Bipartisan gun control bill moves towards vote – National & International News – WED 22Jun2022



Bipartisan gun control bill moves forward. Murder conviction overturned in case of GA man who left son to die in hot car. Afghanistan: At least 1000 dead after 6.0 magnitude earthquake.




Bipartisan gun control bill moves forward

A group of Republican and Democratic Senators has released the full text of the new gun control legislation. The Senate also voted to fast track voting on the bill. In addition to all Senate Democrats, 14 Republicans voted to fast track the bill, suggesting it has enough support to overcome a Republican filibuster. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has also said that she will move for a swift vote once the bill arrives in her chamber.

What’s in the bill?

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act does include financial incentives for states to pass “red-flag laws”. These laws allow law enforcement to temporarily confiscate guns from individuals who are adjudicated mentally ill or who have expressed intent to harm themselves or others. However, if a state chooses not to pass a red-flag law, they can still get money for other “crisis management” programs. The bill also provides funding for community mental health programs and in-school resources.

The legislation will also close the “boyfriend loophole”. Until now, only people convicted of domestic violence against a marriage partner banned from buying a gun. Now that will also apply to people convicted of domestic violence against a dating partner. 

Also included in the bill is expanded background checks for gun purchasers between the ages of 18 and 21. Juvenile records will now also show up in background checks for people in this age group.

The bill does not include many of the measures that a majority of Americans (both Republicans and Democrats) support. For example, it does not establish universal background checks or close the “gun show loophole”. It also does not ban high-capacity magazines or end sales of military-style assault rifles. Nor does it raise the legal age to purchase such weapons.

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Murder conviction overturned in case of GA man who left son to die in hot car

In June 2014, Justin Ross Harris, then 33, was supposed to drop his 22-month-old son Cooper off at daycare on his way to work. Instead, with Cooper strapped into a rear-facing child seat inches behind the drivers seat, Harris pulled into the parking lot at his workplace and got out of the car at 9:25am. A little after noon, Harris returned to the car and opened the drivers side door to leave some lightbulbs he’d bought after lunch. By then, Cooper had already been in the car for over 3 hours in 92-degree heat.

Then at 4:16, Harris pulled into a mall parking lot after leaving work, having discovered his son dead in the backseat. He got out of the car and frantically yelled for passers by to call for help. A witness said Harris made three phone calls (none to 911) and never attempted CPR on Cooper, contradicting Harris’ later statement to police. Harris also neglected to mention his visit to the car after lunch during his interrogation.

Police were immediately suspicious about Harris’ behavior when they arrived to the scene. One moment he would be wailing frantically, and the next he’d be dead calm. He told officers he’d simply forgotten Cooper was in the backseat. As they put him in the back of the squad car, Harris complained about how hot it was.

Infidelity and Google searches on hot car deaths

After Harris’ arrest, police searched his home computer. They found that he’d been contacting women (and some underage girls) online and meeting them for sex. They also discovered that Harris had researched how long it takes a child to die in a hot car just days before Cooper’s death.

At his trial, prosecutors argued that Harris was unhappy in his marriage and intentionally killed his young son to free himself. The jury convicted Harris of “malice murder” (equivalent to first degree murder) in Cooper’s death and seven other charges. A judge later sentenced Harris to life in prison on the murder charge plus 32 years for the other charges.

Today, in a 6-3 decision, Georgia’s Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction against Harris. This means that Harris is entitled to a new trial on the murder and child cruelty charges. The majority ruled that the inclusion of the evidence of Harris’ infidelity was “extremely and unfairly prejudicial” and “improperly admitted”. The three dissenting judges wrote that the state was “entitled to introduce, in detail, evidence of the nature, scope, and extent of the truly sinister motive it ascribed to Harris”. 

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Afghanistan: At least 1000 dead after 6.0 magnitude earthquake

At about 1.30 am local time this morning, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck rural parts of Afghanistan and also shook part of neighboring Pakistan. Most people were in bed as their houses tumbled in on top of them. Many of the homes in this part of Afghanistan are mud-built. Since the area is remote, it took hours for rescue crews to arrive with heavy equipment to search for any survivors.

The latest information we have says that at least 1000 people were killed and about 1,500 injured, but the death toll is expected to rise higher. Rescuers have yet to reach some of the affected villages.

Images from local news shows rows of destroyed homes in numerous villages. Rescue and recovery efforts are ongoing. The country’s ruling Taliban government has sought UN assistance in assessing damage and aiding those affected. Several foreign governments have offered assistance. 

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