Things That Matter

Walmart Makes History: Announces End Of Sales Of Handgun Ammunition And Asks Customers To Leave Their Guns At Home

After another deadly mass shooting, this time in Odessa and Midland, Texas, which left seven people dead and another 25 injured, it is clear that people in this country experience more gun violence than anywhere else in the world. Mass shootings in America are now a daily occurrence. Sounds like we’re exaggerating, but it’s true. Saturday’s shooting in Texas was the 283 mass shootings in the country, and we’re only on day 244 of the year, which means there are more shootings than there are days of the year. What would make it all stop? Changes in gun laws, perhaps? There are some baby steps taking place right now and a lot of people are pleased with this news, but not the ring-wing sticklers. 

Walmart announced today they are ending the sale of handgun ammunition that can also be used for assault-style weapons. 

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote a letter to his employees in response to the shootings in El Paso, Texas, Southaven, Mississippi, Dayton, Ohio, and last weekend’s shootings. 

“In Southaven and El Paso, our associates responded to anger and hate with courage and self-sacrifice. Our immediate priorities were supporting our associates and the impacted families and cooperating with law enforcement. In parallel, we have been focused on store safety and security. We’ve also been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”

McMillon went on to say that the company has previously made other changes including ending the retail of handguns and military-style rifles such as the AR-15. They also raised the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, and require a “green light” on a background check while federal law only requires the absence of  “red light,” and they also videotape when people are purchasing guns, and only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms.

Here are the new gun retail changes that Walmart has announced: 

  • After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons; 
  • We will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition; 
  • We will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns.
  • We are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where “open carry” is permitted

McMillion also asked the country’s lawmakers to “move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.”

Some people on social media praised this move by Walmart including Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

“Open carry is dangerous, and we applaud Walmart — one of the largest companies in America — for taking this important action,” Watts said in a press release statement. “No one should have to wonder if the guy with a gun strapped to his back in the milk aisle is a threat. Moms Demand Action volunteers have been asking Walmart to block open carry in its stores since the 2014 shooting death of John Crawford III in an Ohio Walmart, a call for action that intensified after last month’s mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart. This is a very significant step from one of America’s best-known companies; it was made possible by a cultural shift that people like you have helped achieve, showing that Americans want to be kept safe from gun violence. Our elected officials should remember that reality when they return to Washington next week.”

Naturally, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was livid after this announcement and told their followers to buy their gun accessories elsewhere. 

Those on the conservative side have already launched into a #boycottWalmart with some tweeting, “Y’all just a bunch of liberals. Never going to your stores again @Walmart @WalmartInc #boycottwalmart.” Another said, “Your decision to stop selling guns and ammo is just another reason I have STOPPED SHOPPING at your stores. If you desire to punish all because of the actions of a few then you WILL NOT get my money! I hope you go bankrupt!”

The likelihood of Walmart going bankrupt because some are choosing to boycott after this new stand against (some not all) guns is highly impossible. 

Walmart is, after all, the largest retailer in the country, so where else can people get a deal on cereal and toys? Is Kmart still around? Either way, we applaud Walmart for making small changes that will make a bigger impact. And while they might lose money, they will help save lives. 

READ: A Country Is On Edge As White Men Threaten To “Shoot Up” Walmart’s From Texas To Florida

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The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Things That Matter

The Colombian City Where Body Parts Wash Up On The Shore So Often It’s Become Normal

Colombia has made incredible progress since the 1990’s when the country was a hotbed for international drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare. Today, modern bustling cities are home to shopping centers, museums, and hordes of international visitors.

However, despite the advancements, the country is still in a delicate peace deal with the main guerrilla oppossition – Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – and there are many other paramilitary groups that still operate across the country, including in the main port city of Buenavista.

The city of Buenavista is seeing an uptick in body parts washing up along its shores.

In mid-January, an arm washed up on the city’s shore. It was quickly assumed, by local media reports, that the arm belonged to one of three local fisherman who had most likely been rounded up, killed, and dismembered. The arm had a tattoo on it, connecting it to one of the missing men, Armando Valencia.

And it wasn’t the first time this has happened. According to residents, body parts washing up on beaches is a tragically familiar occurrence. “There were some reports of body parts washing up at La Bocana [a nearby tourist spot]. A head, a leg, an arm,” said María Miyela Riascos, a social leader from Buenaventura, in a statement to VICE News. “Also, they found a man and a woman dismembered in the rural area of Bajo Calima.”

Violence has been rampant in Buenaventura for decades. The city has some of the highest rates of forced displacement and homicide in the country. But seldom has it been confronted by the levels of brutality experienced in the past year.

Criminal groups have long terrorized the city but things seem to be out of control.

So many different criminal groups have terrorized the slums of Colombia’s main Pacific port that residents rarely bother to learn the name of the latest clan in control. They simply call the warring gangs los malos or the bad guys.

Three people have been killed or disappeared daily, and conflict between organized crime has displaced as many as 6,000 people. Videos on Twitter show people fleeing their homes and young men and women patrolling with assault weapons. #SOSbuenaventura has been trending.

Community leaders see darker interests behind the violence, saying the areas where most crimes occur are the same where plans have been laid for a waterfront project, an airport and seaport terminals. “I see the violence as a means of pressure to get us off this area so they can build their projects,” Armando Valencia told The Guardian.

Criminals use “chop houses” to dismember their victims.

Colombian navy special forces on patrol among stilted waterfront shacks in Buenaventura
Credit: Fernando Vergara / Getty Images

The criminals recruit children, extort businesses, force people from their homes and dismember live victims, scattering their remains in the bay or surrounding jungle. Dozens of wooden huts balanced precariously on stilts over the bay have been abandoned by terrorized citizens and taken over by the gangs for use as casas de pique, or chop houses, where they torture and murder their victims.

The chop houses are the most gruesome consequence of a deeply flawed attempt to dismantle rightwing militias, which originally emerged to combat leftwing guerrillas in collusion with state security forces and drug traffickers.

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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