There Is A Mass Murder In This Country Every 2 Weeks

USA TODAY: Mass killers target Americans once every two weeks on average, in attacks that range from robberies to horrific public shooting sprees like the massacre Friday of 27 people in Newtown, Conn., a USA TODAY examination found. Using news accounts and FBI records from 2006 through 2010, the most recent years for which complete records were available, USA TODAY identified 156 murders that met the FBI definitions of mass killings, where four or more people were killed. All told, the attacks killed 774 people, including at least 161 young children. The review offers perhaps the most current, complete picture yet of a crime that is both frighteningly common and not widely understood. MORE

NEW YORKER: We live, let’s imagine, in a city where children are dying of a ravaging infection. The good news is that its cause is well understood and its cure, an antibiotic, easily at hand. The bad news is that our city council has been taken over by a faith-healing cult that will go to any lengths to keep the antibiotic from the kids. Some citizens would doubtless point out meekly that faith healing has an ancient history in our city, and we must regard the faith healers with respect—to do otherwise would show a lack of respect for their freedom to faith-heal. (The faith healers’ proposition is that if there were a faith healer praying in every kindergarten the kids wouldn’t get infections in the first place.) A few Tartuffes would see the children writhe and heave in pain and then wring their hands in self-congratulatory piety and wonder why a good God would send such a terrible affliction on the innocent—surely he must have a plan! Most of us—every sane person in the city, actually—would tell the faith healers to go to hell, put off worrying about the Problem of Evil till Friday or Saturday or Sunday, and do everything we could to get as much penicillin to the kids as quickly we could. We do live in such a city. Five thousand seven hundred and forty children and teens died from gunfire in the United States, just in 2008 and 2009. MORE

NPR: A CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday concluded that a slim majority of Americans “favor major restrictions on guns or making all guns illegal.” An even higher percentage of the 620 adults surveyed this week favor a ban on certain assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Such support, however, is not overwhelming. And the lesson of lobbying in Congress is that a small but energized and organized minority can overcome widespread support that is expressed only in opinion polls — not in concerted action. The National Rifle Association, the country’s most prominent gun rights group, boasts 4 million members who are known to express their opinions frequently to members of Congress. The NRA is widely credited with helping to defeat members who voted for a ban on certain assault-style weapons back in 1994. Of the 32 incumbent House Democrats who lost their seats in elections that year, 29 had voted for the crime bill that included the gun ban — including House Judiciary Chairman Jack Brooks, D-Texas, who died Dec. 4. Those victories helped Republicans win control of the House for the first time in 40 years. “A lot of people credit the ban on assault weapons as the reason we lost the House,” says Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. “When Democrats passed the assault-weapons ban, the Democrats got wiped out and the [Newt] Gingrich revolution got swept in.” MORE


USA TODAY: Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year run as mayor of New York City is beginning to wind down, but his national campaign for stricter gun control is ramping up in the wake of the Newtown grade school shootings. Bloomberg is challenging President Obama and Congress to take action now. He wants a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips and an end to gun-show purchases without background checks. If the legislation isn’t simple and effective, he said Tuesday on MSNBC, “I’m going to try to make — and get as many people as I can to make — a big fuss.”  As Bloomberg puts his personality, energy, gravitas and money behind gun control, public policy and philanthropy, the nation will hear a whole lot more from him when his term ends next year. New Yorkers must fill a gaping leadership hole as the city confronts overdue union contracts, complex debt issues and economic damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy. A billionaire businessman-turned-politico, Bloomberg has all the necessary tools for pushing gun control: a record, an organization and more-or-less unlimited cash. He’s unhampered by party affiliation — or by any doubts he might not always be right — and unimpressed by the lobbying power of the National Rifle Association, which he says is overrated. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which Bloomberg started in 2006 with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has signed up more than 700 mayors; it lobbies for gun-control legislation, including banning gun sales to people on terrorist watch lists. The same year, Bloomberg organized a sting operation in Southern states against firearms dealers who sold guns to customers who couldn’t pass background checks. In September, he set up a super PAC, Independence USA, with almost $10 million. The group targeted races in the November election based at least partly on candidates’ positions on gun legislation — it went four-for-eight — and will try to influence the 2014 elections. MORE

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey has been asked to participate in a national discussion as part of President Obama’s efforts to address gun violence in the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. On Wednesday, Obama named Vice President Biden to lead a group expected to come up with recommendations and proposals in the next few weeks. Ramsey will travel to Washington on Thursday to offer his input, as will other law enforcement leaders from around the country and federal officials. Ramsey has been a vocal — and frustrated — supporter of tougher gun-control laws. “If there was some new disease that took 9,000 lives every year, we’d do something about it,” he told The Inquirer in October. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: When many people in Newtown count the victims in last week’s massacre, they tally 20 children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, plus six adult faculty and staff members. Few count shooter Adam Lanza’s first victim: his mother, Nancy. Police said that before he attacked the schoolhouse, Adam Lanza pumped four bullets into his mother’s head as she lay in bed. As this heartbroken town tries to process Friday’s horror, there is considerable anger toward Lanza’s mother. Her name is noticeably absent from many of the impromptu shrines, memorials and condolence notes placed around town. At the foot of the street leading to Sandy Hook Elementary, 26 Christmas trees stand to honor the dead at the school, each bearing the name of a victim, but no Nancy Lanza. Outside the Newtown Convenience and Deli in the town center, 26 small plastic Christmas trees with twinkling blue and purple lights stand next to a sign that says, “In loving memory of the Sandy Hook victims.” The University of Connecticut honored the shooting victims Monday with a ceremony before a men’s basketball game, with 26 students standing at center court holding lighted candles. “I am feeling that there is more anger toward the mother than there is toward the son,” said Lisa Sheridan, a Newtown parent. “Why would a woman who had a son like this, who clearly had serious issues, keep assault rifles in the house and teach him how to shoot them?” she said. “To deal with that, there’s a feeling here that we’re just going to focus on the 26 innocent people who died at the school.” MORE

SLATE: As Congress considers new laws, the scientific research we need to craft the best policies is in short supply. This is by design. In the 1990s, politicians backed by the NRA attacked researchers for publishing data on firearm research. For good measure, they also went after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for funding the research. According to the NRA, such science is not “legitimate.” To make sure federal agencies got the message, Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) sponsored an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, the exact amount it had spent on firearms research the previous year. But last summer, Dickey recanted. No longer in office, he wrote an editorial stating that “scientific research should be conducted into preventing firearm injuries and that ways to prevent firearm deaths can be found without encroaching on the rights of legitimate gun owners.” MORE

Click to enlarge