“I used to be into guns, but that’s not a realistic plan,” says Michael Robertson, 69, of Utah. “How many men do you need to guard a place 24 hours a day? Twenty?”
It’s only May, but there’s a good chance we’ve already found our song of the summer. Eclectic Method is back with another pop culture mashup, but this time he’s created an incredibly catchy Drum and Bass earworm by painstakingly assembling the sounds of video game weapons being fired and reloaded.
If you’re afraid of being shot, you’re not alone, and your fears are, unfortunately, justified. Guns kill almost 300 people in America every single day. Even worse, guns and the bullets they fire are not the hyper-precise weapons Hollywood makes them out to be. They’re messy, and they do a lot of damage you can’t see.…
On Tuesday, authorities formally charged three retired NYPD officers and a former city prosecutor for helping get people gun licenses in exchange for a wide range of bribes—from cash to prostitutes to extravagant vacations, BuzzFeed News reports.
The culprits allegedly worked together inside the NYPD's licensing division to run their bribery scheme from 2010 to 2016, CBS News reports. Paul Dean, a former lieutenant, and Robert Espinel, a former officer, are charged with accepting lavish bribes from "expediters" who charge people looking to speed up their firearm licensing.
Gaetano Valastro, a former NYPD detective, allegedly worked as an expediter and bribed Dean and Espinel to move the process along for his clients. Those bribes sometimes came in the form of "cash, paid vacations, personal jewelry, catered parties, guns, gun paraphernalia, and other benefits," according to federal prosecutors. According to DNAinfo, the officers also scored "food, alcohol, parties, dancers, and prostitutes" from other expediters in exchange for their services.
"The alleged corruption pervaded the license division up to its senior level," Joon Kim, acting US attorney for New York's Southern District, said Tuesday.
John Chambers, a former New York assistant district attorney, was also charged Tuesday in the scheme. He allegedly looked to represent people who had issues with getting gun licenses and is accused of bribing David Villanueva—the guy who ran the NYPD's licensing division from 2010 to 2015, but who was arrested back in June of 2016 on corruption charges. According to the criminal complaint, Chambers offered Villanueva a fancy $8,000 watch and tickets to Broadway shows and sports games.
According to BuzzFeed News, Dean, Espinel, and Valastro are facing charges for conspiracy to commit bribery and extortion. Chambers's lawyer, Barry Slotnick, told CBS News that his client will plead not guilty to his conspiracy charges.
This is just the latest development in a long-running corruption investigation of the NYPD's licensing division, launched by the force's internal affairs department and the FBI back in 2013, according to the New York Times. The last big splash came with Villanueva's arrest in 2016, around the same time two top NYPD officers were arrested for accepting bribes in exchange for services unrelated to firearms licensing.
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Last Tuesday, a man police are identifying as Joseph Jakubowski walked into a Wisconsin post office and bought a stamp for an envelope addressed to Donald Trump. As a buddy filmed him, the 32-year-old bearded guy with sandy brown hair stuck a 161-page manifesto railing against government, law enforcement officials, and religion into a mailbox in the parking lot.
"Revolution," he said. "It's time for change. Game time. Fuck the system."
For almost a week now, local and federal police have been looking for Jakubowski with increased urgency. They say he broke into and stole more than a dozen guns from a place (rather appropriately) called Armageddon Gun Shop, and then lit his car on fire, which suggests that Jakubowski—who's spent much of his life in House Speaker Paul Ryan's hometown of Janesville—may still be in the area.
Janesville public schools were closed on Friday, which is also when cops held a press conference alongside a member of the Secret Service. They alleged that Jakubowski has purchased a bullet proof vest and a helmet, and also threatened schools in his manifesto. That document, which is not available to the public, was apparently not partisan so much as broadly angry at the government and the people who run it.
"So there's really nothing specific where he's saying, 'I was wronged in this way' or 'I was wronged in that way,'" Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden said. "It's just an overview that he feels that the government, and law enforcement in particular, are acting as terrorists and are enslaving the people and creating this environment that he finds unacceptable."
An FBI representative who spoke at the same Friday press conference declined the opportunity to identify Jakubowski a terrorist.
On Sunday, Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, canceled services after a suspicious man was said to have come by asking questions—though police do not believe it was Jakubowski, according to NBC News. Still, some authorities and religious figures in the area remained especially concerned that he might target practitioners. And on Monday, schools across the state put out a warning about the suspect, citing his alleged plan to "unleash the stolen weapons" in the manifesto.
Jakubowski has a long and storied criminal record. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to taking a cop's gun, according to Rock County court records. That same year, he was arrested for allegedly breaking a non-contact order after a domestic violent spat and for disorderly conduct, although those charges were eventually dismissed. He also has two battery charges––one of which he pleaded no contest to and another that was dismissed––as well as an epic amount of felony traffic infractions under his belt.
Meanwhile, the key to the case might be the unidentified man who filmed the post office video. "It's D Day," we hear him say from behind the camera. "Today is the day. So remember this face."
Police say that second man is a person of interest in the case who's been brought in for questioning multiple times thus far, though it's unclear whether he's been unable or unwilling to reveal where Jakubowski is—or what he might be planning.
"We're going to constantly revisit that individual and see if they can think of something else that may have been forgotten and what was the motive and some of those type of things," Spoden said Sunday.
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As copy editor of VICE.com, it's my job to read every word that appears on our Webby Award–winning site and make sure everything is in its right place—that all the commas and semicolons are where they need to be, names and places are spelled correctly, and "fuccboi" is written in the proper style. Over the course of the day, some sentences from our stories catch my eye—usually because they're good or funny or odd or compelling in some way. Often they're about sex. Here they are now, presented with zero context, for the week of April 3. To find out why they exist or how they were used, simply click the link for the full story.
- I replied with a picture of my dog's ass and said yes.
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A version of this article originally appeared on the Trace.
In 2007, a Virginia Tech student opened fire on campus, killing 32 of his classmates and teachers. The incident catalyzed a movement to allow gun owners with concealed-carry permits to bring their weapons with them onto college campuses—places where guns have been traditionally banned.
That same year, Utah became the first state to pass a so-called campus carry law. Since then, at least nine other states have adopted laws that allow guns on university grounds. The most recent was Arkansas, which opened up college campuses—and sporting venues on college campuses—to concealed-carry holders on March 22. Under intense public pressure, the legislature scrambled to give universities a way to keep stadiums gun-free: Governor Asa Hutchinson signed the revised bill on Tuesday.
Georgia could be next: A campus-carry bill is also on Governor Nathan Deal's desk. Last year, he vetoed a slightly stronger version of the same legislation.
Not all campus-carry laws are the same. Here is what we know about where they apply, what they do, and about the movement that is spreading them.
What Is Campus Carry?
"Campus carry" is the broad term for laws that allow for faculty, staff, students, and individuals other than security or law enforcement to bring firearms onto public school property.
The states with laws on the books that mandate public universities to allow guns on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, are Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Minnesota has a narrow version of campus carry that allows visitors to carry guns but not students or faculty.
Another 23 states leave the decision of whether or not to allow firearms on campus up to individual universities, and 17 have outright bans, according to NCSL.
I Feel Like I've Only Started to Hear About Campus Carry Recently. Is It New?
The effort to allow concealed guns on college campuses began a decade ago but has gathered momentum in the last two years.
Last year alone, at least 16 states considered such bills. It's important to note that these proposals remain legislatively unpopular, even in states with strong pro-gun populations. Of the bills considered in 2016, only one passed, in Tennessee. And that one has a relatively narrow application: Staff and faculty with permits may carry guns onto campuses but not students or visitors. (In Ohio, a law was passed to give universities the option of allowing firearms, but none have been reported to do so.)
Do These Laws Mean That Students Can Carry Guns Anywhere? Like in Classrooms and in Dorms?
It depends. Some states require schools to allow concealed weapons almost everywhere. However, in some states, schools can prohibit firearms from certain areas.
Most states prohibit firearms in campus-living quarters—with the exception of Utah. But, starting next school year, Arkansas will become the second state with firearm-friendly dormitories. In Colorado, firearms are banned from all undergraduate dorms. But if a student requests, he or she can be transferred to graduate housing that allows firearms.
In Kansas, a law will go into effect in July requiring that any university building where firearms are prohibited have "adequate security measures," including metal detectors and onsite firearm storage. Universities had four years to comply, which they must do if they wish to keep guns out of classrooms and dorms.
Private colleges and universities are given the opportunity to opt out of campus-carry laws. In response to the Texas law, which went into effect last year, all but one private university opted out.
What About Stadiums?
This fact was lost amid the hoopla over the Arkansas law that briefly opened up all college sporting venues to concealed weapons: It's not the only state to have done so. Utah has allowed firearms inside college stadiums for a decade, with a few exceptions.
In 2015, the University of Utah prohibited guns at US Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor's book-tour stop at the school's flagship arena in Salt Lake City, citing a security threat to the justice.
Do People Who Carry Guns on Campus Need to Have Training?
Generally, yes, people are required to have concealed-carry permits and associated training, which varies state by state. To get a license in Utah, applicants must complete a five-hour class. In Arkansas, in addition to a concealed-carry permit, individuals must complete an eight-hour "enhanced training" course in order to carry firearms on university grounds. (The Arkansas State Police are currently developing the curriculum for this permit.)
However, starting this summer, Kansas will pave new ground on this front. The state did away with permits two years ago, and a bill will lapse this summer that allowed public universities extra time to comply with a law allowing concealed weapons in all public buildings. So, as of July 1, anyone over 21 can carry a concealed weapon to school—no permit or training required.
What Happens When Schools Don't Want to Comply with Campus-Carry Policies?
They can encourage state lawmakers to revise the laws or take them to court. Three professors at the University of Texas, Austin, tried the legal route late last year. They argued that the presence of firearms stifled free discourse at the university. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.
What Do Students, Administrators, and the Public Think About Campus Carry?
Students and university administrators have been some of the most vocal opponents to campus-carry policies.
More than 400 college and university administrations have joined the national Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. And in Texas and Georgia—two of the most high-profile campus-carry fights in recent years—student protests consumed colleges as bills advanced through the legislature.
In Arkansas, in the midst of heated debate over its then pending campus-carry bill, the university chancellor, Joseph Steinmetz, issued a strongly worded statement evoking concerns about putting the safety of students in jeopardy with the increased presence of firearms. He cited campus law enforcement, who he wrote, "do not believe that the campus would be safer if guns are permitted."
The same goes for the general public. In Florida, where lawmakers have considered campus carry for several sessions, a March poll found that more than 60 percent of registered voters oppose guns on campus.
Check out the Motherboard documentary about the strange, troubled history of the smart gun in America.
And What About Cops?
By and large, law enforcement has been quiet on campus-carry laws.
The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators has changed its stance over the years. In 2008, the association issued a vigorous opposition to guns on campus, citing the concern that officers wouldn't be able to distinguish between bystanders and assailants in an active-shooting situation. Yet in March, the group's president told reporters that the organization could no longer come to a consensus on the issue.
Last year, however, the police chief of Austin, Art Acevedo, successfully persuaded Texas lawmakers to amend a provision of the state's campus-carry law that would have limited law enforcement's authority from questioning people with firearms. At a news conference, accompanied by other state law enforcement leaders, he delivered this message to lawmakers: "You can't be the party of law and order and not listen to your police chiefs."
Who Are the Proponents of Campus Carry?
The most active lobbyists for these bills are the National Rifle Association and a network of pro-gun student organizations, Students for Campus Carry. The Trace's reporting revealed that SCC members, more than 40,000 strong, are trained by veteran right-wing operatives.
The argument advanced by these groups is simple: the more guns on campus, the more opportunities to stop a mass shooting.
"The hard facts are, we can't predict where evil may strike—the next campus, the next church, the next shopping mall or airport," Wayne LaPierre, the organization's leader, said last year during an address to graduating students at Liberty University, a private Christian school that allows guns on campus. "And if God forbid a monster should walk onto this campus, that evil will be met with the one indisputable fact of liberty: that the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
Do Guns on Campus Make Students Safer?
Research suggests that the risks posed by guns on campus outweigh their potential for increased safety. One study, published last October by a team from Johns Hopkins University, concluded that increasing the number of weapons on college grounds is "likely to lead to more shootings, homicides, and suicides on campus, especially among students."
There's scant evidence that a "good guy with a gun"—a standard gun rights talking point—can protect against an attack. Of 160 active-shooting incidents between 2000–2013, detailed by an FBI report, the assailant was stopped by a concealed-carry permit holder in only one case—and he was a Marine. On the other hand, 21 active shooters were stopped by unarmed citizens.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Trace.
Last week, the National Rifle Association splashed television ads across the country, warning viewers in dire tones that without five conservatives on the Supreme Court, Americans can kiss their gun rights goodbye. The campaign cost the NRA roughly $1 million, and its timing was not incidental. The blitz was pegged to overlap with the Senate confirmation hearings of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, whose appointment the gun group is aggressively promoting.
Yet the NRA's investment Gorsuch is in some ways an act of faith. In his decade on the federal bench, the Tenth Circuit judge has produced precisely one direct opinion on gun rights, in which he declared, "The Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own firearms and may not be infringed lightly." Last week, across two days of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, Gorsuch shared few further clues. Quizzed by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, he simply said that he would respect the precedent set by the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling establishing the personal right to own a gun—essentially the same position struck by Obama nominee Sonya Sotomayor during her confirmation grilling, and one that elides the big questions that the landmark 2008 decision left unresolved.
Gorsuch's thin record and tempered testimony doesn't concern David Hardy, an eminent conservative constitutional lawyer who shares the NRA's confidence in Trump's pick. And on matters of the Second Amendment, Hardy's assessment carries great weight among gun proponents.
In 1974, Hardy became the first student in the United States to publish a law review article arguing that the Second Amendment is an individual right. Nearly four decades later, during McDonald v. City of Chicago, the 2010 case in which the Supreme Court extended the rights guaranteed in Heller to the states, his work was cited in an opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas.
To get a better understanding of what gun rights activists see in Gorsuch, the Trace spoke with Hardy by phone, reaching him at his home office in Tucson, Arizona.
VICE: Despite his spotty track record on the gun issue, gun rights proponents are bullish on Gorsuch. Isn't that a bit of a gamble?
David Hardy: Well, I'm rather pleased about the fella—Gorsuch sounds like an eminently good justice-to-be. He's said to be an originalist, and if you're an originalist, the Second Amendment wins every time.
So if Justice Scalia's famously literal interpretation of the Constitution produced Heller, and Gorsuch views the law the same way Scalia did, that leaves you confident he'll rule in the same direction on gun cases that may come before the Supreme Court in the future?
Earlier this week, during his hearing, he made a point of stating that Heller is the law. Saying it in that way sets him apart from the judicial tendency to go with the view that all words are ambiguous and indeterminate and therefore it is the job of the court to give meaning to words. But judges don't make policy. People who make policy are elected. That doesn't hold true if a judge believes words are indeterminate. Gorsuch doesn't seem to have that particular flaw. He believes there is law that exists outside his own policy judgments.
But even Scalia, the ultimate originalist, allowed in his Heller opinion that it's OK to prohibit firearms in certain "sensitive spaces," like schools. Doesn't a phrase like "sensitive spaces" leave much open to interpretation?
Yes, it's hard to say where that has any originalist backing to it. On the other hand, I can see that concept, so long as it isn't too widely extended.
Is there any reason to believe Gorsuch might take a more expansive view of gun rights than Scalia did?
I can't say specifically that he will or won't, but he seems to be inclined that way—he at least wouldn't hold it to its narrowest possible meaning. Heller merely deals with gun possession inside the home. But originalists believe that, according to history, the right to keep and bear arms gives the right to bear arms, not just to keep them. The circuit courts have split on this—some say carrying outside the home is protected, but others have said that only the Supreme Court can make us apply the right outside of the home. I think Gorsuch would recognize that the Second Amendment is the right to bear arms as well as keep them, and thus apply the right outside of the home.
Check out the Motherboard documentary about the strange, troubled history of the Smart Gun in America.
Would you have felt more comfortable with a nominee who had a more concrete record on these questions?
A paper trail is hard to get on the Second Amendment. Up until Heller, nobody would have written an opinion of the Second Amendment as individual right. Nine years just isn't a lot of time for a whole lot of courts to come down with opinions. To an extent, you have to make an educated guess on how someone in Gorsuch's position would come down in Second Amendment cases. I don't think Justice Roberts had a paper trail on the issue, and I'm not sure Alito did either.
Are you saying that the little that's known about Gorusch's position on gun laws is as much as you can hope to know about any nominee?
He has more of a paper trail than 90 percent of the federal judiciary—maybe even 95 percent. Most Second Amendment cases are going to come out of two circuits—the Second Circuit and the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth has California and Hawaii and Second has New York and Connecticut. Those states have the strictest gun laws in the country. But you're never going to get a Second Amendment case out of, say, Arizona or Texas or Virginia.
Let's talk more about the one significant gun case in which Gorsuch was involved: In Colorado, a man pleads guilty to attempted robbery, and during the sentencing portion of his trial, the judge says, "If I accept your plea today, hopefully you will leave this courtroom not convicted of a felony and instead granted the privilege of a deferred judgment." Later, the man gets caught carrying a loaded gun with an obliterated serial number. He's charged as a felon in possession of a firearm because felons are not allowed to possess guns. That case later comes before Gorsuch's court, where Gorsuch writes a dissenting opinion saying prosecutors should have to prove the man knew he had a criminal record that disqualified him from firearms ownership, because according to the relevant federal statute, a felon in possession of a gun must "knowingly" violate the law to be found guilty. Gorsuch essentially says the man in question conceivably wasn't aware he was felon—the judge in the robbery case might have confused him.
I like judges who require knowledge for a criminal conviction. There are way too many laws out there that allow someone to be convicted without having to prove criminal intent.
But with something like gun possession, isn't it sometimes absurdly difficult to prove someone "knowingly" violated the law?
I like things to be hard to prove when it comes to putting someone in jail.
Sure—but where do you draw the line?
If someone commits a crime, and tries to hide what they did, then they probably knew it was illegal. For example, if a guy didn't know what he did was wrong, then did he hide the gun? Why didn't he confess, if he wasn't worried about getting in trouble? Why did he flee the scene?
What happens when there's more ambiguity? What if the trial judge in the case Gorsuch ruled on had not mentioned anything about a "deferred judgment"? How do you think Gorsuch have applied the "knowingly" standard under those circumstances?
That would be a different story. You would then have to start with the assumption the man is a convicted felon who knows what he's convicted of. If the man then wants to claim he didn't understand he was a felon, well, let him get on the stand and say that.