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New Zealand massacre puts focus on semi-automatic weapons

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The horrific death toll in the New Zealand mosque massacre has put the spotlight on the lethality of the semi-automatic weapons used by the Christchurch gunman and in numerous attacks in the United States.

At least 49 people were killed and dozens wounded when the gunman, identified as a 28-year-old Australian right-wing extremist, opened fire on worshippers in two mosques.

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A video live-streamed by the assailant on Facebook showed him rapidly firing what appeared to be hundreds of bullets at his defenseless victims using various weapons.

The New Zealand police have not yet identified the exact makes and models of the various guns used by the assailant.

At least one was a shotgun but others appeared to be similar to the semi-automatic rifles used in a number of US mass shootings and equipped with large-capacity magazines.

Such weapons were used in the mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado which left 12 people dead in 2012 and the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, that same year which left 26 people dead including 20 children.

The jihadist who attacked the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, killing 49 club-goers, used a semi-automatic weapon.

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The deadliest mass shooting in recent US history was carried out in Las Vegas in 2017 by a man armed with 10 AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, some with 100-round magazines, and other guns.

Fifty-eight people died in that attack.

The troubled teenager behind the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2017 which left 17 people dead and led to a grass roots gun control movement was also armed with an AR-15.

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– ‘Ban on bump stocks’ –

According to the Violence Policy Center, semi-automatic weapons differ from military versions in that the trigger of a semi-automatic must be pulled individually for each round fired.

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Machine guns, which are banned in the United States, will fire continuously for as long as the trigger is depressed or until the magazine is exhausted.

“The unique design features of semi-automatic assault weapons allow the shooter to efficiently kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time available,” the Violence Policy Center said.

“Increased lethality is the exact purpose for which these weapons were designed.”

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The United States last year banned “bump stocks” — devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns.

Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, had equipped a number of his semi-automatic rifles with bump stocks.

Bump stocks allowed him to fire at a rate of nine bullets a second, before he turned his weapons on himself, according to US authorities.

The United States banned semi-automatic assault weapons in 1994 but the ban expired in 2004 and was not renewed.

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Democratic lawmakers have sought several times since then to renew the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines but have not been successful.


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Trump supporters lose their minds when church shows Nativity scene in immigrant cages

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MAGA supporters are losing their minds after a photo of the Nativity scene at Claremont United Methodist Church was posted to Facebook.

The scene depicts Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus separated and put in their own cages, a reference to the families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Inside the church, the family is shown as reunited.

Senior minister Karen Clark Ristine shared the image on Facebook with the message hoping that everyone in the United States could see the photo and read the story for Christmas.

"The theological statement posted with the nativity: In a time in our country when refugee families seek asylum at our borders and are unwillingly separated from one another, we consider the most well-known refugee family in the world," she wrote. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, the Holy Family. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary were forced to flee with their young son from Nazareth to Egypt to escape King Herod, a tyrant. They feared persecution and death."

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Columnist nails Republicans for only caring about Hunter Biden now that his father is running for president

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One of the critical questions that must be answered by Republicans, according to one Washington Post columnist, is why they didn't care about Hunter Biden's position at Burisma for so many years.

In a Sunday piece, James Downie asked why Republicans didn't do anything about Hunter Biden five years ago when it was first revealed that vice president's son was on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The House and the Senate were being run by Republicans until this year. They haven't had problems with other partisan investigations against high-profile leaders. There were ten investigations into the Benghazi attacks, three hearings, 29 witnesses, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours. Yet, it was only after Joe Biden announced he was running against President Donald Trump that Republicans discovered an issue.

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Republican staffer caught spying on Democrats during Judiciary Committee meetings

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A Republican staffer from the Ways and Means committee was caught spying on Democrats during their work over the weekend.

According to a Judiciary Committee source, the female staffer was ultimately discovered and ran out of the committee room once it was discovered she was there, tweeted Olivia Beavers, a writer at "The Hill."

"A Judiciary source says the committee, which has been practicing for their Monday impeachment hearing this whole weekend, came across a female GOP Ways and Means staffer in the hearing room today, but that she ran out once discovered," she tweeted.

https://twitter.com/Olivia_Beavers/status/1203784487559213056

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