Tuesday, April 18, 2017

In Harms Way

The last few days have brought many acts of violence to the forefront. Some by individuals and some by States and Countries.

We have the bizarre dick off happening in the Korean Peninsula or is it?

Then we have the maniac killing a man and broadcasting it on Facebook. How many "Likes" did it get? I am truly mystified by Facebook and why anyone feels this is a good thing. From the fake news to online harassment there is little good to be had there and when they are using the real press as a way of communicating with their followers you have to ask why?

We have had a shooting here in Tennessee that got no national play (do we ever make the National news oh wait when football players abuse a puppy) only this was an angry woman coming to take back her man or whatever. Okay there are a lot of shootings in Tennessee and I wake up to the news everyday on one type of shooting or another. Guns here are like opioids, everyone is into it. And the shooting at the school in San Bernardino, a town not unfamiliar with gun violence, killed botha Teacher and a Student because the estranged husband really wanted to put the strange into that sad ending.

We also have the death of a shooter in a mall in Washington State last year. At the time it was clear his mental health issues were the motive versus his culture or background, but sure blame that as that is the reason du jour. But is all over now as he is now found dead in his cell. His final act of violence was towards himself. Isn't that almost all acts of violence really about?

Then we have the "anniversary" such a positive word about such a negative event over the Virginia Tech shooting a decade earlier. Which for the record was actually not the worst shooting at that time but who counts this shit?

Which sadly brings me to Sandy Hook and the everlasting grief these parents feel over the loss of their children. They found no advocates in Congress to stop the carnage by simply changing laws so instead they formed a group that is to educate the Teachers and Children the watch words, the signs that they may be victims themselves. What is truly sad is none of that mattered with regards to Sandy Hook. The boy who brutally murdered on that day was not a Student, was not a member of Staff and never attended the school. His was a random act of violence and no preparation nor warning would matter. The endless safety checks and drills cannot change that so instead we instill fear and some type of odd responsibility onto children to determine one's mental health. And while many Children have forewarned others and managed to stave off said acts by classmates, many have not. So what then? How as a child do you reconcile that guilt for failing to find someone to take one seriously and then what about those who exploit and use said vulnerability to manipulate the situation.

And as I read about each shooting and each act of violence, be it terrorist or just domestic assault it still renders the question about the issue of gun control. All of centers around our inability to stop anyone from getting a gun and reeking havoc on the public. And while yes we are seeing acts of terrorism that centers around the use of large vehicles in Europe, the reality is that the devastation while none the less is horrific it is nowhere the near the carnage level we saw in France a year ago when guns were used. Guns are by far more dangerous and deadly.

And then we have the state sanctioned murders in Arkansas much akin to a conveyor belt of killing. The duplicity and idiocy of this continues to amaze despite the reality that we may never know the truth behind their convictions or even if they were/are guilty. The point of this is what exactly? Gruesome revenge?

And this story from Radley Balko's The Watch blog on The Washington Post says it all, or as I say, I see, says the blind man.

We are moving back towards a darker time and a more paranoid time. The incarceration nation is hungry and needs to be fed. Sessions, the Evil Smurf, has no problem in moving the time clock back to a time when oppression and suppression are rights best unserved.

Lastly, Iowa once again proves to me that it is a state not worth visiting ever. This is why we have a problem with guns. Stand your ground means getting killed on it. And the Trump nation roars on with a new type of civil disobedience that is anything but civil.

Iowa’s most expansive gun rights bill ever is now law

By Kristine Phillips
The Washington Post
April 18 2017

With one stroke of a pen, Gov. Terry Branstad made Iowa one of the friendliest states in America for gun owners.

Branstad, the long-serving Republican governor selected by President Trump to be ambassador to China, signed a bill that many say is the most comprehensive and broadest piece of legislation on gun rights the state has ever seen. House File 517 will, among other things, allow citizens to use deadly force if they believe their lives are threatened; it will also allow them to sue local government officials if they think gun-free zones have violated their Second Amendment rights.

The signing of House File 517 last week marks the end of a decades-long battle for a bill that does more than make incremental changes to the state’s gun laws and will bring Iowa in line with its more gun-friendly neighbors such as Missouri and Wisconsin, said Barry Snell, president of the Iowa Firearms Coalition, an advocacy group affiliated with the National Rifle Association.

“Without exaggeration, House File 517 is the most monumental and sweeping piece of gun legislation in Iowa’s history,” Snell told The Washington Post. “Never before have we passed a bill in which Iowa’s Second Amendment rights are legally recognized, claimed and protected quite so profoundly as this bill does.”

Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, applauded Branstad’s decision to sign the bill into law. The governor had called the bill “reasonable legislation” that he “could support.”

“It’s a great day for freedom,” Cox said in a statement, noting that Iowa had “joined the nationwide movement to expand law-abiding citizens’ constitutional right to self-protection.”

In response to the bill’s signing, Amber Gustafson, leader of the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, delivered a stern warning.

“Make no mistake, the gun violence prevention movement is strong in Iowa, and we aren’t going away,” she said in a statement.

Gustafson was most critical of the bill’s “Stand Your Ground” provision, which says citizens who are not doing anything illegal can lawfully use “reasonable force, including deadly force” if they believe their lives are being threatened. The bill also frees a person who kills an “aggressor” from civil liability if he or she can justify the use of force.

That provision has raised concerns that the bill would do more to increase gun violence in the state.

State Sen. Nate Boulton (D) said state law already allows Iowans to use deadly force if they are threatened in their homes or places of employment, adding that a Stand Your Ground law could lead some to misunderstand when deadly force may be used.

“I think anytime we are expanding the use of deadly force, we do have to be cautious about that,” Boulton said. “The reality is when you have a gun-violent situation and if someone is killed with gun violence, we’ll leave it to our courts to interpret and apply what the situation was that led to that death.”

Daniel Webster, director of the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, echoed Boulton in a column published last month in the Des Moines Register. The “Stand Your Ground” policy would only “expand justifications for killing others,” he wrote.

“There is no credible research that indicates deregulation of public carrying of concealed firearms reduces violent crime or curtails mass shootings,” Webster wrote. “The most recent and most rigorous research shows that such policies, if anything, lead to more assaults committed with firearms.”

Another provision that has attracted criticism would essentially prohibit city, county and township officials from creating weapons-free zones by allowing gun-carrying citizens to file lawsuits and claim damages if they think their civil rights have been infringed upon. Critics have raised concerns about how the bill would affect security at places such as city halls and courthouses, many of which are gun-free zones.

Tom Ferguson, executive director of the Iowa County Attorneys Association, said because the bill does not exempt city halls or courthouses, local jurisdictions would face a constant threat of lawsuits and damages.

“The question becomes, ‘Is someone adversely affected if they want to go in there and are not allowed to carry a gun?’ ” Ferguson said.

The Iowa Judicial Branch, which oversees state courts, shares similar concerns. Spokesman Steve Davis said the judicial branch is unsure that the bill “will maintain the status quo on courthouse security.”

The criticisms, however, did little to dissuade the bill’s avid backers.

HF 517 passed the state Senate 33 to 17 and the House, 57 to 36.

State Rep. Matt Windschitl (R), who led the drafting of the bill, said he has tried for years to make Iowa a Stand Your Ground state, like nearly half of the states in the country.

“This bill has been a work in progress for many years,” Windschitl said. “The driver behind this is to restore Iowans’ individual freedoms and liberties.”

Other provisions include allowing children under 14 to use pistols or revolvers as long as they are supervised by an adult age 21 and older, legalizing concealed-carry at state capitol buildings and grounds, prohibiting the government from confiscating firearms during state emergencies, legalizing short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and making records of permit holders confidential. The bill also would prohibit prosecutors from stacking an additional firearm charge if the weapon has nothing to do with the crime.

Robert Cottrol, an expert on gun laws and a professor at George Washington University, said many of the provisions have been standard practice in most states.

Aside from the Stand Your Ground law, most states with significant rural areas already allow children to possess firearms, Cottrol said. Many states also have enacted laws prohibiting the government from seizing people’s guns during state emergencies, after officials confiscated weapons during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

This is the first time in years that Republicans gained control of both the House and the Senate in Iowa, and gun rights advocates found an opportunity to catch up with its gun-friendly neighbors by addressing gun-rights issues in one fell swoop, said Snell of the Iowa Firearms Coalition, which is affiliated with the National Rifle Association.

It’s not uncommon for states to pass gun-law revisions in one bill, according to the NRA, a supporter of the bill. Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have done so in recent years.

“This important legislation will make it easier for law-abiding gun owners to protect and defend themselves, while bringing Iowa’s gun law in line with those of other states,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said in a statement. “The reforms of HF 517 are part of a growing movement across all 50 states to strengthen Second Amendment rights and its enactment will be a significant victory for our members and law-abiding gun owners.”

The magazine Guns & Ammo ranks Iowa No. 38 among the best states for gun owners. At the top of the list are Arizona, Vermont, Alaska, Utah, Kentucky, Wyoming, Alabama, Kansas, Missouri and New Hampshire.

That is now likely to change.

The legislation might make Iowa “the leading edge of protecting the civil right” to bear arms, said Randy Barnett, a law professor at Georgetown University.

“When you have a constitutional right, it often requires the legislation to protect that right,” Barnett said. “That’s what Iowa is doing

*** ETA *** Since I posted this this morning another shooting spree. Racially motivated but to what degree does one call this Islamic terrorism since he used a traditional Islamic phrase or is this an angry man who is mentally ill? Does it matter at this point? He had a gun. That is what matters.

Man kills 3 people in shootings in downtown Fresno; officials probe any terror links

Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Muhammad had expressed hatred toward white people and the government. (
Veronica Rocha , Joseph Serna and Diana MarcumContact Reporters LA TIMES April 18 2017

A Fresno man known for advocating black separatism and making militant comments on social media shot and killed three people in downtown Fresno on Tuesday before surrendering to authorities and uttering the phrase, “Allahu akbar,” according to the Fresno Police Department.

The suspect was identified as Kori Ali Muhammad, a 39-year-old man who was wanted in connection with the shooting death of a security guard outside a motel Thursday, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. The FBI has been notified of the shooting deaths.

Dyer said all of the victims were white men, and two of the men who were clients of a local Catholic charity where Tuesday’s attack took place. Mohammed is black.

“Too early to say whether or not this involves terrorism,” Dyer said. “Certainly by the statement that was made, it could give that indication, however, there was no statement made on Thursday night when he shot the security guard and killed him. There was no comments or no statements made at that time, so I am not certain why he said what he said today.”

But Muhammad’s father, Vincent Taylor, told The Times Monday that his son believed that he was part of an ongoing war between whites and blacks, and that “a battle was about to take place.”

“I’m happy he was arrested,” Vincent Taylor said. “I would hope that whatever Kori tells [police,] they take him seriously and they start following up.”

The suspect was identified as Kori Ali Muhammad, a 39-year-old man who was wanted in connection with the shooting death of a security guard outside a motel Thursday, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

The gunfire erupted at 10:45 a.m. in the 300 block of North Van Ness Avenue. Within a few seconds, a second burst of gunfire was spotted, then a third and a fourth.

Dyer said a total of 16 rounds were fired in four locations.

Moments later, the driver of a PG&E truck arrived at police headquarters at Fresno and M streets to report that a passenger had been shot by a gunman who had approached them, the chief said. Dyer said the attack was unprovoked.

After firing at the truck passenger, the gunman walked west on East Mildreda Avenue, where he came across a resident and opened fire, Dyer said. The resident was not struck by the gunfire.

The gunman continued walking on Mildreda and approached Fulton Street, where he fatally shot another man before reloading his weapon, a .357 revolver, Dyer said.

He then headed toward Catholic Charities in the 100 block of North Fulton Street and fired a second fatal volley of gunfire, killing a man in the parking lot, according to Dyer. and

An officer in the area spotted the gunman running south on Fulton. He then “dove onto the ground” and was taken into custody, the chief said.

“As he was taken into custody, he yelled out, ‘Allahu akbar,’ ” Dyer said.

Dyer said Muhammad had expressed hatred toward white people and the government, a sentiment that came as no shock to his father.

“Not surprised at all,” said Muhammad’s father, Vincent Taylor.

A Facebook profile page for a Kori Ali Muhammad from Fresno paid homage to black pride and black nationalism, with images of the red, green and black Pan-African flag and a raised fist.

The frenetic profile includes militant and apocalyptic language and repeated demands to “let black people go.” He referenced “white devils” and praised melanoma skin cancer.

On Saturday afternoon, Muhammad posted a photo of himself in a colorful garment, with his head covered, and the words: ”LET BLACK PEOPLE GO OR THE DOOM INCREASES REPARATIONS & SEPARATION NOW.”


Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said many of Muhammad’s social media postings make reference to terms used by the Nation of Islam, which has been labeled a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Pointing to Muhammad’s repeated references to “white devils” and “Yakub,” the villainous figure responsible for creating white people according to Nation of Islam lore, Levin said it is likely Muhammad thought he was taking part in a race war against whites.

“It reads to me that this is an example of an anti-white murder. We’re living in an era of violent reciprocal prejudice, and there are references on his website to Fard Muhammad, the founder of Nation of Islam, and Nation of Islam uses the term white devils quite prolifically, as did this shooter,” Levin said.

Muhammad also repeatedly used the phrase “Black Dragon Lion Hawk” in his Facebook posts, and Levin said such nods to warrior culture are also common in black separatist circles.

“He appears to be a black supremacist, a violent black supremacist,” Levin said.

Hours after the shootings Tuesday, two shaken workers at the Catholic charity said they had ducked under yellow police tape to get out.

They said they were told not to talk to the news media. But one, a Vietnam veteran, said a person never forgets the sound of guns. He said that the charity gives away food every day and that families are allowed to come only once a week.

“We feed a lot of children, so we have to make sure that the food gets spread around,” he said.

Neither of the workers saw young children there this morning. But there were a lot of teens and young adults.

The second man had been working in the back, and when he came out, he went around to people who were crying to ask, “Are you OK?”

Neither man knew Muhammad.

PG&E said it still was trying to gather information on what happened in Fresno.

“Our thoughts are with all involved in the incident that occurred in Fresno today,” PG&E said. “Public and employee safety is always our top priority.”

In a statement, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said he wished it was within his power to prevent tragedies like the one that unfolded downtown on Monday.

“This is a sad day for us all. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” he said. “None of us can imagine what they must be going through.”

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