gun control

The Myth of the Mass Shooting Epidemic

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The myth of the mass shooting epidemic

by Brad Polumbo. Originally posted on the Washington Examiner.

September 03, 2019 01:11 PM

As Beto O’Rourke put it: “This is f—ked up.”

The Texas Democrat and mediocre presidential candidate offered these wise words in an effort to capitalize on tragedy this weekend to try and once again reboot his failing campaign. O’Rourke was responding to the tragic news of another mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, over the weekend that left at least seven dead and 25 injured. 

But although O’Rourke’s sentiment is completely understandable, it’s also completely unfounded. Despite the liberal media’s profit-motivated mass coverage of these tragic events, and despite frequent exploitation by gun-control activists, actual mass shootings remain a statistical rarity and a much-exaggerated threat.

The liberal media just doesn’t cover car crashes, heart disease, or suicide with the same fervor it does mass shootings — perhaps because these far more common causes of death advance no political agenda and fail to get that gut reaction that makes people tune in. 

By nearly a factor of four, more people in America die from the flu and pneumonia than by homicide (all homicides, including non-gun homicides).

But people aren’t running out to get a flu shot with nearly the same fervor with which they’re clamoring for gun control. Much of the population has been scared into radically over-estimating the prevalence of mass shootings and gun violence in general. 

The CDC estimates that 4.5 people out of 100,000 die each year from various forms of firearm homicide. Mass shootings, in turn, account for less than 1% of homicides. 

Another way of looking at it is to consider rifle homicides specifically, because the topic always turns to "assault weapons." There are only 300 to 400 deaths in a given year from all rifles, including the ones someone might call "assault weapons." You are 50% more likely to be killed by a blunt object. 

Contrast mass shootings with the 12.4 out of 100,000 people who die in car accidents every year, or the 20 out of 100,000 who die from accidental poisoning. If these tragic deaths were covered with the same frequency and fervor as shootings, Americans might start wearing their seat belts and take greater care with potential toxins. Yet notably, there’s still no call to ban cars, or to require people to fly from New York to Boston rather than take the much-more-lethal drive up I-95. 

It’s also unclear, despite what media coverage and some dubiously-generated statistics would suggest, that mass shootings are even getting more frequent. Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox found that “the number of mass shooting victims, perpetrators, and incidents didn’t change much from 1980 to 2014.” 

We need to take a deep breath, and view this violence as the serious but statistically infrequent threat it truly is. Smart policy decisions are rarely made by a population steeped in misinformation and fear.

And that’s exactly where we’re at right now. 

In a 2018 Washington Post op-ed, Harvard instructor David Ropeik explained that according to his calculations, “the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000.” That’s right: one in 614 million. Your odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 300 million

Ropeik aptly points out that the risk of dying in a school shooting is extremely low, and “far lower than many people assume.” As well, this risk is “far lower than almost any other mortality risk a kid faces, including traveling to and from school, catching a potentially deadly disease while in school or suffering a life-threatening injury playing interscholastic sports.”

According to Pew Research, 57% of teenagers fear school shootings, even though there is essentially a 0% chance it will happen to them. And parents share their unfounded anxiety: 63% similarly worry about their child’s safety in school due to mass shootings. It's understandable that something as awful as a mass shooting would inspire fear, but again, consider the odds relative to all those other, much more common dangers.

It’s unhealthy for us as a nation to have such disproportionate fear of a threat that the facts show is actually quite remote. Raw emotion is understandable, but when making policy it’s no substitute for fact. The media, meanwhile, are going out of their way to cause needless fear and stress just to get a few extra views and clicks — if it bleeds, it leads. And that, as O’Rourke might put it, is just f—ked up.

The Newest and Most Dangerous Red Flag Law

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By Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

A significant new gun control law will take effect in New Jersey on Sunday, allowing you to ask a judge to bar a family member or loved one who is deemed to be mentally unstable and a threat from buying or possessing a gun.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. What does the law actually do?

The law (A1217) is officially called the “Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018."

It allows family members or those who live in the same household to submit an application to state Superior Court showing why a judge should issue an “extreme risk protective order" to keep guns away from someone “who poses a danger of causing bodily injury” to themselves or others by purchasing or possessing a gun or ammunition.

It also allows law enforcement to petition the court.

People who are neither family or a law enforcement officer can ask a law enforcement agency to file a petition.

The judge can then issue the order if they find the person “poses a significant risk of personal injury to himself or others by possessing a firearm.” That will bar the person from owning, buying, possessing, or receiving any firearms during the period the order is in effect.

The law also allows the judge to issue a warrant to seize a person’s firearms if they’ve been issued an order.

“It’s really based around a mental health concern,” state Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-Camden — a main sponsor of the law — told NJ Advance Media.

“In a lot of cases, you’ll hear that a family member will say their child was struggling with depression or suicidal tendencies,” Greenwald aid. “They can now ask a judge to intercede and remove the gun until that individual can be tested and be determined to be safe to themselves and others.”

2. Can a neighbor or someone who is not family or a friend also seek such an order?

If you’re not a family member or don’t live in the same household, you can ask a law enforcement agency to file a petition on your behalf. But Greenwald said the law is designed primarily for family members and loved ones who are concerned.

“They would be considered closer to the situation,” the lawmaker said.

3. How can the person get their guns back? 

A person has 45 days to file an appeal once an order is granted. They can also seek to have the order terminated at any time after the order goes into effect.

If a law enforcement agency has “probable cause” to believe that a person continues to pose “a significant risk" after one year, the agency may request another order. A judge may also issue another order.

4. How did this become law? 

This was one of several gun control measures New Jersey’s Democratic-controlled Legislature passed after Democrat Phil Murphysucceeding Republican Chris Christie as governor in January 2018. Murphy vowed on the campaign trail to make the state’s already strict gun laws even tougher.

The bill passed the state Senate by a vote of 32-5 in the Senate and 56-11 in the Assembly in June 2018. Some Republicans joined Democrats in the vote.

Murphy signed the measure into law just days later — one of six gun laws he approved that day.

“We are going to be a leader in the fight for common-sense gun safety,” the governor said at the time. “New Jersey will lead.”

This particular law wasn’t slated to take effect until Sept. 1 — this Sunday — so the state’s courts could prepare.

Alexandra Altman, a spokeswoman for Murphy, said the governor “proudly” signed this law to "ensure that individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others do not have access to a gun.”

5. What do opponents say? 

Gun-rights advocates say this is another example of New Jersey instituting harsh gun laws.

Scott Bach, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, said the law “allows confiscation of legally owned property without advance due process, based on false claims of third parties, and‎ with no penalty for making false allegations against someone.”

“It is a tyrant’s dream, and a citizen’s nightmare,” Bach added.

He also said it’s “ripe for abuse."

6. So how tough are New Jersey’s gun laws?

They are the second toughest in the nation, after only California, according to rankings by the Gifford Law Center

Meanwhile, the Garden State ranks 45th among the 50 states in the number of per capita gun deaths per year, according the center. Only Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts have fewer.

Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01.

Guns Can Be Confiscated, but Killers Are Still Going to Kill

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AUGUST 23, 2019

A Park Ridge man charged in the stabbing death of his mother last month had illegal firearms, including at least two that he made himself from parts he got online, confiscated from his home twice in the last two years, the most recent instance taking place just two weeks before the murder, reports from the Park Ridge Police Department allege. 

David Krystyniak, 47, of the 1900 block of Courtland Avenue, was charged with first degree murder on July 29 after a police officer found the body of David’s mother, Judith Krystyniak, inside a garbage container in the living room of their Courtland Avenue home, Kaminski said during a July 31 press conference. 

Police reports say, however, that police had twice taken illegal guns from Krystyniak’s home, once in late 2017 and once weeks before the killing.

According to a July 14 police report, David Krystyniak voluntarily gave police an AR-15 rifle and a Glock 22 handgun when officers made a visit on an unrelated matter to the home he shared with his mother.

According to the report, Krystyniak had called 911 on the morning of July 14 because he believed his mother had overdosed on medication, but responding officers found her alert, coherent and showing no signs of being medicated.

While speaking with Krystyniak, one of the officers asked him about guns that police had confiscated from his home on a previous occasion in 2017, and Krystyniak replied that he had made his own guns after his other firearms were taken, the police report said 

According to the report, Krystyniak said he had built the AR-15 and Glock 22 from parts he had purchased online and had delivered to his house through the mail. Both guns were unloaded, the report said.

In the police report, the responding officer noted that the AR-15 “appeared to be fully functional” but Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski later, after more analysis, described both firearms as non-functional.

Two boxes of AR-15 parts were also confiscated by police, and three airgun pistols that resembled actual handguns were found in the home as well, police said.

A year and a half earlier, in December 2017, police seized two AR-15s and a Glock 9mm handgun from Krystyniak after he showed officers the contents of a gun safe in his bedroom, a police report said. Police also confiscated the magazines from the AR-15s and “other weapons" that were not identified in the report.

Krystyniak is scheduled to be arraigned next month on the July first degree murder charge. He will plead not guilty, said his public defender Wendy Schilling. 

When asked about the police reports that police twice seized guns from Krystyniak, Schilling said, “We have not yet received any discovery in this case. Therefore, we have no knowledge of these allegations of David possessing any guns.”

The reason for the officers’ visit to the home in 2017 is not clear. The police department redacted a portion of the police report. The report does note that the police department’s social worker was present.

According to police, the guns and gun parts were confiscated during both visits to Krystyniak’s home because he did not have a valid Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card. No charges were filed against Krystyniak in either case, according to police.

Sgt. Jacqueline Cepeda, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police, said the department could not discuss whether Krystyniak had ever applied for a FOID card. A person must have a valid FOID card to possess any home-manufactured guns that meet the definition of a firearm under the FOID act, she said.

A police officer and social worker, driving by the Krystyniak home on July 29, noticed groceries strewn about the driveway and asked David Krystyniak if they could come in, police said. They discovered the woman’s body inside, according to police.

Judith Krystyniak had been stabbed multiple times in the chest, Kaminski said, and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death a homicide. The murder weapon was identified as a samurai sword, according to Cook County Circuit Court documents.

Kaminski said the sword was the only weapon investigators found in the home following Judith Krystyniak’s death. A hammer was also found, but police do not believe it was used in the killing, the police chief said.

Police have not determined whether the murder of Judith Krystyniak was premeditated and a motive has not been established, Kaminski said.

David Krystyniak is currently being held in Cook County Jail without bail.

David Krystyniak was known to the police department and department’s social worker “due to his mental health illness,” police said in a press release issued shortly after his arrest. Kaminski said a social worker had been working with the family for several years and offering them services.

“There were connections between our social worker and the family,” he said, declining to speak more about that aspect of the case, citing the state’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, those with mental health conditions who pose “a clear and present danger to self, others or the community” can be prohibited from obtaining an Illinois FOID card.

Kaminski said there was no indication at the time police visited the Krystyniak home that David Krystyniak was planning to use the firearms inside to commit violent acts, or that he was planning to harm his mother.

“Nobody’s got a crystal ball for this stuff; you wish you could prevent everything,” the police chief said. “We still don’t have a motive, we don’t know what happened that night or in the days before to trigger this. We don’t know. But there were no indications of any violence prior to this.”

 But police reports show that others in the community had reported problems with Krystyniak over the years.

 In December 2017, shortly before the first batch of guns were removed from Krystyniak’s home, a representative of a car dealership contacted police to say that employees had received “a series of disturbing emails,” from Krystyniak, some of which “bordered on threatening,” a police report said. Krystyniak also was accused of calling the business after he had been told not to, police said.

The dealership did not want to file a criminal complaint, police said, and no arrest was made, though the police department social worker was reportedly notified.

 In a 2015 police report, a neighbor of the Krystyniaks alleged that David “had always caused disturbances in the area” and the man also reported that his elderly mother was fearful of Krystyniak.

In 2005, Krystyniak, then 33, was charged with battery after he allegedly attacked a 17-year-old boy in the street a few blocks from his home, according to police.

 According to the police report, the teen said he was driving south on Courtland Avenue at Granville when his car was struck from behind. The teen told police that the driver of the other car, whom police identified as Krystyniak, got out, charged him, pulled open the driver’s side door and began punching him. A witness helped to hold Krystyniak down until officers arrived, police said.

Originally posted on Chicago Tribune, August 23, 2019. Written by Jennifer Johnson.

New York Red Flag Law Goes Into Full Effect

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ALBANY, NEW YORK — Governor Cuomo recently signed the now fully enacted New York Red Flag Law.

The Red Flag Law will allow certain people to report a person as a danger to themselves or others, and create a temporary removal of that person’s firearms.

The request would need to be presented to a judge to sign off on.

Red Flag Laws are unconstitutional, lead to more danger, and don’t stop crime.

New York is one of 17 states with a Red Flag Law.

When dating apps like Bumble ban gun pictures, they're banning American values

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Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Kroger, and L.L Bean have all recently hopped on the gun control bandwagon by refusing rifle sales to patrons under 21 years old. Now, the world of dating apps has joined them, too

The dating app Bumble, which as of November 2017 included more than 23 million users, recently updated its user policy, stating: 

"Bumble is working to ban gun photos. Making sure our users feel safe meeting new people has always been our #1 priority. If you see a photo of someone with a gun while swiping on Bumble, please use the report button in app so our team can take action. Together we can continue to create an even safer online community." 


Bumble, which has been branded as " the feminist dating app," perpetuates far-left rhetoric that only benefits those with a bleeding-heart liberal ideology. According to Bumble's terms of conditions and use, they want "users to be able to express themselves as much as possible and post all sorts of things on Bumble.”

Of course, this free expression clause is followed by how they also “have to impose restrictions on certain content." Cue a long list of restrictions dealing with indecent exposure … and firearms. 


While Bumble allows its users to express themselves in photos in almost any other fashion (except for pornography), users are banned from expressing what could potentially be their strongest interest. Firearms are at the core of American history, traditions, sporting, and freedom. By banning firearms, Bumble is, in essence, banning one of America's core principles. 


Arguably, Bumble is really saying that content is "okay" as long as it fits within certain cultural and political guidelines set by their far-left, politically-motivated developers and lawyers. And now that Bumble has hopped on the un-American gun control bandwagon, who or what is next?

Where does it stop? 


Bumble's rhetoric of diversity and inclusion is simply a facade to cover its true motive of dissuading meaningful conversation across political fault lines and finding common ground on American issues.

It’s an attempt to sanitize firearms and Americans’ Second Amendment rights from the norms of daily life. 
The far-left is truly intolerable of other beliefs, ideologies, interests, and hobbies. By taking this action, Bumble is showing its true colors of how unaccepting they really are.

The Attack on Law-Abiding Gun Owners

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When innocent lives are taken in school shootings or other mass tragedies, we should come together, as a nation, mourn with the families and friends who lost their loved ones, and in time discuss how this could have been prevented. 

Instead, the radical gun-grabbing Left is at it again, blaming law-abiding citizens for the actions of a deranged criminal. Within hours of the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting, gun-grabbing extremists like David HoggCameron Kasky, and others across the nation called for stricter gun control laws. Unsurprisingly, Hogg, Kasky, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and other firearm-haters immediately diverted attention from the shooter and focused their attacks on the National Rifle Association.

What they fail to realize is that focusing blame on the NRA, or blaming law-abiding citizens, will get our nation nowhere in developing a realistic solution to stop criminals and their desire to inflict harm on others.
 

In order to propose a viable solution, one must know the facts of the situation. Examining the facts of this horrific incident allows us to propose realistic solutions to avoid repeats. 

Firstly, the weapons used in the Santa Fe High School shooting were a sawed-off shotgun and a .38 caliber handgun. Sawed off shotguns are illegal under federal law without a special license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Investigators have identified the original buyers, however how it moved from them to the shooter has yet to be determined. 

In regards to the .38 caliber handgun, under federal law one must be 21 years old to own or purchase a handgun in the U.S. ( some exceptions exist for those 18 to 21). The madman, who killed 10 at the Santa Fe High School, is only 17. No current law, or other law, would have prevented him from illegally obtaining those firearms. 

The most common knee-jerk reaction from proponents of gun control is to call for immediate stricter gun control laws and blame the NRA. But stricter gun control will only hurt law-abiding citizens because criminals don’t follow the law

Gun control legislation is currently on the rise across the country with numerous states raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21. By implementing such radical gun control legislation, millions of Americans aged 18 to 20 are stripped of their constitutional rights and the ability to effectively defend themselves. 

Other absurd gun control legislation currently under consideration in Congress include H.R. 4268, which would implement a seven-day waiting period after purchasing a firearm, H.R. 1612, which closes the so-called “gun show loophole”, and H.R. 163, which would hold gun manufacturers accountable for crimes committed with their firearms. 

These bills come from far-left leaning Democrats, of course, who only care about control and saving face among their voters. They don’t care about the rights of law-abiding Americans or the Constitution. If they did, they would not be attempting to pass such radical gun-control legislation. 

It gets worse on the state level. 

For example, the New York State Senate passed a bill recently allowing police and prosecutors to confiscate weapons from people deemed a danger to themselves. Florida passed a similar law after the Parkland school massacre. These types of laws completely bypass due process, violating an individual's Second and Fourth Amendment rights. Of course, this can be contested in court, but the question remains, how long does it take to contest this obstruction of justice in court? 

The overall problem with more gun control legislation passing is that once the floodgates are opened, who or what is to stop unconstitutional legislation from becoming law? For decades now, the far-left has stated they’re “not coming for our guns.” The legislation they’ve been proposing demonstrates otherwise.

Written by Tyler Yzaguirre, SAI President. Originally published in Washington Examiner.