Kathy Castor part of House delegation continuing sit-in to demand votes on gun control legislation

Dozens of House Democrats continue to stage a sit-in on the floor of the House chamber Wednesday afternoon, demanding the House Speaker Paul Ryan hold a vote on gun-control legislation in the days leading up to a weeklong congressional break that begins this Friday.

Many members of the Florida delegation were part of the action, with even Senator Bill Nelson sitting down with Tallahassee Representative Gwen Graham for awhile.

The sit-in started with remarks by Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who called out, “Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando. What is the tipping point, Mr. Speaker?”

The legislation that Democrats want a vote on would be for expanded background checks and legislation preventing gun sales to suspected terrorists.

“My neighbors are still reeling from the Orlando massacre just over a week ago,” said Tampa Bay area Representative Kathy Castor. “There have been too many tragedies like the Orlando massacre. The House doesn’t need more moments of silence; it needs to speak up instead. We need commonsense solutions on gun safety aimed at protecting our country, communities, families and especially our children,” U.S. Rep. Castor said. “My home state of Florida has some of the weakest gun laws; we lack expanded background checks that would prevent individuals on the terrorist watch list, criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing guns – the so-called no fly/no buy law we are sitting in for would clearly help fill a big gap in my state.”

“Since Florida’s Republican legislature has refused to stand up to the powerful gun lobby, we must act to keep high-capacity, military-style weapons away from terrorists and others with violent pasts,” Castor added.

“The message is simple – we demand a vote, and number two, we want to close the terrorist gun loophole at a minimum,” said Jupiter Representative and Senate candidate Patrick Murphy, speaking to reporters on a conference call after leaving the House floor.

At one point in the afternoon, Pinellas County Republican Congressman David Jolly visited the House chambers.  Before he did that, Jolly appeared on CNN, where he said he disagreed with the tactics of the Democrats, but agreed with them that GOP House leaders should allow for debate on gun control measures, including his proposal, HR5544, that would ensure there is a no-fly no-buy policy while also ensuring due process and protecting the Second Amendment.

“My fear is that the politics of blame play well in November, and the architects see currency in this in November,” Jolly told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, adding that it wasn’t actually that hard to pass such legislation. Baldwin questioned that statement, it, saying if it was so easy, why did it require the House Democrats to make such a dramatic gesture.

Jolly said that if the Democrats would agree to the due process portions of his legislation, a bill could pass, but also pleaded with his GOP colleagues “to do something. Act in the wake of Orlando. Let’s not play politics with this; it’s heartbreaking.”

Kentucky Democratic Representative John Yarmuth said he agreed with Jolly that it could be an easy fix. “Let’s have the debate. Let’s have the vote. And let the will of the Congress be done.”

Mitch Perry Report for 6.21.16 — After gun control proposals go down, Bill Nelson says “The NRA wins again”

The U.S. Senate voted on four different gun-control proposals last night — two offered by Republicans, two by Democrats.

They all failed.

First up was California Democrat Dianne Feinstein‘s bit, which would give the Department of Justice the power to stop anyone on the terror watch list from buying a gun. That garnered just 47 votes.

Then came Texas Republican John Cornyn‘s proposal, which would have law enforcement notified when someone on the terror watch list tries to buy a gun, failed with just 53 votes (you need 60 in the Senate to pass anything).

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy — a hero to Democrats for leading their nearly 15-hour filibuster last week that compelled GOP Senate leadership to hold the votes yesterday — then proposed a universal background check bill that is enormously popular with the public, and similar to the Toomey-Manchin bill that came up for a vote immediately after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

It also failed, getting only 44 votes.

Then came Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley‘s bill, which would have increased funding for the background check system. It also would have pushed the states to send more records to the FBI of felons and others barred from buying guns. It also would have changed the language prohibiting some people with mental health issues from buying a gun (which Democrats objected to).

It too, went down to defeat, getting only 53 votes.

After the bills all went down to defeat, Florida Senator Bill Nelson said, “What am I going to tell 49 grieving families? What am I going to tell the families of those that are still in the hospital fighting for their lives? What am I going to tell the trauma surgeon whose bloodstained shoes have been shown in a picture on so many news programs and who said he didn’t know, in the midst of the screams and the cries, if they were black or white, or gay or straight, as they brought in over 40, all at one time, into that trauma operating room? What am I going to tell the community of Orlando that is trying to come together in the healing?  Sadly, what I am going to have to tell them is that the NRA won again.”

All hopes now for anything to come out of the Senate post-Orlando is a proposal by Maine’s Susan Collins. Her proposal would block the sale of guns to people on two terrorist watch list subsets: the no-fly list, which prohibits individuals from boarding a plane, and the “selectee list,” which requires individuals to undergo additional screening before boarding. The measure would also include a provision to notify the FBI if anyone who had been on either of the lists within the previous five years purchases a gun. And it would also “provide due process by allowing an individual to appeal a decision blocking his or her purchase of a firearm, and, if successful, to be awarded attorney’s fees,” according to a spokesperson for Collins.

We’ll know more about Collins bill’s chances in the next few days.

In other news …

While Marco Rubio ponders his future, Carlos Beruff is shooting off verbal bombs at the presumptive U.S. Senate favorite IF he gets into the race.

Two new polls that were released on Monday show that the David Jolly-Charlie Crist matchup should be a doozy. A PPP survey shows Crist up by only 3 points in the allegedly heavily Democratic-friendly seat. Another pollster who works with Republicans shows Jolly up by 12 points in the district.

President Obama got busy endorsing Florida Democrats on Monday, bestowing his imprimatur on the candidacies of Crist and Patrick Murphy.

Despite the odds, the Florida League of Women Voters wants state leaders to call for a special session of the Legislature by the end of this month to ban assault weapons and create more robust background gun checks in Florida.

Frank Reddick endorses Republican Shawn Harrison over his Democratic colleague Lisa Montelione in the HD 63 this fall.

Speaking of Montelione, a date has been established for the special election to succeed her in the Tampa City Council.

Dianne Hart gets an endorsement from the Florida Retail Federation in the HD 61 seat.

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Two new polls show different results in David Jolly vs. Charlie Crist congressional race

Two new surveys of the race in Florida’s 13th Congressional District show the volatility of the just-formed match between Republican incumbent David Jolly and his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist.

A private poll conducted for the Crist campaign by Public Policy Polling survey shows Crist leading Jolly, 46 to 43 percent.

Meanwhile, a new poll whose results were published Monday by McLaughlin & Associates shows Jolly leading Crist 50 to 38 percent, with 12 percent undecided. The McLaughlin & Associates survey was first reported in Politico.

The only previous public survey conducted by St. Pete Polls showed the race in a dead heat, with the candidates tied at 44 percent.

The McLaughlin & Associates survey also shows that while Jolly has an extremely favorable/unfavorable rating of 46/13 percent, Crist is underwater, with 37 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable.

“David Jolly is well-positioned to win this race,” write pollsters Jim McLaughlin and Rob Schmidt in a memo. “Jolly is quite popular with voters and he has significantly higher favorable ratings than Charlie Crist. Even though this seat has become somewhat more Democratic, David Jolly appears to be the best candidate to keep this seat in Republican hand.”

All these published surveys upend the narrative that the district was impossible for a Republican to win after the Florida Supreme Court ruled last summer the district was one of eight drawn up in violation of the Florida Constitution in 2012. While CD 13 previously was a slightly leaning Democratic district, the newly drawn district makes it much more Democratic-friendly.

Jolly announced Friday that was dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate, and would run again for re-election in CD 13, now against Crist, who announced his candidacy last fall. Democrats tried to downplay the announcement, citing statistics about how well Democrats have done in the district in recent years. They mentioned how Barack Obama won the newly drawn up district by 11 points in 2012, and Bill Nelson won it by 26 points over Connie Mack the same year.

But that may not hurt Jolly, who won a special election in March of 2014 to succeed his former boss, the late C.W. Bill Young, a Republican who held the seat for more than four decades.

The PPP survey was taken of 1,030 voters in CD 13 on June 6 and 7.

McLaughlin & Associates conducted a survey of 400 registered voters in Florida’s 13th Congressional District on June 1 and 2. It has an accuracy of plus-or-minus 4.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval.

Barack Obama offering sympathy but no easy answers in Orlando

Offering sympathy but no easy answers, President Barack Obama came Thursday to Orlando to try to console those mourning the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Air Force One touched down at midday in this grief-stricken community, where Obama planned to spend a few hours meeting in private with families of the 49 victims, with survivors and with local law enforcement officials who responded to the shooting. He planned to emphasize his solidarity with Orlando’s gays and lesbians but planned no major speech or call to action.

The low-profile visit reflected the challenge for the president to find something meaningful to say about an attack that has stoked a wide mix of fears about terrorism, guns and violence against gays. Even as the families of the victims bury their loved ones, it’s unclear what led a 29-year-old Muslim born in New York to open fire in a gay nightclub early Sunday where he may have been a frequent patron.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama would deal with the ambiguity in the Florida shooting by focusing on the victims.

“The president’s visit to Orlando has nothing to do with the individual who perpetrated this terrible attack,” Earnest said Wednesday. He said Obama intended to tell residents “that they’re not alone, even as they endure what surely have been several dark nights.”

The White House released few details in advance about Obama’s trip, which aides said was hurriedly arranged in a fraction of the time usually required to plan a presidential trip. But Obama planned to use the visit “to make clear that the country stands with the people of Orlando, stands with the LGBT community in Orlando, as they grieve for their loss,” Earnest said.

The president’s call for rejecting bigotry against gays and lesbians is complicated by the possibility that the gunman, Omar Mateen, may have been wrestling with his own sexuality. The FBI has been looking into reports that Mateen frequented the nightspot and reached out to men on gay dating apps.

Obama intended to focus on making the visit a moment of solidarity.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican frequently at odds with Obama, greeted the president on the tarmac upon his arrival. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, also a Republican, traveled with Obama from Washington, along with Rep. Corrine Brown, a Democrat who represents parts of the city. Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., joined Obama on the tarmac.

The investigation and makeshift memorials in Orlando have seemed a world away from Washington and the presidential campaign, where initial horror has quickly given way to a vicious political brawl.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has expanded his call for temporarily barring foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. – even though the attacker was an American – and said the president “prioritizes” America’s enemies over its people. In a rare bout of public anger, Obama denounced both Trump and the GOP leaders who are still supporting Trump. Many of those Republican leaders also denounced Trump’s rhetoric.

In Congress, the attack has spurred another bitter fight over gun control, exposing deep frustration among supporters of stricter gun laws that no level of mass casualty seems to be enough to force gun control opponents to reconsider.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, whose state of Connecticut shouldered the killing of 20 children in Newtown in 2012, undertook a roughly 15-hour filibuster that lasted into the early hours of Thursday. As he yielded the floor, Murphy said GOP leaders had committed to hold votes on expanded gun background checks and a ban on gun sales to suspected terrorists.

In an unexpected twist, Trump said he planned to meet with the National Rifle Association “about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no-fly list, to buy guns.”

For Obama, the trip to Orlando was an unwelcome return to one of the most difficult roles a president must fulfill: comforting the nation at times when few words seem capable of providing much comfort. Obama has lamented the frequency with which he’s had to perform that duty, calling his inability to enact stricter gun laws the biggest frustration of his presidency.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

David Jolly proposes bill that would prevent potential terrorists from purchasing guns

Congressional Democrats have spent the past week in Washington promoting gun control legislation in the wake of the Orlando shooting massacre, in which 49 people were killed and dozens others remain injured. They’ve complained that they’re not getting assistance from many Republicans, but that may be changing.

On Thursday, Pinellas County based GOP Representative David Jolly announced that he has drafted a bill that would protect Americans by closing a firearm background check loophole and prevent potential terrorists from purchasing guns.  The legislation would also provide, for the first time, due process protections for lawful gun owners who are wrongly or mistakenly added to the watch list.

“It is common sense that if you are on a national terror list and can’t fly on a plane, you should not be allowed to buy a gun,” Jolly said in a statement.  “But the fact is the existing proposal repeatedly pushed by some in Congress to ban firearm purchases by those on the no-fly list is fatally flawed because it provides no due process or recourse protections for innocent law-abiding individuals wrongfully or mistakenly included on the list,” Jolly added. “But equally flawed is a posture of inaction.  So let’s do something now, together.”

Under Jolly’s bill, which he says he is circulating to members, a person on the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Database would be prohibited from purchasing a firearm in the United States.  If the person attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied because they are on a watch list, they must be notified of their status on the list by the government within 10 days from the time of attempted purchase.  The individual is then entitled to a due process hearing within 30 days before a federal judge at which the government must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual should be on the watch list and prohibit from purchasing a firearm.  The individual is entitled to see all unclassified evidence against them, and the proceeding remains private to protect the privacy of the individual and the interest of the government.

“The fundamental issues are obvious. Law abiding individuals should be protected under the Second Amendment and have the right to purchase firearms. Dangerous individuals should not. And both should be afforded due process under the law,” Jolly said.

California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has proposed legislation that would allow the Justice Department to block gun sales to watch-listed individuals, whom she called “known or suspected terrorists,” if authorities have a “reasonable belief that the weapon would be used in connection with terrorism.”

On Wednesday, Florida Senator Bill Nelson filed legislation to ensure that any individual who is, or has been, investigated for possible ties to terrorism is entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which gun shop owners use to run background checks on prospective gun buyers. And, if a background check is conducted for a prospective gun buyer who is, or has been, investigated for potential ties to terrorism, Nelson’s bill would require that the NICS system automatically notify the appropriate division of the FBI.
 Early Thursday morning, Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher Murphy ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster after Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures. Votes would be held on whether to ban people on the government’s terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses and whether to expand background checks to gun shows and internet sales.

Whether they will actually win support in the GOP controlled House and Senate is a different question.

Bill Nelson files legislation to notify FBI if terrorism suspect buys gun

Bill Nelson has filed legislation that would require the FBI to be notified if a person under investigation for terrorism ties tries to buy a gun.

The proposal, according to the Orlando Democrat’s office, would ensure anyone who is — or has been — investigated for possible ties to terrorism is entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which gun shop owners use to run background checks on potential buyers.

The legislation also requires the system automatically to notify the appropriate division of the FBI if a person who is, or has been, investigated for possible ties to terrorism if a background check is completed.

The move comes after reports the FBI interviewed the gunman responsible for the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The shooter legally purchased two firearms, which were used in the attack.

According to Nelson’s office, the gunman was placed on a watch list from 2013 until 2014. Once the investigation was closed, however, no notification was triggered by his attempts to purchase a gun.

“We’re not saying: don’t sell guns to someone just because they were investigated,” said Nelson in a statement. “But having a system in place that alerts the FBI if someone they once investigated is suddenly trying to purchase multiple assault weapons is just common sense.”

The bill would not automatically bar someone who had previously been investigated for possible ties to terrorism from purchasing a gun. It would just require individuals be entered into the system, and that the FBI be notified if they try to purchase a firearm.

Patrick Murphy introduces bill to provide resources to local governments to fight the spread of Zika

Jupiter Democratic Representative and U.S. Senate hopeful Patrick Murphy has introduced the Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act that would provide resources to state and local governments to help fight the spread of the Zika virus.

The bill reauthorizes a lapsed 2003 mosquito-control program and provides $130 million each year for mosquito surveillance efforts. It also reauthorizes epidemiology laboratory capacity grants to support the work of state and local health departments to treat infections diseases like Zika.

The bill is a House companion to legislation introduced in the Senate last week by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr and Maine Independent Angus King.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked the Zika virus to serious health conditions, including birth defects in infants such as microcephaly as well as neurological disorders.

“With more than 1,900 cases of Zika already in the United States and its territories and a vaccine at least several months away, effective mosquito control programs are what will make the difference between a few cases and an epidemic. To do that, Congress must provide the resources necessary for states and local partners to implement and maintain world-leading mosquito control programs and control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases,” Murphy said. “Time is of the essence to get out in front of this growing threat to public health, and I hope both chambers will quickly act on this much-needed legislation, as well as provide the full funding necessary to protect Americans from Zika.”

Murphy has been outspoken in calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on H.R. 5044, legislation that would provide the full $1.9 billion emergency Zika funding requested by President Obama earlier this year. He’s also co-sponsored a legislative package with Bonita Springs Republican Congressman Curt Clawson that includes a 10 percent research tax credit for any company developing a vaccine for the Zika virus and a $200 million grant program to fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

Congressional negotiators are currently reconciling a measure passed in the Senate that would provide $1.1 billion in emergency funds, and the House approved legislation that would reallocate $622 million from existing programs.

Ted Deutsch says terror watch list gun ban vote is ‘the very least we can do’

Democrats returned to Washington Monday determined to push for gun control legislation in the wake of the Sunday morning shooting massacre in Orlando — and they’re concentrating their energies on a bill that would bar suspected terrorists from acquiring guns or explosives.

“If we can’t at least come together to figure out how to get rifles out of the hands of terrorists, then we’ve got bigger problems in the U.S. Congress …” said Boca Raton Democratic Representative Ted Deutch, speaking to WIOD-610 a.m. radio in Miami on Tuesday.

The South Florida Congressman released a statement Sunday morning calling for an immediate vote on closing the loophole that allows people on the terror list to buy weapons. “This isn’t politics; it’s common sense,” he said.

That sentiment was expressed by Congressional Democrats around the country and in Florida on Monday, including from Tampa Bay area Rep. Kathy Castor and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Speaking with host Jimmy Cefalo on Tuesday, Deutsch attempted to knock down the objections from critics of the proposal, which failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage in the Senate last December, a day after the San Bernardino shootings.

“The arguments range from the ridiculous, which is any law that has anything to do with guns is a violation of the Second Amendment, which is absolutely untrue, to the absurd, which is you should stop worrying about inanimate objects like guns,” Deutsch said.

Deutsch said there was never any justification for the loophole, but especially in the wake of the deaths of 49 people from guns shot by Omar Mateen, who the FBI interviewed in 2014 after they learned that he was in contact with another Florida man who drove a truck packed with explosives into a restaurant in Syria.

Republicans have opposed removing the loophole, because they say that the terrorist watch list is comprised of people who have not been accused of a crime or convicted of any wrongdoing.

Deutsch said he didn’t believe the argument was valid.

“We specifically drafted the legislation in a way to address that very concern,” he said. “You’re only going to be denied a gun if you’re on the terror watch list and there is reason to be concerned about you.”

“I’m so frustrated with the fact that on this issue, it’s not partisan,” Deutch complained. “It’s not a gun grab — it’s a public safety matter. It’s reasonable and after this most horrific experience that happened in Orlando that we’re all still struggling to come to terms with, it’s the very least we can do.”

Democrats have talked tough in the past few days about ridding the country of assault weapons, but speaking on a conference call with reporters on Monday, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said that while he personally supports such legislation, he didn’t see that having any chance of passing in the current Congress.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.14.16 — Will Trump’s tough talk help his candidacy?

When it comes to foreign lands, Americans can sometimes be strangely provincial.

Polls traditionally show that Americans think we give too much foreign aid. The Kaiser Family Foundation found last year that the average respondent estimated that 26 percent went toward assisting other countries, when in fact it’s just less than 1 percent.

So when Donald Trump says in a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire that there was a “tremendous flow” of Syrian refugees coming into the U.S., it’s important to note that just 2,805 have been admitted into our country since last May, fewer than one-third of the 10,000 Syrians President Obama said the United States would accept this fiscal year.

Trump was crowing yesterday that he was prescient, and renewed his call for a ban on Muslim migration to the United States — and extended it to cover all nations with a history of terrorism.

“The current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk and to think and act clearly,” Trump said at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire. “If we don’t get tough, and if we don’t get smart, and fast, we’re not going to have our country anymore. There will be nothing, absolutely nothing, left.”

Will the Orlando tragedy help Trump? Yes, says none other than Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. He tweeted on Sunday that, “If I were Trump I’d emphasize the Muslim name, Omar Saddiqui Mateen. This changes race.”

Will it? That seems to be what some people are thinking, and traditionally in our age of terror, the perception (accurately or not) is that Republicans, believing in a strong defense and law and order, will benefit in the short term. That’s what we’ll have to wait and see over the next few months.

I will say this: we heard the same thing after Paris and San Bernardino. Did that really play out? Not really, I’d argue.

In other news …

Thousands came to Ybor City last night for a vigil for the Orlando victims.

Bill Nelson, a resident of the Orlando area, was all over the media yesterday. The Democratic Senator assailed the use of assault weapons in the Pulse nightclub murders, and later joined up with fellow Democrats Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal in talking up more gun control legislation.

Tampa Bay area Congresswoman Kathy Castor was scheduled to participate in a moment of silence in the House of Representatives last night in memory of the victims in Orlando, but she says she’s tired of having such moments of silence after gun massacres, and says it’s time for some action.

St. Pete Pride organizers says they don’t intend any major changes — as of yet — in the wake of the Orlando shootings when they hold their huge confab at the end of this month.

And Darryl Rouson leads Betty Reed and Ed Narain in a new St. Pete Polls survey of their Senate District 19 race released on Monday.

Bill Nelson says hate calls are pouring in

Florida’s senior Sen. Bill Nelson told the U.S. Senate today that hate calls are pouring into his Orlando office today about the Pulse nightclub massacre and Nelson implored that America has got to find a way to unite.

Nelson, an Orlando resident who spent most of the past two days at the Orlando command center, said it didn’t start out that way. On Sunday all the calls to his Senate office were from Orlandoans, expressing grief and shock and looking for outlets to offer comfort.

And that, he said is the spirit he sees in Orlando, seeking to both grieve and heal at the same time.

“That’s been quite a contrast to the 95 percent of the hundreds and hundreds of calls that the Orlando office has received today,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of those calls have been hateful.”

His office confirmed that it has been inundated with more than 600 calls, “most not from Orlando,” full of hate, mostly toward Muslims, sometimes toward gun control advocates, occasionally toward gays.

“What does that say about us as a nation? Will we in fact heal? What does it say about us as a nation deep inside?” Nelson wondered.

“Where have we lost the teachings in almost all the major religions clearly in the holy scriptures of the Old Testament, clearly in the New Testament, and also in the Quran?” he continued. “And you’ll recognize these words if I say it in the Old English. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

“Put it in modern English: that is, to treat others as you would want to be treated,” he added. “And yet what we find is that in our society today, there are folks that want to divide instead of unify, and this killer is a good example.”

Nelson expressed confidence that deep down that’s not who Americans are, and he expects the true American character to prevail.

“We are a character of a people that is compassionate and generous and kind and respectful,” he said.

Nelson expressed confidence that “once the dots are connected” the investigation will find that the killer Omar Mateen was inspired both by ISIS and hatred of gays.

He implored his colleagues to imagine the families at Orlando Regional Medical Center grieving and hoping and praying.

“We are, as Americans, we are ladies and gentlemen. We can express ourselves, as has been the tradition on the floor of this Senate. In the heat of political debate, we can sharply differ, but we can be respectful of the other fellow’s point of view. That’s America, and until we finally come to that conclusion and insist on this aberrant behavior is stopped — until that happens, we will still be grieving,” he concluded.