspective is that murder in America is a gun issue, and his choice of words suggests that “civilized” nations have neither a murder problem nor a gun problem, and certainly not a murder-by-gun problem.  As with most smart-sounding sentences uttered by politicians, it’s not as simple as he would like us to believe, nor is it as terrifying.  Let's try to examine the issue objectively.
      Before we look at statistics, let us first establish that people kill other people whether they live in a developed country or not.  The worldwide homicide rate per 100,000 people is 6.9 as of 2010, ranging from 87 per 100,000 people in Honduras to 0.34 in Japan.  In the US, the rate is 4.8, which does not even rank in the top 30.**
      The US does have more guns per capita than any other country, however; 88 guns per 100 people.  Not quite “more guns than people,” but close enough for rhetoric’s sake.  But if, as Bloomberg suggests, the number of guns within a population is commensurate to gun violence, the US should not only have more murders overall but a higher firearm homicide rate than most any other nation.  According to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the US is ranked seventh, at 2.97 firearm homicides per 100,000, far below Colombia (51.77) and Guatemala (18.5).  It appears that people are, in fact, killing other people with guns, and at a far higher rate than in the US.
      Perhaps the mayor’s bone of contention is with the fact that 65% of homicides in the US are firearms related though this still doesn’t explain, if firearms mean more murders, why the murder rate in the US is fairly low overall.  And keep in mind that 35% of murders in the US are committed without firearms.  Maybe we could say that firearms are enablers, the widespread availability of which makes killing more prevalent.
      But we can’t really even say that.  The Swiss, known for their affinity for firearms, are fourth in gun ownership, 45.7 per 100, yet their homicide rate is less than one per 100,000.  The Yemenis own 54.8 guns per 100 people and have a homicide rate of 4 per 100,000.  Serbians own 58.2 guns per 100 people and have virtually the same murder rate (2.2) as the Cypriots (2.0) and the latter own far less guns (36.4 per 100 people).  High gun ownership might mean a higher murder rate, but then again it might not.
      Further, let’s look at Estonia.  In that country, a mere 15% of homicides are committed using firearms, but the overall homicide rate is 10.45 per 100,000.  Estonia’s non-firearm homicide rate, 8.92, is almost double the total rate in the US.  And get this: Estonia’s citizens are not legally allowed to own guns.  So instead of using firearms to kill people, they’ve gone about it the old fashioned way.
      In fact, of the top 15 highest nations as ranked by overall homicide rate, more than a third of them, six, forbid their citizens from legally owning of firearms.  In some of these countries, the firearm homicide rate is lower than the non-firearm homicide rate, and in others it is not.  In a phrase, if there’s a will there’s a way.
      Gun ownership and prevalence is not necessarily a predictor of gun-related homicide.  Without a doubt, guns are used in the commission of homicides, both in the US and worldwide, and regardless of whether they are legal to own or highly restricted.  But by far, the leading cause of murder, now as throughout history, is being simply killed by another person.  Maybe that’s the real issue here.
      It should further be noted that mass shootings are not unique to America, as they happen all over the world.   
      **The statistics used throughout are taken from multiple sources that are not always comprehensive or current.  Just remember: Stats can be made to say just about anything you want them to say.  These types of issues are rarely simply defined, and that's the larger point. 
      Word of the Day: Delude (verb): To mislead the mind or judgment of; deceive.
      On This Day in History: Claus Von Stauffenberg is executed in Berlin for his role in the preceding day’s plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler (1944).  The world’s lowest temperature (-128 degrees Fahrenheit) is recorded at Vostok Station in Antarctica (1983).  The space shuttle Atlantis lands, ending the space shuttle program (2011).
      “After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.” – William S. Burroughs, novelist.
      “Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.” – Senator Dianne Feinstein, politician.
      Second Amendment Rights
      These are the documents that I have as of this posting.  If you have any that you feel will enhance, add to the discussion, please feel free to let me know and I will add it to this list.

      School Shootings
      From Charles J. Whitman atop the University of Texas Tower, to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold marching into Columbine High School to Seung-Hui Cho chaining a lecture hall’s doors shut before opening fire at Virginia Tech, school shootings have provided some of the most memorably grim scenes of American life in recent decades. Every incident is followed not only by a wave of pain and outrage, but by a resurgence of questions about guns and mental illness and their role in the country’s history.

      Of course, not all violence in schools involves guns — in the deadliest attack ever, in Maine in 1927, a school board official blew up a school, killing 44 — and the vast majority of incidents involve individual victims. But the shock of mass killings can mean they have wider effects. The Columbine shootings in particular, which left a total of 15 dead, including the killers, led to a wave of new safety measures in schools, including so-called zero tolerance policies for remarks or actions that could suggest a threat of violence.

      After the shootings at Virginia Tech, in which Mr. Cho killed 32 students and teachers before killing himself, steps were taken to close a loophole that had allowed him to purchase firearms despite having been declared a danger to himself and others by a judge. But an effort backed by families of Virginia Tech victims to close another loophole that allows firearms to be purchased at gun shows without the background checks that are required in a store failed in the Virginia Legislature.

      I could go on and on and on.  Just a little of what you can find on gun violence and not only here but anywhere in the world.  Senseless, murder and no gun rules, except those in the Constitution.  And believe me our founding fathers did not imagine carrying around semi-automatic weapons. They talked about defending our country. 

      Shooting Shatters Jacksonville Prep School Campus
      Shooting Shatters Jacksonville Prep School Campus
      No one has been able to explain why a Spanish teacher who had been fired from the Episcopal School of Jacksonville fatally shot the head of the school and himself with an assault rifle.
      March 08, 2012, Thursday
        Texas: Student With Pellet Gun Is Killed by Police
        A 15-year-old student at a Brownsville middle school was shot and killed by police officers on Wednesday after he displayed a gun in the school’s main hallway, the authorities said.
        January 05, 2012, Thursday
          Rebuffing Governor Scott, Florida A&M Declines to Suspend Ammons
          Rebuffing Governor Scott, Florida A&M Declines to Suspend Ammons
          Florida A&M’s trustees decided not to suspend the university’s president, James. H. Ammons, until the end of an investigation into the death of a marching band member, possibly by hazing.
          December 20, 2011, Tuesday
            Norman Redlich, 85, Ex-Dean of N.Y.U. Law School
            Norman Redlich, a quiet luminary of the New York legal community who pioneered the pro bono defense of indigent death row inmates and who, as a staff member of the Warren Commission, helped develop the so-called single-bullet theory to explain how President John F. Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman, died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 85. The cause was complications of Parkinson's disease, his family said.
            June 11, 2011, Saturday
              Tina Stewart and Shanterrica Madden: A Ballplayer. A Bookworm. A Killing.
              Tina Stewart and Shanterrica Madden: A Ballplayer. A Bookworm. A Killing.
              Shanterrica Madden stands accused of killing her roommate, Tina Stewart, who played basketball at Middle Tennessee State.There are no answers, just a world of sorrow.
              May 30, 2011, Monday
                Gov. Jan Brewer of Shows Some Moxie
                To the consternation of her Republican allies, the governor of Arizona vetoed two absurd bills.
                April 20, 2011, Wednesday
                  Arizona Governor Vetoes Bill to Loosen Gun Rules
                  The governor also rejected a controversial bill that would have required presidential candidates to produce proof of citizenship.
                  April 19, 2011, Tuesday
                    As Mental Troubles Arise, Limited Options for Institutions
                    As Mental Troubles Arise, Limited Options for Institutions
                    Even in the wake of the Virginia Tech murders, experts say institutions and employers are seldom set up to handle such potential threats.
                    January 11, 2011, Tuesday
                      China: Beijing Police Recruit Parents as School Guards
                      The police in Beijing are recruiting parents to help stand guard at schools because of several horrific attacks on schoolchildren in China.
                      May 26, 2010, Wednesday
                        China: Vice President Turns to Speech Editing
                        Vice President Xi Jinping is urging Communist Party officials to rid their speeches and documents of “empty words” and political jargon, according to the state news agency.
                        May 14, 2010, Friday
                          Fifth Deadly Attack on a School Haunts China
                          Fifth Deadly Attack on a School Haunts China
                          Seven children and two adults were hacked to death at a kindergarten in the latest attack in a Chinese school.
                          May 13, 2010, Thursday
                            Stunned China Looks Inward After School Attacks
                            Stunned China Looks Inward After School Attacks
                            As people on the Web and in newspapers agonized over whether their society was blowing its lid, the government was putting emphasis on preventing the steam from escaping at all.
                            May 01, 2010, Saturday
                              Attacker Stabs 28 Chinese Children
                              The attack, which critically injuring at least five children, was the second mass stabbing of young students in two days, and the third in less than a month.
                              April 30, 2010, Friday
                                China: Schoolchildren Attacked
                                Fifteen children and a teacher in a Guangdong Province primary school were stabbed on Wednesday by an unidentified man in his 40s.
                                April 29, 2010, Thursday
                                  Listen to the Families
                                  Lawmakers should listen to gun victims, not lobbyists, and close the loophole that allows a gun to be bought at a gun show without a background check.
                                  April 27, 2010, Tuesday
                                  Columbine, 11 Years Later
                                  Eleven years after the Columbine school massacre, Congress has failed to close the gun show loophole that made that carnage possible.
                                  April 18, 2010, Sunday
                                  Files Show University Gunman Denied Homicidal Thoughts
                                  Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman who went on a killing spree at Virginia Tech, was interviewed by university health officials before his attack and was not admitted for treatment.
                                  August 20, 2009, Thursday
                                  Germany: 9 Wounded In Student's Rampage at School
                                  An 18-year-old student armed with an ax, knives and Molotov cocktails wounded eight fellow students and a teacher at his high school in the Bavarian town of Ansbach on Thursday, the German police said. The police arrived at the scene minutes after the rampage began, opening fire on the attacker, who was not identified, and arresting him. The episode was the second attack at a German school in less than a year. In March, a 17-year-old gunman killed 15 people, most of them female students, in a t...
                                  September 18, 2009, Friday
                                  ‘What Color Is That Baby?’
                                  The press is still very color conscious in the way it covers murder. This double-standard says volumes about whose lives are considered to have value in this society and whose are not.
                                  May 12, 2009, Tuesday
                                  Iraqi Campus Is Under Gang’s Sway
                                  One of Iraq’s most prestigious universities was closed temporarily because of a student gang accused of murdering and raping students and professors.
                                  October 20, 2009, Tuesday
                                  Russia: Student Held Over Execution Video
                                  The police arrested a student they said had confessed to posting on the Internet a grisly video of two young men apparently being executed in front of a Nazi flag. The student, who the authorities said had turned himself in, was in custody in the southwestern city of Maikop and under investigation for inciting racial hatred. The police said that it did not appear that he was involved in making the video or the gruesome acts it showed. The video, which includes images of a man being beheaded, b...
                                  August 16, 2007, Thursday
                                  Long Island Teenagers Are Accused in Attack Plot on a School
                                  A handwritten journal detailed a planned terrorist attack on a Suffolk County high school with a “hit list” of specific students.
                                  July 14, 2007, Saturday
                                  Hooked on Violence
                                  Only a lunatic could seriously believe that more guns in more homes is good for America’s children.
                                  April 26, 2007, Thursday

                                  Guns, Race and a Killing in Florida

                                  To the Editor:
                                  Re “A Florida Law Gets Scrutiny After a Killing” (front page, March 21):
                                  Let me see if I’ve got this straight: A self-appointed vigilante, brandishing a deadly weapon, reportedly ignores police directions and assaults an unarmed black 17-year-old, and as a result of this self-instigated confrontation the teenager is killed; the assailant pleads self-defense and may escape prosecution.
                                  Surely this scenario cannot be justified under any sane reading of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Florida’s ill-conceived rejection of several hundred years of common-law precedent — the duty to retreat safely rather than to resort to the use of deadly force — has been revealed for its sheer idiocy. All such laws must be repealed.
                                  VAUGHN A. CARNEY
                                  Stowe, Vt., March 21, 2012
                                  The writer is a lawyer.

                                  To the Editor:
                                  If citizens are to be entrusted with the responsibilities of gun ownership, they must be held accountable for their actions. Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law, along with the 20 similar laws across the country, effectively removes that accountability.
                                  The problem isn’t just that feeling threatened is the only justification needed for the use of deadly force; it’s that the courts must take the defendant’s word on the matter. Without this law on the books, Trayvon Martin, the black teenager, might still be alive or, at the very least, we could rest assured that justice would prevail.
                                  But thanks to Stand Your Ground, George Zimmerman’s claim that he felt threatened might be enough to keep him free.
                                  SAM LEVINE
                                  New York, March 21, 2012

                                  To the Editor:
                                  Re “The Curious Case of Trayvon Martin,” by Charles M. Blow (column, March 17):
                                  Trayvon’s death raises painful questions about race and the unfair burdens placed on African-American youths in our society. The tragedy also raises questions about the role of guns in America.
                                  The actions of the gunman, George Zimmerman, come amid a well-financed, nationwide effort by the National Rifle Association to reduce requirements for carrying concealed guns legally and to expand the legal definition of defensive gun use through “shoot first” legislation like that in place in Florida.
                                  Mr. Zimmerman was legally carrying the handgun he used to kill Trayvon Martin. It’s time to ask if these laws are making America safer, or just setting us up for more tragic incidents and more senseless killings.
                                  JOE GRACE
                                  Philadelphia, March 19, 2012
                                  The writer is the former executive director of CeaseFirePA, a gun violence prevention organization in Pennsylvania.

                                  To the Editor:
                                  Charles M. Blow’s fears that his African-American sons may encounter a man with a gun are common among African-American fathers like me. We tutor our sons about the behaviors that may save their lives when they are not under our watchful eyes. In the 21st century, such tutoring should be passé.
                                  Our youths have too long a history of victimization by law enforcement and their fellow citizens. Justice in these instances is too infrequent and too slow.
                                  JUNIUS SOLOMON
                                  Willingboro, N.J., March 19, 2012

                                  A Florida Law Gets Scrutiny After a Teenager’s Killing

                                  Published: March 20, 2012 1553 Comments

                                  MIAMI — Seven years after Florida adopted its sweeping self-defense law, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, has put that law at the center of an increasingly angry debate over how he was killed and whether law enforcement officers have the authority to charge the man who killed him.

                                  Roberto gonzalez/Getty Images
                                  These are items I have not had be4. 
                                  The tapes, transcripts are below, and give you a chance to hear Mr Zimmerman.

                                  A makeshift memorial in the area of Sanford, Fla., where Trayvon Martin was shot to death.

                                  In this undated photo released by the Office of the State Attorney Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida, the clothing that Travon Martin was wearing at the time of his death is seen. Police officers who responded minutes after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin could not agree on whether George Zimmerman had a broken nose, but they all said the ex-neighborhood watch volunteer had cuts on his head, according to documents released Thursday. Photo: Office Of The State Attorney Fourth Judicial Circuit Of Florida/ AP
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                                  In this undated photo released by the Office of the State Attorney Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida, the clothing that Travon Martin was wearing at the time of his death is seen. Police officers who responded minutes after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin could not agree on whether George Zimmerman had a broken nose, but they all said the ex-neighborhood watch volunteer had cuts on his head, according to documents released Thursday. Photo: Office Of The State Attorney Fourth Judicial Circuit Of Florida / AP

                                  In this undated photo released by the Office of the State Attorney Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida, the clothing that Travon Martin was wearing at the time of his death is seen. Police officers who responded minutes after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin could not agree on whether George Zimmerman had a broken nose, but they all said the ex-neighborhood watch volunteer had cuts on his head, according to documents released Thursday. Photo: Office Of The State Attorney Fourth Judicial Circuit Of Florida / AP

                                  The Martin family came to the Miami Herald newsroom for an interview on March 15, 2012. Editor's note: This video was taken down, then reposted in expanded form to provide proper context for certain questions and answers.
                                  Miami Herald staff


                                  Editor's Note: The following recordings and their transcriptions below contain strong language that some readers may find objectionable.

                                  "This guy looks like "This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something," Zimmerman tells the 911 operator. "He's just staring, looking at all the houses. Now he's coming toward me. He's got his hand in his waistband. Something's wrong with him."
                                  Zimmerman described Martin as wearing a hoodie and sweatpants or jeans. He continues: "He's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is. Can we get an officer over here?"
                                  "These assholes always get away," he says to the operator. Zimmerman is then heard giving directions to the dispatcher. "Shit, he's running," Zimmerman says.
                                  "Are you following him?" the dispatcher asks.
                                  "Yes," Zimmerman responds.
                                  "We don't need you to do that," the dispatcher says.
                                  In other recordings, callers tell the 911 dispatcher that someone has been shot. One person tells the dispatcher that two guys were wrestling behind his back porch and that one of them was yelling for help. Then the male caller stammers in shock. "I'm pretty sure the guy is dead ... Oh, my God! ... The black guy looks like he's been shot and he's dead."
                                  "The guy on top has a white T-shirt," another caller said.
                                  "Is he on top of someone?" the operator asks.
                                  "Mmmhmmm," a female caller responds.
                                  Yet another caller says, "Someone was screaming 'Help! help! help!' Then I heard a gunshot."
                                  One caller, a teenage boy, said that as he was walking his dog, "I saw a man laying on the ground that needed help. He was screaming."
                                  Then, he told the operator, he heard a gunshot and said the screaming stopped.
                                  Martin's family and their attorneys were allowed to hear the audio before it was made public.

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                                  The law, called Stand Your Ground, is one of 21 such laws around the country, many of them passed within the last few years. In Florida, it was pushed heavily by the National Rifle Association but opposed vigorously by law enforcement officers.
                                  It gives the benefit of the doubt to a person who claims self-defense, regardless of whether the killing takes place on a street, in a car or in a bar — not just in one’s home, the standard cited in more restrictive laws. In Florida, if people believe that they are in imminent danger of being killed or badly injured, they do not have to retreat, even if it would seem reasonable to do so. They have the right to “stand their ground” and protect themselves.

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                                      Trayvon Martin                    George Zimmerman                
                                  Mr. Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch three weeks ago when he fatally shot Trayvon.

                                  That is precisely the question in the case: Was the gunman, George Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic crime watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., in imminent danger and acting in self-defense during his encounter with Trayvon Martin, as he asserts?
                                  In the three weeks since Trayvon, 17, a well-liked high school student from Miami with no criminal record, was killed, public protests have grown larger and louder, and so have calls for Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest. The Police Department in Sanford, near Orlando, said that under the law, it had no call to bring charges.
                                  But late Monday, the Department of Justice said it had opened an inquiry into the shooting. It will run parallel with one announced on Tuesday by the state attorney in Seminole County, who said a grand jury would be convened. State attorneys use grand juries in cases when they cannot make a clear independent call, or when a case is explosive.
                                  In recent days, Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, have issued pleas for police officials to take action, and social media campaigns, chiefly on the Web site, have pushed for the justice system to act. Celebrities like Spike Lee and John Legend have joined the effort.
                                  The Rev. Al Sharpton, who is coming to Sanford for a rally this week, said he was planning to raise awareness on the law, which he said encourages vigilante justice.
                                  “People can’t take the law in their own hands,” he said.
                                  On Tuesday evening in Sanford, hundreds gathered along the wooden pews and red carpeted floors of the Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church as community leaders and residents gave testimonials of police harassment and listened to N.A.A.C.P. officials criticize the law. The spirited crowd called for the arrest of Mr. Zimmerman and the ouster of Sanford’s police chief.
                                  “The line has been drawn in the sand,” said Turner Clayton, head of the Seminole County N.A.A.C.P. office.
                                  A lawyer for Trayvon’s parents, Benjamin Crump, said at a news conference on Tuesday that Trayvon was speaking to his girlfriend on his cellphone minutes before he was shot, telling her that a man was following him as he walked home.
                                  Trayvon told his girlfriend he was being confronted, Mr. Crump said. She told him to run, and he said he would “walk fast.” Trayvon was headed to the home of his father’s girlfriend after a visit to a convenience store, carrying Skittles and a can of iced tea.
                                  Trayvon asked, “Why are you following me?” Mr. Crump said. The girl then heard a faraway voice ask, “What are you doing around here?” Mr. Crump added. Then Trayvon’s voice falls away.
                                  “She completely blows Zimmerman’s self-defense claim out of the water,” Mr. Crump said.
                                  Mr. Zimmerman had reported a “suspicious” person to 911 shortly before the encounter, saying a black male was checking out the houses and staring at him. Mr. Zimmerman, a criminal justice major, often patrolled the neighborhood. He had placed 46 calls to 911 in eight years, for reports including open windows and suspicious people.
                                  In the 911 call, Mr. Zimmerman, using an expletive and speaking of Trayvon, said they “always get away.” The 911 dispatcher told him not to get out of the car and said the police were on their way. Mr. Zimmerman was already outside. A dispute began. Mr. Zimmerman told the police that Trayvon attacked him and that he fired in self-defense.
                                  Trayvon’s parents say they are sure they can hear Trayvon pleading for his life on the 911 tapes. Several witnesses who heard the encounter agree that it was Trayvon who was screaming. But Mr. Zimmerman told the police that was his voice.
                                  The police said they have found no evidence to dispute Mr. Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. Without that, the Stand Your Ground law makes it hard to make an arrest, and for prosecutors to charge and bring to trial. The state attorney is now in charge of the case and is being assisted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
                                  Gov. Rick Scott, asked about the law at a press gathering on Tuesday, said he did not think the law was unfair but it merited a close look.
                                  “Any time we see something like that we have to review and make sure we’re not giving people the opportunity to use the law unfairly,” he said. “You want to do everything you can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
                                  Florida prosecutors say the number of defendants who claim self-defense — even when it should not apply — has jumped noticeably since the law was passed in 2005. It has been used judiciously and fairly in many cases, where it was clearly self-defense. Other cases have left prosecutors scratching their heads. The law also prevents a person shooting in self-defense from being sued.
                                  “Self-defense is now used more widely than it was under the old law,” said William Eddins, Pensacola’s state attorney and president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “It is a very broad law in terms of the availability of the defendant to try to take advantage of this law. It has created more litigation for the state in cases involving violence and in murder cases, in particular.”
                                  The state attorney in Tallahassee, Willie Meggs, who fought the law when it was proposed, said: “The consequences of the law have been devastating around the state. It’s almost insane what we are having to deal with.”
                                  It is increasingly used by gang members fighting gang members, drug dealers battling drug dealers and people involved in road rage encounters. Confrontations at a bar are also common: someone looks at someone the wrong way or bothers someone’s girlfriend.
                                  Under the old law, a person being threatened with a gun or a knife had a duty to try to get away from the situation, if possible. Now that person has a right to grab a gun (or knife, or ice pick, as happened in one case) and use it, without an attempt to retreat.
                                  Mr. Meggs said he lost a case on appeal that was clearly not a self-defense shooting. The attacker, who was in a car, could have driven away. The victim was unarmed but had angered the attacker earlier in the night, and then he had leaned into the car.
                                  It happens with rival gangs, too. “It puts us in a posture that, if you and I had words, and I said, ‘Get your gun and I will meet you on the street,’ we can have a shootout in the street and the winner is standing his ground,” Mr. Meggs said.
                                  Investigating the cases, prosecutors say, is time-consuming. “You have to be very careful and very thorough,” Mr. Eddins said.
                                  Unless there are good witnesses and clear-cut physical evidence, the self-defense homicide cases are often murky and hard to sort out, prosecutors say. The gunman’s side of the story usually prevails because the victim is not alive to challenge the claim. So rather than let a jury decide a self-defense case, which is mostly what happened under the old law, prosecutors sometimes must drop the case.
                                  “The person who is alive always says, ‘I was in fear that he was going to hurt me,’ ” Mr. Meggs said. “And the other person would say, ‘I wasn’t going to hurt anyone.’ But he is dead. That is the problem they are wrestling with in Sanford.”
                                  In Florida, the situation is particularly explosive because of the state’s expansive gun laws. Most people in the state who are not felons can buy guns in Florida, and a relatively large percentage do, with some choosing to keep them in their cars. The National Conference of State Legislatures has found laws in nearly every state that allow the use of deadly force, to a greater or lesser degree, in self-defense, and in defense of property and premises.
                                  “This wave of laws started back in the 1980s,” said Jon Kuhl, a spokesman for the organization. Laws like Florida’s, which give broad license to use deadly force and to claim self-defense, in many cases beyond the home, are a more recent phenomenon, he said. Some of the more lenient ones are in Southern states.
                                  Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says that his organization tracks laws in 21 states that extend the self-defense doctrine beyond the home. The usual label for such laws — “stand your ground” — is politically charged, he said, suggesting that a more apt label would be “Shoot first, ask questions later.”
                                  Laws like the one in Florida allow situations like the Trayvon Martin killing, he said. “We’re heartbroken, but we’re not surprised.”

                                  Reporting was contributed by Jennifer Preston, John Schwartz and Timothy Williams from New York, and by Joseph Freeman from Sanford, Fla.

                                  This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
                                  Correction: April 5, 2012

                                  An earlier version of this article misstated the time period in which Mr. Zimmerman made 46 calls to 911. The calls were made over the course of about eight years, not 14 months.