Due To Tensions In America, Bahamas Gov’t Issues Travel Advisory

After a violent week of shootings by and of police in the U.S., government in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas said it has “taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers”, and issued an unprecedented advisory to its citizens traveling to the United States, just as the islands began a weekend celebration of their 43rd year of independence from the British.

Bahamas Coat of Arms
Bahamas Coat of Arms

In a press release, the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said they expect many Bahamians to travel abroad, and warns its citizens traveling to the U.S., but “especially to the affected cities, to exercise appropriate caution generally.”

The statement goes on to say, “In particular, young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.”

The Ministry advises Bahamians, to “not get involved in political or other demonstrations under any circumstances and avoid crowds.”

Protests and marches took place throughout the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of deadly police shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana, and New York of unarmed Black men.

The Bahamas has consular offices in New York, Washington, Miami and Atlanta and honorary consuls in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and Houston.

This Bahamian advisory is a bit unprecedented, but there have been warnings in the past from other nations for their citizens to avoid road rage and to watch out for guns in America, or more subtle but obvious safety advisories about air travel, warnings about American rip-offs, or unusual cautions like avoiding U.S. prostitutes, public urination, and nudity.

 

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Stand Your Ground Hearing For Cop In Theater Shooting Postponed – Again

Prosecutors and attorneys for a retired Florida cop who killed a man during an argument over the man texting on a cell phone in a movie theater have agreed to postpone a stand your ground hearing – again, and again, and now again – until next year.

A hearing on an immunity claim of self-defense under stand your ground law was originally set by Circuit Court Judge Susan L. Barthle for January 25, 2016, and postponed to May 26,  then postponed again to June 29, 2016. This time, Judge Barthle has set a date of February 20, 2017.

SEE: A Theater Shooting You May Have Forgotten About

RELATED: A Stand Your Ground Case Taking Too Long To Go To Trial

Curtis Reeves photo credit: Pasco County Sheriffs Office)
Curtis Reeves (photo credit: Pasco County Sheriff’s Office)

Retired Tampa Police Captain Curtis Judson Reeves, 73-years-old, of Brooksville, is charged with second-degree battery and second degree murder in the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson and wounding Oulson’s wife, Nicole. The incident, which some people call the “popcorn shooting”, occurred inside a movie theater in Pasco County on January 13, 2014.

Theater surveillance cameras captured multiple images from different angles of the venue seating areas and lobby, with one scene that appears to show popcorn, then what appears to be a cellphone being thrown by Oulson just before Reeves fires the fatal shot.

A stand your ground hearing would determine whether or not Reeves is immune from prosecution. If he loses at the hearing the case would then go to trial. If his plea is successful, he will not have to stand trial.

Defense attorneys earlier this year filed a successful request to have public access to possibly dozens of court depositions restricted amid repeated delays in proceedings during an era of calls for an end to gun violence and public scrutiny on law enforcement killings.

RELATED: Attorneys In Stand Your Ground “Popcorn Shooting” Want To Stop Access To Court Records (Updated)

 

Missouri Governor Vetoes Stand Your Ground Bill

SB656, a bill designed to change Missouri’s self-defense laws – and make Missouri the first state since the Trayvon Martin incident to pass a stand your ground law – was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon today (June 27). After sailing through the state’s Senate and the House, the bill had been awaiting approval or veto by Nixon since May 13.

It is possible for a gubernatorial veto to be overridden by the state legislature.

SEE: Missouri (Almost) Becomes A Stand Your Ground State

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (official state portrait)

Nixon, a Democrat, faced enormous pressure from the Republican-led Missouri legislature to enact the law. The bill has been widely considered “veto-proof”; however, a bill which faces opposition by the Governor after passing through the legislature can be challenged with a veto override in the next legislative session, and still become law in the future.

RELATED: 

Missouri’s current self-defense laws state that only the property owner or someone leasing it are allowed to use deadly force against an intruder.

SB656 would have allowed deadly force to be used by anyone who has permission to occupy private property, such as a house guest, and also make it a misdemeanor, and no longer a felony, for anyone carrying a concealed weapon into a place that has restrictions on concealed carry.

The bill also would have allowed open-carry without a permit, and expanded the state’s self-defense laws to include the words “does not have a duty to retreat from a dwelling, residence, vehicle, private property that is owned or leased, or anywhere else a person has a right to be – the very definition of stand your ground law – making Missouri the first state since Trayvon Martin incident to pass such a law.

 

 

Crazy Gun Laws That Put Our Lives at Risk

Did you know there is at least one municipality in America that requires the head of household to own a gun? It’s just one of the many “gun laws” that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has pushed to enact across the nation. In fact, Thom Senzee reports on Advocate.com that there are other “crazy” gun laws – like stand your ground – that put our lives at risk.

The NRA has been so effective at defeating just about every proposed gun control measure in the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and in state houses across the country that it may be time to replace the term “lobbying” with a new one.

The NRA and its executive director, the unyielding Wayne LaPierre, have been working hard to enact pro-gun laws. For example, according to Mother Jones, LaPierre and company are bent on bringing stand your ground laws to all 50 states.

During the past four decades, the NRA has fundamentally changed the very meaning of the term “gun laws.” If you think “gun laws” refers to laws that limit the availability of guns, think again. This list of absurd legislation (and proposed legislation) shows how some are fighting to extend the right to bear arms to even schools and workplaces. See 7 Crazy Gun Laws That Put Our Lives at Risk on advocate.com

White Barber Refused Service, Pulled Gun On Black Man

A South Carolina barber with a history of altercations told police he “felt threatened” when he refused service and pulled out a gun on an African-American man who walked into his barbershop for a shave, according to reports.

Rock Hill barber Larry Thomas, 65-years-old, who is white, allegedly pulled out a gun when Arthur Hill, of Fort Mill, a 37-year-old African-American, walked into Thomas’ barbershop on May 11 asking for a quick shave on his way to work.

Instead of offering a chair, Hill said that Thomas responded by holding a .38 caliber revolver in his hand saying, “I don’t do black hair.” Hill retreated from the shop and called the York County Sheriff’s Office.

When police arrived, Thomas reportedly led them to an outside shed and to the gun Hill had described. Thomas is out on bond after being charged with pointing and presenting firearms at a person. In South Carolina the crime is punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison.

Larry Thomas
Larry Thomas (York County Sheriff’s Office booking photo)

“I told him I did not do black hair and he kept coming towards me and I stepped back here and I always keep a gun right here and I just picked up my gun and put my gun at my side,” Thomas told WBTV. The news station found several other reports from the past of Thomas presenting firearms at potential customers.

Thomas also told the station he doesn’t do flat tops or women’s hair styles. He added, “I’m just not good enough to do black hair cutting at all. Being an autistic individual, I pretty much stick to my routine.”

Hill told WCNC, “I was shocked. I was shocked for my life, because I’m thinking that could’ve been me laying on the floor dead. “He did not point it at me, but it was clear in [hind]sight like he meant business. He said, ‘I don’t do black hair.’ I asked him does he shave, can he shave me, and he said, ‘I don’t do black hair.’ ”

Hill says he asked Thomas to clarify why he couldn’t get a cut. “I  said, ‘Are you referring to African-American hair?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ and at the time I noticed he already had his hand gripped on a .38 snub nose chrome revolver.”

SEE: South Carolina’s “Protection of Persons and Property Act”

 

Why Stand Your Ground Laws Won’t Stop A Mass Shooting

After each mass shooting in America, a voice is heard somewhere in the wilderness of the gun control debate preaching the myth that “nothing stops a bad guy but a good guy with a gun.” This worn-out statement has been used in support of stand your ground laws, but it’s unlikely stand your ground laws would stop a mass shooting.

The good guy myth is repeated by the gun lobby – like a sales pitch for a reliable car – almost every time there’s a high-profile murder of innocent people, or a vigilante kills a perp, and it’s simply not true.

In the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, at the Pulse night club in Orlando, we heard it again. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, an NRA supporter, is likely to have said it again by the time you read this.

Stand your ground is dangerous

Some gun owners may argue that engaging a threat is the best solution. In Florida – the birthplace of “stand your ground” laws – it’s highly possible that several patrons or employees of the night club were armed, and reports are that an armed security guard fired back at the gunman during the frenzy. It’s unclear if the club had a system to check for weapons at the entrance.

Scene of Pulse nightclub shooting
Scene of Pulse nightclub shooting (photo credit: Orlando Police Dept.)

Chances are, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, like any other mass shooter, probably didn’t bother to make a normal entrance on his hours-long rampage, as he killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. it was only when police fired on him that the shooting ended.

Stand your ground law relieves a person of a duty to retreat. That means there is no obligation to try and escape any danger or call police in the face of a threat. It allows for the use of deadly force to meet deadly force.

SEE: About Stand Your Ground Law

It means the law may be on the good guy’s side even if he’s not the intended target of a gunman. There have been several cases where the “good guy” saved the day. A Good Samaritan can also be killed while trying to come to the rescue of others, as what happened outside a Dallas, Texas store last month.

No warning, lots of firepower

But without any warning or firepower to match, who can stand their ground against an AR-15 assault rifle firing 45 rounds a minute – a weapon designed for war – wielded by a crazed gunman intent on carnage?

Mass shootings in U.S.
Mass shootings in U.S. (graphic credit: L.A. Times)

Some research suggests that a “good guy with a gun” may not even be aware of a threat until it’s too late. In a mass shooting, there is usually no warning, in which case the good guy role is dangerously ineffective at least.

At it’s deadliest worst, there is also an increased chance during an active shooter situation that any number of innocent people may be hurt or killed by “friendly fire” from an untrained civilian – who happens to be a “good guy with a gun”. There could also be criminal or civil legal repercussions.

To successfully meet force with force, there must be some type of warning and an equal or better effective and accurate amount of force used to stop a bad guy with an AR-15. In almost every mass shooting of recent years (including the Newtown school shooting, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, and the San Bernardino  shooting) it was the shooter’s weapon of choice.

Yet the NRA, the AR-15’s most avid supporter, has opposed any efforts to keep assault weapons out of the hands of bloodthirsty maniacs. In the immediate aftermath of the worst mass shooting in our memory, the organization was unusually quiet and offered no expressions of sympathy for the victims.

Manufacturers of these high-powered weapons of war are facing lawsuits from some families. Families of Sandy Hook victims have filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers they say made a weapon that shouldn’t be sold to civilians. In response to the Orlando shooting, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said “It reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

There should be state and federal bans on assault-type weapons designed more for war than for hunting, such as was in effect from 1994 to 2004. It’s estimated that there are millions of these weapons in circulation. Efforts to reinstitute the ban have been underway but encounter resistance from the gun lobby.

Only lawmakers can help

Unfortunately, it appears that mass shootings do little to change state gun laws, even when we say enough is enough. Many politicians only use phrases like “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting, when action is what’s needed.

It’s up to lawmakers in each state who recklessly feed into NRA rhetoric and NRA money to act now – with urgency – and address the epidemic of gun violence by enacting gun laws for safety that may protect us. Anything less will continue to diminish our pursuit of happiness.

Having a stand your ground law can’t help stop a mass shooting, but sensible gun laws can help. We must hold state lawmakers responsible if they want our votes. We must demand that they take action to make America SAFE again.

What The Zimmerman Gun Auction Means

 

By now, you’ve probably heard that George Zimmerman placed an online auction on the gun he used to fatally shoot Trayvon Martin. He said the U.S. Department of Justice returned the gun to him, after holding it since his acquittal on July 13, 2012.

When many of us saw the name of America’s human disaster trending on twitter last week, we were hoping he had died, right? This latest fiasco by a sick, troubled, publicity hounding, murdering nut who claims to be so “patriotic” means some disturbing, haunting emotions and memories America experienced three years ago will return.

Gun used to kill Trayvon Martin
Gun used to fatally shoot Trayvon Martin

My first reaction was not to publicly post or comment on this. To just let it ride, while America’s reactions played out on major news outlets, and give it time to blow over. Then my own emotions took control, and the anger, disgust, and pain seeped into the fingers typing these words. As I waited to observe the original online auction, it mysteriously disappeared right about the time it was scheduled to begin.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that GZ later sent a text which read that the auction site “was not prepared for the traffic and publicity surrounding the auction of my firearm.” That site later issued a statement saying it reserves the right to reject listings, and had done so with this one.

So he cut and pasted the gun and description onto another site, unitedgungroup.com, with the same starting bid of $5000. The site publicly changed their position regarding the auction, at first denying, then allowing the sale (presumably at the advice of their legal counsel), conceding he had as much right to sell his weapon on their site as anyone else did.

The description says that sale proceeds will be used to “fight BLM violence against Law Enforcement officers, ensure the demise of Angela Correy’s (sic) persecution career and Hillary Clinton’s anti-firearm rhetoric.” It ends with the Latin words Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war).” –

If there was any good intention in this creep, he would have donated the gun to a museum, or had it destroyed. Instead, he claims in the sale description that he turned down a Smithsonian offer, but the museum has issued the following statement on twitter:

This new auctioneer site reportedly crashed as the second auction began, but was back up the next morning. The auction was scheduled to run 4 more days. But after it was targeted by fake bidders, and reached a high bid of $65.4 million USD, that user’s account was deleted.

Then a new bidder posted a high bid of $485,000. The disturbed gun owner soon deleted the first auction himself, vowing to start over days later, and did so yesterday (May 17), with a starting bid of $100,000.

Zimmerman gun auction screen shot
Zimmerman gun auction screen shot from unitedgungroup.com (click to enlarge)

This time, only about three or four serious bidders and a couple of fake ones participated. In the end, it appeared the gun had sold to someone named David Thorne for $138,800 – although a hacker named John Smith (with a widely reported fake last-minute bid of $138,900) made several attempts to derail the sale with fake bids.

The auction was immediately deleted from the site after it ended. If all auction attempts failed, GZ reportedly claimed he still had several private offers.

The freedom to sell anything he owns would also apply to the vehicle he drove on the night he fired the fatal shot on Trayvon Martin, or the clothes he wore that night.  Yet, for anyone to attempt to profit from a tragedy that shook the nation is as callous and unpatriotic as trying to sell hurricane memorabilia to storm survivors.

How sad. How utterly insulting, disgraceful, disrespectful, distasteful, atrocious, ignorant, shameless, selfish, and blatantly obnoxious. We could go on and on with adjectives that deliberately cut open wounds that haven’t healed, to describe how this feels, and what it means.

One thing that should never happen is that a murder weapon in a case like this can be used against the emotions of America. It’s an ultimate insult to the victim’s family – and all those who protested the outcome of one of the most famous trials in our history.

The reality of what the auction means is all too painful. It’s the ultimate slap in the face to everyone who thought it was a disgraceful injustice when a man who fatally shot an unarmed teenager walked free.

UPDATE: This article has been edited as originally published to include facts established by auction observation such as a widely reported last-minute bid of $138,900, which was established to be a fake bid.

Stand Your Ground Top Tweet

 

This GIF image, used in Roy Clymer’s post entitled “A Manifesto of Second Amendment Responsibilities“, powerfully portrays a simple message so effectively that it gained lots of attention on twitter within the last month and became our Top Tweet.

With ownership of a car comes the responsibility to drive it safely and properly. Why is it easier in some places to get a license to own a gun than a license to drive a car? For a gun owner, there should also be a responsibility to use a gun safely and effectively. Do you think everyone should own a gun?

Poll Shows People Uneasy In Theaters That Allow Open Carry

 

Most movie theaters have a policy that forbids firearms, and you may think anyone would be a little uneasy in a dark theater where open carry is allowed, but results of an unscientific recent twitter sample poll indicate that some people would feel comfortable in a theater which allows open carry.

Surprisingly, some respondents (11%) appear to indicate they’d be fine with open carry and voted “Yes”, while a few (3%) indicated they don’t know how they would feel. Nonetheless, a majority of participating respondents -86% – voted “No” to the question “Would you be comfortable in a movie theater that allows open carry of guns?.” The twitter poll, conducted May 6-13, 2016, was offered to approximately 590 followers by the movement to change or repeal stand your ground laws.

Indeed, it has become a very real fear that someone can, in fact, actually walk into a theater and open fire, whether or not they open carry. A civil trial began this week in the Aurora, Colorado shooting that left 12 people dead and 70 injured. And a stand your ground hearing is set this month in the murder of a movie patron fatally shot by a retired cop in Florida.

Century 16 theater in Aurora CO
Century 16 theater in Aurora CO

Open carry in a theater could possibly increase that fear. because we’re all too aware of the dangers posed in any public gathering place. A place of darkness may appear to be even more threatening. In one incident last year police received several calls after an open-carry advocate entered a theater in Arkansas, and in Kansas, it caused quite a ruckus when a gun-toter was kicked out of a Topeka, Kansas theater.

Other questions asked in recent quick twitter polls by the movement include, “Should a blind person be allowed to own and use guns?” (the result was undoubtedly 100% ‘no’), a 3-day poll, and “Would guns on campus make colleges drop sensitive topics or be cautious discussing them?” (the result was 67% yes and 33%no), in a 5-day poll.

Check out final results of the movie theater poll below, and post what you think in the comments. You just might be a Floridian or Texan – if you are comfortable watching a movie in a theater that allows open carry.

 

 

New Action Film Exposes “Gun Crazy” Reality Of Gun Violence

 

A national non-profit organization dedicated to making communities safer has released “Gun Crazy”, a powerful new PSA that reveals the disconnect between our culture’s glorification of guns and the shocking consequences of real gun violence.

"Gun Crazy" theater posters
“Gun Crazy” theater posters

To create the PSA, the States United to Prevent Gun Violence (SUPGV) invited self-professed action movie lovers to a special screening of a new movie – “Gun Crazy” – billed as the latest big budget high-octane blockbuster. As the film rolls, the audience is shocked to see real footage of gun violence, including unintentional shootings, suicides, incidents of domestic violence and homicides.

Hidden cameras captured the reactions of stunned movie-goers watching the powerful action short film. Interviewed after the screening, audience reactions ranged from, “We over-glamourize guns,” to “You have to be crazy to think that guns are somehow making us safer.” Another viewer called it a “wake-up call” for our nation on gun control.

"Gun Crazy" movie screening
“Gun Crazy” movie screening

“In 2015 alone, there were almost as many mass shootings as calendar days,” says Julia Wyman, Executive Director of SUPGV. “Our goal with “Gun Crazy” is to showcase the need for society as a whole to desensitize themselves to the gruesome consequences of gun violence.”

Americans are exposed to considerable gun violence in films, but society’s obsession with guns runs deeper than entertainment. The percentage of Americans who have fallen for the myth that guns keep you safer has nearly doubled since 2000, to a record-high of 63 percent. In reality, owning a gun makes death in the home four times more likely than if you had no firearm.

“We encourage people to watch and share this educational PSA featuring first-hand reactions to real footage,” Wyman added. “Help us continue to bring widespread awareness to this issue and reignite the dialogue about our national crisis.”

The PSA campaign’s message is clear: We need to change the way we look at guns – we would be crazy not to.

Available to view at GunCrazyPSA.com.

What Happens When People Walk Around With Guns? People Get killed.

Mike the Gun Guy is rhetorically on point: “So how come in Florida of all places the number of people getting legally killed with guns keeps going up but the crime rate doesn’t go down? Here’s the bottom line and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand what it means. Know what happens when more people walk around with guns? More people get killed. Gee, that was hard to figure out.”

mikethegunguy

This week the Colorado legislature showed itself to still have enough members with brains to beat back the annual brain-dead attempt to ‘restore’ gun ‘rights’ to the good citizens of the Centennial State. The Colorado GVP community shot them all down. You may recall that in 2014 Colorado expanded background checks to cover private transactions, and while the pro-gun strategy this year did not include an attempt to repeal the background check law, it did include Gun Nation’s favorite gun-rights ploy; i.e., permitless concealed-carry, including on school grounds.

ccwSpeaking of the joys and virtues of concealed carry, our friends at the Violence Policy Center have just updated their website which contains data on gun fatalities committed by CCW-holders, with the number now standing at 863 non-defensive deaths since 2007.  Since there is no official count for how many of the 31,000+ gun deaths each year occur thanks to someone using…

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Step Closer To George Zimmerman

According to his wife, the unremorseful man who killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense told her & her dad to “step closer” and he would kill them a few days ago, during the latest episode of ‘The Invincible Man’.

Less than two months after he was acquitted, Shellie “Soon-To-Be-Ex” Zimmerman, the wife of George, called police and told the dispatcher she didn’t know what he was capable of (gasp!), and that she was “really, really scared”. Makes me wonder how Trayvon felt.George Zimmerman and trayvon Martin

If you step closer, you can see ‘ol George apparently is relishing in his notoriety. Shellie had already said during an interview the week before that she thinks George Zimmerman feels he is invincible.

Since the acquittal, if you step closer, you can see it appears he likes speeding in his truck, and made an appearance at a gun factory. Guns and speed made good partners in the Wild West, but this is 2013.

Several others have also killed unarmed people in Florida. If you look closer, you will see some of the accused also were involved in other incidents after they were – because of stand-your-ground laws – acquitted or received what may be less than just sentencing, whether the use of deadly force was justified or not. It would be advisable not to step closer to any of these people, especially not the invincible George Zimmerman.

If you step too close, you may have a duty to retreat, call the cops and stand your ground all at the same time.

Watch this news report and judge for yourself – do you think Shellie is lying? stick around after that for the 911 call: