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Obama: discarded assault weapons ban ‘shouldn’t be controversial’

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President uses weekly address to call for consideration of ‘common sense’ measures excluded from gun control bill

President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to vote over a ban on controversial military-style assault weapons and restrictions on ammunition, despite widespread predictions that such a vote would fail.

Ever since the Newtown school massacre at the end of last year, Obama has been pushing to introduce fresh gun control laws, arguing that a rash of mass shootings last year has left the American public demanding action. But the effort has faced a withering backlash from gun owners’ groups, like the powerful National Rifle Association, and their political allies in both parties.

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Last week, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, introduced gun legislation that did not include the so-called assault weapons ban, nor another proposal backed by the Obama administration that would place limits on magazine capacities. Reid admitted that he dropped those elements because any bill with them in would get fewer than 40 votes – far below the threshold needed to defeat a filibuster or pass the Senate.

Yet Obama, in his weekly radio address, insisted that a vote on the fuller version of the bill was needed. “These ideas shouldn’t be controversial – they’re common sense. They’re supported by a majority of the American people. And I urge the Senate and the House to give each of them a vote,” the president said.

Such a move – though likely to be defeated in a vote – would at least force politicians into actually coming out against the new gun control law: a political risk and potential public relations disaster that many might be nervous about.

Obama said that in the three months since Newtown, public opinion had shifted in the country to back the sort of measures that previously would have been unpopular. “As a nation, the last three months have changed us. They’ve forced us to answer some difficult questions about what we can do – what we must do – to prevent the kinds of massacres we’ve seen,” he said.

That might not be as true as Obama would like to believe. In the face of a concerted campaign by the NRA and anti-gun law politicians, public opinion in favour of major controls has actually been dropping. Just after the Newtown massacre – which left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook elementary school – some 52% of Americans were found to be in favour of major restrictions on guns. But that number has since dropped to 43%, according to a CNN/ORC poll released earlier this week.

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© Guardian News and Media 2013

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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‘They want their civil war’: Far-right ‘boogaloo’ militants have embedded themselves in the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis

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Young, white men dressed in Hawaiian-style print shirts and body armor, and carrying high-powered rifles have been a notable feature at state capitols, lending an edgy and even sometimes insurrectionary tone to gatherings of conservatives angered by restrictions on businesses and church gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as many states are reopening their economies — and taking the wind out of the conservative protests — the boogaloo movement found a new galvanizing cause: the protests in Minneapolis against the police killing of George Floyd.

A new iteration of the militia movement, boogaloo was born out of internet forums for gun enthusiasts that repurposed the 1984 movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo as a code for a second civil war, and then modified it into phrases like “big luau” to create an insular community for those in on the joke, with Hawaiian-style shirts functioning as an in-real-life identifier. Boogaloo gained currency as an internet meme over the summer of 2019, when it was adopted by white supremacists in the accelerationist tendency. In January, the movement made the leap from the internet to the streets when a group boogaloo-ers showed up at the Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va.

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Saint Paul police chief condemns tactics used on George Floyd: ‘We’re here to serve — not choke people!’

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Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell told CNN's Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow on Thursday that he's showing his officers footage from George Floyd's death as an example of how not to handle a suspect.

In particular, Axtell told the CNN hosts that all of the officers in his department said that the actions of the officers in Minneapolis to Floyd were completely unacceptable.

"Every police officer that I know that I interacted with yesterday in the city of Saint Paul, there was not one who felt that what they observed on that video in Minneapolis was in any way, shape, or form acceptable police behavior," he said. "It is disgusting, it is dehumanizing, it is something that absolutely has to stop."

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WATCH: Man holds black DoorDash driver at gunpoint for delivering food to an Arizona apartment complex

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A man in Mesa, Arizona, is facing assault and weapons charges after he allegedly held a delivery driver at gunpoint this Sunday, 12News reports.

Police say Valentino Tejeda pulled a gun on 24-year-old Dimitri Mills in the parking lot of Tejeda's apartment complex, and when Mills and his girlfriend tried to explain they were making a food delivery to a neighbor, Tejeda still insisted that Mills, who is black, was somehow a threat.

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