Monday, March 28, 2016


CNN recently published a sobering list of the deadliest single day mass shootings in U.S. history from 1949 to the present. If you arrange the list chronologically, instead of by the number of deaths, it tells a story of increasing gun violence:

2011—Present     6
2001-2010            9
1991-2000            5
1981-1990            7
1971-1980            0
1961-1970            1
1951-1960            0
1949-1950            1

Here is the CNN list. It is a disturbing look back at violence in this country.

(If the shooter was killed or committed suicide during the incident, CNN did not include the shooter’s death in the total.)

Events Beginning in 1949:

1.  13 killed - September 5, 1949 - In Camden, New Jersey, 28-year-old Howard Unruh, a veteran of World War II, shoots and kills 13 people as he walks down Camden's 32nd Street. His weapon of choice is a German-crafted Luger pistol. He is found insane and is committed to a state mental institution. He dies at the age of 88.

2.  18 killed - August 1, 1966 - In Austin, Texas, Charles Joseph Whitman, a former U.S. Marine, kills 16 and wounds at least 30 while shooting from a University of Texas tower. Police officers Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy shoot and kill Whitman in the tower. Whitman had also killed his mother and wife earlier in the day.

3.  8 killed - August 20, 1982 - In Miami, 51-year-old history teacher Carl Robert Brown, angry about a repair bill and armed with a shotgun, kills eight people at a machine shop. He flees by bicycle, but is shot in the back by a witness who pursued him. He was on leave from school for psychological treatment.

4. 13 killed - September 25, 1982 - In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, 40-year-old George Banks, a prison guard, kills 13 people including five of his own children. In September 2011, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturns his death sentence stating that Banks is mentally incompetent.

5. 13 killed - February 18, 1983 - Three men enter the Wah Mee gambling and social club in Seattle, rob the 14 occupants and then shoot each in the head, killing 13. Two of the men, Kwan Fai Mak and Benjamin Ng, are convicted of murder in August 1983. Both are serving life in prison. The third, Wai-Chiu "Tony" Ng, after years on the run in Canada, is eventually convicted of first-degree robbery and second-degree assault. He is deported to Hong Kong in 2014.

6. 21 killed - July 18, 1984 - In San Ysidro, California, 41-year-old James Huberty, armed with a long-barreled Uzi, a pump-action shotgun and a handgun shoots and kills 21 adults and children at a local McDonalds. A police sharpshooter kills Huberty one hour after the rampage begins.

7. 14 killed - August 20, 1986 - Edmond, Oklahoma, part-time mail carrier, Patrick Henry Sherrill, armed with three handguns kills 14 postal workers in 10 minutes and then takes his own life with a bullet to the head.

8.  8 killed - September 14, 1989 - In Louisville, Kentucky, 47-year-old Joseph Wesbecker armed with a AK-47 semiautomatic assault rifle, two MAC-11 semiautomatic pistols, a .38 caliber handgun, a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and a bayonet kills eight co-workers at Standard Gravure Corporation and then kills himself. He had been placed on disability leave from his job due to mental problems.

9. 9 killed - June 18, 1990 - In Jacksonville, Florida, 42-year-old James Pough, angry about his car being repossessed, opens fire at a General Motors Acceptance Corp. office, killing nine people. Pough takes his own life.

10. 9 killed - August 10, 1991 - Six monks, a nun, a monk in training and a temple worker are found shot to death at Wat Promkunaram, a Buddhist temple in Waddell, Arizona.
 Johnathan Doody, 17, and Alessandro Garcia, 16, are later convicted of the crime and receive multiple life sentences.

11. 23 killed - October 16, 1991 - In Killeen, Texas, 35-year-old George Hennard crashes his pickup truck through the wall of a Lubys Cafeteria. After exiting the truck, Hennard shoots and kills 23 people. He then commits suicide.

12.  8 killed - July 1, 1993 - In San Francisco, 55-year-old Gian Luigi Ferri kills eight people in a law office and then kills himself.

13. 13 killed - April 20, 1999 - Columbine High School - Littleton, Colorado. 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold kill 12 fellow students and one teacher before committing suicide in the school library.

14. 12 killed - July 29, 1999 - In Atlanta, 44-year-old Mark Barton kills his wife and two children at his home. He then opens fire in two different brokerage houses killing nine people and wounding 12. He later kills himself.

15.  9 killed - March 21, 2005 - Red Lake High School, Red Lake, Minnesota. 16-year-old Jeff Weise kills his grandfather and another adult, five students, a teacher and a security officer. He then kills himself.

16. 32 killed - April 16, 2007 - Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. A gunman, 23-year-old student Seung-Hui Cho, goes on a shooting spree killing 32 people in two locations and wounds an undetermined number of others on campus. The shooter, Seung-Hui Cho then commits suicide.

17. 8 killed - December 5, 2007 - In Omaha, Nebraska, 19-year-old Robert Hawkins goes to an area mall and kills eight shoppers before killing himself.

18. 10 killed - March 10, 2009 - In Alabama, Michael McLendon of Kinston, kills 10 and himself. The dead include his mother, grandparents, aunt and uncle.

19. 8 killed - March 29, 2009 - In Carthage, North Carolina, 45-year-old Robert Stewart kills a nurse and seven elderly patients at a nursing home. In May, the Moore County district attorney announces she will seek the death penalty. On September 3, 2011, a jury finds Stewart guilty of second-degree murder. Stewart is sentenced to 141 to 179 years in prison.

20. 13 killed - April 3, 2009 - In Binghamton, New York, Jiverly Wong kills 13 people and injures four during a shooting at an immigrant community center. He then kills himself.

21. 13 killed - November 5, 2009 - Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan kills 13 people and injures 32 at Fort Hood, Texas, during a shooting rampage. He is convicted and sentenced to death

22. 8 killed - January 19, 2010 - Christopher Speight, 39, kills eight people at a house in Appomattox, Virginia. He surrenders to police at the scene the next morning. February 2013, he is sentenced to five life terms plus 18 years.

23. 8 killed - August 3, 2010 - Manchester, Connecticut - Omar Thornton kills eight co-workers at Hartford Distributors before turning the gun on himself. Thornton had been asked to resign for stealing and selling alcoholic beverages

24. 12 killed - July 20, 2012 - Twelve people are killed and 58 are wounded in a shooting at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater screening of the new Batman film. James E. Holmes, 24, is taken into custody outside of the movie theater. The gunman, dressed head-to-toe in protective tactical gear, set off two devices of some kind before spraying the theater with bullets from an AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and at least one of two .40-caliber handguns police recovered at the scene.

25. 27 killed - December 14, 2012 - Sandy Hook Elementary School - Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza, 20, guns down 20 children, ages six and seven, and six adults, school staff and faculty, before turning the gun on himself. Investigating police later find Nancy Lanza, Adam's mother, dead from a gunshot wound. The final count is 28 dead, including the shooter.

26. 12 killed - September 16, 2013 - Shots are fired inside the Washington Navy Yard killing 12. The shooter, identified as Aaron Alexis, 34, is also killed.

27. 9 killed - June 17, 2015 - Dylann Roof, 21, shoots and kills nine people inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, South Carolina. Eight die at the scene; a ninth dies at a hospital. Roof is arrested the following day; according to police, he confesses and tells investigators he wanted to start a race war.

28.  9 killed - October 1, 2015 - Gunman Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer shoots and kills nine people, injuring another nine, at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter dies after a gun battle with police at the college. Six weapons were recovered at the school; another seven were recovered at Harper-Mercer's home
8 killed - October 12, 2011 - Eight people are killed during a shooting at the Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, California. The suspect, Scott Evans Dekraai, 41, of Huntington Beach, is arrested without incident as he is trying to leave the scene. The eight dead include Dekraai's ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, 48. He was armed with three guns -- a 9 mm Springfield, a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, and a Heckler & Koch .45 -- and was wearing body armor during the shooting rampage.

29. 14 killed - December 2, 2015 - Married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik open fire on an employee gathering taking place at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, killing 14 people.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Grafton Peterson, the father of Erin Peterson who was killed during the Virginia Tech rampage, has died. Peterson died of a heart attack in late March. Technically he died of heart problems. But in fact, the murder of his only surviving child (another daughter died when she was eight), is what killed him.

With Peterson’s death, Cho has claimed another victim. State as well school officials are once again culpable. Families need the truth when their children are gunned down; they need to know all the facts; they need for officials to come clean. But, the persistent lies, deceit, and cover-ups in the Tech rampage have prevented parents and survivors from returning to even a modicum of a normal life.

The same types of lies and deceit were there when Angela Dales, the mother of my oldest grandchild, was killed at the first school shooting in Virginia—the Appalachian School of Law, January 16, 2002. I watched Danny Dales, Angie’s father, die a slow death from grief. All of us tried to cut through the duplicity and falsehoods on the part of people in positions of authority. For example, the law school president, in a staff meeting shortly before the shooting, replied to female professors requests for school security by saying, “Oh, you women and your hormones, nothing will happen, it will be all right.” He was never asked to explain that, much less held accountable.

In the case of Virginia Tech, the hypocrisy knows no bounds. School officials, politicians, and even the Virginia Supreme Court, have thought nothing about lying (claiming they did not know Cho was violent), undercutting legislation to make our schools safer (a bill did not pass the Virginia legislature until the wording made it impossible for university and college presidents to be held accountable for school safety regulations), and even obstructing justice and denying people their rights to a fair court hearing (a Virginia Supreme Court Justice introduced false evidence into a court proceedings).

I can write volumes (and I have) about the hypocrisy surrounding the two school shootings in Virginia. 

And people ask the victims’ families why it is so hard for them to move on.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


The FBI defines mass shootings as four or more deaths. But there is something amiss with this definition. There are murders involving multiple victims almost every day in our major urban centers, and these killings do not always make the list of mass shootings. Indeed, other statistics indicate the epidemic of gun violence is far worse than most of us imagine.

Here are some figures that underscore the bloodbath that is taking place in this country. Between 2003-2013, 3,380 Americans were killed by terrorist attacks. During the same period, firearms, according to CNN, killed 406,496 Americans. Of the latter figure, 156,000 died in homicides.

As if the above statistics are not bad enough look at the following as reported by the Brady Campaign:

          One in three people in the U.S. knows someone who has been shot.

          On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.

          Every day on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 46 people are shot or killed in an accident with a gun.

The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


The presidential debates are in full swing, and the subjects candidates are talking about? Well, the size of one candidate’s male appendage, which candidate is lying, pants wetting, sweating, comb overs, and a candidate’s orange skin.

While the candidates degrade themselves and insult the electorate here is what is happening: Vox Politics & Policy reported guns killed 147 Americans in the first four days of 2016. According to Mass Shooting Tracker, the rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan on February 20th was the 24th mass shooting in the U.S. in February and the 42nd mass shooting in the U.S. since the beginning of the 2016.

There are the problems of ISIL, low wages in our country, strains in relations between Washington and Moscow, and this country’s horrific trade imbalances.

We are a nation of over 300 million people and these are the best people we can get to run for President?

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Lori Haas is the Virginia state director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Her daughter, Emily was shot twice, but fortunately survived, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. The following are excerpts of her February 21, 2016 op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch as printed in Blue Virginia.

  1. The decision by Attorney General Mark Herring on “concealed carry reciprocity” with other states, far from being some kind of rogue action by an out-of-control, anti-gun AG, was actually (as Lori Haas points out) was actually a move “to enforce existing law and rescind reciprocity agreements with states that were putting armed individuals with a history of violence on our streets.” That move came after many years in which previous Virginia AGs “ignored the law and signed reciprocity agreements with 30 states whose standards failed to meet these requirements in Virginia code.” Which is outrageous, when you think about it, and should be troubling to anyone who cares about the rule of law
  2. Gov. McAuliffe’s gun deal with the NRA, which followed AG Herring’s long-overdue enforcement of Virginia law: “not only repeal[ed] Herring’s decision but also allow[ed] blanket reciprocity with all 49 others states, many of which fall well short of the requirements in Virginia code.” It even allowed “Virginia residents who are unable to obtain a concealed handgun permit in the commonwealth to go out of state to get a permit and carry on our streets!”
  3. As for the part of the deal with the NRA dealing with protective orders, Haas notes that “making firearm possession prohibitory for those under a permanent protective order for family abuse…is laudable but does nothing to address the nine other types of protective orders in Virginia,” nor is any process “defined for abusers to safely dispose of firearms, and no direction is given to law enforcement to seize weapons when abusers refuse to relinquish them.”
  4. With regard to voluntary background checks at gun shows, Haas says this “is hardly worth mentioning,” and that instead Gov. McAuliffe “should have fought for mandatory universal background checks on private sales, a wildly popular policy supported by 88 percent of Virginians, according to a recent poll from Christopher Newport University.”
  5. Finally, as for the ridiculous talking point by McAuliffe’s team that this must be a good deal because “both sides are unhappy” (or words to that effect), Haas points out that the “glee the radical NRA and Virginia Citizens Defense League have expressed about this deal, as opposed to the anger and disappointment of gun violence prevention advocates, is a dead giveaway that McAuliffe did not get the best public safety package he could have.”