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.

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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 April 27, 2015 17:31 GMT

PORT LABOR-TRUCKERS

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Truck drivers who haul goods from the nation's busiest port complex in Southern California have walked off the job in a dispute over their wages and employee status.

Today's strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach comes after a weekend vote from the Teamsters, who say "several hundred" drivers from four companies are striking.

Some 16,000 truckers haul cargo, and the strike isn't expected to shut down all business at the ports.

The drivers are contractors for the trucking companies, but they're fighting to become company employees, saying it would mean better wages and workplace protections.

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Most economists say a still-subpar economy and low inflation will keep interest rates at record lows at least until September.

On Wednesday, the Fed could clarify its plans after ending its latest policy meeting. But analysts caution against expecting any specific guidance on the Fed's timetable for a rate hike.

Too many uncertainties still surround the U.S. economy and Fed's policymakers may want to leave themselves maneuvering room until their view of the economy's health becomes clearer.

For 6 1/2 years, the Federal Reserve has held its key interest rate near zero.

JAPAN-RATINGS DOWNGRADE

Fitch downgrades Japan citing economic concerns

(UNDATED) -- Fitch Ratings is lowering Japan's credit rating as the country wrestles with staggering debt.

Fitch says the government did not include sufficient measures in its budget to replace a deferred tax increase this fiscal year, which ends next March.

Japan's debt is the largest among developed nations and more than twice the size of the economy.

The ratings agency downgraded Japan's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings to "A" from "A+." It also lowered its senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds ratings to "A" from "A+."

Fitch says that though Japan cut corporate tax rates in the current fiscal year, it wants to cut them again in the next year. It says those factors increased the ratings agency's uncertainty over Japan's political commitment to consolidation.

CHIPOTLE-GMO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Chipotle says it has completed phasing out genetically modified ingredients from its food.

The Denver-based chain had already been using mostly non-GMO ingredients, but said in late 2013 it was working on transitioning to a tortilla that did not use them.

Most of the country's corn and soybean crop is genetically modified to have certain traits like resistance to plant diseases.

The head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center has said the agency found no basis that GMOs pose any different safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.

Chipotle Co-CEO Steve Ells has said the company felt it was best not to use GMOs given the "lack of consensus" about their effects.

EARNS-SUN BANCORP

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) -- Sun Bancorp Inc. (SNBC) is reporting first-quarter net income of $2.8 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based bank said today it had earnings of 15 cents per share.

The holding company for Sun National Bank posted revenue of $28.3 million in the period.

Sun Bancorp shares have climbed 3.5 percent since the beginning of the year.

RESTAURANT BRANDS-RESULTS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Restaurant Brands International Inc. is reporting adjusted earnings that beat analysts' expectations for the first-quarter as sales at its Burger King and Tim Hortons operations showed healthy growth. The Canadian company reports a loss of $8.1 million, or 4 cents per share. But it had earnings of 18 cents per share after adjusting for certain costs.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected profit of 15 cents per share.

Revenue rose slightly to $932 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $944.7 million.

DISCOVER-APPLE PAY

NEW YORK (AP) -- Discover credit cardholders in the U.S. are getting their Apple Pay.

After months of complaints from customers, Discover Financial Services announced today that it has reached an agreement with Apple Inc. that will let its cardholders make payments in participating stores through Apple Pay by using an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or Apple Watch.

With Apple Pay, credit card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple servers. A unique device account number is assigned and each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique security code.

Discover customers will also be able to use Apple Pay with iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 when paying for goods and services within apps starting in the fall.

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