Saturday, April 19, 2008

Guns resurface as potent campus, election issue

Guns remain a contentious and divisive issue in Wisconsin, with concealed carry groups appearing on campuses and candidates making guns a key issue. From UW-Madison to presidential campaigns, guns are appearing as a leading issue in 2008, according to political observers.

Eric Thompson, president of the gun supplier TGSCOM Inc., said he would donate hundreds of gun holsters to colleges around the country next week. The holsters will be used by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, including the UW-Madison chapter, for events protesting a state ban on concealed weapons. Thompson, whose online stores sold weapons to the attackers in the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, said trained students with guns might have prevented the tragedies. He said support for concealed carry bills is increasing, though they would unlikely be signed by Gov. Jim Doyle. The governor vetoed concealed carry bills in 2003 and 2006, with Wisconsin as one of two states in the country with laws banning it.

Several other prominent politicians also recently stated their opposition to loosening gun laws. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in his inaugural address Tuesday that state lawmakers must work harder to toughen laws on the sales of illegal guns. Eileen Force, a spokesperson for Barrett, said the mayor is not concerned with recreational gun owners or sportsmen, but views it as a violent crime issue. "In the last two weeks we've probably had three police officers shot at with what are probably illegal guns," Force said. She said Barrett is opposed to concealed carry and fewer guns would make Milwaukee safer.

However, recent comments by presidential candidates show guns remain a politically volatile issue, according to campaign onlookers. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has been criticized for stating rural voters in Pennsylvania are "bitter" and "cling" to issues like guns or religion in difficult economic times.

Ken Goldstein, UW-Madison political science professor, said guns are now being focused because U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., wants to appeal to more moderate or rural voters in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. He said Clinton was making this effort despite "not a dime's worth of difference" between her and Obama's voting records on guns.

The Supreme Court currently debating second amendment rights is also likely to bring more attention on guns, according to UW-Madison political science professor Ken Mayer, but the Democratic presidential candidates might want to avoid the issue. "Both candidates recognize that for the Democrats the gun control issue is largely a loser," Mayer said.


California liquor store worker shoots robbery suspect: "An employee of an Oakland liquor store shot and wounded a would-robber, police said today. The incident happened about 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wah Fay liquor store near the corner of East 21st Street and Eighth Avenue in the city's San Antonio neighborhood, police Sgt. Larry Krupp said. Two young men entered the store where two employees were working, Krupp said. One assailant had a gun and pushed a clerk. The other assailant, an 18-year-old Pittsburg man, went behind the counter and took money and was then shot by one of the employees, Krupp said. The other robber fled, but not before firing a shot at the store as he was running away. No one was hurt by that bullet, Krupp said. The injured suspect, whose name was not released, was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland. The wounds did not appear to be life-threatening, authorities said. The shooting comes at a time of heightened concern over robberies in the East Bay. The liquor-store shooting also underscores the measures some store employees are taking. In April 2007, the owner of a pizzeria at 89th Avenue and International Boulevard in East Oakland shot and killed a would-be robber armed with an assault rifle. A month later, a clerk at a liquor store on 28th Avenue in Oakland shot and killed a 17-year-old who had fired first."

CA: Update on shooting by cop: "Sheriff's investigators have concluded that an off-duty officer who shot and killed a man in Old Town Temecula last month did so in self-defense, and investigators say they will be forwarding a report with that conclusion to the Riverside County district attorney's office in the next week or two. On March 8, Costa Mesa police Officer Scott Dibble was attacked on the street outside a restaurant and struck from behind with a chair, sheriff's detectives say. Dibble identified himself as a police officer, but that failed to stop an estimated six attackers. He then fired five shots, detectives say.
Two Temecula men who were at the same restaurant were shot ---- 30-year-old Shaun Vilan, who died from his injuries, and 22-year-old Taylor Willis, who was shot in the thigh. Deputies have said the attack was prompted by the officer smacking the buttocks of a woman in Vilan's party whom Dibble had mistaken for a member of his own dinner group. Dibble reportedly apologized. While one member of Vilan's grieving family once called the shooting an "execution," the Riverside County sergeant overseeing the investigation said Thursday the evidence revealed otherwise. "All evidence points to Vilan and his group being the instigators," said Sgt. Dean Spivacke of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Central Homicide Unit. [This case previously mentioned here on March 22]

Florida: Black on black shooting in grocery store: "Former Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman was in court Thursday to ask a court to dismiss the aggravated battery charges he faces. Salesman was seen on surveillance video last November pulling a gun on a customer at a grocery store. He doesn't deny pulling a gun, but said he wasn't the aggressor, and said that the victim's own statements to prosecutors backs that claim. "I was defending myself. I feared for my safety that night," said Salesman, who possesses a concealed weapons permit. Salesman said he was pleading with the manager of the Winn Dixie to open an express lane so shoppers with a few items could get out of the regular lines. Salesman said one of the shoppers took offense and asked him if he wanted to "take it outside." He said Lazavious Hudson repeated "let's take it outside" about three times. Salesman said Hudson told him, "Let's take it outside. I'm going to kick your (expletive). And it was a threat." The video shows Salesman pull out a handgun and wave it at Hudson and another man. In Hudson's statement to prosecutors, he admitted he wanted to fight the commissioner in the parking lot. A statute states that it is an issue for a judge to determine, Lohse reported. If the judge believes that self-defense was reasonable, then the judge can dismiss the charges."

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