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 August 03, 2015 07:28 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) ---- There are two government economic reports due out today. Both of them are from the Commerce Department. One report deals with personal income and spending data for June. The other report looks at June's construction spending.

The Institute for Supply Management will release its manufacturing index for July as well.

Also today, automakers will report on vehicle sales in the month of July.

FIAT CHRYSLER-RECALL

Dodge Chargers recalled; door slam can make air bags inflate

DETROIT (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 322,000 sedans worldwide because side air bags can inflate if doors are slammed too hard.

The recall covers certain Dodge Chargers from the 2011 to 2014 model years, mainly in the U.S. and Canada.

Earlier this month, more than 843,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks were recalled for the same problem. The company says the Charger recall came from an internal investigation launched because of the truck recall.

Fiat Chrysler says the air bag control modules may be too sensitive and need to be recalibrated. The company says it knows of three minor injuries from the problem.

Owners will be notified when they can bring cars in for repairs. In the meantime, the company says people should use caution when closing doors.

FIAT CHRYSLER-HACKING

NEW YORK (AP) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into Harman car radios following a recent recall of 1.4 million Fiat Chrysler cars and trucks due to a hacking vulnerability.

Hackers got into a Jeep Cherokee SUV through an electronic opening in the radio and were able to take control of the car over the Internet. The vulnerability, exposed by two security experts and well-known hackers, was first disclosed in Wired magazine.

In response, Fiat Chrysler said it sealed off a loophole in its internal cellular telephone network with vehicles to prevent similar attacks and issued a voluntary recall.

The NHTSA is investigating which other cars have the affected radios and whether they are vulnerable.

VERIZON-LABOR TALKS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Verizon and unions representing workers in nine states said employees will work without a contract as more negotiations are scheduled.

The wireless carrier and leaders of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced the decision early Sunday, shortly after a contract covering 39,000 workers expired.

The unions say they are prepared to schedule regular bargaining sessions, but that they will leave the sites of their round-the-clock negotiations in Philadelphia and Rye, New York.

Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer, says the company is "disappointed" it was unable to reach an agreement with the unions despite "six weeks of good faith bargaining and a very strong effort by the company." However, he says Verizon representatives will continue to meet with union leaders.

The unions say the telecom giant is demanding that workers sharply increase their health care contributions and make concession on pensions.

EARNS-HSBC

HONG KONG (AP) -- HSBC Holdings PLC, Europe's biggest bank, says that strong performance in Asia helped to boost first-half profit by 10 percent. The bank also announced the sale of its Brazil business for $5.2 billion.

Profit for the six months ending June 30 rose to $13.6 billion, or 48 cents per share. The bank, which is listed on stock exchanges in Hong Kong and London, says revenue rose 4 percent from a year earlier to $30.8 billion.

CEO Stuart Gulliver cited growth in commercial banking in Hong Kong and Britain and in wealth management in Asia.

HSBC announced it is selling its business in Brazil to Banco Bradesco SA as part of plans announced in June to simplify its sprawling global operations. HSBC said it would keep an operation in Brazil to serve major corporate customers.

HSBC operates in 70 countries and has about 51 million customers.

The June plans call for the London-based bank to cut about 10 percent of its workforce, or some 25,000 jobs, and reduce annual expenses by $4.5-$5 billion.

The bank also has says it plans to sell its operations in Turkey.

AT&T-TV AND WIRELESS

AT&T, as new owner of DirecTV, offers TV-wireless package

NEW YORK (AP) -- AT&T is unveiling a new package that combines traditional TV and wireless services as it seeks to broaden its offerings following its $48.5 billion purchase of satellite TV company DirecTV about a week ago.

The change isn't huge, given that AT&T and DirecTV already had cross-marketing deals as separate companies.

But Monday's announcement is "the first step of what's to come," according to Brad Bentley, AT&T's chief marketing officer for entertainment and Internet services.

Bentley said AT&T is planning several products to integrate mobile phone and TV services but he wouldn't provide details on those plans.

The package announced Monday largely amounts to a $10-a-month discount for getting TV and wireless services at any level on the same bill. Bentley said customers also would have a single number to call for customer service, and employees at AT&T stores would be able to set up customers' phones so that they could start watching TV through apps right away, even before service is installed in the living room.

TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL-INVESTIGATION

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A special prosecutor says Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted on felony charges accusing the Republican of misleading investors before taking office.

Kent Schaffer, a Houston defense attorney appointed by a judge to the case, told The New York Times on Saturday that Collin County grand jurors indicted Paxton on two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a lesser charge of not registering.

The most serious allegations are that he encouraged investment in a tech startup that's now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The charges stem from activity before Paxton took office in January. Paxton was fined last year for not disclosing to Texas securities regulators he was getting commissions for soliciting investors.

TRUMP-DC HOTEL

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump's organization is suing celebrity chef Jose Andres for backing out of a hotel project in Washington.

Andres had planned to open a restaurant at the Trump International Hotel. Trump's organization was selected by the federal government to renovate the historic Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue and turn it into a luxury hotel.

Andres announced last month that he was canceling plans to open the restaurant, citing what he called Trump's disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants. Andres is an immigrant from Spain.

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Washington says Andres' decision has already cost Trump's organization millions of dollars. It says Andres signed a lease that obligated him to build a restaurant in the space and pay rent for 10 years.

BOX OFFICE

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The stakes may be high for Ethan Hunt and his team in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation," but it was hardly impossible for the Tom Cruise pic to conquer the box office.

The fifth installment in the nearly 20-year-old film series has earned $56 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It's the second-highest opening for a "Mission" film since "Mission Impossible II" took in $57 million over Memorial Day weekend in 2000.

The Paramount and Skydance Productions film cost a reported $150 million to produce and should have no problem making up its budget, especially with overseas earnings.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' "Vacation" has gone off track. The poorly reviewed, $30 million film earned $14.9 million over the weekend, and $21.2 million since opening Wednesday.

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement