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Seed Newsvine

Reuters reports this afternoon that:

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday responded to the deadliest shooting rampage in modern American history by passing legislation to help keep guns out of hands of the mentally ill.On a voice vote, the House sent the measure — which would be the first major gun control bill enacted since 1994 and bolster background checks for gun buyers — to the Democratic-led Senate for needed concurrence.

The bill was drafted in consultation with the 4 million-member National Rifle Association, the nation’s biggest gun-rights group, after a deranged gunman killed himself and 32 others in April at Virginia Tech university.

“I think the chances are very strong that we can get this passed in the Senate,” said Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, provided the legislation is not laden with amendments that gun rights backers find objectionable.

It is a start. Interestingly the NRA apparently participated in the drafting of this bill–has the leadership of the NRA finally come to their senses. Gun control does not mean depriving Americans of the right to own weapons. It does not mean that Americans cannot hunt or participate in the infantile sport of shooting at paper targets. Gun control doesn’t even mean that one is deprived of the right to join the militia. As I have blogged many times before, making it more difficult to place weapons in the hands of those that are likely to to harm to themselves and others reduces the probability that another Virginia Tech is imminent. Hooray for the courage of the House. Now will the Senate follow suit? Will the lame duck sign legislation that limits placing guns in the hands of the mentally incompetent? All I know is that it is a beginning. I for one will be watching for the outcome.

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Seed Newsvine

Idaho and guns seem not to mix well. I don’t think my next vacation will be planned for Idaho. Need I say more?

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – At least four people were shot by a sniper in the town of Moscow, Idaho, CNN and local media reported on Sunday.
Moscow police confirmed there had been a shooting but declined to give any details on the phone.
CNN said two officers and two civilians were shot at around 1 a.m. PDT (0800 GMT) but their condition was not known.
At least 75 shots were fired and up to seven blocks were cordoned off, it added.
Local radio station KXLY said the shots, believed to be from a high-powered rifle, were shot from a Presbyterian church and targeted the town’s courthouse. It said on its Web site no more shots had been heard since 1 a.m.

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I know of no gun that up and walked itself into a building and began shooting, reloading and shooting some more by itself. That being said, it is a certainty that without the gun attached to the hand of the person doing the shooting there would be far less carnage in this world.Seung-Hui Cho was a well prepared assassin ten days ago. He was prepared to shoot at least one round every three seconds for as long as he was the only armed person in the building. I know, I know, wouldn’t it be just ducky if we had a concealed weapons law so that students or professors or the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker could have shot Cho before he did more damage. Or would that just lead to more carnage? I suggest the latter. The more guns the more gun violence. Cho would not be deterred by the fact that some bozo carried a weapon in his pants, around his ankle, or under his jacket. It would just have made the situation more interesting for him. He knew he was going to die anyway the cake was sliced.

The real question is why did the cops take over 5 minutes to enter the building. The Tribune article points out that since Columbine the police policy is that the first 4 officers that arrive on the scene of a mass shooting wait for nothing and storm in. Since Cho killed himself at the first recognition that the police were in the building think about how many more lives could have been saved if the armed police wearing body armor reacted more quickly. This speaks to the need for more and better training of university police forces as they would be the first responders to this type of crisis when it happens again.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
BLACKSBURG, Va. —
The bloodbath lasted nine minutes — enough time for Seung-Hui Cho to unleash 170 rounds from his two pistols, or about one shot every three seconds.
During that time, Virginia Tech and Blacksburg police spent three minutes dashing across campus to the scene. Then they began the agonizing process of breaking into the chained-shut building, which took another five minutes.
The five minutes police spent breaking into the building proved to be crucial. During that time, Cho picked off his victims with a hail of gunfire. He killed himself after police shot through the doors and rushed toward the carnage.
In addition to the 170 rounds Cho fired inside Norris, investigators found unused ammunition in the building, though Flaherty was unsure how much was left. Investigators have compiled 500 pieces of evidence from Norris Hall alone.

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Seed Newsvine

Another case of a PERSON WITH A GUN KILLING PEOPLE WITHOUT GUNS. One has to wonder whether David Howard Thurm woke up in the morning with homicide on his mind, whether he went to his perfectly legal locked gun safe, removed his revolver from the perfectly legal gun safe, removed the appropriate trigger lock, and went on his shooting spree with his perfectly legal handgun.What possible excuse for this behavior will the unconditional Second Amendment gun nuts be able to produce that doesn’t ring with sanctimony? Oh, sure, guns don’t kill people…You can’t control what people might do with a gun…Regulate gun ownership and the criminals will still get their hands on guns. None of this rings with the absolute truth that had David Howard Thurm not had ready access to a revolver, a weapon that has, as its primary purpose, the function to kill or maim another human being, Laura Schoellmann would still be alive.

Schoellmann is the real hero in this story. She chose to protect her co-workers by assuring that they reached safety at the risk of her own life. Her selfless sacrifice, her commitment to the well being of others is the ultimate ethical act. David Howard Thurm, on the other hand, took his own life in the cowardly act of refusing to face responsibility for his actions. I wonder if he was a card carrying member of the National Rifle Association? I wonder how often he attended the Church of his choosing?

Come on Congress, the time for real gun control is NOW!

clipped from news.yahoo.com
HOUSTON – A man facing eviction from a luxury apartment complex shot and killed the manager and then himself after writing an e-mail to friends saying he had died, police said. At least two other people were injured.
Police said the gunman first shot a neighbor through his door, then reloaded his revolver and stormed the complex’s office, shooting the manager and pistol-whipping a man trying to serve the eviction notice, police said.
Frantic residents called the office to warn workers that a gunman was on his way to them. The manager, identified by her employer as Laura Schoellmann, warned co-workers to get out, and police credited her with saving lives before she was killed.

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It is a start in the right direction. If this truly becomes a bipartisan issue then a chance for fair and reasonable legislation may emerge. One of my hobby horses has been that we have had far too much partisanship over the past 12 years in this country. All that has served to accomplish has been to divide the nation. We cannot survive as a divided house. Representative government is not a one-way street. To work it requires a commitment to compromise. We now have two possibilities for bipartisan action in Congress, the Gonzales scandal and working to keep firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people is a real start. I anticipate the calming of America.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prompted by the Virginia Tech massacre, a U.S. Congress reluctant to tackle gun control may pass limited legislation to help keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, lawmakers and aides said on Sunday.
“Given the horror that happened at Virginia Tech, I think there’s a real chance of passing this,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, told “Fox News Sunday.”
A Republican leadership aide agreed, telling Reuters, “If there is a consensus, and it is in lieu of knee-jerk draconian measures, (the chances are) probably really good.”
Yet after it was determined that the Virginia Tech killer had been admitted earlier to a psychiatric hospital and deemed “a danger to himself and others,” lawmakers dusted off previously rejected legislation.

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clipped from www.reuters.com
HOUSTON (Reuters) – Workers evacuated a building at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and police surrounded it on Friday after reports that a man with a gun was spotted and shots were fired, authorities said.
NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said it was not known if anyone was hurt and Kelly Humphries, another spokesperson, said it was not yet known if there had indeed been gunshots.
The incident added to jitters across America after a student gunman killed 32 people Virginia Tech university, the in the worst shooting rampage in the nation’s modern history.

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When I was on the faculty at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, I was taken aback when I signed my apartment lease. I was required to sign a rider to the standard lease that was effectively a promise to not discharge firearms within the limits of the apartment complex in which I rented my apartment. I was further stunned when I went to visit my internist for the first time. When I entered the professional building in which his office was housed a large sign in both English and Spanish warned me about carrying a weapon into the building. I thought, have I jumped into the rabbit hole?The American love affair with the gun and political points gained by supporting freedom to own guns leads to the probability that more and more of these kinds of incidents will occur in the United States unless we do something about it.

Keep up the foolhardy freedom for anyone to own a gun, to have poorly enforced background check legislation, and to not ban weapons whose only purpose is to cause death on a large scale and expect more headlines just like this one. But from me there will be no sympathetic cries nor will there be gnashing of my teeth. I will continue to feel ANGER, FRUSTRATION, HOSTILITY AND HELPLESSNESS and I will direct these emotions at the NRA and the gun lobby. I will work for politicians that support tough, enforceable gun control legislation at both state and national levels. I will continue to speak loudly and often about the absolute need for gun control legislation in the United States. I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.

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Seed Newsvine

So there are rules in place that scrupulous gun dealers are supposed to follow. The fact that state and federal background checks turned up no problems speaks volumes to the enforcement level of even the weakest gun laws in the known universe. This is extremely problematic. Not only are we loathe to pass gun regulation, but even the regulations on the books fail to be properly enforced. I guess the blame must fall on the executive branch of the government…that would be George W. Bush. Just one more area where George II is lacking both ethical and moral fortitude.

clipped from news.yahoo.com
McLEAN, Va. – A judge’s ruling on Cho Seung-Hui’s mental health should have barred him from purchasing the handguns he used in the Virginia Tech massacre, according to federal regulations. But it was unclear Thursday whether anybody had an obligation to inform federal authorities about Cho’s mental status because of loopholes in the law that governs background checks.
Cho purchased two handguns in February and March, and was subject to federal and state background checks both times. The checks turned up no problems, despite a judge’s ruling in December 2005 that Cho “presents an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness.”
“On the face of it, he should have been blocked under federal law,” said Denis Henigan, legal director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

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