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Black Prosecutor Found Dead On Florida Beach

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Police are investigating the mysterious death of a federal prosecutor whose body was found washed up on a beach in Hollywood, Fla., Wednesday, May 24.

Police identified the deceased man as 37-year-old Beranton Whisenant Jr., who authorities said might have suffered a head wound caused by a gun shot or other type of trauma, the Miami Herald reported. His death is being investigated as a crime.

“The investigation is still very preliminary,” Hollywood Police Department spokeswoman Miranda Grossman told reporters, adding that detectives and Broward County’s medical examiner’s office are “still looking at it.”

Whisenant, a graduate of the University of Florida’s law school, joined the major crimes unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami earlier this year, according to the newspaper. Court documents showed that he’d been working on visa and passport fraud cases before his death and taught a paralegal program at the University of Miami.

Colleagues, family and friends were shocked to hear of the prosecutor’s passing.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office family was deeply saddened and shocked to learn of Beranton’s death,” Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg said. “He was a great lawyer and wonderful colleague, and we will miss him deeply. Our thoughts are with Beranton’s family and friends.”

Lawyer Michael Feiler, a friend of Whisenant, described his pal as the “epitome of a gentleman and possessed an exceptional legal mind.” Feiler added that the husband and father of two was motivated by public service and planned to become a judge someday.

The exact cause of the prosecutor’s death is still being investigated.

 

Neo-Nazi National Guardsman charged with possession of explosives

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A man from Tampa Bay, Florida, has been charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device and unlawful storage of explosive material.

Tampa Bay police found the explosive devices in the Tampa Palms apartment of 21-year-old Brandon Russell, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi and Florida National Guardsman, after responding on May 19 to reports of a double homicide.

According to a Justice Department news release, the two deceased men, Russell, and the alleged shooter, 18-year-old Devon Arthurs, had been living together at the apartment.

Previously on May 19, police had arrested Arthurs at nearby Green Planet Smoke Shop after receiving a call regarding a male who was possibly armed at the shop, according to a Tamp Bay Police press release.

Officers then interrogated Arthurs, who admitted to killing two of his roommates. Arthurs said he and his roommates had previously shared neo-Nazi beliefs and that Russell often threatened to kill people and bomb infrastructure in online neo-Nazi chat rooms.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Arthurs told police he had converted to Islam and killed his two roommates, identified as 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk, for not respecting his faith.

While searching the apartment, police found a cooler containing the explosive HMTD (hexamethylene triperoxide diamine), as well as a number of explosive precursors nearby, including potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate, nitro methane and more than a pound of ammonium nitrate.

Russell also possessed Nazi and white supremacist propaganda in his bedroom, including a framed photograph of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Police arrested Russell in Key Largo on May 21. During questioning, Russell admitted to manufacturing the HMTD in his garage and to being a national socialist and member of the white supremacy group Atomwaffen, which is German for “atomic weapons.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the case, with assistance from the Tampa Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

 

 

 

 

Texas House passes measure to allow guns in school parking lots

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Texas House passes measure to allow guns in school parking lots

Lawmakers in the Texas House of Representatives have passed a measure that would allow school employees to keep guns in their cars while parked on school property.

The Austin American-Statesman reported the provision was added Tuesday to Senate Bill 1566, legislation regarding school boards. It was then passed on Wednesday by the House on a 138-4 vote.

A full bill similar to the amendment had been proposed in the House but did not make it to the floor for a vote.

The measure would allow teachers and other school employees with concealed carry permits to store guns in their cars while on school property.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to approve the changes.

Detroit-area firearms instructor accidentally shoots student

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Police are investigating a Detroit-area firearms instructor who accidentally shot and injured a student Saturday.

CBS Detroit reported that Livonia Police Capt. Robert Nencarini indicated the accidental shooting occurred while the 44-year-old Farmington Hills man was teaching a concealed pistol license class at the Firearms Exchange in Livonia, Michigan.

“I’m not sure what he was demonstrating,” Nencarini said, “but he pulled his handgun out of his holster and aimed it at a door and fired a round, which ended up going through the door.”

A 39-year-old Detroit man was hit while taking a class next door and suffered gunshot wounds to both of his thighs.

Nencarini said the instructor was in the middle of demonstrating to his students what not to do when he fired his handgun.

“I’m assuming he thought his gun was unloaded,” Nencarini said. “But you can never be too safe and you have to check and recheck before you squeeze the trigger on a gun. … They sure got an eye-opener in that class.”

The police captain said prosecutors are considering a warrant request and that negligent discharge of a firearm would be the most likely charge if any were pressed.

The instructor’s name has not yet been released

Gun control group welcomes news Facebook hires content reviewers

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Groups supported by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday applauded news that the social network is beefing up its policing efforts.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that, in the wake of a series of suicides and murders posted to the site, he is adding 3,000 new employees to the force of 4,500 on the company’s community operations team which review reported posts and videos.

“These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don’t allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation,” said Zuckerberg. “And we’ll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it — either because they’re about to harm themselves, or because they’re in danger from someone else.”

Zuckerberg went on to detail that the network is also moving to make it simpler to report problems in a way that makes it faster for reviewers to address flagged posts, and alert law enforcement if needed.

While the Facebook boss made no mention of gun sales or firearms in his 320-word announcement, gun control advocates Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety quickly released a statement welcoming the news.

“Moms are grateful for Facebook’s announcement signaling a strong commitment to their effort to end all unlicensed gun sales arranged on their platforms,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, in a statement. “This increase in staffing affirms Facebook’s leading industry role in gun violence prevention – and shows its commitment to preventing gun violence.”

In 2014, the groups ran a campaign against Facebook and sister site Instagram for allowing individual users to post guns for sale, claiming it circumvented gun background checks and allowed criminals to buy illegal weapons. Facebook followed up by moving to block sales between private parties attempting to transfer a firearm to a felon, minor or across state lines without an FFL. At the time, the National Rifle Association claimed victory for the move as well.

Continued pressure ultimately resulted in a more widespread ban on private, person-to-person sales of guns in 2016, but posts by licensed gun dealers are allowed, a change for which the gun control groups took credit.

Tennessee House passes bill to allow suppressors

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The Associated Press reported the measure, Senate Bill 921, was passed Monday on a 74-18 vote, while the Senate approved the bill last month on a 28-1 vote.

The bill, also called the Tennessee Hearing Protection Act, was drafted to protect sportsmen’s hearing and would remove suppressors from the banned weapons list in Tennessee.

Republican sponsors, Rep. Tilman Goins and Sen. Steve Southerland, said they had no intentions other than hearing protection when proposing the measure.

The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam for signature.

Gun owners sue California over large capacity magazine ban

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California gun owners filed a complaint in federal court Friday deeming the state’s large capacity magazine ban unconstitutional.

The Calguns Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Firearms Policy Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation joined seven private citizens in the suit filed against Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Chief of the Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms Martha Supernor over a law passed last year banning magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.

“California’s magazine laws will turn many thousands of good, law-abiding people into criminals, but do nothing to advance public safety,” said Brandon Combs, president and chairman of FPF, in a statement Friday.

“While California’s political leadership might prefer some kind of police state without any Second Amendment or property rights, we believe that the Constitution takes their policy preferences off the table. This lawsuit is one of many that we hope will help restore fundamental freedoms in the Golden State and across the nation,” the group said.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of legislation tightening firearm regulations statewide, including a ban on large capacity magazines. A 1999 law initially barred the further import and sale of such magazines in California, but provided a provision “grandfathering” existing owners in, therefore precluding them from legal punishment.

Senate Bill 1446, and later Proposition 63, eliminate the exemption entirely and instead require existing owners to sell, turn over or destroy their large capacity magazines within six months.

“Enforcement of this ban would immediately place thousands of law-abiding California gun owners in jeopardy of criminal liability and subjects their personal property to forfeiture, seizure and permanent confiscation, which is government taking, without due process or compensation,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M.Gottlieb in a press release Friday. “We cannot allow that to go unchallenged.”

In the 25-page complaint filed in the Eastern District of California Friday, gun owners assert “the large-capacity magazine ban is, effectively and now, actually, a confiscation, in part, of bearable arms.”

“The large-capacity magazine ban is hopelessly vague and ambiguous, as it fails to provide fair or even adequate notice to law-abiding gun owners of what they may do with their personal property without being subject to criminal sanctions,” the plaintiffs allege in court documents. “And fails to inform them of which version of the statutes may apply, or whether they are subject to an exception thereunder.”

“The State of California’s ban scheme stands for the proposition that most any personal property can simply be taken away from you or forced out of your possession without due process or just compensation by legislative fiat,” said CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman Friday. “Today it’s firearm magazines, but tomorrow it will most certainly be some other constitutionally-protected private property.”

The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

Cleveland gun regulations, registry shot down by appeals court

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A slew of Cleveland gun regulations and a gun offender registry were ruled to be unconstitutional Thursday by a three-judge panel at the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals.

Cleveland.com reported that all but two of the city laws, proposed by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and passed by the city council in 2015, were found to be in conflict with Ohio state law and thus overturned.

The appeals court ruling came as a result of gun rights group Ohioans for Concealed Carry challenging the laws after they were passed in 2015 by the city council.

Under state law, cities and villages cannot impose gun regulations that are stricter than those at the state level. Only two laws passed in 2015 were found not to be more restrictive than state law and so were allowed to stand by the appeals court.

One law allowed to stand prohibits the negligent transfer of firearms to those who are intoxicated. The other law prohibits leaving a gun where it can be accessed by minors. Both laws were ruled to mirror laws already enacted at the state level.

Judge Sean Gallagher highlighted in the panel’s opinion that the judges could only make their decision based on Ohio state law.

“The city may not enact ordinances that conflict with Ohio’s firearm ownership and possession laws, which are intended to prove uniformity throughout the state,” Gallagher wrote. “If individuals on either side of the divide are unhappy with the law as written, the remedy lies with the Ohio legislature.”

Jeff Garvas, president of Ohioans for Concealed Carry, cheered the court’s decision and said criminality could not be solved with more gun restrictions.

“Cleveland’s idea that they can legislate away the criminal use of firearms at the expense of law-abiding individuals is a flawed concept that has been proven wrong time and time again,” Garvas said.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson plans to rewrite some of the proposed laws, in a belief that rewording them will allow the laws to stand. The mayor also plans to appeal the rulings on regulating the discharging of firearms and on the proposed gun offender registry.

Trump addresses NRA convention

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ATLANTA—President Donald Trump on Friday addressed National Rifle Association members and others during the gun lobby group’s annual convention in Atlanta, making him the first sitting president to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Trump promised the group he wouldn’t infringe on the American peoples’ right to bear arms

“Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God,” Trump said.

He opened his speech thanking members of the NRA for their patriotism and support of his campaign for president, which he then recapped, slamming Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and candidate Bernie Sanders.

Trump criticized Sanders for offering free college to Americans without saying how it would be paid for. However, regardless of whether or not Sanders’ plan was a viable one, he often said he would impose a higher tax rate on the richest Americans to pay for this lofty campaign promise.      

Trump went on to recognize veterans and touted his administration’s progress in rehabbing the embattled agency.        

“We are doing a really top job already … with the Veterans Administration,” Trump said.

The president signed an executive order on Thursday to create a new VA office in order to hold its employees accountable. The order also offers protection to VA whistleblowers who report unscrupulous activity within the agency.

Last year, the loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia left a hole in the country’s highest court and was a serious loss to the gun rights community.

Trump said the fact that the Senate’s confirmation of his pick to replace Scalia, Neil Gorsuch, happened within his first 100 days in office hadn’t happened since 1881.   

The American sportsman has a champion Trump’s new pick for Department of the Interior. “On his first day,” Secretary Ryan Zinke reversed a lead ammo ban which had been enacted on federal land to reportedly prevent the toxic material from leaching into the ground water and protect carrion wildlife from consuming lead in the carcasses of other animals.

Trump also talked about maintaining the rule of law, which includes keeping the average citizen armed in self-defense.

“Our police and sheriffs know that when you ban guns, only the criminals will have them,” Trump said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is working to enforce the rule of law, Trump said. The president called out MS-13, an international Hispanic street gang with roots in El Salvador and a significant foothold in neighborhoods across the U.S. His attorney general is working to get rid of the scourge, Trump said.     

“It’s about time,” he said.

Another Trump administration appointment, Homeland Security Director John Kelly is also working to ensure Americans are safe at home, the president said.

“We will build the wall,” no matter the number: Trump said the U.S. has seen a 73 percent decrease in illegal immigration since his inauguration.

Trump also touched on terrorism, criticizing politicians for spending billions on fighting terrorism across the globe, “but then we let terrorism enter through the front door,” he said.

Ted Cruz signs on to Hearing Protection Act

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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz signed on as a co-sponsor to the Hearing Protection Act days before he’s scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, where the bill is expected to be a major talking point

The proposed measure has so far gained 14 co-sponsors, all Republicans, in the U.S. Senate and a related measure in the House has gained 137 co-sponsors, including three Democrats.

This legislative session is the second round for the bill. When it was proposed in the Senate in 2015, it gained only three sponsors. While the Texas senator was not one of them, he is known among gun rights groups for his no-compromise stance on guns, even picking up a presidential endorsement by Gun Owners of America during his campaign.

If passed, the HPA would remove silencers from items listed on the National Firearms Act, which requires buyers to complete legal paperwork and pay a $200 tax before obtaining one. According to the bill’s language, silencers would be regulated like rifles.

Supporters of the measure argue silencers should be treated as a safety device because it reduces the sound of a gunshot and helps to prevent hearing damage.

Yet, critics of the measure say it would only be a matter of time until they’re used to commit crimes. The items were prohibited along with machine guns and short-barreled long guns in 1934 as a response to prohibition-era gang violence.

Still, gun rights supporters have expressed optimism that the measure will pass this go around as they think President Trump will sign it if it makes it to his desk. His son, Donald Trump, Jr., has already thrown his support behind it.

Cruz is scheduled to appear alongside President Trump and other political leaders at the NRA’s Leadership Forum on Friday.

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