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Updated: 2 hours 36 min ago

Ted Nugent advocates toning down rhetoric after congressional shooting

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 14:53

Ted Nugent poses with President Donald Trump during an April White House visit. (Photo: Ted Nugent/Facebook)

Rocker and gun rights advocate Ted Nugent is calling for more civility after Wednesday’s shooting at a congressional baseball practice.

Nugent, who once said then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama should “suck my machine gun” during an onstage rant, told WABC Radio on Thursday that he now intends to be “more selective with my rants and in my words.”

“At the tender age of 69, my wife has convinced me I just can’t use those harsh terms,” he said. “I cannot and will not and I encourage even my friends, slash, enemies on the left, in the Democrat and liberal world, that we have got to be civil to each other.”

“I’m not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric anymore.”

Nugent reiterated his urge to open up a more civil dialogue on Fox and Friends Sunday and tried to clarify his now infamous “suck my machine gun” statement.

“I have never projected hate,” he said. “When I said that about sucking on my machine guns, that was a direct response to the liberal Democrats — Obama and Clinton, et al — to ban certain types of firearms, violating their oath to the Constitution and the Second Amendment.”

Nugent apologized for the “Detroit street slang” that he said sometimes gets misconstrued as actual threats.

“I’m saying we must all unite to bring no violence, no harm to any of our fellow Americans.”

Nugent even went so far as to say he will join liberal commentator Bill Maher on his HBO show to call for non-violent discourse.

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Categories: Gun News

1.6 million disqualifying records added to NICS in 2016

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 12:45

(Source: NICS)

More than 1.6 million disqualifying records were added into the federal background check system index in 2016, according to a report released last month.

Kimberly J. Del Greco, section chief of the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, said multiple agencies provided 1,650,428 criminal records to the government, giving federal agents the information necessary to deny more than 120,000 firearm transfers.

“As the NICS Section moves forward with the future development of NICS, we are committed to consistently providing its users and the citizens of the United States with a highly effective and efficient level of quality service in the furtherance of public safety and national security,” Del Greco said in the 2016 NICS Operational report.

Nearly 41 percent of the denials last year comprised applicants convicted a crime punishable by more than one year in prison — or two years for a misdemeanor. Another 20 percent of applicants were denied as “fugitives from justice.”

About 9 percent of denial in 2016 were related to substance abuse — slightly higher than the 8 percent denial rate recorded in NICS’s 19-year history.

Some 5,638 denials were issued based on mental health records, according the report, or about 4.6 percent of the total applications denied in 2016. The rate is low in comparison to the system’s 19 percent denial rate overall for those adjudicated mentally ill.

It’s the disqualifying category that draws the arguably most ire — politically — for its perceived role in preventing mass shootings.

Congress approved the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act in 1994 and since then more than 257 million background checks have been processed through NICS.

State and federal attempts to expand the background check system have thus far focused on which type of sales to regulate or how long to mandate waiting periods when applications fall into pending status. Supporters of the various measures say subjecting private transfers to background checks will keep guns out of the hands of criminals, while longer waiting periods afford the FBI more time to investigate red flags turned up in the background check process.

Gun groups, however, say lengthening waiting periods or casting a wider net on sales doesn’t address the true issue with NICS — shoddy record keeping at the local level and an unwillingness from certain states to upload disqualifying documents into NICS.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation takes the middle ground on the issue, spearheading a years-long effort to improve the federal records system with a campaign called “Fix NICS.”

“Through a multi-state effort focused on forming coalitions in the states with the fewest submitted records, the industry has dedicated significant resources to helping states overcome the legal, technological, and intrastate coordination challenges preventing effective record sharing,” said Larry Keane, NSSF’s general counsel, in a blog post published in April.

A 2012 review of state participation levels in NICS revealed 19 state provided less than 100 records to the federal system. Some two-thirds of those states made fewer than 12 records available, the NSSF said.

“The industry’s FixNICS campaign addresses this by advocating for changes to state laws and regulations that encourage agencies and courts to fully participate by making sure they submit mental health records that show an individual is prohibited from purchasing a firearm under current law,” Keane said.

Since kicking off its campaign four years ago, the numbers of disqualifying records uploaded to NICS increased 170 percent. Legislation passed in 16 states boosted the number of records provided to NICS from 1.6 million in 2012 to almost 4.5 million in 2016.

“This significant increase is driven by states like Pennsylvania, which now has 794,589 records, compared to one in 2012,” Keane said. “New Jersey, another FixNICS success story, has now submitted 431,543 records, up from 17 in 2012, and is now ranked as the second best state on a per capita basis.”

He continued, “Ten years after the Virginia Tech tragedy, the firearms and ammunition industry continues to work with states and coalition partners to ensure the background check system is effective and complete.”

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Categories: Gun News

Lawyer shares story about father locked up for illegally possessing gun

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 12:41

Kevin Harden, Jr., right, with his father (Photo: ACLU)

With many calling for harsher penalties for felons in possession of firearms, one lawyer and former victim of gun violence sheds some light on the flip side.

In a piece published by the ACLU, Kevin Harden Jr. talks about being raised by a single dad and the impact that one bad decision had on the rest of his life.

Harden’s father, described as a hard-working and dedicated family man, raised Kevin, his two younger brothers and younger sister in Philadelphia all on his own. Things were going well until an incident at a 2005 block party turned everything upside down.

At the block party, a man began arguing with and, according to witnesses, pulled a knife on Harden’s then 17-year-old sister. Harden’s father rushed into the house, grabbed a gun and put it in his waist. He then confronted the man and lifted his shirt to intimidate him with the gun.

Harden’s father was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. In 1989, Harden’s father had pleaded guilty to committing a strong arm robbery. At the time, Harden notes, his father was battling drug addiction, but by 2005 he had been clean and crime-free for 16 years.

Bail was initially set for Harden’s father at $1,500, which Harden paid, but at a later hearing, the prosecutor added charges of threats, possession of a firearm in public, and concealed possession of a firearm. Those charges ultimately led to a higher bail of $15,000. Harden needed $1,000 to get his father out of jail and had no idea where to get the cash.

Harden, who had been shot four months earlier, was in college at the time, and his father pleaded with him not to do anything drastic to get the money. After the semester ended, Harden was able to scrape together the money from family and friends to bail his father out.

Harden’s father lost his job while in jail and was never able to work again. He was found not guilty of the extra charges but was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Though jail time was called for by the prosecutor, Harden’s dad was sentenced to house arrest. Harden notes the Judge later became his mentor and says he’ll be forever indebted to the judge for allowing him to spend time with his father during the last three years of his life.

Harden ends by calling for criminal justice reform and fair bail practices and sentencing guidelines. He notes that though his family suffered from what he sees as “bad bail practices,” they ultimately benefited from a merciful sentencing.

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Categories: Gun News

NICS call answering speed nearly doubled in 2016

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 12:26

Agents at the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System division took nearly twice as long to answer calls in 2016, according to a federal report released last month.

The average answer speed increased 62 percent from 281 seconds to just over 449 seconds — meaning federally-licensed firearms dealers waited on hold an average of about seven minutes to receive verbal approval from the Department of Justice on a background check application.

The answering speed has increased five-fold over the last three years, according to the 2016 NICS Operational Report.

The increased call volume forced a change in procedure for the FBI’s NICS Section: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays from October through December of last year, flagged applications requiring follow-up with the agency over the phone automatically fell into delayed status.

“The temporary process change would help the NICS Section to dedicate the needed time to quickly resolve transactions and allow the FFLs to avoid being in a holding pattern for extended periods of time while their call was being transferred to the NICS Section,” the report read.

Likewise, the number of “abandoned” calls — the term used to describe a retailer who simply hangs up rather than waiting on hold — doubled in 2016 to 6.48 percent. In 2013, the abandoned call rate came in at 1.53 percent.

The delays came as no surprise considering the sheer volume of applications flooding NICS: 27.5 million processed in 2016, the busiest year on record.

NICS applications this year lag about 1 million behind.

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Categories: Gun News

Chicago judge denies bail for school picnic shooting suspect

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 12:20

Raekwon Hudson (Photo: Chicago Police Department)

A Cook County judge denied bail Sunday for a 19-year-old man suspected of shooting two girls at an end-of-the-year school picnic.

“No bail! Take him back!” Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas shouted to her courtroom sheriff’s deputies when they brought in the suspect, Raekwon Hudson.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Hudson showed little emotion as the judge shouted in his direction.

“Young children in this city can’t participate in a picnic without being in fear of their lives because of gangbangers on the street with guns,” Chiampas added.

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Yassan said Hudson intended to shoot three students who had not been allowed to graduate for disciplinary reasons and had been denied entry to the Friday afternoon picnic outside Warren Elementary School on Chicago’s south side.

When the Jeep drove by and someone inside flashed a gun, the trio asked the security guard if they could enter the school building and were denied. As they walked away, the Jeep returned, and then the three fled into the school playground where the picnic was being held.

Hudson then reportedly flashed gang signs from the Jeep as he fired into the playground. Children scattered, but two were wounded. One 7-year-old girl suffered gunshot wounds to her thigh and pinkie finger, and an 11-year-old girl was shot in the right hand.

Eleven bullet casings were recovered from the scene. A nearby security camera captured footage of the shooting and a witness was able to identify Hudson as the shooter and front seat passenger.

Police later arrested Hudson and two other juveniles who were in the Jeep after the vehicle was spotted in a garage. Keys to the Jeep, which had been reported stolen the same day, were found on Hudson.

Hudson and the two juveniles, ages 16 and 17, have each been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated battery discharge firearm. They have all been ordered to remain in custody.

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Categories: Gun News

Man who spent $10K to get NICS record fixed refused attorney’s fees by court

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 12:12

An Ohio man who sued the federal government over a stagnant background check appeal on a gun purchase was told he was not entitled to get his fees back.

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, sitting in on the federal bench in the District of Columbia, refused to grant $9,775.65 in attorney’s fees and costs incurred by Gregory Ledet to get his gun rights recognized.

Ledet tried to purchase a firearm through a licensed dealer on Feb. 27, 2016, but his National Instant Criminal Background Check System check – also known as NICS and performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – came back denied. The FBI subsequently informed Ledet he was a prohibited firearms possessor, which he appealed.

Under federal law, those found guilty of non-domestic violence-related state misdemeanors punishable by over two years in prison can lose their gun rights. Ledet’s criminal history consisted of a misdemeanor theft under $100 charge in 1997 in Louisiana for which he received a six-month suspended sentence in lieu of 18 months probation, meaning he should not have been denied.

Court records show the FBI was sent this data as early as 2003 and had been delivered it again in 2010.

Told he would likely have to wait more than a year for his latest NICS appeal to come up for review, Ledet retained an attorney and filed suit in May 2016, arguing the federal government was unlawfully depriving him of his constitutional rights. Just 22 days after the suit was filed, the FBI updated his NICS records and approved him for future gun transfers. With the matter seemingly resolved, both the government and Ledet agreed to dismiss the case before it came up in court.

This, holds Jackson in her opinion, precluded Ledet’s effort to recover his fees because he is not the “prevailing party” in the litigation.

“Here, upon dismissal of the case, the Court did not issue any judgement whatsoever, let alone a judgement favorable to the plaintiff, and the court did not impose any relief,” said Jackson, going on to point out that Ledet was able to complete gun transactions through steps taken voluntarily by the government, not following a court order.

“We’ve had a feeling this was coming, and the upside is that there’s finally case law,” Ledet told “But it also means that every person that has to sue for their rights after an erroneous denial will now have to foot the bill themselves, something that’ll run you a minimum of $10K.”

Ledet says he is working with U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a Minnesota Republican, on legislation to require NICS to make a final decision on appeals and correct its records within 60 days. Emmer submitted a similar bill last session that, while it picked up 50 co-sponsors, never made it out of committee.

“This bill would change the language of the law to shift the attorney’s fees from the person wronged to the government, and reinstating what’s known as the ‘catalyst theory’ of awarding attorney’s fees,” says Ledet, meaning that a plaintiff would just need to prove that their lawsuit was the catalyst that made the government change their position, not actually win the case in court.

“So, this is where this whole fiasco ends,” Ledet said. “After nearly a year and a half of fighting with the FBI, NICS, and the U.S. attorney’s office, we come to a close with a giant ‘no fees for you.'”

“Why should an erroneously denied individual be on the hook for thousands of dollars to fix the government’s mistake?” says Ledet’s attorney, Stephen D. Stamboulieh. “Good question.  But, until Congress steps in, that’s the way it is.”

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Categories: Gun News

Sheriff Clarke no longer taking Homeland Security job

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 11:29

Sheriff Clarke, left, making a public appearance with President Trump.

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, known for his abrasive pro-gun and pro-Trump punditry, decided against taking a high level position with the Department of Homeland Security, according to reports.

Clarke formally notified DHS Secretary John Kelly on Friday that he rescinds his acceptance of the agency’s offer, said Clarke’s advisor Craig Peterson in a statement to local media.

Last month, Clarke announced that he would accept an assistant secretary position to head DHS’s Office of Partnership and Engagement, a wing designed to connect the feds with local and state agencies. He was expected to fill the role by the end of June.

Peterson added that last week Clarke met with Trump to discuss other roles and is reviewing options both inside and outside the government. “Sheriff Clarke is 100 percent committed to the success of President Trump, and believes his skills could be better utilized to promote the President’s agenda in a more aggressive role,” he said. Yet, in a social media jab at a political opponent, Clarke said he will be sheriff until January 2019 “at a minimum.”

The reasoning behind Clarke’s decision is unclear. The Washington Post reported his appointment had been subjected to significant delays that contributed to his withdrawal. Speculative reports suggest it may have been a result of controversies surrounding Clarke and his current administration. In the past year, the Milwaukee sheriff has been accused of plagiarizing portions of his master’s thesis, headed a jail in which an inmate died of dehydration, and is the subject of a federal lawsuit accusing him of abuse of power.

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Categories: Gun News

Veterans group Guns to Hammers aims to help wounded warriors

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 11:07

J.R. Smith and Kevin Jackson of Guns to Hammers (Photo: WHEC)

After hitting the road to raise some funds, veterans group Guns to Hammers has landed back in Texas and is ready to help wounded warriors.

The non-profit organization was founded by former Marine J.R. Smith and aims to help remodel the homes of wounded veterans so that they are Americans with Disabilities (ADA)-compliant.

Smith decided to focus his energy on the non-profit after founding a successful Houston remodeling company, H-Towne & Around Remodelers, Inc.

Smith, along with fellow former Marine Kevin Jackson, set out on the road in a red, white and blue Jeep at the end of May to try and bring awareness to their group.

Saturday night, they arrived back in San Antonio and plan on getting started with their work right away, News 4 San Antonio reported.

“I’d love to be able to help a veteran in a wheelchair and modify his home so he can live more independently,” said Smith, before taking off on the trip.

The home of Navy veteran Otis Rankin, who served on a ship off the coast of Vietnam, will be the group’s first project.

Rankin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 2005 and his family fears he doesn’t have many years of mobility left.

“Our concern is what’s going to happen when he can’t get out of the wheelchair,” said his daughter Tracy Knight. “How does he get around this house.”

After years of frustration when trying to deal with the VA, the Rankins say they are excited to be the first family Guns to Hammers helps.

“The Rankin family is grateful to be the first of what they hope is many more projects in the future.

“It’s been more of a blessing than I can ever dream of,” said Knight.

The group plans to get started on Rankin’s house within the next few months.

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Categories: Gun News

Does NRA’s self-defense insurance disallow training for 1911s, revolvers?

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 10:19

Stock image of an NRA Carry Guard training course in which everyone has a Glock, Sig or the equivalent. (Photo: NRA Carry Guard)

Technically, the answer is “yes.” The training aspect for NRA Carry Guard — insurance for gun owners concerned that they will be arrested if they use their gun in self-defense — will not teach for 1911 pistols or revolvers. That decision limits training courses to more modern duty weapons like semi-automatic polymer frame handguns — specifically “Glock 19/17, Sig P226/P228 or equivalent.”

But technically there’s a “no” answer as well. The course listing explicitly says the above statement, but also advises that students attending the course bring a “secondary firearm” such as their everyday carry gun.

To understand the brouhaha, called the program’s help line listed in the “contact us” section of its website. A Carry Guard representative explained that the course — Level 1 — is a beginner’s course and to simplify instruction, they’re asking attendants bring firearms that have similar features and performance. In other words, uniformity.

According to the webpage listing of a Level 1 training course, the curriculum covers shooting fundamentals like stance, grip, holster draw and aiming as well as including a series of live fire drills. Each course costs $850 per student.

The representative also said later training courses, like Level 2 or 3, will likely allow 1911s and/or revolvers, but nothing is set in stone and those courses won’t be available until 2018.

[ H/T The Firearm Blog ]

Article updated on June 20, 2017 at 12:41 pm EST

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Categories: Gun News

Traffic stop in Australia leads to discovery of WWII-era submachine gun

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 08:26

A 40-year-old man was arrested after authorities found him in possession of a World War II-era submachine gun during a traffic stop Sunday in the Tuggerah Lakes area of New South Wales, just north of Sydney.

The stop was conducted about 7:40 p.m. and a search of the vehicle uncovered a bag that contained an MP40, a magazine and 60 rounds of ammunition of varying calibers.

“Initial examination of the firearm suggests it is in working order,” the New South Wales Police Force noted in a press release.

Tests will be conducted to determine whether it’s linked to any crimes.

Meanwhile, the man was arrested and charged with possessing a prohibited firearm and possessing ammunition without a permit. He was also refused bail and was due to appear in court Monday.

[ New South Wales Police Force ]

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Categories: Gun News

Rare snake breeder missing snake, cash and guns after break-in (VIDEO)

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 08:24

A Florida snake breeder is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the return of a rare snake that was stolen from his Riverview home last week.

Along with the white Leucistic boa constrictor, which is sometimes referred to as a Princess Diamond, the burglar took four guns and $1,500 in cash. But with approximately 600 snakes at his home, Daniel Rigsbey of KD Reptiles feels like the thieves were knowledgable about the breed and his home specifically targeted for that snake.

Rigsbey said the white boa is one of only about six breed-able Princess Diamonds in the United States, and while Rigsbey’s snake is not quite ready for breeding, her babies will be worth more than $200,000 a piece.

However, Rigsbey said the snake is his son’s favorite and has more sentimental than monetary value to his family. The 6-foot snake was also the pride and joy of the company.

“We have a couple like her but nothing her size,” Rigsbey said. “It breaks my heart every time I walk by and see [her tank] empty.”

[ Fox 13 ]

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Categories: Gun News

26-year-old fatally shot after shooting teen during domestic dispute (VIDEO)

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 08:23

A 26-year-old man is dead following a domestic dispute at his girlfriend’s Albuquerque home Friday night.

Authorities say during a dispute with his girlfriend and her family, Daniel Kramer, 26, shot a 15-year-old member of his girlfriend’s family, critically injuring the teen. But another family member was armed with a gun and returned fire, striking Kramer.

When police arrived, Kramer was found lying on the floor inside the home. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The teen and another family member were transported to the hospital and are said to be in critical condition.

No arrests have been made at this time.

[ KRQE ]

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Categories: Gun News

Kansas courthouse gets new gun lockers (VIDEO)

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 08:22

Gun owners who routinely carry their firearms in public now have a safe storage option when visiting the Sedgwick County Courthouse in Wichita, Kansas.

While weapons aren’t allowed inside the courthouse, 20 recently installed lockers in the courthouse lobby provide a place for gun owners to “check” their firearms at the door.

“They’ll open the locker, take the card from the locker. Then unholster their gun, place it in the locker, then lock the locker up,” explained Courthouse Police Chief Darrell Haynes, noting that at no point will courthouse police handle other people’s guns.

“We just want to encourage everyone to be safe when they’re handling firearms. And we’ve tried to make it as safe as possible for people to do that,” said Haynes.

Haynes said there was an incident last year when a man tried to hide his gun in a chip bag outside of the courthouse because he knew it was not allowed inside. Haynes said the new lockers should prevent such incidents in the future.

[ KWCH ]

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Categories: Gun News

Study finds 1,300 kids killed, 5,790 injured with guns per year

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 07:56

(Graphic: Journal of Pediatrics)

Nearly 1,300 children die from gunshots each year and another 5,790 are treated for gunshot injuries, according to a new study published Monday in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While the sheer volume of gun deaths and injuries among children is staggering, the study shows boys, children between the ages 13-17 and minorities are disproportionately affected.

Males account for 82 percent of deaths, with black males most likely to be killed in gun-related incidents compared with other ages and races. The gun-related homicide rate for black children is nearly twice as much than for children of American Indian descent, four times higher than Hispanic children, and about 10 times higher than the rates for white and Asian youths.

(Graphic: Journal of Pediatrics)

Rates of gun-related suicide were highest among white and American Indian youths, with both rates almost four times that of black children and more than five times the rate of Asian children.

As for unintentional firearm deaths, black youths had the highest rate, ranking twice as high as white kids and four times that of Hispanic children.

Across the board, suicides and homicides were both most common in youth ages 13 to 17 years, while unintentional firearm deaths were more likely to occur in children 12 years old and younger.

Homicides rates are higher in the Southern states and portions of the Midwest, while suicides are more evenly dispersed across the country, with the highest rates occurring in Western states.

The findings come from an analysis of 12 years of data — 2002 to 2014 — collected by the National Vital Statistics System and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Researchers defined gunshot wounds as those caused by “a weapon that uses a powder charge to fire a projectile.” The definition included injuries from handguns, rifles, and shotguns but excluded injuries caused by air- or gas-powered guns, BB guns, and pellet guns. The analysis also excluded non-penetrating injuries that still involved guns, such as those caused by pistol whipping.

While the study names firearm-related injuries as the third leading cause of death among American youth, the analyses also shows rates of unintentional shootings involving minors have seen a “significant overall decrease ” and youth homicide rates have dropped. However, there remains a “significant upward trend” in suicides of American youth.

Researchers concluded that firearm-related injuries in children continue to be an important concern that substantially contributes to premature death and life-changing injuries in children, but also believe understanding the nature and impact of these incidents is a step toward future prevention.

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Categories: Gun News

House Dems press border states to curb gun trafficking to Mexico

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 07:45

A group of 18 Democrats have signed a letter asking the governors of states along the international border with Mexico to help stop illegal guns moving south.

Spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., the letter presses the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to do what they can to help prevent firearms making their way to bad actors south of the border.

“The devastating impacts of guns falling into the wrong hands transcend our borders and the increased availability of U.S. guns has fueled transnational criminal organizations operating in countries with track records of extreme violence, such as Mexico,” says the letter.

The letter references data from California-based gun control groups, Mexico’s crime rates, and a 2016 GAO report that found two-thirds of the guns given by Mexican authorities to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to trace in recent years originated in the U.S. before suggesting that border states should “institute greater controls” to reduce southbound guns and ammo.

“It is no coincidence that three of these Border States, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico have gun show loopholes that do not require background checks,” said Grijalva in a statement from his office.

Action from the states challenged over their gun show laws, all helmed by Republican governors with track records of signing pro-Second Amendment legislation, is not likely. California already requires checks for firearms sold at gun shows.

The letter was co-signed by Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calf., author of a bill introduced in March which would trigger a 20-year prison sentence for those transporting two or more firearms across the U.S-Mexico border without documentation. The bill also requires licensed gun dealers in border areas to report multiple sales of any firearm.

On the other side of the line, officals in Mexico blame guns from the north for their problems with crime fueled by powerful drug gangs.

In the Mexican border town of Tijuana, Police Chief Marco Antonio Sotomayo, told KPBS his agency has seized about 350 firearms so far this year, mostly originating from the U.S.

“I urge the U.S. to help us by better controlling gun sales and stopping these guns from illegally crossing the border,” Sotomayo said. “Because at the end of the day, that’s what’s provoking the violence we have in this city.”

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, in a speech last year, blamed the demise of the U.S. federal assault weapon ban in 2004 in large part for her country’s gun violence problems, saying the availability of formerly banned firearms in the states “gives transnational criminal organizations enormous firepower” that has an effect on both sides of the border.

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Categories: Gun News

Suspect in custody after shooting spree claims 5 lives

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 07:41

Damian Herrera is charged with five counts of murder. (Photo: New Mexico State Police)

Authorities in New Mexico continue to investigate an incident that left five people dead when a 21-year-old man went on a killing spree Thursday evening that spanned 185 miles.

Damian Herrera, 21, is being held without bond at the Rio Arriba Detention Center. He is charged with five open counts of murder, as well as tampering with evidence and stealing a car.

The victims were identified by the New Mexico State Police as Herrera’s mother, Maria Rosita Gallegos, 49; her husband, Max Trujillo, Sr., 55; and Herrera’s half-brother, Brendan Herrera, 20. The remaining two victims were identified as Michael Kyte, 61, and Manuel Serrano, 59.

District Attorney Marco Serna said in a press conference that Kyte and Serrano were merely victims of circumstance and not known to Herrera.

Authorities say the incident started Thursday afternoon when Herrera shot his mother, stepfather and half-brother at their home in the rural community of La Madera, about 50 miles north of Santa Fe. Herrera first shot his step-father, who was outside at the time. Herrera’s half-brother then came outside and a struggle ensued, during which time the brother was shot in the neck. As Herrera’s mother tried to help her injured son, Herrera shot her as well.

Herrera’s sister was home at the time and witnessed all three family members get shot. She was uninjured and ran to a neighbor’s home for help.

“She just said, ‘I need help. My brother killed Brendon, my mom and Max. They’re dead,” neighbor Connie Ortega told KRQE.

Ortega said it was heartbreaking.

After shooting his three family members, Herrera hitched a ride with Kyte, then shot him and stole his truck while at a home in Tres Piedras.

Herrera later encountered Serrano at a gas station in Abiquiu. As Serrano pumped gas and washed his windows with his back to Herrera, for no apparent reason, Herrera fatally shot him as well. Witnesses reported hearing about five gunshots.

Serna called the murders horrific and senseless, noting that they have “rocked northern New Mexico to its core.”

Around 8:15 p.m., not long after Serrano was shot, Herrera was spotted in the stolen pickup truck. Deputies caught up to Herrera, but he led them on a 5-mile chase before he lost control on a curve in the road and crashed into a tree. Herrera then got out of the vehicle, charged at the deputies, and a scuffle ensued.

During the struggle, Herrera attempted to take a deputy’s gun, and while the deputy’s gun discharged, no one was shot. However, Herrera did suffer injuries from the fight and was transported to the hospital once in custody. He was treated and released then taken to the Rio Arriba Detention Center.

At this point, there is no clear motive for the killings, and authorities confirmed that Herrera has no prior criminal history and no known history of mental illness. However, court documents indicate that Herrera had previously spoken with friends and family about killing “for fun.”

Herrera appeared to show no signs of remorse, displayed a “blank stare” in court, and only sighed at the mention of his mother’s murder.

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Miami-Dade officer pleads guilty to gun running charge

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 07:35

A former Miami-Dade police officer pleaded guilty last week to a conspiracy charge in connection with a gun running scheme to the Dominican Republic.

Michael Freshko, 48, admitted to smuggling several weapons through Miami International Airport in 2012 with a co-conspirator, according to the plea agreement.

Freshko was arrested last month and charged with conspiracy.

“As part of his guilty plea, Freshko admitted that after receiving firearms from a co-conspirator, he used his official position as a MDPD officer to transport the firearms past the passenger screening area and into the portion of Miami International Airport that housed the departure gates,” says a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.

Freshko admitted to smuggling four Glock 9mm pistols, one Sig Sauer 9mm pistol, and one Sig Sauer 5.56 rifle past security. He then delivered the weapons to the co-conspirator, who put the firearms into carry-on luggage and flew to the Dominican Republic.

Freshko was relieved of duty in 2015. In accordance with the plea deal, he’s agreed to resign from the Miami-Dade Police Department, and relinquish police certifications issued by the state of Florida.

He faces up to five years in prison, and up to three years of supervised release. Prosecutors have agreed to ask the judge for four years imprisonment.

Last week, Judge Darrin P. Gayles signed off on an order allowing Freshko to travel to Orlando for three days. The former officer will visit the “tourist attractions” in the area with his live-in girlfriend and her 9-year-old daughter.

He’s due to be sentenced on Aug. 25.

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Holster company offers Congressmen free gear, training

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 04:40

A Tennessee-based custom Kydex holster maker is offering free holsters and firearms training to lawmakers on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of an attack on House Republicans.

T.Rex Arms, based in Centerville, posted the offer last week on social media following Wednesday’s shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, that left GOP House Whip Steve Scalise critically wounded alongside a Capitol Police officer, a staffer and a lobbyist. Lawmakers credited the fast response from armed agents assigned to Scalise as limiting the scope of the shooting.

“Most elected representatives do not have the advantage of a personal security detail; in this regard, you are like the majority of Americans,” T.Rex’s Lucas Botkin said in the post. “Your safety is your own responsibility. And as we saw Wednesday, the only way to slow and stop a determined attacker is through the immediate application of accurate rounds on target.”

Besides free holsters from the company, they advised that trainers from Warrior Poet Society and Baer Solutions are offering their services pro bono.

Moving past gun gear and instruction, Botkin implored Congress to act on national concealed carry reciprocity legislation and “reduce or eliminate the deadly gun-free zones that plague the liberty and lives of our citizens.”

In the days since the attack, Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie has introduced a bill to make Washington, D.C. an enclave of national concealed carry permit recognition while U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., is working on a bill to make it legal for members of the House and Senate to carry guns in the nation’s capital.

Brooks, who was at the practice, argues that if they would have been allowed to have guns the incident may have gone down differently.

“We could have gotten to the shooter before he did that much damage if just one of us had had a gun,” Brooks said. “We could’ve used the third base dugout as a shield, he wouldn’t have seen us. We could have snuck up on him, and as he’s shooting in the right field direction, we could have got him from the side.”

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Lock and load: Blasting lock parts out of a 12 ga shotgun (VIDEO)

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 04:31

After being gifted into a bag of lock core cylinders without keys, the shotgun testers over at Taofledermaus stuffed them inside a 12 gauge low brass hull and went to the range.

The cores came all the way from Israel and some had to be stabilized with a rubber o-ring though (spoiler) these things tumble more than OPEC oil prices did after fracking. Cue the tumbler and keyhole puns.

Guess we now know why Schlage doesn’t make shotgun slugs.

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Police chief praises officers for response at Congressional baseball attack

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 04:30

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown on Monday said he could “not be more proud” of the officers in his department who helped stop an active shooter at a Congressional baseball practice last week. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

A police chief in Virginia praised his officers Monday for their response to the active shooter situation at a Congressional baseball practice last week.

Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said at a news conference Monday that Officer Nicole Battaglia, with less than two years on the job, was instrumental in distracting the shooter so other officers could neutralize the threat.

“She immediately started taking fire from the suspect, and she jumped out of the car without cover and moved towards the fire fight — not away from it — towards it, to the point where she was actually pinned down in the parking lot with a barrage of weapon fire from the shooter,” Brown said. “That act alone, probably, in my opinion, diverted the attention of the shooter away from the other officers allowing them to get themselves in position to deal with the situation that took place.”

The FBI said James T. Hodgkinson, of Belleville, Illinois, opened fire on lawmakers and others with a 9mm handgun and 7.62mm rifle at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park just after 7 a.m. last Wednesday. The ATF said the shooter bought the firearms legally.

Four people were shot in the attack. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is still recovering after he was shot in the hip and was near death upon arriving at the hospital. He’s undergone several surgeries and doctors are optimistic about his recovery. Congressional aide Zach Barth, Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika, and US Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner were also shot.

Griner and her partner, David Bailey, were the security detail assigned to Scalise, who is the majority whip and the number three Republican in the House. Griner and Bailey immediately returned fire on Hodgkinson. Brown said their efforts pushed the shooter back.

“One of them actually went on to the field and got the individual to move down, away from the third baseline towards home plate,” Brown said. “I cannot emphasize the courage that it must have taken those two officers to stop that initial engagement with that shooter.”

Brown said Alexandria Police received a call about the shooting at 7:10 a.m. Battaglia and two other officers arrived on the scene around two minutes later. Within minutes, the threat was neutralized.

“At four minutes and 38 seconds after the initial call that went out to officers, the … shooter was neutralized,” he said. “When you think about travel time, assessing the situation, engaging the suspect and neutralizing the situation, I could not be more proud of the officers of the Alexandria Police Department that showed up that day.”

President Trump visited Scalise and Griner in the hospital last week. The three Alexandria police officers are on routine leave.

“I am very, very proud of them and so is the rest of this police department,” Brown said.

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