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Rep. Mike Thompson blasts ‘gutless’ GOP senators blocking gun background check bill after deadly Texas school shooting

A partial list of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022

The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization, counted at least 212 mass shooting, defined as one in which four or more people were killed or injured, through mid-May in the United States. Of those shootings, 10 involved four or more fatalities.

The group recorded 693 mass shootings last year, with 28 involving four or more fatalities.

Here is a partial list of mass shootings this year.

May 24: Uvalde, Texas

A gunman walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 14 students and a teacher, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said at a news conference shortly after the massacre. Abbott said authorities believed that the gunman, an 18-year-old, was killed by the police. The governor said the gunman opened fire after he entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which is about 84 miles west of San Antonio, armed with a handgun and possibly a rifle.

May 14: Buffalo, New York

A gunman armed with an assault-style weapon killed 10 people and wounded three others at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black section of Buffalo, the authorities said.

The suspect, Payton S. Gendron, 18, is white, and the 10 people who died were all Black. Before the attack, Gendron had posted a nearly 200-page racist screed online. He has pleaded not guilty. He faces life in prison if convicted.

President Biden visited Buffalo several days after the attack and told a grieving crowd at a community center, “What happened here is simple and straightforward: Terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism.”

The Buffalo shooting came amid a weekend of gun violence that included shootings at a church in California, an open-air market in Texas and a vibrant downtown area in Wisconsin.

May 15: Laguna Woods

A gunman killed one person and critically wounded four other members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. The congregation, which holds services at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, overpowered the gunman and hogtied him, preventing further bloodshed, the authorities said.

The suspect, David Chou, 68, is a Las Vegas man with a wife and child in Taiwan who had traveled to Orange County with a grievance against Taiwanese people, the authorities said. He was charged with murder and attempted murder in what the Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, called a “politically motivated hate incident.”

May 15: Houston

Two men were shot dead and three were critically wounded by gunfire at a shooting at an open-air flea market in Houston. The shooting arose from a fight involving the five men, and no bystanders were injured, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said.

May 13: Milwaukee

At least 16 people were wounded by gunfire in a shooting in downtown Milwaukee, in a popular nightlife area blocks from the arena where an NBA playoff game ended hours earlier, the authorities said.

April 27: Biloxi, Mississippi

The owner and two employees of the Broadway Inn Express motel in Biloxi, Mississippi, were fatally shot, and another person was also shot dead during a carjacking. The suspect, Jeremy Alesunder Reynolds, 32, was later found dead, CBS News reported.

April 12: Brooklyn, New York

A gunman opened fire inside a crowded subway car during the morning rush, wounding 10 people, the worst attack on New York City’s subway system in decades. More than a dozen other people were also injured, with some choking on smoke from the two devices the police said the gunman detonated before he started shooting. No one was killed.

A suspect, Frank R. James, was arrested the next day and charged with carrying out a terrorist attack on a mass transit system. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

April 3: Sacramento

As revelers spilled out of nightclubs in a two-square-block area of downtown Sacramento, a barrage of gunfire killed six people and wounded 12, the authorities said. Days later, the Sacramento Police Department said “gang violence” was at the center of the shooting, which involved at least five gunmen.

March 19: Dumas, Arkansas

Two people engaged in a gunfight and sprayed a crowd with gunfire, killing one bystander and injuring 27 other people, including six children, at a community event and car show in the small Arkansas farming community.

Jan. 23: Milwaukee

Law enforcement officers were called to a Milwaukee home for a welfare check, and found six people who had been fatally shot. The victims — five men and one woman — had been shot, the police said, and evidence early in the investigation suggested that the killings had been targeted.

—The New York Times

Rep. Mike Thompson faced a familiar litany of grim questions Tuesday afternoon in the wake of another deadly U.S. school shooting.

At least 19 children and a teacher had been killed hours earlier at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman, 18, was shot dead by police.

Thompson, the House Democrats’ point man on gun control, was incensed.

For nearly a decade, his chief fight in Congress has been a campaign to pass universal gun background check legislation. Passed by the House, the bill has died repeatedly in the Senate.

Thompson aimed harsh words Tuesday at those standing in its way.

“What that boils down to is, there’s too many gutless senators sitting on their hands instead of taking action that will save lives,” said Thompson, the North Bay’s senior congressman.

Thompson is chairman of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, formed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

The Uvalde shooting is the latest of 212 mass shootings in the nation in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection and research group. A mass shooting is defined as four or more people injured or killed.

Thompson, D-St. Helena, reached by phone in his district, said his condolences would offer “little comfort to the parents of the kids who were murdered.”

“They don’t want to hear, ‘Thoughts and prayers,’ they don’t want to hear, ‘We need to pass this,’” he said. “They need to see action.”

Thompson, a Vietnam War veteran and lifelong hunter, first introduced his universal background checks bill in 2013. It would close a long-standing loophole in existing laws by expanding background checks to those purchasing weapons over the internet, at gun shows and through certain private transactions.

The House has passed it twice, most recently in March 2021. But it has languished in the Senate, where 60 members are needed to avoid a filibuster and advance the legislation to a vote.

Thompson blasted GOP opponents again Tuesday, calling out Texas’ two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

“We have to make sure that we stand up for community safety and stand up against gun violence,” Thompson said. “It seems to me that’s a pretty doggone easy one to do. If you don’t have the guts to do that, you need to find a new job.

“We should be hearing from the two Texas senators who have been obstacles to passing this legislation.”

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a proponent of Thompson’s background check bill in the Senate, delivered a passionate speech on the floor within hours of the shooting.

“What are we doing?” Murphy said, then paused. “What are we doing? Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands. What are we doing?”

His address referenced the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, which left 20 elementary students and six adults dead in his home state, and the racist May 14 shooting in Buffalo, New York, where 10 people were killed as they shopped for groceries.

Elected officials across the North Bay and state echoed Thompson’s call for urgent action.

“There are no words,” state Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said in a Twitter post. “I can’t imagine the grief and sorrow these families are facing. Crushing and horrific.

“Commonsense gun control is the only way to prevent this,” he continued. “Over 200 mass shootings across the United States this year. Enough is enough.”

Steve Herrington, Sonoma County’s superintendent of schools, called the news “heartbreaking and infuriating” and called for legislative action.

“We owe it to our students and teachers to provide a safe and secure environment for learning without turning our schools into fortresses. When parents or guardians send their children to our campuses, they should know they will return home safely at the end of the day,” Herrington said.

“Please know that our school districts are constantly evaluating the measures they have in place to keep their students and staff safe,” he said. “But vigilance and commitment at the local level is no substitute for strong federal action and changes in our nation’s laws that will ensure tragedies like those in Uvalde, Newtown, Parkland, and Columbine, among many others, stop happening.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the nation’s gun laws “are so lax, we don’t even require basic background checks for guns bought online, at gun shows or from private sellers. We can’t even keep guns out of the hands of children.”

“We have to act or more and more people will continue to die,” she said in a statement.

Thompson decried “dishonest” attacks on his legislation in the Senate, including disinformation that it would lead to a registry of all gun owners.

“Every time someone got up and said that, I would stand say, ‘That’s not true,’ and call out the page number and sentence number — here it specifically says there cannot be any list of gun owners,” he said. “Their theory is if they say the lie loud and often enough people are going to listen.”

Communities will be vulnerable to more bloodshed as partisan inaction persists, he said.

“As long as 10 Republican senators who would rather sit on their hands than help make their community safer, we’re going nowhere quick,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or kaylee.tornay@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ka_tornay.

A partial list of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022

The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization, counted at least 212 mass shooting, defined as one in which four or more people were killed or injured, through mid-May in the United States. Of those shootings, 10 involved four or more fatalities.

The group recorded 693 mass shootings last year, with 28 involving four or more fatalities.

Here is a partial list of mass shootings this year.

May 24: Uvalde, Texas

A gunman walked into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 14 students and a teacher, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said at a news conference shortly after the massacre. Abbott said authorities believed that the gunman, an 18-year-old, was killed by the police. The governor said the gunman opened fire after he entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which is about 84 miles west of San Antonio, armed with a handgun and possibly a rifle.

May 14: Buffalo, New York

A gunman armed with an assault-style weapon killed 10 people and wounded three others at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black section of Buffalo, the authorities said.

The suspect, Payton S. Gendron, 18, is white, and the 10 people who died were all Black. Before the attack, Gendron had posted a nearly 200-page racist screed online. He has pleaded not guilty. He faces life in prison if convicted.

President Biden visited Buffalo several days after the attack and told a grieving crowd at a community center, “What happened here is simple and straightforward: Terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism.”

The Buffalo shooting came amid a weekend of gun violence that included shootings at a church in California, an open-air market in Texas and a vibrant downtown area in Wisconsin.

May 15: Laguna Woods

A gunman killed one person and critically wounded four other members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods. The congregation, which holds services at the Geneva Presbyterian Church, overpowered the gunman and hogtied him, preventing further bloodshed, the authorities said.

The suspect, David Chou, 68, is a Las Vegas man with a wife and child in Taiwan who had traveled to Orange County with a grievance against Taiwanese people, the authorities said. He was charged with murder and attempted murder in what the Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, called a “politically motivated hate incident.”

May 15: Houston

Two men were shot dead and three were critically wounded by gunfire at a shooting at an open-air flea market in Houston. The shooting arose from a fight involving the five men, and no bystanders were injured, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said.

May 13: Milwaukee

At least 16 people were wounded by gunfire in a shooting in downtown Milwaukee, in a popular nightlife area blocks from the arena where an NBA playoff game ended hours earlier, the authorities said.

April 27: Biloxi, Mississippi

The owner and two employees of the Broadway Inn Express motel in Biloxi, Mississippi, were fatally shot, and another person was also shot dead during a carjacking. The suspect, Jeremy Alesunder Reynolds, 32, was later found dead, CBS News reported.

April 12: Brooklyn, New York

A gunman opened fire inside a crowded subway car during the morning rush, wounding 10 people, the worst attack on New York City’s subway system in decades. More than a dozen other people were also injured, with some choking on smoke from the two devices the police said the gunman detonated before he started shooting. No one was killed.

A suspect, Frank R. James, was arrested the next day and charged with carrying out a terrorist attack on a mass transit system. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

April 3: Sacramento

As revelers spilled out of nightclubs in a two-square-block area of downtown Sacramento, a barrage of gunfire killed six people and wounded 12, the authorities said. Days later, the Sacramento Police Department said “gang violence” was at the center of the shooting, which involved at least five gunmen.

March 19: Dumas, Arkansas

Two people engaged in a gunfight and sprayed a crowd with gunfire, killing one bystander and injuring 27 other people, including six children, at a community event and car show in the small Arkansas farming community.

Jan. 23: Milwaukee

Law enforcement officers were called to a Milwaukee home for a welfare check, and found six people who had been fatally shot. The victims — five men and one woman — had been shot, the police said, and evidence early in the investigation suggested that the killings had been targeted.

—The New York Times

Kaylee Tornay

Education, The Press Democrat

Learning is a transformative experience. Beyond that, it’s a right, under the law, for every child in this country. But we also look to local schools to do much more than teach children; they are tasked with feeding them, socializing them and offering skills in leadership and civics. My job is to help you make sense of K-12 education in Sonoma County and beyond.  

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