Yesterday, 26 people were killed and 20 were injured while attending church in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The massacre at First Baptist Church resulted in the deaths of about 7 percent of the town’s population. The victims range from 18 months to 77 years old, including the pastor’s own 14-year-old daughter.
The shooter was formerly an Air Force airman who was “released from the military with a bad conduct discharge in 2014.” He also spent a year in military prison in 2012 for assaulting his wife and child. He follows a disturbing pattern of mass shooters who have a history of domestic violence. And, it begs the question: with his record, how did he get a gun?
People have already begun promoting the myth of a “good guy with a gun,” after it was reported that a local resident chased and shot the gunman. Trump hinted at it, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that more citizens need to be armed “so that they can respond if something like this, when something like this happens again.” The myth has been disproven time and time again, as studies show that armed civilian bystanders rarely successfully intervene to stop an active shooter and, in fact, often hinder the police response. And let’s be clear: a good guy with a gun did not stop the violence in Sutherland Springs. Almost 50 people were shot before this attack was finished.
Texas has some of the laxest gun laws in the country—and has the 28th highest gun death rate in the country. Texas ranks 10th worst in the nation for the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner using a gun. There are no requirements for background checks on private sales; no restriction on bringing guns into places of worship; and, no restriction on the sale or possession of assault weapons.
ACTION OF THE DAY
More Than Thoughts and Prayers. Many members of Congress began tweeting out their familiar “thoughts and prayers” posts yesterday; but, as many faith leaders were quick to call out, thoughts and prayers cannot replace action to prevent gun violence. It is time for action. Call your representatives today at 202-224-3121 to demand that they reject the NRA agenda and pass commonsense gun reform. Then, share the graphic below.
#SaveTPS. Today, the Trump administration will decide whether to extend Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for approximately 60,000 Hondurans and Nicaraguans that have lived and worked lawfully in the country with the protection for nearly 19 years. The administration also may announced the fate of approximately 250,000 TPS holders from El Salvador and Haiti. Most TPS holders have been here for over 16 years, and over 80 percent are employed. The U.S. would lose $164 billion in GDP over the next 10 years, and states and key industries also would lose big, if the Trump administration were to end TPS and drive TPS holders from the labor force. The greatest losses will be felt in California, Texas, and Florida—particularly in the construction industry, which will play an important role in rebuilding efforts in the years ahead.
Mueller’s New Target. Reports emerged this weekend that Special Counsel Robert Mueller now has enough evidence to file charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Mueller is speaking to multiple witnesses and exploring information regarding whether Flynn laundered money and/or lied to federal agents about his links to foreign contacts. Flynn’s lawyer declined to comment on these reports. The momentum of the investigation seems to be building, with the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly asked to turn over documents to Mueller’s team. One of Trump’s former foreign policy advisers, Carter Page, is also under investigation regarding his foreign contacts during the 2016 campaign. As Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, expect to find out that more Trump campaign officials lied about meeting with Russians to influence the election.
Health Care Voters. Open enrollment for the health care marketplace started last week, and it continues through December 15! Share the word with family and friends so they know the options available to them at HealthCare.gov. Then, join the new campaign of people pledging to be a health care voter, and hold elected officials accountable for their votes on health care. Learn more at HealthCareVoter.org.
Christmas Come Early…for the Wealthy and Corporations. Last week, House Republicans released their new tax plan. While they’re promoting it as relief for the middle class, it’s actually a huge giveaway to the richest Americans. Fight back at TrumpTaxToolkit.org. And that’s not all hurting middle-class Americans right now. Our country’s outdated laws and policies often fail to provide for “chosen families,” a more inclusive way to define what American families are. Thankfully states and cities are leading the way—just this morning New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a sick and safe time bill that includes chosen family. State and local actions since mid-2016 have expanded legal access to sick time to more than 10 million people. To hear about all of this and more, listen to the newest episode of Off-Kilter.
UNDER THE RADAR
COP23 Conference. Today, representatives from around the world are gathering in Germany for the COP23 conference to discuss actions to combat climate change and implement the Paris Agreement. In the wake of President Trump’s announcement that he intends to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement, many Americans are headed to Germany, including mayors, governors, and other representatives, to show that nonfederal leaders are taking up the mantle of U.S. leadership in the global climate effort. Tell the world you still support action on climate change by saying #IAmStillIn at IAmStillIn.org.