Tag Archives: Sandy Hook

Photos: Father Of Santa Barbara Killer Meets Victim’s Dad

June 16, 2014 3:51 PM ET

“Sometimes, not much needs to be said. That’s the case with a series of photos released today that show an early June meeting between the father of the Santa Barbara killer and the dad of one of his 20-year-old victims.

Richard Martinez said he wanted to meet Peter Rodger to figure out a way to work together. Simon AstairePeter Rodger (left) and Richard Martinez in Santa Barbara on June 1.Simon Astaire

If you remember, Richard Martinez made national news when he appeared at a police press conference and delivered an emotional plea to “stop this madness.”

In the days that followed, Martinez said he would like to meet Peter Rodger, the father of Elliot Rodger, who police say killed six people and himself.

“I’ve been told that the shooter’s father has said he wanted to devote his life to making sure that doesn’t happen again. I share that with him,” Martinez said. “He’s a father. I’m a father. He loved his son. I love my son. His son died. My son died.”

In early June that meeting came to fruition. The pictures were released by Rally, a communications firm that focuses on advocacy. It handles the publicity, for example, for Sandy Hook Promise, the group of parents who came together after the Sandy Hook shooting to try to bring about changes to gun laws.

The firm did not release details about the conversation.”


So important.


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by | June 17, 2014 · 4:14 pm

‘A very tragic day’: Student, teen gunman dead at Ore. high school

“…The shooting was the 74th on a U.S. campus since the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in in Newtown, Conn., according to the American Federation of Teachers, the union representing staff at Reynolds High…”

Absolutely despicable. 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook.

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by | June 10, 2014 · 9:56 pm

NRA’s enemies list: Most of America

By John Avlon, CNN Contributor
updated 7:02 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013

“Editor’s note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book “Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns.” He is a regular contributor to “Erin Burnett OutFront” and is a member of the OutFront Political Strike Team. For more political analysis, tune in to “Erin Burnett OutFront” at 7 ET weeknights.

(CNN) — Question: What do George Clooney, Chaka Khan, the American Medical Association, Bon Jovi and C. Everett Koop have in common?

Answer: They are among the 500 names on the National Rifle Association’s absurd new “enemies list.”

Richard Nixon would be embarrassed to find that his once sinister form of score-keeping has been revived so promiscuously by the NRA. But there is some redeeming social value here: The list illustrates an organization that has become hermetically sealed from society at large, so caught up in conservative debates that it has forgotten how to connect with Main Street America.

The enemies list was first posted on the NRA’s website in mid-September, hiding in plain sight under the banner “National Organizations with Anti-Gun Policies.” But with the debate about reasonable gun restrictions reignited after the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter, the NRA’s enemies list has become just the latest example of seriously bad judgment inside this once proud organization.

Because whatever staffer was tasked with accumulating the list took the idea of “you’re either with us or against us” so literally that everyone who isn’t a card-carrying conservative seems to be counted as an enemy.

The list is divided into broad categories, including “Anti-Gun Individuals and Celebrities,” journalists, civic organizations and corporations — as well as a grab bag category that includes religious leaders. You don’t have to be a charter member of Mensa to see how this is going to alienate far more Americans than it attracts.

We’re living in a celebrity-driven culture, for better or worse, so let’s start with a look at the celebrity list.

The first thing that struck me was the preponderance of ’70s sitcom stars who are apparently among the leading threats to gun rights in America today, including Sandy Duncan, Marilu Henner, Ed Asner, Hal Linden and Pam Dawber of “Mork & Mindy” fame. It’s like the list-maker was locked in a closet full of yellowing TV Guides. It’s a near-miracle that “The Partridge Family” was left off the list.

But the NRA doesn’t seem content to limit its targets to old reruns of “The Hollywood Squares” — no, it has to go and bring Sean Connery into the fight, along with Bruce Springsteen, Albert Brooks, Tony Bennett, Jack Nicholson, Britney Spears, Jerry Seinfeld and Oprah Winfrey.

On the civic side, it sees fit to call out everyone from Dick Parsons to Maya Angelou to (the late) Ed Koch to Michael Eisner. You might as well declare yourself the sworn enemy of anyone who doesn’t subscribe to National Review.

This idea gets thrown into even sharper relief when you look at a partial list of civic, charitable and religious organizations that the NRA has determined are “anti-gun.” Warning: Take a deep breath before reading aloud:



• American Medical Association;

• American Bar Association;

American Jewish Committee;

• Anti-Defamation League;

• B`nai B`rith;

• Children`s Defense Fund;

• Environmental Action Foundation;

• Episcopal Church;

• Lauder Foundation;

• League of Women Voters of the United States;

• National Association of Police Organizations;

• National Coalition Against Domestic Violence;

• National Association for the Advancement of Colored People;

• National Council of La Raza;

• National Urban League;

• National Spinal Cord Injury Association;

• Southern Christian Leadership Conference;

• U.S. Catholic Conference;

• United Methodist Church;

• United Church of Christ;

• U.S. Conference of Mayors;

• and the YWCA of the USA.

I ask this in all seriousness: Who’s left?

Because the list includes just about every major American faith group and denomination, every major ethnic group and voter constituency. And adding the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and National Spinal Cord Injury Association to the list of anti-gun enemies is either clueless or callous — or both.

One of my favorite lyrics by U2 says: “Choose your enemies carefully, ’cause they will define you.” The NRA, like too much of the conservative movement, has chosen its enemies indiscriminately and seems defined in opposition to most of modern America.

This is a byproduct of polarization, the cultlike expulsion of any dissenting voices and preoccupation with ideological purity.

In the case of the NRA, this is reflected in its reversal on policies it supported in the past, such as gun-free school zones and universal background checks. But it is also reflected in tone-deaf speeches such as the ones recently delivered by Wayne LaPierre, or the truly out-of-touch television ad the NRA produced calling President Barack Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for having the Secret Service guard his two daughters at school.

The essence of evangelism is winning converts — but that goal can be easily forgotten when you’re preoccupied with playing to the base. Reasonable advocates of Second Amendment rights are being ill-served by the organization’s recalcitrant radicalism — reflected in the fact that 74% of NRA members say they support universal background checks.

Adding an indiscriminate enemies list to the NRA website only highlights its isolation, consolidating opposition among the figures mentioned and their fans.

As legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin — also a Nixon enemies list alumni — remarked when his name was found on the new NRA document, “Put me first on the list.” This defiance is a very American response to such an awkward attempt to intimidate.

The NRA enemies list will backfire badly. And then maybe its absurd excess will provoke a needed reset inside the organization, providing a timely reminder that the politics of addition are always more effective than the politics of division.

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Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.”

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by | February 9, 2013 · 8:19 pm

What It Feels Like To Be Photographed In A Moment Of Grief


January 28, 2013 9:00 AM
Aline Marie prays outside St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., on the day of the school shooting. She says being photographed made her feel "like a zoo animal." The photographer says he tried hard to respect her privacy and grief.

“Aline Marie prays outside St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., on the day of the school shooting. She says being photographed made her feel “like a zoo animal.” The photographer says he tried hard to respect her privacy and grief.

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

On the night of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., a woman named Aline Marie attended a prayer vigil at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which was packed with local residents and the media. After about 45 minutes, Marie saw the statue of Mary and knelt down to pray.

“I sat there in a moment of devastation with my hands in prayer pose asking for peace and healing in the hearts of men,” she recalls. “I was having such a strong moment and my heart was open, and I started to cry.”

Her mood changed abruptly, she says, when “all of a sudden I hear ‘clickclickclickclickclick’ all over the place. And there are people in the bushes, all around me, and they are photographing me, and now I’m pissed. I felt like a zoo animal.”

What particularly troubles her, she says, is “no one came up to me and said ‘Hi, I’m from this paper and I took your photograph.’ No one introduced themselves. I felt violated. And yes, it was a lovely photograph, but there is a sense of privacy in a moment like that, and they didn’t ask.”

On the other end of the camera was AFP photographer Emmanuel Dunand. Based in New York, he had arrived in Newtown that day. He says he was overwhelmed by the assignment of having to photograph residents during such extreme grief.

“I have two kids,” he told me. “It’s the type of story you never want to cover, ever, and being a dad … all you want to do is put down flowers, you don’t want to take photos.”

But, he said, it was his job to make photos to help tell the story to the world, and in the midst of so much raw emotion, he tried to be discreet with his camera. If he sensed that someone was bothered by the camera, he simply put it down.

The photograph was taken Dec. 14. Five days later, NPR used it to illustrate a story with the headline, Newtown Tragedy: Would A Good God Allow Such Evil?

At the time, NPR didn’t know the woman’s name. The caption information transmitted with the image didn’t contain it. Then, on Dec. 30, Aline Marie sent us a message via Facebook, identifying herself as a yoga teacher and an artist, and the subject of the photograph.

“I wanted you to know that although the image used for this article was beautiful and caught me in a personal powerful moment of tears,” she wrote, “no one asked my permission to post this. I’m not asking you to take the photo down, nor am I offended. However, I would like to make a point about responsible journalism, it would have been nice if someone could have asked my permission.”

I called Marie to talk with her more about her experience being photographed that night, then later talked to Dunand, the photographer. He says when he took Marie’s photo, he knew she was suffering, but that he simply didn’t want to bother her. He thought that leaving her alone was the most respectful thing to do.

Dunand said the AFP does not have a policy requiring photographers to ask for subject’s names when they are photographed in public places.

That is unfortunate, says Kenny Irby, senior faculty at The Poynter Institute. Irby says there are two benefits when photographers introduce themselves and interact with their subjects. One is that they can obtain accurate caption information — which ultimately adds more meaning, value and credibility to the photo for the reader. The other is that it can make the experience of being photographed more rewarding for the subject — even in a moment of extreme grief.

As for Marie, she says she understands that the photographer was just doing his job, but on a night when she felt so much despair, she simply wanted to feel a connection with the people around her.

“I understand the poignancy of capturing a moment,” she says. “Photography is incredibly powerful when used appropriately, and all I am saying is, how about a little respect? Say who you are and get out of the bushes.”

What are your thoughts? Should photographers interact with their subjects in moments of grief, or is it more respectful to leave them alone?”

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by | January 29, 2013 · 4:58 pm

Ohio school approves concealed carry for select staff


Updated: Saturday, 12 Jan 2013, 5:10 AM EST
Published : Saturday, 12 Jan 2013, 5:10 AM EST

“MONTPELIER, OHIO (WANE) – With a 5-0 vote, Montpelier Exempted Village Schools board members approved a measure for some staff members to carry concealed handguns on school property during school hours.

Under Ohio Revised Code 2923.122 , no one should bring a firearm into a school zone, unless a “person who has written authorization from the board of education or governing body of a school”.

“When seconds matter, law enforcement is usually minutes away,” said MEVS Superintendent Jamison Grime. “We just felt as though we needed to be able to take action faster than law enforcement can get here.”

Superintendent Grime said there has been gun violence in schools for years, but the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut has brought the issue to the forefront recently.

Our sister station WANE reports selected staff that will be carrying a concealed handgun will not have direct contact with students such as teachers.

Leslie Mason has six children in the district. She said this is a step in the right direction when it comes to keeping schools safe these days.

“I feel more comfortable knowing that they’ll be safer because you never know,” Mason said.

Angel Gigax has a son that attends Montpelier High School. She said she supports the school district coming up with ways to protect children during school hours, but having someone with a concealed handgun isn’t the answer.

“We got to get plans in place, but we have to slow down and take it step by step and making sure we’re covering every base,” said Gigax.

Gigax and Mason said according to the superintendent’s email, only four people will be armed during school hours.

Those selected staff members who will be carrying will get training in mid-March.”

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by | January 19, 2013 · 10:26 pm

Families of Newtown Victims Organize Violence Prevention Effort

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

“Among those at a conference on Monday were Jimmy Greene and his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, with a photo of their daughter, Ana, 6, who was killed.

Published: January 14, 2013

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Nelba Marquez-Greene put her two children on the school bus on the morning of Dec. 14. Only one came home.

Nicole Hockley still finds herself reaching for her son’s hand in parking lots, or expects “him to crawl into my bed for early-morning cuddles before school.”

“It’s so hard to believe he’s gone,” she said.

The grieving mothers and other parents and relatives of victims killed in the Dec. 14 elementary school massacre gathered here at a news conference on Monday to help begin a campaign intended to prevent the kind of bloodshed that has turned this quiet New England community into a national symbol of grief.

In some of their first public statements since the shooting, which killed 20 children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the families of 11 of the victims called for a national dialogue on issues of mental health, school safety and what their nonprofit group, called Sandy Hook Promise, described as “gun responsibility.”

The gathering came as President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepared to unveil gun-control proposals as soon as Tuesday that are expected to call for a ban on the kind of assault weapon and high-capacity ammunition magazines used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown shooting.

But perhaps foreshadowing the difficult and contentious debates to come in Washington, group members declined to offer support for any specific measures, saying they needed time to educate themselves on the issues, and emphasizing that the debate must be broader than gun control.

“It’s only been 30 days, and for the past 30 days we’ve really been looking inward and supporting our community,” said Tim Makris, a founder of the group who had a fourth-grade son at the school, who was not hurt.

“We love the focus of the president,” he added, “and we love that the vice president reached out recently to talk directly to the families that chose to meet with him. But we don’t have an immediate response right now.”

Tom Bittman, another founder, who has children who previously attended the school, said that many of the group members were gun owners.

“We hunt, we target shoot,” he said. “We protect our homes. We’re collectors. We teach our sons and daughters how to use guns safely. We’re not afraid of a national conversation in our community and in Congress about responsibility and accountability. We know there are millions of people in this nation who agree with us.”

The news conference, which included other members of the Newtown community, was the first time a group of Sandy Hook families spoke publicly about the tragedy.

The families filed onstage, inside the Edmond Town Hall, holding hands and wearing green and white ribbons, the school’s colors. Some held photographs of their children. As they sat onstage, some wiped away tears.

“I hope that no parent, grandparent or caregiver of children ever has to go through that pain,” said Ms. Marquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter, Ana, died that day. Ana’s father, Jimmy Greene, sat clutching a large photograph of his smiling, curly-haired daughter as his wife spoke.

Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, the parents of Avielle Richman, 6, who was killed, said they had started a foundation in her name to focus on research to identify “risk factors and measure success of mental health interventions.”

“Like everyone here, we want to bring about changes that will stop a tragedy such as this from happening to any community again,” Mr. Richman said, as he choked back tears.

David and Francine Wheeler, whose son Benjamin, 6, was killed, explained why they joined the campaign.

“I am not done being the best parent I can be for Ben,” Mr. Wheeler said. “Not by a very long measure. If there is something in our society that clearly needs to be fixed or healed or resolved, that resolution needs a point of origin. It needs parents.”

While it was clear the parents and family members were still grasping for answers themselves, they have now joined a sad fraternity of people who have lost loved ones in such tragedies.

Ms. Hockley’s son Dylan, 6, was found dead cradled in the arms of his favorite school aide,Anne Marie Murphy, who died apparently trying to shield him. Ms. Hockley said that she had felt “honored” to meet with the families of victims of past mass shootings like those at Columbine and Virginia Tech.

But, she added, she did not want to be someone “sharing her experience and consoling parents” the next time such a shooting occurred.

“I do not want there to be a next time,” she said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 14, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of one of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise.  He is Tim Makris, not Markis.

A version of this article appeared in print on January 15, 2013, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: Families of Newtown Victims Organize Violence Prevention Effort.”

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by | January 15, 2013 · 6:01 pm

Biden suggests White House could act without Congress as part of gun control plan

The NRA’s suggestion to place armed guards at every school in the country is ridiculous. That won’t stop the problem. Point blank.

What about the movie theater massacre this past year at a Batman showing in Colorado? What about the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin? Does anyone even remember the birthday-party killings in Texas, when an estranged husband murdered his wife and most of her family, leaving six dead?

It would be ridiculous to place armed guards at every single community gathering in the country. And even if they did have armed guards, these lunatics would still find a way to get what they want: people dead.

Come on, NRA, stop inventing these delusions concerning the rights of gun ownership. My father is a hunter, has been his whole life. He has various shot guns, rifles, and hand guns that he keeps in his house. He has all the proper paperwork and has absolutely no need for an assault rifle. So don’t even try to pin us gun-control activists as anti-gun, we just want more check points in the process of purchasing guns to prevent these mentally unhinged people getting their hands on weapons.

Is that too much to ask?



Published January 09, 2013


  • obama_bidengun_121912.jpg
  • Dec. 19, 2012: President Obama stands with Vice President Biden as he speaks at the White House in Washington on policies to curb gun violence. (AP)

“Vice President Biden suggested Wednesday that the White House could take unilateral action on gun control, as he kicked off a round of meetings aimed at finding ways to curb gun violence.

The vice president met Wednesday with gun-safety and victims groups, saying he is “determined” to take “urgent action” to address gun violence.

“This is not an exercise in photo opportunities or just getting to ask you all what your opinions are. We are vitally interested in what you have to say,” Biden said.

The White House has sought to avoid prejudging what Biden’s recommendations would be. But the vice president hinted Wednesday that executive action — action by the president in which Congress would not have a say — would indeed be involved.

“Executive action … can be taken,” Biden said, adding “we haven’t decided what that is yet.”

He also said separate legislative action would be “required.”

Among the gun-advocacy groups attending the meeting Wednesday were Arizona for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The vice president will hear from the other side of the gun-control debate Thursday, when the nation’s leading gun lobby meets face to face with his task force in what could be a testy session. The National Rifle Association confirmed to Fox News that the group accepted an invitation to meet with the task force, which is running up against an end-of-the-month deadline to produce a set of proposals.

The administration says mental health and the entertainment industry will likely be examined as part of that process. Biden has also scheduled a meeting with representatives from the entertainment and video game industries. But much of the discussion, and proposals from Democratic members of Congress, continue to center around gun control. The meeting Wednesday with gun safety groups will likely focus on those kinds of proposals.

The NRA has been at the helm of fighting those proposals ever since the group broke its post-Connecticut silence and called for a national school security plan to install armed officers at every school in the country.

The White House and the NRA have found little common ground as the two groups craft separate responses to the tragedy.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated Tuesday that President Obama is “skeptical that putting more guns in schools would solve this problem.”

It’s unclear how the meeting Thursday will be structured. The NRA told Fox News that they are sending a representative to hear what the White House has to say. Carney, though, said the task force is “designed to get input” from others.

“Then the vice president’s group will assess different actions,” Carney said.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that President Obama was considering measures beyond reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. According to the paper, the task force is considering measures like universal background checks for gun buyers, a national gun database, strengthening mental-health checks and tougher penalties for people carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.

Asked Monday about the report, Carney reiterated that Obama wants to “close the many loopholes in our background check system” and “supports congressional actions right away.”

Accelerated efforts to draft new gun control measures have alarmed gun rights groups, including the NRA, at the national and local levels. A separate last-minute effort to craft a restrictive semi-automatic weapon ban in Illinois was put on hold amid a tight deadline and intense opposition. On Capitol Hill, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is again pushing a renewal of the federal assault-weapons ban.

But Congress is also slammed with a pressing set of deadlines regarding a host of fiscal issues — the debt ceiling, automatic spending cuts and the federal budget itself.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, said the next round of fiscal deadlines will occupy the attention of Congress and push off the consideration of gun legislation for at least three months.

“There will be plenty of time to take a look at their recommendations once they come forward,” McConnell said of Biden’s upcoming proposals during an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Obama aides say the president still plans to act quickly on Biden’s proposals.

“I believe most Americans would disagree with the idea that in the wake of what happened in Newtown, Conn., that we should put off any action on the issue of gun violence,” Carney said Monday in response to McConnell’s comments.
Biden’s recommendations are likely to include proposals for legislation, as well as executive action Obama can sign into law without lawmakers’ approval.

The president already has called on Congress to reinstate a ban on military-style assault weapons, close loopholes that allow gun buyers to skirt background checks and restrict high-capacity magazines.

Pro-gun lawmakers on Capitol Hill have said any comprehensive effort to respond to the Newtown shooting must include more than just tighter gun control.

In addition to Biden’s meetings this week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will meet with parent and teacher groups, while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates.

The White House said other meetings are also scheduled with community organizations, business owners and religious leaders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.”

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by | January 9, 2013 · 7:43 pm