• What makes a “smart gun” smart?

    Throughout the 20-year-long discussion of “smart guns,” the topic has been a lightning rod for debate between pro- and anti-gun lobbies. But too often, there isn’t substantive knowledge of the underlying technologies, their appropriate use and their design limitations. Personalized weapons technology can make a contribution to reducing death and injury from accidental or unauthorized weapons use. It is not a panacea, but it can be an option for gun buyers to ensure their weapons never fall into the wrong hands. Smart guns are not science fiction and could be a commercial reality much sooner than later.

  • ISIS follower shoots Philadelphia police officer

    A man who shot a Philadelphia policeman while he was sitting in his squad car and wounded him, was inspired by ISIS. Edward Archer used a stolen gun to fire eleven shots at Jesse Hartnett in – but Hartman, despite being wounded, was able to get out of the car and return fire, hitting the gunman three times.

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  • Mexico’s homicide rate has led to decrease in men’s life expectancy

    Mexico’s staggering homicide rate has taken a toll on the mortality rate for men — and it could be even worse than the statistics indicate. The homicide rate more than doubled from 9.5 per 100,000 deaths in 2005 to 22 per 100,000 by 2010. As a result, average life expectancy among Mexican men ages 15 through 50 fell from 33.8 years to 33.5 years between 2005 through 2010.

  • New York City settles Muslim surveillance lawsuits

    The NYPD has been agreed not to conduct surveillance based on religion, race, and ethnicity after charges that it had illegally monitoring Muslims in New York City. The city has agreed to settle two civil rights lawsuits for illegally monitoring its Muslim community following the September 11 attacks. As part of the settlement, in which the city does not admit to any wrongdoings, the city will appoint a civilian to monitor the NYPD’s counterterrorism unit.

  • Florida prof. claiming mass shootings were staged by the Obama administration is fired

    James F. Tracy, a Florida Atlantic University professor conducting a public campaign on social media, in radio interviews, and op-ed articles claiming that that the 2012 massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary and other mass shootings were not more than hoaxes perpetrated by federal officials on instructions of the Obama administration in order to rally support for gun control, was fired Tuesday. Tracy has made a name for himself in the more rabid conspiracy circles for repeatedly calling into question the very truth behind recent mass shootings like the ones in Newtown, Connecticut, Charleston, South Carolina, Aurora, Colorado, and San Bernardino, California. Tracy, in his blog posts and radio interviews, claim that these shooting never took place – or, if they did, that they were mere “drills” carried out by “crisis actors” employed by the Obama administration.

  • Oregon siege: the U.S. militia movement is resurgent – and evolving

    For several days now, a small group of armed men have occupied an office of the National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon, 300 miles from Portland. There is of course a long history of distrust towards the federal government in America, one of which the militias of recent decades are acutely aware. Drawing on anti-Communist organizations of the 1950s and the paranoia of the Cold War, militia culture grew towards a fever pitch in the 1980s and 1990s. The popularity of this newly radicalized “paranoid style,” however, came to a sudden halt on the second anniversary of the burning of the Waco compound (April 1993), when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in what was then the most significant terrorist incident in American history, killing 168 people. The new coalition of anti-government activists, as represented by the people who seized the buildings in Oregon, is broad and ideologically diverse, and its principal spokesmen explicitly repudiate racism. Some of its leaders promote the goal of a theocratic society: The invasion of the wildlife sanctuary may also demonstrate the power of social media to do for American militia culture what Facebook and Twitter contributed to the Arab Spring.

  • Obama to end background-checks exemptions of gun shows, online gun sales

    President Barack Obama will today announce a series of executive actions aiming to close loopholes in the current system of background checks of gun buyers. The executive actions say it will focus on tightening the definition of those “engaged in the business” of selling weapons. Such tightening would deny online vendors and gun shows – where about 40 percent of all gun are purchased — exemptions from conducting background checks for gun buyers. Criminals and mentally ill people can now purchase guns through gun sellers who exploit the “engaged in business” loophole which was originally designed for hobbyists and personal sales.

  • Rail safety delays; Chicago’s trigger-happy police; killing Bangladeshi bloggers

    In October the Congress agreed to extend the deadline for installing the systems to 2018, but earlier this month Congress extended the deadline for deploying speed-control systems yet again, this time until the end of 2020; By June 2016, all Chicago police officers will be equipped with non-lethal Tasers. The move is part of a plan by city authorities to curb the sharp rise in the number of people – all of them African Americans — killed by police shooting; in 2015 alone, at least four pro-democracy bloggers and a publisher were murdered while others went into hiding, or fled abroad, prompting widespread calls for protection of free speech in Bangladesh from the threat of radical Islamists.

  • Calls for tighter regulations of the design of toy guns

    The death of people – often children – who carry BB or pellet guns resembling real weapons has prompted lawmakers and activists to call for tighter regulations on the design of non-lethal guns. California has already passed such a law, and it would go into effect on Friday.

  • Reducing deadly police force in Rio de Janeiro, and elsewhere

    Researchers seek better strategies to control the lethal use of police force in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their findings offer insights for police and communities elsewhere, as the researchers are studying how social and psychological factors affect police and how body-worn cameras can be used most efficiently.

  • Examining how law enforcement leaders feel about body cameras

    The use of force and police behavior continue to be a prominent topic in the media. Several recent high-profile incidents involving police use of deadly force have resulted in increased scrutiny of officer behavior and police-community relations by the media, policy-makers, civil rights groups, and academics, leading to nationwide interest in police-worn body cameras to increase transparency and accountability. While the use of body-worn cameras on police to address these issues has been endorsed by the media, government, social activists, and policy makers alike, there is scant scientific evidence to support or refute the perceived benefits or drawbacks.

  • Studying gun violence is the only way to figure out how to stop it – but we don’t

    There are about 32,000 gun deaths a year in the United States. There are another 180,000 or so people injured by firearms annually in the country. These numbers far outstrip the consequences of firearms among our peer high-income countries, with stricter gun regulations. One factor that has inhibited the discussions in the public space over gun violence is the relatively limited data we have available about firearms and firearm violence. Gun violence is a public health problem, but it is not studied the same way other public health problems are. The reason: In 1996 the NRA pushed Congress to prohibit the use of funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be used to advocate or promote gun control. The CDC broadly interpreted this as a bar on firearms research, with other federal funders following suit. This has had a chilling effect on gun research. Because of the bar on research, our understanding of the real consequences of the firearm epidemic is surface deep. The United States has had enormous success in responding to other challenges to public health, including, for example, motor vehicle safety, through gathering data that understands the challenge and implementing structural changes to mitigate the potential harm. On the issue of firearm violence, we are not even at the first step.

  • FBI unable to break 109 encrypted messages Texas terror attack suspect sent ahead of attack

    FBI director James Comey told lawmakers this week that one of the suspects in the foiled terror attack in Garland, Texas, in May had exchanged 109 messages with sources in a “terrorist location” overseas ahead of the attack. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, however, have not been able to break into and read those messages because they were exchanged on devices equipped with end-to-end encryption software which, security services in the United States and Europe argue, make it impossible to monitor and track terrorists and criminals.

  • WH finalizing executive order tightening background checks of gun buyers

    Sources say that the White House is about to announce a new executive order to expand background checks of individuals wishing to purchase guns. One proposal being considered would designate more sellers as high-volume dealers, closing a legal loophole which allows many sales conducted online or at gun shows to escape existing background check provisions. Two other developments on the gun front: On Thursday, Connecticut governor Dan Malloy said he would sign an executive order which would bar people on the government’s terrorism watch lists from buying guns in Connecticut; in the House, Democrats demand that a 17-year ban on government-funded research into violence involving firearms be ended.

  • U.K. arrests record number of terrorism suspects, especially women, teenagers

    According to the U.K. Home Office quarterly bulletin, 315 terror suspects – a record — have been arrested in the United Kingdom in the past year, with a sharp increases in arrests of women and teenagers. Therise in the number of terrorism-related suspects arrested is a reflection of the determined effort by the police and security services to address the ISIS threat and stem the flow of Britons to, and from, Syria.