Connecticut school shooting: How to help Newtown victims' families, community
by Viktoria Sundqvist
NEWTOWN, Conn. - Newtown Youth & Family Services is collecting donations for people directly affected by Friday's elementary school shooting,
Donations can be sent via "Caroline's Gift," a fund set up in the 1990s by a local family in memory of their daughter. The Caroline's Gift fund offers financial support to families who are dealing with a child's terminal or catastrophic illness.
"Any donations made to Newtown Youth & Family Services will be donated directly to those affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting," a message on the organizations website says.
Newtown Youth and Family Services is located at 15 Berkshire Road, Sandy Hook, CT 06482. For more details on how to donate, call (203) 426-8103.
Another group accepting donations is the Newtown Parent Connection, which accepts donations on its website, www.newtownparentconnection.org. Donations can be made via Paypal or any major credit card, and the organization says all donations will be donated directly to those affected by the shooting. For further details, call (203) 270-1600.
The United Way of Western Connecticut is accepting donations in a partnership with Newtown Savings Bank. Check donations may be mailed to: Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown CT 06470. You can also donate by credit card here: https://newtown/uwwesternct.org
"To several staff, volunteers and contributors, Newtown is home," the United Way of Western Connecticut says on its website. "We will stand with the community and everyone affected directly and indirectly by this tragic event as we face the days and weeks ahead."
The Facebook group R.I.P. Sandy Hook Elementary School Children, which as of Saturday morning had more than 1.1 million likes, is encouraging everyone to wear blue and yellow - the school's colors - on Monday in honor of the victims.
Those who wish to offer voluntary assistance should call (800) 203-1234, according to the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
Could shooting be a gun-control tipping point?
by CALVIN WOODWARD
WASHINGTON—The question surfaces each time a mass murder unfolds: Will this one change the political calculus in Washington against tougher gun control?
The answer, after the Virginia Tech killings, the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords, the Colorado movie-theater attack, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings, and more: No.
The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the bloodiest attack against youngsters in the nation's history, stands as a possible tipping point after Washington's decade-long aversion even to talking about stricter gun laws.
So it seems in the stunned aftermath, judging from President Barack Obama's body language as much as his statement. "We have been through this too many times," said the famously composed president, this time moved to tears. "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
It remains to be seen whether Sandy Hook will break the usual cycle of universal shock fading into political reality. That reality is based on a combination of powerful gun lobbying and public opinion, which has shifted against tougher gun control and stayed that way. However lawmakers react this time, it's the president's call whether the issue fades again or takes its place alongside the legacy-shaping initiatives of his time, with all the peril that could mean for his party.
With the murder rate less than half what it was two decades ago, and violent crime down even more in that time, gun control has declined as a political issue.
But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun control advocate, heard the familiar in Obama's initial response, despite the striking emotion.
"Not enough," Bloomberg said of Obama's words. "We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership—not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today."
The Newtown shooter brought three guns into the school, and the weapons were registered to his slain mother, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss information with reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle were found in the school after the attack, and a fourth weapon was recovered outside.
One certainty in the weeks to come is that both parties in Washington will carefully watch public opinion on gun control and the Second Amendment, and whether any impact lasts.
Opposition to stricter laws has proved resilient. Firearms are in one-third or more of households and suspicion runs deep of an overbearing government whenever it proposes expanding federal authority. The argument of gun-rights advocates that firearm ownership is a bedrock freedom as well as a necessary option for self-defense has proved persuasive enough to dampen political enthusiasm for substantial change.
In July, a gunman opened fire on Aurora, Colo., theatergoers watching the Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," killing 12 people. The next month, an Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll found that 49 percent of Americans felt laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the right to bear arms, while only 43 percent said such laws do not infringe on those rights.
By many measures, Americans have changed on the question since the 1990s, when people favored gun control over gun rights—by a 2-to-1 margin in polling after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. In a Gallup poll last year, 55 percent said gun laws should stay the same or be more lenient, while 43 percent wanted them toughened.
None of this is lost on Washington, where most Democrats long ago abandoned their advocacy of gun control, convinced that it is a losing issue for them. Obama has proposed reinstituting a federal ban on military-style assault weapons that lapsed years ago, but he's put no weight behind it, while signing laws letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains.
After the movie-theater attack, Obama declared "we should leave no stone unturned" to keep young people safe in a speech indicating he would challenge Congress to act on gun control. That expectation lasted for one day. The White House swiftly clarified that Obama would not propose stiffer gun laws this election year and favored more effective enforcement of existing law—a position hardly distinguishable from that of his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.
Likewise, early last year, Obama weighed in on guns after an assailant killed six people and wounded 13, shooting then-Rep. Giffords in the head outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. The president called for "sound and effective steps" in gun laws as part of a "new discussion on how we can keep America safe for all our people." He soon went back to silence on the topic and gun-control advocates waited in vain for the steps.
With his last presidential campaign behind him, Obama is freer to take up contentious matters that he wouldn't touch when he was an incumbent seeking re-election. Odds are favorable that he will have at least one vacancy to fill on a Supreme Court now closely divided on gun cases.
The Aurora attack happened in the heat of the campaign, when Democrats wanted no trouble from gun owners. In its first official response to the killings, Obama's White House pledged to protect fundamental gun rights. Obama and his spokesmen never failed to couple his wish for "common-sense measures" with his devotion to the Second Amendment.
But after the massacre of children Friday, Obama spoke mainly of the anguish, and the need for action, and not at all about the right to bear arms.
By the standards of gun-control politics, that alone was a crack in the status quo.
After Conn. school massacre, Brooklyn churches host gun buybacks
A day after 26 people were shot to death in a Connecticut school, two New York churches have invited gun owners to hand in their weapons — no questions asked.
Two Brooklyn pastors opened their churches Saturday to the city's Gun Buyback program. Anyone can trade in their weapon for a $200 bank card. The transactions are anonymous.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is at the forefront of a national gun-control effort. He's backed by Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband when a gunman opened fire on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993.
The two Brooklyn churches open for the gun transactions till 4 p.m. are Mt. Ollie Baptist Church in the Brownsville neighborhood and St. Peters Lutheran Church in the Cypress Hills section.
18-Year-Old Arrested For Attack Plot On His High School
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) - Police in Oklahoma say a student arrested yesterday was plotting an attack on his high school. An arrest affidavit says the 18-year-old tried to enlist fellow students in a plot to lure students into the auditorium at Bartlesville High School, chain the doors shut and start shooting.
A newspaper report says he also allegedly planned to detonate bombs at the doors as police arrived.
From the FBI
Homegrown Violent Extremism --
Dismantling the Triangle Terror Group
To his sons and others in their rural North Carolina community, Daniel Patrick Boyd was a charismatic figure. But the U.S. citizen used his persuasive powers to no good end—he promoted violent jihad against Americans at home and abroad.
After a four-year investigation by the Raleigh-Durham Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), Boyd and two of his sons, along with five other conspirators—known as the Triangle Terror Group—were arrested and charged with providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to murder persons overseas, including U.S. military personnel. Boyd pled guilty and was sentenced in August 2012 to 18 years in prison.
Chris Briese, then-special agent in charge of our Charlotte office, noted at the time, “People who are plotting to harm Americans are no longer a world away from us.” The men and women of the JTTF who investigated the Boyd case learned that fact firsthand as they worked to unravel the network of homegrown violent extremists.
The case began in 2005 with a tip from someone in the Muslim community that one of its members was becoming radicalized. Boyd was a hero to young Muslim-Americans because at the age of 19 he had traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to receive military training and to fight with the mujahedeen.
In 2006, one of Boyd's North Carolina jihad recruits traveled to Jordan and e-mailed his mentor to ask how to get to the front lines to fight. “That's when we began to understand how serious this threat was,” said Special Agent Paul Minella, a JTTF member who worked the case.
Over the next three years, the JTTF monitored the group—with the help of partner agencies and the support of the U.S. Attorney's Office— using a variety of investigative tools, including court-ordered wiretaps and sources who infiltrated the group.
During one monitored conversation inside the food market Boyd owned, said Maria Jocys, who supervises the Raleigh-Durham JTTF, “in an effort to ingratiate himself with Boyd, one of the foreign-born co-conspirators bragged about his experience as a skilled sniper and graphically described how he shot a man overseas.”
“The talk at the market was often about fighting jihad and how, in their belief, fighting jihad was an obligation,” added Special Agent Bill Logallo, another JTTF member.
Investigators tracked Boyd's network across the United States and six foreign countries. “It became very clear,” Jocys said, “that Boyd's followers wanted to fight on the front lines overseas. And if they didn't have the opportunity to do that, then they would wage jihad here at home.”
As the investigation continued, “we saw them buying a lot of weapons and ammunition,” Logallo said. Boyd dug a hole in his yard to bury a cache of weapons, and positioned long guns in every room of his house. He took his sons and recruits out to train with weapons and taught them military tactics.
Even after Boyd suspected that the FBI was onto his group, “they kept going,” Minella said. “That's how committed they were to jihad and how right they thought they were about their obligation to kill non-Muslims.”
After a carefully orchestrated takedown planned months in advance (see sidebar), Boyd and the Triangle Terror Group were arrested in July 2009. They had committed no acts of violence, but the JTTF was certain it was only a matter of time before they did.
“Boyd and his followers wanted to kill people,” Jocys said. “We had to stop them.”