Police: Gunman lured firefighters to retirement home
By CHRISTOPHER WEBER and MICHAEL BALSAMO
Tuesday, June 26
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A 77-year-old man set a fire to lure firefighters to his Southern California retirement home so he could shoot them, authorities said. The attack killed one firefighter and wounded another.
Thomas Kim was arrested Monday on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and arson but investigators were still trying to determine a motive for the attack in the southern Los Angeles suburb, Police Chief Robert Luna said.
“There’s still is a large puzzle we’re trying to put together. There’s still a lot of information we don’t know,” Luna said.
Kim remained jailed on $2 million bail and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.
Firefighters were called to the 11-story Covenant Manor at around 4 a.m. Monday by reports of an explosion. They found some second-floor windows blown out, activated sprinklers, the smell of gas and a fire that they extinguished, authorities said.
Firefighters were searching the building when shots rang out and the two firefighters were hit, Fire Chief Michael DuRee said.
Fire Capt. Dave Rosa, a 17-year veteran, died at a hospital, the chief said. He is survived by a wife and two children ages 16 and 25.
“Long Beach lost a hero today,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.
Dozens of firefighters stood at attention and saluted as the flag-draped coffin carrying Rosa’s body was brought out of a hospital Monday afternoon and loaded into a coroner’s van. Community members waved American flags along the street outside the hospital as the procession of police and fire vehicles escorted the van to the coroner’s office.
The other firefighter, Ernesto Torres, was released from the hospital and was expected to make a full recovery, officials said.
An elderly resident at the retirement home was also shot and was in critical but stable condition, Luna said. However, the circumstances of that shooting were not immediately known.
The police chief said a revolver was found after Kim was arrested. Investigators also called in a bomb squad to render two suspicious devices safe.
Luna didn’t explain the nature of the devices but said detectives have “a lot of questions” about them and what Kim intended to do with them.
Eighty senior citizens were evacuated from the retirement home until it could be declared safe.
“This is a lot to deal with,” said Pamela Barr, 73, as she sat with her son in a car, waiting to be allowed back in the tower.
Barr, who lives on the ninth floor, said she hadn’t heard of any troubles involving residents of the facility, where she has lived for seven years. She described it as clean, well-run and secure.
The residential tower near downtown Long Beach has 100 apartments for low-income people age 62 and older as well as disabled adults, according to its website.
Long Beach is a major port city with a population of more than 400,000.
Balsamo reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Point: Armed School Staff Are First Responders to School Violence
March 19, 2018 by Laura Carno
We’ve all heard the saying, “When seconds count, the police are minutes away.”
If there were a killer in your child’s school, whose intent was to take as much innocent life as possible, how quickly would you want that monster to be stopped? I have yet to hear a parent who would be content to wait for law enforcement to arrive. They want the killer stopped as soon as possible. After all, it is their child’s life at stake.
Think about Coach Aaron Feis at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who sacrificed his life so that children could live. He will rightly be remembered as a hero. Coach Feis used the only thing he had — his body — to protect those children. Imagine if he had been a well-trained concealed carrier. He would have had the chance to stop the killer, protect those children, and go home to his own family that night. In the absence of armed staff members, physically taking bullets for their kids is the only choice school staffers have when confronted with an armed killer.
Is that our expectation of teachers and other school staff members, that they should die to protect our kids? They should have the right to protect their kids and live.
Who are these school staffers — volunteers all — who sign up to protect your children? They are teachers, janitors, coaches, principals, food-service workers and bus drivers. They are people who already have concealed carry permits and have made a decision to carry a firearm to protect themselves and their families outside of school. When their district makes a decision to authorize them as an armed defender on campus, that defender is no longer disarmed when they are at work. They can be put to work in defense of their kids.
Make no mistake; armed staffers are the first responders in most of these active killer events. In the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the killer committed suicide well before law enforcement arrived. It was long over by the time they got to the campus. These events are over in a matter of minutes, often before anyone has a chance to call 911. Consider the timeline in Parkland, where there was a shot fired about every 10 seconds. If your child was near the location where the killing started, how many of those 10-second intervals would be acceptable to you?
There are many “what-ifs” being floated: What if a student takes a school employee’s gun? What if, in trying to stop the killer, the armed defender accidentally shoots a child? What if law enforcement arrives and can’t tell the killer from the armed school staffer? It is good to think through scenarios like those to ensure those risks are covered in training classes, but the reality is, those “what-ifs” aren’t happening. In the decades of armed staff across the country, those concerns are not founded.
Yet, if there was a slight chance of accidentally hitting a child, is that better or worse than the prospect of a deranged monster who is executing child after child after child, with no one to stop him? When parents answer that question thoughtfully, many must concede that they want the killer stopped sooner rather than later.
Some say that every school should have a School Resource Officer, who is a member of local law enforcement. We can all agree that the presence of law enforcement on campus is a great idea. But these killers, intent on taking as many innocents out before they end the spree on their own terms, know where the SRO on campus is. They won’t know who the concealed carrying staff members are.
Some say that we need to do everything we can to keep guns out of schools, and that adding more guns, even in the hands of competent staff members, would make things worse. Of course we should do everything possible to keep unauthorized people from bringing guns onto school property. But as the headlines continue to remind us, bad people do bring guns onto school grounds. Given that reality, having armed defenders nearby who are well trained to stop violence as soon as possible, gives our children and school staff members a fighting chance to survive.
About the Author
Laura Carno is the executive director of FASTERColorado.com, an organization that trains armed school staff members.
Counterpoint: The Kids Are Speaking, and It’s Time for You to Listen
March 19, 2018 by Ava Michelman
Some people think that arming teachers is a good idea, but what stops us from going further? Should we arm our doctors, our shopkeepers, our religious leaders? If you don’t want your friendly neighborhood bakery owner or pediatrician with a gun in their side pocket, why should we ever consider arming our schoolteachers?
The idea of a “good teacher with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun” is honestly one of the worst “solutions” that’s being considered since the Parkland, Florida, school massacre. Bringing guns into the classroom means plenty of new issues that schools have to tackle. Issues like teacher training, parent and staff consent, legal approval, the actual buying, maintaining and safe storage of the guns.
Schools have always been asked to do more with less in educating our students, and every year a new issue comes up that they are forced to address with limited funding, few resources and scarce support. And now we introduce yet another problem that our overburdened school systems have to deal with.
Virtually every national organization representing educators and parents oppose this idea. So, if the majority of superintendents, principals, teachers and parents don’t want guns in the classroom, who does? The NRA and the gun manufacturers, the people who would benefit from the sale of more guns.
Why are we listening to people with no professional teaching experience? Instead of gun salesmen and enthusiasts, we should listen to teachers who spend years training and analyzing child behaviors, learning successful classroom management, becoming subject matter experts, and understanding what it takes to be an effective educator. There’s a reason that Gun Safety 101 isn’t a required teacher training course.
Something that could actually help with making schools safer, such as hiring enough school counselors, needs to be done. The middle school I attend in Virginia has 1,800 students, and just six counselors. That’s 300 students per counselor, an impossible number of kids for one person to help. If something as important as having enough counselors is already underfunded, where is the money that will support teachers being armed going to come from?
But, let’s say that the money to cover every school’s list of funding needs is found, and that additional dollars are also suddenly available for teachers to get the strong training they must have on how to handle firearms — training that makes them as effective as the most skilled of law enforcement officers. Let’s say that said guns are locked up in such a way that they are both easy to reach in the event of a shooting, but impossible to be handled incorrectly by students. Even if this utopia can be achieved, has any adult in charge of decision making considered a student’s perspective on this?
It seems not. Most adults have overlooked, outright ignored or not even asked what the students, those most affected by this solution, think. Because we cannot yet vote for the politicians making these decisions, we are told to be quiet and let the adults make the decisions. We are told that we are too young, too immature, or not intelligent enough to make sense of these types of matters. We are told to trust in the people in office to do what is right for us.
Recently, I attended a town hall hosted by my congressman about gun control. It addressed a large amount of issues, and one of the things that hit me was the amount of children that showed up. These kids, mostly fourth- and fifth-graders, were holding protests at their schools, organizing walk-outs, speaking out. They were being brave in a society that tells them to be seen and not heard, in a world where children aren’t allowed to have opinions until they are an “official” adult.
Our status quo dictates that children must respect their elders and not talk back, be calm and just go play. But I am disgusted when I see that children with restricted speech, restricted options and resources, and restricted rights, are doing so much more on gun control than the adults around them. The children are angry, and we are done following the rules society sets out for us. We have opinions, and we want them to be heard.
I believe I speak for most children when I say: We do not want to live and grow up in an environment where our kindergarten teachers carry handguns.
About the Author
Ava Michelman is a middle schooler in Virginia.
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Raising Legal Age Limits Won’t Solve Gun Violence
March 25, 2018 by Chris Talgo
A national debate over gun violence has erupted in the wake of the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Unlike past mass shootings, grieving and evidence-gathering have been superseded by fervent demands for gun control, with a particular emphasis placed on increasing age limits required to buy certain weapons.
Under federal law, the minimum age to buy a handgun from a licensed dealer is 21. The minimum age to buy a long gun (rifles and shotguns) is 18. Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz allegedly bought multiple weapons after he turned 18, including the AR-15 he used in the attack, leading to calls by many gun control supporters to raise the minimum age to purchase all weapons to 21.
According to #NeverAgain followers and gun control groups, one of the principal causes of mass shootings is immaturity. Therefore, the only reasonable solution, they argue, is to raise the minimum age to buy weapons.
This emotional, knee-jerk reaction fails to consider the myriad factors that contribute to the complex problems surrounding mass shootings, including mental illness, family breakdown and employment disturbances. But perhaps even more important, there’s no evidence raising legal age limits will solve the problem gun control advocates are attempting to address, and it’s wildly inconsistent and unfair for law-abiding adults responsible enough to own weapons.
The three most deadly mass shootings in the history of the United States have all been committed by individuals over the age of 21. In 2017, a 64-year-old killed 59 people in Las Vegas. In 2016, a 29-year-old killed 50 people in Orlando. In 2007, a 23-year-old on the campus of Virginia Tech University killed 33 people. A statistical analysis on mass shootings occurring in the United States from 1982 to 2018 revealed the average age of mass-shooting killers is 35.
Raising the legal age limit to purchase weapons wouldn’t have stopped any of these murders, so why is there such an extreme push to increase age limits now?
Age limits are a solution in search of a problem, but even more than that they are unjust and discriminate against adult Americans based on age. At the age of 18, all males must register for the draft under the Selective Service System, and Americans become eligible to join the military at 18.
Is it fair that the U.S. government can force an 18-year-old male to wield a weapon but then prevent that same individual from buying a weapon? Likewise, is it fair to ask a 19-year-old to fight and potentially die overseas but prevent him or her from owning a weapon? Why would a person be considered mature enough to drive a tank in Baghdad but prevented from owning a rifle at home?
States allow 18-year-olds to vote, too, but why should such a person be allowed to help choose the commander in chief, who has the power to destroy the world with thousands of weapons of mass destruction, but not be trusted with the ability to own a firearm?
Beyond the rampant age discrimination and ethical perils posed by an across-the-board age requirement, there’s also a whole host of other problems. What would happen to current “underage” owners of such weapons? Would this cohort, possibly in the millions, be grandfathered into federal or state bans? Would they be forced to give up their weapons? Even more important, is such a requirement even constitutional?
According to the Constitution, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” American law has consistently deemed that an 18-year-old is a fully formed adult, responsible for all his or her actions.
In 1971, prior to the ratification of the 26th Amendment, a Senate report found 18-year-olds are: “fully mature enough to vote,” “Bear all or most of an adult’s responsibilities” and should be allowed to “to influence our society in a peaceful and constructive manner.”
In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons that the death penalty could be applied in cases where the assailant was over the age of 18 at the time of the criminal offense, because 18-year-olds are considered adults who have a full understanding of the crimes they commit.
If an 18-year-old is mature enough to be considered an adult by courts, states, the military and federal government in nearly all circumstances, why not for purchasing a weapon?
Raising age limits is a naive, quick-fix, feel-good approach to a problem that requires a more thoughtful and nuanced response. Gun control advocates ought to focus less on raising age limits and limiting young adults’ rights and more on all the factors that actually led to mass shootings.
About the Author
Chris Talgo is an editor of American Exceptionalism, a project of The Heartland Institute.
Let Pre-18 Teens Register to Vote
March 25, 2018 by Karen Hobert Flynn
Along with turning up the heat in the national debate over gun laws, the horrific attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month has introduced the nation to a new generation of articulate, passionate teenagers.
Days after watching classmates get gunned down in their school, the Parkland massacre’s young survivors confronted the president at the White House and successfully pushed Florida lawmakers to change gun laws in ways that were unthinkable until the kids took up the cause. Their activism inspired hundreds of thousands of people to participate in this weekend’s “March for Our Lives” in Washington and sibling marches across the country.
The students have sent us a welcome and encouraging sign about the health of our democracy, particularly in an era in which so many Americans seem to have given in to a feeling that our politics are beyond repair.
We need to listen to these folks and keep them engaged.
One small but important way to start would be to get them registered to vote — even before they’re eligible to cast ballots. Common Cause, the organization I’m privileged to lead, is supporting pre-registration in states across the country.
Fifteen states — California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and Utah, plus the District of Columbia — already are on board; they permit 16- and/or 17-year-olds to register so that they can vote as soon as they turn 18. Twenty-four states and D.C. let 17-year-olds vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 by Election Day.
A handful of local governments across the country have taken the next logical step, lowering the voting age for their elections. Takoma Park, Md., a Washington suburb, was the first; it lowered the voting age to 16 in 2013. An organization called Vote16USA is running lower-the-age campaigns in 10 other cities or states.
The available evidence indicates that turnout among young voters increases when pre-registration is permitted. A study of Florida’s registration and turnout in 2008, for example, found that teens who signed up to vote before turning 18 went to the polls at a rate 2 percentage points higher than those who didn’t register until after their 18th birthday. The bump in turnout was even larger among African-Americans and Hispanics who pre-registered, the researchers found.
The already strong case for pre-registration got a boost recently from an unlikely source: Denmark. A study of Danish voters by Jens Olav Dahlgaard, an assistant professor in political science at the Copenhagen Business School, suggests that as it boosts turnout among young voters, pre-registration also produces a “trickle-up” effect, as parents react to their children’s enfranchisement by stepping up their own participation.
In a recent essay for The Washington Post, Dahlgaard summarized research across four Danish elections, finding that adults whose voting-age children were still living at home went to the polls at a rate 4 percentage points higher than those whose children had moved out.
“Many children start leaving home around age 18 — meaning that many young people will leave home before the first election in which they can vote,” Dahlgaard wrote. “If the voting age was 16 or 17, more children would still live with their parents in their first election — and both groups would be a bit more likely to vote.”
For me, the bottom line is this: simply by virtue of their age, young people in every election have more at stake than any other demographic group; they have longer to live with the decisions we all make. That alone is more than enough reason for those of us who already can vote to do all we can to bring them into the body politic and encourage them to stay involved.
About the Author
Karen Hobert Flynn is president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy and working for open, honest and accountable government.