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Retired military commanders urge Congress to address ‘gun violence crisis’

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H/T The Chicago Tribune.

The 16 retired military commanders need to reread the oath they took when they enlisted into the military.

They swore to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic that includes defending the Second Amendment against infringement by gun control laws.  

Sixteen of the nation’s top retired military commanders are urging Congress to pass gun control legislation, arguing that there are many steps that can be taken to curb gun deaths that do not violate the Second Amendment.

In a letter they plan to send to Congressional leaders, the retired commanders, including Army Gens. Wesley Clark and Michael Hayden, Navy Admiral Eric Olson, Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman Seip and Marine Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, argue that Congress is “no longer speaking or voting for the majority of Americans, including gun owners” when it comes to the issue of firearms.

“There is no acceptable excuse for our elected leaders to avoid addressing this as a national crisis,” they write.

The group is part of the veterans coalition of a gun control group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly. They laid out their arguments in a letter they plan to send to Congressional leaders.

The retired military men and women said that, as military leaders, they defended the Constitution and have considerable firearms training. As Americans, they said, they find the level of gun violence across the country unacceptable, calling the shootings that killed 58 people in Las Vegas in October and 26 in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November “but the latest instances of shocking horror” that the nation has experienced in recent years.

“Thoughts and prayers will not bring solutions,” they write.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of gun deaths rose for the second straight year in 2016, to 12 per 100,000 people.

The letter comes as a House panel this week voted to advance a measure that would expand the ability to carry concealed firearms across state lines. Under the bill, known as concealed carry reciprocity, a person with a concealed-carry permit and a photo identification would be able to have a concealed weapon in any state that allows them. The gun owner would still have to follow state and local laws regarding where and what type of weapons can be carried. The National Rifle Association has called the bill its “highest legislative priority in Congress.”

The legislation is scheduled for a House vote next week. Its sponsor, Richard Hudson, R-N.C., said in a statement that the bill is extremely popular and “momentum, common sense, and the facts are on our side.”

Giffords said the bill weakens public safety, and Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he agrees.

“In the aftermath of two of the country’s worst mass shootings, it’s an affront to both our safety as a nation and the common sense of its citizens that Congress would consider actually weakening our gun laws,” McChrystal said. “Untrained and potentially dangerous people have no business carrying guns in our communities, but the concealed carry bill in the House would allow exactly that.”

The retired commanders argue that it is imperative that Congress tackle the issue because inaction will lead to more deaths. They argue that closing background check loopholes, barring extremely lethal guns and accessories and working toward preventing gun suicides can be addressed within “every reasonable interpretation” of the Second Amendment.

“We do not pretend that addressing our nation’s gun violence crisis will be quick or easy, but we know for certain that it is your duty,” the letter says.

They also said that the failure of the Defense Department to report domestic violence convictions so people with those convictions can’t purchase firearms, is “unacceptable” and must be fixed. The Air Force failed to tell federal authorities about the domestic violence convictions of Devin Kelley, the Sutherland Springs shooter, who purchased several guns after his release from jail and discharge from the military.

Giffords’ husband, Kelly, a retired Navy captain, said veterans understand firearms – and the damage they can inflict when they end up in the wrong hands.

“These are people who have also defended the Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights, which includes the Second Amendment, with their lives. And they understand that common sense gun laws to protect communities from gun violence are not an infringement on the Second Amendment,” he said. “They know this shouldn’t be a political issue.”

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said he believes it’s time for both sides of the polarized debate to sit down and talk about the problem of gun violence.

“Let’s have a discussion,” he said. “I think we need to have reasonable people come to the table and have a discussion and need to understand that they have a responsibility to carry this conversation forward so we can deal with the risk that’s currently in our society.”

                              

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Former NBA player given prison for selling guns stolen in train heist

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H/T The Chicago Tribune.

Eight years was not long enough for this silly bastard.

ust days after Nathan Driggers bought a load of brand-new Ruger pistols stolen from a South Side rail yard and resold them, weapons taken in the heist started showing up at crime scenes across the city, federal prosecutors say.

The first gun was found in April 2015 concealed in a vehicle during a traffic stop; the driver claimed the weapon was for protection from the city’s onslaught of gun violence, according to prosecutors. A second, loaded with six live rounds, was recovered two days later lying on a porch in the crime-ridden Englewood neighborhood.

Over the next several months, the stolen Rugers continued to turn up at shooting scenes, during police chases and in street stops of known gang members. One gun was found by a concerned citizen hidden under his gutter, another in a garbage can in Maywood after a tipster called police.

That July, Cook County sheriff’s police raided a home and found a man wanted in Colorado for attempted murder sleeping next to a bin filled with weapons, including one of the Rugers loaded with a bullet in the chamber.

On Thursday, Driggers was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in the 2015 train yard heist of more than 100 weapons that were being shipped by rail from the Ruger factory in New Hampshire to a wholesaler in Spokane, Wash.

Driggers, 44, was convicted by a federal jury earlier this year of acting as a fence for the robbery crew, a group of gang-affiliated friends who cased out the Norfolk Southern rail yard and used bolt cutters to bypass locks on the rail cars.

Evidence presented at trial showed Driggers, a former high school basketball standout who went on to play in the NBA and Europe, bought 30 of the 111 stolen Rugers a day after the heist and quickly resold 29 of them though a Far South Side shop where he trafficked stolen goods.

To date, only 19 of the 111 guns have been recovered, according to court records.

In asking for the maximum sentence of 10 years, prosecutors said that even though none of the guns that have turned up so far could be proved to be ones Driggers specifically sold, his actions have undoubtedly contributed to the “very dark place” Chicago finds itself in when it comes to the carnage on city streets.

“While he sits in jail, the guns he sold are going to continue to be recovered by Chicago police at scenes just like these,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Parente said. “There is no reason to believe something magical, that any of them went to law-abiding citizens. … The people who are doing the shootings are getting their guns from people like (him).”

Driggers was one of 11 people charged in the April 2015 theft, which highlighted a growing security problem at Chicago’s rail yards. The Associated Press reported earlier this year that in addition to the Ruger heist, there have been two unsolved break-ins at the same facility, one in September 2016 when 30 guns were taken and the 2014 theft of 13 military-style semi-automatic rifles.

In the wake of that report, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin called on Norfolk Southern to do more to secure its yards running through many of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The company later said it was implementing enhanced security measures, including better train cargo locks and advance notification from shippers if guns are in a train’s cargo.

Before he was sentenced Thursday, Driggers stood in court dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and emphatically denied ever selling guns, saying it “hurts a little bit” to hear prosecutors link him to violence.

“I’m just not the monster that’s being portrayed here today, as far as putting these guns out on the streets,” Driggers told U.S. District Judge John Tharp in a long and sometimes rambling statement. “That’s just not me. That’s not what I do.”

His attorney, William Murphy, said it was “pure conjecture” on the part of prosecutors to say that any of the recovered guns were ones that Driggers sold. While Driggers has drug convictions in his background, Murphy said, he’s never been in a gang or accused of any violence. In fact, Murphy said, he is known for helping underprivileged kids in his neighborhood, where he sponsors a youth basketball program.

“He’s a big man, but he’s a gentle man,” Murphy told the judge. “He’s never picked fights with anybody, and he’s never hurt anybody.”

Driggers was a standout basketball player at Corliss High School in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood before attending the University of Montevallo in Alabama, where he became the school’s all-time leading scorer, according to court records and online sports statistics.

Drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1996, Driggers appeared in 15 games that season, scoring a total of 36 points. Later, he played professionally in Australia, Belgium and France, records show.

In his remarks, Murphy described how Driggers was able to make something of his life despite a horrific childhood that included being abandoned by his parents and forced to grow up in a series of foster homes before a basketball coach took him under his wing.

“He is the rags-to-riches story,” Murphy wrote in a court filing earlier this month. Injuries cut Driggers’ career short, however, and he eventually turned to drug dealing to help support himself, Murphy said.

In handing down the sentence, Tharp said Driggers’ background cut both ways, noting that despite his terrible upbringing he had “reached a point that millions of people would envy,” playing professional basketball in the U.S. and traveling all over Europe and the world.

“So what in the world are you doing in a federal courtroom?” Tharp asked.

Records show that on the night of the train yard burglary, three of the robbers drove first to Indiana to wait for cargo trains to arrive and wound up following one back to the Norfolk Southern yard, where they used bolt cutters to gain access to the cars.

At one point, the crew came across a shipment of women’s sandals and offloaded it. Later, they ran into a different group of thieves who happened to be stealing from the same train and had found the cache of guns stacked in a boxcar. The two groups decided to team up to steal as many of the weapons as they could, then divide up the loot later, court records show.

One of the thieves, Alexander Peebles, later told investigators they all took the guns back to the basement of a co-defendant, Elgin Lipsomb, according to a court filing by prosecutors earlier this year. There, they gleefully ripped open the packages. “Oh man, these mother——- are pretty!” Peebles allegedly told police.

On the day after the heist, three co-defendants — Terry Walker, Frederick Lewis and Marcel Turner — backed a van up to Driggers’ shop at 127th and Halsted streets and showed him the guns they had for sale.

Turner, who also cooperated with authorities in the case, testified at Driggers’ trial that Driggers paid $8,000 in cash for the 30 Rugers — about half of the estimated retail value.

At Thursday’s sentencing, Parente said it was clear Driggers was out to make a fast buck regardless of the effect his actions might have on his own neighborhood. If Driggers was truly the community-minded person he purported to be, he would have told the crew to “get out of here'” as soon as he saw they were selling stolen guns, Parente said.

Meanwhile, the stolen pistols have continued to surface at crime scenes, most recently on May 25, when police in south suburban Dolton responded to a call of three suspicious men on the porch of a boarded-up property, according to the prosecution filing.

As officers approached, one of the men fled, leaving behind a .45-caliber Ruger that had been taken from the train, loaded with 14 rounds.

Jarvis Richards, gas station owner and WWII veteran, dies

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H/T The Chicago Tribune.

R.I.P.Staff Sergeant Jarvis Richards.

Jarvis Richards was a World War II veteran who owned several gas stations in the Chicago area. (Family photo)

As a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army’s 1st Ranger Battalion during World War II, Jarvis Richards was leading a small platoon through a village in Belgium when he and his men came under Nazi fire.

After an intense firefight, Richards and three American soldiers were taken prisoner and lined up against a wall with guns pointed at them, according to his family. “He thought it was all over,” said his daughter, Darlene Schofield.

But, as he later told it, a tank rolled up and out climbed a German officer, who ordered the soldiers to hold their fire. He motioned Richards over, and with the help of a translator, conducted a brief interrogation, Schofield said.

The Americans were taken to a nearby Nazi prisoner camp, where Richards withstood hard labor for several months before escaping and meeting up with Allied forces, Schofield said.

“He had a lump on the side of his head that never went away from the butt of a gun,” she said.

Richards, 93, of Schiller Park, a decorated World War II veteran , died of natural causes May 12 at The Grove of Northbrook, an assisted living facility, his family said.

As a prisoner of war, Richards slept in a dilapidated shack, was unable to bathe and was given minimal daily rations of cabbage soup and a potato. “He was skin and bones by the time he escaped,” his daughter said.

“He was my hero,” said Marvin Hanks, a Vietnam veteran who, for the past year, each month, has with his dog, Brandy, visited Richards at his bedside as part of the Lutheran Church Charities Kare 9 Military Ministry program.

Born in Evanston and raised in Wilmette, Richards was a graduate of the Glenwood School for Boys, a military academy. After serving in the National Guard, he joined the Army in 1943, trained with the 1st Ranger Battalion and was sent overseas.

Upon his military discharge in late 1945, Richards moved to California, where he lived for several years, before returning to the Chicago area. He owned and operated gas stations in Chicago and Glenview, and worked as a truck driver in construction before retiring.

“We owe guys like Jarvis a lot,” Hanks said. “It’s because of them that as Americans we’re free today.”

Survivors also include a son, Jarvis Jr., a daughter, Jacqueline; a brother, Oliver; and three grandchildren.

Services were held.

Rahm Emanuel: Too many Dems care more about being right than winning

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H/T The Chicago Tribune.

Rahm “The Ballerina”Emanuel is right but the leftist DemocRats will keep up their antics.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has warned Democrats they need to “take a chill pill” and realize that they are not going to take back national power anytime soon.

It ain’t gonna happen in 2018,” Emanuel said Monday at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in California. “Take a chill pill, man. You gotta be in this for the long haul.”

As he did last month at an event in Washington, D.C., the mayor expanded on what he believes is the road map back to power for his party — putting moderate candidates such as veterans, football players, sheriffs and business people up in Republican districts, picking battles with Republicans, exploiting wedges within the GOP and fighting attempts to redistrict Congress on partisan grounds.

But this time he didn’t hold back on his frustration with some of his fellow Democrats.

“Winning’s everything,” he said. “If you don’t win, you can’t make the public policy. I say that because it is hard for people in our party to accept that principle. Sometimes, you’ve just got to win, OK? Our party likes to be right, even if they lose.”

He added, “I don’t go to moral victory speeches. I can’t stand them. I’ve never lost an election. It’s about winning, because if you win you then have the power to go do what has to get done.

“If you lose, you can write the book about what happened — great, that’s really exciting!” he said, sarcastically.

Instead, he said, Democrats should focus on the GOP. “Wherever there’s a disagreement among Republicans, I’m for one of those disagreements,” he said. “I’m all for it. The president’s with Russia? I’m with John McCain and Lindsey Graham, I’m for NATO! Why? (It’s a) wedge. Wedges have to be schisms, schisms have to be divides.

Northwestern University students charged with hate crime, vandalism to chapel

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H/T The Chicago Tribune.   

The media lost their minds saying racist Trump supporters were responsible.

Then we find out it was a pair of Perpetually Offended Snowflakes that were the vandals. 

Northwestern University freshmen Anthony Morales, 19, left, and Matthew Kafker, 18, are charged with institutional vandalism and hate crime to a place of worship in connection with vandalism to the Alice Millar Chapel on campus. (Cook County sheriff's office)

Northwestern University freshmen Anthony Morales, 19, left, and Matthew Kafker, 18, are charged with institutional vandalism and hate crime to a place of worship in connection with vandalism to the Alice Millar Chapel on campus. (Cook County sheriff’s office)

A Cook County judge on Saturday lashed out at two Northwestern Universityfreshmen accused of spray-painting racist and homophobic messages along with the name of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump inside a nondenominational chapel on the university’s campus.

“These allegations are disgusting to me,” Judge Peggy Chiampas said as she eyeballed Anthony Morales, 19, and Matthew Kafker, 18, her voice rising several times during a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

The judge ordered both men held in lieu of $50,000 bail for charges of institutional vandalism, hate crime to a place of worship, and criminal damage to property for several spray-painted messages at the Alice Millar Chapel earlier this week.

Both defendants, each dressed in T-shirts and jeans, said nothing during the court hearing.

The mother of one of the defendants cried as the judge laid into the young men, whom authorities said were captured on surveillance video going without permission into the chapel, located at 1870 Sheridan Road in Evanston, with spray cans at about 12:45 a.m. Friday.

“I don’t know if any of you know how lucky you are to be at Northwestern University,” the judge said. As Morales’ mother cried in the gallery, Chiampas said to the woman, “I don’t mean to upset you. I mean to upset them.”

Once inside the chapel, the pair spray-painted an expletive and a slur against African-Americans with a swastika on the chapel hallway, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Brooke Shupe told the court. In a separate area, they spray-painted a derogatory word for homosexuals on a wall, along with lines spray-painted over photos of Muslim students.

The young men also spray-painted penises in several places around the church, including on a piano in the chapel, above the word “God” in a hallway, and in a stairwell where they also painted the word “Trump,” authorities said, Shupe said.

Prosecutors did not say what they think sparked this act of vandalism.

Church officials discovered the damage later that morning and alerted a dean. The surveillance video was used to identify the suspects, authorities said.

Both men admitted their roles in the vandalism, giving handwritten and recorded statements to university police, Shupe said.

University officials estimated the damage to be more than $300.

Democrats should ask Clinton to step aside

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H/T The Chicago Tribune. 

There are two ways Hillary will quit one is if the DemocRats find a way to force her out.

The second way is an indictment and being perp walked out.

Has America become so numb by the decades of lies and cynicism oozing from Clinton Inc. that it could elect Hillary Clinton as president, even after Friday’s FBI announcement that it had reopened an investigation of her emails while secretary of state?

We’ll find out soon enough.

It’s obvious the American political system is breaking down. It’s been crumbling for some time now, and the establishment elite know it and they’re properly frightened. Donald Trump, the vulgarian at their gates, is a symptom, not a cause. Hillary Clinton and husband Bill are both cause and effect.

FBI director James Comey‘s announcement about the renewed Clinton email investigation is the bombshell in the presidential campaign. That he announced this so close to Election Day should tell every thinking person that what the FBI is looking at is extremely serious.

This can’t be about pervert Anthony Weiner and his reported desire for a teenage girl. But it can be about the laptop of Weiner’s wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and emails between her and Hillary. It comes after the FBI investigation in which Comey concluded Clinton had lied and been “reckless” with national secrets, but said he could not recommend prosecution.

So what should the Democrats do now?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/91799295-132.html

If ruling Democrats hold themselves to the high moral standards they impose on the people they govern, they would follow a simple process:

They would demand that Mrs. Clinton step down, immediately, and let her vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, stand in her place.

Democrats should say, honestly, that with a new criminal investigation going on into events around her home-brew email server from the time she was secretary of state, having Clinton anywhere near the White House is just not a good idea.

Since Oct. 7, WikiLeaks has released 35,000 emails hacked from Clinton campaign boss John Podesta. Now WikiLeaks, no longer a neutral player but an active anti-Clinton agency, plans to release another 15,000 emails.

What if she is elected? Think of a nation suffering a bad economy and continuing chaos in the Middle East, and now also facing a criminal investigation of a president. Add to that congressional investigations and a public vision of Clinton as a Nixonian figure wandering the halls, wringing her hands.

The best thing would be for Democrats to ask her to step down now. It would be the most responsible thing to do, if the nation were more important to them than power. And the American news media — fairly or not firmly identified in the public mind as Mrs. Clinton’s political action committee — should begin demanding it.

She’ll stick and ride this out and turn her anger toward Comey. For Hillary and Bill Clinton, it has always been about power, about the Clinton Restoration and protecting fortunes already made by selling nothing but political influence.

She’ll remind the nation that she’s a woman and that Donald Trump said terrible things about women. If there is another notorious Trump video to be leaked, the Clintons should probably leak it now. Then her allies in media can talk about misogyny and sexual politics and the headlines can be all about Trump as the boor he is and Hillary as champion of female victims, which she has never been.

Remember that Bill Clinton leveraged the “Year of the Woman.” Then he preyed on women in the White House and Hillary protected him. But the political left — most particularly the women of the left — defended him because he promised to protect abortion rights and their other agendas.

If you take a step back from tribal politics, you’ll see that Mrs. Clinton has clearly disqualified herself from ever coming near classified information again. If she were a young person straight out of grad school hoping to land a government job, Hillary Clinton would be laughed out of Washington with her record. She’d never be hired.

As secretary of state she kept classified documents on the home-brew server in her basement, which is against the law. She lied about it to the American people. She couldn’t remember details dozens of times when questioned by the FBI. Her aides destroyed evidence by BleachBit and hammers. Her husband, Bill, met secretly on an airport tarmac with Attorney General Loretta Lynch for about a half-hour, and all they said they talked about was golf and the grandkids.

And there was no prosecution of Hillary.

That isn’t merely wrong and unethical. It is poisonous.

And during this presidential campaign, Americans were confronted with a two-tiered system of federal justice: one for standards for the Clintons and one for the peasants.

I’ve always figured that, as secretary of state, Clinton kept her home-brew email server — from which foreign intelligence agencies could hack top secret information — so she could shield the influence peddling that helped make the Clintons several fortunes.

The Clintons weren’t skilled merchants. They weren’t traders or manufacturers. The Clintons never produced anything tangible. They had no science, patents or devices to make them millions upon millions of dollars.

All they had to sell, really, was influence. And they used our federal government to leverage it.

If a presidential election is as much about the people as it is about the candidates, then we’ll learn plenty about ourselves in the coming days, won’t we?

Listen to the Chicago Way podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin. Guests are Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis and former White House Chief of Staff William Daley: www.chicagotribune.com/kasspodcast.

Authorities: Military service member with concealed carry permit shoots attacker

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This is from The Chicago Tribune.

How did Denzel A. Mickiel get a gun with all of the gun control Chicago has? Snark.

Concealed weapon permit holder 1 thug with a gun 0.

 

A Gresham man fired on a group of people leaving a party, only to be shot himself by one of the victims, a military service member with a concealed carry permit, authorities said.

The military member and three others were leaving a party Friday night in the 11700 block of South Union Avenue in West Pullman, Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Hain said during a court hearing Sunday.

One of the victims had noticed a cup of liquor on top of her vehicle and asked attendees of a party next door who it belonged to, Hain said.

When she removed it, Denzel A. Mickiel approached her, shouting obscenities and threatening her and her friends, according to Hain and court records.

Mickiel, 22, went into the residence, returned with a gun and began firing at the group, she said.

As Mickiel fired at the victims’ vehicle, the military member retrieved his gun and took cover near the vehicle’s front fender, according to Hain. Two unidentified people also shot at the group, she said.

The military service member fired two shots and struck Mickiel twice, she said.
A 22-year-old woman in the group was injured by Mickiel in the shooting, suffering wounds to the arm and back, according to court records and Hain.

The four victims escaped the melee in two vehicles as two unidentified people continued to shoot at them, Hain said.

Mickiel was identified as the gunman by witnesses, she said.

The injured woman was stabilized and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center, police said.

Mickiel, of the 7600 block of South Honore Street, was transported to Advocate Christ in critical condition, according to police.

He remained hospitalized Sunday and did not appear in court but was ordered held on $950,000 bail. He is charged with attempted murder.

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