Gun Control

Hundreds Of South Florida Students Expected To Attend Young Leaders Summit

What’s News In This Story?

-Over 500 South Florida high school and college students are expected to attend a summit for young leaders on Saturday.  

-Organized by young people, the day-long event will serve as a crash-course in politics for a generation deeply affected by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. 

-The event will take place at two separate locations- one in Miami-Dade and another in Broward and will feature speakers involved in community organizations and political activism. 

-Representatives from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government will be on hand to teach organizing techniques and Jaclyn Corin, a prominent survivor of the MSD shooting and activist in the Never Again movement will give the keynote speech. 

-Event organizer Lina Fernandez said that she hopes the event will serve as a starting point for a “lifetime of activism” for those who attend. 

-Organized by young people, the day-long event will serve as a crash-course in politics for a generation deeply affected by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. 


Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (C) poses with South Florida students during a March For Our Lives protest. Photo Credit: Nikita Leus, Coral Gables Senior High

In the aftermath of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland on Feb. 14, many wondered whether this time would be different.

It seems like it is.

Nearly two months on from that tragedy, the Never Again movement shows no signs of stopping, especially in South Florida.

A event planned for Saturday hopes to take the energy and anger seen throughout the country and turn it into real political power.

An all day “Young Leaders Summit” will be held at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus and at Atlantic Technical College in Coconut Creek.

The identical events are meant to be a crash course for young people who want to get engaged in political activism and will feature representatives from prominent local political organizing groups and others like Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

“Young people everywhere want to do something about the pervasiveness of gun violence and our culture of gun use but do not know where to begin,” event organizer Lina Fernandez said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “The Summit acts as an education in movement building, an opportunity to learn about the difficult, important work that happens behind the scenes and empower students to create spaces and events of their own.”

The organizers think that at least 500 young people will attend.

Photo Credit: Juliana Carrasco, New World School of the Arts

Only high school and college students can go.

Representatives from various political groups and candidates for political office will also be there so young people can sign up to volunteer for campaigns.

Helping support the summit are groups like: Defeat the NRA, The Resistance School, Harvard Kennedy School, Students Demand Action, Women’s March Miami, League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade, Dream Defenders, Indivisible, the Giffords Center, Moms Demand Action, and the Center for American Progress.

While the motivating factor behind the conference is gun control, the skills that students will learn there can be applied to other struggles.

“We want more than anything else for the students to spend the day Saturday learning about how to get engaged, how to use their voice, how to organize, and take those skills and apply them to whatever movement they are passionate about, not just today’s gun reform battle,” Will Breslin, an organizer for the event said.

According to the organizers, the summit will feature various breakout sessions led by famed political organizer “Marshall Ganz from the Harvard Kennedy School, Indivisible southern regional organizer Whitney Roberts, Maggie Thompson from Generation Progress Action, Katherine Philips and Chase Hardin from Giffords, MJ Wright from Moms Demand Action, Ricky Junquera from Sierra Club, Philip Agnew from Dream Defenders, and more.”

While the event only lasts one day, the hope from the young people putting it together that it will create something long lasting.

“I hope the conference helps create a culture of activism and civic engagement in Miami and in Miami-Dade Schools,” Fernandez said. “I want the students who planned walkouts all across Miami-Dade county last month, and the thousands that attended these events, to continue in their work. I hope the Summit provides a clear next step for student leaders who participated in the national walkout and March For Our Lives but don’t know where to go from there.”



Young Leaders Summit
Saturday April 7, 2018 – 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Miami Dade Location

Miami Dade College – Kendall Campus

11011 Southwest 104th Street, Miami, FL 33176

Broward Location

Atlantic Technical College

4700 Coconut Creek ParkwayCoconut Creek, FL 33063


Who Will Be There?: 

Speakers During Opening Ceremony:
MJ Wright, mother of a pulse victim
Jaclyn Corin- survivor of MSD shooting, student activist in the Never Again movement

Breakout Session Leaders/ Other Speakers:
Ricky Junquera- Sierra Club
Claris Chang- Harvard Kennedy School
Benjamin Clayton- Harvard Kennedy School
Marshall Ganz- Harvard Kennedy School
Anjali Rodrigues- Harvard Kennedy School
Anna Doty- Harvard Kennedy School
Kate O’Gorman- Harvard Kennedy School
Katherine Phillips- Giffords Center
Chase Hardin- Giffords Center
MJ Wright- Moms Demand Action
Whitney Roberts- Indivisible
Maggie Thompson- Generation Progress
Christian Smith- Generation Progress
Charlene Mack- Leadership for Educational Equity
Phil Agnew- Dream Defenders
Mike Hill- Unite Here

Candidates/ Campaigns In Attendance: 
CD-26- Debbie Mucarsel-Powell
CD-27- Ken Russel
CD-27- Jose Javier Rodriguez
CD-27- David Richardson
CD-27- Kristen Rosen Gonzales
CD-27- Matt Haggman
CD-27- Mary Barzee Flores
SH-105 – Javier Esteves
SD-38 – Jason Pizzo
Gov – Andrew Gillum
Gov – Gwen Graham
SH-113 – Kubs Lalchandani
CD-26 – Demetries Grimes
SH – 103 – Cindy Polo
SH – 112 – Nick Duran
SD-40 – Annette Taddeo


WATCH ANOTHER STORY- Is This The Happiest Place In Miami?


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Have a news tip about this topic or something completely different? Send it on in to [email protected].


Cover Photo Credit:  Nikita Leus, Coral Gables Senior High.

These Miami Kids Walked Out Of Class To Send Marco Rubio And The NRA A Message

Miami Shores isn’t normally known for its political activism. But students at Miami Country Day School poured out of class and marched to a nearby park in order to send a message to the gun lobby.

Let’s just say that they didn’t hold back.


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LIVE COVERAGE: South Florida Students Walk Out En Masse To Demand Gun Control Changes


At noon today, thousands of students at dozens of South Florida high schools walked out of class in order to protest Americ6’s gun laws.

By our (still ongoing count), close to 30 different schools were involved in the protest in the tri-county area.

We’ll be bringing you coverage of this historic event throughout the day.

Has your school walked out?

Send us pictures and videos of it either via email to [email protected] or via Twitter DM to @OfficialJoelF.

South Florida Schools That Have Walked Out:

(Did your school walk out but you don’t see it on our list? Let us KNOW!)

Omni Middle School (Boca Raton)

-According to a reporter with the Palm Beach Post, dozens of middle schools kids at Omni Middle School in Boca jumped over a fence to protest.  

School For Advanced Studies North Campus 


School For Advanced Studies Wolfson Campus 

Pembroke Pines Charter High School 

Barbara Goleman

Miami Arts Charter School

North Broward Prep

John A. Ferguson High School

Everglades High School

Coral Reef Senior High

Coconut Creek High 

Miami Lakes Educational Center

Miami Design And Architecture High School

Miami Beach Senior High

Palmetto High 

Miami Jackson High 

Southwest Miami Senior High

Felix Varela Senior High

G Holmes Braddock High School

Miami Edison

-We received a report from a Miami real estate agent who said he saw students walk out from Edison. Working to get video.

Coral Glades High

Coral Springs High 

Jose Marti MAST

Miami Killian Senior High

Ronald Reagan High School 

Mater Academy 

-Students walked out right as the clocked struck 12 PM according to a student.

Cooper City High School

Cypress Bay High School 

Students walked out of Cypress Bay High School at 10 AM Wednesday. Photo Credit: @valfuenmayorr/ Twitter

-Students at Cypress Bay walked out at 10 AM with handmade signs.

Champagnat Catholic School

Hialeah Senior High 

Photo Credit: @Nila_bruhh/ Twitter

Photo Credit: @Nila_bruhh/ Twitter

Other Protests:


Florida State University

-Thousands of FSU students are marching to the state capitol.

-Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is attending a protest at the capitol as well.

Iowa City, Iowa


This story is from The Miami Monster, a new brand focused on telling the true stories of what life is like for a young person living in South Florida. Be sure to also follow our founder Joel Franco on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest breaking news in the area.  You can send news tips to [email protected]

Background Checks Don’t Work. Why? Blame The Bureaucracy

In light of the recent terrorist attack in Orlando, one subject has dominated American political discourse: the subject of gun control.

One of the most common arguments made by advocates of gun control is that we need better background checks.

While in some cases that may be true, as loopholes do exist in current federal gun laws that allow criminals to obtain their weapons (such as dealer license exemptions for gun sellers who sell weapons for the purpose of buyers collecting them as hobbies), the goal of reducing gun violence through mandated background checks will be virtually impossible to achieve through legislation alone.

There is a second, much more serious problem that would need to be addressed prior to the passing of any new laws, and that is an incompetent bureaucracy.

Per the Daily Beast:

“…(Omar) Mateen had purchased a Sig Sauer .223 caliber assault rifle at a firearms shop near his Florida home, St. Lucie Gun Sales, on June 4 and then a Glock 17 at the same store on June 5. Mateen had returned to the store a third time on June 9 to buy magazines for his weapons. The store is a federally licensed firearms dealer. Under law, the seller would have had to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Mateen’s purchase so that his name could be checked against the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS.

Mateen was actually listed on two federal watch lists, a U.S. official tells The Daily Beast: The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, which contains classified information, and the Terrorist Screening Database, which is the FBI’s central watchlist. The gun background check would have run Mateen’s name against that second database, but he had been removed from it in 2014. The sales were approved and early Sunday morning he used the weapons to fire round after round after round at defenseless people at the Pulse nightclub. Mateen left a third weapon, a revolver capable of firing only a mere six shots, in his van.

An FBI spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether the gun seller made the required check. However, it’s unlikely it would have raised any red flags.”

Assuming that the gun seller did make the required check, it would have been impossible for him or her to have received any information regarding terrorism-related investigations, as Mateen had been removed from the TSD, and the TIDE would have been inaccessible due to its possession of classified information.

This right here should be a red flag.

According to the National Counterterrorism Center:

“Each day analysts create and enhance TIDE records based on their review of nominations received. Every evening, TIDE analysts export a sensitive but unclassified subset of the data containing the terrorist identifiers to the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) for use in the USG’s consolidated watchlist.”

In other words, there are two possibilities explaining the fact that the FBI did not keep investigating Mateen after 2014: either it ignored unclassified subsets of data regarding him that was forwarded by TIDE, or TIDE kept Mateen’s files as classified information. Either one of those possibilities reflects poorly on the state of our bureaucracy, and are problems that need to be remedied as soon as possible.

I’m not a government insider, so I have no proof as to why this breakdown in communication between different federal agencies has occurred, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was just another instance of agency rivalry, which has been a defining factor in relations between federal agencies (particularly the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA) for decades.

This factor is perhaps best summed up in Mark Riebling’s book Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, which highlights examples of national traumas that could have turned out differently if cooperation had existed, from Pearl Harbor to the McCarthy investigations to the mishandling of Soviet spies and defectors to the JFK assassination to Watergate to 9/11.

This book was first published in 1994 (an extended edition was later published in 2002), but if the events of the last few days have proven anything, perhaps little, if anything at all, has changed regarding this matter over the last 22 years.

I have one question to ask: How many more people must die before we take action to reform our bureaucracy?

If we are to have gun laws, or any laws for that matter, we must make sure they are enforced properly before we take action to create new legislation.

It is not enough that the legislative branch works to keep us safe.

The executive branch must do its part as well.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: mrwynd/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Democrats Turned Off The C-SPAN Cameras Too, In 2008

Scores of elected Democrats have been sitting in on the floor of the House of Representatives in order to induce a vote on a bill that would stop people on the no fly list from purchasing a firearm.

But just as Democrats were starting their sit-in, the C-SPAN cameras inside of the House chamber were turned off under the order of the Republican leadership.

While turning off the cameras might be an affront to the American people, it is not the first time that it has happened.

In fact, Democrats did the same thing in 2008 when they controlled the body.

On August 1, 2008 then Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to adjourn the House. But a sizable group of Republicans wanted to stay on the floor in order to speak about their desire to increase off-shore drilling.

Then things got a little nutty.

From POLITICO in 2008:

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats adjourned the House, turned off the lights and killed the microphones, but Republicans are still on the floor talking gas prices.

Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders opposed the motion to adjourn the House, arguing that Pelosi’s refusal to schedule a vote allowing offshore drilling is hurting the American economy. They have refused to leave the floor after the adjournment motion passed at 11:23 a.m., and they are busy bashing Pelosi and her fellow Democrats for leaving town for the August recess.

At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark. But as Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz..) was speaking, the lights went back on and the microphones were turned on shortly afterward.

But C-SPAN, which has no control over the cameras in the chamber, has stopped broadcasting the House floor, meaning no one was witnessing this except the assembled Republicans, their aides, and one Democrat, Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has now left.”

The thought of a bunch of Republicans standing on the floor of the House talking to themselves and Dennis Kucinich is actually quite funny.

But the GOP didn’t think so then and rightfully so.

“This is the people’s House,” Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) said back in 2008. “This is not Pelosi’s politiburo.”

The C-SPAN cameras should never be turned off as they are the best way for the American people to connect with the goings on in Congress.

But both sides have played fast and loose with them in the past.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

#NoBillNoBreak- John Lewis Leads Dozens Of Democrats In Historic Sit In On House Floor


Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and dozens of elected Democrats are currently “occupying” the floor of the House of Representatives

Democrats said that they will not leave the House chamber until the body takes a vote on a proposal that would ban people on the no fly list from purchasing a weapon.

“We truly believe that if there was a vote, then we would win the vote,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference on the steps of the Capital.

“No fly, no buy” seems to be the rallying cry for supporters of the movement.

The Atlantic reports that at least 70 Democratic House members are participating in the protest.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) spoke to gathered reporters on the Capital steps about his personal connection to the issue of gun violence. His son was murdered with a gun.

“Only a mother could scream, that primal screen, I will never forget the primal scream of my son’s mother,” Rush said. “Shot down in cold blood on the streets of Chicago.”

The sit in started just shy of noon Wednesday.

Rep. John Larson (D-CT) gave an impassioned plea as fellows members started to sit on the floor around him.

“We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action,” Larson said. “Rise up Democrats, rise up Americans, this cannot stand.”

Soon after, the C-SPAN cameras in the House chamber were turned off.

The only video coming out of the chamber is from members themselves via the use of cell phones and other mobile devices, a violation of House rules.

According to C-SPAN, the House is scheduled to break for the Fourth of July holiday on July 1.


This is a developing story. Stay with RISE NEWS.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Elizabeth Esty/ Twitter

This Facebook Post From Right After The Orlando Massacre Is Just Perfect

This Facebook post is republished below with the permission of the author. 

By Brian Gil

As someone that literally never goes out to gay clubs, gay pride parades, or gay anything. I have to say, I have never cried so hard in a single day in my life.

This shooting and the effect its had literally (49 dead) and metaphorically are the fucking worst.

Only a gay person will truly feel the pain today that comes with living a life subconsciously anxious about stigmas, prejudices, and whether or not people will just generally accept you for how you are naturally.

Only a gay person has had to wake up everyday before this event, and looked themselves in the soul to tell themselves they’re worthwhile,while the rest of the world questions your integrity.

Your gonna tell me, on top of carrying all that around, the single location gay people can convene and feel comfortable about themselves in our society has someone walking in with a rifle shooting and rotating the gun across the room? Kick them while your down why don’t you, piece of shit.

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While the past few years the gay community has seen several progresses (marriage equality mainly), it seems we’ve all gone complacent about how unequal gay people still are.

Employment discrimination is still legal in many states. Anti-LGBT legislation has been sweeping the nation in the news lately. Clearly someone feels unaccepting to the point where they carried out their prejudices into mass violence.

I wanted everyone to see how a couple (literally very few) progresses towards acceptance doesn’t mean the related bigotry in our society has gone away.

Just like racism – just because the civil war, civil rights movement, and ‪#‎staywoke‬ movement have improved our society, it doesn’t mean racism doesn’t still exist (post-racial narrative).

We have to do what we must as people everyday to be conscious of these problems so we can change our world to make future generations better so these types of tragedies stop happening.

How many innocent marginalized members of society have to die before they become accepted? My point is, theres a better way – which is simply understanding, compassion, and solidarity for other humans


RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Does Orlando Prove Trump Right? Absolutely Not

In a gay nightclub, 49 lives were taken because a crazy and hateful person had legal access to a weapon of mass destruction.

The shooter, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen proclaimed his support for ISIS, pointed his licensed assault rifle at the bodies of innocent people, and shot.

Those are the facts. It was an attack of terror and hate, and is yet another example of how guns have caused so much damage to this country.

All eyes have been on the presidential candidates to see how they respond to this public safety crisis.

In an interview on Meet the Press, Bernie Sanders explained the necessity to regulate guns in order to avoid the wrong people from accessing them, and to do away with assault rifles.

“We should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people”.

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Hilary Clinton advocated for gun control and “defeating international terror groups”. She also expressed her support for the LGBTQ community and a determination to eradicate these kinds of hate crimes in America.

Trump, as to be assumed, took a different approach. He used the attack to reiterate his campaign to ban Muslims from entering the US, (clearly not keeping in mind that Mateen was an American citizen born in New York), and reprimanded Obama and Hilary for remaining “politically correct” and avoiding the phrase “radical Islam”.

It was no surprise that Trump took a racist approach to this tragedy, however a potential fear is that many Americans who are traumatized from this attack could be persuaded by his words.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 10.21.12 AM

So far, on Twitter, most have voiced their disgust with Trump’s comments, but the real question asks if this is what it would take for more Americans to get behind Trumps bigoted and hateful campaign against Muslims?

When horrible things happen and people are afraid, they revert into a defensive mode, determined to obtain protection and justice.

These are valid feelings in mourning, but they are dangerous in the hands of Donald Trump. He is manipulative and driven, and that is a deadly combination.

Tension within Americans towards Muslims has been a lingering issue since 9/11. It ebbs and flows with each given current event.

It is a kind of irrational fear that can cause people to advocate for the wrong things. It is clear that Trump recognizes people’s eagerness to feel safer, and is using that to promote his motion for a temporary ban of Muslims in the country.

Cover Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Cover Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

But this is not unusual, and this was to be expected. The real fear is how many people will he convince and how will it affect this election?

Trump has made this an issue of political correctness. He believes that the term “radical Islam” is a phrase not used enough in our discourse and therefore allows things like this to happen.

But again, let’s look at the facts. Mateen was an American citizen, and his ex wife has explained that she does not feel this was religiously motivated as much as it was the outcome of him being mentally ill.

Mateen legally bought an assault rifle, a weapon clearly for more than one needs for hunting or protection. He was an American, and he murdered people out of hatred.

The so called “praise” that Trump is receiving for predicting this horrific event is not only insensitive, repulsive, and narcissistic, but it is also false.

Religion is an ideology that has a great deal of power over a people. Many terrorist attacks have been executed at the hands of radicals sometimes related to the Islamic nation, but often they are not.

Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation for a political aim. In Colorado Springs when Robert Lewis, a white man from South Carolina shot up a Planned Parenthood, that was political, that was terrorism.

In fact, between 1982 and 2015, out of the 72 mass shootings in America, 44 of the shooters were white. However, Trump is not advocating to ban Lewis and all white people.

Terrorism is a domestic and foreign issue. It does not end if a people are cast out of this country and oppressed for their religion. Guns are easily accessible and end up in the hands of unstable individuals.

In his speech for the Orlando shooting, Obama said, “America has to decide what kind of country it wants to be”. If it were up to Trump, we would be a country driven by hate and racism. Guns would remain accessible and people would continue to be murdered by the hundreds each year; but there would be no Muslim Americans.This is a violent and unacceptable way of thinking.

The numbers are there and clearly show that the real problem is guns and an undeniably stubborn culture that revolves around them.

This is a tragedy beyond consoling. The victims of the Orlando shooting were targeted out of hate and murdered because a mentally ill man had access to an assault rifle. This is the poignant issue of this massacre.

Unfortunately, because of the general hate and fear of Muslims in this country, Trumps sentiments could potentially serve as a dangerous outlet for enraged Americans, and will allow the topic of gun control to once again fall silent.

There are no words to console the victims and their families after this massacre. Cynically, it appears that if the Sandy Hook shooting did not change people’s feelings about guns, perhaps nothing will.

But right now, Americans are in a powerful position to stop a man filled with bigotry and callousness from becoming President and oppressing people in the same ways a fascist dictator once had.

This event is frightening, but our fear cannot be directed in the wrong places. We simply cannot afford to give in to such ways of thought.

Instead, we must stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, discuss productive methods to avoid something like this happening again, and evaluate the kind of country we want to either remain as, or become.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

On American Violence: Is It Guns, Terrorism Or Our Culture?

America. Opening a history book about the United States will take you on a journey through violence. Period paintings, drawings, and certainly texts of many varieties from the mid to late 1700’s all speak to the core belief that the colonists had in using firearms and violence to get themselves out from under the control of the British Crown.

And they did. The visceral effect of the Declaration of Independence on the people and the codifying force of the subsequent Constitution on this new republic had an affect on people who had no desire to be oppressed, unfairly taxed, abused or maligned.

In fact, the Constitution was amended to reflect the deeply held belief that guns belonged in the hands of every person – to be ready to repel invaders, keep the peace and protect themselves from anything that might try to intrude upon the basic freedoms that these visionaries embedded in to these lawful constructs.

Could it be that our fascination with guns is so deeply rooted in our psyche as Americans, because of the anti-colonial and refugee mindset of our founding fathers; through today, where (as the Constitution implies), we must always be at the ready to defend ourselves, and our nation?

For the aforementioned reasons, but also as history has unfolded, to help us protect our national interests, or impose them on others for our own gain? The Civil War. The Mexican – American War. The expansion of western settlement through the slaughter, forced relocation and internment of Native Americans. Those events are from our earliest history, and depict our collective dependence on firearms to both maintain our thirst for freedom, and to simultaneously fuel our growing thirst for territory and power.

The ‘carry forward’ from this long and storied history is that our reliance upon guns is now permanently rooted into our culture. Throughout the world, the US has always had a reputation for being unnecessarily violent, particularly where guns are concerned. But are these perceptions grounded in reality, or is this belief based solely on cultural differences?

It is literally inarguable that a firearm by itself is not the causation of our more recent mass shooting epidemic. ‘Guns don’t kill people – people kill people’. Much like a knife, stick, brick or rock by itself is not usually responsible for the death of a person, guns by themselves are incapable of killing or causing grievous bodily harm.

Someone must take that implement or weapon and pull the trigger. The access to weapons for those who would endeavor to harm others is at the core of the argument of so called ‘gun control’ efforts. That however requires deeper exploration.

There are studies, statistics and opinions all over the map, but suffice to say, there is no clear benefit to gun bans, or stricter gun control measures in modern society, as is plainly visible in these statistics. So what gives? Why the argument that banning guns, or enacting even tougher gun control measures like a ban on certain magazine capacities, or styles of weapons would have any significant impact on curbing mass shootings?

Waiting lists and months long processes to obtain even the most basic of services, such as initial and even secondary evaluations to facilitate accurate diagnosis and treatment; leaves a great many people falling through the very large cracks.

The truth is – it wouldn’t. Those bent on destruction or murder will get guns by other means than legally purchasing them. There is in fact sufficient evidence to demonstrate that many of the violent gun related crimes that have us persistently discussing ‘gun control’ are in fact committed with stolen guns.

To even suggest a ban on guns would facilitate an instrument by which the government would then be compelled to confiscate them. Outside of the obvious constitutional implications, that in and of itself would undoubtedly lead to legal challenges, mass protests, and perhaps even armed insurrection (or as some would say ‘a revolution’).

The fact is that the 2nd Amendment was constructed by the “Founding Fathers” as an instrument to facilitate not only the protection and defense of one’s self against attack or tyranny, but also to enable the Country as a whole to protect itself from potential invaders.

Photo Credit: Valerie Everett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Valerie Everett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

According to historical documents examined by the author (and widely available in the public domain), the Constitution -and specifically the 2nd Amendment; was articulated in this way to give “We The People” the ability to ward off an overreaching government with designs on the degradation or eradication of basic civil liberties. We are who and what we are as a Nation because of the wisdom of these documents and founding principles.

I would go so far as to speculate that any would be foreign invaders would have to take in to account the might of not only our military prowess, but also the plain fact that Americans are armed to the teeth as they draw up their battle plans. It’s also worthy mentioning that the Supreme Court has routinely upheld the right of the individual to ‘keep and bear arms’.

Are guns really the problem here?

While our understanding of the human mind, and the ability to more effectively treat mental health issues has vastly expanded in the last 30 years, the trend in access to effective mental health treatment, particularly where the poor, homeless and our military veterans are concerned has left huge gaps in the effective delivery of those services. There aren’t enough qualified practitioners to treat the vast numbers of people who require access to those services.

Waiting lists and months long processes to obtain even the most basic of services, such as initial and even secondary evaluations to facilitate accurate diagnosis and treatment; leaves a great many people falling through the very large cracks.

Struggling to navigate the already arduous landscape that is their daily life. And yet, while over 60% of those who have carried out “mass shootings” since 1970 have had significant mental health diagnoses and presentation, there is also no clear means by which to associate mental health with mass shootings.

Why? Because those with pronounced mental health issues are already supposed to be incapable of purchasing firearms legally. It’s the law. Yet these killers still obtained access to weapons and killed a great many people.

‘Mass shootings’ has become a household term, but why? Why at this point in time? Perhaps these are symptoms of a society that has fallen into a moral slump. A society that’s obsessed with instant gratification via fast food, lightning fast information, electronic pacification and communications tools. Are these things responsible for an overall decay in the fabric of the principles upon which our great nation was built? Do we suffer from a fog of what reality is and was up until this latest technological revolution began?

But looking at the numbers from these sources alone – of 330 terrorist attacks in the United States, since our founding – only 34 are attributed to Islamic terrorism.

The disconnection between our ability to effectively interact with each other, particularly for those who are disenfranchised, maligned, bullied, teased or are otherwise already mentally unstable – could very well be fueling this epidemic. Life has become so virtual – so cold and distant from our humanity, in comparison to the childhood of Gen X’ers for example.

There is no clear answer or solution to the ‘gun problem’. Accordingly, the solution to mass shootings is not nearly so clear as the likes of the New York Times or New York Daily News would surmise in their recent opinion pieces. We don’t have a gun problem, we have a people problem.

This brings us to the topic of terrorism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” See also Title 22 of the United States Code. Based on those definitions, it is hard to imagine that 102 terrorist acts have been committed on US soil since 9/11. 9/11 itself was three separate acts, at three locations – the Twin Towers (or World Trade Center), the Pentagon, and the plane crash in Somerset County, PA.

225 terror attacks took place, again using this definition, prior to 9/11. While some may be familiar, like the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, I’d never heard of bombings at the LA Times Building, Morgan Bank in NYC, or Chicago’s Haymarket square – which cumulatively killed 71 and injured 380 people. These attacks occurred between 1886 and 1920.

Digging further down in to these numbers, I wanted to examine how many of these attacks were related to “Islamic terrorism”. Those two words are played over and over again on TV, radio, and seen in print and social media all day, every day. The inference is that if we don’t call a possible radical Islamist, or jihad related attack “Islamic terrorism”, then we’re somehow lacking in patriotism, or un-American.

But looking at the numbers from these sources alone – of 330 terrorist attacks in the United States, since our founding – only 34 are attributed to Islamic terrorism.

About 10%, this is true both before, and after 9/11. There are other numbers on this, but drawing off this data set, there is a bigger picture here, both as it relates to our terrorism problem, but also the political maneuvering going in to convincing us who we should fear.

Okay, so what can you do? Care about each other. Pay attention to each other. If you see that someone is in distress – say something. If you see the warning signs of a person who is unraveling before your eyes – do something about it, vs. ignoring the raw humanity of the person is crisis in front of you. The American Psychological Association published a list of things the any of us can do to help prevent violence from occurring. In fact, there are violence prevention experts in many major cities that teach companies, schools and organizations how to empower their HR, security and even ‘rank and file’ personnel to help interdict and prevent violence in those environments. (Felix Nater of Nater Associates comes to mind).

Basic takeaways? Guns aren’t going away. Violence is human nature. Terrorism is violence and weapons combined. The whole ‘if you see something, say something’ campaign really works. There’s a list I saw recently that scared the hell out of me. A list of terror plots that have been disrupted, since 9/11. Again, many of these weren’t familiar to me.

What if someone had called and reported the unstable behavior of any of a number of the mass shooters in our recent times? Could these atrocities have been avoided? I’d suggest that the answer to that question is yes.

Scrutiny, law enforcement investigation and even something as simple as accessing advanced mental health or counseling services could have served to prevent at least some of this violence. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.

Cover Photo: Peretz Partensky/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

WATCH: Video Of Mock “Mass Shooting” Near University Of Texas Campus

Pro-gun activists staged a mock “mass shooting” near the campus of the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday to make a statement about gun free zones.

The event was controversial to say the least, with a public safety expert telling Rise News that the stunt was “over the top“.

A video obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, shows how the event turned out. The video was produced by two pro-gun organizations, and Come and Take It Texas. (So take it with a Texas size grain of salt.)

Read More: Pro Gun Groups Plan To Hold Fake “Mass Shooting” Near University Of Texas Campus


H/T: Rise News reporter Tony R. Myhre for the tip.

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