US gun lobby wants armed officers in schools

Updated 21 December 2012
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US gun lobby wants armed officers in schools

WASHINGTON: The most powerful gun-rights lobby in the US said Friday it wants to address gun violence by having an armed police officer in every school in the country.
The comments by the National Rifle Association came exactly a week after a gunman killed 26 people at a Connecticut school, including 20 children ages 6 and 7. The comments were the group’s first substantial ones since the shooting, while pressure has mounted in Washington and elsewhere for more measures against gun violence.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said the NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre.
At least two protesters broke up his announcement, despite tight security. One man held up a large red banner that said “NRA killing our kids.” The protesters were taken away by security, shouting that guns in schools are not the answer.
The 4.3 million-member National Rifle Association may be facing its toughest challenge in the wake of national horror over last week’s killing of children, many of them shot multiple times and at close range by high-powered rifle.
LaPierre said “the next Adam Lanza,” the 20-year-old responsible for last week’s shooting, is planning an attack on another school.
LaPierre blamed the media, video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture day in and day out.
“In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes,” LaPierre said.
As “some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectfully silent,” he added.
He refused to take any questions from the audience.
LaPierre also announced that former Rep. Asa Hutchison will lead an NRA program that will develop a model security plan for schools that relies on armed volunteers.
The NRA largely disappeared from public debate after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, choosing atypical silence as a strategy as the nation sought answers after the rampage. The NRA temporarily took down its Facebook page and kept quiet on Twitter.
Since the Newtown shooting, President Barack Obama has demanded “real action, right now” against gun violence and called on the NRA to join the effort. His administration has been moving quickly after several congressional gun-rights supporters said they would consider new legislation to control firearms.
Obama has said he wants proposals on reducing gun violence that he can take to Congress by January, and he put Vice President Joe Biden, a gun control advocate with decades of experience in the Senate, in charge of the effort.
The president said in a video released early Friday that the White House has received an outpouring of support for stricter gun laws over the past week. “We hear you,” he said.
A “We the People” petition on the White House website allows the public to submit petitions. Nearly 200,000 people have urged Obama to address gun control in one petition, and petitions related to gun violence have amassed more than 400,000 signatures.
At the same time, however, gun shops across the country have reported higher sales, including of assault weapons. A spike in gun sales is not uncommon after mass shootings.
Obama has already asked Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and pass legislation that would end a provision that allows people to purchase firearms from private parties without a background check.
The president also has indicated that he wants Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity magazines, which the 20-year-old gunman used in last week’s shooting.
Obama wants to build on a rare national mood after years of hesitation by politicians across the country to take on the issue of gun violence — and the NRA.
“I’ve been doing this for 17 years, and I’ve never seen something like this in terms of response,” said Brian Malte, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, based in Washington, D.C. “The whole dynamic depends on whether the American public and people in certain states have had enough.”
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a report Thursday showing that the Newtown shooting has led to more discussion about gun policy on social media than previous rampages. The report says users advocating for gun control were more numerous than those defending current gun laws.
Legislators, mostly Democrats, in California and New York plan a push to tighten what are already some of the most stringent state gun-control laws.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida have called for making it easier for teachers and other adults to have weapons in schools.
A Pew Research Center survey taken Dec. 17-19, after the shooting, registered an increase in the percentage of Americans who prioritize gun control (49 percent) over gun owner rights (42 percent).
Those figures were statistically even in July. The December telephone survey included 1,219 adults in all 50 states. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.


Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

Updated 18 min 32 sec ago
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Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse

  • The victim was dining with his family when the suspect came and stabbed him without warning
  • Police say suspect is a felon who had been convicted for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse since the 1990s

LOS ANGELES: A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.
Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.
Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.
Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.
Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.
“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”
Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.
“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”
Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.
Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.
Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.
According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.
Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.
Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.
Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.
He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.
Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.
The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.
“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.