Violent week throws gun laws into focus

Updated: Thursday, July 10, 2014
Violent week throws gun laws into focus story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The tragic shooting death of a young Muskegon mom a few days ago puts a somber exclamation point on an especially violent week in the U.S.

Rebekah Bletsch was shot in the head while jogging near her home--no one knows why.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says the shooting is a reminder that gun accessibility remains a serious problem in this country.

=====================

Rebekah was a mom, a daughter, a friend to many. And in the circle of her family and friends, as police begin a difficult search for her killer, she will be mourned and remembered.

But in the larger sense, she's a number. And there are so many numbers it's hard to keep track.

On one hand,  its easy to understand how we become desensitized to the horrors of violence.

In the Middle East people are being murdered every day in the name of righteousness. It's numbing.

We're sending in advisors. And we know where that led us 50 years ago in Vietnam.

In Israel, the citizenry seems to be gearing up for an all-out confrontation with Hamas after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered.

In Texas, more than 50-thousand Central American children are being cared for in refugee camps. Their parents sent them up hoping they'll get citizenship. Nobody knows what to do about it.

Our increasingly unpopular president is trading barbs with an even more unpopular intransigent Congress. Nothing gets done.

On the other hand, we have increasingly liberalized gun laws which don't seem to be stopping those intent on murdering people.

Over the past weekend, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, two men began trying to shoot each other.

They were unsuccessful. But they managed to shoot  11 innocent by-standers. One of them was killed and another is still in critical condition.

In New York City, 23 people were shot. Among them a 10-year-old,  a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old.

In Chicago, 35 people were shot. One person is dead. Many of the others are hurting.

In Newark, New Jersey, a 17-year-old girl--a cheerleader--was forced to get on her knees before being shot in the head. Her boyfriend was shot, too. He has survived.

And in Cumberland County, Kentucky, a five-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister with his new .22 caliber rifle. The boy's grandmother, who points out it was a child-sized weapon, says the tragedy was God's will. "It was her time to go," she said. "she's in good hands with the Lord."

The carnage is so overwhelming we have lost our ability to process it in any meaningful, thoughtful way. We deal with it by shrugging our shoulders, shaking our heads, and looking for someone to have lunch with.

Where do bad guys get their guns to commit these atrocities? Some are stolen. Some are from the gun case at home. But most are purchased illegally  at gun shows and from shady gun dealers.

A teenaged shooter in a Chicago gang told a reporter there that he can get his hands on a weapon any time--as quickly as you can get a burger at a fast food restaurant.

A phone call and a pickup, he said. As simple as that.

And what are we doing about it? Virtually nothing. We can't even get a decent background check law in place for those who buy weapons. The NRA holds that automatic weapons are just fine.

I don't think most people believe that. But most people don't have the money to lobby Congress on their behalf.

My deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Muskegon's Rebekah Bletsch. I just wish i had more than condolences to offer.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on September 19, 2014 07:27 GMT

BRITAIN-SCOTLAND

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) -- Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core.

The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political establishment. Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent against independence in a vote that saw an unprecedented turnout.

A majority of voters did not embrace Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond's impassioned plea to launch a new state, choosing instead the security offered by remaining in the United Kingdom.

Salmond conceded defeat, saying "we know it is a majority for the No campaign" and called on Scots to accept the results of the vote.

Salmond had argued that Scots could go it alone because of its extensive oil reserves and high levels of ingenuity and education. He said Scotland would flourish on its own, free of interference from any London-based government.

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government today will report on state unemployment rates for August. Nationally in August, U.S. employers added just 142,000 jobs, well below the average of the previous 12 months.

Also today, the Conference Board will issue its August index of leading economic indicators, which is designed to predict the economy's future health. In July, the index posted its sharpest advance in four months, indicating that the economy was gaining traction headed into the second half of the year.

ALIBABA-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba priced its initial public offering of stock at $68 per share on Thursday, the top end of the expected range. It is expected to start trading Friday under the ticker "BABA" on the NYSE. The IPO values Alibaba at $167.6 billion. That's bigger than the current market value of Amazon, Cisco, and eBay.

15-year-old Alibaba's Taobao, TMall and other platforms account for some 80 percent of Chinese online commerce.

The fundraising target could be up to $25 billion handily eclipsing the $16 billion Facebook raised in 2012, the most for a technology IPO. It also tops the all-time IPO fundraising record of $22.1 billion set by the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. in 2010, according to the research firm Dealogic.

SAP-CONCUR TECHNOLOGIES

NEW YORK (AP) -- German business software maker SAP says it will buy travel and expense management software company Concur Technologies for $129 per share, or about $7.36 billion.

That's a premium of 19.7 percent to Concur's closing price on Thursday.

SAP AG values the deal at $8.3 billion and says the acquisition should close in the fourth quarter of 2014 or the first quarter of 2015.

SAP says Concur has 25 million users in 150 countries. The Bellevue, Washington company's revenue rose 29 percent to $178.4 million in its latest fiscal quarter. SAP had about $5.6 billion in revenue in its latest fiscal period.

Shares of Concur Technologies Inc. closed at $107.80 Thursday. The stock is up 4.5 percent in 2014 but has fallen from a high of $130.39.

SAMSUNG-NOTE 4 PHONE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Samsung says U.S. wireless carriers will start taking orders for its large-screen Galaxy Note 4 smartphone on the same day larger iPhones go on sale.

The Note 4 will be available on Oct. 17. Orders will be taken beginning Friday. It has a screen measuring 5.7 inches diagonally, slightly larger than the 5.5 inches on Apple's new iPhone 6 Plus. The regular iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch screen.

Unlike the iPhone, Samsung's Note phones come with a stylus for note taking. The Note runs Google's Android system and has Samsung-produced extras such as the ability to show multiple apps on the same screen at once.

Samsung also is making the Galaxy Note Edge with a side screen to display weather information, clocks and other information. The company hasn't provided details about U.S. availability.

JETBLUE-CEO

UNDATED (AP) -- JetBlue CEO Dave Barger will step down in February and be replaced by the airline's president, Robin Hayes.

New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. announced the move Thursday.

Speculation about changing CEOs has swirled around JetBlue for several months. Wall Street analysts have expressed hope that a new CEO might take steps to increase revenue, such as adding a fee for the first checked bag. Hayes is declining to say whether he will do that.

Barger will leave when his contract expires, and Hayes will take over on Feb. 16.

GULF OIL SPILL-TRANSOCEAN

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal appeals court in New Orleans has upheld a federal safety board's right to investigate the role of Transocean Deepwater Drilling Corp. in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Transocean owned the Deepwater Horizon rig that was drilling for BP PLC. The company had challenged the authority of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board to do the investigation.

In a 2-1 decision Thursday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that the board could investigate.

The safety board's investigation had continued during the appeal. In June, the board issued a report citing multiple failures and improper testing of the rig's blowout preventer as factors in the accident, and found fault with BP and Transocean.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement