The widow of a Navy SEAL gunned down at a rifle range by a Marine reservist in February says her husband’s death – and other recent gun-related tragedies – is no excuse to curtail the right to bear arms.
Speaking at the National Rifle Association’s convention in Houston, Texas, Taya Kyle reportedly told a packed auditorium of gun enthusiasts to continue their defense of the Second Amendment in the face of those who would legislatively curtail it.
“I challenge anyone to tell me there isn’t evil in this world,” Kyle said, according to The Los Angeles Times.
“From the days of Cain and Abel, we know all too well there will always be evil, but that evil shouldn’t take away our freedoms. In fact, the only way to take away evil is by taking advantage of those freedoms. America needs people like you who are willing to stand up and fight.”
Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, the author of “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.”
The book recounts Chris Kyle’s experiences during four tours in Iraq, where he reportedly said he killed at least 160 insurgents.
Kyle, 38, and friend Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot to death by a fellow Iraq veteran – 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh — on Feb. 2, according to The Times. The duo had squired Routh to a gun range after Routh had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Routh turned his weapon on them.
“Thank you for understanding the difference between the use of guns in terrorizing innocent people in our country and abroad and the use of guns in fighting an evil that will not be reasoned with,” Taya Kyle, 38, reportedly said at the NRA’s convention.
Wearing her late husband’s dogtags, Taya Kyle added that Chris Kyle, with whom she has two children, was at work at the time of his death on a book called “American Gun.” The tome, which she has finished in his honor and will publish next month, tells the story of 10 historic guns and the people who used them, according to The Times.
The public face of the National Rifle Association is imploring members to never surrender their weapons in the wake of recent gun control efforts in Congress that he said will “destroy us and every ounce of our freedom.”
Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre spoke in Houston during the organization’s annual member meeting, which is part of the yearly convention.
LaPierre told several thousand people that the “political and media elites” have tried to use December’s shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school and other recent mass shootings “to blame us, to shame us, to compromise our freedom for their agenda.”
He also implored lawmakers to instead enforce current federal gun laws and rebuild the nation’s mental health system.
A West Virginia teenager returned to class Monday wearing the same National Rifle Association T-shirt that led to his suspension and arrest after he refused a teacher’s order last week to remove it.
Other students across Logan County wore similar shirts, which display the NRA logo and a hunting rifle, to school in a show of support for 14-year-old Jared Marcum, said his lawyer Ben White.
White said school officials told him on Monday that Marcum’s one-day suspension was appropriate because the Logan Middle School eighth-grader was being disruptive. White disputed that position, saying Marcum was exercising his free speech rights and did not disrupt anything.
“Their version is that the suspension was for disrupting the educational process, not the shirt,” White said in a telephone interview.
“I don’t see how he materially disrupted the educational process,” he said.
Logan County Schools Superintendent Wilma Zigmond didn’t immediately return a telephone message Monday
Marcum’s stepfather, Allen Larieris, said Sunday that the teen was waiting in line in the school cafeteria last Thursday when a teacher ordered him to remove the T-shirt or turn it inside out.
White said Marcum was expressing his support for the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms by wearing the shirt, which he said did not violate the school’s dress code.
“We at this point believe that Jared acted as mature as a 14-year-old child can act with the pressure that was put on him,” White said.
Logan County Schools’ dress code, which is posted on the school system’s website, prohibits clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. Clothing displaying advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco, or drug product also is prohibited.
Logan police arrested Marcum, 14, after he was sent to the school office and again refused to remove the shirt. Marcum has said that he was arrested on charges of disrupting an educational process and obstructing an officer, though White said Monday that the Logan County prosecutor’s office is reviewing the case to decide whether to proceed.
The Associated Press typically does not identify juveniles who face criminal charges, but Marcum and his family wanted his name and case known.
An eighth-grade student in West Virginia was reportedly arrested and suspended last week after getting into an argument with his teacher about a National Rifle Association T-shirt he wore to school.
WOWK-TV reports that Jared Marcum faces charges of obstruction and disturbing the education process for refusing to change the shirt, which shows a rifle and the slogan, “protect your right.”
Jared told the station the he was punished by officials at Logan Middle School after arguing about the shirt with his teacher, who reportedly objected to the image of the gun on the shirt.
“What they’re doing is trying to take away my rights, my freedom of speech and my Second Amendment,” Jared told the station.
Jared’s father, Allen Lardieri, told WOWK-TV he is upset his son was briefly jailed for something he believes was blown out of proportion.
“I don’t see how anybody would have an issue with a hunting rifle and NRA put on a T-shirt, especially when policy doesn’t forbid it,” Lardieri told the station.
A Logan County School District official refused a request for comment from WOWK-TV, but police in Logan confirmed Jared’s arrest last Thursday.
On the first day of Jared’s suspension, some of his friends reportedly wore shirts displaying images of firearms and at least one was told by an educator to change their attire, according to the report.
Benjamin White, an attorney handling Jared’s case, told the station he is working on getting the charges dropped and plans to file a federal or civil lawsuit.
Some residents in Newtown, Conn., say they’re outraged at receiving robocalls from the National Rifle Association only three months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
Town residents say the automated calls from the NRA began last week and urge people to tell their state legislators to oppose gun control proposals. Lawmakers are debating whether to ban military-style assault weapons, prohibit high-capacity ammunition magazines and other measures in response to the school shootings.
Dan O’Donnell lives in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown and told WVIT-TV that the robocalls are “ridiculous and insensitive.”
Messages seeking comment were left with the NRA, which like other nonprofit groups is allowed to make robocalls under federal law.
A gunman killed 20 first-graders, six educators and himself in December after shooting his mother to death.
With an “unprecedented” spike in NRA membership, President Obama will unveil gun control proposals that will include bans on assault weapons, a source said.
A new shooting game for mobile devices tied to the National Rifle Association is no longer being labeled suitable for preschoolers. “NRA: Practice Range” changed its age recommendation Tuesday from 4 years and up to at least 12 years of age, with an added warning that the game depicts realistic violence.
The game was released after a top NRA executive, Wayne LaPierre, had blamed violent video games, not guns, for contributing to mass shootings. A progressive advocacy group, Courage Campaign, on Tuesday circulated an online petition asking Apple to drop the free mobile application from its store.
The NRA and MEDL Media, which developed the game, did not respond to calls seeking comment. Apple declined to comment.
President Obama will get recommendations Tuesday on reducing gun violence. The president of the NRA, which plans an ad campaign, predicts an assault weapons ban won’t pass.
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President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney both have softened their positions on gun restrictions over the years. As they expressed shock and sorrow over the bloodshed at a Colorado movie theater, neither suggested that tougher gun control could make a difference, a notion that has faded from political debate.
Romney signed a ban on assault weapons as Massachusetts governor. But as the presumptive Republican nominee, he now bills himself as the candidate who will protect gun owners’ rights.
Obama called for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons during his 2008 presidential campaign. But since his election, he hasn’t sought to get that done or pushed other gun control proposals, either.
Neither man is likely to raise gun control as a campaign issue — beyond Romney’s insistence that an Obama presidency is bad for gun owners. Both say they’ll protect the Second Amendment right to bear arms. A look at the evolution of the candidates’ positions and where they stand on guns:
1997-2004: As an Illinois state senator, Obama supports banning all forms of semiautomatic weapons and tighter state restrictions generally on firearms, including a failed effort to limit handgun purchases to one per month.
2005: In the U.S. Senate, Obama votes against protecting firearms makers and dealers from lawsuits over misuse of their products by others. The bill is signed into law by President George W. Bush.
2008: During his first presidential campaign, Obama supports a return to the federal ban on assault weapons, which began during the Clinton administration and expired under Bush. He also endorses requiring background checks for buyers at gun shows. The National Rifle Association attacks him as an anti-gun zealot — a stand the group continues to take today.
April 2008: Obama is criticized for elitism after sounding dismissive of gun owners in a talk to campaign donors. He said voters in struggling small towns in Middle America “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” to explain their frustrations.
September 2008: Obama seeks to reassure gun owners: “I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms. … There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away.” Nonetheless, gun sales go up when Obama wins, apparently because of fear that new restrictions are imminent under his administration.
2009: As president, Obama signs a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other national parks and wildlife refuges and another that lets people carry guns in their checked bags on Amtrak trains.
2010: The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives Obama a grade of “F” for failing to push even the gun restrictions he supported while campaigning.
2011: Obama says the shooting that severely wounded then-Rep. Gabriel Giffords, D-Ariz., and killed six people should lead to “a new discussion of how we can keep America safe for all our people.” He calls for “sound and effective steps” to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, including strengthening background checks on gun buyers. But he’s short on specifics, and the Obama administration hasn’t proposed any new gun initiatives since then.
March 2012: Obama calls the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida “a tragedy,” saying Americans should do some soul-searching and “examine the laws” to figure out why it happened. He hasn’t called for any legal changes in response to the case, which mostly brought attention to some states’ “stand your ground” laws making it easier for a shooter to claim self-defense. Indeed, most gun regulations are imposed by states. The primary federal law is the Brady law requiring background checks on firearms purchasers.
July 20: Obama says he’s heartbroken by the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre and calls for Americans to unite in prayer for the victims: “If there’s anything to take away from this tragedy it’s the reminder that life is very fragile, our time here is limited and it is precious.”
Asked whether the mass shooting should prompt a new review of gun laws, White House spokesman Jay Carney declines to comment beyond reiterating Obama’s existing stance in support of “common-sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them.”
1994: In his unsuccessful challenge to liberal Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Romney sounds moderate on guns, supporting an assault weapons ban and insisting, “I don’t line up with the NRA.”
2002: Running for governor of Massachusetts, Romney says he supports and will protect the state’s “tough gun laws.” The NRA gives his Democratic opponent a higher rating on gun-rights issues and makes no endorsement in the race.
2003: As governor, Romney upsets gun owners by signing a law that quadruples the state’s gun-licensing fee — from $25 to $100 — as part of a widespread effort to eliminate the budget deficit.
2004: Romney signs a Massachusetts ban on assault weapons. He mollifies many gun rights advocates by coupling it with looser rules on gun licenses and an extension of the duration of licenses, reducing the effect of the earlier fee increase.
2005: Declares May 7 as “Right to Bear Arms Day” in Massachusetts.
2006: As he prepares for his first presidential run, Romney becomes a lifetime NRA member.
2007: While campaigning, Romney declares he sometimes hunts “small varmints” — a comment ridiculed by some as an awkward attempt to pander to pro-gun voters.
2008: In a Republican primary debate, Romney says he would have signed the federal assault weapons ban if it came to his desk as president, but he opposes any new gun legislation.
2011: Making his second presidential bid, Romney’s campaigns on a promise to protect and promote the Second Amendment.
2012: Romney tells gun owners that Obama wants to erode their rights. “We need a president who will enforce current laws, not create new ones that only serve to burden lawful gun owners,” Romney told the National Rifle Association’s annual convention. “President Obama has not. I will.”
July 20: Like Obama, Romney avoids talking politics on the day of the Aurora shooting. He says Americans are coming together in their sorrow: “There is something we can do. We can offer comfort to someone near us who is suffering or heavy laden, and we can mourn with those who mourn in Colorado.”