Why do we, as a nation, react the way we do anytime a lone gunman opens fire in a public space, killing and injuring multiple people? It can’t be because of the numbers alone. In the same week as El Paso and Dayton, one year prior, more people were killed and injured in separate incidents in Chicago.
No, it’s something else. Something tougher gun control laws or increased awareness of mental illness will not by themselves resolve. The carnage in Ohio and Texas—like at the Parkland, Florida, high school, the Las Vegas music festival, the Fort Hood Army base and elsewhere—was so seemingly random, it struck at our sense of personal safety.
These mass shootings are so threatening in an existential sense because each of us could just as easily be a victim as those who were. Any of us could be in the wrong place at the wrong time, defenseless against the madness that suddenly surrounds us.
The folks pushing for stricter gun control laws—for a ban on the sale of certain kinds of guns because they look particularly dangerous (in reality, all guns are dangerous), the expansion of gun-free zones or the creation of tougher “red flag laws” that may not pass constitutional muster because they short-circuit the due process each one of us is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights—are wasting their time and energy. None of these proposals do anything to get us to the real solutions that come about by bridging the gap between technology, physical safety issues and information sharing in times of crisis.
That’s what John South, a man with more than 25 years of managerial experience in security and large-scale business operations who served in both the U.S. military and law enforcement, is trying to do. After the April 2013 Boston bombing, when two homemade devices detonated 12 seconds and 210 yards apart, killing three and injuring hundreds gathered near the finishing line of the city’s famous marathon, South started thinking about the need to apply new technology to the problem of keeping people safe.
“In today’s world, ‘safety’ is a term we hear more often with the increase in soft target attacks in the U.S. and abroad,” the U.S. military veteran and former law enforcement official told me. “In any emergency, everyone wants to be saved. My goal was to find a way to do that using existing technology, as well as the tools we have built to enhance the process of saving lives.”
His solution, marketed through the company he founded, Patrocinium Systems, is already at work saving lives. According to company officials, after the Paris stadium bombing in 2015, the Patrocinium’s technology—which was still being beta-tested at the time—found and accounted for all its users in under 20 seconds. And it’s all based on smartphones.
“Almost everyone walks around with a phone in their pocket. Our phone has become the platform we use in social and work interaction almost every moment of every day. I realized the same device could and should be used for communications and location data in emergencies. My goal from inception, with a great understanding of security from my past, is to provide real-time awareness of emergency data, as well as the ability to respond to people faster with more accurate information to save more lives,” South told me.
It is, in a sense, astonishingly simple. It relies on existing sensors and software to generate information about what’s happening as it happens when an event takes place. South suggests thinking of it as being like Waze—the smartphone mapping app that partially relies on user inputs to provide a real-time picture of what’s happening on the roads—but for crisis situations like bombings, shootings, fires and other events that trigger the need for first responders.
According to South, the system notifies users if they are in danger based on their location, allows people to check in as being “safe” or “unsafe,” and visualizes the real-time location of users for a heightened response. “In the fire in Paradise, California, the system could have been deployed in 10 minutes, used for communication and location of people in need by neighborhood in seconds, creating a triage of greater response,” he said.
This is the kind of thinking America needs to take on the challenge posed by mass shootings. The frenzied demands made by politicians and anti-gun advocates in the aftermath of the latest tragedies might win them votes, but it won’t make us any safer. For that, we need visionaries like John South and others in the technology sector taking the lead.
By Stephen Gutowski • The Washington Free Beacon
Federal agents posing as criminals were unable to purchase any firearms from legitimate online marketplaces despite dozens of attempts over a two-year period.
Between July 2015 and November 2017 investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), following up on a congressional request, tried to make the illegal private gun purchases through a number of online forums and market places. They made 72 attempts over that time but couldn’t complete a single sale using legitimate sites.
In 29 attempts the gun sellers refused the sale after being asked to illegally ship the gun to the buyer. Twenty-seven sellers refused after being told the potential buyer was a felon, domestic abuser, or otherwise prohibited from buying a firearm. Eleven sellers attempted to scam the investigators after finding out they were prohibited from buying firearms with two successfully obtaining money from investigators but never sending the promised firearm. Another five attempts to illegally purchase firearms were ended when the investigators’ accounts were shut down due to suspicious activity.
“Tests performed on the Surface Web demonstrated that private sellers GAO contacted on gun forums and other classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to an individual who appeared to be prohibited from possessing a firearm,” Seto J. Bagdoyan and Wayne McElrath of the GAO’s Forensic Audits and Investigative Service section said in a report on the investigation released in November.
By Nicholas Griepsma • The Federalist
Now that the Supreme Court is poised to add a ninth Justice to its ranks, many are anxiously awaiting the court’s next move on a controversial topic: the Second Amendment. If the court decides to evaluate the concealed carry question, is there a legal framework to support a right to concealed carry in public? The answer is yes, if we look to the court’s own precedent for guidance.
In 2008, the Supreme Court decided the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, holding 1) the Second Amendment protects an individual right to self-defense within the home, and 2) the sort of weapons protected are those in “common use” for lawful purposes. In 2010 in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court held that citizens are protected not only from federal government attempts to infringe the right, but also from state government attempts.
Since 2010, lower federal courts have disagreed over practically every conceivable aspect of Second Amendment law. Many have incorrectly argued that the individual right in Heller does not extend beyond the home, and even if it does, it does not include a right to concealed carry in public. The time for the Supreme Court to step in and guard the principles established in Heller has come. Continue reading
by Stephen Gutowski • Washington Free Beacon
New Hampshire became the latest state to adopt a permitless concealed gun carry policy on Wednesday.
Governor Chris Sununu (R., N.H.) signed the legislation that allows anyone in New Hampshire to legally carry a gun so long as they are legally allowed to possess a gun. The measure removes the permitting process that had previously been required for gun carry.
New Hampshire is the first state to enact permitless carry, often called constitutional carry by gun-rights activists, since the Missouri legislature overrode a veto to pass the policy into law in September. It is the 12th state to adopt some form of permitless carry since 2003 and the 11th to do so within the last decade. Including Vermont, which has never restricted gun carry, there are now 13 states with some form of permitless carry. Continue reading
Senator Elizabeth Warren has strong words for the National Rifle Association, in spite of–or perhaps because of–its success defending Second Amendment Rights.
by Charlie Spiering • Breitbart
“The NRA can be defeated and the NRA will be defeated,” the Massachusetts Democrat said during a conference call organized by White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. “The president has shown that change is possible but it is our job in Congress to show that there are many of us who are willing to fight and that’s how you get sensible gun reforms. We will get it.”
Jarrett teamed up with liberal champion Warren and other Democratic members of Congress to promote President Obama’s executive actions on gun control. Continue reading
According to Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens use the Internet every day.
by Sean Davis • The Federalist
During his speech at the memorial service in Dallas for murdered police officers, President Barack Obama lamented that his words have little power to effect change, then proceeded to peddle blatant, easily refutable lies about guns.
“I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change,” Obama said. “I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been.”
One reason for that inadequacy may be that he says things he knows aren’t true. Over the weekend, Obama said, “I think it’s very hard to untangle the motives of this shooter.” Given that the shooter himself told police that he “wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” there doesn’t seem to be much left to untangle. Continue reading
An unprecedented act of pretend bravery
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
Nothing stirs the passions of Democrats these days quite like the prospect of gutting the Constitution. In an unprecedented act of pretend political bravery, House members held a catered sit-in, demanding Republicans allow a vote to strip away protections of Second, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution. It was quite the scene.
There were the selfie-happy Democrats singing “We Will Overcome” while demanding passage of a bill that those right-wing nutjobs over at the ACLU have “strongly” argued would undermine civil liberties. As of this writing, no participant has been beaten down by the cops or thrown into a dank cell — although, for those who’d forgotten their chargers, iPhone batteries were probably getting perilously low on juice.
Sit strong, heroes! Continue reading
By Keely Herring, Louis Jacobson
After a gunman shot and killed nine worshippers in a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., President Barack Obama took to the White House podium the next day to “express our deep sorrow over the senseless murders.”
In his June 18, 2015, remarks from the White House, Obama said, “Now is the time for mourning and for healing. But let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.”
A flurry of PolitiFact readers — some of them prompted by articles objecting to Obama’s claim — wrote to us to ask us to check it, so we did. Continue reading
Ruling reinforces landmark Heller precedent
by Stephen Gutowski • Washington Free Beacon
The U.S. territory bans the possession or importation of handguns and handgun ammunition. It requires that all residents obtain a special license if they wish to possess a firearm. Those applying for the license, called a Weapons Identification Card, or “WIC,” are required to be either a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and to prove they have a good reason to possess a firearm. Self-defense is not among the acceptable reasons.
Ramona Manglona, chief judge of the District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands, struck down all of those provisions as unconstitutional. The Obama-appointee required that Mariana Islands officials immediately stop enforcing its handgun ban, begin issuing WICs to lawful permanent aliens, and accept self-defense as a valid reason for obtaining a WIC. It also ordered the U.S. territory to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees. Continue reading
The Supreme Court justice asked a question for the first time in 10 years, revealing a different dynamic since the passing of Antonin Scalia.
by Garrett Epps • The Atlantic
At heart, law professors are simply overpaid nerds, the kind who take notes in three colors of ink and use two sizes of Post-its to tab out a casebook. We tend to have the ability to find something interesting in proceedings that would bore a normal human being into a state of coma.
Thus it was that at 10:45 a.m. Monday, I was in a sparsely populated Supreme Court press gallery watching Assistant U.S. Solicitor General Ilana Eisenstein provide a rapid wrap-up to a desultory argument over the meaning of “use” as applied a domestic-violence statute forbidding a defendant from “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly” causing “bodily injury or offensive physical contact” with a domestic partner.
Like a drowsy One-L Criminal Law class, the discussion had droned idly from Black’s Law Dictionary to Blackstone’s Commentaries. The topic, insofar as one could be found, seemed to be whether under a given state’s statute, “offensive physical contact” could be merely “reckless,” or had to be “intentional or knowing.” And if a defendant has been previously convicted of physical contact that was offensive but “merely” reckless, could that conviction be the basis for a later conviction under federal law that forbids anyone “convicted…of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” from “possess[ing]” guns or ammunition? Continue reading
by Charles C. W. Cooke
KGW News has identified the Oregon shooter. He was just 15 years old.
What does this mean for our public policy? Well, pretty much nothing. Despite all of the chatter from the White House and beyond, “universal background checks” have absolutely nothing to do with this case. In Oregon, 15-year-olds are not allowed to purchase firearms of any sort – whether from stores or from private sources. Last year’s Toomey-Manchin proposal, which would have mandated checks for all private sales, would therefore not have applied to this case and could not have stopped this shooting. To pretend otherwise is downright dishonest.
We also know that the shooter broke a number of other laws. Continue reading