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Archive for December, 2021

Lengel: Michigan School Shootings a Reminder that America Loves its Guns More Than Its Children

By Allan Lengel

Some thought the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012 would be the horrific event that would lead to true gun-law reform. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza used his mother’s Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle to kill 26 people, 20 of them children no older than 8. Earlier in the day, he murdered his mother at home. After his shooting spree, he killed himself.

But nothing happened. No gun reform. No legislative ban on assault rifles. Nothing. The National Rifle Association dug in its heels, as did the nation’s many, many gun lovers, saying America needed to find ways to improve school security and address mental health, not gun reform and violence.  

“Rather than face their own moral failings the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws, and fill the national media with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action, and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away,” NRA head Wayne LaPierre said at a press conference after that shooting.

On Tuesday, in suburban Detroit, a 15-year-old Oxford High School sophomore shot and killed four students and wounded six others and a teacher.

Again, nothing will happen — not in Lansing, not in Washington.

Why?

Because America loves its guns far more than its children.

Gun culture and politics runs deep in this country. The NRA throws its weight around in Washington like a sumo wrestler. Cross the NRA, particularly in certain states, and kiss your political career goodbye. In Washington, a nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the chief enforcer of our nation’s federal gun laws, can’t get Senate approval without the NRA’s blessing. That explains why the agency has lacked a permanent director for six years

NRA ad

Michigan Native

David Chipman, a former ATF official, is the latest, example. President Biden nominated him this year to head the agency.
NRA ad on Facebook

But Chipman, in the eyes of gun lovers, has a big hurdle: He became a gun control advocate after leaving the agency and was named a senior policy adviser for the Washington-based organization called Giffords: Court to Fight Gun Violence. The group was founded by  Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in a 2011 mass shooting in suburban Tucson.

A man with a 9mm pistol, like that used in the Oxford shootings, shot 19 people and killed six, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old child.

Imagine Chipman’s chutzpah, to be affiliated with an anti-gun violence organization and wanting to head an agency that enforces our gun laws to make us safer. After seeing he didn’t have enough Senate support, Biden in September withdrew the nomination.

Our gun laws are so inadequate, full of more loopholes than a giant corporation’s tax forms. Although the Oxford shooting involved a semiautomatic pistol, most U.S. mass shootings involve assault rifles, which no one outside of the military needs.

In the Oxford case, we know the father of accused shooter Ethan Crumbley bought a 9mm handgun four days before the shooting. We assume he easily purchased the gun, and from reports, likely knew his son was using it. The parents have gotten their son a lawyer and no one in the family is talking.

Talk or not talk, the kid is screwed because many students, teachers and cameras saw his spree. Being bullied or breaking up with a girlfriend – if either of those played a role – are irrelevant. Those hiding from legal responsibility at this point are his parents, who should be worried about criminal liability. 

What we’ve yet to hear from any member of the family is a public apology. That’s not asking too much.

Days Before Shootings

I’ve covered mass shootings like this for years. Often, the killer buys his weapon at a local gun shop with ease days before the shooting. The weapons of choice are almost always assault rifles and 9 mm pistols.

The NRA makes it easy for people to get them. (And by the way, for all the NRA’s blather after Sandy Hook about mental health, nothing has been done to make it easier for troubled young people to get mental-health services. As for school security, how many parents want their children entering school through a metal detector. How many want to see teachers carrying sidearms?)

When are we going to fund agencies like ATF to fully enforce laws, give politicians backbones to stand up to the NRA and let our lawmakers create effective legislation to ban assault weapons and make it tougher for just anyone to obtain a gun?

When?

When America starts loving its children more than its guns.

Volunteers to Assemble Appreciation Bags for Border Patrol Agents

The medical team prays with Border Patrol agents. Photo: Facebook/Mercy Works

By Steve Neavling

When a medical team in East Texas traveled to the U.S. and Mexico sides of the border to provide free treatment, they learned about the challenges facing Border Patrol agents. 

When the team of doctors, dentists and nurses returned home, they had a mission: Assemble appreciation bags for 600 agents, The Morning Telegraph reports.

The agents work hard and face dangers, and yet they are underappreciated, said Debbie Lascelles, founder of Mercy Works, a division of Youth With A Mission. 

The bags will be filled with items such as beef jerky, protein bars, sunscreen, socks, gum, gift cards and handwritten notes of appreciation. 

“Many of our Border Patrol agents feel overwhelmed and underappreciated,” Lascelles said. “It’s past time that those of us living in Texas show them we are grateful for the job they’re doing to try and keep us safe and uphold the rule of law.”

K-9 Named in Honor of Fallen FBI Special Agent Charles W. Elmore

The 1-year-old German shorthaired pointed is named after FBI Special Agent Charles W. Elmore. Photo: Leesburg Police Department

By Steve Neavling

A police department in Virginia named their new K-9 in honor of FBI Special Agent Charles W. Elmore, who was killed in the line of duty on Aug. 9, 1979.

The 1-year-old German shorthaired pointer, Elmore, recently graduated from training in patrol duties and drug detection for the Leesburg Police Department. 

The police department received an anonymous $15,000 donation to cover the costs of purchasing and training the dog. The donor requested that the dog be named in honor of Elmore.

Elmore and Special Agent J. Robert Porter were fatally shot by an assailant while in the FBI office in El Centro, Calif.

Elmore, who became a special agent with the FBI in 1972, was 33 years old. 

“It’s been more than 42 years since the tragic killings of Special Agents Charles Elmore and Robert Porter at our El Centro Resident Agency,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner said in a statement. “There have been many tributes and memorials throughout the years honoring both men, to include streets in El Centro being named after each of them. We honor them every year on August 9 here in our field office. They are on the FBI Wall of Honor in every FBI field office and at FBI Headquarters and Quantico. This gesture is a very thoughtful and unique tribute to Special Agent Elmore—a tribute which will carry his name and legacy while continuing the fight against crime.”

FBI Special Agent Charles W. Elmore

Leesburg Police Chief Gregory Brown said the K-9 will he helpful. 

“I am excited to welcome Elmore to the LPD family. Working together, K9 Elmore and Officer (Lelia) Brickley will assist in serving and protecting our community through such tasks as locating missing juveniles, as well as locating those experiencing cognitive impairments who become lost,” Leesburg Police Chief Gregory Brown said in a statement.  “I also want the community to know that true heroes are never forgotten.  We honor the memory of FBI Special Agent Charles Elmore through our newest K-9 team member.”

Colorado Man Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison for Assaulting ATF Agent with Car

By Steve Neavling

A Colorado man who struck an ATF agent with his car was sentenced to more than nine years in prison, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Dallas Michael Theiss, 24, was at a 7-Eleven store in April when ATF agents and officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department surrounded his car in an attempt to arrest him. 

To evade capture, Theiss accelerated towards an ATF agent who was standing near the doorway of the store. 

Theiss struck the agent, who opened fire on Theiss. The agent was injured, and Theiss fled the scene. 

Following a brief pursuit, Theiss barricaded himself in a Colorado Springs home for about two hours before he was taken into custody. 

A search of his car uncovered two guns. 

“This case demonstrates the kind of heroic acts that federal law enforcement officers undertake every day to keep us safe,” Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch said in a statement.  “Taking violent offenders off the street is a dangerous business, and we are grateful no one was killed in this incident.”  

ATF Special Agent in Charge David Booth added, “We are fortunate the injuries our agent suffered were not fatal. Through extraordinary bravery and professionalism in the face of imminent danger, this violent criminal was taken into custody without anyone else being harmed. We applaud the United States Attorney’s Office in their success in this case thus removing a violent criminal from our communities.”

El Chapo’s Wife Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Helping Drug Kingpin Run Cartel

‘El Chapo’ Guzman

By Steve Neavling

The wife of convicted drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for helping her husband run his cartel and aiding his 2015 escape from a Mexican prison.

Emma Coronel Aispuro, a 31-year-old former beauty queen, pleaded guilty on June 10 to three criminal counts, including conspiracy to traffic cocaine and money laundering.

Prosecutors said Coronel Aispuro was a co-conspirator in the activities of the Sinaloa Cartel.  

Guzman, the longtime head of the Sinaloa, was convicted in 2019 on drug conspiracy charges and sentenced to life in prison. 

Coronel helped Guzman ship drugs and evade capture and later was the main conspirator in the successful plot to break him out of the Altiplano prison in Mexico.  

The FBI’s Washington Field  Office led the investigation, with assistance from FBI Field Offices, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations.