Florida teachers can arm themselves under new gun bill!

Critics question if the solution to gun violence is the presence of more guns, warn of the danger of teachers misfiring.
Firearms instructor Mike Magowan uses a rubber training pistol to demonstrate a shooting stance ,during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida  [File: Brian Blanco/Reuters]
Firearms instructor Mike Magowan uses a rubber training pistol to demonstrate a shooting stance ,during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida

Florida’s legislature on Wednesday passed a bill allowing teachers to carry guns in the classroom, expanding a programme launched after the deadly high school shooting in Parkland with the aim of preventing another such massacre.

Florida’s House of Representatives voted 65 to 47 to pass the bill after hours of debate over two days in which the Republican majority thwarted Democratic efforts to amend, stall or kill the measure. Florida’s Senate approved it 22 to 17 last week.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law, enabling school districts wishing to take part in the voluntary Guardian programme to arm those teachers who pass a 144-hour training course.

On February 14, 2018, a former student armed with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding 17 others.

President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association have argued an armed teacher could provide the best defence against a shooter bent on mass murder.

Gun control

Opponents questioned whether the solution to gun violence should be the presence of even more guns and warned of the danger of a teacher misfiring during a crisis or police mistaking an armed teacher for the assailant.

More than 1,200 children in US killed by guns in the last year

Its passage marks a victory for gun-rights advocates, who were on the defensive a year ago when Parkland students inspired nationwide protests in favour of gun control.

After the Parkland shooting, Florida politicians rushed through legislation that required schools to place at least one armed staff member or law-enforcement officer at each campus.

The law also imposed a three-day waiting period for gun purchases and raised the age limit for buying rifles from 18 to 21.

Although last year’s law allowed some school personnel to carry weapons, guns were still banned from the classroom.

Backers of arming classroom teachers revived the issue this year, arguing that school shootings often erupt too quickly for law enforcement to respond.

Florida remembers Parkland high school shooting victims

In anticipation of passage, school employees in 40 of Florida’s 67 counties already enrolled in or planned to take the 144-hour course, a spokesman for the Speaker of the House said. Some counties have resolved not to participate in the Guardian programme.

Florida’s gun-control advocates had made stopping the proposal a top priority, among them Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense, which is funded by billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

The Aftermath: Mass Shootings in the US

San Diego rabbi: ‘My fingers got blown away’

The shooting happened at a synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego

“I was face to face with this murder terrorist who was holding the rifle and looking straight at me.”

A rabbi has told US reporters about the synagogue shooting near San Diego on Saturday, in which one woman died and three people were wounded.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was one of those injured, losing the index finger on his right hand.

A 19-year-old man named as John Earnest was arrested shortly afterwards in Poway, north of the Californian city.

The attack comes exactly six months after a shooting in Pittsburgh in which 11 people were killed, thought to be the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

What did the rabbi say?

Rabbi Goldstein was walking into the banquet hall at the synagogue when he heard a noise – what he thought initially was a table falling over or a congregation member collapsing.

“As soon as he saw me, he started to shoot toward me and that is when I put my hands up,” Rabbi Goldstein said on NBC’s Sunday Today programme. “I cannot erase that face from my mind.”

He held up his hands to shield himself but his fingers “got blown away”.

Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church members hold a candlelight vigil for victims of the synagogue shootingCongregants at a nearby Presbyterian church held a candlelight vigil for victims of the shooting

Rabbi Goldstein hurried through to the banquet hall where a number of children – including his granddaughter – were gathered.

“I just ran, not even knowing that my fingers were blown off and curled all the kids together and got them outside,” he said.

Lori Kaye, who helped found the synagogue with Rabbi Goldstein, was shot dead in the attack.

“Everyone in the community knew her,” he said. “I’m just so heartbroken and saddened by the senseless killing.”

A 34-year-old man and a young girl suffered shrapnel wounds in the attack.

How did the attack unfold?

Sheriff Gore said officers were called to the Chabad synagogue just before 11:30 (18:30 GMT) after the man opened fire with an “AR-15 type” assault rifle.

He said an off-duty border patrol officer had fired at the suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle, but had not not hit him.

The suspect was later arrested by another officer, said San Diego chief of police David Nisleit.

“He clearly saw the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect jumped out with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Mr Nisleit said.

“As the officer was placing this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle on the front passenger seat of the suspect vehicle.”

Poway map

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters that investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media activity and examining a virulently anti-Semitic “open letter” published online.

In the letter, which appeared on the online forum 8chan hours before the attack, the author – who identified himself as John Earnest – said he had been inspired by the attack on two Christchurch mosques last month, as well as the Pittsburgh shooting.

Authorities later said Mr Earnest was under investigation in connection with a fire at a mosque last month.

Anti-Semitic attacks on the rise

The racist, anti-Semitic document that police are investigating in relation to the shooting makes 10 references to Robert Bowers whom the author John Earnest calls an “inspiration”.

Mr Bowers is the man charged with killing 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last October – the deadliest attack on the US Jewish community in the nation’s history.

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh attack, members of the US Jewish community began openly questioning whether the era of seeing the US as a safe haven was over.

“I had been dreading and expecting this day, and more like it, for two years,” wrote the Washington Post columnist Dana Millbank, in a column titled “Trump’s America is not a safe place for Jews”.

A woman reacts at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shootingA woman stands at a memorial at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last October

In the wake of Saturday’s attack in Poway, the Times of Israel published a blog post headlined, “Synagogue shootings – now a thing”. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors extremism in the US, says anti-Semitism is on the rise.

Mr Trump has publicly condemned anti-Semitism, and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said it was “outrageous” to suggest he bore any responsibility for it, but many have accused him of using coded anti-Semitic language.

The ADL publicly called on him to stop using tropes such as “global special interests” and “those who control the levers of power” – both of which he ran in an ad alongside pictures of prominent Jews – as well as his claim that there were “very fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville, after white nationalists chanted “Jews will not replace us”.

“All of the Jewish community across the country is concerned,” Joel Rubin, a Democratic Strategist and member of the Tree of Life synagogue, told Fox News on Saturday. “My daughters go to Hebrew school and we see police cars often in front of the school, guarding it. That’s not the situation in America we want to be living in.”

A message of support outside the Chabad synagogue near San DiegoA message of support outside the Chabad synagogue near San Diego

California synagogue shooting leaves one dead, three wounded

Police say gunman opened fire on crowded Poway, California synagogue on the last day of Passover.

Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff''s deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway synagogue [Denis Poroy/AP Photo]
Two people hug as another talks to a San Diego County Sheriff”s deputy outside of the Chabad of Poway synagogue

A gunman walked into a southern California synagogue crowded with Sabbath worshippers on Saturday and opened fire with an assault-style rifle, killing one woman inside and wounding three others in a hate crime carried out on the last day of Passover, authorities said.

The suspect, 19-year-old John Earnest, fled the scene by car and was arrested a short time later when he pulled over and surrendered to police, authorities said.

There were indications that an AR-type assault weapon might have malfunctioned after Earnest fired numerous rounds inside the Congregation Chabad synagogue in the town of Poway, California, about 23 miles (37km) north of downtown San Diego, Sheriff William Gore said.

US President Donald Trump and other elected officials decried what they called an anti-Semitic attack exactly six months since 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest assault on Jews in US history.

2018 saw most killings linked to US far right since 1995: ADL

Gore told reporters that four people were struck by gunfire and taken to Palomar Medical Center, where one of the victims, an “older woman”, died. The three other patients – “two adult males” and a “female juvenile” – were listed in stable condition, Gore said. The identities of the victims were not given.

Hate crime

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, speaking from a police command centre, characterised Saturday’s shooting as a “hate crime“, saying his assessment was based on statements uttered by the gunman when he entered the synagogue.

Nothing else was disclosed about a possible motive. But Gore said investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media posts and “his open letter”.

Earnest has no criminal record, but investigators were looking into a claim he made in an online manifesto about setting a fire at a mosque in nearby Escondido last month, Gore said. There was damage but no injuries.

Speaking with reporters at the White House, Trump said: “My deepest sympathies go to the people that were affected.” He added that “it looks like a hate crime” and that authorities will “get to the bottom of it”.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, left, walks past the Chabad of Poway Synagogue

The attack occurred shortly before 11:30am local time (18:30GMT) in Poway, a suburb of about 50,000 residents, when the suspect walked into the synagogue and started shooting, Gore said. As he was making his getaway, an off-duty US Border Patrol agent opened fire on the suspect, striking the vehicle but apparently missing the suspect, according to Gore.

The gunman was arrested a short time later when he peacefully surrendered to police.

US: Synagogue massacre suspect pleads not guilty to new charges

A San Diego officer was en route to the shooting scene when he overheard a California Highway Patrol (CHP) radio dispatch “of a suspect who had called into CHP to report that he was just involved in this shooting and his location,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit recounted.

“The officer was actually on the freeway and he clearly saw the suspect in his vehicle. The suspect pulled over and jumped out of his car with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody,” Nisleit said.

He said the assault-style rifle believed to be the murder weapon was found on the front passenger seat of the car.

‘You can’t break us’

Local television channel KGTV 10News said the synagogue was hosting a holiday celebration beginning at 11 am local time and due to culminate in a final Passover meal at 7pm . Authorities said about 100 people were inside the temple, where Saturday services marking the Jewish Sabbath would have been under way or have just concluded.

San Diego television station KGTV reported a woman whose husband was still inside the synagogue as saying the rabbi was among those shot.

US activists confront Republican Party over white nationalism

Minoo Anvari, an Iranian refugee who said her husband was attending services inside when gunshots rang out, told KUSI-TV the wounded included a female friend and the rabbi, who was shot in the hand. “We are united. You can’t break us.,” Anvari told KUSI.

Cantor Caitlin Bromberg of Ner Tamid Synagogue, down the street from the shooting scene, said her congregation learned of the shooting at the end of their Passover services and that they were heading to Chabad of Poway to show support and help.

“We are horrified and upset, and we want them to know we are thinking of them,” Bromberg told The Los Angeles Times, adding that she has not heard from Chabad of Poway leadership because they would not normally use the phone during the Sabbath.

“They would only do that on emergency basis, if they do it at all,” Bromberg told the newspaper.

US synagogue shooting: One person dead in Poway, California

A San Diego County Sheriff's Deputy secures the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019Police quickly sealed off the scene of the shooting in Poway

A gunman has opened fire at a synagogue in California, leaving one woman dead and three other people injured, police say.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested after the attack at Poway, north of the city of San Diego.

The synagogue had been hosting a Passover celebration when the shooting took place, reports said.

Police have not suggested a motive but US President Donald Trump said the attack “looks like a hate crime”.

The shooting comes six months after a gun attack killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. It was the worst anti-Semitic attack in recent US history.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore told reporters that investigators were reviewing the suspect’s social media activity and examining an open letter published online.

“During the shooting, four individuals were wounded and transported to Palomar hospital,” he said. “One succumbed to their wounds. The other three are in stable condition.”

Mayor Steve Vaus said the rabbi had been shot in the hand.

“For this to happen only a week later at the end of the Passover, only a week after Easter is horrific,” he told MSNBC.

How did the attack happen?

Sheriff Gore said officers were called to the Chabad synagogue just before 11:30 (18:30 GMT) after the man opened fire with an “AR-15 type” assault rifle.

He said an off-duty border patrol officer fired at the suspect as he fled the scene in a vehicle, but did not hit him.

San Diego Police secure the scene of a shooting incident at the Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 27, 2019The synagogue had been marking the final day of Passover
San Diego Sheriff deputies look over the Chabad of Poway Synagogue after a shooting on Saturday, April 27, 2019 in Poway, California

The suspect was later arrested by another officer, added San Diego chief of police David Nisleit.

“He clearly saw the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect jumped out with his hands up and was immediately taken into custody.” he said.

“As the officer was placing this 19-year-old male into custody, he clearly saw a rifle on the front passenger seat of the suspect vehicle.”

What has the reaction been?

US Vice-President Mike Pence condemned the “evil and cowardly” shooting.

Speaking outside the White House, President Trump offered his “deepest sympathies”.

“At this moment it looks like a hate crime, but my deepest sympathies to all those affected and we’ll get to the bottom of it,” he said.

Minoo Anvari, whose husband was inside the synagogue, told the local CNN affiliate that the congregation was “standing together” in the wake of the attack.

“We are strong. You can’t break us,” she said.

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter that she was “heartbroken” by the news.

Aurora shooting: Five dead in Illinois workplace attack

Police said the gunman was an ex-employee

Five people were killed and several others injured when a gunman opened fire at an industrial park in the US state of Illinois, police there say.

The gunman was also killed during an exchange of fire with police officers, a police spokeswoman said. Five police officers were shot and wounded.

The attack took place in Aurora, a suburb about 40 miles west of Chicago.

It comes a day after the first anniversary of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead.

Friday’s shooting is reported to have taken place at Henry Pratt Company, a manufacturing firm that makes valves for large water pipes.

Police named the gunman as Gary Martin, 45, who they said had been an employee at the company.

Officers declined to speculate on a motive for the attack, but the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper is reporting that his family say he was made redundant two weeks ago and had been “stressed out”.

What have police said about the shooting?

Police received reports of an “active shooter” in Aurora at about 13:24 local time (19:24 GMT), Aurora police chief Kristen Ziman said at a press conference.

They were “fired upon immediately” when they arrived at the scene, she said.

Ms Ziman added that a rescue task force was quickly deployed to the industrial park, accompanied by the emergency services, including the fire department and paramedics.

Police secure the area following a shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, 15 February 2019Police secure the area following reports of a shooting at the Henry Pratt Company

Chris Southwood of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police described the Aurora officers who attended and were shot as “courageous”.

“[These] officers and their colleagues did not hesitate to literally put their lives on the line today to stop further bloodshed,” Mr Southwood said in a statement.

Of the five officers wounded, two were airlifted to nearby trauma centres.

The names of the five people who were killed have not yet been released.

How have witnesses described the scene?

Witness John Probst, who works at the Henry Pratt Company, earlier told broadcaster ABC7 that he saw the attacker, whom he recognised as a colleague.

He said the man was carrying a handgun equipped with a laser sight, but this has yet to be confirmed by officials.

“One of the guys was up in the office [and] he said this person was shooting, and, he come running down and he was bleeding pretty bad, and the next thing you know he was walking back and forth, I heard more shots, and we just left the building,” Mr Probst said.

Police secure the area following a shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, 15 February 2019Multiple emergency calls were made to police when the shooting began

An employee at nearby Capitol Printing told ABC7 that they had hid in a closet when the shooting began.

Others in nearby buildings said they locked themselves in.

Police in Aurora, Colorado – where a man opened fire in a crowded movie theatre in 2012 – quickly tweeted that the incident was not happening in Colorado.

Presentational white spaceIllinois Senator Tammy Duckworth said: “This is a scary, sad day for all Illinoisans and Americans.”

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the incident, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

One Year After Parkland, 1,200 More Kids Are Dead by Gunfire

FEBRUARY 14, 2019
AP18050754936575.jpg

It’s been one year since the devastating massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that galvanized the nation to take action against gun violence and turned a generation of young people into activists. On February 14, 2018, a former student armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire, gunning down 17 students, staff and teachers in just three minutes. It was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Students who survived the massacre quickly came to national prominence as leading activists for gun control. We speak with Lois Beckett, senior reporter at The Guardian covering gun policy. Her latest piece is titled “’We can’t let fear consume us’: why Parkland activists won’t give up.”

Deadly shooting at California bowling alley [Yay, USA!]

Police say three people killed and four injured in a shooting at a gaming complex near Los Angeles.

Police said they were searching for a suspect or suspects [Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images]
Police said they were searching for a suspect or suspects [Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images]

Three men have been killed and four wounded in a shooting in the US state of California after a late-night fight at a bowling alley.

The Torrance Police Department said officers responded to calls of “shots fired” at the Gable House Bowl in Torrance, a town about 40km south of Los Angeles, shortly before midnight on Friday

Multiple victims were found with gunshot wounds inside the gaming venue, which offers bowling, laser tag and an arcade.

Police said three men died at the scene and four male victims were injured, two of whom were transported to a hospital for unknown injuries while the other two injured sought medical treatment on their own.

“Investigators are currently conducting a follow-up investigation, and are working to identify the suspect(s) involved,” the department said in a statement.

Authorities have not released details about what led to the shooting, but witnesses said it stemmed from a fight between two large groups of people at the bowling alley.

‘Complete chaos’

Wes Hamad, a 29-year-old Torrance resident, was at the bowling alley with his 13-year-old niece and cousin when he saw a “huge fight” break out.

Hamad told the Associated Press news agency that the brawl, which lasted about five minutes, blocked the entrance of Gable House Bowl and devolved into “complete chaos”.

“I grabbed my niece and started running toward the far end of the bowling alley,” Hamad said. “As we were running, we heard 15 shots.”

As he was leaving, Hamad said he saw a woman weeping over a man who had multiple gunshot wounds to his head and neck.

Damone Thomas was in the karaoke section of the venue, a regular stop for him and his friends after work on Fridays, when people ran in saying there was a shooting.

The 30-year-old Los Angeles resident said his friend flipped over one of the tables to shield them as they heard gunshots.

Thomas told the AP he didn’t feel scared because he was “just trying to survive”. But when he was driving back home, he said he realised how traumatic the situation had been and he hasn’t been able to fall asleep.

“Closing my eyes, all I can see is the women against the wall crying, not knowing what to do,” he said.

The US has long dealt with the issue of mass shootings. In the first four days of 2019, there have been five mass shootings that resulted in five deaths, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a group that tracks such incidents.

Both Thomas and Hamad said they had never witnessed any violence at Gable House Bowl in the past, but Hamad said he had stopped going for a while because he heard someone with a gun was recently seen there.

“I definitely won’t be going back any more,” he added.

According to health authorities, nearly 40,000 people died in the US as a result of firearms in 2017 – a figure that includes suicides.

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