Entries in Guns (52)


Guns for Kids Marketing Debate Ignited by Latest Child Death

(AUBURN, Wash.) -- The tragic shooting death of a 2-year-old girl by her 5-year-old brother this week was compounded by the fact -- baffling to many who don't use guns -- that the .22 rifle the boy used has been given to him as a present.

The shooting was also the fourth this past month in which a child fired a gun at a sibling or parent. The most recent incident happened Wednesday night in Auburn, Wash., when a 7-year-old boy accidentally shot his 9-year-old sister in the leg. The boy had grabbed a .22 caliber rifle from another brother's closet.

Lobbyists and advocates across the country are growing increasingly indignant over such shootings, and websites like Kid Shootings and Oh Shoot have now sprung up to track such incidents.

The shooting that has focused major attention on young kids with guns, as well as the gun industry's growing focus on young children as the next generation of customers, was Tuesday's fatal shooting in Cumberland County, Ky.

At about 1 p.m. the boy used a rifle that was given to him as a gift to shoot his sister in a moment when his mother stepped outside.

"The weapon is a single shot .22 caliber rifle," Cumberland County police spokesman Billy Gregory told "One of the parents was at home at the time of the shooting. She had stepped outside the residence. She was cleaning and stepped outside to empty a mop bucket, and heard the shot and ran back inside."

Gregory said that the case is currently a death investigation, and detectives are waiting for findings from the coroner.

"When you're dealing with grieving parents and a young child who shot his sister, there are a lot of muddy waters we have to wait for to clear," he said.

The gun was a Cricket model manufactured by Keystone Sporting Arms. The weapon is known as "My First Rifle."

The website for the brand, which uses the slogan "Quality firearms for America's youth," says that "the goal of KSA is to instill gun safety in the minds of youth shooters and encourage them to gain the knowledge and respect that hunting and shooting activities require and deserve."

Though KSA's website for Crickett rifles does not specify the age range for use of its products, the site does have a "Kid's Corner" which shows images of children, who appear to be from 5-12, holding rifles. The rifles come in a range of colors, from brown to hot pink to orange.

The company produced 60,000 Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for kids in 2008.

When contacted by, a representative for Keystone Sporting Arms, located in Milton, Pa., said that the company is not answering questions.

The shooting in Kentucky on Tuesday and the one in Washington on Wednesday were the latest in a series of shootings in the last month involving young children.

In early April, Brandon Holt, 4, was shot by his 6-year-old friend in New Jersey while the two were playing a game of "pretend shooting," also with a .22 caliber rifle. The following day, a 4-year-old boy in Lebanon, Tenn., fired a gun that killed his mother.

Josh Sugarmann, executive director and founder of the Violence Policy Center, a lobbying group working to tighten the regulation of firearms, told that as the traditional market of white male gun owners is aging, the industry is looking towards a new market.

"There is a wide range of gun manufacturing targeted at youth," he said. "The gun industry and gun ownership is declining, it has been for decades, and like tobacco, the industry needs new customers ...The most vulnerable years to entice children as future gun customers is during their youth."

Sugarmann said that the gun industry's marketing to youth has been going on for years, and has been ramped up over past 15 years or so. He points to a summer 2007 editorial in Shooting Sports Retailer magazine in which columnist Bruce Bear discusses how to market to a newer, younger customer.

"It's absolutely critical for us to pass a love of shooting and hunting on to the next generation," Bear wrote. "Due to heavy public sensitivity to the irresponsible promotion of firearms to youth, every promotion should foster both respect for and safety with firearms."

According to the Violence Policy Center, from 1977 to 2010, the percentage of American households that reported having any guns in the home dropped more than 40 percent. The cause, the group believes, is the aging of the current gun owning population and a lack of interest in guns by youth.

Sugarmann said that the ongoing marketing effort towards youth is no shameful secret, and that the focus is industry wide. The solution as he sees it is legislation to keep guns out of the hands of the youth.

"We believe possession laws should mirror laws for purchase 18 for long guns, 21 for hand guns," he said. "The idea of putting a gun into a child's hand should be viewed as a crime."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Texas School District to Arm Teachers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LUBBOCK, Texas) -- Educators in a Texas school district will soon be permitted to carry guns in the classroom, assuming they get approval from the school superintendent, pass a training course and obtain a concealed-handgun license.

The Levelland Independent School District, which is about 30 miles west of Lubbock, instituted the policy in response to last year's deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as well as the shooting at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

"How do you describe a tragedy like that? It's devastating," Levelland ISD Superintendant Kelly Baggett told ABC News, referencing the Sandy Hook massacre. "It absolutely instilled fear in all of us and made us take a hard look at where we are with our safety and security."

Baggett said the Levelland ISD School board voted Thursday for the policy change allowing teachers to carry guns only after extensive research and a series of meetings.

"Not every teacher in Levelland is going to carry a gun to campus," Baggett said. "It will be certain individuals that I and the school approve. The training is paramount. It's absolutely the most important thing."

Under the new policy, teachers would first need to obtain a concealed-handgun license and pass a gun-training course. The exact nature of the training course isn't yet known, but the Texas State Legislature is considering legislation to establish standards for firearms training for public school employees.

Levelland would not be the first Texas school district to arm employees. David Thweatt, superintendent for Harrold Independent School District in north-central Texas, told ABC News that his school board voted unanimously to arm school employees after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which he says was a wakeup call.

"The idea that we have moved into a society that the police have to do everything is ridiculous," Thweatt said. "Active shooters know where they are going. If your school is known to have a policy in place where people are protecting children with deadly force, they are not coming to your school."

Thweatt says the training his employees received involved lots of time spent on accuracy and shooting, while the other component involved strategies for clearing and securing rooms. It took about a week to complete.

Baggett of the Levelland district said Texas law does not allow handguns on public school property, but a loophole exists in the penal code that says that a school board can authorize concealed handguns with the approval of a school attorney. The Levelland ISD has about 3,000 students and 485 staff members spread across eight campuses and, Baggett says, he hopes to arm two employees per campus.

Baggett says the parental and community response to the new policy arrangement has been mostly positive. "For the most part, we are getting very, very nice compliments and encouragement and positive remarks from our community members and they are applauding us for taking a stand and doing what we are doing," he said.

Baggett hopes to get those he chooses to arm trained this summer and have them ready and on campus before the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

"I have reservations about putting weapons in employees' hands," he said. "We are trained educators and it's a shame that it's gotten to the point in society that we are having to arm our school employees to protect their kids. But my philosophy is I want to do everything I can to protect our kids."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Poll: Nearly Half of Americans Buy Guns for Protection

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There's been a monumental sea change in the reasons why Americans buy guns since the turn of the century, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, reflecting a new concern about personal safety.

In August 1999, 49 percent of gun owners said the primary reason they owned firearms was for hunting purposes, while 26 percent said they purchased guns for protection.

Flash forward to the latest Pew poll: 48 percent of gun owners say they purchased firearms for protection, while just 32 percent buy weapons for hunting.

Breaking down the numbers further, virtually two-thirds of women gun owners listed protection as their top priority, compared to 43 percent 14 years ago, while 42 percent of men said protection was their main concern, up 21 points from 1999.

The Pew Research Center survey also found that nearly six in ten of those who did not own guns in their homes would be uncomfortable with the presence of a firearm in their household.

As Congress debates whether to toughen restrictions on firearms to curb gun violence in the nation, 58 percent of the Pew respondents worry that tighter gun legislation would make it more difficult for people to protect their families and homes.  Meanwhile, 54 percent believe new gun laws would reduce the amount of deaths due to mass shootings.

The Pew poll was conducted from Feb. 13-18 and questioned 1,504 adults.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


More Women Are Giving Guns, Shooting Clubs a Shot

Thinkstock/Comstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- For the Sure Shots, a women-only shooting league in Austin, Texas, girl power equals firepower.

"You have to think defensively all the time," said Holly Gaylor, a mother of two. "You have to think about it when you are in your car, you have to think about it when you are at the grocery store, I mean, it just takes a second for everything to change."

More women than ever now own guns -- a record 23 percent, according to Gallup polls. The surprising spike has spawned a cottage industry from Hello Kitty-decorated assault rifles to bling-ed out revolvers, like the one tweeted by Kim Kardashian.

But make no mistake. The women of the Sure Shots are dead serious about the right to bear arms.

Gaylor is running through a series of intensive drills with the Sure Shots designed specifically for women who own and carry guns. The drills teach self-defense tactics, including how to shoot and reload in high-pressure situations. She said she joined Sure Shots to learn the best way to protect her family. If someone were to break into their home, she told her children that she and their father would be there to "defend" them.

"I also know that my 10-year-old will be able to pick up my AR and he will be able to use it," she said.

During one drill for advanced defensive pistol training, two women welding handguns run up to a piece of mounted plywood, duck and roll on the ground so they are lying sideways, and take aim at a target several feet away. Then they fire off a few rounds.

In another exercise, the women have to carry a beach ball, which stands in for a baby, under one arm while holding a gun with the other and trying to defend themselves.

In the two years since the Austin Sure Shots formed, this sisterhood of local gun enthusiasts has quickly drawn hundreds of members, from 9-year-old Gia, who hopes to shoot in the 2020 Olympics, to 62-year-old Marcia Macha, who discovered her passion for shooting three years ago.

"It's tough," Macha said. "You got to be a tough Texan girl to do this."

Niki Jones, the Sure Shots' founding member, has a homemade assault rifle she named "The Snow Queen." Her guiding philosophy for the group is simple: Empower women so that they won't become victims.

"If I'm in an alley and an attacker comes up and has malicious intent I can't bare-knuckle fight him, but I can train with my gun and then if the time comes, I can use it to save my life," Jones said.

The gun industry markets directly to women with smaller, more female-friendly firearms, such as customizable handguns and high-powered rifles awash in hot pink, as well as loads of accessories for the fashion-conscious shooter. One product on the market is the Flash Bang bra holster, which can conceal a weapon on a woman's body.

The National Rifle Association, which is overwhelmingly male, has started to court this new wave of potential members with new ad campaigns that feature female shooters and lines like, "This NRA women's network is designed with you in mind." The NRA claims nearly 30 million women own guns -- a number that critics say is grossly exaggerated.

But no one is disputing that more women than ever have been flocking to gun clubs like the Sure Shots. Although none of the Sure Shots women said they have had to use their guns to defend themselves in real life, they believe in preparing for the worst-case scenario. All of them said that they feel safer having a lethal weapon nearby.

But gun control advocates say that feeling safer because they own a gun provides a false sense of security. A woman with a gun in her home is almost three times more likely to be killed than a woman who does not have a gun in her home, according to Laurie Saffain, who works with Women Against Gun Violence, an advocacy group that was created in the '90s in a response to what it says were "fear tactics" used in marketing guns to women.

"For every time a gun is fired in self defense, there are four accidental shootings, there are seven homicides or assaults and 11 attempted or successful suicides," Saffian claimed.

Saffian believes that guns don't make women any safer, but reasonable gun control laws will.

"Let's come together where we can around common sense solutions and laws that are really going to make a difference for women and are going to save their lives," she said.

But universal background checks, even a ban on high-capacity magazines, are gun control measures Holly Gaylor of the Sure Shots firmly opposes.

"Nobody has the right to tell us what's good for the next person," Gaylor said. "I don't dictate what goes best for your family and you shouldn't dictate what goes best for my family...if you want to carry a 30-round magazine then, by golly, do it."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NRA Blasts Biden After Meeting on Guns

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The National Rifle Association blasted Vice President Joe Biden after a meeting Thursday afternoon with gun ownership groups, arguing that the talks did not produce legitimate ideas about how to curb gun violence but instead went after the Second Amendment.

"We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the NRA said in a statement. "While claiming that no policy proposals would be 'prejudged,' this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners -- honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans."

"It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems," the NRA said. "We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of Congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works -- and what does not."

Biden, whose office released a photo of the vice president meeting with gun ownership groups Thursday, told reporters earlier in the day that he has already started putting together a list of gun-control recommendations that he plans to issue next Tuesday.

He has suggested the administration would be ready to take executive action on the issue, which would not require votes from Congress. That prospect has raised alarm bells for gun rights advocates.

Biden told reporters Thursday, during a meeting a with sportsmen, women and wildlife groups, that he would deliver the list of recommendations to the president on Jan. 15, and that an improved system for background checks has emerged as a a priority for the stakeholders he's met so far. Guns have been at the top of the White House agenda since the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"I am putting together a series of recommendations for the president that will, that he will take a look at. There's a real, very tight window to do this," Biden said. "I committed to him I'd have these recommendations to him by Tuesday. And it doesn't mean it's the end of the discussion, but the public wants us to act."

Biden said he has not reached any conclusions just yet but recounted the recommendations that have been made to him from the various stakeholders he's met with over the past month. The vice president said a consensus emerged from the meetings on the need to strengthen the background check system.

"So far, a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks, not just close the gun show loophole, but total, universal background checks, even including private sales," Biden said.

Other suggestions offered at the meetings have centered on gun safety and the responsibility that goes along with gun ownership, dealing with high-capacity magazines, and the ability of federal agencies to do research on gun violence.

Biden sat down with representatives of the NRA and other supporters of gun rights on the second day of this week's meetings on gun violence.

He said at one meeting that he has "never quite heard so much talk about high-capacity magazines" as he has since the shootings in Newtown.

Biden met with gun-violence victims' groups and proponents of gun control on Wednesday. Thursday was his opportunity to get a different side of the story. Biden met with the National Rifle Association and Attorney General Eric Holder met with representatives from Walmart, one of the largest sellers of firearms in the country.

"There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet, but we're compiling it all with the help the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members, as well as legislative action, we believe, is required," Biden said.

In addition to the NRA, sportsmen's groups, women's groups, wildlife groups and representatives of the entertainment industry were invited to meetings with Biden.

In December, the NRA called for armed officers to be placed in every school after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Walmart initially turned down an invitation to participate in the talks but reversed its decision after it "underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person," a spokesman said.

"We take this issue very seriously and are committed staying engaged in this discussion as the administration and Congress work toward a consensus on the right path forward," David Tovar, vice president of corporate communications for Walmart, said.

The latest meetings come one day after Biden held a first round of talks this week with gun safety advocacy groups and victims of gun violence. Speaking to reporters before the meeting, the vice president expressed the administration's commitment to develop effective gun policy by considering all ideas.

Biden also held conference calls with 15 governors and 16 state and local elected officials Wednesday.

Shortly after the shootings in which 26 children and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary last month, President Obama assigned Biden to head a task force and offer suggestions on curbing gun violence.

"Every once in a while there's something that awakens the conscience of the country, and that tragic event did in a way like nothing I've seen in my career," Biden said Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New York County Won't Release Names of Residents with Gun Permits

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Officials from Putnam County, N.Y., say they won't give in to a newspaper's demand to release the names of residents with pistol permits.

Last Dec. 23, The Journal News caused a stir when it released the names and an interactive map of those with pistol permits in Westchester and Rockland counties.  The story caused an immediate backlash with the paper having to go as far as hiring their own armed guards because of death threats.

However, that hasn't deterred The Journal News from also seeking to publish the names of Putnam County residents with gun permits.  The papers says it has New York law on its side, which states "the name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record."

At a news conference Thursday, Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell stressed that she would not allow the records of gun permits to go public, saying, "I want every citizen in Putnam County to know, I will not retreat from protecting you; nor will I surrender.  There will be no retreat, and there will be no surrender."

Odell argued that the decision has nothing to do with the Dec. 14 school shooting at Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead.

According to Odell, "We firmly believe that the release of this information would create an unprecedented public safety issue."

The Journal News says its rationale for publishing the names and addresses was because readers were "understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NY Newspaper that Outed Gun Owners Hires Gun-Toting Guards

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In an ironic twist, a Westchester, N.Y., newspaper that ignited a firestorm by publishing a map with the names and addresses of legal gun owners is apparently now seeking protection from armed guards because of it.

According to the Rockland County Times, the paper that published the interactive map, The Journal News, has hired armed security guards employed by New City-based RGA Investigations to watch over the publication's headquarters in West Nyack, N.Y., because of the negative comments posting the map caused.

No violence has been reported, though some readers turned the tables by posting the names and addresses of some of the paper's staff online.

Despite the furious response from gun owners who claimed the paper was putting their homes in danger from criminals looking to steal firearms, the paper refused to cave, insisting it would post more sensitive information from those with permits in neighboring counties.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


More Teachers Learning How to Handle Guns in Wake of Newtown Shootings

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BENNETT, Colo.) -- With the shootings in Newtown, Conn., still fresh in the minds of most teachers across the nation, some have decided to take matters of protection into their own hands.

In Bennett, Colo., for instance, police officer Graham Dunne is offering courses in the handling and use of firearms and acknowledges that a number of new students are local teachers.

Dunne admits, "I think there’s a certain amount of hysteria anytime something comes up.  After the last school shooting, I got a mass influx of teachers and other school employees wanting to take my course."

The cop runs a one-day course through his site,, that normally charges $160.  But seeing how many teachers are now scared about what happened in Newtown, Dunne gave 20 teachers a free lesson and charged others half-price.

One middle-school teacher from Jefferson County said, "When something happens it kind of hits close to home like that, it's just that added reminder that gives you that extra push, to just make the right choices and prepare yourself, just in case."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Miami Leaders Seek Reduction in Gun Violence

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Police, religious leaders and community leaders in Miami, Fla., are calling on residents to not fire guns aimlessly into the air during the upcoming New Year’s celebration, or during any other holiday festivities for that matter.

A campaign called “No More Stray Bullets” was started five years ago after a 5-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet during a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

The awareness campaign may be more poignant than ever in the wake of the killing of school children in Connecticut, but Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones says gun violence is a part of everyday life for many children in Miami.

“Right here in our own neighborhood, right here in our backyard, kids are dying every single day,” she says.

The city is also offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information about an illegal gun.  Miami Police Chief Manny Orosa says some 600 weapons have been taken off the streets since 2008.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Baltimore Police Chief Wants to Ban High-Capacity Firepower

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- High-capacity magazines are the deadliest of gun cartridges. They come in cases of 30, 40, 60 and even 120 rounds.

These magazines are maximum, economy-sized firepower packed into a steel cartridge. When strapped into a pistol or semi-automatic rifle, a shooter can fire non-stop until the magazine is empty. By then, the damage can be devastating.

That is why Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson wants to outlaw all but the smallest of these magazines. Johnson wants to limit them to a capacity of 10 rounds.

The fewer the bullets, the more often the shooter has to stop firing, eject the empty cartridge and load another one.

A lot can happen in the window of time it takes to reload, Johnson said.

"Folks that are being attacked have time to react, to close that distance in," he said. "I think any football player in America would like to have four-and-a-half seconds to get to the quarterback without any of the offensive players."

An expert shooter like a police officer can switch magazines in less than two seconds. But for a nervous, scared adolescent, it would take much longer, Johnson said, which can be crucial.

During the Tucson, Ariz., attack on Rep. Gabby Giffords, gunman Jared Loughner was wrestled down when he stopped shooting to reload his 9-millimeter pistol.

During the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting spree last July, police say James Holmes' assault came to an end when his semi-automatic rifle jammed.

"As we've seen in America today, there have been several attacks where that reload is vital," Johnson said. "Tragically, in the shooting of a congresswoman, the reload was instrumental."

"We've also seen this in Baltimore County, in a school shooting that we had, where the reload became very instrumental in allowing the teacher to actually tackle a student that was trying to reload a double-barreled shotgun," he said.

Police believe that last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Adam Lanza was armed with high-capacity magazines. He fired at least 30 times before having to stop to reload.

Johnson said there is no reason that the general public should have access to high-capacity magazines.

"I have to advise you that even for law enforcement, 100-round magazines, 50-round magazines, have no place for law enforcement," Johnson said. "Certainly, we believe that limiting a magazine to 10 rounds, what was in place from '94 to 2004, is wise and certainly could save lives in America."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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