Things That Matter

Florida Passed Their First Gun Safety Measure In More Than 20 Years And The NRA Has Already Filed A Lawsuit

The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed a lawsuit to stop the law the day it was signed.

The survivors of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida scored a victory with a new law. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law on March 9. The law has three parts to help prevent the tragic events that unfolded on Feb. 14, 2018. First, the bill raises the age for purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21. Second, it includes a three-day waiting period when purchasing any firearm in the state of Florida and bans bump stocks, which can make guns automatic. Third, it creates a voluntary program that allows for some teachers to be armed if they choose to be. Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law as soon as it was ready.

“I’m an NRA member, and I was an NRA member when I became governor. I’m going to be an NRA member when I’m not governor,” Gov. Scott said at a press conference. “I’m sure there are NRA members that agree with this bill, some that don’t agree with this bill.”

This is the first gun control legislation that has been passed in Florida in more than 20 years, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. It took the NRA less than 24 hours to file a lawsuit aimed at blocking this legislation. In particular, the NRA is taking issue with the increased age limit when buying a firearm.

“We filed a lawsuit against the state for violating the constitutional rights of 18- to 21-year-olds,” Marion Hammer, a lobbyist for the NRA in Florida, told the Senate according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

“This blanket ban violates the fundamental rights of thousands of responsible, law-abiding Florida citizens and is thus invalid under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments,” the complaint reads.

Watch the full video above to hear more about the lawsuit.


READ: Anthony Borges Is Back In the ICU, A Day After His Family Said They Will Sue School And Police

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Congress Finally Passed a Law to Address the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in America

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Congress Finally Passed a Law to Address the Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in America

Image Credit: Seattle City Council from Seattle

On Monday, the House of Representatives finally passed a bill called “Savanna’s Act”, a measure that will require the Justice Department to develop a protocol in response to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women that is crippling native communities across the country. It is now headed to the president’s desk, waiting to be signed.

The bill was named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old woman of Indigenous descent who was murdered in 2017 when she was eight months pregnant. 

According to CNN, the bi-partisan bill is designed not only to create better guidelines for authorities to respond to this pervasive problem, but also instructs the Justice Department to “provide training for law enforcement agencies and to work with tribes and tribal organizations in implementing its strategy.” 

“Savanna’s Act addresses a tragic issue in Indian Country,” said North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “[It] helps establish better law enforcement practices to track, solve and prevent these crimes against Native Americans.”

From now on, the Justice Department will also be forced to provide an annual report on the numbers of missing Indigenous women–numbers that are, right now, unclear.

According to Omaha Tribe of Nebraska member Tillie Aldrich (whose daughter was found dead in January), the historical lack of government response to the issue of violence against Native women boils down to structural racism. 

“If we have a non-Native [person] missing in a city 25 miles north of us, it’s all over the news, the newspapers, posters going up,” Aldrich told Teen Vogue. “If we have someone missing, one of our Native missing, they try to keep it quiet.”

via @R_OWL_MIRROR/TWITTER

The plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women is a pervasive but underreported problem.

According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, 5,712 missing Alaska Native and American Indian women and girls were reported missing in 2016. Only 116 of them were registered in the Department of Justice database

The FBI’s National Crime Information Center database reports that Native American and Alaska Native women made up 0.8% of the U.S. population, but made up 1.8% of 2017 missing persons cases.

And these statistics only reflect the reported number of cases. Many native people have feelings of hopelessness when it comes to reporting their missing loved ones. They know that authorities won’t even try to find their missing family members.

Both family members of Indigenous people as well as Indigenous activists explain that there is a general attitude of apathy, victim-blaming, and lack of urgency when it comes to the local government’s response to these missing women. 

“When no one in authority looks for a missing woman, it sends a strong statement to the families and to communities that this life doesn’t matter–it is an expendable life,” said University of Kansas Professor Sarah Deer to Teen Vogue.

“Victim-blaming is often a part of this dynamic,” Deer continued. “If she’s done X, Y, or Z–no wonder she got caught up in trouble. Unlike an innocent white college girl, this Native woman doesn’t deserve prioritization.”

But as of now, activists and organizers are hopeful that Savanna’s Act will change the way government institutions respond to this all-too-common problem. 

“Missing and murdered Indigenous women are no longer invisible. They are no longer hidden in the shadows,” said former North Dakota Senator and bill co-sponsor Heidi Heitkamp. “By raising awareness about this crisis and taking concrete action to help address it, we can help make sure Indigenous women are better protected.”

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New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit To Dissolve The National Rifle Association

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New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit To Dissolve The National Rifle Association

Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

The New York attorney general has filed a lawsuit to completely dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA). The lawsuit is the latest in a series of events weakening the controversial organization since the Parkland shooting.

The NRA is facing a lawsuit because of its financial misdealings.

New York Attorney General Letitia James started a domino effect of lawsuits involving the NRA AG James is suing the organization because of its financial misdeeds focusing on corruption and misspending. The allegations, AG James claims, undermine the organization’s ability to claim to be a nonprofit.

AG James’ lawsuit is bringing attention to NRA’s Wayne LaPierre’s use of funds.

AG James’ lawsuit is pointing out various tax violations and is currently a civil case. However, the New York AG is not stopping there. If criminal issues are discovered, AG James will follow through.

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” she said during a press conference. “If we uncover any criminal activity, we will refer it to the Manhattan district attorney. At this point in time we’re moving forward, again, with civil enforcement.”

The NRA is denouncing the charges claiming they aren’t relevant.

AG James made investigating the NRA part of her campaign in 2018 and referred to the organization as a terrorist organization.

“The foreclosure crisis is not behind us, students debt is a major issue, health care is a challenge since they repealed the individual mandate, people are having a difficult time with premiums that have increased and are often times deciding to go without medicine because of the costs, resulting in premature death and gun violence,” AG James told Ebony Magazine during her campaign. “The NRA holds [itself] out as a charitable organization, but in fact, [it] really [is] a terrorist organization.”

Shortly after AG James filed her lawsuit, Washington’s attorney general followed suit.

AG Karl Racine is going after the NRA for misusing charitable funds. Essentially, the NRA is being accused in Washington of taking money meant for educational programs and spent them on themselves. The Washington lawsuit and New York lawsuit are honing in on the NRA’s years of fraudulent use of funds. It comes at a time when the NRA is already fighting for its life after the teenagers of Parkland launched a successful campaign in slowing and reversing the organization’s growth in the political sphere.

READ: Florida Passed Their First Gun Safety Measure In More Than 20 Years And The NRA Has Already Filed A Lawsuit

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