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Calls for Gun Control After Newtown Shooting

gun-barrel-2-bgDiscussions of gun control follow the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 15.

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Local News
01/05/13

Sales of Firearms Up at Ontario Gun Show

ONTARIO, Calif. (KTLA) — Business was brisk at one of the nation’s largest gun shows, held over the weekend at the Ontario Convention Center.

There was a huge turnout at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show and record sales, according to promoters.

Buyers and sellers talked about their fears of possible new federal gun restrictions in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut.

California has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, with bans on assault weapons and ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds.

There are also strong background check requirements and a 10-day waiting period for sales.

Local News
01/05/13

Crowds Drawn to Ontario Gun Show

ONTARIO, Calif. (KTLA) — Business is expected to be brisk at a gun show in Ontario this weekend.

Crossroads of the West Gun Shows is being held on Saturday and Sunday.

Attendance at recent shows has increased, possibly because some people are worried that gun rights will soon be restricted in the wake of the Newtown school shootings.

California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, including a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines.

Also, gun shows in California must follow the same background check procedures as gun stores, including 10-day waiting periods.

Jim Nash reports.

Politicians and pundits made the Sunday morning talk show rounds to discuss gun control.

The most effective way to protect our children from horrors like last week s school shooting in Connecticut is to provide armed security personnel at all schools, the National Rifle Association s executive vice president.  Glen Walker reports.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The most effective way to protect our children from horrors like last week’s school shooting in Connecticut is to provide armed security personnel at all schools, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president said Friday.

Wayne LaPierre spoke to reporters in an appearance that was interrupted twice by protesters shouting anti-NRA slogans and bearing banners in front of his podium, including one that said “NRA killing our kids.”

“We need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work — and by that I mean armed security,” LaPierre said, reading from a prepared statement.

It was the prominent gun rights organization’s entrance into the gun control debate that erupted after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman shot 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.

Adam Lanza had killed his mother before arriving at the school.

Aware that most of the discussion in the days since the shooting have revolved around calls for tighter controls on weapons, LaPierre challenged his critics: What if, he asked, Lanza had been confronted by an armed, trained security officer?

“Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 innocent lives might have been spared?” he asked.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, he said.

To that end, the NRA will fund an initiative to develop a “National School Shield Emergency Response Program” for schools that want it, LaPierre said.

The NRA envisions a program where qualified police, military, security personnel and others organize to protect schools.

Schools remain a target for criminal gunmen because they are not protected by armed security the way other important institutions are, he said.

Policies banning guns at schools create a place that “insane killers” consider “the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,” LaPierre said.

Such policies leave schoolchildren “utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it,” he said.

The nation’s most prominent gun rights lobby joins “the nation in horror, outrage and earnest prayer for the families” who “suffered such an incomprehensible loss,” LaPierre added.

Friday’s event was billed as a news conference, but LaPierre only read a statement; he took no questions.

Former congressman Asa Hutchinson will lead the school security project.

Armed personnel will be part of the security model but not the only component, Hutchinson said.

“School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution,” he said. “But I believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component among many that can provide the first line of deterrence as well as the last line of defense.”

Across the nation Friday morning, church bells rang in remembrance of the victims. The NRA was among those groups that observed a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m., the same time as last week’s massacre.

Obama starts gun control debate

This week, the Obama administration put into motion an effort to change U.S. gun laws.

Vice President Joe Biden met with Cabinet members and law enforcement leaders at the White House to start formulating what Obama called “real reforms right now.”

More than 195,000 people have signed an online White House petition supporting new gun control legislation.

A slight majority of Americans favor major restrictions on guns: 52%, up 5 points from a survey taken in August after the July shooting inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people died, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday.

Biden will lead a White House effort to craft proposals aimed at preventing another tragedy such as the Newtown shootings. The recommendations are due sometime in January.

That same month, several lawmakers have promised to introduce or reintroduce gun control legislation, ranging from a reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons to banning the sale of high-capacity magazines.

Since the shootings, a number of conservative Democrats and some Republicans who have supported gun rights have said they are open to discussing the issue.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said she will introduce legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The White House has said that the president supports that effort.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi took her own step toward reform Wednesday by announcing a task force on preventing gun violence.

Pelosi said the task force will work toward restoring the assault weapons ban, strengthening the background check system and addressing mental health and violence issues.

The NRA, with its roughly 4.3 million members, is the standard-bearer for protecting the Second Amendment. It is also the source of hefty campaign donations.

During the 2012 election cycle, the NRA donated $719,596 to candidates. Republicans received $634,146 of that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis of federal campaign data.

Some $85,450 went to Democrats, many of them in states that are considered more conservative when it comes to gun control laws.

Tributes ongoing for victims

Carloads of teenagers from a Minnesota school that suffered a mass shooting in 2005 headed toward Newtown on Thursday to offer their support.

Also Thursday, burials were held for three children and two teachers.

More than 2,200 miles west of Newtown, Ogden, Utah, the hometown of shooting victim Emilie Parker, was festooned with pink ribbons as her parents brought her body back for burial.

“This sucks. There’s no reason for us to be here tonight,” her father, Robbie Parker, told friends and well-wishers at a memorial service Thursday night. “And I’m so thankful for everybody that’s here.”

His voice trailed off as he struggled for composure. Seeing the pink — his slain daughter’s favorite color — made him and his wife, Alissa, “feel like we were getting a big hug from everybody.”

Also buried Thursday, at an undisclosed location, was Nancy Lanza, the shooter’s mother, whom he killed before the school rampage, said Donald Briggs, a friend of the family who grew up with her in Kingston, New Hampshire.

Plans had not been finalized for the burial of the gunman, her son Adam.

Three 6-year-olds were among those buried Thursday: Allison Wyatt, who loved to draw and wanted to be an artist; Benjamin Wheeler, who loved the Beatles; and red-haired Catherine Hubbard, who loved animals.

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — It’s happening across the country, including at EM and M Jewelry and Guns in Orange County.

Demands for stricter gun control laws and talk of reviving an expired ban on assault weapons has people swamping stores to buy weapons.

“The spike in business has doubled, tripled,” said Emily Atkinson, the Orange County store’s owner.

“People are not just afraid of some bad guy breaking in they’re scared they won’t have the right,” she said.

Atkinson said she sold $20,000 worth of guns and ammunition on Wednesday alone.

That’s happening as the massacre in Newtown, Conn. has spurred talk of reviving a ban on guns like the one used in the tragedy, a semi-automatic weapon that looks like a military machine gun.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — As U.S. President Barack Obama set a January deadline for proposals to deal with gun violence, new details emerged Wednesday about the mother of the gunman who killed 27 people in a Connecticut shooting rampage last week.

A day before her son killed her, Nancy Lanza was on vacation alone at a luxury resort in New Hampshire, friends said Wednesday.

Lanza checked in to the Omni Mount Washington Resort & Hotel in Bretton Woods last Tuesday and checked out Thursday afternoon, the hotel said.

Less than a day later, authorities say, her son Adam Lanza killed her and then opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children and six adults there.

Road trips alone were not uncommon for Nancy Lanza, according to her friends, who said she seemed to be in good spirits during the trip and felt comfortable leaving her 20-year-old son unsupervised in recent years.

Authorities have said the shooter took three of his mother’s weapons — two handguns and a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle — to the elementary school Friday.

His deadly shooting rampage has ignited renewed national debates over gun control, mental health care and school safety.

Speaking five days after the massacre, Obama said Wednesday that a new group led by Vice President Joe Biden is charged with developing “concrete proposals” for dealing with gun violence “no later than January.”

The group will include some Cabinet members and outside organizations.

“This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside,” Obama said. “This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now.”

While politicians continued to call for action, singer Paul Simon offered a tribute to a beloved Sandy Hook teacher who died trying to save her students.

A statement from Simon’s publicist said teacher Victoria Soto’s parents were family friends.

At their request, he sang “The Sound of Silence” at her funeral Wednesday.

Pushing Congress

No single law or set of laws can prevent gun violence, Obama said Wednesday, but the complexity of the issue “can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

Authorities must work to make “access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun,” he said.

The country also needs to tackle a “culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence,” he said.

Speaking at a news conference, Obama called for quick action from Congress.

“A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all,” he said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, has said she will introduce legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the president supports that effort.

Obama said Wednesday he believes the Second Amendment does guarantee individuals the right to bear arms.

And, he added, “This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation.”

Meanwhile, Newtown United, a newly formed group in the stricken town, scheduled an open meeting for Wednesday evening to discuss what it calls “sensible gun legislation.”

Newtown buries the dead

Meanwhile, funerals continued for victims.

A police honor guard saluted Soto, a first-grade teacher who died trying to shield her students from bullets, as bagpipers played outside the Lordship Community Church in Stratford, Connecticut.

The church set up more than 100 chairs outside the building to accommodate the overflow of people paying their respects.

“You were an angel to those 19 children you protected, to the 19 families and the community,” Soto’s sister Jillian said at the service.

Soto, 27, wanted to be a teacher since she was 3 years old.

She “instinctively went into action when a monster came into her classroom and tried to protect the kids that she loved so much,” cousin James Wiltsie said. “We just want the public to know that Vicki was a hero.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan traveled to Newtown to pay his respects to the family of school principal Dawn Hochsprung and “to hear from educators on how we can help,” he said on Twitter.

Hochsprung’s family had calling hours scheduled for Wednesday. Her funeral will be private on Thursday and held outside of Connecticut.

Several students were honored in funerals Wednesday:

–Seven-year-old Daniel Barden, whose “fearless” pursuit of happiness earned him ripped jeans. Taking after his musician dad, Daniel formed a band with his brother and sister, playing the drums. “He embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the world,” Daniel’s family said.

–Six-year-old Caroline Previdi’s relatives were saying their final goodbyes Wednesday. Even after her death, 6-year-old Caroline continued to touch the lives of others. A Facebook page called “RIP Caroline Previdi — Sandy Hook Massacre Victim” had more than 5,400 “likes” on Wednesday morning.

–Six-year-old Charlotte Bacon also had a burial scheduled for Wednesday. Charlotte was a beaming bundle of energy under bright red curls.

Black hearses with caskets will continue driving through Newtown for days to come.

Some cities across the country are planning a moment of silence Friday morning, marking a week since the massacre.

The investigation

Authorities are working to determine a motive for the shooting spree.

So far, they have been unable to retrieve data from a computer in Lanza’s home, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

The gunman apparently smashed the computer and extensively damaged the hard drive, the official said, adding that the FBI is assisting Connecticut State Police.

There are no records of any police calls to the Lanza home, state police said Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had no comment on what the FBI has found in the investigation.

(CNN) — As the nation sent up a collective wail of grief over the 26 people slaughtered in a Newtown, Connecticut, school last week, the nation’s leading gun rights lobby remained silent. Until now.

The National Rifle Association, with roughly 4.3 million members, deactivated its Facebook page, had stopped tweeting on its Twitter account and had been issuing a “no comment” to any media outlet, including CNN, seeking a response.

But late Tuesday, the group broke that silence with a statement:

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters — and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again,” the group said.

It plans to hold “a major news conference” on Friday and both their Facebook and Twitter presences are active again.

But despite the relative radio silence early on from the powerful lobbying group’s offices in Fairfax, Virginia, the organization is regrouping in anticipation of a massive legislative push to introduce or, in some cases, reintroduce gun control legislation, say former NRA officers and gun policy experts.

They hadn’t really spoken, some say, because they didn’t have to do so. At least, not yet.

Kristin Goss, an associate professor of public policy and political science at Duke University and author of “Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America,” said that strategy is part of the organization’s playbook after an incident such as this one.

“The typical pattern is something horrific happens. There is a national outcry, mourning. People call for a national conversation on gun control. Gun rights proponents lay low,” Goss said. “They’re used to seeing this cycle express condolences and hope the attention will shift to a new issue.”

When the NRA does speak in detail, it will do so forcefully and with the type of political sway and heft the pro-gun lobby has carefully amassed over dozens of election cycles, experts say.

“When the emotions come down, I’m sure you’ll hear the NRA address this issue. It’ll be in January when legislation is introduced. They’ll testify at hearings. You’ll hear the same kind of arguments that I’d come up with,” said Richard Feldman, who served as regional political director for the NRA during its rise to power in the 1980s and is president of a gun rights group, the Independent Firearm Owners Association.

When that happens, the group will wield the full power of its millions of members and leverage the $17 million it spent in federal races this year helping elect candidates who it considers supporters of the NRA’s mission, said policy experts.

“What we’re likely to see is the NRA being a part of the behind-the-scenes conversation,” said Scott Melzer, an associate sociology professor at Albion College in Michigan and author of the book “Gun Crusaders: The NRA’s Culture War.”

That’s because in Washington’s halls of power, what takes place behind closed doors often has more impact that what happens in the public eye. And money speaks volumes.

During the 2012 election cycle, the NRA donated $719,596 to candidates. Republicans received $634,146 of that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis of federal campaign data.

For example, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, ranked among the top five recipients, having received $7,450 in this cycle.

For the NRA, as with any good lobbying group, “democracy” is about “putting your money where your mouth is,” Feldman said.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group, the NRA spends 66 times more on lobbying than what the Brady Campaign to End Gun violence, the country’s top gun control advocacy organization, spends. And the NRA spends 4,143 times what the Brady Campaign spends on campaign contributions, the Sunlight Foundation found.

But the group’s political power isn’t just about money.

“If you took money out of politics, that wouldn’t weaken the NRA. It would make it stronger. What NRA can do that (Mayor Michael) Bloomberg can’t do is communicate with millions of people who care about this issue,” Feldman said.

Even Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has had a mixed history on the issue of gun control, paid homage to the group during the general election.

His first speech to a conservative audience after the contentious GOP primary season was at the NRA’s annual meeting this spring, a speech in front of more than 60,000 gun enthusiasts in St. Louis.

In 2012, the group marshaled forces to lobby on more than 60 measures, including “a bill to prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloging the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

The legislation was sponsored by Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and co-sponsored by 34 Republican and moderate Democrats, including West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin is among a small group of conservative Democrats with high rankings from the NRA for pro-gun rights legislative stances who has suggested revisiting gun control policies.

However, on the Sunday after the Newtown shooting, not one of the 31 pro-gun rights senators with high NRA rankings agreed to go on NBC’s “Meet the Press” or CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

House members are similarly concerned.

“There are many single-issue gun rights voters and Republicans — who now control the House of Representatives — know it’s a bad move to vote (against the NRA),” said Melzer said. “That’s a sure way to ensure there will be a primary opponent.”

In the meantime, gun control advocates are hoping to capitalize on the bizarre rhythm that has become all too familiar in the wake of the nation’s mass shootings.

However, when the NRA goes quiet, the normally outgunned opposition moves into high gear.

That’s because they know that after they mourn for the dead, there’s not much time, money or a broader platform to make their case for change before most people move on in their lives, said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. His group has spent 20-hour days on staff calls, legislative strategy sessions and fielding calls from gun violence survivors and celebrities and mayors who want to sign on.

“Look,” Glaze said, “when this kind of thing happens, we have to make the case in that very short window — what went wrong, why it went wrong, how you can fix it — in a way that motivates Congress to do what it should.”

The Brady Campaign to prevent Gun Violence was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with members of a new community group, Newtown United.

Josh Horwitz with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said his group just hired temporary staff to deal with hundreds of new volunteers who want to help after Newtown.

“It depends on the shooting,” Glaze said. “With something as terrible as this is, involving children, the window is open a little wider than it has been before. I think my back of the envelope is usually about a month. But after the series of mass shootings and the gravity of this one, I think we may have a little more time.”

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Dick’s Sporting Goods is making some changes to their stores in the wake of last week’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The retailer is pulling certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles off its shelves nationwide.

Dick’s says it will also be removing all guns from its stores nearest to Newtown, Connecticut.

The decision came out of respect for the victims and their families “during this time of national mourning,” the store said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by this terrible tragedy,” the statement said.

It was unclear how long the store will keep the suspension in place for the guns, known as ‘modern sporting rifles.’

It’s also not known whether this is the first time the store has taken such a step after a shooting that made national headlines.

The move comes after reports that investigators were trying to determine whether the Newtown gunman tried to buy a gun from a Dick’s in Danbury, about 12 miles away.

“At this time, reports that the suspect visited one of our stores last week have not been confirmed by law enforcement,” the sporting goods store said in a statement.

“Based on our records, we can confirm that no firearms were sold to the suspect identified in this case.”

Meantime, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has pulled the Bushmaster Patrolman’s Carbine M4A3 rifle from its web store, The Nation reports.

The gun, a military-style assault rifle that uses .223 caliber ammunition, is in the same family of guns as the one reportedly used by the Newtown shooter.

Walmart did not immediately respond on Monday to requests for comment on why it pulled the gun.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, sells more firearms and ammunition than any national competitor, according to several news outlets.

The chain stopped selling guns in one-third of its stores in 2006, citing low demand, but it has expanded its weapons sales in recent years.

A Walmart spokesperson told the Huffington Post that it expanded guns from 1,300 to 1,750 stores in 2011.

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