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Gun-Free Zones Are Shooting Galleries For Maniacs; End Them



gun-free zones

BELLEVUE, WA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Declaring that so-called “gun-free zones are shooting galleries for maniacs,” the Second Amendment Foundation today is calling for an end to such designations by launching an advertising campaign aimed at print and online publications.

“Without a self-defense option,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “we are all at greater risk.”

The campaign has a simple message: “You’re a sitting duck in a gun-free zone.” The ad may be seen below or here.

Gottlieb referred to a report from the Crime Prevention Research Center that 98 percent of mass public shootings since 1950 occurred in places where citizens are prohibited from having firearms. He noted that in Europe, “every mass public shooting has occurred in a gun-free zone.”

He pointed to mass shootings at schools, shopping malls, movie theaters and churches as prime examples where “gun-free zone” designations did not prevent tragedies, but may actually have enabled crazed killers by making it impossible for the victims to fight back.

“Whether you’re talking about a high school in Florida, a theater in Colorado or a mall in Nebraska,” Gottlieb observed, “the common denominator has been that they all prohibited firearms on the premises. Of course, in every case, that ban had zero effect on the shooters who took innocent lives. There are numerous other examples where the gun-free mindset has been worse than a failure, and history has provided us the grim casualty counts to prove it.

“The evidence shows that gun-free zones are not the answer,” he stated. “Indeed, they provide an added danger because they prevent legally armed citizens from defending themselves and others, while creating the mere illusion of safety.

“For more than two decades,” Gottlieb said, “the U.S. has perpetuated a false sense of security with gun-free zones. It’s time to end this dangerous folly. Nobody wants to be a sitting duck in a maniac’s shooting gallery.”

You’re a sitting duck in a gun-free zone.

The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.



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Virginia Beach receives 15 bids for mass shooting independent investigation


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. Officials with Virginia Beach confirmed that it has received 15 bids for its independent investigation into the mass shooting that took the lives of 12 people — 11 of whom worked for the city.

According to the city, the bids include six from the Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia area, one from Virginia Beach, two from Chicago, one from New York City, one from Delaware, one from Williamsburg and two from Roanoke, Virginia.

The shooting that happened on May 31 led the Virginia Beach city council to call for an independent investigation. At first, the city council was not confident that an independent investigation was necessary, but support for it from community members and some families of victims, led to a vote in favor of it.

The city now will review the bids over Monday and Tuesday of this week, before making a selection by midweek. Officials added that they hope to have a contract offer on the investigation submitted to the company chosen by the end of the week.

The City of Virginia Beach in its release believes the independent investigation will begin by the end of July. This date would move the start of the independent investigation up by a little less than a month. Officials had originally said they were hoping to select a firm by August 15 by the latest.

Vice Mayor Jim Wood says there should be a firewall between council and the investigation — they should have no part in it, no hands in it — but only to update the public to stay true to transparency.

The city auditor has read all the reports from other tragedies, such as the mass shootings in San Bernardino, California, and Virginia Tech and the 2017 protests in Charlottesville. The investigation into the Virginia Beach mass shooting will be modeled after these investigations.

Click here for our full coverage on the Virginia Beach mass shooting. 



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Presidential Candidates Can't Discuss Gun Deaths Without Discussing Cops


On the first evening of the democratic debates in June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) described gun violence as a national public health emergency that needs to be treated as a serious research problem. “We need to treat this like a virus that’s killing our children,” she said. And, of course, the horrifying statistics support her clarion call. Mass shootings, community-based gun violence, suicides and police shootings take about 40,000 lives each year in the United States.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012 catapulted the gun reform debate back to the forefront of American politics. After each well-publicized mass shooting, the issue enters the news cycle again.

The first democratic debates spent more time discussing gun reform than climate change, highlighting its prominence as a key issue. Democrats oftentimes justify strict gun laws around a need to keep children and public spaces safe from mass shootings. “We must be a country who loves our children more than we love our guns,” Eric Swalwell proclaimed during the second night of the debate.

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The Democratic National Committee’s website page on “Preventing Gun Violence” offers a similar line: “In a country as great as ours, no child should be afraid to go to school or walk around their neighborhood. No spouse should be afraid to come home at night. No American should be afraid to go to work or their place of worship. And no human being should be afraid to go to a shopping mall or baseball field, nightclub or movie theater, concert or college campus.”

Undoubtedly, mass shootings must be addressed, but these spontaneous horrific acts are responsible for just a sliver of total gun deaths in the U.S.

Mass shootings, defined by Mother Jones as “indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed by the attacker,” have taken 339 people’s lives since 2015. But, within the same time period, police — who are responsible for enforcing gun laws — have shot and killed 4,355 people, 1200 percent more people than mass shooters.

Infographic: Ella FasslerThe Missing Piece in Gun Violence Debates

Police shootings are gun violence. Yet deaths at the hands of police were just a footnote in the gun violence section of the presidential debate, voluntarily acknowledged by just two of the 20 candidates on stage: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Julian Castro. Castro described the stark discrepancy in police treatment of white and Black perceived perpetrators: “Dylann Roof went to the Mother Emanuel AME church, and he murdered nine people who were worshipping, and then he was apprehended by police without incident. Well, but what about Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and Laquan McDonald and Sandra Bland and Pamela Turner and Antonio Arce?”

The institutional racism rooted in American policing prevents the public from categorizing police shootings as gun violence, Natacia Knapper with Stop Police Terror Project DC explained to Truthout via email. “A large swath of people in our nation — white people in particular, but many others as well — don’t want to reckon with the horrors police have caused in communities of color because to do this would call into question the entire way we have viewed these systems and their roles in our society.” News media consumption, television shows and movies constantly reinforce the belief that policing is an irreplaceable institution keeping society safe and stable. Unlearning this “truth” is akin to unlearning that the Earth is round. Knapper continued, “For many Americans, I think it’s easier to compartmentalize the type of gun violence that comes from the police as “other” and incidents that result in the brutalizing and death of American citizens — Black, Brown or otherwise — are treated as individual instances that are not connected to a larger, overarching problem.” Police and the media exploit this divide when they describe the police violence victims’ unrelated criminal history or the victims’ possession of a gun or pocket knife, regardless of whether it was a factor during the killing. The underlying message is that the deceased deserved to die in order to keep everyone else safe.

But Knapper asks: “Who and/or what do they actually keep safe? “An institution that was birthed from snatching the path to freedom from our Black ancestors and guarding property above all else leaves little room for protecting humanity.”

Framing police gun violence, particularly against communities of color, as a separate issue allows for a perpetuation of the idea that police can be reformed out of racist violence. But since racist violence is a part of law enforcement, its true elimination would lead to the abolition of the institution. Incorporating police killing into larger gun violence discussions complicates matters — police are supposed to enforce gun laws but are committing gun violence on a shocking level themselves. Can an institution founded on “snatching the path to freedom” from Black individuals be trusted with the task of maintaining the peace?

Author and anarchist organizer scott crow doesn’t think so. “More strict gun laws will harm Black and Brown communities,” he told Truthout during a phone interview. “Invariably all laws do. All laws are arbitrary, bureaucratic, reactionary and selectively enforced. All laws. More often than not the legislation that comes out has more harmful and unintended consequences and outcomes than what they are meant to correct, or it’s just never enough because the bill is more watered down by corporate interests and other various stakeholders by the time it comes out,” he said. And police reinforce the dominant culture when they enforce these laws, according to crow.

Police are supposed to enforce gun laws but are committing gun violence on a shocking level themselves.

Part of crow’s own story reflects the selective enforcement of laws. In 2002 he decided to buy a gun through the state system. He fit the background check criteria. He had only been arrested for civil disobedience and had never been convicted of a felony. But whenever he tried to buy a gun, the dealer held his background check and told him to come back. When he returned, the dealers would refuse to sell him a gun, and they couldn’t explain why. Time and time again. Finally, one dealer fessed up. The FBI had been visiting each dealer scott visited. “This is very much what the KGB would have done. The gun dealers weren’t allowed to tell me,” crow told Truthout. After filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FBI, he was able to go through his 440-page file and confirm this was the truth. In 2001 the FBI flagged him as having a “predicate for violence,” despite having no evidence to substantiate the claim, and surveilled him for years.

Crow and an uncountable number of left-wing activists have lived through constant FBI and state police harassment; yet, it is unclear whether white supremacists had similarly giant FBI files prior to the day they unloaded on a mosque or church (it seems unlikely). The FBI ignored a tip about the Parkland shooter, a white male. This isn’t to say the FBI should have files on everyone, but the centuries-old police legacy of prioritizing political dissidents over white supremacist male violence is predictive.

Other, relatively new gun reforms such as “Red Flag” laws or ERPOs (Extreme Risk Protection Orders), which Beto O’Rourke heralded as a tool for decreasing gun violence during the debates, can be analyzed through this predictive framework. Fifteen states have passed these laws, which allow law enforcement, and — in some states — mental health professionals, family and friends, to file a petition with the court explaining why a person in possession of a firearm is a danger to themselves or others. If a judge approves the petition, law enforcement can immediately seize the firearm. Red Flag laws are intended to save lives, but there may be unintended consequences too. From October 2018 to January 2019, 302 Red Flag Law protection orders were issued in Maryland. Maryland police shot and killed at least one man while seizing his gun (he was white). Police are not trained in mediation or mental health services.

Considering law enforcement’s inherent racial bias and the surveilling of political dissidents, it is reasonable to envision a future where Black folks and rebels (especially Black rebels) are, ultimately, the primary targets of extreme risk protection orders.

If Not Police or Laws, Then What?

The gun violence debate, currently framed as one of gun control versus gun freedom, simplifies a complex problem. According to crow, the NRA has heavily influenced the narrative from all angles and is largely responsible for crafting a diluted discussion intended to build constituencies around gun use. Nonprofits secure funding by being “pro-gun” or “anti-gun” and politicians gain or lose support based on the same binary. This reductionist conversation, driven by electoralism, disallows the U.S. from having more nuanced discussions about the role that patriarchy, economic inequality, racism and police play in the gun violence crisis.

The possible solutions that result from these conversations aren’t politically expedient. In regard to intra-community violence, Knapper said, “The sad truth is if we poured in the same amount of money into affordable housing, accessible mental health services, fully implemented violence interruption within every single impacted community, workforce development and job opportunities as we do into policing — and in fact, divest from the police and pour those funds into those resources — a lot would change.”

Related research backs her up. The Brennan Center’s research shows that in a city of 100,000, each new resource-providing nonprofit community organization leads to a 1.2 percent drop in the homicide rate. And income inequality is the best predictor of homicide rates. A 2018 study compiled data across 3,144 U.S. counties and found that mass shootings (using a very broad definition of three or more victims with injuries) were most likely to occur with high levels of income inequality and high levels of income. This data, which doesn’t require law enforcement to implement, is rarely (if ever) discussed by politicians. Many seemingly prioritize police over public services. For example, Chicago’s 2019 budget allots over 1.5 billion dollars to the police department; the city’s entire “Community Services” infrastructure, which includes offices like the Department of Public Health and the Department of Family and Support Services, is allotted nearly $200,000 dollars.

Feminist author Rebecca Solnit identified yet another glaringly absent piece of discussion around violence in her book, Men Explain Things to Me: “Clearly the ready availability of guns is a huge problem for the United States, but despite this availability to everyone, murder is still a crime committed by men 90 percent of the time.”

Culturally, this is incredibly important, yet it’s almost taboo to discuss it. It is difficult to imagine a “Reducing Toxic Masculinity” issue page on the DNC website. But Knapper told Truthout this is exactly what we need to unpack: “The violence that our society equates with being a ‘real man’ and deep-rooted misogyny that leaves men feeling entitled to women and femmes in a way that moves them to violence when that entitlement isn’t satisfied.”

This isn’t easy work, and considering partners of police are two to four times more likely to experience domestic abuse (oftentimes involving service weapons) it isn’t work the police can realistically take on. Case in point: Recently, in Florida, police charged a woman with burglary and trespassing for turning in her abusive husband’s guns after they filed for divorce.

Once more people begin to think about addressing conflict and violence outside of the criminal legal system, new solutions may emerge that were once invisible. Thankfully, these conversations, and the necessary organizing work that accompanies them, do not ultimately need corporate debate stages to materialize.

The stakes have never been higher

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Virginia Beach gets 13 bids for probe into mass shooting


Virginia Beach has received 13 bids from companies that want to lead an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding a recent mass shooting that killed 12 people.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Virginia Beach has received 13 bids from companies that want to lead an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding a recent mass shooting that killed 12 people.

City Auditor Lyndon Remias tells The Virginian-Pilot he plans to make a selection by Wednesday.

The city council ordered an investigation that will probe gunman DeWayne Craddock’s employment and workplace history, city policies and how to prevent similar violence.

The city engineer opened fire in his work building on May 31, the same day he submitted his resignation notice. He killed 12 people and wounded several others before he was gunned down by police.

Remias says the chosen firm will have “unfettered access” to city documents and cooperation from city police. He expects the review will take months and cost at least $350,000.

___

Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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Secret Service studies 2 mass shootings that racked Napa Valley community in 2018


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Virginia Beach gets 13 bids for probe into mass shooting


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach has received 13 bids from companies that want to lead an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding a recent mass shooting that killed 12 people.

City Auditor Lyndon Remias tells The Virginian-Pilot he plans to make a selection by Wednesday.

The city council ordered an investigation that will probe gunman DeWayne Craddock’s employment and workplace history, city policies and how to prevent similar violence.

The city engineer opened fire in his work building on May 31, the same day he submitted his resignation notice. He killed 12 people and wounded several others before he was gunned down by police.

Remias says the chosen firm will have “unfettered access” to city documents and cooperation from city police. He expects the review will take months and cost at least $350,000.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Five miles from the Virginia Capitol, a pregnant woman is shot right after failed gun debate

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, left, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam during a rally at the State Capitol in Richmond Tuesday before a special session to consider gun legislation. (Steve Helber/AP) Michael E. Miller

Local enterprise reporter covering immigration, poverty, inequality and crime

July 14 at 7:00 AM

RICHMOND — Outrage was still rising Tuesday when Levar Stoney received the text message from his police chief.

The mayor of Richmond had spent the morning speaking to crowds outside the state Capitol ahead of a special legislative session on gun control. He’d invoked the victims of a May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach and urged lawmakers to pass “common sense” gun laws.

“There is an opportunity to do right,” he’d said. “That day is today.”

Instead, the Republican-controlled legislature had adjourned after 90 minutes without considering a single bill.

Then, as Stoney (D) attended an event that afternoon on traffic safety, his phone buzzed with another one of the messages that, in his 18 months on the job, he’d learned to dread.

A pregnant woman had been shot in south Richmond, barely five miles from the Capitol, Police Chief William Smith texted. It was unclear whether she’d survive.

“My heart just dropped once again,” Stoney said. “These are the hardest messages to receive. Not only are you talking about the woman’s life, but you’re talking about the life of the child or the pregnancy that was endangered. It’s a lot.”

Republicans’ decision to postpone debate until after the November election enraged Democrats and disappointed gun control advocates, who saw the special session — called by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in the wake of the Virginia Beach massacre — as an opportunity to end decades of deadlock.

Republicans dismissed Northam’s move as “political theater” designed to divert attention from his blackface scandal. The governor responded by saying that “an average of three Virginians die each day due to gun violence. That means hundreds of Virginians may die between today and November 18, the next day the legislature plans to work.”

Mark Whitfield and Ciara Dickson sit at Carter Jones Park in Richmond, where their daughter, Markiya Dickson, 9, was killed by gunfire Memorial Day weekend while waiting to ride a pony. (Julia Rendleman/The Washington Post)

Some of those killed will be in Richmond, which is in the midst of a bloody summer that began with a 9-year-old felled by a bullet as she waited to ride a pony in a public park.

“I lost my baby to this,” said the girl’s father, Mark Whitfield, who’d gone to the Capitol for the debate and was angry about legislators’ inaction. “If it was one of these people losing somebody, they’d do something about it.”

‘Right through the heart’

Less than two hours after the lawmakers adjourned, gunfire ripped through a courtyard at Lafayette Gardens, an affordable-housing complex next to the train tracks in south Richmond.

A pair of sisters, 2 and 3 years old, ran to their second-story apartment window to see what they thought were firecrackers, like a few days earlier on the Fourth of July.

Instead, the pregnant woman lay on the ground, screaming, with a bullet through her leg.

The girls’ mother pulled them away from the window as smoke from the gunshots — fired from just below their front door — filled their living room. Police swarmed the complex as the critically injured woman was rushed to VCU Medical Center, where she and her baby were stabilized. Police have not released her name or made any arrests.

When neighbors eventually poked their heads out of their apartments, they found a pool of blood where the woman had fallen. Bullets scarred the walls and had punched holes clean through a metal staircase. Across the courtyard, where the gunmen had stood, residents found roughly a dozen large-caliber shell casings.

A bullet hole outside a Lafayette Gardens apartment where a pregnant woman was shot less than two hours after the Virginia legislature shut down consideration of new gun restrictions. (Julia Rendleman/The Washington Post)

Residents said the shooting is one of several in the apartment complex in recent months.

“Someone was shot in front of the rental office” in May, said Danique Oliver, 24.

Lafayette Gardens management did not reply to requests for comment. Police were unable to immediately provide a list of recent calls for service to the complex.

Richmond, a city of 230,000 that is carved in half by the James River, has long struggled with gun violence. Homicides soared in the late 1980s and 1990s as the city — like many — was ravaged by crack cocaine.

“We had more than 3,000 violent crimes per year in the ’90s,” recalled Smith, who was then a young patrolman. “Last year, it was around 1,100.”

Homicides have also fallen, from 165 in 1996 to 56 last year, he said.

But the city is still menaced by criminals with illegally obtained guns.

“Some of them come from burglaries, some come from thefts from motor vehicles and some come from straw buyers: people who are allowed to buy them but then illegally transfer them to felons,” Smith said. Although the vast majority of guns seized by police come from the Richmond region, officers have recovered some from as far away as Michigan and Alabama, he said.

Firearms from Richmond and other parts of the state also flow to D.C., where officials say the number of guns seized and traced to Virginia has increased in recent years, totaling nearly 600 in 2018.

Last year, 284 people were slain with a firearm in the Old Dominion, according to state police, down slightly from 302 in 2017. But many people also use guns to kill themselves. In 2017, more than 1,000 Virginians died from some form of gun violence — more deaths than those caused by motor vehicle accidents.

Richmond Police Chief William Smith, left, attends a Dispatch Academy graduation Friday. The city has struggled with gun violence since he was a patrolman. (Julia Rendleman/The Washington Post)

Again and again, however, the state legislature has shied away from imposing new restrictions on access to guns.

In 2007, when a gunman at Virginia Tech killed 32 people and himself, then- Gov. Tim Kaine (D) created a blue-ribbon review panel to study legislative solutions. Lawmakers adopted mental-health reforms and other recommendations but balked at tighter gun controls.

Kaine, now a U.S. senator, said he was furious when Republican state lawmakers said Tuesday that a similar panel would be a better response to the mass shooting in Virginia Beach than a special session.

“That was a laughable attempt to disguise their own lack of a backbone,” he said. “I can tell you what they’ll do if a panel recommends common sense gun control. They’ll ignore it.”

Kaine, who was a councilman and then mayor of Richmond in the 1990s when the city’s per capita homicide rates were among the nation’s highest, said gun violence is a public-health epidemic that goes beyond mass shootings.

Markiya Dickson, 9, was hit in the chest by a bullet at a public park where a fair was underway. (Family photo)

Five days before the incident in Virginia Beach, a 9-year-old girl named Markiya Dickson was shot to death in Richmond.

On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, Markiya’s father, Mark Whitfield, took her to a fair at a park in south Richmond so she could ride the ponies.

She was his “monkey in the middle” — the second of three children — with a wide smile who loved to imitate her dad’s rap videos by dancing and singing on YouTube. When it was time to leave the fair, the third-grader ran into a friend and begged her dad to let them do one more ride.

“Fifteen more minutes,” Whitfield told her.

Five minutes later, a group of young men with handguns began shooting at another man, who returned fire. Whitfield found his daughter lying on the ground, her favorite blue romper soaked in blood. A bullet had struck her in the chest.

“Right through the heart,” Whitfield said.

An 11-year-old boy was hit multiple times but survived. Markiya did not.

The FBI has offered a $20,000 reward but so far, no arrests have been made.

“We have a pretty good idea of what happened that day, and who was involved, but have some work to do before we have a prosecutable case,” Chief Smith said.

“They can’t prosecute without a witness,” Whitfield said. “We have no justice yet.”

‘Look, mommy’

Whitfield was among the crowd at the Capitol on Tuesday. It was his first time there, despite living only a few miles away. He arrived early in the morning, and after walking around the massive white-columned building, he waited in the gallery for the special session to begin. It was over before he understood what was happening.

“It was all for nothing,” he said.

Whitfield said that he is a gun owner and that he doesn’t support all the gun-control bills that had been introduced. But he supported an initiative, introduced by the mayor after Markiya’s murder, to ban firearms in city buildings and parks.

He wasn’t the only victim’s relative who was angry over the outcome.

Jason Nixon, whose wife, Kate, was among the 12 killed in Virginia Beach, said he was disgusted that delegates didn’t even discuss the bills, which included several stemming from the May 31 massacre.

“They went all the way to Richmond, had their high-dollar drinks and lunch and then did nothing,” he said. “It was an opportunity to have a debate. Instead, it was a waste of time and taxpayer money.”

“I’m embarrassed to be a Republican with what they did,” he said. “For them to take their ball and walk away, that’s embarrassing. Really? You can’t do better than that?”

The special session came and went without much notice at Lafayette Gardens, much like the shooting that occurred the same day. Within hours, maintenance workers bleached the blood from the hallway in front of Apartment B, although they missed a bloody fingerprint on the concrete. The crime scene tape was gone within a day.

The shooting victim could not be reached for comment. Notes left at her apartment went unanswered.

Neighbors said they were tired of the gunfire and eager to move.

“I don’t feel safe,” said Denise Roman. “Most of us live here because we don’t have much money.”

Children play at Lafayette Gardens not far from the apartment courtyard where a pregnant woman was shot Tuesday. (Julia Rendleman/The Washington Post)

The 27-year-old single mother said she doesn’t let her 6-year-old son play outside. She wasn’t sure whether tighter gun controls would keep weapons out of her neighborhood.

“The shooting is ongoing, but it’s not normal,” Roman said. “Nothing about living here is normal.”

“I want to get the hell out of here,” added another woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. Two months ago, police knocked on her door to say that someone had shot her car. She found a puncture right above the gas tank that cost her $600 to fix.

On Tuesday, she found her twin 7-year-olds talking about the shooting. They pointed to the scrapes in the hallway, marked gunshots “A” and “B” by police.

“Look, mommy,” they said. “Bullet holes.”



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