Archives for category: Safety

The sheriff of Madison County, North Carolina, reacted to the massacre of students in Uvalde, Texas, by putting an AR15 in every one of the six schools in the district. The guns will be locked in a safe, and breaching tools will be nearby. So don’t come into one of those schools to kill little children!

Imagine the scenario. A gunman with an AR15 shoots his way into the school, as the deranged killer at the Sandy Hook school did a decade ago. He blasts through the door, kills everyone he sees. Meanwhile, the designated defender goes to the safe, breaks it open with the breaching tool, and takes out the AR15.

By that time, the killer has had enough time to mow down the children in at least two classrooms.

The problem in Uvalde wasn’t the lack of weapons. Dozens of heavily armed officers hung out in the corridor outside the classrooms for over an hour. They had guns. What they lacked was courage, brains, and leadership.

CORRECTION! In the original post, I erroneously said that Adrian Fontes lost in a race for Secretary of State in a race against a Trumper. In fact, Fontes won the Democratic primary and will face a Trumper in November. His opponent insists that Trump won the 2020 election despite multiple recounts and even a Republican-sponsored recount (by the “cyber ninjas”).

Adrian Fontes recently ran for Secretary of State in Arizona and won the Democratic primary. He will face off against a Trumper in the fall.. He is a former Marine and combat veteran. In this post on MSNBC, he carefully explains the real meaning of the Second Amendment. The Constitution and the amendment are not ambiguous.

Fontes will face off in November against Mark Finchem. Finchem attended the January 6 insurrection.

“This is the defining race for our Republic,” said Fontes, the former Maricopa County recorder, who oversaw elections in 2018 and, most notably, 2020. “It will let the world know whether we will surrender to foolish conspiracies or whether we will support our Republic that Benjamin Franklin so eloquently said needs to be kept.”

Fontes carried nine of the 15 counties, including Maricopa, where he served as county recorder from 2017-2021. The Democratic race revolved around the need to defend Arizona’s election process and protect democracy. But late in the campaign, questions arose about Bolding’s ties to a nonprofit he runs and whether he had properly distanced himself from its political support for his campaign.

Fontes touted himself as the only candidate who could take on “a Trump sycophant and Jan. 6 insurrectionist,” a clear reference to Finchem….

Finchem, a state lawmaker, has maintained the election was fraudulent, and rode this platform of election denial and reform to a resounding 17.5 percentage point margin of victory in the GOP primary on Tuesday night, besting three opponents. He has called his win a mandate.

Finchem wants to eliminate early voting, a position the Arizona Republican Party is pushing in a case before the state Supreme Court, and along with Lake is asking a federal judge to bar the use of electronic machines in the Nov. 8 election.

The Republican Finchem continues to support Trump’s lies and efforts to destroy democracy.

This mother in Texas wanted another child. She was thrilled when she learned she was pregnant. But then the doctor told her that the ultrasound revealed a terrible genetic condition in her fetus. It might die in utero or a few days after birth. What should she do? Should she seek an abortion or let the baby die in utero or die a painful death?

Last year, Farrah Day tried for months to get pregnant with her second child. The 32-year-old San Antonio–area mother hoped to finish building her family in her early 30s, while she was still relatively young. Doing so would allow her to commit fully to attending medical school, building upon her experience working as a medical researcher.

After going through “so many pregnancy tests that I lost count,” Day and her fiancé finally learned in the summer of 2021 that she was expecting. They were thrilled, but hesitantly so. The last time Day had tried to have a child, she’d had a miscarriage; for the first couple of months of this pregnancy, the fear of losing another child lingered.

But by the time she arrived at her doctor’s office for a routine ultrasound at thirteen weeks, Day was feeling healthy and optimistic. She’d announced her pregnancy on Facebook and had begun designing a nursery in the family’s new home. “We were so excited,” Day said. “As someone who reads medical literature, I knew my odds of having complications after twelve weeks were about five percent.”

Her excitement ended during that ultrasound visit. Day recalls the moment when her normally talkative ob-gyn went silent, a look of concern appearing on her face. Within hours, Day was sitting in front of a maternal-fetal specialist trying to wrap her head around devastating news: her unborn baby was suffering from a particularly severe case of hydrops fetalis, a rare condition that causes abnormal amounts of fluid to build up inside a fetus, which can lead to extensive damage of its internal organs.

Should she decide to continue her pregnancy for another six months, the specialist told Day, she would most likely give birth to a stillborn baby. If the baby didn’t die in utero, he said, it was unlikely to live more than a few days outside the womb. She was told that continuing to term could also put Day at risk for developing mirror syndrome (also known as Ballantyne syndrome or triple edema), a condition associated with hydrops in which an expectant mother develops severe swelling and potentially life-threatening hypertension. “I’d never heard of hydrops,” Day said. “When I found out, I couldn’t quite believe that, against all odds, this terrible thing still managed to happen….”

Because she was nearly two months beyond the deadline for accessing legal abortion care in Texas, Day decided her best option was for her and her fiancé to split the driving on the twelve-hour trip from Central Texas to a clinic in Albuquerque. She felt there was no time to spare. The longer she waited, the more expensive, and potentially complicated, the procedure would be. Though abortions conducted after the first trimester are still considered overwhelmingly low-risk, the skill required to perform the procedure increases as pregnancy advances, which partly explainsincreases in cost…

Once arrangements were in place, Day and her fiancé packed into her Jeep and headed west, driving twelve hours overnight, stopping only at convenience stores for food and gas….

After her abortion, the couple planned to race home, but Day began hemorrhaging, a rare and potentially serious complication. Feeling weak, and worried that the bleeding might intensify, the couple lingered at a gas station in Roswell for several hours; otherwise, they risked being caught in the desert without close access to medical care. Looking back, Day fears that her condition was a prelude of tragedies to come. “We were afraid to leave Roswell,” she said. “There’s a real chance that women returning to Texas who experience a medical complication could bleed out in the desert on their way home.”

Nine months later, the grief remains. But Day has no regrets about her decision. She keeps her baby’s ashes and his blanket in a closet at home— one she refers to as the “no-open closet.” It’s still too early, she said. But in the wake of Roe v. Wade having been overturned by the Supreme Court on June 24, she said, some of her grief has turned into rage…

With abortion in Texas now effectively illegal in almost all circumstances, Day knows that even more expectant mothers with unexpected complications during their pregnancies will find themselves in the same position she was in. They’ll be forced to choose between upending their lives to receive a costly abortion somewhere far away and remaining in a state that forces their unborn child to suffer and places their own health—and the family members who rely on them—at risk.

Day is infuriated by the narratives from conservative Texas politicians, in particular, that have long suggested that women approach abortions later in pregnancy casually—a conceit that deliberately strips reproductive choices of the heart-wrenching complexity they so often involve, and which, she believes, made it easier for anti-abortion advocates to demonize the procedure. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 percent of abortions were performed at or later than 21 weeks’ gestation in 2019.) Day’s frustration about how abortion is debated partly explains why she’s decided to allow her story to be made public. “Most people don’t know a woman that has gone through an experience like mine,” she said. “I’m happy to be the person that helps people understand how these laws will affect the women you do know.”

I started receiving these mailing recently. I don’t know why.

Please click on the links below to see how easy it is to buy a killing machine. No background check. No age limit. No waiting period. On the Internet, a killer’s bonanza. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s latest decision about the right of every person to “bear arms” almost anywhere (not in courtrooms!), I could buy one or more of these weapons, strap it on, and carry it to the grocery store, to a movie theater, or to a restaurant. That’s what the Founding Fathers wanted, say the six extremists on the High Court. I disagree. The Founding Fathers wanted a land where people could live in freedom and peace, not in terror.

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Peter Greene reports the selling of heavily clad bunkers for classrooms to protect children against killers.

We have a problem. There are 400 million guns owned by the population. One of our major political parties is adamantly opposed to any restraint on buying and selling more guns.

Other societies insist on background checks, proof of training, safes for guns, and a dozen other ways to minimize the misuse of these deadly weapons. Even the most tepid effort to limit gun ownership will be loudly opposed in this country. The recent bipartisanship deal on gun control won’t change any of that.

The recent assassination of the former Prime Minister of Japan, which has rigid limits on gun ownership, was held up by gun lovers as proof that gun control doesn’t work. Japan had a total of ten gun deaths last year.

So, Greene points out, since we do nothing to restrict gun ownership, we create a response to the problem. Buy bunkers for children in classrooms. This could be a billion-dollar business.

PS: then there’s the case of the Uvalde elementary school. Just-released videotape showed that the police, fully armed, stayed out of the classrooms where the killer was, for 77-78 minutes. As children and teachers died, the police held back. Why? They didn’t need a key. They didn’t need more weapons. They didn’t need more armor. They needed courage.

It would seem obvious that students, like adults, have a physical need to use a bathroom during the school day. But in Massachusetts, many schools are closing bathrooms to avoid student misbehavior and vaping.

The condition of bathrooms in Boston Public Schools, and in other urban districts, has fueled public outrage for years, with broken taps and empty towel dispensers seen as sorry symbols of a failure to meet even basic needs.

But across the state and country, an even more fundamental problem is gaining attention: increasing restrictions on students’ access to bathrooms, as administrators keep more restrooms locked and off limits for more of the school day.

Driven by efforts to curtail teen vaping, and to prevent outbreaks of vandalism sparked by the TikTok trend known as “Devious Licks”, the widespread crackdowns on bathroom access have left students in some schools searching urgently for unlocked stalls — and pining for any open restroom, no matter how broken or dirty. As teenagers learn to hold their urine for hours – or stop eating and drinking at school to avoid discomfort — the outcry against the closures from students and parents has grown louder.

“I understand that there are safety concerns, but the whole school shouldn’t have basic human rights taken away,” said Nevaeh Lopez, 16, a student at Holyoke High School who started an online petition to push back against bathroom closures at her school this spring.

The issue has provoked fiery debate at school committee meetings and in online forums around the region in recent months, as well as calls and e-mails to principals and school nurses. A post about bathroom restrictions at New Bedford High School, on the New Bedford Live Facebook page in October, garnered nearly 200 comments, from students who described missing class time while waiting in long bathroom lines, and from adults who placed blame squarely on the teenagers. (“If they would act like civilized human beings they would be able to be trusted,” wrote one.)

There is no doubt uncivilized — and sometimes violent — acts have taken place in school bathrooms. Several students were suspended at Wilmington High School in March after they picked up another student and tried to force his head into a toilet in a boys’ bathroom. “What is equally disturbing is the fact that other students were present and did nothing to stop the incident, and in fact recorded the altercation,” Superintendent Glenn Brand said later.

School leaders nationwide have reported a general uptick in discipline and behavior issues, including fighting and bullying, since students returned to full-time, in-person school following two years of disruption. The troubling trend has been linked to the mental health toll of the pandemic, and to social development delays possibly caused by students’ recent isolation.

Student use of electronic cigarettes has alsorisen at “epidemic” rates in recent years, health officials have warned. As countless school bathrooms have become de facto vaping lounges, desperate school leaders have grasped at any possible solution, including removing doors from restroom stalls and installing vape-detection sensors.

Yet even Donna Mazyck — head of the National School Nurses Association and a leader in the fight to curb teen vaping — said rampant restroom shutdowns are not the answer…

Staffing shortages, exacerbated by pandemic burnout, have reduced the number of hall and restroom monitors available in many districts, forcing more closures of unsupervised bathrooms. But staffing is a problem that can be solved, said Worcester School Committee member Tracy O’Connell Novick, who spoke forcefully against the locking of bathrooms at the committee meeting in January.

“I taught high school, I know why we lock bathrooms, and I don’t think it should be against a policy — I think it should be against the law,” O’Connell Novick told the School Committee. “There are things that are right and things that are wrong, and denying students access to bathrooms is wrong.”

Bill Press, a former correspondent at CNN, argues that there is no way to fix the Second Amendnent. Despite the obvious political roadblocks, he believes that the only remedy for the damage caused by the Second Amendment is to repeal it. it was written, he says, to protect Southern slaveholders, who wanted to protect their right to use deadly force to suppress slave rebellions. Two Supreme Court Justices, both appointed by Republican presidents, have urged its repeal. It is now a license for civilians to own deadly military weapons. Is it politically possible now? No. If the massacres continue, public opinion may change.

He writes:

After Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Virginia Tech, Margery Stoneman Douglas, El Paso, Buffalo, Uvalde and so many others, it’s always the same.

First, shock. Then, grief. Then, a demand for action. Then, the phony claim: Too bad, but we can’t do anything about guns because of the Second Amendment. And then, nothing is done to prevent the next attack.

This time, could things be different? After the senseless assassination of 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, senators of both parties are actually talking about a compromise on guns.

But don’t hold your breath. No matter what they come up with, chances are still slim that there will be 10 Republicans willing to override the filibuster. (A total of 60 votes are needed to end a filibuster in the evenly-divided US Senate.)

Anything they agree on will probably just nibble around the edges of the gun issue. Sen. John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator, has already vetoed one of the most sensible proposals: raising the legal age for buying an assault weapon from 18 to 21 years…

Let’s face it. The way many judges and conservatives interpret the Second Amendment is a total con job. And, as wildly misinterpreted today, it is, for all intents and purposes, a license to kill as many people as you want with as many guns as you want.

The only effective way to deal with the Second Amendment is to repeal it — and then replace it with something that makes sense in a civilized society.

I’m hardly the first person to say that the Second Amendment has been a disaster for this country. In fact, two Supreme Court justices — justices appointed by Republican presidents — have said as much.

In a March 2018 opinion piece for the New York Times, former Justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed by then-President Gerald Ford, wrote that Americans protesting the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment…”

And decades earlier, in 1991, former Chief Justice Warren Burger, appointed by President Richard Nixon, told the PBS Newshour: “If I were writing the Bill of Rights now, there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment.

Burger called the Second Amendment “one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Indeed, you only have to read the Second Amendment to see what a fraud it’s become. Here it is, all 27 words: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Read it again. There’s no way you can logically leap from those 27 words about the existence of a state militia to the unfettered right of any citizen to buy as many guns — and any kind of gun — that they want, without the government being able to do anything about it.

It’s clear from the wording of the Second Amendment itself that it has nothing to do with individual gun ownership; nothing to do with self-defense; and nothing to do with assault weapons. The amendment speaks, not to the rights of well-armed individual citizens, but only to citizens as members of a group, a “well regulated militia.”

And its history is well-known. The founders saw no need to mention guns in the original Constitution. As many constitutional scholars and American historians have shown, the Second Amendment was added later by James Madison as part of a deal to secure the support of Patrick Henry and other White racist Virginians for confirmation of the Constitution. Noted academic Carol Anderson, for one, describes the “anti-Blackness” that lies at the heart of the Second Amendment in her book “The Second,” as well as its “architecture of repression.”

As such, it was not about self-defense. It was, in the opinion of these historians, about reassuring White plantation owners that the new federal government would not interfere with their practice of forming White militias to patrol the South, ready to put down rebellion by disgruntled Black slaves or chase down slaves who tried to flee.

And again, the amendment has nothing to do with self-defense or allowing ownership of any kind of gun. As Stevens noted in his New York Times op-ed: “For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation.”

Two things changed that. First, a band of gun extremists took over the NRA at its 1977 annual convention in Cincinnati and changed its mission from championing the Second Amendment as the right of hunters to giving every American the right to own a gun for self-defense. The NRA proceeded, successfully, to sell that unfounded idea of self-defense to politicians and the general public.

Second, in 2008, former Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which — again for the first time in over 200 years — established the right of every American under the Second Amendment to own a gun for self-defense. And he rounded up four other votes.

However, it’s important to note that even in Heller, Scalia took pains to argue that as with other rights, those granted under the Second Amendment are not unlimited — and that governments retain the power to regulate what kind of guns, or how many, people may own.

Of course, those provisions of Heller are conveniently ignored by gun worshippers like Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who uphold the Second Amendment as reinterpreted by Scalia. That flawed reasoning allowed a Texas teenager to buy two AR-15’s on his 18th birthday, walk into an elementary school and mow down 19 students and two teachers.

We are a sick nation indeed, if we allow that idiocy to stand.

The Trace, a publication devoted to stopping gun violence, assessed the Supreme Court decision striking down restrictions on gun ownership in New York. The law that was overturned has been in place for over 100 years. One thing this ruling proves: this Court doesn’t care about public safety. Despite numerous gun deaths and massacres, despite Buffalo and Uvalde, the Court relaxes restrictions on carrying guns in public. This is a Court that does not care about precedent, social stability, human life, or public safety. It will use any rationalization available to justify its extremist opinions. It is “originalist” when that suits its purposes. But not really originalist because if it were, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas would resign at once. Neither qualify to serve on the Court or even to vote by the terms of the original Constitution.

The Trace reported:

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court struck down New York’s restrictive firearms licensing law, a decision that could transform gun ownership in New York City and affect at least five other states with similar regulations. In a 6-3 ruling, the court’s conservative majority endorsed, for the first time, a constitutional right to carry a gun in self-defense outside the home.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen is the Supreme Court’s first major Second Amendment ruling since 2010, when the Court struck down Chicago’s handgun ban. Writing for the majority, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas said Americans have a two-part right to “keep” guns in their homes and “bear” them in public.

“This definition of ‘bear’ naturally encompasses public carry,” Thomas wrote. “Most gun owners do not wear a holstered pistol at their hip in their bedroom or while sitting at the dinner table.”

The scope of the decision had been anticipated following the leak in May of a draft opinion voiding federal abortion protections. Legal experts told us at the time that the apparent sidestepping of precedent in that draft document, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could signal a similarly wide ruling in Bruen. The court did not go as far as calling into question all licensing schemes, including the 43 states that have “shall-issue” permitting laws, but it did leave the door open for potential challenges.

“Because these licensing regimes do not require applicants to show an atypical need for armed self-defense, they do not necessarily prevent ‘law-abiding, responsible citizens’ from exercising their Second Amendment right to public carry,” Thomas wrote.

“It’s going to have huge impacts because the court changed the entire standard for evaluating Second Amendment claims,” said Jake Charles, the executive director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law. “It’s much broader than I was expecting it to be.”

The decision also rewrites the methodology federal courts use when deciding Second Amendment cases. Since 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, which established that the Second Amendment includes the right to bear arms in the home, lower courts judging contested firearms legislation have considered whether a particular law furthers the government’s interests in things like reducing crime in addition to historical precedent.

Please open the link and read the rest.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck downNew York’s century-old concealed-carry gun law Thursday, removing restrictions on carrying guns in public and delivering a win to gun enthusiasts. The 6-3 ruling, which has been anticipated in the conservative-leaning court, makes it harder for officials to prevent civilians from carrying firearms in public without a permit by striking down New York’s rule that prospective gun-toters have “proper cause” to carry a weapon.

New York has long had separate measures in place to grant gun ownership for the home and for concealed carry in public.

The state’s top officials vowed to regroup and enact new measures to shore up New York’s gun control laws after the ruling Thursday, which kicks some decision-making back to a lower court and opens up new potential room for states to define “sensitive locations” where they will prohibit guns, like schools, courts, and, perhaps, subways, sports venues, and beyond.

Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, all Democrats, vowed to return to Albany to pass additional legislation. “I’m prepared to call the Legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates,” Hochul said.

Lawmakers are looking at ways to strengthen existing permitting requirements, enable private businesses to ban guns, and increase the number of areas deemed “sensitive locations,” where the Court left the carve-out for restricting guns. Hochul signed Alyssa’s LawThursday, requiring schools to consider installing silent panic alarms as part of their security systems following the mass shooting in a Texas elementary school last month.

The New York City Council will hold an oversight hearing on “access to firearms” on Friday — Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council members on Thursday called on the state to make virtually all of New York City a sensitive location to prohibit concealed carry in the five boroughs.

Attorney General Letitia James and a number of prosecutors around the state, including in New York City, vowed to examine the ruling and look for ways to limit the dangers of guns proliferating in public.

Mayor Eric Adams said the city was reviewing its definition of “sensitive locations, and the city’s own gun license application process in light of the ruling. “Put simply, this Supreme Court ruling will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence,” the mayor said in a statement.

Ken Paxton is State Attorney General in Texas and as such is the state’s top law enforcement official.

On the day after the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, he said that “God always has a plan.” This is a variation on “thoughts and prayers.”

Paxton opposes gun control.

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post wrote:

When thoughts and prayers seem inadequate in the wake of a tragedy, you can always blame God for what happened.

That would seem to be how Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) sees it after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., took the lives of 19 children and two of their teachers. The carnage came just 10 days after a gunman with allegedly racist motives mowed down 10 shoppers and employees — all of them Black — in a Buffalo supermarket.

In a podcast interview recorded the day after the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School and unearthed last week by Salon, Paxton was asked by North Texas pastor Trey Graham what he might say to the victims’ families.

“I’d have to say, look, there’s always a plan. I believe God always has a plan,” the attorney general replied. “Life is short no matter what it is.”
It was all in God’s plan. That’s a suggestion we often hear from pious, well-meaning people when other words fail in the face of an unspeakable, inexplicable tragedy. The idea is that some day we will all understand that larger purpose of our suffering. It is meant to be a balm.

But those words sound more like a shrug when an elected leader — and in this case, one who is his state’s top law enforcement officer — offers that as an explanation for a horror that was preventable and exacerbated by human error. Worse, it is a dereliction of responsibility and of the imperative to do something to prevent something like this from happening again, as it has happened over and over.