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Tag: Guns

FBI: 93 Law Enforcement Officers Killed in Line of Duty in 2020

By Steve Neavling

The FBI reports that 93 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty last year, a small increase over 2019. 

Of those deaths, 46 were the result of felonious assault, and 47 were accidents, according to the bureau’s annual report.

Of the offers feloniously killed, nine were ambushed, seven died while conducting law enforcement activities, seven were assisting other officers, five were responding to crimes in progress, four were responding to disorders or disturbances, three were involved in arrests, two were responding to citizen complaints, two were trying to serve an arrest warrant, two had encountered a person experiencing an emotional disturbance, two were killed during an unprovoked attack, one was trying to serve a court order, one was helping a motorist, and one was killed in an incident reported as “other.”

All but five of the officers feloniously killed died as the result of a gun. 

The average age of officers were were feloniously killed was 39 years old. Of those, 41 were men, 32 were white, 10 were Black, two were Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander and one was American Indian/Alaska Native. 

Of those accidentally killed, 26 died as a result of car crashes, 12 were struck by cars, five were killed in firearm-related incidents, two drowned, one died as a result of an aircraft crash, and one died in a fall. 

North Carolina Man Convicted of Shooting at ATF Agents Who Were Conducting Surveillance

By Steve Neavling

A North Carolina man who fired a shotgun at two ATF agents who were conducting surveillance was convicted of assaulting federal officers and multiple firearm charges. 

A jury found Gary Lynn Gatlin, 50, guilty on Wednesday, and he now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. 

ATF agents were surveilling Gatlin on suspicion of firearm trafficking on April 15, 2020, when he approached them on Water Tower Road in Orrum, N.C., and fired four shots at their vehicle. The agents, who were not injured, had identified themselves as law enforcement. 

Police recovered empty shotgun shell cartridges and a Mossberg Maverick Model 88 shotgun and other firearms. 

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7. 

Conservative Republicans, NRA Wage Battle Against Biden’s Nominee to Head ATF

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

The NRA and conservative GOP lawmakers are digging in for a fight to prevent the nomination of David Chipman as ATF director. 

The NRA on Wednesday announced its plans to oppose the nomination of Chipman as part of a $2 million campaign to fight gun-control measures, The Washington Post reports.

Chipman is a gun owner, former ATF agent and senior policy adviser at Giffords, a gun control advocacy group led by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. Chipman has advocated for gun restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. 

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and other Republicans are urging Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, to oppose Chipman. 

“Mr. Chipman has a long history of advocating against Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” the Republicans wrote in a letter to Durbin and Grassley, The Hill reports.

“He supports limiting magazine capacity, holding gun manufactures liable if one of their products is used by a criminal in a crime, and banning certain types of rifles – including America’s most popular rifle the AR-15,” they added.

President Biden has faced pressure by gun control groups to pick someone to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2015 as the nation continues to grapple with mass shootings. 

As vice president, Biden recommended in 2013 that President Obama pick a Senate-confirmed ATF director. Obama followed through with the confirmation of B. Todd Jones in 2013, but Jones resigned in 2015, and the agency has been without a permanent director since. 

The current acting director, appointed by President Trump, is Regina Lombardo. 

Whether Biden can muster the 51 votes required to confirm a permanent leader is an open question. Republicans have blocked ATF candidates who were far friendlier to the pro-gun base. 

FBI Investigated Man Who Shot 8 People at Fed Ex Facility

Brandon Scott Hole

By Steve Neavling

The FBI interviewed the 19-year-old man who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis after his mother warned law enforcement in March 2020 that he might try to “commit suicide by cop,” the bureau said. 

Brandon Scott Hole, 19, of Indianapolis, opened fire at a Fed Ex facility late Thursday before turning the gun on himself. 

After authorities received the warning about Hole, a former Fed Ex employee, the Indianapolis Metro Police Department placed him “on an immediate detention mental health temporary hold,” Paul Keenan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office, said in a statement. 

Keenan said the FBI joined the investigation after police found a shotgun in Hole’s bedroom. 

“Based on items observed in the suspect’s bedroom at that time, he was interviewed by the FBI in April 2020. No Racially Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) ideology was identified during the course of the assessment and no criminal violation was found,” Keenan said in the statement. “The shotgun was not returned to the suspect.”

Nevertheless, Hole legally purchased the two assault rifles he used in the attack several months after the FBI investigated him. 

Biden to Nominate Gun Control Advocate As Permanent ATF Director

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden is expected to nominate David Chipman, a prominent gun control advocate, to lead the ATF, The New York Times reports.

Biden’s pick, David Chipman, is a gun owner, former ATF agent and senior policy adviser at Giffords, a gun control advocacy group led by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. Chipman has advocated for gun restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. 

Biden is expected to announce his nomination today. 

Biden has faced pressure by gun control groups to pick someone to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2015 as the nation continues to grapple with mass shootings. 

As vice president, Biden recommended in 2013 that President Obama pick a Senate-confirmed ATF director. Obama followed through with the confirmation of B. Todd Jones in 2013, but Jones resigned in 2015, and the agency has been without a permanent director since. 

The current acting director, appointed by President Trump, is Regina Lombardo. 

Whether Biden can muster the 51 votes required to confirm a permanent leader is an open question. Republicans have blocked ATF candidates who were far friendlier to the pro-gun base. 

Secret Service Study Finds School Shootings Are Preventable

By Steve Neavling

A Secret Service study concluded that school shootings are preventable if officials pay attention to warning signs. 

The agency’s National Threats Assessment Center analyzed 67 thwarted school attacks in the past 12 years and found that in a vast majority of the cases the plotters gave off warning signs. 

The report concludes that early intervention is the key to saving the lives of students. 

In 75% of the cases, school attacks were “detected” because the would-be shooters spoke publicly about their plans. Others had “histories of school discipline and contact with law enforcement” or exhibited suicidal thoughts, harassing behavior or an interest in past violent attacks. 

In many of the cases, the plots were planned for months. 

“The key findings of the study are clear and consistent: Individuals contemplating violence often exhibit observable behaviors, and when community members report these behaviors, the next tragedy can be averted,” Secret Service Director James M. Murray wrote. “The Secret Service encourages its educational, medical and public safety partners to review the information within, and use it to guide best practices for maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment for all children.” 

Biden Administration Searches for First Permanent ATF Director Since 2015

By Steve Neavling

President Biden may soon pick a nominee to lead the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2015 as the nation continues to grapple with mass shootings. 

The New York Times reports that Biden’s administration is interviewing potential candidates, and NBC News says the president has a “shortlist” of final candidates.

“The administration is going to revitalize A.T.F. and ensure that our guns laws are vigorously enforced,” Michael Gwin, a Biden spokesman, told The New York Times.

As vice president, Biden recommended in 2013 that President Obama pick a Senate-confirmed ATF director. Obama followed through with the confirmation of B. Todd Jones in 2013, but Jones resigned in 2015, and the agency has been without a permanent director since. 

The current acting director, appointed by President Trump, is Regina Lombardo. 

Picking a permanent director is among the Biden administration’s priorities, spokesman Michael Gwin told NBC News in a statement. 

“President Biden is committed to reducing gun violence both, through the policies he pursues and the personnel he places in key positions at agencies like ATF,” Gwin said. “The Administration is going to revitalize ATF and ensure that our guns laws are vigorously enforced so we can keep illegal firearms off our streets and save lives.” 

No candidates have been identified. 

MSNBC: ATF Must Be Empowered to Play Bigger Role in Combating Mass Shootings

By Steve Neavling

The mass shooting that left 10 people dead at a Colorado supermarket underscores why the ATF must become a bigger part of the solution, MSNBC columnist Hayes Brown argues.

Brown points out that the NRA has “systematically weakened ATF with the support of congressional Republicans.”

Brown writes:

“The restrictions have all focused on the bureau’s mandated tasks: issuing licenses for federal firearm licensees, which then have to use the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System when making sales; inspecting gun dealers for compliance with the law; and cracking down on illegal gun sales.

Those would be challenging enough, but ATF has to rely on a patchwork of laws to prevent illegal gun trafficking, since there’s no comprehensive federal law against gun trafficking. And as Berlow’s piece explained, over the years Congress has included a number of “riders,” or “bits of permanent law tacked onto an appropriations bill,” to the ATF’s funding.

Some of the most restrictive are the Tiahrt Amendments, which seem perfectly tailored to keep ATF small and ineffective. These riders block ATF from centralizing records it gets from licensed gun dealers, keep ATF from disclosing to anyone the contents of a federal database that tracks guns that authorities recover from crime scenes, make it illegal for ATF to require gun dealers to create a paper trail of how many guns they have in inventory and require the FBI to have a way to destroy any identifying information in a background check within 24 hours of clearing a gun sale.

These provisions can be undone only with an affirmative act of Congress. And don’t think about trying to transfer anything that ATF should be doing to another government body — there are riders blocking any funding for that, too. As things stand, ATF is so weak that it can’t even strip licenses from gun dealers effectively, even after multiple infractions.”

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