Families of Sandy Hook massacre victims can’t sue Bushmaster for making gun that killed 26 people at school

Published: Salon (October 17, 2016)

It shouldn’t have to be a longshot to prove in court that a company which makes semiautomatic rifles is recklessly endangering people’s lives, but it is.

On Friday, a judge in Connecticut dismissed a high-profile lawsuit against the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15, which was used in the December 2012 shooting spree that took the lives of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Although most liability suits raised by gun-violence victims and their families have been thwarted by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCAA), which protects gun manufacturers from these types of suits, the plaintiffs cited the “negligent entrustment” clause, which extends to cases “when the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others.” Unfortunately for the Sandy Hook parents, Judge Barbara Bellis found that the “negligent entrustment” clause did not apply to their case. read more

Why Trump’s “Second Amendment” insinuation was an abhorrent stunt straight out of the NRA’s playbook

Published: Salon (August 11, 2016)

It was reprehensible for Donald Trump to insinuate that his pro-gun followers use violence to thwart Hillary Clinton. That said, was he really out of lockstep with what the NRA and other pro-gun groups have been saying for years?

Just to be clear, this is what Trump said:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Considering that this is a man who has already called on a foreign superpower to hack his opponent’s email server, it’s hard to blame Trump’s critics for sensing that he would transgress the bounds of propriety yet again by threatening violence. Besides, he didn’t just call for the “Second Amendment people” to galvanize in opposition to Clinton’s judicial picks or donate money to his campaign. First he characterized the event of a Clinton election as a hopeless situation (“nothing you can do folks”) and then suggested that Americans who believe in gun rights could handle it by … Well, he trailed off right there for a reason. read more

A First Amendment Pioneer’s Take on the Second Amendment (republished after the Orlando mass shooting)

Published: GirlieGirlArmy (June 12, 2016, July 3, 2014)

co-author: Liskula Cohen

Editor’s Note: This was republished because, at a time when the media is fanning the flames of Islamophobia, we need to remember that if it wasn’t for our lax gun control laws and belligerent pro-gun culture, that mass shooter may have never had a firearm in the first place.

I have, shall we say, an interesting relationship with the Constitution. Back in 2009, I was involved in a lawsuit with Google over whether libelous speech (in this case that of a cyberbully against me) was protected by the First Amendment. When a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled in my favor, a precedent was established that protected victims of bullying against their attackers. read more

What Bernie Sanders doesn’t understand about gun control

Published: Salon (October 16, 2015)The Daily Dot (October 14, 2015)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) waffled during last night’s debate when he was asked about his gun control record, and despite the candidate’s widespread online popularity—especially on Reddit—the Internet definitely took note.

Although Sanders wasn’t the only Democrat on that stage with a record of opposing gun control legislation, the other candidate with a similar background—former Senator Jim Webb—openly embraced his past positions on the subject. Sanders, by contrast, tried to find common ground with gun control advocates—even as he defended his spotty record as the product of a desire to build a consensus between both sides of the issue. read more

Not all lives matter: The perverse hypocrisy of “pro-life” gun enthusiasts

Published: Salon (October 10, 2015), The Daily Dot (October 7, 2015)

In a recent episode of The Daily Show, host Trevor Noah jokingly compared Republican politicians’ pro-life stance on abortion with their blasé attitude toward the increasing number of American deaths caused by gun violence: “They just need to have a superhero’s dedication to life. Because right now, they’re more like comic book collectors: Human life only matters until you take it out of the package, and then there’s nothing left.” read more

Bernie Sanders has a troubled record on gun control (but the NRA still hates him)

Published: Salon (July 9, 2015)

Gun nuts go after Bernie Sanders: NRA just reveals its radical paranoia
Sanders’ Second Amendment position falls to the right of many liberals, but NRA types just assume the worst

Gun nuts go after Bernie Sanders: NRA just reveals its radical paranoia

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., may be a self-described “Independent Socialist,” but his surprisingly moderate views on gun control have definitely set the Internet ablaze of late; and, in the process, revealed a huge problem within the pro-gun movement.

It all started when Sanders appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper on Sunday: “If somebody has a gun, and it falls into the hands of a murderer, and that murderer kills somebody with the gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible?” Sanders asked. “Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer. That is not what a lawsuit should be about.” read more

Don’t blame atheists for the Chapel Hill shootings

Published: Daily Dot (February 12, 2015)

The Chapel Hill shootings are a wake-up call for American atheists.

Although there is still uncertainty about Craig Stephen Hicks’ motives for murdering three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina, much attention has been drawn to his outspoken atheism. “The man’s bigotry clearly had a role in this, and the source of that bigotry was ‘anti-theism,’ as he himself put it on Facebook,” wrote one commenter on Reddit’s r/atheism subreddit. “It wasn’t just anti-Islamic hate, but anti-religious hatred in this man’s heart.” read more

Finding Solace and Light After the Gabby Giffords Tragedy

Published: Good Men Project (December 17, 2014)

Matthew Rozsa meditates on what we lost when Gabby Giffords was shot … and what we can still hope for.

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It would be an understatement to say that I’m not an observant Jew. I don’t keep kosher, only periodically observe the High Holy Days, and didn’t even remember that it was Channukah until I saw this Facebook picture of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords lighting a menorah with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly,

It’s strange how little things can remind you to pay respect to your roots, and when it happens, it’s usually worthwhile to reflect on why they manage to resonate so strongly. For me, the image of Giffords performing a Jewish ritual did the trick for a very simple reason: read more