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Watch: Betsy DeVos Admits Her Commission on Gun Violence in Schools Will Not Study Role of Guns

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Betsy DeVos in the days following the tragic Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting was directed by President Donald Trump to create a commission to find ways to end school gun violence, especially massacres like the one in Florida. The Education Secretary took her time assembling the committee and even longer to have the first meeting.

Little, if anything appears to have been accomplished. The only members are four Trump Cabinet Secretaries. There are no Democrats, experts, or students own the committee. And there have been many school shootings since Parkland.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee DeVos Tuesday morning revealed the huge mistake she’s made, thanks to questioning by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Sen. Leahy reminded DeVos that “one day after the commission met last month, another ten students and teachers were killed in Santa Fe, Texas.”

“Will your commission look at the role of fire arms as it relates to gun violence in our schools?” Sen. Leahy asked directly.

“Thanks Senator for that question,” DeVos replied, which she tends to do when there’s a question she doesn’t want to answer. Doing so uses up time.

“It is an honor to serve and lead this commission,” DeVos continued, stalling. “We are focused on the 20-some provisions –” DeVos continued, trying to eat up time without actually answering the Vermont Senator’s question.

Interjecting, Leahy said: “I’ve tried to give you a question that could be answered yes or no.”

He asked the question again: “Will your commission look at the role of fire arms as it relates to gun violence in our schools?”

And he finally got his answer.

“That is not part of the commission’s charge, per se,” DeVos replied.

“I see,” Leahy responded. “So, you’re studying gun violence but not considering the role of guns.”

DeVos tried to reframe his remarks.

“We’re actually studying school safety and how we can ensure our students are safe at school,” she claimed, offering a condescending smile, and ignoring the fact that the commission was created in direct response to the Parkland shooting massacre.

Leahy continued his questioning, getting more pushback and refusal to give straight answers.

“Do you believe an 18-year old high school student should be able to walk into a store and minutes later come out with an AR-15 style gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition?” he asked.

“I believe that’s very much a matter for debate,” DeVos replied, despite being charged with keeping school students safe.

After more back and forth Sen. Leahy summed up.

“So we’ll look at gun violence but not look at guns. An interesting concept,” he concluded.

Watch:

 

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GUNS GUNS GUNS AND MORE GUNS

Kids on Grade School Cheerleading Team Asked to Sell Assault Rifle Raffle Tickets – or Pay $100 ‘Opt-Out Fee’

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Members of a New Richmond, Ohio elementary school cheerleading team were forced to sell $10 raffle tickets for an AM-15 optic ready assault rifle or pay a $100 “opt-out fee,” CNN reports. One mother of a 7-year old who joined the Junior Lions Cheer Team spoke out in opposition.

“This is absurd, you’re having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?” Heather Chilton told CNN affiliate WXIX. “I highly doubt that something would happen with the gun, but say it did. Say one of the kids in the high school got a hold of it — got the AR-15 or AM-15 and shot up a school with it, and I’m the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?”

“I can’t see them selling some type of semi-automatic rifle when we have all these mass shootings going on, going door to door,” Chilton added.

She says she was sent an email “saying that all the members of the cheer team would be required to sell five AM-15 raffle tickets and five gift basket raffle tickets for $10 each to help raise money for the football and cheer programs.”

New Richmond Junior Lions Football president Robert Wooten says the organization has been doing this for four years.

He says the children “are not obligated” to sell the raffle tickets, but “We do suggest it.”

“We recommend it just because the money we receive is obviously needed for us to continue to provide sports for our community.”

Wooten says the group will consider changes next year.

On August 5 TIME reported 62 people have been killed in mass shootings just this year.

“Mass violence threats – at least 30 in 18 states – have surged since El Paso, Dayton,” USA Today reported Thursday.

Here’s a report on the assault rifle raffle from WLTW:

 

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1st Grader Picked Up and Pointed Loaded Gun at Fellow Student – Gun Is Part of Program to Prevent School Shootings

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Gun Belonged to School Official Who Is Also Student’s Grandmother

A Morrow County, Ohio first grade student was able to pick up and point a loaded gun at a fellow student, saying, “Put your hands behind your back your [sic] arrested,” according to The Columbus Dispatch. The gun was left unattended, possibly for as long as 30 minutes and belongs to Vicky Nelson, the first grade student’s grandmother who is also the school district’s transportation director.

Nelson was allowed to have the gun on school property as part of a Highland Local Schools concealed carry program designed to protect students from potential gun violence or school shootings, by arming select officials.

The student who had the gun pointed at him is the son of the school district’s assistant transportation director.

“He pointed it at her and said ‘Put your hands behind your back your [sic] arrested,’” Christine Scaffidi, the assistant transportation director, told schools Superintendent Dan Freund in an email.

Superintendent Freund is under fire for neglecting to mention the gun was left unattended for up to half an hour, and that Nelson had not only gone to the restroom but driven to another school while the gun was left unattended.

“I’m assuming that the child picked up the gun from behind the desk and had been holding it,” Freund had originally reported.

Now he says he had forgotten about the additional details.

“It wasn’t an attempt to lie or cover up anything,” Freund said. “I’m 70 years old. I forgot about (the emails). Do I get it right all the time? No. Maybe the school board wants to fire me.”

Nelson has been removed from the concealed carry program, “was eventually suspended for three days without pay,” and apologized.

 

Image via Shutterstock

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‘ArmyOfChrist’: FBI Arrests 18 Year Old for Threatening a Massacre. He Had 10,000 Rounds of Ammo, 25 Guns, and a Machete

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He called himself “ArmyOfChrist” and used an avatar that looked like a medieval crusader. The FBI arrested the 18-year old Ohio man, Justin Olsen, “for allegedly threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer. He’s accused of making the threats on a meme website where he also allegedly discussed shooting Planned Parenthood locations, citing multiple mass murders involving far-right extremists,” the Daily Beast reports.

The home he shared with his father was searched by the FBI last Wednesday.

The federal agents found “a trove of weapons, including 300 rounds of ammunition on a staircase, another 10,000 rounds in a bedroom, 15 rifles including AR-15 style rifles, and 10 semi-automatic pistols, and a machete in Olsen’s car. A search warrant reveals authorities searched Olsen’s property for ‘hate related literature.'”

Among the weapons were AR-15-style rifles and shotguns.

Cleveland.com adds that Olsen allegedly wrote, “shoot every federal agent on sight.”

Citing an affidavit, the NY Post reports Olsen “also suggested” that users of a meme-sharing app “‘stock up’ on guns that federal authorities may one day ban, and expressed his support for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, saying that the domestic terrorist, who was executed in 2001, was proof that ‘armed resistance is a viable method of political change.'”

He claims his comments were “only a joke.”

Federal authorities are reportedly scrambling to confront what appears to be a massive outbreak of potential domestic terrorism, often motivated by right wing white supremacism.

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